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Any new stoves with bottom primary air?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Adam Scotera, Mar 27, 2013.

  1. Adam Scotera

    Adam Scotera Member

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    Hi all,
    I have a terrible time with primary air coming from the top of a stove. The draft setting that keeps the stove at a reasonable temp during the gas stage of a burn does not allow for complete burning of the wood in a reasonable time, in my experience. Once the charcoal stage begins, I need to open the damper partway or else I will have a large pile of coals that persists for 24-36 hours (emitting heat at a rate far too low for effective heating). This means that I can never leave the stove alone for more than 3 hours after loading if I want optimal heating. I'm omitting the name of my stove for now because I believe, after 3 years of use, that the airwash system of primary air is the problem, and I can't seem to find any new stoves on the market that don't use this technique and boast about it. In my experience, it doesn't even keep the glass clean anyway! What keeps the glass clean is high temperature, which my stove company seems to disapprove of most strongly. I did find that Quadra-fire stoves use bottom primary air, but I won't consider that company after some of the reviews I read. Anybody know of a well-built stove that directs primary air at the coalbed?

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  2. Trilifter7

    Trilifter7 Feeling the Heat

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    I just installed a Quadra-fire Isle Royale and am very happy with it. I believe if you ask around on this site most people who have first hand experience with these stoves have very little to complain about. It sounds to me like you are not happy with the operation of a cat stove in general. A secondary burn stove like Quadra-fire, Englander or Osborn might suit you better
  3. pen

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

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    Often times, symptoms like this could be explained by a weak draft in the chimney, fuel that is not dry enough, or clogged cat (if this is the fireview in your signature) from running with weak draft and or wood that isn't dry enough.

    How tall is the chimney? Is it masonry or stainless? What diameter? Are there 45 or 90 degree bends?

    What kind of wood are you burning? How long has it been cut, split, and stacked in an airy location?
  4. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forum Adam.

    From what you are stating I'll state right away that the problem is not the stove, the problem is the fuel. Simply put, it is not dry enough or in other words, too high of a moisture content.

    Burning wood before it is dry enough will cause lots and lots of coals and like you stated, it can take a long time to burn them down. It will also cause that black glass you speak of. In addition, you need to keep a close track of your chimney because from what you are describing, that chimney probably needs it. Check it as soon as you possibly can.

    Back to the fuel situation. If you are buying your wood, we can almost guarantee that wood is not dry no matter what the wood seller states. Wood sellers simply can not have enough wood on hand and let it dry before selling it. That would also cause them extra labor and labor is not cheap.

    If you are putting up your own wood, hopefully you know what kind of wood you have and also know that different types of wood needs different times for drying. For example, I could cut some soft maple in the winter and burn it the following fall. However, if I cut some oak, I won't burn that until it has been cut to length, split and then stacked out in the open air where it gets lots of wind....for 3 years.

    One could go on and on about different types of wood and how to handle it. But we'll just state that if you buy wood, you need to buy it a minimum of a year before you burn it and I'd also stay away from oak. If you put up your own wood, we always recommend that people have a 3 year wood supply. This will solve over 90% of all wood burners problems.
  5. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Your signature says you are running a woodstock fireview?

    Is there some reason you must burn your stove on high settings? Is it too small for your home? A small stove that is pushed at the max will not make enough heat and will make so many coals that you can't fit more wood in. People that have problems with too many coals have a stove that is too small. Look for a bigger stove.

    Wet wood will also cause low output and dark glass.

    Don't blame the stove just yet, it looks very likely that the operator is the problem.
  6. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Whoops Highbeam, I overlooked that. I'll post more on this tomorrow but will say for certain it is a fuel problem.
  7. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    My Lopi Liberty draws primary air from beneath the stove and feeds it into a horizontal manifold across the bottom front of the firebox (some folks like to call this a "doghouse"). From there, some of that air does, indeed go to feed the airwash system, but the rest of it flows out through a centered port in the back wall of that manifold...directly into the coal bed. Rick

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  8. aansorge

    aansorge Minister of Fire

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    People around here love their Fireviews....keep it and find a solution. Like others have stated, dry wood is key. And by dry we mean cut and split 2 years minimum.
  9. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    You need to give us some more info on your setup.

    If you decide to sell that horrible fireview I will give you $500 for it ;)
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    There are several steel stoves that have a boost manifold front, bottom and center. The Englander 30, Lopi Liberty, Pacific Energy Summit (or T6) are a few examples. The majority of the air will still be used for the airwash, but a portion is directed at the front base of the fire. Another option would be to get a cat stove that has a thermostat. This will open up and feed the fire more air if the room is cooling down. Blaze King stoves would be worth a look if you like this option.

