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Defiant NC Everburn Doesn't engage

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by swestall, Nov 11, 2007.

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  1. swestall

    swestall Minister of Fire

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    I had a nice Defiant CAT stove and thought, upgrade to the latest product, so I got a Defiant NC. My old CAT stove purred along for years with no creosote at all. I cleaned the flue prior to installing the NC version and it had no build up in it. I've burned the NC version for about two weeks and today I went up to take a look, CREOSOTE is forming at the top of the chimney, nice sticky black just like you don't want. I'm able to get the temp on the stove pipe three feet up the pipe up to 600 even more if I wanted to, but it seems like when I close the damper to get the everburn to fire off, FORGET IT! Pretty upset, yes. All this money for the latest VC product and there's a problem. I know there are a few of you with this same stove and wonder what you've run into. I read that thread about blocking coals in front of the rear chute, etc. I'm pretty much doing all that but no magic "rumble". I don't really seem to be getting the secondary burn at all, when I engage the fire dwindles, I start getting smoke out the stack, etc. Has anyone had this problem or know of a solution. Is it possible that there is a problem with the secondary air supply? From what I can see the secondary air is supposed to come in through the holes in the ceramic foot. Who has some insight here? I'm ready to place this thing in the trash pile. Steve.

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  2. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    How much wood have you burned in it?

    How much creosote?

    First impressions - if you are getting 600 degrees - or anything even close at that height up the stack, then you are getting a lot of secondary burn. So I would not consider this as black or white, rather somewhere in the gray area. Get the stove up to temp and look at the top of the chimney. Are you getting brown or other smoke?

    Also, any new stove has a learning curve. Add that to the "startup" time of year and certainly some creosote is possible with any stove. I have warned here (til I was blue in the face) that those "numbers" of under one gram per hour do not mean anything in the real world. Older stoves burn at 30-50 grams per hour, newer ones probably average 10x as clean (3-5+ grams/hour) - and that is when everything is running correctly. It is certainly possible that your stove may be running at 5 or even 10 grams per hour, which could definitely result in some creosote..

    Other than mechanical problems, which I doubt, I would suggest using the stove for a couple more weeks and trying to "become one" with it....
  3. swestall

    swestall Minister of Fire

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    I just had the stack temp at 600 and the griddle was also the same. I closed the damper to engage the secondary burn and the stack temp dropped to just under 300 (condor magnetic thermometer) three feet up pipe. The smoke is more greyish than brown. Stove top thermometer is 550. I know what you mean about the learning curve, no problem with that, just concerned about getting a glaze and having to deal with it.
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    It may be that the glaze is unavoidable for a couple reasons. You mentioned that you cleaned the pipe, so the smoke had a nice shiny (and cold up top) surface to settle on. Even if it is 5 or 10X less than an older stove, it still is something. What I am saying is that once your pipe gets some dust and fly-ash in it, this glaze is less likely to form.

    You didn't mention the chimney type (class A, fireplace liner, etc.), but if it is a liner of an existing chimney it would help to insulated the top area. Also, I would not worry too much about a little glaze like this in one section. It would be another thing if the glaze started at the bottom and was all the way up.

    If it were mine I would probably use a little of the anti-creosote stuff on the wood (or firebox, according to the directions), and then check it in 3 or 4 weeks.
  5. swestall

    swestall Minister of Fire

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    Thanks, that is good advice. I'll start using some anticreosote compound weekly. Next warm spell, I'll see how far down it goes, smokey now. It is actually sticky to the touch. The reason I changed was the expense of replacing the CAT every few years but that could be dwarfed by replacing the stove. If I can figure out how to find that "sweet spot" others talk about then I should be OK, I guess. So I guess it remains to be seen, will it EVERBURN properly. The Chimney is 8x10 masonary with clay liner. Rise is 16" and it goes up through the center of the house with only the top 4 feet exposed to the outside. We had both the Encore and Defiant CAT versions with no build up at all, just lots of carbon in the cleanout below. Thanks for the settling advice: I'll work with it and see what happens for a while. This chimney does produce better draft when it gets cold outside. We use the stove for primary heat during the cold season. Use about 3.5 to 4 cords a year. Have burned for about 30 years now, never had anything this touchy; can't wait till I figure out how to produce that "rumble" and get rid of the smoke.
  6. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the world of everburn :) Don't know if you've followed the recent related discussion or the older discussion on everburn, those threads are:
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/10201/P60/
    and
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/4188/

