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Help! Something seems wrong here...

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by chazcarr, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. chazcarr

    chazcarr Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Messages:
    355
    Loc:
    Wolcott, CT
    Hello Folks,

    As a scientist, I cannot easily explain the change in my house this season so I am looking for anecdotal evidence to support my theory. Or disprove it, who knows! Not being able to figure this out is frustrating.

    Here is the issue, this season my house is not warming up as it was in seasons past. Now that the cold weather is here, this is even more evident. I am guessing the problem is that I have made my house to well insulated. Here is the breakdown:

    1) Over summer I double insulated attic and had new high efficiency windows installed.
    2) Chimney was cleaned and stove inspected, all seals in place and no creosote build up.
    3) Wood is same batch as burned last year when my house would get nearly 8 degrees warmer.
    4) Since the wood is same batch, it is seasoned a year longer, that could play a part.
    5) All firebricks, baffle, and rope are in working order.
    6) Two years ago I redid the siding with insulated vinyl siding.

    When I put the new windows in, I guessed that the house would get warmer since those old windows leaked air like crazy. Its not happening and it is driving me mad.

    Also, I no longer get red hot overnight coals in the morning. In fact most times the stove is now completely cold in the morning. The wood is burning up faster, yet I cannot find a leak in my fireplace.

    Can a house be too insulated for its own good? Or is there some other type of issue going on here that I am unaware of?

    Thanks anyone for your help.

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  2. KaptJaq

    KaptJaq Minister of Fire

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    If you are using the same type wood and the same amount of wood then you should be getting the same number of BTUs out of your stove. No hot coals in the morning (same length of time?)? No short hot burst of energy out of the stove? If the fuel is the same then the heat is going somewhere. Are there cold black coals in the morning?

    Situations I've seen:

    1. House too tight, stove does not burn as well as it used to. If there is un-burnt fuel in the morning try cracking a window near the stove. If it burns better then you might need an OAK.

    2. Short burst of really hot fire that dies quickly.
    a. Too much air getting into the stove. Check all the seals again.
    b. That same fuel is much dryer that last year. Reduce air supply more.

    3. Fuel all gone but still no heat. The heat is going somewhere. Any changes to your baffle that might be letting un-burnt fuel (SMOKE) up the flue? When the stove was checked was the baffel put into place correctly? Did you clog the air supply for the secondaries?

    These are the first things I would check. I'm sure others will add more...

    KaptJaq

    EDIT: One more thought. When the flue was cleaned was the block-off plate or seal at the top disturbed letting heat escape up the side of the flue/chase?

    KJ
  3. soupy1957

    soupy1957 Minister of Fire

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    I'm wondering if you have changed any of your methods with regard to how you do your burning. If you are neurotic like me, compulsive about the way you do things like I am, you probably didn't change a thing, but I figured I'd ask.

    -soupy1957
  4. chazcarr

    chazcarr Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Messages:
    355
    Loc:
    Wolcott, CT
    Haven't changed a thing. The stove is burning great, good secondaries, easy to control. Just seems a bit shorter burn times, and the house is not getting as warm.

    Not sure about getting an OAK installed at this point, but it may be the best option.
    I will have to check the block off plate as Kapt suggests, but as the stove is always burning, not at the moment. Stove did pass the dollar bill test, perhaps the seal around the glass is leaking, is that a possibility?


    **EDIT** One other way out there shot, when i had the windows put in, I had a bay window placed in the room with the fireplace. It is insulated top to bottom quite well, but is there a chance the new shape of the room is effecting the draft patterns?
  5. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    My guess would be that what you are seeing is primarily a consequence of the colder outdoor temperatures. Are you seeing an eight degree differential between the comparable indoor/outdoor from a year ago? We are a lot more than 8 degrees colder than last year. Your wood is a season drier, so will burn faster and hotter with the same air setting. With the same setting on your stove and the weather so much colder, the wood will burn much faster, and you should reload more often, have fewer coals at the end of a burn, use more wood overall to heat your home.
    Dune, gmule and Beer Belly like this.
  6. KaptJaq

    KaptJaq Minister of Fire

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    What type window was there before? Same size opening? My wife loves skylights but I tell her: Glass, no matter what quality it is, will never be as well insulated as a wall. Major heat loss there. The area within the skylight or bay window adds to the volume of the room, more to heat. I don't see a radical loss from converting a similar sized window to a bay but there will be some difference. A small window to a larger bay, much bigger difference. When I bought my house I had a cool living room. Used my IR thermometer and found the cold spots on the wall. The large bay was well insulated but, when it was installed, they did not fill the gaps between the studs & the window frame with insulation. There was the sheet rock on the inside and the wood trim on the outside and a lot of cold air seeping in. Look for drafts & cold spots near that window.

