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Hearthstone Heritage Operation

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by regalflyer, Dec 8, 2008.

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  1. regalflyer

    regalflyer Member

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    I have added this topic because I am a new owner of this stove, and for the first season I seem to be having an unusual amount of trouble. I would love to hear about what a typical burn cycle is for this stove from an experienced satisfied user. Please let us know about startup, overnight burns, and coaling cleanout frequency. I have the following problems:

    1) Cannot open a door without smoke spillage, no matter how long it takes (I should note that my stove uses the TOP exhaust, not rear) The front door is completely impossible to open without smoke coming out so I normally load from the side. I still get a good dose of smoke into the house -

    2) Excessive coaling when set for an overnight burn during a moderate evening say, 20 to 30 degrees. During these temperatures I have to spend 5 or 6 hours trying to get the remaining coal pile to reduce before I clean out the stove. This is an every day process, or the pile gets too big.

    3) On moderate evenings (again 20-30 degrees) I cannot reduce the heat output enough when it is fully loaded, even with the air control closed all the way. This occurs once the wood starts its "cook off" gas phase, and tapers off when the gasses are done burning.

    4) I cannot obtain an overnight burn without reloading on a cold evening (single digits or lower), but I attribute this to the smaller size of the wood I am using.

    My chimney is about 25 feet high with a single 45 degree section, the 45 degree section is about 3 and 1/2 feet long. Everything else is straight vertical.
    I am using the top down startup technique and have no trouble getting a good fire going now.
    My wood is only 16" size, because I had to buy from the local market since this is the first year in our new house. It is mixed hardwoods like hard and soft maple, ash, and some cherry. I am uncertain of the dryness, some pieces will sizzle but not many.
    My stove has an external air feed, because the house is very tight.

    I don't mind tending the fire and cutting wood, I have enjoyed a Quadrafire fireplace insert in my old house, and I did not have these problems with the exception of coaling - but the Quad would go 3 days before I had to shovel it out.

    Thats the story, this is a great site and I hope to learn enough from all the experienced folks to get through some of these problems.
    Thanks

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  2. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    Paul:

    At what temperature are you reloading? I had a Heritage last year, and I had to burn it REALLY hot to keep my house warm - it was too small. I had to keep the top stone temp at 500-600 (if I remember correctly), which meant I had to reload when it was still really hot - about ever 4 hours. And, of course, this drove the max. temp even higher. The coals got so thick that I couldn't put ANY wood in it at sme points. I now have a mansfield and I am able to let the top temp drop to 250-300 before a reloald, 7+ hours. I still have coals build up, but I am able to burn these off pretty quickly using the technique I saw on here (rake coals to the front, keep adding one split at a time with primary air full open). I have read that this is pretty common in airtight stoves.

    Now, smoke spillage - to me this would indicate poor draft. Yeah, I know you seem to have a pretty good chimney, but don't write anyhting off. There is plenty to consider here. Wood quality, draft, chimney configuration. I am having operational issues with my Mansfield, and am starting to finally really consider draft. Not only is my chimney almost completey exposed to the outside, but I live in a pretty deep, sheltered valley.

    If you had another brand (I won't mention names), I'd be right here with you bashing the manufacturer, but your stove isn't at fault here. There's really nothgin to go wrong with it that I'm aware of. Pretty simple operation. Check draft (ask dealer for a loaner gauge, or buy one for $100), check wood moisture (split some of your splits and check for moisture <20%). Check all gaskets on your stove -doors, ashpan - using dollar bill test. Check to make sure your ash pan is bolted on tightly. My mansfield had all sorts of loose screws. check flue collar for tightness. Finally, check to make sure there are no obvious cracks or other leaks in your stones and cast iron parts. I am leaning toward draft here.
  3. regalflyer

    regalflyer Member

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    Mike, thanks -
    I have never seen a temperature over 500 on the center stone - usually maxes out at 450 or 400. I reload when there are enough coals to get 2 smallish splits going again, usually about 300 (center stove tile). An interesting thing is that I cannot seem to reduce the coal pile with the methods I have read about, it really does not go down unless I take 6 or 7 hours with almost no heat output with the pile in the middle of the grate. Then I have to open the grate, rake a small amount of burning coals into the pan, close the grate, empty the pan and then repeat. If I do not use a 2 pass attempt, the grate jams and there are too many coals going into the pan. Then it jams as the top is scraped off when trying to remove it, a wonderful situation.