    My experience is with the Dutchwest, no idea how this stove compares with the Defiant. But in general I don't think "everburn" works as well as burn tubes on top for secondary combustion (or using a catalyst for that matter). Many forum members have posted about problems they have had with the everburn stoves including people like you who have been burning various stoves for decades. NOT A SINGLE OWNER has posted that they have been able to achieve consistent clean burns. Some of us have spent 1-2 years trying everything we can possibly think of to improve performance, while others reported that they just threw in the towel and replaced the stove with a different model. The VC techs have been no help, the dealers have been no help.

    Now having said that, I still think there is something else going on with your stove. You don't seem to be achieving secondary combustion AT ALL, when for most of us we at least get good secondary combustion SOMETIMES. Let me say this, you probably need to get it much hotter than you think you do. I don't know how an external flue temp should compare to an interal, all I know is that I RARELY achieve good results when the INTERNAL flue temp (measured about 14 inches above the stove) is less than 1000 F before dampering down. You are going to need a huge red hot coal bed (2 inches thick covering most of the bottom of the stove according to my manual) to get a good secondary burn - this can sometimes mean 2-3 loads of wood before you get the conditions you need for everburning. Pushing the red hot coals toward the back can help. All this is a littler easier when you are doing serious 24/7 burning instead of occasional evening burns for example.

    Have you watched my everburn demo video? Good luck, and let us know if you figure out something that works consistently...
  7. swestall

    swestall Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the input, I did read those threads, but I went back and re-read them. I will watch your video later when I'm home. (can't get to video here). I think my problem is I am looking for a smoke free burn. (like the advertising says you get) but I am use to a CAT version of this stove. I had no problem with the CAT stove other than that you had to replace the CAT once in a while. BOY do I wish I'd done that rather than getting this 580 pound monster in my house that is producing creosote in my previously clean chimney! With your help and that of others who have used the Everburn, I'll figure it out and get it to work. I am a 24/7 burner so we'll see. My Defiant CAT stove would get 3-4 inches of coals in it and burn for 12-14 hours at a time. It also took another 8-10 hours to burn the coals down so I could add more wood. The chimney was clean, all the time. It burned HOT, no problem. Vermont Castings/CFM has something to learn here-you can ruin a reputation without much effort and the bad rap you get can overflow to all your products if you don't do some DAMMAGE CONTROL; I think VC should do some dammage control here and provide instructions or a product recall. Having to stand over a stove and watch it for hours on end, to get it to work as designed is unacceptable. In my house, we need the nice look and I admit that's what I've been buying VC for 25+ years to get. As pointed out by many experts on this site, there are (fortunately) now some good companies producing very attractive, non cat, models that actually work without lots of smoke and the associated creosote. I still have the CAT version and I am going to rebuild it because it works. Then I'm going to sell this NC and put the money towards one of those products from another good company in the future. Congratulations Vermont Castings, one more long term customer down the drain!
  8. swestall

    swestall Minister of Fire

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    OH Yeah, one more thing: this is a very effective stove: my wife says it make me so HOT that we don't need to burn much wood anymore! LOL>>>>
  9. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    I don't know much about a Defiant, but doesn't it call for a 6" stack? 8" x 10" seems a bit large. Possibly not getting the draft of the 6" and causing exhaust to linger and collect wile slowly drafting rather than go up and out more with a stronger draft. Just a thought.
  10. kwburn

    kwburn New Member

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    steve. sorry for the frustrations you are having with the new stove.
    i actually just fixed up a used defiant encore with a nice paint job and a new cat and will be installing it next week. the fact that you enjoyed your previous stove so much makes me feel better about putting it into service.

    but again, sorry for your troubles. you don't deserve that and i hope you figure it out!
  11. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    Well I can say this - when everburn is actually working, you will have your smoke free burns. Unfortunately, based on user experiences posted thus far, you won't be "everburning" nearly as often (as a percentage of your total burn time) compared to your CAT stove or most other modern clean burning stoves. But I hope you do figure it out and share with the rest of us...

