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How do you get a shorter burn time?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Dave A., Nov 27, 2013.

  1. Dave A.

    Dave A. Minister of Fire

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    Seriously.

    When I installed the Summit in April we had some nights in the 20's, and the Summit kept up with that nicely but until the other day, really hadn't tried it out with below freezing highs and overnight lows in the low 20's and windy. And I wasn't as pleased, interior temps began going under 70 into the 60's. Have gotten so used to the pattern of getting the stove up to temp and then cutting it back to low, it will go for 12-14 hours but you can reload at 6 hours, any sooner and coals start accumulating.

    I'm not sure what the best way is to get more heat out of it quicker so I can reload sooner, without sending too much heat up the flue.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013

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  2. fox9988

    fox9988 Minister of Fire

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    Just open the draft more. If the stove/house gets too hot, you may need to wait until the last 1/2 of the burn to open it up.
    Paulywalnut and Dave A. like this.
  3. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    I like to burn seasoned pine when it gets really cold. It burns up really well with little coals and I can reload the stove after about 4 hours before the temps in our house dropped to much. Maybe you can find lumber scraps or at least keep in mind for next winter. For now, I would rake the coals forward, maybe add a small split on top, open the air a bit and burn the coals down for some time. That way you can reload sooner.

    What is your stove temp at 6 hours? If the stove is still kind of hot (like above 350 to 400 F) it may just be a bit undersized for your home. The Summit is a big stove but it works in cycles. If you need to keep it hot all the time the heat loss of your home is too much.
    Dave A. likes this.
  4. Dave A.

    Dave A. Minister of Fire

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    Simple as that. Maybe I should have said I realized that was possible, but wondered if there might be some other techniques to it. I mean everyone's always talking about burning on low, and if you increase the air you lower the temperature of the stove.

    The house is not getting too hot. In fact now it's about 70 but outside temps have been well above freezing. When you get into the latter stages of the burn, I just don't see much difference in whether it's half way open or all the way open, stove won't get hotter, coals don't even seem to burn down noticeably faster.

    I guess I'll have to play around with the air adjustment more and see how it behaves at different settings.
  5. Seanm

    Seanm Minister of Fire

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    Like Grisu said. I burn by necessity Lodgepole Pine which takes around 5 hours on a load. If I have to do a reload at 7 pm that means that I wont be able to do my night time reload of Larch until midnight. I will have to watch my stove and read hearth.com until 1 am which is way to late for me. So I will use smaller splits and less of them and keep the air opened a bit more thus less time before reload. Once you play around with this process you can get the timing right. Ive had no problem getting a hot stove on a half load either. Also once the stove has been on for several days you will have the mass heated up making it easier to heat your home.
    Dave A. likes this.
  6. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Shoulder season burning is difficult for most of us I imagine. If I know it's going to be a bit warm, Like Seanm, I just make a very small fire with small splits and let it burn out. The house keeps the heat and stove keeps radiating for a while. The small splits will burn hot and quickly to get the secondaries and flue hot enough to be efficient.
    Dave A. likes this.
  7. Steve

    Steve New Member

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    You could also split your wood smaller. More pieces of smaller wood will burn more quickly and give you hotter temperatures. My experience is that my stove will get hottest with small wood and lots of air, but don't know anything about the Summit.
    gyrfalcon and Dave A. like this.
  8. Ashful

    Ashful Minister of Fire

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    I have a similar problem with an ever-growing coal bed. As of this morning, my coals were maybe 8" - 9" deep! I know I can burn 'em down further by just opening the draft, but being out of the house more than in, I'm going for one long burn on top of the next. Grisu's mention of the old technique of raking the old coals forward made me consider whether anyone has ever tried raking a very deep coal bed forward, installing fresh wood in behind it (almost BELOW it), and trying to rake the coals back up onto the fresh load, such that the majority of the coals remain exposed (either in front of or on top of the new load of wood), such that maybe they'll be burned up a little better. In my case, I'm top-loading, so the front doors only get opened to clean or relight a cold stove.
    Dave A. likes this.
  9. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Very interesting idea. Maybe tough to put them on top of the wood but I can see it working as a layer in between. Will need to save some short splits for that one. I will give it a try when I have too many coals.
  10. Dave A.