    I will check the draft and the wood moisture as soon as I get a chance. I will be talking to the dealer as well. I am not ready to bash Heritage, but I am hoping to cull information from several experienced users before I get too much of a head of steam going.
  4. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    I'm checking the same stuff with my Mansfield. I really think you're looking at poor draft. That top stone can go up to 600. If you're only at 400, you have a way to go before "overfire".

    Second, forget about that joke of an ashpan. Try shoveling out of the stove. Whoever was in charge of desiging the ashpan on your stove was either high or drunk at the time.
  5. Vic99

    Vic99 Minister of Fire

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    Paul,

    For the backpuffing smoke . . . if you are not down to coals and want to add wood, then open the air control to 1/2 or more for 30 second or a minute. Then open the door. Should eliminate or reduce the smoke. Sometimes if you don't load quick enough, the wood that you added starts to smolder and throws smoke into the room before you can close the door. Just be careful.

    Let me know how you made out.
  6. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I replied to your other thread but this one is better, more information, and not a hijack. Lets talk here and ignore that other thread.

    Okay Paul, you can check the draft if you are worried or you can just spend the few bucks and install the simple damper. Since you have top exhaust like me you can simply slip in a damper on top of the stove. They’re cheap and will allow you to smolder the heritage into a polluting and creosote making dragon if you want. A piece of mind device. If your chimney is exceptionally tall then the damper will allow you to run the heritage properly. Have you checked your chimney cap spark arrestor for pluggage? Your wet wood may have plugged it up quickly.

    Your stove is not burning hot enough or with enough power. I don’ think that overdraft is your problem even though your chimney is tall. I also cannot keep the burn below 400-450 at minimum draft setting with a fresh but charred load of wood. That is how non-cat EPA stoves are supposed to run. Not sure what was wrong with your old quad or maybe you just weren’t able to measure the temps but that was a different chimney too. You’re lucky, the steel plate stove guys get much hotter with a full load and closed draft.

    The coaling issue is quite common and I think the wood is at fault. I don’t have the coal buildup and I blame it on my softwood. You have hissing wood and I believe it is wet. Too wet to burn properly and it going to cause further problems. The low temps, hissing wood, and smoke spillage are all classic of wet wood. The heat energy that would normally make your stove hot and clean is being spent on boiling water.

    As far as my operation:

    We are just now beginning to run the heritage 24/7 since the weather has cooled but over the last few months it was a morning fire and an evening fire. Still, as you know, the stove never really cools down. I dump 1-2 gallons of ash about once per three weeks. I’ve dumped it three times this year and burned about one cord. I do not use the ash pan but scoop into a bucket. My stove burns completely and only white ash is left. The glass stays clean, I don’t even open the front door anymore. The side door gets all the action. The ash pan and the front door seal are both poorly designed and best left unused.

    So I start the stove at full throttle, leave it at full throttle for about 30 minutes, and then restoke as needed to fill the 300 degree box, then close the draft in a few stages over the next 20 minutes to zero throttle. The stove temp will climb to about 450 and then slowly cool to about 300. If the house is plenty warm then I wait until only a few coals remain, stove temp down to 200, and then move those coals forward with a stick, refill to the top, and burn another full load the same way as the first. Repeat until June. Now if it is pretty warm outside, the house will get too hot so the fire might die between stokings and if it is really cold outside I may not let it get down to 300 before reloading. If I come home after a trip somehwere and I need heat then I will leave that first load raging at about 30% throttle until I see 500-550 on the stovetop and that’ll warm the house up fast.

    Coals have never been a problem and ash buildup has been exceptionally slow. These soapstone stoves like smaller wood and a full box. My chimney is all vertical, 8 feet of class A and 5 feet of double wall.

    You can’t shut the stove down. It wants to run at 450 at the minimum draft setting and yes this means you will not get a 12 hour burn time but I have certainly had many overnight burns of 10 hours where all I had to do was stir the remaining coals to the front and add wood.