    As for rebuilding your old cat stove - Elk is always recommending this place for aftermarket combustors that perform even better than the ones that come with the cat stoves:
    http://www.stovecombustors.com/ourcatalog.html
    Although I'm not sure they are still in business? Buy links don't seem to work right now for me. Supposedly these can last for 8-10 years, so the cost might only be about $10/year. That seems reasonable to me for easy smoke free burns. Then again a lot of people complain about cat stoves so I don't know who to believe.
  12. kwburn

    kwburn New Member

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    that's where i got my replacement combustor. it was on special for $120 at the time but $140 is still the cheapest you will find. haven't used it yet to comment on performance.
    i just tried the links to buy and they didn't work for me either. it's not exactly a cutting edge website and order process. i never got a confirmation email until i asked for one a couple days later but the combustor did come quick.
  13. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Who complains about them gordo?
  14. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    Probably mostly people that refuse to learn how to burn correctly or refuse to do proper stove maintenance? Don't know. But just in doing lots of woodstove research and reading lots of reviews (both here and on other sites) - I ran into lots of people complaining about various cat stoves. Some had to replace combusters after one year, others complained that the combuster was always getting clogged, others just saying the fire would smolder every time they engaged the combuster, difficult to use, etc. But I'm also well aware of the many positive reviews from people like Elk and many others.
  15. swestall

    swestall Minister of Fire

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    Hey all, here's some more info. Draft and supply is the question of today. I looked at the pictures in that previous post and they give some insight to the secondary supply. It is just draw on the stove. I figured perhaps some type of damper. Perhaps the air tubes are blocked. So, I went in with a wire and reamed each one through to (guess what) right through to the draft input on the back of the stove and there is no restriction it just passes through to the outside. So, the temp and fire are controlling heat that is controlling velocity of input/output. That explains why the rumble, it is exactly like leaving the ash door open, only the number/diameter of the air supply holes holds the thing back. And, that thermonuclear mode some describe must occur when temp. is really up there and those air passages are being pulled hard. Now another question for the engineers, why did you put the burn holes right in the ash collection area. The holea in the front area of the thermal block get plugged easily as they are in the first 1/2 inch of the coal/ash bed: so do you think they will get ash in them? I'm thinking of some type of stainless cover that will let the air in but keep the ash out. Interestingly enough the Defiant CAT stove positioned the CAT above which meant there was no air pull below where the coal/ash bed build up. Imagine if VC had put the burn upside down from what they did as in the CAT model, it would solve all these problems as the air would always be there. I also found my last burn was HOT as it cleaned up some creosote residue in the corners of the stove turning them brown/white. I like the idea of increasing the draft a bit, but am not really into replacing the liner. (at least not this year.) ON my old CAT model I had super draft, can't figure out why it is less on this one, except is isn't really cold - yet. I have an 6 foot drop to the cleanout, which I just cleaned. Does anyone think that'd make a difference? I did tape off the clean out door with magic duct tape. I do appreciate the help and hope the info is also good as the Everburn/neverBurn question gets sorted out.
  16. jpl1nh

