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Draft Modification; What a Difference!

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Jacklake2003, Jan 16, 2012.

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  1. Jacklake2003

    Jacklake2003 Member

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    I’ve had my Napoleon 1401 since 2006 and up until recently I’ve fought with it to keep it from burning too hot (stove top temperatures above 650 degrees; as hot as 900!). I recently posted this problem in this forum and I received some great advise; particularly I received a link to the article entitled Florida Bungalow Syndrome which explains why many stoves over-fire and have short burn-times (mine did both).
    This gave me the confidence to think a little outside the box. I studied my draft control and noticed that it opened and closed the primary and secondary air inlets. The problem is that even in the fully-closed position, the primary intake was open about 0.75-inch. The secondary intake was open by almost twice that! Not only that, there was slop in the cover which prevented it from making a good seal.
    I removed the old plate and fabricated a new one with 1/8†steel I purchased from Home Depot. I modified the design to allow the primary air to be almost completely closed (except for inevitable gaps around the edges) and the secondary to have only about a half-inch opening when the draft control was fully closed. I took my new draft plate to a welder and for $5 he welded on my old draft control rod to the new plate.

    Results

    A completely different stove! I got a burn time this weekend of 10.5 hours with 4 splits on a coal bed! The stove behaves completely different. Now, I go through the normal routine to bring the stove to temp but now it gets there even quicker. The secondary flames are much more pronounced and occur more often. I think the secondary was getting too much air resulting in a fuel “lean†condition. Once the stove top is at about 400-450, I can close the draft all the way and watch the magic. Much slower primary flames, but much, much more secondary action. With the stove almost fully loaded, the top temperature slowly rises to around 600 and stays there for a long time (not sure how long exactly, at least a couple hours). The next morning I come out to a blower that is still running, stove top temps at around 200-250 and a lot of hot coals. The bricks stay white and the glass stays clean. Based on the week following this modification, I bet I’ll cut my wood usage by a third!
    Thanks to all for the great advice I received here! -Chris
    Billybonfire likes this.

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  2. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Good for you. I think there are many people here that could benefit from modifying their air controls, especially those with a tall chimney. I think it would work better than tinkering with a pipe damper.
    Rick2887 likes this.
  3. oldspark

    oldspark Guest


    Why, I think the stove manufactor would like you to leave the stove as is and a damper is easy to install and operate.
  4. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    The stove makers are aware of the problem. There just isn't anything they can do about it because of EPA compliance. A key damper in the pipe is the same thing as crimping your car's tailpipe instead of adjusting the carburetor to obtain the best air/fuel mixture.
  5. WidowMaker

    WidowMaker Member

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    I have discovered that I can get extended burn time and longer secondary flame time if I turn my blower off.
    Stove top temps go up considerably and allow me to close my air control well into the secondary position,
    with the blower on, even at lowest setting I had to keep the primary open just a schouch to maintain stove top temps and clean burns..
  6. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Just my preference, I'd rather have one thing to adjust the fire than two.
  7. laynes69

    laynes69 Minister of Fire

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    Our 32' chimney has been fun to deal with. After speaking with the manufacturer of our furnace they came up with the higher the draft the better the burn. Well a baro worked, but we were getting creosote in the flue pipe, the air entering the baro was causing 150* external temps before the chimney. Our draft has been as high as .15" which is almost 3 times higher than the max recommended level. By reducing the primary and secondary inlets, the fire has tamed greatly burning brighter, the secondaries have lit up the flue temperatures are up without the baro and the creosote has disappeared. It's frustrating to say the least, but I feel much better about our furnace. I read about the Florida bungalow syndrome, and after trying a baro and key damper, the reduction works much better and is my final choice. I wish something could be done about it in testing. I know there's been many complaints on stoves and inserts.
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    How so on an insert with a full surround?
  9. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Wow bring out the hammers, I'm talking about free standing and I'm guessing you knew that, so I want to get more heat out of my stove and get higher temps and I am not overfireing or even geting close to it so what do I do, break out the torch and give the stove a haircut? Damper makes sense for some of us.
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I believe the OP's stove is an insert. He had an overfiring issue due to strong draft. I would have probably done the same mod given the circumstances.
  11. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    I stand retarded!
  12. Stump_Branch