    You've got wet wood and/or a plugged chimney cap. Both easy to fix.
  7. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    Paul, Highbeam and others think it's wet wood. I am thinking that a $20 moisture meter is a necessity. YOu can pick one up a harbor freight or amazon.com (I'm ordering mine from amazon). $20 is probably a good investment for both of us.

    I personally am going to be highly embarassed if my wood is >20% moisture. Of course, I probably wouldn't admit it, either.
  8. edthedawg

    edthedawg Minister of Fire

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    Paul - You're getting the best of the best advice this forum has to offer so far.

    Skip the ash pan and front door, just use the side door, and shovel your ash by hand.

    Keep your wood dry, try to verify its seasoning, try to find some guaranteed dry/seasoned wood to experiment... I learned I can do some good stuff by supplementing my marginally seasoned oak with an Eco-Firelog here and there.

    I've also seemed to do a lot better lately by splitting smaller, storing under a tarp on the covered front porch, and keeping the piles out back tarped/covered better.

    We coal down well, but have recently found it's imperative to load it full, and use a good damper on the back end, which needs to be turned all the way off.

    We also find it difficult to get over 400, and only recently hit the 475 mark (this weekend - almost 500 on the stovetop Rutland)

    Good luck, keep working at it!
  9. regalflyer

    regalflyer Member

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    Site is awesome, you folks are great to listen to. I am going to get the moisture meter, and I went out and resplit my larger chunks into nothing bigger than about 4x4, with most of it smaller than that. While watching the chimney today as I was splitting, I did not see any smoke coming out. I will try to get some extra dry wood to test with also.
  10. edthedawg

    edthedawg Minister of Fire

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    If you're getting a good smoke-free burn, that's a good sign you're doing Something Right. I get there too, a little while after I throw a new load in.

    Today - lots of coals, and i'm throwing in 3 or 4 every couple hours. it's 13*F outside right now, never got above 20*F all day. I've been having good luck getting up almost to 500 by letting the biggest possible load burn hot for what feels like a little too long, then shutting the damper, with the primary open still about 1". The metal up around the top collar (i rear-vent) gets well over 600. If I throttle all the way back to primary-off, i can get coals 6-8 hrs after loading, but I sacrifice the heat output. We go 10 hours while we're out working, and the coals at that point are just barely enough to relight carefully (i.e. Survivor style).

    I just have too much chimney (35'+) out the back of this stove...

    I'm reasonably sure you'll do fine once you work out some new practices with your damper, primary, and loading styles/cycles.
  11. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    What is the inside diameter of your chimney? Is it larger than the stove exhaust collar? Larger diameter chimneys will create sluggish draft.
  12. regalflyer

    regalflyer Member

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    Todd, my chimney is a 6" diameter double wall inside the house for about 17' plus a 3 and 1/2 foot piece at 45 degrees. That plugs into 2 4 foot sections of stainless insulated that penetrate a cathedral roof up past the peak. - Ed, I think I am seeing about the same burn time unless we are at single digits when I need to load again in 4 or 5 hours. On your long restricted burn, what is the remaining coal pile like? Mine is quite a heavy.
  13. regalflyer

    regalflyer Member

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    :) Eureka !! The secret is SMALL WOOD :lol: Last night at 11:00pm I loaded it up to the gunwales with 2 to 3 inch splits, what I used to call "kitchen wood". I waited until the pile lit off, reduced the air slowly all the way to zero, and watched the blue flames run the temperature up around 500+ degrees. I slept too soundly and did not restock the stove at night - but in the morning poked the bed, added some "kitchen wood" and away it went - so it looks like I got at least a 7 hour high output burn. This stove likes the small stuff. I will be checking my moisture as soon as I get the meter also. With wood split this fine it should dry very well. I am not kidding; I filled with stuff that was just a little bigger than kindling with perhaps a couple 3 or 4 inch pieces but nothing bigger. What a difference in the burn.

    I believe Highbeam is burning dry softwood, sounds bad but the stove loves low density stuff. Don't go for rock maple and cherry unless you split fine - then you may still get a lot of coals. I am still working on my smoke from the door, and I have to see how the coaling is, might just be a fact of life with these stoves. I am making progress many thanks to all !
  14. Vic99

    Vic99 Minister of Fire

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    Great! Feels good, doesn't it.