    Dave A. Minister of Fire

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    I've done that. It almost seems like it's not worth the effort. You might get a little more heat out of it for a half hour but if you use too large a split, you're back where you were with more coals. Sometimes it just seems easier to put on a sweater or turn up the thermostat and wait till you can reload well.:)

    Around 11 this morning just for the heck of it, with a medium load I only cut it back about half (wasn't that cold, though temps have been dropping from the 40's into the 30's, but wanted to see the diff) and it seems like I was maintaining a stove top in the 700's for a few hours, which is warmer than what it would have been if I'd cut it fully back like usual (and of course the load burned down quicker). So I think I'll try that when it gets colder and I need to reload more frequently.

    Not sure I follow that.

    Might try some of those cut off's I have (though the last batch, needs to be cut, pieces are like 40" long), but you're right, they do burn faster.
  11. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    What I am trying to get at is whether your stove really underperforms or your heating needs are too much. If the stove is still above ~400 F when you can reload it without accumulating coals (~6 h as you said) then it works pretty much as designed, IMHO. In other words, any (non-catalytic) stove will be really hot at the beginning of the burn cycle and then cool down during the coaling stage. That is how they operate. If you need to have the stove above 500 F all the time, it means your home is losing the heat too quickly, not that the stove needs to be operated differently.
  12. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Several things to try:
    Rake the coals all forward to the front, as into a high mound across the front of the stove, open the air all the way. It will heat up, and no more air does not mean cooler stove.
    Mix your wood species. Hard & soft mix works well. If you load a full box of all Oak, you will have coals longer on, and adding to them if not burnt down enough, merely makes more coals and worsens the problem.
    When the temp starts dropping say below 400 +/- experiment opening the air a little bit, this won't cool the stove, but the added air will help create a little more heat and burn the coals down at the same time.
    You will have to find patience and realize that there will be a temp swing anywhere from a couple degrees to 5 degrees or so.

    If you leave the air open from the beginning of the reload, keep a good eye on it. I MUST turn my air down all the way low, or it will go nuclear.
    Later on in the burn should be fine, but while all those nasties are burning off, it will skyrocket.

    Lastly, on really cold days/nights, I will divert from my 12 hours reloads and put a few splits of pine in for quick reheat, and it will also help burn down the coals. Then at the regular scheduled next load, it is ready, and not as much a temp swing in the house.
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  13. Dave A.

    Dave A. Minister of Fire

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    No I don't think it's ever over 400F after 6 hours. I'll still get heat, the blower will be on well after 6 hrs but over 400F probably ends after 4 or 5 hours.

    Heating needs can vary a lot depending on outside temps. I haven't needed constant 500F stove top temps (for the most part). Yet, as I tried to point out, we had a sample of January a couple days ago -- high for the day below freezing windy and lows around 20F. I could have used a 500F stove top most of that day, to keep the house in the 70's. Not that every day in January (and Feb) is that cold but it's not unusual, and in fact it can be colder here, we can get days and groups of days with highs in the teens, lows in the single digits-not that we even get them every year, but our heating systems are generally designed for them.

    So I can't see how this stove can possibly keep inside temps in the 70's in my house in that kind of weather (maybe around the stove, but not average temps in the house). And I'm starting to think it might be a good idea to look into a second stove to run on the colder days to supplement, or, get a hyperheat or just plan on using the propane (actually I might have to use it more, the company I buy from just raised my rates, expected them to drop as they have elsewhere, so maybe it reflects my decreased usage).

    Actually, this year I've become kind of spoiled with the wood heat. Past years, heating with propane, high 60's in the fall, lower 60's in the winter was something I had gotten used to -- to a certain extent;). This is the first year in a while I've had the house around or above 70. And even the last 2 years with the Century insert, even in early November, I couldn't get the house to 70 with it.

    So the Summit is definitely an improvement, I just think I might have been misled into wanting to believe it could keep the house warm (70's) even in very cold winter weather. I suspected it was not likely to be capable of that.
  14. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Sounds like it's time for an energy audit. All you need to reach the goal is to reduce house heat loss.
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  15. Dave A.

