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2nd Year Heating with Wood....Questions for improvement

Post in 'Classic Wood Stove Forums (prior to approx. 1993)' started by Grannyknot, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. Grannyknot

    Grannyknot New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2011
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    Loc:
    East Tennessee
    First off, I'd like to introduce myself. I am Cody from East Tennessee. I found this site a few days ago and have really found it to be useful.
    This is my second year burning wood in our home as a supplemental heat source. I say supplemental because our stove is in our basement, which leaks air pretty bad. I've cut a floor vent right above the stove, and across the hall from my return air intake. The initial thought was that the hot air would rise, up through the floor register, and then I could run the hvac fan to circulate the heat. This hasn't worked out as well as I hoped, but we are getting some supplemental heat and have cut our heating bill in half. Last year, I wasted $300 on a crappy Logwood 2421. The stove put out some heat, burned through twice as much wood as it should have, but did teach me a lot about the practice of heating with wood. This year I bought a large wood burning stove.

    This is the stove I bought for $300:
    [​IMG]

    Does anyone have any idea what sort of stove it might be? It is the identical size of a Fisher Grandpa Bear. I have looked everywhere, except the bottom, and can't find a stamping or tag anywhere. Someone mentioned that it might be a custom made stove. The welds are nearly flawless, which made me think it was a factory made stove.

    Here are my questions and concerns:
    1.) chimney cleaning. We had it cleaned last September. I know its time to have it cleaned again, as I have never been able to find or be patient enough to use properly seasoned wood. Right now the best I've got is 8 month maple, which was a live tree that feel in a storm, and 2 month oak which was standing dead for 18 months. I just ordered the sooteater system. After using the search feature, it looks as if there aren't many complaints with these, but some people still use traditional brushes. My chimney is break, which goes from my basement, up through the main floor, through the attic, and extends about 3 foot from the roof. It has (i believe) terra cotta flues. How important is it to get the integrity inspected occasionally, considering this chimney was erected 60+ years ago? The local guys want $130+ for a cleaning and inspection.

    2.) the damper. I'm still figuring out the intake/damper settings on this stove. The damper is a solid round disc. Someone told me I should drill a 1/2" hole in it to let it breathe a little more. Is this true? They said they had never seen a solid damper. I unfortunately have had to make 2 ninety degree turns with the 7" round pipe before it meets the flue opening, so when I close the damper all the way, I'm not getting as much pull from the chimney. The stove never really smokes, so I know I'm getting a decent pull. I am curious about the solid damper.

    3.) backwall. The stove is currently about 5 inches from the painted brick chimney. I'm told that this is too close for that size of a stove. I looked at the pdf instruction manual for the old fishers and the grandpa bear shows something like 33" to brick surface. But it looks like another 6 inches of clearance and you are safe with a stud wall. 33" seems really excessive. I had thought about covering some of the brick with durock sheeting, in hopes that I could place the stove a little closer. Thoughts on that, and how much closer I could get with 5/8" durock heat barrier?

    4.) wood supply. I usually keep 3 or 4 days worth of wood inside near the stove for 2 reasons. Ease of access and the thought that it may help to dry it out quicker. Is this a false assumption?

    5.) size of the firebox. I've never dealt with this large of a firebox. Its nearly 30x30 in surface area. I've only built 2 small fires in it, but both seemed hard to get to a good roaring blaze going, and didn't seem to produce any significant heat for 30-45 minutes. Could this be because I'm not used to waiting on a large firebox? Maybe a few of you have some good tips for working with stoves of larger size?

    I really hope I didn't go against any forum etiquette by blasting you all with a bunch of questions and a long first post.
    I'm sure I'll have more as I progress through this winter season.

    Cheers,
    Cody "Grannyknot"

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  2. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
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    Welcome to the forum.
  3. Grannyknot

    Grannyknot New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    East Tennessee
    Thanks for the response Jake.
    I just now read the thread that said "new burners start here"...sorry about that.

    About the chimney inspection, It has been checked twice in the past 5 years, and both times checked out good. Turns out the basement flue had never been used before I hooked to it. I was mainly curious if I should have it checked regularly, being so old.

