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Help me not burn my house down- glaze creosote

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by lumbering on, Jan 12, 2013.

  1. lumbering on

    lumbering on Feeling the Heat

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    I'll be the first to admit I didn't know what I was doing during the first month of running my stove... burning incompletely seasoned wood and some smoldering fires at the beginning and end of the burn cycles.
    Thanks to you guys I'm much better now, no more creosote inside the fire box.
    But I'm worried about the damage I did to the flue liner during that month. Looking past the bypass damper I see a thick deposit of what looks like glaze creosote (based on what I've read about it and some pics).
    When I burn the fire on start up (I only burn after work and thus a cold start everyday) with the bypass damper open and air control open and dry kindling burning, the flames are tall and sometimes go up past the bypass damper into the connector pipe and are licking at that deposit.
    My questions are:

    1. Is this glaze creosote?

    2. Should the flames go that high up on start up regardless of any creosote deposits?

    3. How high is my risk of this deposit catching fire?

    4. If it looks this bad at the base, how bad is the rest of the flue liner?

    5. Can I do anything my self to fix this (I'm not up to sweeping the flue myself at this point, I'm thinking more about any solvents I can apply or burn)

    6. Should I have it professionally swept now, so soon into the burning season (I'm out of money, having just bought this big drafty old house and paying the oil bill).
    Some pictures are attached.
    Thanks in advance.
    photoB.JPG photoE.JPG

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Looks sooty but not glazed. What's more important is what it looks like up higher. Is it possible to remove the cap and check?

    Do you now have good wood? If so, I would continue to burn and have the chimney checked after going through a cord of wood. Maybe you can work out a deal with a local sweep for a looksee now and sweep later that would be less expensive?
  3. lumbering on

    lumbering on Feeling the Heat

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    I'm only burning Envi-Blocks now.

    The roof is 3 stories up and I don't own a ladder yet.
    CT Pellet likes this.
  4. lumbering on

    lumbering on Feeling the Heat

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    If its a safety issue now, I'll get it swept ASAP, I just don't want to under or over react.
  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Hard to say from a picture of the stove flue throat. How much wood had you burnt prior to the Envi-Blocks?
  6. lumbering on

    lumbering on Feeling the Heat

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    Went through about 1/4 cord.
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    If it were me, I wouldn't worry about it. But you will need to do what you feel best to have peace of mind.
  8. corey21

    corey21 Minister of Fire

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    Just looks like soot to me. Burn on.
    Hills Hoard likes this.
  9. PapaDave

    PapaDave Minister of Fire

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    Agreed. If you aren't having problems with draft, just keep burning. Perhaps a bit hotter fires would help.
    Do you use any thermometers on the stove/flue to monitor temps? If not, you might give that a go to get a better handle on your fires.
    Any particular reason you aren't burning more often?
    Understood if it's a money thing, although having the oil man cometh ain't cheap either. If at all possible, start gathering wood for next year......and the year after.;)
  10. lumbering on

    lumbering on Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks guys. I'll stop worrying.

    I don't quite have the confidence yet to leave the house with a loaded stove. I also haven't gotten longer than 6 hour burn time and were gone from the house 10 to 12 hours a day.
  11. PapaDave

    PapaDave Minister of Fire

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    On a day off, load the stove full for a long burn. Adjust as if you're going to leave, then watch to see what it does.
    You should be nicely surprised that the house is still there at the end of that burn.;)
    I'd be more afraid of the oil man showing up.!!!
    weatherguy, NortheastAl and ChadD like this.
  12. NortheastAl

    NortheastAl Minister of Fire

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    Never did like seeing that truck pull up and me having to drop a thousand bucks on a fill up. Do that three or more times a year and you quickly develop a romantic relationship with your woodpile.
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    How are you loading the Envi bricks? How many at a time?
  14. lumbering on

    lumbering on Feeling the Heat

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    It's truly frightening what it cost to heat this house in December, and that's with half the house closed off and the temp set at 55 most of the day.

    Regarding the envi-bricks, once the kindling has burned down to coals, I stack 4 to 6 of the smaller bricks.

