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Posted By Todd,
Feb 12, 2012 at 3:54 PM
Why would you have to do that?
I'm guessing one of the reasons WS is going to the SS cats is because the ceramics had a history of not always holding out for 5 years . They had a propensity towards crumbling, and they claim the failure mechanisms were not caused by moisture/wet wood. I'm not sure what they say about whether thermal shock is a failure mechanism. Maybe Todd can chime in here.
I know one of the primary failure mechanisms they cited was potassium poisoning, but I don't know why the SS cats would not also be susceptible to potassium.
My first ceramic crumbled after one year, the second cat is still going strong after 2.5 years. I blame the first failuer on unseasoned wood, because my wood was not properly seasoned at first. By the time I got my second cat, I read enough of Dennis' posts so that I had the fear of unseasoned wood instilled into me. Cat #2 was still purring along just fine.
Gotcha. I guess WS is kind of stuck. They can't really change their cat warrenty without issues, and right now the choice is between selling a cat that might not last more than a year with improper burning habits or one that may not last more than a month regardless.
That doesn't sound like a hard choice at all. One can fall back on - you didn't follow directions and have voided the warranty. The other, well, if there is no fallback, they are SOL.
Being a potential purchaser of a cat stove, I posted earlier that a solution to the SS cat issues were not anywhere close to happening. Perhpas some humble pie here as I related to so many posts from mostly PH owners that are not enjoying trouble free operation of their cats. After reading this information (admittedly a couple of years old)
I have a better understanding of cats and how they can be vulnerable if they are not operated to maximum potential. This thread on the Hearth has been both informative and educational. Where alse could anyyone get such first hand unbiased information about a product?
I'm sure that some companies would try the "you voided the warranty" approach. However in a case where it is essentially impossible to prove what a user did or did not do how can you really enforce such a policy without creating the impression that you are blaming users for your products failure? Just using the fact that something failed prematurely as evidence that someone didn't follow directions is like saying your product can't possibly fail... hmmm.... no good way to come out of that one looking good in the eyes of a customer left holding the bag. Won't get you the loyal following that WS has eh?
Better to find a way to make it work as advertised and educate folks as necessary. The truth in the long run will pay off if your product really is superior.
Ceramic cats have been out for a long time. Their operation and caveats are well described in the stove manual. And most stove companies will not honor warranty when it is obvious that the user is burning wet wood or has contaminated the cat in a short period of time. That is very different from an outright failure of the stainless cat in a short period of time with no sign of misuse.
I know Woodstock is an honorable company, which seems to put it in a very tough situation with the decision to go with the metal cats. If they are failing prematurely, WS could have a major warranty issue here.
Okay, if there's one thing I know, it's that my cat will never be damaged by my wood, so that is NOT a concern! However, I've gathered that opening the door without dis-engaging the cat IS a problem. So, here are my questions--
--what does it do to a ceramic cat?
--what does it do to the s/s cat?
--isn't the metal cat exposed to room air even when the by-pass is open? From looking in my PH, it appears that the cat is gonna get exposed to the colder air no matter what, 'cause it seems the air has to pass over the cat on it's way out the flue. Just what it looks like to me-don't see how it can miss it. Am I not reading the evidence correctly? Wondering . . . !
I have nothing but respect and admiration for WS. Never have I had such response and assistance--and that covers a LOT of years, y'all!
I believe the cat manufacturer warranties the cat.
I believe Woodstock's switch to ss was motivated by a desire to give its customers a cat that would be less problematic for the customer, and thus more satisfactory.
My 1st ceramic cat lasted almost five years, despite at least two times of getting the stove too hot with (I am sure) flame impingement on the cat. I do think flame impingement damages the cat quickly. As I recall, Woodstock's manual states that the screen is there in the Fireview to keep flame away from the cat
I'm totally guessing, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are more and more first time wood burners, who have to learn not only a new stove, but also the art of wood burning. If that is so, Woodstock may have been running into an increasing problem with failure of customer's first cats. Also, ss cats presumably have been improved over the years. I'm under the impression that Woodstock thinks that at least one of the problems people are having is related to loose fit of the cat and smoke taking the path of least resistance around the cat. I don't think it is failure of the cat itself....I certainly don't think it is established that that is the primary issue. I believe Woodstock feels it can solve the mechanical issue of smoke seepage around the cat. The cat manufacturer is also apparently examing the returned cats for defects or damage.
My ss cat has been fine so far, and I suspect there are others out there who have not experienced problems...Woodstock itself has not, despite "torturing" the stove in their internal trials before marketing the stove. I'm sure they did not casually convert to the ss cat.