    Dave A. Minister of Fire

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    There is/was another thread about a cold bathroom -- I have the same problem-- and it mentioned the exhaust fan being the culprit. So I checked with the IR and sure enough 5-10F cooler at that ceiling fan (in moderate weather). I fit a piece of cardboard inside to seal it since I don't need the fan in the winter, and that made a difference, but I think I'll add some insulation up there also.

    Wall A/C's -- changed out the 3 downstairs 2 summers ago and never sealed them. Last year the baseboard heat under them froze (because it wasn't on) and when I checked the temp under the a/c's it was in the 20's. So quickly sealed them with plastic and staples (removed in the summer). But I need to do something more permanent, make or buy covers (to install for winter) and seal around the units better.

    And of course there are other problems I'm aware of also. The IR is really handy, I had put in a few vinyl windows in the back, and was just checking the temps. They really are crap, no where near as good as the wood framed windows I put in the front. I would get drapes and insulated blinds, but I just don't plan on being here in this house long enough.

    I'm not aware of any free energy audits through the elec co, or govt, or I'd avail myself.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2013
  16. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Less wood = shorter fires.
  17. Dave A.

    Dave A. Minister of Fire

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    I don't think so. Less wood == less heat.
  18. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Soft wood = decent heat and shorter burn times. Mix it in there, makes a big difference. Soft wood usually leaves less coals also. Pine is great for this. Split it into huge pcs and it actually will go a good while, little ash, little coals. Mix it with oak or other hard woods, and you may find it works for what your looking for. Some temp swing is not going to be avoidable.
    I loaded earlier last night, about 10pm, and at 10:30 am it was about 65 degrees inside due to the early load. Near 70 now, I am good with that. Will be about 67 or s0 when I get home from dinner at my family's place, I am good with that also, as they keep their hot water basebaord set at 62.
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  19. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    I never thought about the bathroom exhaust fans. I have 4....guess I'll try insulating them for the winter and see if that stops some heat loss. Makes common sense that it would. Thanks for the comment.
    Dave A. likes this.
  20. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Less wood doesn't mean less heat. You can get the stove top up to 600F with a half load of wood. Hogs suggestion of softwood is a good one for even shorter burntimes.
  21. Dave A.

    Dave A. Minister of Fire

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    Planning on trying that (see end of msg # 10, though maybe I didn't make myself clear enough ) will just have to see if I can get more softwood. Not sure I want to start cutting up pallets, if I don't have to.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2013
  22. Dave A.

    Dave A. Minister of Fire

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    Maybe it's worth a try. But just seems like you're not really short circuiting the burn cycle and are still going to have all that low heat/coals part of it,

    I agree. Grisu and Seanm mentioned it also, earlier in msg # 3 & 5.
  23. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    We normally burn softwood at this time of year so this is a daily occurrence until the hard stuff comes out. If you want less thermal cycling you may need to switch to a cat stove. Or better yet and more cost effective would be to reduce the house's heat losses.
  24. Dave A.

    Dave A. Minister of Fire

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    Was up late last night, loaded up about 3 am or so. It was about 72. Overnight lows went below 30F. When I got up about 11 it was 69. Stove was still putting out heat, blower was on. That's okay, certainly a lot better than with the Century. But this isn't really cold weather.
  25. Dave A.

    Dave A. Minister of Fire

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    Not sure a cat stove is really that much better for this time of year. Sure the heat output is going to be more constant/level, but you're giving up that high heat you get in the beginning of the cycle. Avg heat is going to be the same.

    Edit: Have never heard anyone with a cat stove (thinking BK) talk about how quickly they can burn up a load when set on high. So maybe if you can burn down a load in 5-6 hrs maintaining a 500F stovetop or higher, that would be better.

    My problem is that at real low temps, the heat loss here is just too great for something the size of the Summit alone.

    So, if I can't tighten up the house enough, then either replace with something larger (not likely to be doing that), supplement it, or live with lower temps when it gets colder (which is not all that unreasonable, considering that you generally don't mind indoor temps in the mid to low 60's as much when it gets real cold, especially if you get outside -- then coming in to temps in the 60's feels plenty warm, 70's can feel too hot (to me anyway).
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2013

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