    That said, be sure that you are running the stove you have already paid for correctly. There are other factors that can cause the burn you are describing. But in order to help further we need to know more about the stove, the flue system and the wood being burned. Or it could be that the area being heated is losing heat too rapidly. In that case, solving that issue is the fastest and most cost effective solution.
  11. Adam Scotera

    Adam Scotera Member

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    Hey guys,
    I wish I could say I found your comments helpful.
    I didn't post this intending to complain about the Fireview, since I know you all love it so much, but forgot that it was in my signature. So I guess I might as well say what I think.
    I love fire. I have probably been a pyromaniac in times past. I'm also not stupid. With the amount of time I've spent staring at this stove, you'd think I bought it purely for entertainment. THERE IS A PROBLEM WITH THIS STOVE. The problem is air circulation in the firebox. I have to build a little house every time I load the stove or it will not burn to my satisfaction. Specifically, I have to make sure I have two small, thin logs on hand EVERY TIME I load the stove so I can place them in a V and put other logs on top. If I do not do this, if I put a normal-sized split straight across the bottom of the stove, it will cause smoldering unless I open the draft wide enough to blast it with air. The reason for this problem is very simple: The air comes in from the top at the front of the stove and strikes the broad side of the logs. There is no way around this except building platforms to raise the wood up off the bottom of the stove so that air can get under it, because the firebox is so shallow that logs can only be put in one way and tend to nest with each other unless great care is taken to prevent this.
    Some of you have hit upon the obvious answer: "Your wood hasn't been seasoned long enough." Yes. You are correct. If my wood were so dry I could light it with a match, if a single log could burn to ash by itself in the road, then it wouldn't matter if air circulated in the firebox because the wood could burn from one side to the other like a cigarette.. I have never had wood like that and don't expect to. With wood like that, you don't need a stove. This is a heating appliance, and I need to heat my house with the wood I can get, which may not be perfect but is as dry as I expect it to be.
    What really bugs me about the Fireview is that originally it did not have this problem. When Woodstock revised it to meet the new EPA standards, they did away with the vented door, which directed air at the side of the coalbed, at the ends of the logs. What they ended up with is a stove that only performs as intended with perfectly dry wood. I have no use for something like that. If it weren't for the fact that the stove is indeed too small for my house, I would already have replaced the door with the vented version. I have several other complaints about the stove, but the airflow is by far the most significant.
    Just for clarification, my chimney is clean. Nothing but fine powder in there. But it takes a hell of a lot of effort to make it that way. And mellow, your sarcasm is not appreciated.
    I'll be selling this stove this year and getting a steel non-cat with a much bigger firebox that allows for north-south loading.
  12. Trilifter7

    Trilifter7 Feeling the Heat

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    You still haven't answered how long your wood is split and stacked before you burn it
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  13. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    Burning wet wood in a steel non-cat isn't going to be much different.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  14. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    I'm really sorry you are so unhappy with your Fireview. I loved mine.

    If you haven't the space to store wood for long enough to dry it so it will burn well in an epa stove, there are ways to mitigate the problem.

    First, I'd get a rack large enough to hold about 3 days of wood and place it in your home, hopefully in the room with the stove, but not necessarily. Then use a standing fan, like you likely have for summer use. Point it at the stack of wood, about 5 - 10 feet away from the wood, and keep it running day and night. Even three days of that will dry your wood out a surprising amount, and give you much better results burning. In addition, if you are able to arrange your wood/fan so that it is on the far side of the direction you want the heat to travel in your home, and angle the fan so it hits both the wood and the stove, then you will move some of the heat off the soapstone in the Fireview and distribute it into your home at the same time you dry your wood.

    It may seem counterintuitive, but the stove will burn better if you do put the wood right down on the bottom of the stove, and don't attempt to raise it. There is no need to provide lots of air space around the splits. I would not worry about that. In your case where you have less than ideally dry wood, I would strongly recommend trying supercedar firestarters. You might be amazed at the difference they can make in getting a fire burning quickly without too high an air settting.

    Do you have access to twigs or downed smaller branches? If so, collect them --they are usually quite dry. You can break them into about 16 inch lengths, and store them in a large paper outdoor clean up bag. Take a small handful of twigs, roll them up in a sheet of newspaper and put on the bottom of your stove. Do this with about four pieces of newpaper. Then load your splits. You may want to try for splits that are not more than 3 or 4 inches thick, as they will burn more quickly. Then wrap one or two more sheets of newspaper around handfuls of twigs, light the newspaper top and bottom, and close the door. The fire should light easily and burn well. Shut the air down over about half an hour to 45 minutes, until you can get the cat engaged and the stove burning with cat flames only, with the air at 1 or lower. The stove should burn for seven or eight hours anyway, before you need to do much. When the temp starts to drop to 250 to 300, open the cat and air, rake to coals a bit to expose more to the stove's air, maybe rake some of the rear unburned/partly burned wood forward in the stove, add one or two smaller splits, and a few larger (1 to 2 inch diameter) branches if you wish, then close the air to about 2 and as soon as the new wood catches, which will probably be within a minute ot two, reengage the cat. The fire should burn hotter then, and most of the coals should burn down in the next hour or two.
  15. aansorge

