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Cracked stone on Tribute.

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by jeffman3, Dec 20, 2008.

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  1. KeithO

    KeithO Minister of Fire

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    This is exactly what I have been suggesting all along. You can't rely on a surface thermometer to avoid damage to your stove, particularly one made of soapstone. There are important design differences between Woodstock and Hearthstone stoves that are responsible for differences in durability. 1) Woodstock chose a catalyst system that allows the fire to burn at a lower smoldering temperature for extended burns. 2) Woodstock typically has 2 layers of thinner stones compared to Hearthstones single layer thicker stones. By having 2 layers of soapstone, the stresses on the soapstone is dramatically reduced since the temperature gradient across a single layer is halved. Add to this the lower internal temperature from point 1 and one has a good case for a durable stove.

    I have examined Hearthstone stoves before I bought the T5 and I was not encouraged by the workmanship on the Hearthstone stoves, which is why I stayed away. The statement by Woodstock regarding the cost of a replacement catalyst compared to a warped firebox is particularly poignant in the context of this thread. I would have loved to buy a Woodstock stove, but the clearances make it impossible in my home. I have corresponded with Woodstock with an offer to assist with development of more effective shields to permit tighter clearances, but the company was not interested. Apparently they have sufficient customers who find the present clearances acceptable. In future, as the economy and energy costs drive smaller homes, this is going to become a more and more significant problem that I hope Woodstock will address.

    Jeff, I am sure all of us who have followed this thread hope that you will at least get your Heritage rebuilt without a massive financial outlay. I encourage you to fit both a stack damper and the probe type thermometer before operating the rebuilt stove and use the flue thermometer as your guiding principle. If nothing else, this will certainly avoid damage to your rebuilt stove so that you have the option of selling it and getting a more suitable stove next season.

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  2. jeffman3

    jeffman3 New Member

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    I haven't received any correspondence, about the Tribute, from Hearthstone, sense I left town last week. I will send off an other e-mail. I at least need to get the parts delivered to me, so I can try to fix it, as there is no dealer willing to work on their stoves. I Just can't afford a new stove right now, but with the tax return, and a profit sharing check from work, maybe there will be enough left over, after paying off some medical bills, to look more seriously at a new stove.
  3. Frostbit

    Frostbit Feeling the Heat

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    I hope you all don't mind me commenting on this thread. I have been following it since its inception. I am a totally neutral party here, and new to the site, so its just my opinion...

    I am sorry to hear of Jeff's trouble with his stove. I really hope he gets it repaired. From the sounds of things, Hearthstone is stepping to the plate. I think the troubleshooting, professional help and consequent comments from Tom are stellar. We should all be so fortunate to get this advice and help. Other posts by obvious reputable and experienced *woodmeisters* contain some of the most insightful and helpful information I have ever read, anywhere, to date. You just cannot get it anywhere else. I've looked. As a new owner of a recently installed Jotul F400, I learned more about burning wood in these newer EPA stoves in this thread than I could have on my own in months or years. I don't have a problem with being told I may be doing something wrong, matter of fact, I would welcome it.

    I take this all as what it is: Collective, educated, experienced help, and for that I, for one, am grateful.
  4. jeffman3

    jeffman3 New Member

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    I received an e-mail from Jim today. Hearthstone will be sending all the needed parts, gaskets and cement to me. I will attempt the repair myself. Jim was very gracious in his correspondence. The gaskets, cement and shipping normally would not be covered under the warranty, but they have included them as no dealer will work on the stove. :)

    I suggested that better operating instructions, limits, and temperature monitoring instructions, be written into the manual. I have fallowed the instructions, and limits, in the manual to the letter, and the stove just didn't hold up as expected. It is apparent to me that the instructions, and recommended temperature monitoring instructions, are woefully inadequate, and truly misleading.

    I thank Tom for his time and consideration in this matter. He truly is a very generous man for taking the time to be involved. I disagree with some of the assertions, and inferences, he posted about me, and the operation of my Tribute, but none the less, he took the time to look into this. So Thank you Tom. I also want to thank The members of this forum. You all are the reason this truly is the best resource for solid, reliable information about stove operation, and hearth issues in general, that exists to my knowledge.

