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Am i burning right?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by drozenski, Nov 5, 2010.

  1. drozenski

    drozenski New Member

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    Stove info

    Sierra 8000 Tec Cat stove
    Wood moisture of 15-22% few splits at 26% but thats just about gone and i only mix it in with my best wood.


    Right now my glass gets dirty. My chimney is very tall. 2 story house but it dosent extend over the top of my roof. I have a very steep roof and didnt have the money to extend the chimney this year. Though my chimney is about 20ft or more high.

    I have an decent draft. I get very little smoke spillage. Usually only when the fire is low and i open the door too fast.

    Now when i load up my stove i burn it hot for 10-15 mins with the door cracked then close it up. reduce the air and pop down the cat. I usually have little to no flame. I dont have smoke coming out the chimney so i know the cat is working but my glass gets dirty.

    Any way to fix this issue? I think extending my chimney would help but im not sure.

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  2. bobforsaken

    bobforsaken Member

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    I'm new to burning so I really can't offer a lot of experience.. I'm almost in the exact same boat... Cat Stove (Jotul 12) with not so great wood... My chimney does extend to proper height and had perfect draft. (also it is through roof setup, not through wall).

    Having used a non cat stove for the summer I had no issues with dirty glass or draft.. Since switch to a cat stove I have dirty glass when I use the Cat for a long time with very low air intake to extend the burn (like overnight) When my wife burns during the day with the air wide open (but using the cat) we dont' have dirty glass issues.

    Curious if you have the same experience as it relates to air intake vs Glass getting dirty.
  3. bobforsaken

    bobforsaken Member

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    BTW.. same experience here with little or no flame.. (though I try to keep it little flame.. not no flame).. When running on the Cat with air wide open, I don't have a lot of flames but considerably more
  4. fjord

    fjord New Member

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    Some will give you similar advice on burning your cat stove, but time and experience will be the best solution.

    First, forget this moisture meter stuff, it ain't real. Those probes enter the wood perhaps a few mm only. The meter reads surface only. It may be a fad, or ?????????????? :roll:
    Firewood seasoning is a learned art--simple, yet tricky. It's a combination and permutation of weight, color, sound of 2 splits banging together, end checks. Easy with time.

    Second: you want heat or fire viewing ? Stove glass will never stay completely clear with dead serious wood burning. You could spend too long keeping it 'clean'. With 2 wood stoves, the clear ceramic ( it's not "glass")
    is only cleaned for guests, when we feel like it, or doing stove maintenance. Maybe for a romatic evening "by the fire".

    Third, cat burning. The noble metal on your cat needs to be hot enough to "light off", or hot enough to reburn the wood gases. The usual cat SOP is to let the new load get up to normal stove temperature ( pyrolysis ) which is normal coaling. The bypass to the cat is engaged, and THEN allowed to rise again to light off for the cat. THEN the primary air can be adjusted down. It's worked for our cats. Remember that cats have a life of
    ~ 12,000 hours---close to 2+ years of 24/7 burning.

    Finally draft. Others have more flue expertise here. Your flue needs to be a minimum of 2' above the roof, and 10' from any ridge or tree or obstruction. That's the minimum to avoid downdraft or draw problems.

    Oh BTW: IF you want to avoid an eyebrow singe, never open any stove door at low air. Open the primary air FIRST, give the smouldering fire a chance to get O2 from the draft, THEN open the door. It's called backdraft.
    We've learned.

    JMNSHO
  5. drozenski

    drozenski New Member

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    Same experience here down to the letter.
  6. guest5234

    guest5234 New Member

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    Moisture meter is a must for a beginner. split a piece the wood you are going to use that night and test the moisture content, dirty glass means dirty chimney, burn small and hot for the first hour or so, get the temp up.
    glass will always stay clear if you are burning correctly.
  7. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Little to no flame on a very low burn with the catalyst engaged is perfectly normal since all the smoke burning is happening in the cat chamber. This is why cat stoves can burn lower than non cat, but is also why its hard to keep the glass clear.

    Non-cats dont have as much of the dirty class problem because the smoke re-burn happens in the firebox and keeps the glass very hot.

    You should not have to crack the door except on the first start-up of a cold stove. On reloads just leave the air wide open till it gets close to desired temp then start backing it off. i.e. If Im going for 500F then I leave it wide open till it hits 400 then start backing it off in steps so as not to overshoot.

    If you do get some smoke open the air wide to get the fire good and hot for 5min or so before opening the door. This helps strengthen the draft (BTW Im assuming you open the bypass whenever you open the door).
  8. guest5234

    guest5234 New Member

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    A smaller, hotter fire will cause less smoke and creosote than a cold, smoldering one.
  9. fjord

    fjord New Member

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    Unfortunately the ceramic will not always stay clean for long burns Neil. For 24/7 fires for heating there will always be some low, even smouldering fires...it's the nature of the beast when wood is used for heating. No "correct" way at all EXCEPT for throwing a load in, then immedialtely damping the fire. That is not "correct". For short evening or quick hot entertainment fires, yes the ceramic will stay clear. Wood burning FOR HEAT is an imperefect art. Those moisture meters will only read the split's surface ( excellent for millers measuring dimensional lumber ).
    For those using the wood stove for heating 24/7, unclear ceramic on the doors is a fact of life. We can't imagine probing every log split we use in an average winter day ! Damn. What's the beef with knowing how to tell if your wood is seasoned sufficiently without gadgets ? It's not Particle Physics.
    What would Msr. Shakespeare say to this?
  10. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Sounds to me like your cutting the air and engaging the cat too soon. That cat acts like a pipe damper it will reduce your draft when you engage, don't cut the air back so fast, let it adjust to the fire and turn it down in small increments.
  11. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Although you have a window for viewing the fire, you do not have to put up with black or dirty glass! Contrary to some folks opinion, black glass is not necessary!