    aansorge Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like you might want to find an old fisher. The old smoke dragons tolerate wet wood better. There are a ton of them on Craigslist and plenty of people will want your fireview. You will come out money ahead.
  16. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    So your real question is, "find me a stove that is good at burning wet/green wood". Be honest with us and you won't have to wade through a bunch of unhelpful advice that you are getting for free from people who care enough to try and help you.

    I have burned green wood. It will burn and burn pretty well. The cat stove you chose is not appropriate. Instead, a big steel non-cat with N/S loading is your answer. Where the air comes from is not important, the fire will suck the fresh air into the fire just fine. That said, about all of the modern stoves have some sort of "doghouse" air where a hole is placed under the window to blast air into the coals.

    Plan on splitting your wood smaller than most folks like 3-5 inches across and stack so that plenty of space exists between the splits like a log cabin style fire. You will need to keep the air at high settings, it will smoke from the chimney, make more creosote than dry wood, not burn as long as dry wood, not make as much heat as dry wood, but it will burn and you will be warm. The large firebox is needed since building log cabins takes space and you want a lot of wood in there to maximize burn time.

    Myself, I would get an englander NC30 and sell your fireview. Nothing wrong with the fireview's design, the engineer's chose to design it for burning dry wood and you are not burning dry wood. It's like using the sharp end of a hatchet as a hammer, you can't blame the tool.
    begreen likes this.
  17. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Hello again Adam. If indeed there is a problem with that stove, then Woodstock is the one to call. 800-866-4344 There is a six month guarantee on that stove and they will honor it.

    1. That first statement in red above: If you are of have been a pryomaniac, then you should know that indeed, whenever you add wood to the stove, that draft needs to be full open!

    2. Why is it that you can not get good wood when thousands of others have no problem with this?

    3. You persist on blaming the design of the stove, yet this model has been proven over and over to be superior to the previous model.

    4. (in bold above). I'm not so sure mellow's statement was meant as being sarcastic.

    In addition, it does not matter where the air come in on the stove. The stove will still work. As for starting a new fire, there are many folks who have gone to the top down method of starting fires in the stove. The air does not have to come from under the wood.

    It sounds as if you really do know what the problem is but persist on blaming the stove rather than the fuel. Do you also burn poor fuel in your car or truck? So long as you persist in burning poor fuel you will continue to get poor results.


    BLAMING THE STOVE FOR THIS PROBLEM IS LIKE SOMEONE BUYING A TANK OF POOR GAS AND FINDING THEIR CAR WON'T RUN AFTER GOING A MILE OR TWO. And yes, we've had that problem of buying some poor gas. There was even an article on the news a while back about one particular gas station getting poor gas and dozens of vehicles had to be towed to a shop because their engines would not run at all.
    jotulguy likes this.
  18. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Dennis, I think the money back guarantee has expired. Anyway, it's a 2009 Fireview. Adam's been burning wood since Autumn 2010, I presume all that time with the Fireview, getting the type of result he describes. Hence his frustration. I can't believe his wood is so wet that we can't help him with enough advice to get the stove burning properly. It is such a grand stove when functioning properly, and although Highbeam's suggestion may be better for Adam than the Fireview, it won't be bulletproof.

    The basic problem is to help Adam get a better fire going with an epa stove and less than ideal wood. Advice (like Highbeam's) on stacking, respliting, storing wood, time of purchase of wood, additional drying methods once inside, mixing of splits with pallet or pellets of lumber ends, fire technique etc might be really helpful for him.
    Those of us who have heated with a Fireview can also give him the techniques we use with greatest success.
    That Fireview with a ceramic cat for sure will burn less than ideal moisture content wood just fine...may darken the edges of the glass during early stages of the fire, but once the moisture is burned off the glass will clean up. Will burn a lot longer than three or four hours between loads.

    Although he is frustrated, I think advice along these lines will be productive.
  19. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Thanks. I was assuming he had been burning the old Fireview and then updated to the newer model.

    One big thing that I did not highlight was his experience that he could not let the stove go over 3 hours without having to do something. What?!!!! For sure something is wrong there. He blames the stove but at the same time freely states that he wants to put poor burning fuel in it. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.
  20. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Adam, I agree with Highbeam that an Englander 30NC would be a good stove for what you are looking for. If you want fancier with clean burning yet thermostatic control consider the Blaze King Princess.