    Might I suggest to the moderators, that some of the information discussed in this thread be moved, and posted as an informational piece regarding the proper use and monitoring of new EPA stoves. The information here is detailed, and very helpful. Thank you to all those who contributed. :coolsmile:

    Now on to the rebuild/repair! I may need some more help when I recieve the parts. :red:
  5. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Man I am glad I got a steel stove. I need things that can take my abuse, and I admit I can be abusive. Not knocking other stoves, I just know I'd destroy a soapstone. I am too clumsy.
  6. jeffman3

    jeffman3 New Member

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    At some point we plan on putting another stove in the basement, for the really cold snaps. I will be looking for an inexpensive, larger, powerhouse, cast or steel, I don't think I'll go soapstone again. Hearth pad "R" factors and clearance's shouldn't be an issue down there. (Concrete floors, and block walls.) That probably won't happen in the near future, but it will happen down the road, sometime.
  7. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Jeff, glad to see your confidence to tackle this repair. I will be on the edge of my seat waiting to see what's involved.
  8. jeffman3

    jeffman3 New Member

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    I'm confident I'm going to try. :lol: I got step by step instructions from Jim, and I hope that with the help of the good folks here, Jim at Hearthstone, and others, we can get it done. I think we will replace the door frame, and door now, and smear some stove cement on the cracks (as much as I can get to with out taring it down) and try to limp it through till spring. I don't want to get this baby tore down, have trouble with it, and get hit with a cold snap. If I get into it, and something goes terribly wrong, (ie... breaking the stones that have to be removed, and reset in the new top casting etc....) I want to have the time to get a replacement something worked out, before I need to heat my house again. After reading through the multiple pages of instructions, it doesn't seam to awfully complicated, but you know how that goes. :gulp: I think if the rebuild/repair goes well, we will leave the Tribute upstairs, (it is awfully attractive) and look into another, bigger, (cast or steel) stove, for the basement, down the road.
  9. pyro68

    pyro68 Member

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    good luck w/ the rebuild.
    For your basement I would recommend considering the enerzone 3.4 as an option if you have enough sq/ footage to heat. The walls & floor will absorb a lot of heat unless they are insulated. The stove comes standard w/ a blower. Just an option to consider.
    One tip on rebuilding is to soak the joints with water 2 - 3 days before starting the tear down. Soaking wet rags laid on the joints so the water can slowly seep into the cement works great. I'd recommend asking Jim to send you a couple of extra metal spines for between the stones. Shouldn't cost much, and may be glad you have them. Feel free to contact if you run into any problems, I'll be glad to help, at the very least will tell you "I don't know" !!
  10. jeffman3

    jeffman3 New Member

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    I love the Tribute, it truly is just right for us most of the time. I plan on getting a probe thermometer, but I don't really know how to interpret the readings and translate that information into useful action. I don't fully understand the correlation between flue gas temp, and operational actions in regards to my Tribute. Hearthstone only has guidelines as to the surface temp of the stove. Maybe you, or someone, could help me understand what to do, when and why. I understand there is a lag time between burn temp in the firebox, and that heat reaching the outside of the stone, but how do I gauge how hot is to hot, on the flue readings?
  11. jeffman3

    jeffman3 New Member

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    Thanks Pyro Have you rebuilt one of these before? I may just take you up on that if I run into problems. I plan to replace the door ASAP, and seal up the cracks as best I can, until spring. I don't want to get in the middle of this, and have a cold snap hit us. I have been told that if I get the door taken care of, and seal up what I can, I should be able to burn until I can get the time to tare this stove down, when I don't need it. If it goes to complete s**t, I can tare it down and do it then, but I really don't want to be with out it right now.

    As to the stove in the basement project, It will be some time before I can get into that, but I would like to put a larger stove down there. I would like an honest 6-8 hrs between loadings. I don't need a pretty stove for that, just something I can load up and let it burn all night, and/or day. (I am working the graveyard shift at the plant, now, and sleep during the day :-/ )
  12. pyro68

    pyro68 Member

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    As to the stove in the basement project, It will be some time before I can get into that, but I would like to put a larger stove down there. I would like an honest 6-8 hrs between loadings. I don’t need a pretty stove for that, just something I can load up and let it burn all night, and/or day. (I am working the graveyard shift at the plant, now, and sleep during the day


    Those requirements are why I recommended considering the enerzone 3.4 Name refers to cubic ft. of firebox space. I would recommend at least 1500 to 1800 sq. foot of space before installing this stove or one that size. www.enerzone-intl.com they have a find a dealer page so you can look for someone local.