    jpl1nh Minister of Fire

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    I'm not trying to bust on you Gordo, but if you have to replace your combustor after a year you're either badly overfiring it or shocking it by putting in wet wood and engaging the combustor before the moisture has been driven out. Over time combustors do get clogged with fly ash if you don't take the time (maybe 15 mins) to clean them out. Once every 6-8 weeks of regular use should be plenty. If the fire smolders when you engage the combustor you probably have not allowed it to get hot enough before engaging the combustor or you're probably using wet or unseasoned wood. Perhaps those factors make a combustor difficult to use for some. But with a little bit of understanding they work great, last a long time and are very reliable, effective, and allow for a nice range of fire types from long slow burns to nice hot heat producing burns. I think there are still a lot of people who just want to throw wood in their stove and not think at all about it. The older non-epa stoves were so simple that you could do that though your chimney would end up nearly plugged with creosote after a little while. The new EPA stoves, cat and non-cat, take a bit more understanding but correctly operated are so much more efficient, less polluting, and so much less creosote producing that the little bit of extra knowledge you need to operate them seems well worth it. Even my wife learned to operate our cat stove and she is NOT someone who is very interested in operational details.
  17. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    As to the engineering, remember that these are tested with 2x4 and 4x4 as per EPA. Most stoves companies, including VC, sub out a lot of their work these days. My guess is that the contract does not state "stove will burn well with oak rounds in the field at all burn rates after ash builds up", but rather that it will pass all EPA and safety tests. Any further R&D;than that takes someone with particular interest in that. Most companies these days are NOT set up around engineers, but rather around sales and distribution.

    As to the chimney, I don't like the idea of cold air "sumps" in the bottom of chimneys. Stuffing a little rock wool or fiberglass in there would give you an idea of the difference it might make.

    In general, non-cat stoves SHOULD require less draft than cat stove, but there are exceptions to every rule. The reasoning here is that non-cats are usually running at higher stack temps and therefore create more draft.
  18. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Goose and I can tell you during out tour in the burn lab, were two combustion engineers burning a stove using common cord wood and examining the air wash system. Had you taken up the invite offer your own eyes could have witnessed this. We asked and these stoves are also tested with common cord wood.

    Every owner of these stoves are not suffering your experiences the NC encore donated to the retired ex marine is functioning flawlessly better than expected he is one happy camper

    this is his setup 8" oval to 8' round rear exit vented into an external separate 8/8 brick masonry flue , chimney built just for the wood stove. It as about 18' above the flue connection

    He is getting a good burn time and very little smoke all his wood is cut stacked in a wood shed 2 year prior to usage. It is dry seasoned properly. He monitors the stove with a stove top thermometer, and basically treats it like his prior Encore
  19. Gunner

    Gunner New Member

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    Maybe he could stop by here and give some tips, share his experiences with the handful of people that are having trouble.

    Not trying to be an azz, but maybe his expectations are not as high coming from a barely serviceable stove, to something brand new. These stoves are infact heating peoples homes, but are not doing it cleanly and without constant fiddling.
  20. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    I wonder how big the difference is between "very little smoke" and "almost no smoke". How closely does the guy monitor emissions? How long does he have to burn before he can damper down and get a clean burn that doesn't start smoking 15 minutes later?

    I would REALLY love to see this forum (its members) do a huge new (first of its kind) emissions monitoring study. Craig & I briefly discussed this a while back. I don't think anecdotal reports cut it. I want to see scientifically measured results, and put to rest the debate over which stoves burn the cleanest in the real world and how much various stoves deteriorate over time similar to the Omni study:
    http://www.omni-test.com/publications/Long-Term.pdf
  21. swestall