    KaptJaq

    EDIT: For clarity. :(
  7. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Don't know if it is the case down your way, but up here in Maine most of the heating season has been more on the milder side . . . and then . . . WHAM . . . this week the temps are in the single digits or below the donut . . . I think most folks will see a change in how the stove burns and heats the place in this case . . . I know I am having to load more often and I have been using the good stuff.
  8. jdp1152

    jdp1152 Minister of Fire

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    not uncommon for window installers to skimp and not insulate around them before putting the trim back up. Pull off your trim and make sure they did this. You won't necessarily feel a draft if there is paint sealing up the air from flowing, but you'll still lose a lot of heat. Having moved into an older home with about 5 different types of windows, almost all of the newer ones lacked insulation around them where they were shimmed. Fortunately an energy assessment with a thermal camera identified these spots as well as a few bays where previous water, mice, squirrel infiltrations had destroyed the insulation (house was empty for 1.5 years). Fixing those spots and adding sealing gaskets behind all the electric receptacles was an easy and cheap fix. Might not be your problem, but easy enough to look into.
  9. Cross Cut Saw

    Cross Cut Saw Feeling the Heat

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    If you're married like I am, I'd check that all of your windows are closed!!!!

    I come home to the craziest chit you could imagine...

    "I just wanted to air it out a little" is the most common excuse.
    gmule, loon, ScotO and 5 others like this.
  10. Beer Belly

    Beer Belly Minister of Fire

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    When you had the Bay Window installed, what was in it's place ????....if it replaced two single windows, then you added more glass to that area, which is less insulation to that room.....but my first feeling is that the temps outside are playing a big roll in the issue......I know we gotta put in more work to keep up with the temps.
  11. rijim

    rijim Member

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    What are your stovetop temps this year and last? Do you have any idea on flue temps? The final thing is have you tried a small fan blowing towards or into the room where the fan is located; if not, try one. The circulation may have changed with the fixes for drafts and insulation. The first 2 questions should help establish if stove/air/fuel performance is as expected and/or have changed.
  12. Huntindog1

    Huntindog1 Minister of Fire

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    I am thinking also that the tighter house your not getting air flows thru the house spreading the heat around.

    I had the same thing when I put a wall up in the basement to divide of my new family room from the garage.

    I think the cooler part of the garage was setting up a temperature difference between one end of the basement and the other. This got the air flows a going. The wall shut that down.

    I put in a couple wall vents to let the air flow again from the cooler side of the basement to the warmer stove side of the basement.

    Helped out alot.
  13. jdonna

    jdonna Member

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    I have to agree, year to year I am making improvements on our home. Every leak, new window area insulated and sealed changes the convection loop.

    Quick question, have you observed the last 1/2 of the burn cycle and checked stove temperatures? If you have negative pressure in your stove room it may not show up until late in your burn cycle.

    A little paitence and experimenting and I think you will figure it out.
  14. chazcarr

    chazcarr Feeling the Heat

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    Hi all, lets see if I can answer some of the questions here:

    1) I was present for the new window install, insulated all around. It replaced a window of the same size, yet flat.
    2) Stove top temps are the same.
    3) Fans in place as always, I will have to redo the smoke test at some point when my wife isn't around to complain about the smell.
    4) My wife left a window open in the upstairs bathroom all day last week. The door was shut so little effect on rest of house but you'd better not try to use that toilet or you'd probably stick to it.
    5) Drop in temp has been consistent all season long, not just with the recent drop in outside temps.
    6) Its an insert so no idea on flue temps.
    7) Infrared thermometer shows outer walls about 7-10 degrees cooler than inner walls. No significant changes around windows.
    Huntindog1 likes this.
  15. mfglickman

    mfglickman Minister of Fire

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    I am near you and last year was a LoT warmer than this year has been so far.
  16. chazcarr

    chazcarr Feeling the Heat

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    How would the negative pressure show up? No smoke is coming into the room, I know that.
  17. jdonna

    jdonna Member

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    On my setup I put a collared hole on my single wall pipe so I can slide a manometer probe to check pressure differentials and make sure that my stack draft is in check.