    I'll look into the Fire protection regulations you mentioned. I had hoped to get away with closer to 20" from masonry with durock sheeting, otherwise the stove is going to be right smack in the middle of the room. Its a tiny little area and a BIG stove.
  4. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    No need to apologize . . . folks here are wicked friendly . . . and we like newbies . . . we really don't mind questions and if you miss a thread . . . it's not a big deal . . .

    As I said . . . I would have the chimney inspected . . . especially if you're not going with a liner . . . which a lot of folks recommend by the way.

    As for the actual construction of the wall protection . . . I don't have my manuals here at home so I cannot tell you how to build one or how close you can get to the wall with wall protection.

    As for the stove . . . have you looked all over for a plate with the possible maker . . . sometimes these are on the back of the stove.
  5. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    If you want to put that close to a masonry wall, then I'd still suggest a piece of sheet metal behind the stove so that heat can be reflected off and back into the area w/out being directly soaked into the blocks / stone / basement wall. If that block is all chimney, and exposed around it, then it could just work as thermal mass w/out putting sheet metal behind it. You certainly aren't going to set anything on fire, but being that close may overheat the back of the stove. Watch for the paint turning white as a sign of being over fired (or a dull red glow in the dark as you have it cranked up)

    I had a double door fisher in my basement. The thing was a beast and could heat like we were trying to keep up w/ a gymnasium if I kept the wood to it. As you are finding out, the basement can be a tough place to heat from and using the furnace blower usually isn't much help. Main thing is if you want the heat upstairs you are going to have to keep that basement good and warm.

    As Jake mentioned, clearance to combustibles are 36 inches for that stove unless there is a UL tag on it stating otherwise.

    Having wood in the basement will help to dry it some, but there is no substitute for truly seasoned wood.

    That's a lot of steel to heat up w/ a small fire, especially if your wood isn't really seasoned all that well. You will probably find that you'll do much better once you are loading on hot coals.

    As far as that damper goes, I'd suggest just playing around w/ it. If you don't want to drill it quite yet, then perhaps set a brick (not a rock unless it's soapstone) on the top of the stove to act as a block for that handle so that it can't go into the fully closed position.

    ABOVE ALL WELCOME TO THE SITE!

    (I'm moving your thread over to the classic forum where those w/ experience w/ the old stoves may notice it sooner)

    pen
  6. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    looks like a Fisher knock-off. A member by the name of 'Coaly' should be able to help you out once this is moved into the Classic stove section.
  7. Grannyknot

    Grannyknot New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2011
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    Loc:
    East Tennessee
    Thanks Pen...great information. What are your thoughts on screwing durock sheeting to the brick. Waste of money?

    BrowningBar: I was thinking it may have been a knockoff too. By the way.... A BAR 270 is my whitetail gun of choice for the past 20 years.
  8. Agent

    Agent Member

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    Loc:
    Gillette, WY
    As far as moving heat from the basement to the living areas - I had a medium sized squirrel cage fan that forced air upstairs through a floor vent. It worked wonderfully until the motor burned out. (You'd be surprised how hard it is to find one of those darn fans when you actually need one!!)
  9. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    If you wanted to use a piece of durorock as a shield to keep that masonry from soaking up all the heat coming off the back of the stove, then leave 1 inch of space between the durock and the chimney. At the end of the day, I think I'd operate the thing and see how hot those bricks get and if you get heat back into the living space released slowly over time. If you wanted to play around you could prop a piece of durock behind there temp (no screws) if you have a piece around and see how much cooler it keeps the masonry or how much hotter it keeps the back of the stove. In all, I'd try and move it away from that wall some if you have the room. Not sure how it's connected to the chimney, but if there is room, it shouldn't be that hard.

    I just went through a manual I have and I couldn't find where it specified how far the stove should be kept from a non-combustible wall. It claimed that there should be 10 inches of hearth pad behind the stove for a top exit like yours. I'd use that to say that's how far it should be from any wall. Again, the reason most likely is to keep from overheating the stove in that area.

    Also, just as a double check, make sure that if you are using stove pipe that it too is 36 inches from combustibles (floor joists). If not, you need a shield there.

