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Cleaning above a VC WWL

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by DeanBrown3D, Oct 18, 2006.

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  1. DeanBrown3D

    DeanBrown3D New Member

    Joined:
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    193
    Loc:
    Princeton, NJ
    Hello all VC WW people.

    I have cleaned my chimney (its a tiled chimney 11" square), with a square brush, and most of the ash and dust came off fine. How do I clean the shelf above the insert? Do I have to pull it out? Its an inside chiney and has NO access doors. My friend told me to do this (and I did): take a vacuumm up to the roof and put a long tube down (17' in all it was) and vacuum up all that you can. I probably got around a 6" border over the 11" square, by bending the end of the vacuum tube. I got around 1/2 galon of black soot out, in the bucket vacuum cleaner.

    Anything wrong with this technique? I don't want to pull out 476 lbs of cast iron. (My would-be helpers are gals of 35, 3 and 0.4 years.)

    Thanks!

    DeanB

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  2. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    The stove should not be run without re attaching the plates. You should not be seeing the cat glow any color
    You just described you stove being directly connected into a 12/12 flue Cross-sectional area wise, I doubt that stove will ever function correctly. The flue area is to big to heat enough enough to promote a decent draft. Tripple that if your chimney is located on an outside wall. yoou have to make certaint that all your gaskets are functioning correctly and creating a good seal
  3. DeanBrown3D

    DeanBrown3D New Member

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    Loc:
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    The plate is just for physical protection of the cats isn't it? As far as interfering with the gas flow I can't see that making much of a difference, but I'm probably wrong.

    The stove worked 300% better last night than it ever did when I left the damper open, so right now I am a happy bunny! A few pieces of 3-5" wood burn well for ages (more than 1 hour), and we got a load of heat out of the thing on high. Really, I was just asking in this thread about the chimney and how to clean above the insert without taking it out.

    -DeanB
  4. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Dean I was trying to help you. The door gaskets problems are well documented. Your picture is showing a warped
    grate already signs of over firing. You may take the advice or ignore it that's up to you. The cat area is usually protected by a plate
    it is not left un protected there is also usually a vent hood used to direct secondary smoke passage. Really needed, should a log roll into that refactory package around the cat, better have about $300 for the refactory package and new cat.
    Again this is good advice but its up to you to heed it. As for cleanning that was cleaver. as for dumping that stove in a cross-sectional area of a 12/12 clay flue better plan on frequent cleanings or nature will clean it for you along with the fire dept
  5. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    elk, I thought it was ok to go 3x on the chimney. Has that been reduced to 2x?

    4 x 4 x 3.14 = 50.24 sq in area (8" spec'd WWL chimney)

    12 x 12 = 144 sq in area (dean's clay flue is under 3x)

    I do agree that the cowls should be replaced. And the cat should be used if you want to get the additional 50 to 100% of heat from your wood. Burning with the damper open makes more flames, but that is because it is inefficient primary combustion. The yellow flames by definition are full of unburned wood combustion byproducts that the cat is designed to combust for additional efficiency and a lot more heat.

    Dean, do you use your convection fans?

    BTW: that is as bad an over firing as I've ever seen, although my experience is somewhat limited. Anybody??? Anybody??? Beuler???
  6. DeanBrown3D

    DeanBrown3D New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Princeton, NJ
    Ok thanks to both of you. I do use the fans, especially now that I know what the controls are. I only just got the user document yesterday though! BTW the chimney is 11x11, not 12x12.

    What kind of damage should I look for in the firebox? I can see the front and bottom grates are warped (and it seems to be a bit worse than when I bought the house. I guess I was lighting the fire with the door open a tadge to let the air in. Can get quite a nice roaring flame out if that!)

    Right now, the cat glows bright orange for a time (while its smoking I think). The glass does not get dirty very fast, several days or even a week before it looks like I should clean it. I can't see any deformed plates on the firebox. The door is tight, but I will do the dollar trick test tonight and make sure its sealed.

    One more question I had was how much wood to throw on the thing! Up to the top of the grate? Above that?

    Thanks!

    DeanB
  7. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    It does sound like a direct connect, that's a nightmare for cleaning, you're supposed to yank the insert out each time you clean and then reinstall everything. Often, people don't bother and create a safety issue. Direct connects have been outlawed in Canada and my feeling is it will be banned in the USA sometime as well. Insurance companies are catching on to direct connects. When I called my insurance company up to ask if they require anything special for me to get a fireplace insert, they simply said as long as you have the full liner instead of a direct connect that's about all we require and you'll need to get a permit from your building inspector. That's why you're getting some turbulance about your type of install, my guess is most forum members wish the USA follow Canada's lead and outlaw them as well. Direct connects are bad in that they create more creosote because the masonry takes a long time to warm up, causing safety issues, and your unit doesn't run as efficient. You can read about the types of installations here http://www.woodheat.org/technology/inserts.htm. I recommend you consider going to a full liner in the future as you appear to be realizing the model you have just so happens to be one of the workhorses. That being the case, if you turn into a wood burning aficionado and use that model constantly like it was intended you'll be glad you went to a full liner for the cleaning, safety reasons, and efficiency. One thing unique about that model is it only uses around 40 watts for the fans, every other insert I've seen lingers around 100 watts so it's particularly inexpensive to run the blowers for you.

