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How critical are these maintenace issues? Newbie seeking advice.

Post in 'Classic Wood Stove Forums (prior to approx. 1993)' started by ResolutelyGreen, Sep 6, 2012.

  1. ResolutelyGreen

    ResolutelyGreen New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2012
    Messages:
    1
    First, let me say I'm both new to these forums and new to wood stoves as heat sources. I see a lot of information is available here and plan to do a great deal more reading in the next three weeks (prior to beginning use of the stove) but I am becoming very concerned about some possible issues with the stove and could use some experienced advice about them.

    The stove is a Vermont Castings Resolute; I found a picture of the same model here:

    http://hearth.com/gall/v/WoodStoves/vc_res.jpg.html

    just mentally remove the pot on top and the little platform (side table?) clamped on the left side.


    I am not sure what you would need to know to be able to answer my questions. The stove is free standing (not a fireplace insert) with a very tall, straight chimney. I am uncertain how many feet the chimney goes up but it exits the roof near the centerline in a room with a "cathedral" ceiling. The picture at the link above shows glass in the tops of the double doors on the front of the stove, but this one has metal plates in place of the glass. The plates were substituted for the glass by the owner at some point in the past.

    Here's a list of the issues I'd like some help with:

    1) The chimney collar inside the house was dangling loose on one side --hanging down several inches-- when I first saw the place. I pointed it out and the collar was re-attached to the ceiling before I moved in. However, there are two long white and brown streaks running down the chimney pipe from under the collar to maybe 1/3 of the way down the pipe towards the stove. I can't tell if the longer one runs further down because at that point the pipe slides inside of another longer section that comes up from the stove. I've been told the streaks are "nature" and that it's possible there is a squirrel nest up inside there, and that if there is and they don't just leave any dead ones can be "burned out" when the stove is first lit. I should mention there has been no rain in the area for quite a while, but I don't know when the streaks first appeared and can't make an assessment on whether or not they might be caused by some kind of leak. I also haven't the faintest idea what exactly could or should be done about them.

    2) There is a great deal of rust on the back corner of the stove that also houses the two damper controls. I don't know what the controls are actually called, one opens a small rectangle on the outside at the back bottom of the stove, the other opens the metal piece that closes off the bottom of the chimney inside the stove. The rust pattern looks as if someone spilled water from the top surface down the back corner all the way to the floor when the stove was cold and left it wet. Even the small metal circle under that corner's "foot" is rusty. I've sanded and primed/painted regular metal objects myself in the past and know it's often difficult to get every bit of rust off, but am concerned about the fact that the sanding on this stove was only done by hand and that there was still a lot of reddish surface left when the heat resistant paint was sprayed on. How critical is it to remove all rust on a stove like this?

    3) There is no gasket around the upper surface lid, only a partial/fraying gasket around the outside of the double doors on the stove front, and a gasket around only one of the metal plates that are replacing the glass in those doors. (The other metal plate has a gasket piece around the bottom but the rest of the gasket sort of let loose and just flops around the metal plate under that iron grill that used to protect the glass.) The lid and front door gaskets are supposed to be replaced at some point in the future, but I am wondering how important it might be to also put gaskets around the metal plates that have been used to replace the glass windows in the front doors?

    4) If you look at the chimney OUTSIDE the house, most of it is silvery in color, but the top part is very black. Many people in the area use wood stoves, and I have been looking at their chimneys while walking or driving by their homes. Everyone elses' outside chimney seems to be silvery colored all the way up. I've read a bunch about having chimneys swept to remove creosote, and I have no idea when the chimney was last swept. Is the blackening up top a sign of creosote buildup?

    5) This isn't precisely a maintenance issue, but the stove's double doors and single handle for them confuse me. I have opened and closed them a few times and can't figure out how one is supposed to use them while adding wood when the stove is already hot. Every video I have found and watched shows stoves with ONE door. The problem I keep running into is that the single handle, on the right side door, basically does nothing with the left side door. All I can think of is to grab the left side door manually and pull it open to add wood, then shut it most of the way manually so that the handle on the right can engage it to lock both doors closed. Is that right? After reading about stoves reaching 400 to 800 degrees I am a little scared of trying that with anything heatproof I own now. One video mentioned getting welder's gloves to use with wood stoves; is that what people use here and if it is, where do you get them?

