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Ash/Creosote Question...

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by jabush, Aug 26, 2006.

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  1. jabush

    jabush Feeling the Heat

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    OK, in a previous thread I talked about buttoning up the Tee on the back of my stove.

    A little background...When I pulled everything apart, I checked out the stove pipe and chimney for buildup as my draft started to suffer at the end of last season. What I found is a little bit of flaky creosote in my pipe. I looked through the thimble as best I could, and from what I could see, the liner itself looks pretty clean. Now I'm thinking "jeez...there's not THAT much buildup, so what happened to my draft?". I decide to check inside the collar for buildup. This is a step stove and the collar extends almost to the front wall of the upper chamber (smoke rises through the back of the stove and then has to go forward to get to the collar opening). I reach my hand in, and there is a HUGE amount of ash buildup around the opening of the collar!! Definitely enough to prevent proper air flow.

    Now my question...just when you thought "does this guy have a question?". Is this normal for an old stove such as mine? Also, I noticed the draft was affected after my lovely wife burned a crapload of cardboard one night. I wasn't here, but she packed the firebox full 3 or 4 times and just shut the door. Would all that cardboard cause the ash buildup??

    Thanx in advance...

    joel

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Yep, sounds like you've answered the question. I think it's best not use the stove for a trash burner. Cardboard should go to the recycling center.
  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    In general ir is normal for flaky creosote and even fly ash to fall under it's own weight and end up in such places as the TEE or elbo behind a stove. In some cases, flues can reverse when not in use, sending it even further toward the stove or into the stove.

    In other cases, stoves are designed this way - to try flyash - an example being Surdiac or Efel coal stoves with heat exchangers on the rear.

    This is a perfect example of always trying the simply and obvious first! A lot of folks might call the chimney sweep and be in for $100+, when all they needed was to take out two cups of ash from the stove flue collar or baffle top.
  4. jabush

    jabush Feeling the Heat

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    I'm starting to think more & more that it was the cardboard, but this is a spot that I will watch when I do the cleaning.
    There's no room to actually get in there, so I'm thinking I will use the vacuum hose with no attachment so I can snake it around and hopefully suck it all out. I can also go up through the firebox, but that would be tight as well. This could prove to be a real PITA.
  5. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    With older stoves like yours and mine a stove packed with card board is gonna do one of two things. If the air is cut way down then large heavy ash is going to park in the path to the flue exit on top of the stove because of the long flame impengement path provided by the baffle. If the air is wide open then the stove will be in blast furnace mode and the ash and flame with be blasting up the pipe. The problem with that, in addition to overfiring the stove, is that the pipe is going to get super hot and any creosote in it is going to light off. Experience talking here. No guessing involved. Your cresote was probably dispersed over your lawn the night that stuff was burned.

    Back in the days when I did such things, I used a firebox full of cardboard to set off the chimney fire on purpose.

    Don't be doing that. A little card board with full air is a great starter for kindling but beyond that, send it to the landfill.
  6. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    One day when I was young...

    Yeah Yeah your old b......

    :)


    Seriously, when my parents heated with coal, even the coal stove would produce fly ash. It would accumulate to around 1" in the pipe at the elbow. simply sucking it out with the shop vac solved the problem. I'd guess a wood stove has more than a coal stove.

    push a brush up the chimney and start burning.
  7. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Idea for a new movie "We Were Woodburners Once, And Young".
  8. jabush

    jabush Feeling the Heat

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    Now I'm convinced the cardboard was/is the culprit. Too much all at one time. I did explain this to my wife and she won't be packing cardboard in the firebox anymore. Me...I pride myself on not using much paper to get the beast going. All I use is a few pieces of fatwood under my kindling. The only paper I use is a half sheet of newspaper tied into a "Nantucket knot" to get the draft going. It had to be that huge amount of cardboard that caused the buildup!
    Live and learn I guess.
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