    Stump_Branch Minister of Fire

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    Wow, best put string of words/comparison ever for this sort of thing.
    I can see the thread now, too much draft, put a dent in the stove pipe!
    Kidding aside, well put.
  13. albertj03

    albertj03 Minister of Fire

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    I've got similar issues with my stove and tall chimney. I installed a damper and it does help to slow down the draft for sure. I'm suspicious that it may be causing slightlty more creosote to form but that could just be because the stove isn't going into inferno mode on a regular basis anymore. I've been inspecting the chimney from the cleanout at least once a week and it appears that there is just a thin layer of soot on the sides of the flue but it looks darker than it did last year, more black than grey. Will be interesting to see how much comes out after the season.

    I think moding the air control would be a much better solution but I'd be affraid that I would destroy my stove.
  14. Osburning

    Osburning New Member

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    This is an interesting subject. I know my insert on low is still rolling heavy with flames which looks more like a medium burn at lowest. I remember when I installed it and the air plate being a very loose fit at best rather than a precise air flow control. Be a nice experiment to test out a better control on air in relation to burn control since I can't install a damper etc. Didn't even know what Florida bungalow syndrome was... http://www.gulland.ca/florida_bungalow_syndrome.htm
  15. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    I dont agree with him on that, but if I remember right BB has a damper on his stove in the basement. The thing works in my stove and stove installers are starting to recomend them for taller chimneys but some people dont like MM's either.
  16. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    You done the right thing imo.
    The makers of any stove have to set things up to what they think a avg draft is..maybe half the time things are great.
    That leaves people like you that may have a extra strong draft or hardly any.

    I concur with BrotherBart.
  17. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    I agree with BrotherBart.....but you still have to be careful when doing modifications to the stove......how's the insurance company going to feel if you have a mishap and that stove is to blame? I have the Napoleon 1900 and I thought about doing the exact same thing, because it does fire hard on seasoned splits, esp. if the wind is kicking up.... I rarely ever open the draft up past 1......
  18. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Or there is a problem with the stove, some stove builders just look for a reason to void the warranty. A damper is asimple easy thing to try and if you know how to use it works well, if you dont need it yu dont need it is all I am saying, cant wait for some one to modify his stove and report his first back puffing problem.
  19. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    I don't think the insurance company would every notice...if done right.
    The op actually made his stove safer ..less chance of runaway.
    American ingenuity...I love it!
  20. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    I may have to try that with the 1900....Spark I don't really want to put a damper in the flue, for several reasons. One is the restriction it could become esp. if creasote built up on it. The draft control in these Napoleons is pretty easy to modify, actually really simple in my stove. I know if I put a damper in that flue pipe my wife would piss me off using it....lol....
    HeatsTwice likes this.
  21. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Not pushing this off on anybody, my flue temps are still high with my damper at 45 degrees so creosote aint a problem. Just another option that works for some of us.
  22. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    To add I did not know he had an insert so I should not have posted any thing.
  23. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    Nothing wrong with your posting brother, opinions and other members' views of things are why we joined this site in the first place....that's what makes us all better at doing this....so keep 'em coming.....
  24. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    A key damper does work...though it's old school and presents some drawbacks...but worked pretty good on the old smoke dragons.
    These days things are a little diff...mainly because of baffles in a tube burner.
    It does make good sense to adjust the air/fuel ratio by adjusting incoming air rather then choking the exhaust down.
    Again..not saying a damper won't help..just not the best way imo.
  25. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    A couple years ago, after reading John's Fla Bungalow Syndrome article again, I tweaked my air intake's stop slightly so that it could close further. When burning softwood, especially doug fir, I sometimes need to restrict it a bit more during peak burn. It still has about a 1/4" opening, but this made a difference. There's no need for this with hardwood which wants more air, especially locust. Originally I had put a damper in, but took it out. I like this better.
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