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Can't get stove much over 300 degrees.

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Matt93eg, Dec 3, 2013.

  1. Matt93eg

    Matt93eg New Member

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    Hey guys,

    Got the new insert yesterday and got everything installed. I actually installed the liner Sunday and had everything awaiting the arrival of the stove. Stove came in so I finished everything up. This is only our 2nd night burning this stove. Stove is nothing fancy, a Drolet Escape 1800i insert with a fully insulated 6" SS liner.

    I did not get ahead like I would have liked for this year as far as wood is concerned, so some of the wood I have is not completely seasoned. However I do have a stack of good seasoned wood that is about 2 years since it was split, poplar and red oak. Moisture reading on average between 7 and 12 percent on these splits. Got warm today so let the fire go out.

    Started a fire this evening for tonight and got my kindling in, then some larger pieces of poplar on top of it. It seems no matter what I do I cannot get the stove over 300 degrees. I have read that placing a thermometer on an insert can be tricky to get an accurate reading. My magnetic thermometer is on the front of the stove beside the top left corner of the door.

    Also no matter what I do I seem to get smoke out of the chimney. Right now there's two poplar splits in there and they have coals and a few orange flames wicking off them but that's it. Primary air is fully open, stove temp is 250 according to thermometer, smoke also coming out of chimney.

    I probably just need to hone my fire building skills and figure out this EPA stove.

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  2. pen

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

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    If you haven't seen it, this might be a good thread for you to check out http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/...lem-stoves-air-is-restricted-faq-about.59225/

    It's a learning curve, you'll get there! Be patient, get ahead on your fuel (as you sound like you are suspecting) and as you have good fuel to burn, you'll learn the best loading techniques But unless the fuel is good to go, it's a fight. It's rare for a first year burner not to go through this but it's a lesson that pays dividends once you get ahead on fuel so you can control it's drying in the future.

    In the meantime, I'd suggest looking at local tractor supply type stores for man-made fuel like bio brick, envi-blocks, etc, to help mix with your fuel to get you through.

    When it comes to measuring the temps, what insert do you have and where do you have the thermometer, and what type of thermometer is it? Does the insert have an automatic blower? Are things getting hot enough for it to cycle on automatically?

    Good luck and welcome!

    Also to add, when measuring moisture take a few of those seasoned splits you have and split them again, and measure the moisture on the freshly split face of it. Also, how are you loading the stove? Lots of wood? Criss crossed? Log cabin? Are you building a small fire then loading things up on the hot coals?

    pen
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    It sounds like wet wood is the issue. Poplar can be like a sponge. Go to the hardware or grocery store and get a couple bundles of dry wood to test this out. Start them with construction scraps and you should be up over 500F with a good fire.
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  4. weatherguy

    weatherguy Minister of Fire

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    Matt, where did you measure the wood? did you take a split and split it into two and measure the fresh split face? Sounds low for oak after two years, usually oak will be, if you're lucky 20 after two years but more likely in the mid 20's.
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  5. My Oslo heats my home

    My Oslo heats my home Minister of Fire

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    After reading the heading of the thread my first thought was wet wood. Smoke coming out of the chimney, low burn temps, all signs of 20% or higher MC. But as Pen says, check out the link he posted and see if that helps. And if you didn't resplit and get a reading that way, you may want to try again
  6. Fort Wisers

    Fort Wisers New Member

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    Based on the experiences I've had with poplar if find it's "useful for burning" period to be very short lived.
    When it's green it's obviouslly no good, but then I find if it's left for too long to season it's becomes pretty much as useless.

    My brother and I ran into this about 15 years ago at our old moose hunting camp.
    When we first cleared the land to build the camp we cut down a few good size poplars and got them split and stacked out of the elements asap thinking we'd have a great supply of wood for the next few seasons.
    The first season after being stacked it was pretty good and threw a nice heat, but the second season after being stacked the wood was as light as balsa and threw almost no heat.
    I agree with begreen, go get some other stuff and see if it helps.
    Just my two cents....
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013
  7. Matt93eg

    Matt93eg New Member

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    Thanks guys for the input, its much appreciated as always! Pen, I will check out that link you gave.

    As far as the seasoned splits I have, I did not re-split them, I took the moisture reading from the end of the already split chunks. I will re-split a few and see what reading I get.