    Being that your setup is an insert, that maybe hard for you to do. You can still crack a window near your stove like others suggested and see if you have any improvements. I would try that later in the burn cycle and monitor secondaries and flame activitiy.

    Wind and temps play a factor on your performance. Your wood is also drier than it was last season and might be outgassing faster, not a bad thing just have to adjust your air different.
  18. WhitePine

    WhitePine Feeling the Heat

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    Are you able to control the draft normally? That is can and do you start with the draft fully open then progressively close the draft control once the stove gets fully up to temperature in order to control the burn, ending up with the control mostly or fully closed? I ask because I recently watched someone who left his draft control in a mid-high position for the entire burn cycle. He was using an inordinate amount of wood and had a cold stove in the morning.
  19. ailanthus

    ailanthus Feeling the Heat

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    Or have kids...
  20. chazcarr

    chazcarr Feeling the Heat

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    Loc:
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    Yes I can control the burn, better this year then last. Last year getting secondaries took awhile. I attribute that to the wood being greener.

    This year I can close the air all the way down (as far as a regency lets you) and get great secondaries in a much shorter amount of time.

    This thread has me thinking maybe it is the fuel after all, quicker burns due to being much drier.
    Also the regular flow patter must be a bit messed up, time to try adjusting fan locations again.

    My wife hates that.
  21. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    If that were true, we would really have some big problems! I do not know what your wood is or how dry it is but I can tell you that drier wood is not the problem. In fact, we have noticed a big difference this year. We normally would be burning wood that was cut in the winter of 2008-2009 and that wood is white ash, elm and soft maple. Instead, because I have a wood pile that I want moved (not normal here), we decided to burn some wood that was cut in the winter of 2009-2010. I can tell you there is a big difference in the way the wood burns. The older is better by far. So, I would rule that out as a possible problem

    With the IR gun, I would advise to do a lot of checking and do it at different times of the day and night. See if you can find an air leak as that seems to make the most sense as to what the problem is outside a chimney problem. For sure this has to be frustrating to you and surely would be to me. But I'm sure you will find the problem with persistence. Just be careful which bathroom you use. ;)
    Huntindog1 and chazcarr like this.
  22. WhitePine

    WhitePine Feeling the Heat

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    Can you close it enough to get really lazy flames? I am wondering if the draft control isn't fully functional. Like a loose plate or something letting in a bit too much air when the draft is fully closed. I think it was Hearth.com Members that had a problem like that on one of his stoves.
  23. chazcarr

    chazcarr Feeling the Heat

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    Just got home and have her roaring again to get back up to temperature. Perhaps you are right. I can control the fire, but the control knob slides back and forth really easy recently. It used to take some force to get it to move. Maybe it came loose in there.

    Looking at the manual and cannot see any way to find this and adjust it.

    Anyone have a picture or guide to on how to check the plates?
  24. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    I would be scratching my head too (in fact, I am). You say your house is eight degrees cooler than last year? Does that mean that if you kept the house, for example, at 72 last year, you can only manage 64 this year? Or am I misreading it? That seems like a huge problem to me, especially after such improvements were made to insulation.

    No way is the improved insulation a negative factor unless there was a major problem with the installation, causing massive air infiltration and drafts, as has been suggested.

    As Dennis said, dryer wood could only help, not hurt. Yes, it may burn up faster, but it would also burn hotter.

    I hope this wasn't already covered, but are you burning more or less wood than last year?

    How about the possibility that you had some additional heat sources going on last year, such as more cooking or some electrical appliances (even a heater) that was on last year but not this year?
  25. chazcarr

    chazcarr Feeling the Heat

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    Wolcott, CT

    After last nights run, I now suspect that the air to the secondaries, or the pipes themselves are clogged.
    It seems I only get the "jet" occurring on the right side of the stove when looking into it. There is nothing happening on the left side.

    I might need to have someone come out and look at this thing officially now. That has me worried.

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