    So, consider moving to a full liner. Probably cost you in the ballpark of $600 for materials give or take, probably $900 in total for parts & labor if professionally installed. As I've found out, they're not particularly difficult to do yourself, but that all depends on how meticulous you are and, tight installs certainly don't make things easy.
  8. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    St. Louis, Missouri
    11 x 11 = 121 sq in, just barely over the 100.48 figure of 2x the 8" spec of the WWL. So it should work, but cleaning is a bear.

    I'm not sure what kind of damage to look for, probably cracks and warps. I'd think it likely something else is damaged considering the state of your grate.

    If you've contributed to the warping then you are using WAY too much wood or allowing too much air in there through cracking the door or leaky gaskets, etc.

    If it were me and I was considering getting a liner as Ronemas suggests, I'd also consider getting a new stove. Almost all use 6 inch liners now and rather than spending half the price of a new stove and 6 inch liner on an 8" liner for the WWL that may be of limited service life, I'd think about getting a whole new setup. Some descent stoves can be had for under $1,000 plus less than you'd spend on an 8" reline for the new stove's 6 inch pipe. My $0.02.

    Otherwise, you will have a hard time cleaning that thing unless you remove it and vacuum the smoke shelf. If you accumulate too much creosote on the smoke shelf and it ever lights up, you are going to be in a world of hurt with a tile chimney!
  9. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    2x the cross- sectional area of and exterior chimney 3x the cross-section area of the an interior chimney

    11x11 + 121 sq in to large for an exterior location chimney about 20% larger than it should be.

    Here is what has occured: the people had a hard time starting a fire So they left the door open. The area was to large to heat the flue they compensated and improvised, The rapid starting damaged and warped the metal. They had to get a rip roaring fire to force the draft by them it was overfired and from the pictures all the evidence is there. That stove has been severly overfired
  10. DeanBrown3D

    DeanBrown3D New Member

    Joined:
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    193
    Loc:
    Princeton, NJ
    I am thinking about adding a liner. Not sure whether to get an insulated one or not. I had an insulated liner installed to my basement last year, so I saw how they do it then, and this time I will try it myself.

    Above the insert are 3 large (3-4") heat transfer pipes that I would have to cut through. No biggie, but a bit of a pain.
  11. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Loc:
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    Dean, 8" SS liners are pricey, especially if you get one insulated, so I repeat my suggestion about researching prices on a new setup with a 6 inch liner. Especially with the abuse that your WWL unit looks to have suffered. A 6 inch liner will be much easier for a DIY project too (through the damper and up on the roof).

    There are some really fine inserts out there at reasonable prices. The WWL has its place, but I'd guess that your style of burning (HOT!) and your presumed visual verification of flamage to indicate heat output is counter to the normal WWL and general cat operational procedures. Unless you are trying to heat a WalMart sized room your flames will usually be anemic compared to what one would intuitively expect from a fireplace insert. This can take some getting used to.

    I once heard the Webmaster describe the WWL as a gentle burner and I'd agree after operating mine for 3 years now. The reason is due to a combination of things. The cat design and puts half the combustion out of sight behind the back partition, so fireworks are limited from the outset when compared to a modern non-cat, top baffle secondary combuster that is a veritable light show compared to cat stoves.

    No problem for me since I get my flame fix during the first half hour with the door open and a screen in place. My next half hour still shows some descent fireworks with the door closed but with the cat bypassed. Then I damper down and rely on my digital cat thermometer to precisely control my firing levels. I'm like a pilot flying on instruments seeing little of the machine from its visual feedback. That means very few flames (but still curiuosly interesting and mostly blue) in the case of my WWL.

    My WWL is in a big room (~900 sq ft) and has no trouble warming it up and keeping it warm with very little visible flame in the firebox. This is great in my mind since it leaves me with a feeling that I'm being thrifty with my hard earned sweat equity wood pile. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy a nice looking fire, but heating and wood conservation have taken priority and are generally at odds to a nice looking fire with a cat stove. The WWL does these well, plus it looks dang good in the room during the summer time.

    Personally, if I were you, based upon how hot you seem to have been running that thing, and perhaps those that came before you ran it, I probably wouldn't buy an 8 inch SS liner for that thing. It may be damaged and you can't find out without a major effort of removal, inspection, and preferably a rebuild. Add this effort and expense to the cost of an 8 inch liner and it looks like a fairly large expense for what may not be the best stove your your needs (I'm obviously making some assumptions here). I'd start over and find a stove that met my needs. Most people seem to like the bigger fireworks shown by non-cat stoves/inserts, and I'm throwing you into that group based on the blaze required to melt your WWL component(s).

    Treat yourself. Keep burning as you are and spend the next year researching a great new stove... or not. Your decision, of course. Personally, I like cat stoves for my specific application, but I also like non-cat stoves equally well because non-cat stoves offer much simpler operation and much nicer viewable fireworks.

    BTW: If you do the dollar bill test, you should include my half dollar bill test on the left side above and below the hinges. A full width dollar bill won't tell the whole story there. You need something smaller there that doesn't span the joint of the upper and lower firebox castings which can display radically different resistance.
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