    Another thing, remember not to leave that firewood too close to the side of the stove. That sob will really kick the heat when it's cranking. 36 inches clearance to combustibles includes that wood for good safety.

    pen
  10. aussiedog3

    aussiedog3 Feeling the Heat

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    Loc:
    West Michigan
    Granny, you may want to try turning the furnace fan off.
    Just let the stove radiate the heat.
    You may be surprised how much warmer your home is.
    My wife was the first to try it here and our main floor and upstairs are much warmer.
    Stove is on main floor so of course basement is cool.
    With the furnace fan running I couldn't get our home to 70degrees,
    now I can get it about as warm as I like.

    Give it a try. Welcome to the site and good luck.
  11. coaly

    coaly Fisher Moderator Staff Member

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    NE PA
    Fisher copy is right, there were lots of them. I'd say it could be a Fisher box with homemade steel plate doors, but the hinge plates and ash fender isn't correct for a Fisher either. Many took the basics that Bob Fisher tried to patent (outlet higher than door, intake through doors, step top for second combustion area to roll unburned smoke back into flame) and changed the look of doors, intakes, hinges to try to get around patent laws. He couldn't patent his idea, since what he was trying to patent was naturally occurring physics. So many copied. Probably homemade since it's easier to make a set of steel doors than to obtain cast iron. Draft caps were easy to make for a welder with the cooler fin too. A picture of the doors open showing the door seal, if any may help identify it.

    A solid damper was used with oil burners. At least I have a collection of antique dampers, and one is solid and says "Oil Burner Use Only" on it. It takes larger holes than 1/2". Some have a series of 3/4" half round holes along the shank, and they still fill up. It takes a hole about 4" X 2" in the center of an 8 inch damper for the "night idle" fully shut mode. It's easy to replace with a cast one from a hardware store. They're cheap and have the correct hole in the center. You should leave yours about 1/4 open to consider it closed.

    A baffle plate under the exhaust vent is the single best improvement if it doesn't already have one.

    If this stove has firebrick in it, the first fire of the season will seem to take forever to get heat out of it. The bricks absorb moisture over the summer, and it takes quite a while to evaporate it out. This is a quenching effect like throwing water in it. New bricks are worse, give them a few burns.

    This is how a Grandpa operates, for all practical purposes that's about what you have.
    It's going to take a half hour to start, burning with the damper partially closed, intakes open a turn or so. Then close the damper, set the draft caps (intakes) to about 1/2 turn and let it come up to temp. Only put enough in for the outside temps. overnight. It's easy to overdo it. Don't put your summer shorts away. It will probably work fine reduced from 8 to 6, not exactly code reducing it, but the reason for 8 inch is for open burning with a screen installed to see the fire like a fireplace. Doors shut with that reduction is going to put out some serious heat when it gets cold enough to draft well. 20's overnight will work better.
  12. Grannyknot

    Grannyknot New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2011
    Messages:
    81
    Loc:
    East Tennessee
    Thanks for the info Coaly.
    The door seal looks nothing like the Grandpa Bear. It has a large gasket all the way around the opening and then a gasket down the left door, where they overlap.
    It does have a baffle plate.
    The stove does have fire bricks that are in great shape. And yes, the first fire did take forever, and yes, probably because they had moisture in them. It was in a very damp basement when I purchased it. Had to do lots of work with a wire brush and high temp paint.
    I'm not really sure why they reduced, but it was to 7, not 6. This is just the pipe that the guy gave me with the stove. Do you think it would be worthwhile to purchase 8" pipe?
    Any ideas where I should look to find a screen for it, or maybe a retro-fit single glass door with vents? (if there is such a thing)
    Thanks for the tips on starting it up.
  13. otsegony

    otsegony Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2006
    Messages:
    31
    I have a very similar set-up in my basement. It is a Fisher-clone made in Canada that went by the name of "Sure-Fire." Looks almost exactly the same as yours, except for a few details. Functionally, it works just like the genuine Fisher that I had years ago in Vermont and is a great source of heat. Presently, it is providing all of the heat for my 2000sq ft home and I hope to keep my oil-fired boiler turned off until it gets to at least 10 degrees. It is a system that works quite well for me in the cold climate of upstate NY, so I think that you should do quite well with your stove. Some observations:

