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Back Puffing / Fire Dying

Post in 'Classic Wood Stove Forums (prior to approx. 1993)' started by xjcamaro89, Nov 7, 2012.

  1. xjcamaro89

    xjcamaro89 Member

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    I have a Century Heating Whistler non EPA stove. This is my third year burning. Last year went really great. I moved my damper up into the flue pipe out of the connection collar at the stove where it originally was and i was able to close the damper the entire way after it got going and the fire would burn beautifully.

    This year when i get a fire going i leave the damper all the way open until the stove and fire get up to temp, just like i did last year. But when i close the damper the whole way the fire either pulses and wants to back puff out my intake holes, and when i crack the damper a fireball erupts and has shot flames out the intake holes. Or the fire just goes out and the smoke wants to roll back into the house out of the intake holes. So i have to leave the damper cracked a little more than i did before.

    I dont know what is different, im using wood from the same pile that i stopped using from in the spring. My methods are the same. I had everything apart a couple weeks ago to check it before i burned. I did replace all my windows recently from old drafty ones to new vinyl. But the porch where i have this stove is plenty drafty (old storm windows). Im just stumped. Im about ready to pull it all apart again and double check everything.

    Any ideas?

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  2. jabush

    jabush Feeling the Heat

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    You mention you had everything apart to check it, but did you actually sweep your chimney? Typically when I get slight backpuffing that is a sign that my chimney needs to be swept.
    hope that helps.
  3. xjcamaro89

    xjcamaro89 Member

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    I swept the chimney in the spring after we were all done burning, so no i didnt sweep it when i had it apart, but it was still clean from when i swept it when were done burning in the spring.
  4. Motor7

    Motor7 Feeling the Heat

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    Are you sure you don't have a bird/wasp/bee nest in the flue or cap? It sure sounds like an obstruction.......
  5. xjcamaro89

    xjcamaro89 Member

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    When i pulled it apart about a month ago it was completely clear. No last night i experienced the same thing, then on the last load i put it it seemed like no matter what i did with the damper the fire was still roaring, like almost the opposite of what i have been experienceing. So after work tonight i have to stop at lowes, im going to grab a new damper just for the heck of it, i know, how can a damper go bad. And im going to pull everything apart and check it again. Im sort of stumped unless when i put the damper in after cleaning it the last time i didnt get it put in right, like i missed one of the slots, but i dont think you can really do that.
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Check to confirm that nothing is partially blocking the flue outlet on the stove. This might be some creosote that fell down more maybe an insulation blanket that got bunched up in back of the baffle?
  7. xjcamaro89

    xjcamaro89 Member

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    My stove doesnt have any insulation blankets in it. And im going to check it out tonight but, i doubt creosote buildup can be the problem. Ive been burning or less than a month and only half the time. Im pretty much stumped
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    This is a long shot but double check the flue collar connection and make sure it's still tightly attached. If air is entering the liner it can spoil draft.
  9. xjcamaro89

    xjcamaro89 Member

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    So here is where im at, Thursday night, we had a fire, first load did the same thing as the above problem. The second load after i got it started i turned the damper down, the fire was still roaring so i closed the damper th whole way expecting it to kill the fire like it normally does, but no, this time the fire acted like i never even touched the damper. The fire was roaring just as much with the damper closed as it was opened, and on its way to being way to hot.

    So I have a steel bar stuck to the front of the stove with magnets that i can move up and down to cover up the intake slots to choke down a fire if i wanted, so i had to cover almost the entire portion of the holes before it would calm down. And i know im not getting air in somewhere else because i could kill the fire with that bar and cuttig off the intake. And when it was going out of control i know it was pulling all its air from the intake holes because the flames were angled backward from the front like it was getting way to much air too fast.

    So after that was all done, Friday i pulled it all apart checked everything, everything is good and tight, i swept it, not a whole lot of build up. I even took the dust that i swept out and took my butane torch to it to see if it would take a flame and see if i was builing creosote or not, i could not get the stuff i swept out to take a flame, even if i held the torch to it for 30 seconds. So im not making creoste.So i cleaned everything, checked for cracks, checked the baffle, checked the collar, checked all the connections, checked the seal of the door, nothing was out of place, the damper was fine. So i put everything back together. Started a fire and bam, it was getting way too much air again, even with the damper closed the whole way, you couldnt tell the difference of the fire with the damper open or closed, it was like i never even shut it. So i cut the intake air down a bit with my bar and it ran good.

    So now im really stumped, during one night, i went from the first load being choked out when i close the damper to the second load burnging out of control with the damper shut. Its all the same batch of wood, actually the same batch of wood that i stopped using in the spring when it was working fine. I dont know what it could be. The only thing i could think of was interior and exterior pressure? But like i said the room that the stove is in is pretty drafty around the doors and windows so it deffinately not air tight. Or does my stove to have the ability to have a super draft that sucks air so hard that even the damper cant slow it down. I dont know what to do, i dont want to rely on that bar for the intake cause i dont want to have my wife try to mess with it all the time.

    I do have two Rutland thermos on the stove, one on the stove top and one on the chimney about 15" above the damper, which is about 20" above the collar. Stove top would get to about 600-700* and flue temps per the thermo are showing just at the bottom end of the burn zone, about somewhere between 250-300. Im out of ideas.
  10. Motor7

    Motor7 Feeling the Heat

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    So your damper is still in place and it functioning? Have you tried putting the flue damper back where you had it before right above the firebox?