    I'm warming up to the idea of round the clock burning, and beginning to regret my stove choice. I'm thinking a catalytic soapstone may have be more appropriate. Right now the cast iron works fine for the evening only burns, which allows me to avoid cranking the heat when the family's all home. Firewood in this part of the state is not cheap, (still cheaper than oil) and I worry the downdraft stove will eat wood faster than the catalytic, with the need to keep the temperature hotter for the secondary combustion. Am I off base?
  15. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Yes, a cat can be burned lower, and is more efficient at a lower burn. Soapstone radiant heat feels like the sun...very comfortable. Don't know your square footage, but with a three story home you're going to need a decent size stove.

    If you do decide to go soapstone/cat, then Woodstock cannot be beaten in quality or performance. The Progress Hybrid is their largest, most efficient stove. It utilizes both cat and secondary technologies, for the best of both worlds, is self regulating and very easy to run. Gives long burns times, easily in excess of 12 hours, making for easy 12 hour reloads for convneient 24/7 primary heating. 6 month money back warranty, so if you go this way and still want a change you get your money back.
  16. lumbering on

    lumbering on Feeling the Heat

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    Yes, the woodstock soapstone would be my choice. But I talked my wife into this stove on the basis of saving money, and I can't replace it for a few years and until I've proven it paid for itself in oil savings. I'll spend the next few years researching the next stove choice.
    rideau likes this.
  17. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    A cat soapstone stove won't heat any better than the Leyden, If you don't use it!;) You haven't even gotten close to that stoves potential, it loves a full load and will still have enough coals to re-start after 10-12 hours, easily. Down draft stoves are more finicky than others, but IMHO are capable of getting longer burns than traditional tube style stoves. Not as good as a cat stove, but it will cruise at 500 degrees for a very long time. I'm heating 2200 square feet with mine. It's our only heat source, except an occasional fire in the other stoves. Load it up, you will be surprised what it will do.
  18. Jagtec1

    Jagtec1 Member

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    I have a Leyden, and heat 2000 SF with it. We have not turned our heat on at all this year, except the two days it was not quite cold enough to build a fire, but chilly enough to require a bit of heat!

    Load it up and let it eat. 10-12 hours can be easily done. I would not be concerned by what I see in your pics, but would be interested to see what you have in the stack.
  19. tcassavaugh

    tcassavaugh Minister of Fire

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    :eek: thats a little high for me. better get a lot of fiberglass sections.....or get real friendly with a local sweep. load that puppy up and burn it.

    cass
  20. lumbering on

    lumbering on Feeling the Heat

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    Very encouraging to hear from leyden owners with the 10 hour burn times. I am guessing the six hour burn times are a result of my inexperience and lack of wood. I guess I would have to fill the stove with envi blocks to pull 10 hours off. That's a lot of envi blocks!
  21. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    How much is firewood in your area? It has to be cheaper than bricks.
  22. lumbering on

    lumbering on Feeling the Heat

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    I am on long island, so everything costs way too much. I bought one unseasoned cord for $200. Kiln dried half cords are available for $325. Found "one large truckload, unsplit unseasoned" for $200.
  23. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    That doesn't sound too bad to me. We pay around $180 a cord delivered around here. Well, I don't but that's the going price in the midwest.
  24. jatoxico

    jatoxico Minister of Fire

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    I don't think firewood on Long Island is much more expensive than the rest of the area in fact it may be cheaper than some of the prices I've heard quoted. Of course prices are probably at peak right now. Also plenty of opportunities to get your own wood especially after Sandy.

    The issue now of course is anything you buy except the kiln dried is going to green, green green.

    As far as your creosote question for some piece of mind you could buy some Anti Creo-Soot spray. It will turn any nasty stuff in the stove and the lower section of the pipe into an easily sweepable ash.
  25. simple.serf

    simple.serf Feeling the Heat

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    If you ONLY burned about 1/4 cord of crappy wood, I wouldn't worry too much. If you have an inspection cover/cleanout, I'd stick my head in that (when things are cool, of course) and check on the creosote in the stack. Last year I had to burn some really bad wood all season, and other than cleaning everything really well every 2 weeks, we were ok. I burned a lot of Ash and I burned it as Hot as I could. Try to keep the stove hot and you should be fine. If you don't have a stove and flue thermometer, get them.

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