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Fireview Cat Wash

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Flatbedford, Feb 18, 2013.

  1. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    I'm having some problems with the stainless cat in my Fireview. Temps are down and we're getting some light smoke out the stack with the cat engaged. I'm thinking that the cat has had some serious abuse this year. We have run the stove super hard in the couple cold snaps this winter and my stepson has been reloading for the first time. I'm thinking that he may not be as diligent as he could have been. I also ran into a vein of very unseasoned Red Oak in my stack a couple weeks ago. I called Woodstock today to order a new one. I told them what was happening and added that it was surely operator error. They suggested I do a cat wash before I replace it, Apparently the smaller passages of the stainless cats are more likely to clog and a bath in a heated vinegar and water mix can restore them. Has anybody else done this? I'm attaching the instructions that they sent to me.

    Attached Files:

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  2. Lakeside

    Lakeside Burning Hunk

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    Please give us an update after your cleaning.

    Thanks for sharing the PDF.
    Todd 2 likes this.
  3. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    I never did this wash but have heard about it and I have also heard that it shouldn't be done unless it's clogged up pretty bad with creosote. Even Woodstock told me it can cause more bad than good. Maybe it's something new with the steel cats?

    How old is the cat? I can't remember if you were involved with last years steel cat issues but many here including me had problems with them and the manufacture has made some changes this year so chances are yours could be going bad.

    If it's one of the old steel cats they should honor the warranty. If it were me I'd ask for a ceramic replacement, they burn hotter for longer.
  4. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    This one was new last year. It was a replacement for a "problem" one. Apparently the returned "bad" one were just clogged. The vinegar wash is similar to descaling your coffee pot. It does not remove creosote. Only a hot fire can do that. It is for other deposits.
  5. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Yeah I think those steel cats need larger cell openings. My steel cats needed more fly ash cleaning than my ceramics. I also don't like how the Fireview/Keystone steel cat is made, it's not layered like the PH. Almost looks like it was crushed into shape so the cells are smaller around the edges and larger in the middle forcing all the exhaust towards the middle. Maybe this is why they are seeing some problems?
  6. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    I will report my results. They are sending new gasket material so I can out it back together after the wash. I'll have to shut down the stove for a few hours to do it too. Hope to do it on Friday. Even if it doesn't help, I'll gladly pay the $125 for a replacement. It is a small price to pay for the comfort and savings in fossil fuel the stove gives us.
  7. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Steve, I recently talked to Tom about this and rather than replacing our cat I asked him to just hold off and we'll do a cleaning. However, we have to wait for some warmer weather because we are dependent upon that stove to keep us warm. I really want to do the cleaning just to see what, if anything, it does. The instructions are actually for the ceramic cats but the steel is done the same way. I'll let you know what we find out once we do it.

    Our cat is acting up some but not terrible. Just some days there is some smoke for some time and then suddenly it will go away. Sometimes the stove top temperature does not rise much. We've toyed with it. That is, open bypass and raise the flue temp again then re-engage. This usually works. Other times we've just ignored it and within a short time the stove top temperature rises and all is well. That is why I don't want to replace the cat just yet.

    Woodstock is still working with sud-chemie on the cat and they have come out with some improvements. Woodstock is still not completely satisfied and I can tell you they are working hard on this one. In the meantime, we still get good heat from the stove so we are satisfied for the time being.
  8. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Todd, it is not the cat being plugged that is the concern right now. It is a case they are thinking that a thin film gets on the honeycomb and hopefully the washing will work out and make that cat like new again.

    There also have been some improvements since that issue a year ago and so far, so good.
  9. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Well, hopefully they will find a fix for the steel cat. I don't think you should have to wash it half way through the season to keep it up to par. I'll be sticking with ceramic til they get this figured out.
  10. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Todd, I think if this works that most would not have to be concerned with washing during the heating season. Just one of those annual tasks that we do after the burning season.

    Overall, I don't think the ceramic are better than the steel. At least when the steel cat works really nice, which it does most of the time.
  11. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Steel has a big advantage over ceramic as far as thermal shock and cracking but I'm still not convinced they do as good a job in the heating department. Seems to me in my own tests the ceramics burn hotter for longer. Maybe they will get it all figured out, I hope they do.
  12. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    The wash should only be once a year. Easily part of the off season cleaning/shutdown.
  13. ddddddden

    ddddddden Minister of Fire

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    Wrapping the SS cat with a longer piece of gasket material improved the performance of mine. Woodstock said that some of the early units were made too small and to wrap it 1.5x(2x on 2 of the 4 sides.) I used the entire length they sent me, covering everything except one of the long sides 2x. When I dusted the cat, I noticed a bit of movement of the cat inside the frame, so I would've done better to go 2x all the way around, which is okay, according to Condar. . .not sure why Woodstock is stopping at "1.5x." I'm starting to think that the problem with the SS compared to ceramic may be a lot more expansion/contraction with heat cycling. . .mashes the gasket, leaving a leak. This would help to explain the variability of the problem. On warm/hot reloads, everything stays expanded and tight. Let the stove cool off, and the SS shrinks, leaving space between it and the gasket, allowing exhaust to flow around the gasket, increasing the difficulty of light-off. . .