Let's not lose track of the fact that they got these stoves out to us at a great price, and told us they were doing it because they wanted to get a lot of stoves in homes quickly so they could see if there were any issues when the stoves were used in varying real world situations. I'm delighted I've had this stove to heat my home this winter. There obviously are a few minor issues, but this is a great stove. I loved my Fireview but would be really unhappy if I had to go back to it, for instance. And I had no problem with my Fireview at any time during the many years I owned it. I have had a few minor, irritating problems with this stove, but they are minor and I am confidant Woodstock will resolve them. Basically, I trust and respect Woodstock.
I think those of us who are blessed with a PH all appreciate the stove. Because we are openly discussing issues and trying to resolve glitches quickly, people who don't have this stove are assuming it isn't as great as it is, or that it was released too soon, or that it has major issues. In my opinion, none of that is so.
Terry, as far as I know, which may not be very far, the only reason to disengage the cat before opening the door is to increase draft and minimize the chance of smoke coming into the room. This applies equally to SS and ceramic cat. Both restrict air flow somewhat when engaged.
Another good reason is to reduce the amount of ash hitting the cat. Keep in mind that when you feed the stove you typically stir up quite a bit more ash then when just burning.
Now I don't know if the thermal shock of steam hitting the ceramic cats is still considered an issue or not, but that was also one of the original reasons given for opening the bypass and leaving it open for a bit after loading. I know that some research has been done that may refute the risk there but it may still be recommended by the cat manufacturers - I just don't know.
You are correct.. If you do not open the bypass before opening the door smoke will come out of the door. As for damaging the cat this way I say no it will not hurt the cat just the stove user. What will damage the cat is direct flame impingement and severe sudden cold or hot shock. On my CDW I did not close the cat bypass until I had lowered the air a bit also when reloading if you have snow or some surface moisture on the wood let it burn hot for 15 mins. before lowering the air a bit then close the bypass. I thought I would miss my cat stove but I have found secondary burn is much more forgiving and foolproof compared to my CDW. Good luck on the cat issues..
Hey everyone, glad I found this thread.
I've also got a ss cat in my Fireview, which burned the hell out of the smoke for the first month, then got clogged with ash. I burned for a couple of weeks with it removed (posted about that earlier), and then cleaned it out and also took out the scoop and knocked all the crud out of it. I also changed my burning habits because my wood is not dry enough- now I leave the bypass open with full draft until I get the flue temp back up to 400, then close it down to around 1 (with bypass still open) and leave it until all the wood is ignited and the fire stabilizes at 400 or higher with the lower draft. Only then do I engage the combustor, and lower the draft some more. This worked well for about a week, and then I began having trouble getting it to light off again. We had a warm day and I was able to let the stove cool down, so I took the combustor out for cleaning again. It looked fine, but I brushed it anyway and jiggled it a bit to release the ash. That's when I noticed shiny dust coming out. I jiggled a bit more and examined the floor, and sure enough there were many small particles of a bright shiny metal. Platinum flaking off? Again today I don't seem to be getting very good function.
Anybody aware of platinum flaking off combustors?
a few hours later:
The combustor is still functional. With a full load of very thin splits that really need more drying, I did my warm-up/ignition procedure and once the wood was ready, I closed the damper all the way. That was an hour and a half ago, and I've got 550 on the top and 350 on the exit pipe. There's a big glowing pile, and about every 10 seconds a wave of flame will roll across above it and fill the space for a few seconds. Nothing wrong with that. Maybe part of the problem has been too much velocity through the combustor. Still wonder how much platinum it's lost and how that will affect the longevity. But for now I'll concentrate on splitting all my wood to kindling dimensions.
Been following this thread closely even though I don't have a SS cat. I just enjoy and learn from any discussions about cat technology. This metal flaking off is a new development and I'm really curious to see if anyone else notices it. I'll bet some of you will be cleaning your cats now to find out. Just reading this thread it sounds like a Woodstock problem but how about people who have replaced ceramic with SS in other stoves. Any problems there?
I have been following this thread just to see how this whole thing turns out with mild amusement because when I stated earlier this year that my previous SS Cat wasn't holding up well I got slammed on how there was so much research and I must have bout a cheap Cat (which it wasn't). Earlier this year I stated the my stainless cat on my previous Dutchwest didn't hold up very well at all and after about 1.5 years you could actually hear pieces rattle around if you shook it at all and little metal pieces would come out of it much like the poster above described . It had the same characteristics as everyone else on here where it worked great for the first half the year but then in the following burn season it began sharply declining to the point where at the end of the burn season I had to really pay attention to getting it lit off and it took way higher temps to light off. I wasn't that impressed with the longevity of Condar Cat I had and I am interested to hear what gets turned up when they get to the bottom of this thing.
It's nice when life gets simpler isn't it?