    1. Get your chimney cleaned and inspected, if you are going to heat full time with wood you will want to know that everything is set up as it should.
    2. I've never seen a solid disk used as a damper in a woodstove. The holes in the damper allow you to better control the air flow through the stove for proper combustion. Although cast-iron dampers are commonly available at hardware stores, I bought one from a vendor listed on this site that was of heavier construction and made in the USA for the same cost as my local ACE Hardware version.
    3. I agree with Coaly's method of running the stove. If you are heating from the basement you will need a hot fire for the heat to rise. I would also turn off the furnace blower as per Aussiedog's suggestion. The stove will heat mostly radiantly, heating up the structure of the home and secondarily by passive air convection. It really takes a dedicated wood furnace to work well when using blowers and ductwork.
    4. THIS IS MY BIGGEST SUGGESTION, SO I'M WRITING IT IN ALL CAPS! Insulate your basement walls with insulation board or specially designed fiberglass bats. You want your heat to go UP, not OUT and only insulating the walls and the rim joists will do that. This became very obvious to me when we were prior to insulating our house while constructing our house. During the winter the snow was melted three feet away from the foundation wall, even during a very cold period. As soon as the insulation went up, the snow started to pile against the house. There are several different methods to insulating basements and you have to take care not to trap moisture, but it will pay for itself and make your stove a much more effective source of heat.

    Good luck!
  14. coaly

    coaly Fisher Moderator Staff Member

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    The pipe and flue are "supposed" to be the same size as stove outlet all the way up. Many newer chimneys are 6 inch, and many older larger outlet stoves are connected to them. That doesn't make it right, and chokes the stove down, but if the max. BTU isn't needed, it does work. It may smoke with doors open depending on a lot of factors.

    Afraid you're on your own to make parts for that one. The door opening on an older Grandpa is 22" wide X 11" high. The UL listed Grandpa with arched top doors is 21" wide X 10 1/2" high. Grandma and Inserts are 17 X 10 1/2. They latch on from the inside through the hole, so the gasket isn't a problem. The angle of your door hinge plates may be a factor.

    Glass door stoves have a different intake system with air draft controls on the sides for primary combustion air, and front control for air wash over glass.

    Attached Files:

  15. Grannyknot

    Grannyknot New Member

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    Thanks Coaly.
    So what you are saying is that for optimum performance I should look into removing the reducer and running 8" pipe all the way to the flue?
    The flue opening in the chimney is 8" as well.
    I don't think I will mess with the doors, I was just curious about options.
    Eventually I'll buy a more efficient stove, but a man has to start somewhere.....plus I'm poor.
  16. coaly

    coaly Fisher Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, NFPA Solid Fuel installation codes do not allow reduction of pipe or flue size. Most stoves are sized with the outlet required for the firebox area. The double door stoves were designed to view the fire with a larger door width, so the outlet was made larger to prevent smoke roll back with open door operation. Since the code reads stove outlet size must remain the same all the way up, that doesn't take into consideration other stoves with the same square inch firebox or larger that were built with a 6 inch vent. (Papa Bear) You loose a certain amount of efficiency to be able to view the fire. They were called "Fireplace / Heater" for a reason. Two uses with different results. The Fisher manual reads "use with screen in place for fireplace viewing, and with closed doors, the stove becomes an efficient heater". The wider Fireplace Series also takes up less area sticking out into the room than a single door deeper stove, so that is another reason so many were sold.
  17. Grannyknot

    Grannyknot New Member

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    The old Grandpa Bear Clone is doing the job this morning.

    I got up an extra hour earlier to devote some time to the wood stove before I left for work.
    I didn't burn through the night, so I was starting with a cold fire box.
    At 6am, the inside temp was 67, outside temps were 39 and dropping fast.
    It took about 45 minutes to get the old beast up and running. I loaded her about 2/3 full before I left for work.
    Got an email from my wife a minute ago. Inside temps are 72 and outside temps are 35.

    Maybe I can get some well-seasoned wood sometime this winter and this thing will work out.

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