[quote="Moscow_Wolf"][quote="brianj42"]We had problems with chimney draw and added a cowl, haven't had a problem ever since. The more I hear about your heating maister MW the more I believe he hasn't been doing it long :wink:[/quote]
Everybody wants to have a dig at my Bulgarian Heating Engineer/Plumber. :( He is fine, he worked in Israel so I guess he is more Solar orientated than wood burning stove. However, see Lilliana's post above yours. Not everyone likes the cowls for differing reasons. I'd rather read other folk's opinions before splashing the cash and finding out for myself.
Perhaps you don't get much wind where you live? We get strong North Easterlies to North West winds most of the time, (50 KPH now and again) and in April/May we tend to get winds from the East and the Black Sea (can smell the salt on the air). Rarely get southern or western winds and when we do, it is usually not wood burning stove season. I do take notice of the wind especially when wanting to light the stove and it changes my process of actually starting it. When the winds are high from the North, I'll add more fire lighters, paper, prep the chimney with some burning paper and get a small roaring fire as quickly as possible before adding logs. When there is little or next to no wind, I can build the fire as high as I want with dried sticks and it will suck in the air and burn up - no problem.
I will add a level or two to my chimney next year, (easy enough job) but if I am going to go down your Pellet Boiler route in the future then, there is not much point as that would be situated in the nearby boiler room/house where all the utilities are located.[/quote]
From what you've said here MW, I'd suggest your flu is too cold.
We also experience strong winds where we are, those of you who know where we live will appreciate how exposed we are. With the original external, single skin, galvanised flue (with an H on top) we suffered from blow back and had problems starting the fire, your solution of loads of igniters sounds so familiar. Then we had a chimney fire - not recommended, it sounds like you have a train running up your flue. Because the external flue suffered extreme wind chill, all the tar/flammable products that wood burning generates, condensed higher up the flue, just like an oil refinery cracker. Those products then ran down the flue and ignited, whoosh!
That fire was the catalyst to change. I did loads of reading/researching and installed an insulated flue in accordance with the UK building specs for chimney height and position. Touch wood, no further problems. As the flue is insulated it doesn't suffer the effects of windchill inside the flue itself. i.e. the gas stays hot all the way up.
The flue itself is not cheap at something like 100 lev/m but I only needed 2m for the external element of the flue and that's been repaid many fold by the reduction in the amount of wood we need to burn because of the fire's increased efficiency.