Yup I must say that the T-5 has been great so far and secondary burns are easy to achieve and pretty darn consistant.. Never thought I'd see such efficiency and long burn times plus lots of fast heat when needed. So far this has been a good choice! I can't tell you how many times I'd drive into my driveway and see smoke billowing out the chimney and my wife would tell me I am warm so what is the problem? I'd find the cat temp at 300 and stalled with both a ceramic and a s/s cat.. It's pretty hard to not get secondary burn even by accident with the T-5..
Just a quickie for reference. We installed the new SS cat on Thursday. Yes, the cat began glowing super fast the first time. In fact, it was so fast that I engaged the cat and then walked in front of the stove to look up and it was glowing red already. So we're talking a few seconds. The next load saw the cat maybe 2-3 seconds slower in lighting off.
After putting in several loads I can say the most times the cat lights off really super fast....but not every time. In addition to that, the cat may not glow for very long at all. I have not timed that yet but have just looked at the cat after a while if I'm by the stove. The present load had the cat glowing maybe 5 minutes maximum before no glow at all. So is the cat working? Some would immediately say no.
When I engaged the cat the stove top temperature was 270. Flue was 470. When I looked and the cat was not glowing, the stove top was at 400. It looks like the stove topped out at 520 degrees and is at 500 now. The stove load was with 3 very small ash splits and 1 small cherry. So is this cat working? I have to say yes, otherwise that stove temperature likely would not have went over 400 and may have struggled even to get that high.
So far we've had six loads and none were with more than 4 splits. The highest stove temperature recorded is 610. Last night I did not get the peak temperature as I simply went to bed and forgot the stove until morning. Well, I have to admit that I did look one time during the night when I got up. There wasn't a whole lot of wood left in the stove then and the temperature was somewhere around 500-550. I didn't have my glasses on so only looked quickly and could tell it was somewhere in that area. I know the house was pretty darned warm!
I'm sure it is, the cat doesn't need to glow to work. Mine will glow for hours on some loads and 30 minutes on other loads. If the temps stay up, probe stays active and all the wood gets consumed with a smoke free stack the cat is working.
Well said, and I completely agree. I hope these issues are put in context with all the glowing reviews of the Progress, but I'm sure some folks will see any negatives and be scared off. The Progress is in fact an amazing stove and I would buy one again in a second. I am confident the cat issues will be resolved and with a couple other minor tweaks, this stove will be darn near perfect.
My cat is still working, but it definately needs higher temps to light off. I'm just going to finish out the season and I'm sure WS will have the issue resolved for next season.
On a side note, we have had several days of pretty warm weather (highs in the 30s, lows in the mid 20s). I've been doing half loads, which work great in this weather. I forgot to check to weather forecast yesterday and I loaded a half load last night at 8:00 pm just assumming it would be another warm night. I woke up at 7:00 am and the house felt a bit chillier than usual. It wasn't cold, just not as warm as usual. I looked at the outdoor thermo and it was 8 degress! Stove top was at 210 and the house was 64. I was able to easily re-light the stove with a couple pieces of kindling. So, with a tiny bit of wood, I kept my house pretty darn warm for 11 hours in single digit temps! Yes, the Progress is a great stove.
I dont have a cat stove either but I found this thread very interesting, the SS turning green really made me wonder what was happening so I found this little tid bit and not sure if this rings true with your cats but have a look.
"The green color that you see on stainless steel parts is chromium oxide (Cr2O3). It forms when there is too much oxygen and/or moisture in the furnace atmosphere, which is usually caused by a water leak, poor atmosphere tightness, or overly low flow rates of atmosphere gas. A dark green-brown color indicates significant levels of free oxygen inside furnace originated by a large air leakage."
Interesting, I wonder if I'm sucking too much moist oxygen in through my OAK? Sure don't have a water leak.
"Interesting, I wonder if Iâ€™m sucking too much moist oxygen in through my OAK? Sure donâ€™t have a water leak."
:lol: I left that in there so as not to imply it was something it was not.
Nichrome heaters turn green when heated... S/S contains both so it is probably nothing to worry about..
I know all the experts say the cat doesn't have to glow to be working but once you get to learn your stove and correlate temps with glowing and non glowing cats you can pretty much figure if you see less glowing than you used to the cat may be a little less active. Since my Keystones have such a great view of the cat I pretty much see it all the time and if I engage a full load and don't see some red in the cat I can pretty much guarantee it hasn't lit off yet and I can also confirm this my looking at the chimney.
When I was switching out my steel and ceramic cats the biggest difference I could see is when I turned the stoves down to a low cat burn to around a .5 air setting the flames would eventually snuff out and the ceramic cat would turn beet red every time with the stove top temps rising rapidly. The steel cat use to do the same thing at the beginning of the season but now it has diminished and sometimes doesn't even glow red. The stove temps are also much slower to come up with this low cat burn setting.
According to the experts the cat will glow at temps over 1000 degrees. The experts also say smoke starts to burn at temps over 1000 degrees. So wouldn't a glowing cat tell you it's doing it's job?