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Absolute Beginner here

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Topperlove, Nov 23, 2008.

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  1. Topperlove

    Topperlove New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2008
    Messages:
    5
    Loc:
    Central Illinois
    We just bought a house, an A-frame. It already has a brick fireplace with a Russo woodburning insert. This insert seems to have an Add-A-Cat combustor unit installed too. It's about medium size. The chimney has been cleaned for the season. Problem is I haven't a clue how to use it. I have a large conventional fireplace where I live now and it's simple, beautiful, and wasteful. I'm very excited about saving some energy in my new place because it's nearly 4,000 sq. ft. with two heating and cooling units for different floors. This fireplace s on the middle or main floor as is the kitchen, library, two baths, a livingroom and the master bedroom. There is seasoned firewood on the property cut up into small logs. There is a heavy black cord attached to the unit. I feel like a dunce. Where do I begin? There is a brass key type apparatus above the fireplace. Is that to open the flue when I start the fire? I don't want to burn my wonderful new place down, but all the previous owner left was the sales booklet and some diagrams for the Add-A-Cat. Help!!!!!!

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  2. ControlFreak

    ControlFreak Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Messages:
    490
    Loc:
    Holden, MA
    Ooofff! You've asked a lot of questions that are hard to answer from a verbal description. I would suggest that you find someone locally who knows about wood heat and serve them a nice meal to come and help you get started.
  3. Topperlove

    Topperlove New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2008
    Messages:
    5
    Loc:
    Central Illinois
    Thanks so much. The brochure has a company name stamped on it from a heating and cooling company in a nearby city. I think I'll call them to see if there is some sort of instruction book for it as to how much wood to use, how the blower works, etc.
  4. Cath

    Cath Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2007
    Messages:
    292
    I'm bumping this thread in the hopes that someone who is familiar with Russo can give you some useful feedback. In the meanwhile if you have a digital camera and are more tech savvy than I am I would suggest posting a couple of pictures of the insert and one of the key you are describing.

    Good luck and keep us posted.
    ~Cath
  5. BJ64

    BJ64 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Messages:
    608
    Loc:
    NE Oklahoma
    Re-bump.

    I agree with Cath. We are a picture dependent bunch of people here. :)

    Oh and welcome to the forum and congrats on your new home! That has got to be exciting for you.
  6. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2008
    Messages:
    3,789
    Loc:
    Shelton, WA
    Bigg Redd says start a fire in there and see what happens.

    Worst case scenario you burn your house and all your sh_t down. I dunno about Illinois but in WA an insurance claim cannot be denied because of the claimant's stupidity. I say let'er rip.
  7. ansehnlich1

    ansehnlich1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2006
    Messages:
    1,601
    Loc:
    Adams County, PA
    I'm with Bigg-Redd, 'cept for the burnin' down the house part :)

    Open the thing up, get a flash light, and look around, I mean, really look around inside the thing, that'll familiarize ya with interior of it, then....

    Start with a small piece of newspaper and hold it in there, light it, and see if the smoke goes up.

    Fiddle with it for a while til ya feel comfortable the flue is open.

    Read the CAT literature and educate yerself as to how that works,

    Make sure ya build a small, small fire, just a couple pieces of paper and a couple pieces of small kindling.

    OR....

    Wait if you ain't sure, or if you're askeeeered to death, somebody on here might know that Russo and how it operates.
  8. Topperlove

    Topperlove New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2008
    Messages:
    5
    Loc:
    Central Illinois
    Well, aren't all of you kind. When the home inspector went over the place, he had his head and flashlight inside the thing and said it looked great and that the chimney looked clean and that everything seemed to be in good working order. He was so nice and knowledgeable, I wish that I had asked him. Judging by the wood stacks and the previous owners' utility bills, I'm sure they used it. I will go there today armed with my camera. And now in a bold display of total ignorance, I can ask: Is a damper and a flue the same thing. I'm thinking the brass key thing was the original fireplace's mechanism to open and close the flue and still is. I don't know if it can be just either open or closed or can be partly opened or what.
    Thanks again. I'm so glad I found this place. Places that sell this kind of equipment tend to be rather unhelpful if they know they're not going to make a sale. But then they don't want the liability of bad information either, I suppose. I just want simple operating instructions.
  9. Cearbhaill

    Cearbhaill Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Messages:
    356
    Loc:
    The deep end
    Not that folks here won't help you, but if you were to pay the local sweep for a service call they will go over everything with you. With luck you can find whomever has been servicing the house and they would be familiar with the unit. At least make a few phone calls and ask around.
    Oops- edited to add I see you found a brochure with a name. They could come out.
  10. Topperlove

    Topperlove New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2008
    Messages:
    5
    Loc:
    Central Illinois
    Good advice. I'm going to have to phone the previous owners who are in Texas now. And do you really have Irish Wolfhounds? Love them.
  11. Cath

    Cath Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2007
    Messages:
    292
    I did some digging on this site and found the following:
    Hearth.com wiki on Russo stoves
    http://hearth.com/econtent/index.php/wiki/Russo_Stoves/

    Hearth.com -- key word search “Russo Insert”
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/search_results/df6b53ac79a1167b9fd4fd002f1b4c65/

    Hearth.com thread -- Help with Russo installation with pics
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/26100/
    Post # 8
    I checked the yellow pages. It looks like they might still be in business.

    The following links may help (two glossaries and two diagrams)
    SEI glossary
    http://www.sei.ie/energymap/Glossary/
    Damper (flue) - A movable plate used to control flue gas flow
    A movable plate used to control flue gas flow

    Homesaver - Glossary of Chimney Related Terms
    http://www.locktopdampers.com/content/glossary.aspx
    DAMPER CABLE
    That part of a top-sealing damper that runs from the damper down the chimney to the firebox. It has a handle on the firebox end for the purpose of opening and closing the damper.

    FLUE
    Any device used for containing and venting the products of combustion from gas, oil, or solid fuel appliances or fireplaces. Also, the inner part of a chimney that contains the products of combustion from gas, oil, or solid fuel appliances or fireplaces. Flues can be made of clay tiles or of metal.

    Boston’s Best Chimney Sweep
    http://www.bestchimney.com/product_list.html
    Dampers
    There are two locations for a damper. The Throat Damper is placed in the throat of the chimney, just above the firebox; the Top Sealing damper is placed on top of the chimney and operated by a mechanism that descends into the lower part of the chimney.

    The Fireplace Channel - Chimney Articles
    http://www.thefireplacechannel.com/articles/article/3679544/55112.htm

    ~Cath
  12. Topperlove

    Topperlove New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2008
    Messages:
    5
    Loc:
    Central Illinois
    All of you are just so nice! I think I will begin tomorrow by calling the Russo Products number. If that doesn't help, I sent a message to my realtor to find out who their chimneysweep was. And if that person isn't available, I'll check with the heating/cooling dealer whose name is stamped on the product brochure. I really appreciate all of your digging on my behalf. I spent four hours online yesterday looking. I didn't get to the place for photos today, but I'll try to get it done tomorrow.
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