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A few questions for a newbie

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by wtb1, Jan 22, 2009.

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  1. wtb1

    wtb1 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
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    Loc:
    Mississippi
    Hello all. My wife and I just purchased a Hampton i300 for our home. We built our house about 4 years ago with a fairly open floor plan. We were hoping to be able to heat at least the family room and kitchen fairly well as this is where we spend most of our time.

    We broke in the stove with a medium fire to warm things up and to sure the paint as recommended by the manufacturer. I just have a few questions and hope you guys can help and please forgive my ignorance.

    I was able to get a good fire going with paper and kindling and a few splits of dry wood. The stove seems to draft properly as I can shut the door and run the air full and the fire burns fairly well. The fire does respond to the air control as when I close down the air the fire dies down as well. My questions are the following:

    1). How do I tell when the secondary burn is taking place and what is the best way to get the secondary burn going?

    2). The stove was not really able to heat the family room very well. This might be related to the above question as I am not sure I had a secondary burn going and we also have a pretty open floor plan with no doors separating the family room, front foyer, dining room and kitchen. What is the best way to maximize the heat output from this stove?

    Thanks in advance for your answers.

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  2. edthedawg

    edthedawg Minister of Fire

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    Chances are you have unseasoned and/or wet wood.

    This is the part where you insist it's seasoned and dry.

    :)

    Secondary burn is a lazy flame at the top of the box - happens only when very hot, and usually after backing the airflow down. You are probably running wide open to get hot, but that is using all the fuel capacity of the wood, and then you're seeing it die down and cool off - right?? Try backing the airflow down about halfway after 10 minutes of good strong flame - you should see the flames keep going but slow down a little - and your temps should go up as a result. You're keeping more fire in the box this way, as opposed to wasting it up the flue. All new stoves operate this way - you don't run with the air intake wide open sustained.

    Couple questions - are you measuring any temps? What do you have for a chimney/liner setup? length/dia? interior/exterior/insulated/ etc? How is your wood REALLY seasoned or dry? This one fakes a lot of new burners out.

    Overall - you probably just need to run it, get used to it; learn how to build larger, hotter, longer-lasting fires w/out overfiring; and develop a good loading / reloading practice and a strong ash bed. Looking fwd to your answers - and seeing you heat it up nice w/ that stove! :)
  3. drdoct

    drdoct Feeling the Heat

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    Ed's probably right about your wood. Get the thermometer to measure your temp. I've learned that you've got to burn hot to keep the secondaries going good. Mine might be because I don't have great wood... just 20-30% moisture which will burn ok at high temps. When you get it hot enough you'll HAVE to shut the air down and it will seem like nothing happened. To me that's the definition of 'cruising'. Not sure about your stove top temps but my Lopi runs at 600 when it's cruising.
  4. wtb1

    wtb1 Member

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    Loc:
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    I have some seasoned wood that has season for over a year and some that is somewhat seasoned. I think my mistake was not cutting the air back soon enough and burning with too much air. I will be cutting some wood in the next few weeks for next winter so it should be good and dry.

    I have a full 4 or 6" inch liner going up a chimney that is external.


    I will probably try again tonight and see if I can get the secondary burn going. What type thermometer would you guys suggest? Right now I do not have one and would like to know what temperature I am running at to help in learning to run this insert.
  5. Pagey

    Pagey Minister of Fire

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    I can't speak for your particular stove model, but I can tell you what I do with my stove. We'll assume I'm reloading after a load of wood has burned down and is in the last bit of the coaling stages. This puts my stove top around 300F to 350F. I open the bypass damper (some stoves do not have this feature, my Endeavor does), and then I open the primary air control all the way. This gets the smoke/volatiles directed directly up the flue. I load my stove north/south, so I rake the coals out into a nice, even bed on the ash bed. Then I lay down a row of splits and push the door almost closed. Depending on just how hot the coal bed is and how dry/what species the fresh splits are, I have a nice primary combustion very quickly. I then gently open the door again and lay down another row or two of splits, again north/south, depending on just how much heat I need. I close the door again, but I do not latch it. Once the full load is engaged well in primary combustion, I latch the door, and the stove is now around 350F, assuming I reloaded at 300F. Once the load is fully involved, I close the bypass damper. By now, I have a full, rolling fire consisting of both primary and secondary combustion. I then close my primary air control by about 1/2. Again, depending on the load of wood, the stove will get up to about 450F to 500F. I can then close down the primary air by about 3/4. Now I'll have a very active secondary combustion - i.e., flames rolling across the top of the wood and appearing out of 'thin air' from the gas exiting the ends of the wood. After another 20-30 minutes I can close the primary almost fully and still have lazy secondary flames.

    Watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-5yFVYSXhw

    Go to about 45 seconds, you'll see the Liberty burning with the primary air fully open. The whole load of wood is engaged and burning. Then watch what happens just after the 1:00 mark. He closes the primary, and you see the fire move to the top of the wood/fire box. That's your visible secondary combustion - i.e., the wood gases combusting due to the high heat within the firebox. Now, you won't get a full on pyro show like this the entire time. Usually when you first cut back the primary air. But, even with slower, lazier secondary flames, you should see only heat shimmers coming from your chimney.

    Hope that helps.
  6. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    I have the same stove. If the wood is dry, then you're only cutting down the air too late to see secondary burn if it's nearly all coals.

    I find that I get better heat if I make the air keep pace with the progress of the fire. Here's what I do with dry wood- starting from nothing- I load it right up. Then I throw a few pieces of birch bark in the front and light them up. leave the door open just a crack. When it's lit up well, close the door and leave the air open.

    From there- you could close the air 1/2 way when the whole thing is really flaming up, then the rest of the way when the flame recovers from less air. You should see the secondaries burning well right away. If you closed the air too soon, they will die out within about 10 mins. Once you have it learned, it's easy to figure out. I feel the heat increase well as soon as I have the air closed.

    If the wood is "seasoned" improperly, then you'll have a hard time getting the secondary fire going well in a reasonable time. I have wood that is a year old that would burn like crap if i tried it. I won't get into "what is dry" and how do you know (hint- if the guy selling it says so... it definitely doesn't make it so), but how it burns is a good test.
  7. wtb1

    wtb1 Member

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    Had a little better success last night. I think the wood I am using is not quite seasoned enough. I got some secondary burn going but not a whole lot. It is a learning curve and learn more with each burn I guess. I will be cutting wood in the next few weeks and split it to let it season over the spring and summer and then move it to a shed in the fall. I feel that it will be seasoned enough to burn by late Nov.

    Any suggestions on a moisture meter for wood?
  8. Pagey

    Pagey Minister of Fire

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  9. jjhof0306

    jjhof0306 New Member

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    :coolsmile: It's a trial and error thing, and every stove is different. Like others have said, the air inside the stove has to be hot enough to ignite the gasses emitted by teh wood in order to acheive secondary burn. The best advice I can give is to BE PATIENT! It's true that the wood has to be fully involved and burning well. However, I have found that the stovetop temp is as important as the amount of flame in the firebox. I don't even consider touching the primary air until the stovetop is 500*, usually a bit higher. Then I shut it down about half way, and wait again. Once it's up to at least 550, I'll shut it down completely if it's not too cold out. If it's really cold out, I'll leave the primary air open a bit. For my stove, I watch it carefully because they're known for taking off.

    Keep in mind, this is for my stove. Your stove is different and likely has different max temps. I tend to run mine a bit hotter than the manual says is the "best" temp range.

    Poorly seasoned wood will still burn, it just takes a bit longer for the wood to get burning well, so the whole process takes longer. More of the energy in the wood is expended to boil off the moisture, and you might end up with more coals then you'd like. In a perfect world, we'd all have an endless supply of perfectly seasoned wood. Barring that, we do what we need to to keep warm. Just keep an eye on your chimney for creosote buildup.

    Good luck, and have fun!
  10. cocey2002

    cocey2002 Member

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    Loc:
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    You are running the blower correct? I get my 16X18 family room up to 83 degrees without much effort. Heats my 2200 sqft house no problem. Good luck
  11. wtb1

    wtb1 Member

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    I have the blower on automatic and low for the moment in order to try and keep the firebox temp as high as I can since I am having issues getting the secondary burns.
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