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A day in the life of a CAT stove owner?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Bster13, Apr 9, 2013.

  1. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    Newbie here who is about to purchase a BK Princess insert (hoping for a spring sale!). I've collected 7 cords of wood since November of 2012 and before I take the next step I'd like to know what it's like to own a cat stove in terms of feeding the beast, hope long it takes you to get a steady fire going before you leave for work, etc.

    I'd love some member feedback, maybe like what sort of steps/times it takes from a cold stove as well as from a stove that had a fire in it the night before...like:

    - get up at 7am and open the air dampers full blast for 10min.
    - 7:10 let the dog back in and with hot coals (in the coldest part of the winter), fully pack the BK with splits.
    - 7:45 close down the dampers to whatever settings I want the stove to cruise at and go to work.
    - etc....

    Thanks!
    Jon1270 likes this.

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  2. Beetle-Kill

    Beetle-Kill Minister of Fire

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    Before you go any further, the wood needs to be addressed. 7 cord since Nov. of last year won't be ready to burn normally, if your intent is to burn this coming season.
    Outside of that, your morning time frame should work with dry wood.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  3. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    If a bunch of that wood is ash, maple, and cherry, it should be fine. But dryer is most definitely better.

    Your procedure is about it. Over time, you'll figure out how much of what kind of wood for the given outside temp, so you don't end up with a huge pile of coals that takes two hours to burn down.

    It's a pretty darn simple stove to operate.
  4. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    I realize burning wood as soon as I'll have to is not optimal, I also think it's better than some though. The year after next I'll be two years ahead and smooth sailing.

    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/from-newbie-to-hoarder-saying-thanks.108110/

    I was totally making up that morning schedule as an example, I have no idea of how it will really pan out....looking for other member experiences. THx.
  5. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    It's a lot of oak and maple. I'll have to pick through the oak and set it aside. Ugh.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  6. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    That is really all there is to it. Once the load is charred and starting to offgas well, you can start shutting it down. How long that takes depends on your draft and fuel. I have never spent more than thirty minutes at it, unless I have really packed it in there and not had much airflow between splits. Those loads take a long time to get rolling, but they burn for a looong time ;).
    2013-02-15_05-59-10_149.jpg
  7. dave_376

    dave_376 Burning Hunk

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    your wood should be fine for your first year of burning. If the oak is in a good dry sunny area with some air movement and the slits are on the smaller side (not huge overnight pieces) you will be able to burn them too.
    Good luck on the new stove.
  8. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    I have to admit, I've gotten more lazy with my splits as I've started to store my "year 2" wood. When I was originally splitting, I was splitting everything really small because it was a new and exiting hobby, plus I wanted it to dry ASAP and I also stacked the first few cords criss cross all the way through for max air. We'll see.

    Ok. So thinking about this some more as I plan my morning routine... how much time do you guys estimate you spend at the stove itself. I guess opening the dampers in the morning, ya gotta be there for that, then u can walk away for a few minutes and shave or something. Then you need to reload the stove with a few splits, ya gotta be there for that and possibly you need to stay there while u have the front door cracked open and you're waiting for the splits to take off? How much total time will I be spending (yes I know it's an estimate) standing there in front of the stove instead of getting ready in the morning?
  9. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    Before work I am usually at the stove on and off for about 15 minutes in the morning. I am usually running around getting other stuff done while the wood is charring. I load it full.
  10. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    No more than 30 minutes in the morning to get things going. If I'm in a hurry I can be done in 15 minutes. The nice thing with these stoves is once you get it dialed in it stays dialed in. The non cat I ran before this BK I wasn't comfortable leaving without watching it for an hour after I reloaded. For fast hassle free reloads dry wood is a must, without it you'll be waiting on a lazy fire to get going before you can start dialing it in.

    All adjustments besides loading the stove are made on a passing by the stove basis. I don't sit in front of it waiting to adjust it. Of course sitting with it when you're learning the new stove isn't a bad idea.
  11. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I usually take about 45 minutes to get two stoves loaded and cruising, unless I'm using some of my poorest (read "least seasoned") wood. That time includes hauling the wood in thru the basement. That said, weekends and evenings are the friend of the newbie burner. Make a point of timing yourself, as you do your weekend or evening loads, and you'll quickly get an idea for what sort of time you need to leave yourself in the morning.
  12. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Don't have a blaze king, so don't know if it benefits from s slightly different start up procedure.

    My cat start up, with a hot coal bed, consists of opening the air all the way, waiting only a moment, opening the door, loading the stove. The wood is almost always in active flame by the time I close the door. I don't leave the door cracked open at all, but rather shut it immediately. Shut the air immediately to about 3/4, and keep an eye on the stove for the next fifteen minutes or so, walking in and out of the room doing tasks, but keeping an eye on the stove, shutting the air down in first 1/4, then af the end 1/8 increments, as the fire develops. I shut it down by 1/4 as soon as it is burning well, then wait until it is burning well at that setting, then shut it down again, repeat until the last 1/8 shut down. Finally shut it down all the way, and just crack it open for a long cat burn. Without having the mentioned 10 minute period of letting the stove heat up with the air fully open before loading, the entire procedure may take 15 minutes, possibly up to 30 minutes if it is warm out and the draft is lower. Each stove, and brand of stove will be different for the final stages, since different stoves burn in low cat mode at different air settings. .
    OldLumberKid likes this.
  13. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, the stepping down of the air damper (maybe different with BK Princess with Bi-metal thermostat?) may take some time, especially if looking to go for a long, fall/spring, burn.
  14. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Morning? I don't do anything, these stoves burn for 30 hours! I do all of my fire tending at about 6pm. If it get's really cold out, like in the teens, then we will throw a few more splits on in the morning for a little boost. I have not had to break down and go to short 12 hour cycles with any regularity this year. I am only at 700 ft ASL near Mt. Rainier though so my burning season is long but not bitterly cold. I will be burning nearly every day until mid June.