    Steve, in the interest of Science, it would be good if you could try re-gasketing to eliminate that as the cause, before the vinegar bath, but I'm guessing that they didn't sent you enough gasket material to do the job twice. . .maybe just pay special attention to the gasket, looking for any extra space/looseness when you take the frame off.

    http://www.woodstovecombustors.com/Gasket_Details.html
    Technical Notes
    If the combustor is very loose, even allowing for swelling of the material, it is okay to double-wrap with more than one expanding gasket.


    Edit: Looks like you are already somewhat familiar with the gasket. . .;)
  14. charly

    charly Guest

    About two weeks ago, I took my cat out to brush it off... as I flipped it over I could feel it move in the frame, hummmm.. Thought nothing of it until reading this...
  15. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    We tried the new gasket thing a year ago when I was having the same problem. It didn't help. Woodstock offered to replace the SS cats at that time. This is the replacement. Mine doesn't seem to be loose in the enclosure. In the interest of time, I'm gonna go right to the wash as soon as I get the material and I have the time to do it.
  16. charly

    charly Guest

    Just talked to Woodstock,,, the cat can have some play. As it heats up, it tightens against the gasket . I'm wondering if the gasket is too tight when cold , once up to temperature, will it cause the cat to crush in and fracture the coating, ruining the cat ?
  17. ddddddden

    ddddddden Minister of Fire

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    I have no idea if it could crush the cat. Did you ask them why they recommend only 1.5x wrap instead of 2x? The piece they sent me was long enough to cover each corner 2x, leaving one of the long sides mostly 1x, so mine is wrapped something like 1.625x. ==c
  18. charly

    charly Guest

    No, I didn't ask about how many wraps.. Just told them my cat had a small amount of movement when I flipped it over.. They said it can move but will tighten up once hot,, you just don't want a lot of slop.. Maybe give them a quick shout... They said you want the cat to fit like a thin pair of socks inside shoes verses a thick pair of socks.. The gasket is less then .125 or 1/8th in. thick. Sounds like it's more of a smoke block fit then a snug fit..
  19. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    I still think it's the way the steel cats are built. Has there been any problems with the new PH cat? The PH cat is different than the Fireview or Keystone because it's built with layers of steel which keeps all the cells uniformed. The other steel cats look like they are wound from a single piece of steel and crushed into shape which makes the cells smaller on the outside edges and larger in the middle. I think this forces most of the flow into the middle section which may cause premature degragation? I remember Tom talking about this last year in a email he sent to me last year when we were all trying to figure out what was happening.
    charly likes this.
  20. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    I did the cat wash yesterday.
    First I took the cat housing out of the stove after I let the fire burn down to just a few coals. Before, top and bottom.
    DSC07468.JPG DSC07469.JPG
    Took it out the barn and opened up the housing. The Gasket will crumble as soon as you pull the cat out of the housing. Don't even think about doing this until you have a replacement handy.
    DSC07470.JPG

    I put some light gauge wire through the cat to get it in and out of the water.
    DSC07476.JPG

    The hard part was finding a pot big enough to keep the cat submerged. The cat is about 4 1/2" X 9 1/2" X just over 2" thick. I found something, but I'll have to replace it by Thanksgiving.
    DSC07477.JPG

    The even harder part was getting 2 gallons of water and vinegar to a boil...and it did stink up the house a bit too. When it first went into mixture there was quite a bit of bubbling. It really looked like stuff was going on in there. DSC07482.JPG
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  21. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Yes, vinegar is acidic and ash basic...remember the volcanoes we built in grade school out of vinegar and baking soda?
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  22. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    After 30 minutes in the mixture and two 15 minutes in just distilled water rinses, the cat sure looked cleaner.
    DSC07483.JPG DSC07484.JPG

    And the green tint was gone too. I gave it some time to dry, reinstalled it with the new gasket, and started a fire. Once up to around 300 stove top temp, I engaged the cat and lowered the air to about "1". Within a short time it was up to 400. I lowered the air to about ".75", and within 45 minutes from a cold stove we were cruising at just over 500 with the usual wispy flames. Before the cleaning I could only get it up to 500 if I ran more air or burned without the cat and lots of air. I'd say that this was a success. It was a real PIA to heat 2 gallons of water to a boil 3 times. I probably burned a few dollars worth of propane, but not as much as the new cat would have cost. This cat went into service in early January of 2012 and started to show some problems in late January of this year. I burned about 4 cords, or one season's worth in that time so I plan to do this at the end of the season again so I can get through next winter without a cleaning. Woodstock was nice enough to send the gasket material free of charge this time. I'm not sure if they will next time. If your SS cat has lost some of its magic I highly recommend a good cleaning. I cost me about a half a day, a gallon of white vinegar, 5 gallons of distilled water, and one kinda worn out turkey roasting pan.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  23. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    There have been issues with the PH cat. Woodstock ahs worked with the maker on the issues. Mine gets clogged. It is a lot longer than the Fireview cat...must be a good 18 inches long...I can't find anything big enough to clean one...except the tub, and the cost of vinegar for that would be prohibitive, forget the problem of boiling:rolleyes: Won't even fit in the roaster that holds a 26 pound turkey. I did one so-so clean with the original cat (since replaced with improved design) just putting it at an angle in the kitchen sink and pouring boiling water/vinegar through it, then rinsing.
  24. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    If there is a tin shop around I'd bet it would not cost much to have a pan special made for cleaning cats. Of course the cats might want to jump out; they don't like water.....
  25. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    Mine seemed to like the water. It is much happier after a bath.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.

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