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Cold air infiltration from Heat n Glo Northstar

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by mdmooreIII, Oct 30, 2007.

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  1. mdmooreIII

    mdmooreIII New Member

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    I have a Heat n Glo Northstar that was installed during new construction a couple of months ago. We just got into the house a couple of weeks ago, and I have not used the fireplace yet. We had our first chilly night, and I felt alot of cold air leaking into the room from the faceplate underneath the doors. When I open the doors, the firebox is filled with cold air, and I can hear a ticking noise, but cannot determine where the noise is coming from. Two questions - Is there anything that can be done to prevent that cold air, and does anyone know what the ticking noise might be?

    Thanks.

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  2. scfa99

    scfa99 New Member

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    congrats on a fine stove/fireplace err wood burning appliance.

    the ticking noise is the timer for the acc, i think the Northstar has that feature (its on the Quad 7100 that is similar). best thing is check the manual to see if it has the acc option.

    cold air, is it hooked up to draw in outside air? if so the installer should have installed a p-trap to prevent cold air infiltration. my installers didnt do it with my quad and I went back in before the wall was sealed and installed the p-trap and no longer have cold air issues. if you plan to run it 24/7 you won't have any issues either.

    new construction, must be a quality builder or an option to go with that unit vs a crappy builder quality grade zero clearance.

    Have you had a chance to use it?
  3. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    Most builders refuse to build chimneys that draft well, see:
    http://www.woodheat.org/chimneys/evilchim.htm

    If that is the case with you, the only real simple solutions I've seen are: 1) A chimney fan that induces draft. 2) Insulate/board up/otherwise seal off the entire opening when its not in use.
  4. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    The ticking is definitely the ACT timer. When you slide the air handle to the far right you engage the start up air which is then closed within 30-60 minutes by a timer. You will want to read the manual to understand how this lever works it is hard to explain in type.

    Its hard to say where the cold air is coming in, there could be a few things going on.

    - You might have the outside air control open, it is the knob on the lower right of the front panel. I think CCW is closed but I be certain.

    - The doors might not be sealing up fully, close the door on a dollar bill in various places and it should give a bit of resistance to pull it out. If its loose the doors are not sealing good.

    - The current NorthStar version has a gasketed seal on the outside air damper, if you somehow got an older version they have a metal on metal damper door which did not deal very well.

    - It is possible the builder did not treat the walls behind the fireplace as an exterior wall, and did not insulate or drywall. In this case the fireplace is basically acting as a window, and they don't make very good windows. The cold air would be leaking through the house sheeting and getting behind the fireplace, the fireplace is merely the means for the air to enter the house.


    Where are you located BTW?
  5. mdmooreIII

    mdmooreIII New Member

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    Thanks for the responses.

    While trying to familiarize myself with the controls, I did engage the ACC, but then slid the burn control lever back to the left. So once the ACC is engaged, sliding the lever back to the left will not disengage it, it just has to run its course with the timer?

    The unit is vented for outside air. I did not see any p-trap after it was installed, only two flexible vent pipes, one going into the top of the unit, one going into the bottom. The air that I am feeling definately feels like a draft from those vents. So I guess the only thing I could do now, since the walls are sealed up, is try to block the vent openings from the outside when not in use. The air vent knob is in the closed position. What exactly is that used for? When I turn it to the open position, it won't stay open, it closes back up.

    As far as the insulation, I know insulation was put between the wall studs above the fireplace to insulate the room from the chimney chase, but there is no insulation behind the unit, or the sides of the unit since it was already in place when the insulation was put in. I am in North Carolina, so it is not going to be terribly cold. And when it is cold enough, I like the idea of using the fireplace 24/7, but am a little nervous about doing so ( leaving a fire going while sleeping and when no one is home ). But, I assume that is what the unit was designed for, so it should not be a problem.
  6. scfa99

    scfa99 New Member

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    mdmoore,

    yes you are correct, once the acc is engaged it will tick for approx 30 mins until it disengages. the benefit of this feature is when you are starting a fire or putting more logs on you slide it to the right to engage it (more air) and then once you feel resistance its engaged and you can slide it back to where you normally burn (see below). without this feature you would have to go back and set the lever to the proper setting or it would be wind open, with the ACC you can set it and forget it.