    When I need to start a fire in a cold stove, it is all set and cruising within about 30 minutes from lighting the match. So if you must reload or restart, you can do it within 30 minutes. Most of that is waiting for the cat probe to indicate high enough temps to close the bypass. During that time, it is safe to go shave or whatever but don't forget!
    OldLumberKid likes this.
  15. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    I should probably store my keys near the stove then so I don't forget, eh? :p
  16. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Some people set egg timers. Some wait for the smell of hot paint.
    Gark and Bster13 like this.
  17. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    How much time it will take depends upon the wood, what is left for coals, draft, etc. There is no hard and fast rule to follow.

    For us, it is a case of get up, open the draft full and step out onto the porch for a handful of wood. Come back in with the wood and open the bypass. Put wood in stove and let it go. If there are not many coals then we will leave the door ajar for a little bit to get the flames rolling. If a good coal bed then we just put the wood in and close the door. It rarely takes more than 15 minutes before we engage the catalyst and cut the draft. However, we normally cut the draft to about 1/4 open and wait a few minutes. Usually the fire is going well so then we'll cut the draft to the normal setting and all is well. If I were trying to burn the wood you have, it would probably take 30-45 minutes to get the stove to where I were comfortable to engage the cat. Remember, water is enemy to a catalyst and that is just one reason to have good dry wood.

    Please forgive me but I hate reading something like that first sentence you wrote. "not optimal" and then you think it's better than some... To me there is no good reason to burn not optimal wood and if I were comparing, I would compare to something good rather than something poor.

    No reason to get lazy with your split yet. I'd keep on splitting small if I were you. As for the criss-crossing, it might help but I think stacking normally but stacking it rather loose will work as well and you'll have stronger stacks and not need as much space.

    As for that oak that was put up in November, that should be good to burn in the winter of 2015-2016. So my advice is to stay away from oak until you get yourself 3 years ahead on your wood supply. When you get to that point you will reap many benefits and will be a lot happier.

    Good luck.
  18. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    Well sure there is (IMO). Everyone has a different circumstance. I want to cut my heating bills starting next season. Unfortunately I did not get the idea until last November. So if I want to still proceed with putting a dent in my heating bills, I'll have to babysit the fire longer and perhaps sweep my chimney more often. I know that's not the Hearth.com collective to burn 1yr old wood, but of course folks get by and I'm sure even between Hearth.com members some folks have only 1-2 year old wood and others have 5+ based off their situation.

    I only have so much space to store my 8 cords, and I stacked it to maximize drying time for this first year. There will be no such thing as 3yr old oak for my living situation, but 2yr old is a real possibility. So we all have different circumstances and sure, I'd like to have 3yr+ old wood, but we all deal with what we got.

    Hopefully I'll be happy just to put a dent in my heating bills period and there won't be too many frustrations with 1yr old wood, but I will put aside the oak as I come across it for yr two. :)
  19. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Fully understood Bster. Knowing that, I'd highly advise to not get any more oak.

    Good luck on the dents! lol You no doubt will be putting some big dents in those bills and enjoying it too.
  20. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    At first I was like "my scrounging for wood skills rock, I got oak!!!" then I was was like "oh crap, that's not going to burn well next year."

    As of late it's been varieties of maples, which happen to split very easily and for that I'm grateful. :)
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  21. mattjm1017

    mattjm1017 Feeling the Heat

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    I know exactly where your coming from I had to burn less than seasoned wood this winter due to I have electric baseboard heat and that's about $350-400 a month electric bill that I just flat out cant afford. I got by kept warm and comfortable even got to hot at times. The downside was that I went through a whole lot more wood than was necessary and had to clean out the chimney a lot more than normal people do. From my personal experience you should be fine just be careful keep an eye on things remember moisture is the enemy of cats so youll have to wait longer than normal to engage the cat. It took me anywhere from 20-45 minutes in the morning to get the stove ready as my wood supply got worse it took longer. Im kind of glad the burning season is over now so I can stop burning wet wood and concentrate on building up the next couple of years wood supply.
    Joful likes this.
  22. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    How long was your wet wood cut/stacked/split for? What species of wood?

  23. mattjm1017

    mattjm1017 Feeling the Heat

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    CSS for anywhere between 2yr old oak ( that burned pretty good until it was gone) 1yr mixture of poplar, maple, beech, and hickory that burned ok and finally fresh split mixture of the same that didn't burn worth a damn.
  24. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    *gulp*
    rideau and mattjm1017 like this.
  25. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Similar situation here. I was burning stuff split and stacked April 2012, for the entire 2012/2013 season. Made getting cat light-offs almost impossible, if I ran too much oak in one load. I found the poplar was perfectly seasoned, and the maple was pretty close to optimal... but the oak was a whole other story. I could do okay burning with 1 part oak to 2 parts poplar, but if I ran a ratio of oak any higher than that, I paid. The maple did well enough if I just threw one or two splits of poplar in under it. Not optimal, but it got me thru the year. The 2013/2014 wood has been CSS'd since Thanksgiving 2012, and the 2014/2015 wood is sitting in rounds waiting to be SS'd later this month.

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