    swestall Minister of Fire

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    I wonder how big the difference is between "very little smoke" and "almost no smoke". How closely does the guy monitor emissions? How long does he have to burn before he can damper down and get a clean burn that doesn't start smoking 15 minutes later?
    And, that is the issue, the VC CAT stove does not smoke and the NC one does. Having had both the Encore and Defiant CAT and now the NC Defiant I can tell you that I've spent more time trying to find that magic place where the NC burns correctly than I ever did maintaining both CAT stoves. (I began with the Encore in 87 and took the Defiant out Oct. this year) That is 20 years of operation. Even when the CAT stove got plugged with a little fly ash, etc: it still burned hot with no creosote build up. I now have creosote after 5 days of burning the NC. I admit that with all your insights, I am figuring it out: it would have been nice for the VC guys to just provide a diagram of how it works... But, what about the folks that just want to feed and burn: not the ones like us who have this in their blood? They are just scxxxed. I actually think the VC stoves will probably burn much better once they develop a few little leaks so there is more air. Lastly, what would be a good recommendation for a product to burn weekly to avoid the creosote formation? I never had to think about this before and with the CAT you can't use them anyway.
    Thanks to each of you for making my Neverburn experience a little easier while I am on my way to figuring out how to Everburn.
  22. dtabor

    dtabor New Member

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    In my last house I had a wood furnace. I was totally new to any wood burning at all and that thing was fed anything, dry/brittle to wet/sizzle. A friend at work recommended Saf-T Flu to add to coals to prevent creosote and I used it religiously as directed. When I had someone come to clean my chimney each year, they were amazed at the lack of any buildup in there.

    Not sure what anyone else has to say about this stuff but as far as I knew it worked????
  23. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    It is very hard to get consistent results during off burning season the on again off again temps swings .
    even coal stove can't draft properly above 40 degrees

    Even harder to judge performance during this part of the burning e season.. Every time I load a stove its different not just wood species which I just pick off the pile but split sizes how the load in the stove almost impossible to get the same controlled results Now if I plained and sawed the wood into 4/4 configurations I could get consistency

    Has anyone tried Bio bricks with these stoves and measured or recorded results?

    I can tell you he the donor stove uses nothing scientific load it watches the stove top thermometer notes secondary charing closes the damper. Again no two loads are consistent

    I admit he is not all that concerned about scientific burning he does not even own a computer. To him its a box to heat his home and it works. Don't know how much more to tell you I have been there to see it perform but not 24/7 and no longer than an hour It appease to burn simmilar to my cat stove. Again this time of year without the presence of condition promoting a strong draft there are times when some smoke is present damper down It happens with my cat and happens with gooses cat stove When the draft is better the fire burns stronger there is a greated pull over hotter coals and more heat in the combustors or secondary burn chamber Valid results are very hard to determine when it is 40 degree out and not burning day after day 24/7
  24. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    You can tell Elk is from New England!

    40 degrees is normal wintertime temperatures for MUCH of the country! It almost never stays lower than this on the entire West coast, and even where I am from in Phila, 40 degrees can be a normal wintertime temp.

    dt, yes, a lot of folks do say that the chemicals help - not with a clean burn, but with making the chimney easier to clean - some say it turns the black tar to a more easily brushed brown powder (over time)....

    From what Elk says, it seems like this downdraft technology is best for full-time burners? Maybe dealers can check in if they have sold a lot of them. Is is also best for high outputs, or does it work really good on medium and low. These questions will really only be answered after another year or two.

    I know the old Acclaim system worked pretty well in most all condition, but perhaps that was not "tuned" up as high, or as I said before the box and everything was smaller so it could attain critical mass easier.
  25. swestall

    swestall Minister of Fire

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    I can agree with you on that Elk, the outside temp variance, level of coals, et-al seem to have a very great effect on the burn. I cleaned all the secondary burn air siphon holes last night and I'll be interested to see what the effect is by having them all clean so more secondary air can be sucked in by the burn/draft. My wife has been complaining about wood handling, there's a bio brick vendor up in Torrington, CT. I think I'll get a pallet of them and see how they burn/how she likes them. (for when I'm away of course.) If the cleaner air has a big effect, I think I'm going to try to engineer something from stainless to shield the siphon holes to keep them open while supplying secondary air. I'll be sure to come back and report on the bio bricks. I have this feeling that enough air supply to the coals is the key to this problem: too bad the designer didn't see that ash might get in the way of the siphon holes. Kind of like not being able to see that a semi truck is about to hit you square...
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