    I have helped rebuild hearthstones, typically a somewhat tedious but pretty straighforward job. Important thing is to take your time and not rush getting the stones appart. I can connect you to guys that do it more often than me if you run into problems :) We've found that soaking the joints with water really helps soften that cement. The good news is they are much easier to take apart after they have been burned than when the cement is green. I wouldn't worry about burning the stove with the cracks unless you see a good amount of blackening around the crack, creosote leaking or evidence of air leaking. Smearing the stove cement inside on the cracks would probably give several years or more of burning. I think it's a good idea to go ahead & do it now while hearthstone will send the stones.
    Happy Burning!!
  13. KeithO

    KeithO Minister of Fire

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    Jeff: If you look at the face of the thermometer, it tells you right there if you are too low, "in the zone" or too hot (overfire). No interpretation required.

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  14. karri0n

    karri0n New Member

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    The flue thermo is a decent idea. Because it measures the flue gas instead of the stovetop, the fact that it's a soapstone stove won't really come into account as much as if you were using a stovetop thermometer. If I had a stone stove, I certainly wouldn't trust a stovetop thermometer just because the stone doesn't conduct the heat the way iron or steel do. plus, IIRC, most of the magnetic thermometers are for the external single wall flue temp, and therefore the ranges listed on the thermo itself really don't match up with what you should see from the stovetop, and so this requires you to know about where your stovetop should be and to basically ignore the colors on the thermometer. I like the simplicity factor in that I sometimes might have someone watching the house while we are on vacation, or have the wife run the woodstove while I'm at work, without having to give everyone a two hour training on proper operation of the stove.
  15. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    As a strange coincidence, the rutland magnetic surface meter actually has overfire and underfire ranges that align perfectly with Hearthstone's requirements for the stovetop.

    The manufacturer tells you exactly how to monitor their product to ensure that it doesn't overfire. They designed this thing and they are the experts on how to monitor the temperature of a soapstone stove. Second guessing their specific instructions is about as silly as monitoring chimney temp to determine stove temp.

    There is nothing wrong with monitoring several parameters. I am a notorious gauge watcher and monitor strange things in my truck too. In the case of the hearthstones there is a specific parameter that must be monitored and the rest are all a bonus.
  16. karri0n

    karri0n New Member

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    I don't blame you for monitoring, but why do you let strange things drive your truck in the first place?
  17. KeithO

    KeithO Minister of Fire

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    You don't know what you don't or can't measure. Before being overcritical of the proposal, try a probe style thermometer and compare the readings (not temperature, but which "zone" you are in) from it to those on the surface thermometer placed on the stove top. If the flue thermometer reads over 1000F at the start of every burn, yet the surface thermometer always shows the temperature to be in a "comfortable zone", what will you make of that ?

    I can see that blind faith in the manufacturer will only be broken by overwhelming evidence of their incompetence. As can be seen (and read from the manual) if your stove ends up damaged, you can and generally will be denied compensation unless you are able to PROVE that you complied with their instructions. To provide proof would require instrumenting the stove and continuous data logging, which in itself would likely cost more than the stove. So in most cases, you end up on your own with the damage, which typically is not a financially viable repair. Availability of the probe thermometers is pretty patchy. Generally you will only find them in hearth dealers who really care about helping you protect your investment and don't want you coming back with a damaged stove. I did not find them at any stove dealer in Jackson, Lowes, Menards, or Home Depot.

    With a non catalytic stove, the source of damage is the heat from secondary combustion. If you keep this below a critical level, it is plain outright impossible to damage your stove.

    I'll try to make a second analogy regarding trying to manage your soapstone stove by measuring stovetop temperature: Imagine you own a castle in Scotland with stone walls 20" thick. You do some modernization since the place is a bit chilly inside and install a forced air central heating system. But through an archaic cultural practice that you don't want to buck, you install your thermostat on the outside of the wall, not the inside. Of course, since the thermostat is on the outside of the wall, you don't set it to 70F, no, you use the table provided by the manufacturer and set it to 34F (for example). Now under steady state conditions (outside temperature is relatively constant) this arrangement could work, because heat dissipation through the walls is fairly constant and for a given inside temperature the outside surface of the wall will stabilize at a certain value. Unfortunately, through the inertia of the mass in the walls and the reluctance of heat to easily flow through all that stone, it is possible that you could ignite 5 gal of gasoline against the inside face of the wall, without noticing a significant change to the outside surface temperature. Does this mean that burning 5 gal of gasoline will not cause any damage to the building ? I'm afraid not.