    If at all possible, get a year or two ahead on your wood supply. You not only will end up burning drier wood, but you will have peace of mind. Drier wood is not just to get the stove burning right, you get more heat from the fuel. This equates to burning less wood. It's a win-win situation if you can get ahead.
  21. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    The fireview is a pretty small stove. We don't know the size of the home being heated but I do know that with wet wood, and a desire to continue burning wet wood, the fireview will have a hard time making enough heat for even the smallest home. The cat element is also being exposed to an environment for which it is not designed.

    If a new stove is to be bought, and we can assume it is based on the thread title, then lets optimize it for wet wood, longer burn times, and higher heat than his current stove. This is in the interest of the poster.

    We all know that dry wood is better but we need to be able to make the best of the situation if a fellow burner chooses to burn wet wood.

    Oh and a guy can always buy biobricks or pressed logs if dry wood is "not" available.
  22. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    I have spent a half a season with less than ideal wood having to split it down smaller etc. What has worked for me is to do what you have to to get the stove up to a reasonable temp before i put a lot of wood in. I make a good sized kindling fire with small dry stuff in a log cabin style with some parer and a couple of fat sticks but will try the super cedars next year. Once that is going well I add a few very small splits loosely on top when they catch start slowly closing down the air add a couple more small splits as needed. When the stove top is in the 400 range load in the big pieces fairly tight on top of the too many coals I have made and we are off and running with the coals helping to keep it going while closing the air down when the big load takes off. With good wood I do the same thing but stuff 2 monster splits in, sometimes one if it is real big for my little stove and close the air all the way down once they are going well maybe 5 minutes. Either way if all burns down to white ash with no coals. When you only have a fire box that is 17 X 10 X 11 it is a very different world. Even with those numbers there is wood very close to the glass and not on fire brick. The fire box is taller but the secondary air tube is low and in the way by about 1.5 inches so that space is useless. I reality the usable fire box is 1 cu ft.
  23. Adam Scotera

    Adam Scotera Member

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    Highbeam,
    You've named the stove (Englander 30) I'm planning to buy. Thanks for the confirmation that I'm headed in the right direction. But I must take minor issue with the "wet/green wood" business. That makes it sound like I'm trying to burn wood that was just cut this year. The wood I had was dry enough to split cleanly and made a high pitch when knocked together. If I could find anyone around here who would sell me 2-year-old wood, I'd buy it. I have one shed that holds around 4 cords, and plan on building another, but money is super tight so getting ahead on wood supplies is tough. Still, as soon as I can I'll be buying "seasoned" wood and holding it a year and a half before burning.

    Dennis,
    You are defending the Fireview as though it is your brother and I am attacking it. All that matters about the Fireview is that it doesn't work for me, and I know how to build a fire. You aren't offering advice, only criticism, and you haven't understood the problem I've discussed, though others have. I have no problem getting the stove to light. The problem is in how it maintains the fire as the wood burns down, and I think everyone on the forum agrees that the stove is telling me it requires drier wood. All agree, as well, that there are more tolerant stoves on the market, and I plan to buy one. If you look back at my original post, you'll see that my question was whether I can expect to find a new stove that feeds air to the coalbed; I want to avoid having the same problem again. Comments from members indicate that I won't have this much trouble with an Englander. People who are happy with their Fireviews should keep them. But, although this seems to be tantamount to heresy on this forum, yes, I DO want a stove that is less fussy about moisture. Not because I "choose to burn wet wood" or "want to put poor burning fuel in it," but because in the real world wood is variable in quality and heating the house is important.
    Adam
    ddahlgren likes this.
  24. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    You might also take a look at the Lopi Endeavor...I think it meets your criteria. Have fun stove shopping! Rick
  25. Trilifter7

    Trilifter7 Feeling the Heat

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    Adam, I think the reason most of us on here along with Dennis get a little defensive is because we work very hard to make sure our wood is seasoned to 20% MC or below. Checking wood by how it splits or sounds is not a good method of checking moisture content. I understand money is tight and space is limited but that is why most of us came to this sight, whether it was to find new ways to scrounge for free wood, learn how long it takes to season or any other number of reasons. I'm sure most of us are in your shoes. If you really want to learn from this situation, new stove or not, listen to what most will preach on here about the benefits of seasoned wood. The pic is from the manual of my new Isle Royale, it is a secondary stove with a bottom feed air inlet. No matter what stove you have, you will benefit by educated yourself on what seasoned wood truly is. Seasoned wood will give you longer burn times, a cleaner chimney and you will use less wood... No matter what stove you have.
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