    The wood stove is the only source of heat here, so I appreciate any and all help with becoming proficient using it! :)

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  2. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    7,607
    Loc:
    Doylestown, PA
    1. It would be best to post some pics of this issue with the collar so we can better understand what you mean. The brown streaks could be creosote, rust from water from a leak or some other unknown issue.

    2. Sounds like you have a moisture issue between the comment of rust and the brown streaks. But I can't be sure.

    3. A griddle gasket should be in place. Otherwise the griddle will allow air into the firebox and the stove will be harder to operate properly. It also sounds like the entire stove needs to be regasketed, which you can do yourself.

    4. You could have a lot of creosote build-up. When was the last time the chimney was cleaned? I would have a good chimney sweep look at your entire installation to be sure it is safe.

    5. For a top loading stove, you load the stove through the double doors when you first start up the stove. After that, you load the stove up using the top griddle. And yes, get welder's gloves or fireplace gloves so you do not burn yourself.

    If this is your only source of heat, I would definitely bring in a chimney sweep to look at the installation and the stove to be sure it is in safe working order.
  3. DanCorcoran

    DanCorcoran Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Messages:
    2,096
    Loc:
    Richmond, VA
    Welcome to the forum! There's a wealth of information available here from some very knowledgeable people. I can't answer your questions, but suggest that it would be helpful if you click on your name in the upper right corner and then go to "personal details". This will allow you to add your location (which is often helpful to responders). You can also go to "signature" and add the name of your stove, so folks will know without you having to repeat it in every post.

    I'm sure you'll get a lot of good answers...again, welcome.

    P.S. I got my welders gloves at Lowe's or Home Depot. Ace Hardware likely has them, too.
  4. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2012
    Messages:
    6,524
    Loc:
    Philadelphia
    What is your location? Assuming this post is not just a joke, trying to get a bunch of stove-heads fired up, I'd definitely call a chimney sweep to evaluate your entire system. Any one of these problems can be debugged individually, but the sum total of them (and this being your only source of heat) might be best evaluated by someone who knows what they're looking at.

    When I bought my current house, I found a whole host of different problems with the wood stove. In the process of the first cleaning and repair, I was able to see how the PO's ignorance of each problem caused the next, as is usually the case. With all of your gasket and door issues, it's very likely this stove has been overfired many times. There might be other issues not noticeable to the uninitiated.
    PapaDave likes this.
  5. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2009
    Messages:
    4,166
    Loc:
    Central PA
    I won't try to answer all your questions but here are a few thoughts:

    Examine the chimney pipe/flue carefully by looking up or down the pipe. You can't 'burn out' a squirrel nest or dead squirrels, and tou shouldn't burn out any creosote (a build up of unburnt materials form the fire) that might be in there. An examination by a chimney sweep is very good advice, but you should also be able to check it yourself so you can check periodically. The inside should be smooth and clean. A little ash on the inside is normal, but accumulations of any kind can be dangerous. Obviously the flue should be free of rodents.

    Apparently this is an older stove, and maybe not in great shape. If you have the funds I'd at least consider a newer stove. If this is your only source of heat you'll want something with reasonably long burn times, which means a reasonably large firebox. if you're keeping the stove I'd replace the glass. It is a lot easier to manage a fire when you can see the fire.

    You should have your firewood already. In fact you should have had it a year ago. I'd work on firewood before the stove. A stove can be fixed quickly but seasoned firewood takes time.
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    49,655
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    This is an older VC Resolute. I'm moving this over to the classic stove section but will leave a link to this forum for a few days.

    You need the manual for the stove. The main air control is that rectangle in the lower backside. The other lever is a bypass control for startup. The manual (in 3 parts) is located here:
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/wiki/Vermont_Castings_Older_Stove_Models/

    To answer the question, very critical. You may have a 900::F fire shooting up this flue. It has to be in great shape and solidly connected. The flue system should be inspected and cleaned by someone with a professional trained eye. By your description it sounds like it was incorrectly installed. You need to have it examined and fixed from top to bottom. What is being called "nature" by some fool is creosote dripping. Usually this happens when the pipe is installed up-side down. But in this case it could be that a proper adapter was not used at the ceiling support box. Get a professional chimney sweep to look at this. If you need help finding one, there are a couple good organizations that list certified sweeps. Type in your zip code at one of these sites:

    http://www.csia.org/
    http://www.ncsg.org/

    The sweep can also check the stove for basic operation and inspect the gaskets which may need replacing.

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