    After experimenting with small, dry splits, you can then work up to the larger splits. For example a top down fire with kindling, 1/2 small splits and 1/2 medium splits will get you roaring and perhaps extend your burn.
  15. edthedawg

    edthedawg Minister of Fire

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    my smoke-free opening technique:

    - open damper beyond halfway
    - open primary beyond halfway (optional - depends if i have coals / chunks needing some burn)
    - grab 3 splits, pile them in front of the stove
    - kneel and open the side door about 1/2" to 1", for a second or two
    - slowly open the side door to load, watching for coals that like to "pop" out of the stove unpredictably
    - load stove
    - shut door
    - watch fire grow, then shut damper and back down primary.

    IMO it is not possible to open the front door in any smoke-free manner.
  16. regalflyer

    regalflyer Member

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    When my stove is burning off the gas load from the wood, I am measuring .15 inches WC, and about .10 inches WC with just coals. Is it possible I am creating extra coals with too much draft? If I get a barometric damper, are there some that can be installed in double wall pipe?
  17. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    You don't want a barometric damper. Those are death in a chimney fire. You want a manual keyway style flue damper. Those are sold as a 6" section that attaches between the stove collar and the rest of the double wall connector pipe. The damper section is made to look like the double wall. Make sure it is the same brand for the sake of compatibility. Folks have been known to purchase just the actual damper butterfly and "make it work" with the double wall but the premade section is more desirable. Should be pretty cheap.

    In the manual the heritage has a spec for max vacuum on the flue before a damper. I thought it was 0.1 so you would qualify.
  18. pwdohio

    pwdohio New Member

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    We put an Exhausto fan on top of our stove pipe to turn on high before we open the door to reload. It pulls all the smoke up and out the chimney and none comes out into the house. This was necessary since I have severe asthma and still desire to heat with wood.

    We have been heating this house (1700 sq ft) since 2000 with a Hearthstone Phoenix.

    We are having some problems again this year though with a leak somewhere (thought we had it cleared up) and it is sporadic. Doesn't set off the smoke detector but I smell smoke and the last two years have been hard on my asthma since we have had this issue lately. Done the paper test on the door, no leaks. Did find a slight leak on the stove pipe but I was thinking Joe fixed that last year. Now wondering about where the collar fits. No leaks from between the stones. New hinges and hardware on the door and new roping around the door. Seems to be sealed tight this winter.

    Also noticing a smell pretty often and trying to figure out if it is the stone when it heats up (used to be just the first fire of the season) or the cast iron when it heats up. It is not unlike seasoning a cast iron skillet in a high temp oven.

    I came here last winter and asked some questions about getting a longer nighttime burn and about the smoke issues. Since dampering it down we are getting longer burns and I think for the first time since burning this stove have gotten the temps up to 400+ degrees. Previously we had the Exhausto fan on low and I guess that was keeping the stove from performing as it should, so now we just use it to reload the stove.

    Now, if we could just figure out what the odor is that bothers my asthma and why we still on occasion get some smoke smell into the house....

    After my last sinus infection we are close to thinking about getting a new stove...but we really do like the heat that we get from the soapstone stove.

    Don't know why I thought that these soapstones had a maximum safety temperature and that was around 400 degrees.....
  19. woodhawker

    woodhawker New Member

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    I had problems with my Hearthstone Heritage "smoking" when I opened the door to load it up. When we had a break in the weather two weeks ago I cleaned my chimney again just to be safe, and noticed my chimney cap had all kinds of "stuff" on it. I knocked all of the crud off the cap, cleaned the chimeny (was pretty clean anyway) and noticed I now do not get any smoke in the house when I reload. Bottom line......... check your chimney cap if you have one.
  20. pwdohio

    pwdohio New Member

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    Will do once the ice gets off the roof.

    We spoke again with a dealer that we spoke with last year. This time to the wife. It seems that the invisiable smoke seems to happen (when it happens, which is intermittently) about an hour after the stove is loaded full for the night. Joe crams the wood in and then gives it about 10 minutes before he dampers it down and goes to bed. I stay up later and it is about one hour later that I notice the smell of smoke, but have yet to visualize any!

