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Had a scare this morning

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by BillsWS, Mar 21, 2013.

  1. BillsWS

    BillsWS Feeling the Heat

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    I loaded the stove this morning, just a few coals left. Emptied out some ashes, threw in newspaper, some very dry kindling and loaded splits on top. Closed the door, had the damper full open, the fan off and the bypass open. Usually takes a few minutes for the thermometer on top to pass the point where its hot enough for the catalyst to kick in and its ok to close the bypass. I was sitting just a few feet away doing some texting on my phone. I had looked up a few times and saw that the fire had started and was going pretty well, nothing unusual. Back to my texting. The last time I looked up, the top 1 ft. of the room was filling with smoke and the horizontal pipe (less than 3 ft.) was smoking black smoke. I immediately closed the bypass, shut the damper down and turned the fan on high. The class A tee was very hot to touch, I couldn’t keep my hand on it. I was opening windows and doors to get the smoke to move out. I went up to the closet where the class A passes (enclosed in framing and drywall) and could hear lots of ticking sounds. After a few minutes the smoke had cleared and the black pipe was again cool to touch. The class A was still quite hot, but improved. When I went to the window I saw black soot like pieces all over the snow. I cleaned the chimney a few weeks ago and found it clean. I did not clean the black pipe. Did I have a creosote fire?

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  2. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Sure sounds like it!
  3. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    Did it sound like a freight train? Most of the time you will hear a wooshing sound as it is sucking all the air out of the room. Newspaper and chimney fires go hand and hand. Sounds like you might want to upgrade that singlewall pipe to doublewall.
  4. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    I think the pipe just got hot, probably not enough crap in the chimney to be called a "chimney fire". I had this happen on to me on my first season with the stove the day after cleaning the pipe and the chimney. I loaded the stove, went into the bathroom on the same floor to get ready, came back a few minutes later to the pipe smoking away, closed everything up and it was fine.

    What I have found is on a cold day or windy day these stoves will suck the flame right up the pipe with the bypass open if you're not careful. With my chimney being tall as I know yours is I have to watch mine now until I close the bypass. One trick I've employed since this happened to me is to make sure I don't have a gap between splits on the top layer of the stove on the center splits. I try to arrange my top row of splits so they don't allow a direct flame path up the flue, I accomplish by using using a big split in the middle of the top row or use a thin/wide split in the top center this way the flame has to travel around that split before going up.
  5. katwillny

    katwillny Guest

    That happened to me one night. I ran outside and could see a lot of embers flying out of the top of the stack. the room filled up with smoke that was coming out of the junction at the 90 degree. The following morning i could see a bunch of black specks on the snow. Not fun at all. I have since been very careful at start ups or reloads. No texting and Stoving. LOL. glad things worked out.
  6. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    Flaked creosote may have drifted down from the chimney and accumulated in the T, where a stray spark ignited it. I bet the T was quite hot.
    Probably time to clean the chimney.

    The ticking sound is metal expanding and contracting from heating/cooling down. A "tinkling" sound is probably more creosote flaking off and falling down the chimney.
    ScotO likes this.
  7. Defiant

    Defiant Vermont Castings Geek

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    You are clean now:cool: Hope no damage was done...
  8. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    I think you experienced something like homebrewz stated. One of the many reasons that I do NOT like to use newspapers for a start-up. Sounds to me like a piece of 'semi-burned' newspaper may have drifted up to the horizontal pipe, where I've seen some flakes accumulate before, and ignited that funk......You should have a clean-out under your "T", so I'm betting the source was probably in your horizontal pipe. Is the pipe inside your house single wall? Is your horizontal pipe tilted slightly 'uphill'? You want that horizontal pipe tilted uphill a little bit.
    I take my single wall pipe off once every two months to do a check-up, and cleaning, of it. With seasoned wood, I only ever get fly ash and a very small amount of flake out of it. You definately need to take that horizontal pipe off once in a while and clean it out with a brush......
    Backwoods Savage, Defiant and jeff_t like this.
  9. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    I think you should clean the entire system, until you get a solid feel for where you get any buildup. The up and out setup has more joints for potential air leaks, and possibly more creosote.

    Every setup is different. My straight up stove chimney gets very little, but more at the top than anywhere else. My non-EPA furnace would get more in the double wall connector, but not so much in the chimney.
    Defiant and ScotO like this.
  10. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Sure glad you turned out okay Bill. No doubt you've learned from this experience.
    ScotO likes this.
  11. BillsWS

    BillsWS Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks guys, it is comforting to know that I can come here and have my nerves eased. My black pipe is double wall. There was no freight train sound. I think I just burned the paint off the black pipe. I will definitely keep a closer on things from now on.
  12. lopiliberty

    lopiliberty Minister of Fire

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    I don't have a cat stove but I think there should a warning with them and maybe there is "When reloading with the bypass open waiting for cat to come up to temperature turn down primary air as to not send direct flames up the flue that could result in overheated flue or flue fire" Glad things turned out ok
  13. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    I send flames up my pipe all the time with the air wide open getting a good char on my wood before closing the damper, it is only dangerous when you have creosote hanging around, which if you are burning and cleaning correctly shouldn't be an issue.

    The same applies to a tube stove, the flame can snake its way around a baffle just as easy.
    Joful likes this.
  14. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    It's also dangerous if you get careless and overheat the pipe. You don't have to have creosote light off in order to overheat the flue.
    Backwoods Savage and ScotO like this.
  15. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    For sure. Rather than just sending all that heat up the chimney, close the draft around 50% and you'll find that the stove heats up much faster. This way you'll also use less wood which is a benefit to you.

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