    Pen, the insert is a Drolet Escape 1800i, the thermometer is a magnetic one I got at tractor supply and it is stuck to the face of the stove, just beside the top left corner of the door. Maybe I need an IR Thermometer, I almost bought one at lowes today but didn't want to drop 40$, may have to after all. The stove does have a thermostat controlled blower and last night when I fired the insert up for the first time it came on just past 200 degrees, of course that temp reading was from the magnetic thermometer.

    I have not been packing the stove full per say, last night I put quite a bit in it to get as much burn as I could. Normally its 2 or 3 splits with the first 2 East/West and the other one kind of angled North/South.

    I will read that article and also try and get my hands on either some bio bricks at tractor supply or northern tool or some of the bundles at a gas station. And trust me, I won't give up on this thing, if anything I am determined to get it figured out and get the most out of our money.
  8. pen

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

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    You'll get there! Buying a stove is sort of like giving someone who's never driven a car before a vehicle with a 6spd manual transmission and being told, "go, have fun!"

    It's going to take some experimentation. Don't be afraid to ask as you go along and never feel like you are alone, we've all been there.

    Also, unless your store is different from mine, I've never had luck with Rutland thermometers which are the only ones I've seen sold there.

    Use it as a guide to compare one burn to the next, but don't get too stuck on the numbers or the scale. An insert is tough to measure temp on anyway, and those thermometers can be hit or miss at best sadly. I've had much better luck with condar thermometers. But again, an insert is difficult to measure temp on so as long as this thing is consistent, you'll be able to judge one fire versus another so long as you don't go too crazy about the exact number.

    pen
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  9. Matt93eg

    Matt93eg New Member

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    Pen, that is an excellent way to explain as far as the stove and car thing, great analogy. Funny you mention Rutland thermometers because that's exactly what I have. Right now its reading just over 300 but the darn stove feels hotter than that. If nothing else I can use the Thermometer to see how consistent I am like you said. I don't need much fire tonight since its not really going to be cold, 48 for the low, in fact I wasn't even going to burn a fire tonight that way I could conserve wood, I was going to let the heat pump work tonight but the Wife wanted a fire so I didn't argue, I would also be lying if I said I didn't want to burn one anyways. :)
    pen likes this.
  10. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    Something tells me wet wood is a big source of the problem.

    Welcome to the forum and Pen has provided great advice. Lots of pros on this forum and you will get all the advice you need.

    Your insert will be able to put out great heat, just give it time. What is the new reading on those splits?

    Let us know how you make out with some dry wood.

    Cheers

    Andrew
  11. setitonfire

    setitonfire New Member

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    I would also suggest you get a second mag thermometer to place on the other side of your insert. The first one I got was a dud and was consistently 200 deg below what the actual temp was. Invest in an IR thermometer as well.
  12. My Oslo heats my home

    My Oslo heats my home Minister of Fire

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    It's the wood
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Moisture is never going to be accurate read from the end grain. It needs to be measured on a freshly split face of the wood. Resplit some of the thicker splits and recheck the moisture level. I think it will be high.
    gyrfalcon and PapaDave like this.
  14. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Unless its a fresh cut and then the reading is the same, I did a bunch of testing a couple of years ago and a fresh cut=a fresh split, in the middle of the wood not close to the end for best reading.
  15. Woodreb

    Woodreb New Member

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    We have a Regency i2400 insert that is somewhat similar to your Drolet insert and have a Condar Inferno magnetic thermometer placed just above the left side of the door. When I compare that temperature to a reading with an IR thermometer just beside the Condar, I find the temp on the thermometer to be reasonably accurate (within 50°F). However, this reading is a good 100-150 degrees lower than checking a spot just above the center of the door. the magnetic thermometer doesn't fit in the center of the door or I'd put it there. I just use the Condar as a general guide that things are OK. But I mentally add about 100 degrees to what ever I see. I think the IR thermometer is a good investment.