    Methinks a lot of your problem is highlighted above. Why are you leaving the door cracked and burning hot for 10-15 minutes? If the stove is burning hot, there is no need to crack the door! The only reason for cracking the door is to get the fire started. Once it is started, close it tight. Then wait the 10-15 minutes with the draft set full open (well, sometimes you might have to dial it down a bit). Then when you turn the cat on it is time to dial down the draft....but not the full way just yet. Do it in increments. Try dialing down to a half. Wait 5-10 minutes and then go to 25%. Keep dialing down to where you want it. If you want flame, then don't close the draft so much. This is what Todd was stating. Todd is very knowledgeable with cat stoves and knows what he is talking about.

    fwiw, the only time we get any black glass is on the first fires of the fall or that first time when the stove was new. As soon as we had a good fire going it just cleaned right off. We probably clean our glass maybe 2-3 times per year. Then it is just some gray fly ash and it cleans very easy.
  12. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    That statement in bold is not necessarily true! Cat stoves usually burn very clean and the glass stays clean also.
  13. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    On the eyebrow singe, if you wait until it is all coals you should not get that. However, you should still open the draft full and wait a minute or two before opening the firebox door.

    Good luck to all.
  14. fjord

    fjord New Member

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    Ah the perfect among us :lol: ....if only it were true in the real world. The "clear ceramic" in this VC Encore 2550 ( #3 since '89 because of moves ) will not stay clear. Good dry wood ( NO M² ), smaller splits, clean ~ 4000 hour metal cat, excellent burn practices as all agree to allow the cat to light off. So what have we been doing all these years to deserve this dreaded "black glass" malady ?

    BTW: same excellent burn practices ( if I don't say so myself :bug: ) with the non cat Oslo. Following the EBP (Excellent Burn Practice) the Oslo is also damped down to low air when necessary. And would you believe, voila, "blackened glass". Tech reps have said that it is normal over time; but what do they at Jotul USA know ?.

    So, would these gurus of perfection in wood burning kindly enlighten. Please. Curious minds want to know how to rise to this state of "clear glass" perfection. OMMMMMMMMMMM..............
  15. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    fjord, some sarcasm is detected here but that is okay. However, if you seek perfection, you had best look somewhere else.

    What I have written is true. So, is it the stove, the fuel or the burning practices? Because this is our first stove with a window for viewing the fire, it is all I have to go on for experience. We've had this stove for 3 years now and are very happy with it. Most of the wood we have burned has been cut to length, split and stacked for 5-7 years. We burn mostly white ash and soft maple with some elm and cherry mixed in. Of course there is some occasional other stuff but not enough to give much thought to it. We have burned almost 9 cord of wood since getting this stove. In the 3 years we have burned with this stove, we rarely clean the glass, we clean the cat twice per year and have cleaned the chimney only once to get about a cup of soot from it.
  16. fjord

    fjord New Member

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    Sorry Dennis, Woodstocks are a different cat animal ( pun intended ) and thick soapstone. VC cats were engineered to run another way: after the new load gets up to stovetop temp ~ 550-600 F, the cat bypass is engaged. Then without changing the bimetallic coil air control the temp will drop. It then will rise once again. It is then that the air control is adjusted to needed stove temp. I Was not clear (another bad intended pun about "black glass" ).

    When you've used a variety of wood stoves over the years both pre- and post EPA, you do get to know the idiosyncracies of each. My all time fav stove for simplicity, and efficiency is the Tempwood (anyone here use one now ?). It's still used here in sporting camps in the North Woods such as Little Lyford Pond Camps northeast of Greenville, Maine on paper company roads ( ski in, or snow sled in winter ). We had the first snow last weekend-- ~ 3", but pretty.
  17. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Some stoves glass stays cleaner than others whether it's cat or non cat imo. Woodstock is well known for their clean glass and I think it has something to do with the double pane glass. Although my Keystone has a dirty spot on the lower right side I can't figure out, maybe too short of chimney to get that optimum draft during low burns?
  18. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Forgive me fjord, perhaps I have not burned as long as you nor have used as many stoves as you.
  19. fjord

    fjord New Member

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    Sarcasm deleted Dennis. Thx.
    Our EBPs also give barely a cupful of soot in the 2 flues in the spring sweep. There's 5-8 cord/year of mostly Red/Soft Maple and Paper/White Birch from our woodlands winter harvested going through both stoves So the EBP must be OK.
    I've been impressed with the build, efficiency, quality, and customer service of Woodstock ( and Jotul ). The aesthetics of the Woodstock stoves just don't do it for us.....like Husky/Stihl, Sig/Glock, HaggenDaz/Ben and Jerry's. The VC Encore WHEN OPERATING CORRECTLY is (was) a fine burn machine for us.
    Appreciate the reply. Hope we helped the OP tonight.
  20. fjord

    fjord New Member

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    You are forgiven My Son. :lol:

    ( BTW: The first VC cats also had double pane ceramic. They were a PITA to re gasket......and did soot up.)
  21. Diabel

    Diabel Minister of Fire

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    All I will say......split one of the pieces of wood you burn & check the moisture reading... I bet you it is not ready! I am burning wood that I believe it is not ready (boarder line - shoulder season) cut & split Jan'10 (pine/silver maple & dead standing elm). Yet, I have no problem with glass getting black.

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