    Tip on the acc for proper burning, the further left you slide it the more you choke off the fire, too much and your glass will soot up and creosote can build up. it takes some getting used, but here is a trick. when you have a decent fire going during the day, adjust the slider to the middle go outside and see if you see smoke. keep moving the slider to the left a little at a time and checking for smoke. once you see smoke from the pipe, move it slightly to the right and check again for smoke. once you find the spot that is the furthest left without smoking you found the sweet spot for overnight burns and times when you dont want a lot of heat. the farther right the faster and hotter your fire burns and obviously it produces more heat and burns wood quicker. i hope i explained it correctly.

    Re flexible pipes, one of them is supposed to be twisted into a p-trap, its in the manual. the vent knob in the open position allows air from the outside to be brought in.

    Regarding overnight burns, as long as its installed properly (clearances are met), no creosote buildup and the door handle is locked you will be fine. it will take you awhile, i remember a few sleepless nights the first couple of overnights. took me awhile before I could sleep through the night without checking it.
  7. mdmooreIII

    mdmooreIII New Member

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    Explaination of ACC was great, thanks. I will try covering the outside vent openings when not in use to see if that makes a difference. Thanks for the advice, I am looking forward to using the fireplace this winter.
  8. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    you will always experience a cold draft because you bump out lacks insulation. That bum pout should have insulation on the ceiling and have the required 5/8" fire code sheetrock
    installed per code Taped and seamed.

    my final inspection I use an incense stick at floor level of the stove if I detect a draft guess what that stove is coming out and the draft fixed When I do the rough inspection it better be insulated and outside air using a p trap if specified I may do another inspection during sheet rocking where a sheet is left off for me to observe the 5/8" fire code sheet rock installation or the sheet gets removed to confirm it was done correctly. After a while installers find it is right to get it done right the first time. It a lot cheaper that removing it to get done the second time plus the re inspection fee that is added to each failure. When we install a seamless one piece bath tub we purchase a roll of insulation to insulate before installing the tub. All it takes is common sense to do the right thing. As an inspector, there is no place in the code, "well it was already installed therefore insulation is not required"
  9. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    Elk's got it right, that was my suspicion. After a few revisions Heat & Glo (and Quad) have really nailed down the cold air infiltration issues with the unit itself. Unfortunately the fireplace often gets blamed because it is place the air gets into the house, even if its the house that's leaking. Not having insulation back there is like hacing a window in your house open 24/7.

    I wonder what dealer out there installed your fireplace :( ( Can you PM me who installed it if you know?)

    If this is the knob in the lower right, it should stay open when opened. It is hooked up to a 6" flex duct that lets fresh air in under the unit. This helps to replace the air in the house the fireplace uses for combustion, and generally the fireplace will suck up all the cold air as it comes in when its going good.
  10. mdmooreIII

    mdmooreIII New Member

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    Still having this issue, been talking to the dealer who installed it, no luck yet. Called Heat n Glo to ask about the outside air knob not staying in the closed position. Was told that if I turn the knob to the closed position, it should stay there, and prevent the cold air infiltration, or at least reduce it. Does anyone know of any reason why that knob would not stay in the closed position? Guess my next step is to take the front lower grate off and investigate.
  11. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    If you haver the current model is it impossible for it to open by itself. Not only does it have a magnet that sticks it shut but it also rotate past 90 degrees so it would literally have to defy gravity to flip back open. It should move fluidly when turned, do you have a lot of resistance when closing it? Also FYI by taking that bottom plate off you wont be able to see much, the location of the outside air door is inside the metal box you will see on the right.

    There are a few ways you might be able to tell what version you have.

    - In some of the old ones this box on the right side was not really sealed at all. In fact you could jam a flat screwdriver in it and then see inside it with a flashlight. I think the newest ones are sealed up somehow or at least built in a way where they actually contain the cold air somewhat.

    - Some of the newest units ship with a triangular knob for this lower right air control handle. All previous versions ship with a round knob. Just because you have a round knob doesn't mean you have an old unit.

    - Get the serial number from the rating plate, it should be attached to a chain on the right side which you can get at with that bottom panel removed. When you call Heat & Glo ask them if you have the newest style of damper on the fresh air, with the gaskets seal and magnet.


    You already stated you have no insulation in the walls behind the fireplace. THIS IS YOUR NUMBER ONE PROBLEM. If you don't get that fixed you will always have cold air infiltration behind the fireplace. I would be talking to the builder NOW. The fireplace dealer doesn't have anything to do with insulating your house. As you suggested earlier, you should try taping a bag over the air hood on the outside to see if it stops the air flow. Even if it does help, you still need to have the walls insulated.
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