    Are you burning hardwood or soft wood?
  11. xjcamaro89

    xjcamaro89 Member

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    Ive had the damper moved up in the flue for over a year now. So it was in the same place before and after all of this. Yes, the damper is in place and functioning. Im not sure of the exact type of wood, i burn slab wood, have been for 3 yrs, but its got to be mostly hardwood. This wood im burning now is from the same rack that i stopped using when i stopped burning in the spring. And this isnt your normal slab wood, i dont know what this amish guy does but this slab wood has just as much wood on it as a split log. Right now i have a good combination of the damper shut and the bar that i made to cover a portion of the intake slots going. It doesn tame the flames like it did last year, but its controlling it fine.
  12. Motor7

    Motor7 Feeling the Heat

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    Sawmill slab wood could be anything. It sounds to me that before you were trying to burn something that didn't want to burn(unknown hardwood), and now you are burning really dry pine or hemlock or similar softwood. Any dry softwood will require you to choke almost all the air to it once it's going or it will want to runaway. I have a sawmill and I also burn slabwood....the difference in specie burn characteristics can be dramatic.

    Try some known dry oak and just see what happens.
  13. xjcamaro89

    xjcamaro89 Member

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    Ill have to grab some splits of stuff that i know is good. But i dont completely think its the wood. Because its like i have a super draft, my stove has a front door with a glass window and the intake holes airwash the glass so the air comes in the top front of the stove and circulates down the glass to the base of the firebox. I know i have a really good draft when the flames are being force backwards towards the back of the stove, that is what im seeing. Now my wood could be really dry, it is almost 3 years old, and when i burned it last year is was 2 yrs old. It just doesnt add up to me on the wood thing, just because i know ive been burning the same types of wood from the same place for 3yrs now and this is the first time ive run into this. Its just weird cause closing the damper has litterally no effect on the stove when i shut it completely.
  14. xjcamaro89

    xjcamaro89 Member

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    But then again maybe it is too dry.
  15. jjs777_fzr

    jjs777_fzr Feeling the Heat

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    I have a similar "looking" stove by Century but not the Whistler. Yours maybe different internally. If you already mentioned any of the following I apologize for missing it.

    I have two fire bricks inside the firebox that close off two areas in the sheet metal roof. Do you have those ? Are they blocking the fire from escaping out ? The bricks should cover the two opening to ensure the fire follows the forward slant of the firebox roof and not up and out.

    On my stove there is considerable area under the flue collar - but above the firebox roof. I would ensure there is no animal wedged inside somewhere. If you are not able to develop a full burn perhaps there is some blockage that exists that is not being burned up.
  16. xjcamaro89

    xjcamaro89 Member

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    jjs, thanks for the thoughts, all of that is clear and clean. Also i have different problems now, now i have too much draft, and it was all of the sudden after a reload the other night, you can read the above posts for info if your interested.
  17. Motor7

    Motor7 Feeling the Heat

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    But see you don't know you are burning the "same wood". For example I have two slab piles right now, in each one there are these species of wood: hemlock, cedar, pine, walnut, poplar. They are in layers stacked as they came off the logs. So if you cut through the stack you will get bundles of each. Hemlock burns hot and fast, Cedar hotter and faster, Poplar slower than hemlock and Walnut the slowest of that group.....all require different primary intake settings. You can have whole piles of one species, or they can be mixed at any ratio depending on what was cut....it's a crap shoot unless the sawyer can tell you for sure what is in each pile.

    I also wonder if your having that much draft you have to have an air leak someplace.....you just have not found it yet
  18. xjcamaro89

    xjcamaro89 Member

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    I know i dont know what im burning. And that might be it, its just weird to me that ive been doing this for 3 yrs, with the same wood from the same place, and guessing the same mixture, but i could be wrong. And i dont know about the air leak, i checked the whole stove over for cracks last friday when i had it all apart to check everything. Unless is the gasket for the door. But i just replaced that mid last year. And i never had a problem last year as well. Burning right now is going good with my intake slots half covered. I guess since ive controlled the situation for the time being i can at my leasure check the other things out. Thanks for all your help so far. I just dont have alot of resources locally to help me out.
  19. xjcamaro89

    xjcamaro89 Member

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    OK so here we go. Today I started fire, after it burned for a little bit I noticed that the fire was dieing a little when the damper was fully closed. This is also with my intake hole covered half way with my specially made bar. So I removed the bar And WALA! I'm back to burning the way it did before all of this started. I didn't do anything different. Still using the same batch of wood I've been using. I've been burning all day, several reloads, all burning the way it should. I have no idea what was going on. But I'm back in biisness now .
  20. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    can you see your primary air adjustment moving when you move the control?
  21. xjcamaro89

    xjcamaro89 Member

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    This is a non EPA stove, my primary adjustment is me moving a bar that i made to cover my intake holes.
  22. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Too little air can make a stove huff and puff. It's better to add less wood and let the fire burn a bit hotter. That will burn cleaner, making less smoke out the chimney and will produce less creosote accumulation.
    JaimeStrauss likes this.
  23. xjcamaro89

    xjcamaro89 Member

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    I appreciate all the advice, but please read the thread completely before posting. We have moved past the puffing, as the problem had changed. Again, no disrespect.
  24. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Is there still a problem? From the last post I thought it had cleared up. My advice is more general and for others that may drop in on this thread in the future.
  25. xjcamaro89

    xjcamaro89 Member

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    I understand, and again, no disrespect. The problem did clear up, its just it went from back puffing, to too much draft, back to normal use in a 2 week period. I didnt change the way i did anything from last spring when i was burning to this season. Ive even been using the same batch of wood that i was using last year. So i have no clue what all was going on. But it seems to be ok now.

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