    If you get wood from the grocery store to try, I'd still check it with a moisture meter on a fresh split. I bought a couple packs to try last year because I wanted something other than cherry and there were a couple of splits that were wet. I didn't check them, but judging by the sizzling, i'm pretty sure they were above 20% moisture. I'd try some Envi blocks if you can find them in your area (I think they're better than the bricks at Tractor supply).
  16. wood4free

    wood4free Member

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    I owned the smaller Escape 1400I for 3 years and initially had the same problem where I could not get heat out of the stove. Lack of dry wood and operator error were the biggest culprits. Try re-splitting your wood into smaller splits. That will help them get burning better. Once you have a good hot fire going you need to slowly reduce the draft until you start to get secondary combustion going at the burn tubes at the top of the firebox. At that point the inside of your stove should look like a hurricane of fire rolling towards the door and the stove top temperature will really start to increase. There should be no reason your stove top should not measure 500 degrees at a minimum. With dry wood I suspect your stove top should measure around 700 degrees. As others have suggested you might consider getting a IR thermometer so you can measure temperature at multiple spots on the stove.
  17. DianeB

    DianeB Feeling the Heat

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    Open the door and listen closely for sizzling sounds - wet woood
  18. KSgrown

    KSgrown Member

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    I've been here before... it's the wood. You can read through my thread of the exact same scenario (below). Some of the suggestions to me were to go buy some wood from the gas station or use non-treated kiln dried 2x4s to see if you can get the stove up to temp, just so you can confidently point your finger at the fuel and understand why. My insert is similar with my temp gauge in the same spot. I can get my temps up now but couldn't when I first started. It was a tuff first year for us!

    Other thing to try is let the fire burn with the door cracked for ~10-15 minutes to really get it rolling, then close the door and see if you can get your temp up.

    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/help-diagnose-low-temps-that-i-cant-maintain.62037/
  19. Matt93eg

    Matt93eg New Member

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    Wow, thanks everyone for being so helpful. I am sure a lot of my problem is operator error since I am new to this stuff but it seems like you guys said, its the wood.

    I just re-split some of the splits that I thought were seasoned, its red oak that has been split for 1 1/2 to 2 years but the freshly split face was showing on average of 25%. The poplar I have is good. I got off work a bit early today so I am going to go out and re-split quite a bit of this wood, one it will help speed up drying a little bit and the other reason is some of these splits are a bit hard to work with in this stove. Now that I have the stove and have gotten a feel for the firebox size I will know what size to split wood the first go round. So it looks right now that the only seasoned wood I have for this year is the poplar and there's not to much of it so I may have to put off burning the stove until next year, sucks but I don't want a bunch of build up in the chimney.

    I think I will go ahead and invest the 35-40 bucks on an IR Thermometer.
    gyrfalcon and pen like this.
  20. Soundchasm

    Soundchasm Minister of Fire

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    You'll wonder how you ever lived without an IR gun after you get it. You can measure ceilings, floors, vents, windows, engines, yourself, the back of your wife's head...

    One other consideration. Draft seems to boil down to pressure differential in least terms. I have a heck of a time getting something going when temps are above, say, 45 degrees and the humidity is high. Around 20 is when my stove begins to enjoy being a stove.
    gyrfalcon and PapaDave like this.
  21. blades

    blades Minister of Fire

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    Another trick to getting more heat , but at the cost of a long burn - use splits only 2-4" cross section width. Also note that if the fan is blowing that will give a slightly lower reading apx 100 or so deg. less than actual. as you surmised center above door gives the best reading an IR Temp unit is about the only way to monitor that. Look or ask around at the big box stores for some pallets or similar companies. the pallets are mostly ok moisture wise the bulk of them are made out of various conifers and some use deciduous . just do not pack the insert full or you will have a runaway, as in stove going balistic.
  22. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Works good on electrical outlets and panels, great for finding hot spots.
    PapaDave likes this.
  23. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    not familiar with this drolet model assuming its a reburn stove , i see the OP is running the draft wide open,

    try backing down the draft control and looking for secondaries (flames in the top of the stove) running too much primary air in a non cat has a tendency to run cooler than running with the primary closed off a bit.

    remember more air doesn't always equate to more heat (especially in a non cat)
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  24. KSgrown

    KSgrown Member

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    Beware, some ir guns have a peak. I've seen one max out at 500°, just something to check if you buy one
    pen likes this.
  25. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    My Harbor Freight one is good to at least 1,425. Don't ask. ;em
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2013
    PapaDave and Swedishchef like this.

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