    Anyway, the woman we spoke with at a stove store (I think she is the owner and they deal mainly in VC and Harmon) said that it really sounds like Joe is not allowing the stove to get going good enough before he dampers it down. She suggested giving it a much longer time with the damper open more or the Exhausto fan on longer before turning the fan off and dampering it down. She feels that this might solve our problem. We are willing to give it a try again.

    Our stove does smoke though from the stack sometimes, especially when the air is heavy or it is rainy. I hate that because when the dogs go out in the yard, they come in smelling of smoke.

    It seems that I hear on this forum that we should not be getting any smoke out the flue....???? Many times we see no smoke but othertimes we do....any suggestions on this?
  21. regalflyer

    regalflyer Member

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    Cold weather and my charcoal pile is impossible to manage. My dealer says that this stove does not need a damper, I am about to call the manufacturer. I run anywhere from .10 to .15 wc at the breach. Stack temps sit at 550 - 600 even with the primary air control closed completely. When reloading I can hit 800 degrees stack before the load has caught and I can throttle down to zero. The stove is producing giant mounds of charcoal that I cannot burn down with any kind of heat production. I have employed every trick on the forum to try and manage the charcoal. All I can do is shovel the bloody thing out and start fresh. I am wasting wood, and the pile of charcoal in the yard is growing. Anyone have a Heritage with too much draft? Did you solve your problem? What draft should you set for reasonable operation? I am thinking that .08 inches wc on a calm day would be a good starting point. I may have to find a damper for a double wall stove pipe and install it myself.
  22. pwdohio

    pwdohio New Member

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    Answering my own post here!

    The lady at the woodstove store appears to be right. Joe is now leaving the damper open longer and/or the exhausto fan on longer until we get a good blaze going for at least 10 to 20 minutes before he dampers down and goes to bed, or before I turn down the Exhausto after he has already shut the damper and gone to bed.

    We have had no more smoke in the house. However, I do see smoke coming out of the flue on top of the house, but really do not seem to have the problem at this point anyway of the smoke being thick and dropping to the ground allowing the dogs to bring it in on their coats. So, we may have also solved the reason for that. Get a good fire going and leave it for 20 minutes at least before dampering down.

    Now, if we just had a larger firebox!
  23. pwdohio

    pwdohio New Member

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    Look into purchasing an Exhausto fan for the top of your flue. They are awesome and make it possible for asthmatics to burn wood.
    http://www.exhausto-cdt.com/
    http://www.us.exhausto.com/index_residential.aspx
  24. edthedawg

    edthedawg Minister of Fire

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    I don't recall your chimney height/setup, nor do i actually have experience w/ specific measured draft levels, but i will tell you that i find my flue damper to be an absolute necessity. I adjust it every load - wide open to keep the smoke out of the room and encourage the flames to pick up. once the load chars up and the flames are good and strong, i close it almost all the way. once secondaries pick up strong, i close it the rest of the way.

    It'd be a lost cause to run without it. I originally typed "heat" instead of "run" but i changed it - wouldn't be heating!

    FYI - my chimney is far longer than the 30' max called out in the HS manual. And i'm sure you wouldn't be the first person in the world to put a damper into double-wall... One last note: My damper plate has holes in it - it does not seal the flue shut 100%. If I had my druthers, i'd get one that DID have the ability to shut off more.

    Good luck and keep us posted w/ the progress.
  25. rydaddy

    rydaddy New Member

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    I have a Heritage. 4th season. Approx. 25' SS Flex in middle of house. Rear flue exit in front of old fireplace. Damper in pipe (installed last year) wouldn't go back to not having it.

    DITTO on a lot of what the other Hearthstone Heritage owners have said. I read some pretty consistent comments that compare well to what I have observed. I think the biggest thing I have learned that the stoves just get us 1/2 way there. Then you have the wood, weather, and most important. Flue length, location, etc. I feel better sometimes knowing that others have similar observations as myself.... so hopefully I am not the class idiot.

    Every season i tell myself I am going to get a bigger (different) stove. Hasn't happened yet. I love the side door on this thing.
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