    The response of the surface thermometer simply cannot keep up with events inside, which is unfortunately the location that damage takes place. So for any application which is dynamic (as opposed to steady state - like a pellet stove) my assertion is that measuring surface temperature is in fact a SURE WAY to encourage damage to your stove. Hearthstone simply has not updated the instructions for their stoves, and are more than likely using the same instructions issued for stoves that existed prior to EPA certification. I suspect this is because the secondary air systems were "grafted into" existing designs (just like one has seen with cast iron stoves), and sold without specific attention being paid to the completely different failure modes that one has with the new design. In my opinion, not only are the instructions inadequate, but the stove design needed to be changed to better cope with the much higher temperature range brought about by the introduction of the secondary air system.

    But accomplishing these things requires engineering insight, something frequently lacking in our society. Evidence of the demise of our scientific capabilities is everywhere, from electronics to cars to power generation, to machine tools. It starts in the way people are educated and peaks in the way our companies (and government) are managed. The shuttle O ring issue was a classic case of management suppression of good engineering judgment and it was of course the whistle blower who was fired and the managers responsible were promoted. The same executives now pleading for a bail out will probably be making multi million $ bonuses in 2 years if they get through the current crisis, but they also got us into it.

    [quote author="Highbeam" date="1231281879"]The manufacturer tells you exactly how to monitor their product to ensure that it doesn't overfire. They designed this thing and they are the experts on how to monitor the temperature of a soapstone stove. Second guessing their specific instructions is about as silly as monitoring chimney temp to determine stove temp./quote]
  18. Mikeyvon

    Mikeyvon New Member

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    KeithO - If your argument is relevant, would we not be seeing stoves failing at record rates? What is the percentage of failures in Hearthstone stoves? Post EPA stoves? Is this really a large problem or an isolated incidence?
  19. KeithO

    KeithO Minister of Fire

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    How many people have a good chimney, dry wood, a Hearthstone stove and live in a cold climate ? How often is the stove oversized and thus "derated" so as not to overheat the living quarters ? How often is the stove so located that heat cannot effectively be distributed, which again results in the stove being run low to avoid the room being uncomfortably hot ?

    How can anyone claim specific statistics regarding failure rates on stoves ? There is no database with this on record. Some stoves like the "everburn" models appear never to work properly, even when owned by people who have burnt wood for years. Yet they are still being sold to an unsuspecting public. Vermont castings has had enormous increases in customer complaints since the original bankruptcy and acquisition and subsequent outsourcing, culminating in their recent refusal to honor warranties. Yet you still find their stoves on dealers floors, being sold to an unsuspecting public.

    Even in the automotive industry, which is relatively highly regulated through the work of Nader and others, there are cars on the road that may have dozens of known issues. The only problems that are corrected are the safety and emissions related ones and then only since the government forced the industry to maintain a database of failures and triggered a recall when failure rates rose above a certain threshold. In the stove industry, the emissions and UL certification are divorced processes, neither of which focus on the functionality of the device (to provide heat in a reliable fashion).

    I actually think that now is a bad time for a non expert to be buying a stove with the trouble at VC, Harman, Century getting caught up in the middle and others. I have no idea how many stoves Hearthstone has sold nor how they were installed or operated. My criticism is partly based on the fact that Hearthstone do not sell cheap stoves. An equivalent Pacific Energy stove may be half the cost of a Hearthstone stove and be better engineered by Canadians who live up north in the tundra where people need to rely on their stoves or possibly freeze to death. Their direct competitor (Woodstock) are certainly differentiated by their attention to detail and good conceptual design. Soapstone stoves should more than likely never have been built as non catalytics and only time will tell how many of them will be on the junk pile in the next 5 years.

    What I can comment on is information from personal experience and issues of general principle related to science, in which I am an expert.

    We cannot undo what has been done, but we may be able to prevent more of the same by following scientific principle instead of dogma.
  20. Peter B.

    Peter B. Feeling the Heat

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    I'm inclined to agree with KeithO with respect to flue probe thermometers.

    I've always used probes, rather than magnetics... and have to think they are more accurate overall and quicker to respond to changing temps.

    At present (though I intend to buy another pair), I've only got one probe... at 12" above my stove top... and rotate it from time to time to drillings I made in the stove, in an effort to correlate temperatures under certain conditions. Flue pipe and stove top (internal) temps for my set up can differ by as much as a few hundred degrees during different stages in the life of a given fire.

    I've found it extremely useful to know the ranges of those relative temps... and now I typically monitor only the flue, knowing that I'm not likely to exceed a (previously observed) high internal stove temperature at a given 'reference' flue temp.

    It's NOT an exact science by any stretch, but one can certainly make a useful 'study' of the various temps prevailing at different points on the stove and flue, and come to some kind of rule of thumb that's more reliable than a single monitoring point alone... especially with only a magnetic thermometer.

    FWIW.

    Peter B.

    -----
  21. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    I also agree that a probe would be best to monitor stove temps, but it won't do much good 12-24" above the stove, it needs to be in the firebox or right in front above the baffle where the heat is and I don't know if I would have the guts to drill a hole in the soapstone. I don't know why non cat manufactures don't just install a probe thermometer in the stove as a standard option?
  22. KeithO

    KeithO Minister of Fire

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    Todd, what you propose is exactly what I believe the stove suppliers should be providing, because it would remove all ambiguity from stove operation. It would not solve the control issues, but at least you would know what the heck is going on - before anything gets damaged.
  23. jeffman3

    jeffman3 New Member

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    Here is the Problem, I did fallow the "expert" specific instructions on how to monitor the temperature, and the guild lines and limits the "experts" wrote into the manual. I fallowed the instructions, and limits and monitoring procedures written by the "experts", and my stove didn't hold up. The top casting broke among other things... Now I have people telling me I over-fired the stove, but it never reached the over-fire threshold that Hearthstone has laid out in the manual, using the measuring procedure they recommend in their manual. I have to find a better way to monitor this stove, as the method Hearthstone recommends is not adequate to prevent damage to the stove apparently. My situation proves this, I can't believe I'm the only one who ran their stove "by the book" and had failure of the stove as a result.
  24. KeithO

    KeithO Minister of Fire

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    Jeff. in reading the manual for the tribute, they do specify their "design" draft level at 0.08"wc (they say in fact from 0.06-0.10" so the midpoint is 0.08"). This is more info than is typically provided. If I were you, I would install a damper and when you have the stove ready to run again, call your local chimney sweeps to see who has draft measuring apparatus. 80thou is only 2mm of height difference with a water tube manometer, so you would need probably 10x magnification to have any hope in reading it correctly, so this is not an easy DIY problem. If you can have the draft measured in operation, this would allow the damper to be adjusted to provide "design" draft to the stove. This would be a good start, if there have been operational problems in the past. Ideally, this would be done on a crisp cold (representative) day.

    Besides that, use the flue (probe) thermometer carefully, and compare with what is going on with the stove top thermometer. Try to keep the flue temp below 900F. Above 900 you are playing Russian roulette with a few chambers loaded, based on prior experience. You may want (as a precautionary measure) to find the secondary air intake and make up a small sheet metal plate that covers (minimum) 50% of this opening and extends past 3 sides of the opening to get a good seal. Attach this plate with stove cement and allow the cement to cure before burning. Since you need a fair amount of heat, you will not be burning with the primary air closed all the way (at least not if the draft issue has been resolved). So the stove can get more air anytime you need it by simply opening the primary control a bit more. By doing this trick, you will give yourself more control over the stove in case it runs too hot in the future. It is the burners in Florida who need the huge secondary air intakes, since they burn with the primary closed all the way all the time....
  25. jeffman3

    jeffman3 New Member

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    The problem is there are no chimney sweeps here. People just clean them themselves, or don't do it, I guess. I have called and called to find a chimney sweep. The guy I bought the stove from was supposed to do the cleaning too, but we know how that is. I am on my own. I just don't have the options that those of you in more populated places have. The nearest place to buy a stove, (other then Vogalzang at the farm store) is over an hour and a half one way. I guess I could call him, and see if he does cleaning, but I doubt I can afford the mileage on top of the work. (Maybe I need to look into what it takes to be a sweep? Is there a school or on-line courses someone can take to get a certification?)
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