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How quickly can creosote build up? How to know if your wood is dry enough?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by orange56, Nov 3, 2009.

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  1. orange56

    orange56 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2009
    Messages:
    5
    Loc:
    Cape Breton Island NS
    Greetings All,
    I have only had my Regency H2100 Hearth Heater for less than a month, but I have been burning wood pretty much every day since during the day (seldom overnight). It has recently come to my attention that my firewood has been wet; perhaps not all of it was wet as we did cut some dead-standing trees, but since I mixed the wood when it was being stacked I cannot recall what was wet and what was dry.
    Today I noticed a small, speckled, glowing ember-like movement across the back of the fireplace. It wasn't very large (maybe nine or ten glow points), but it slowing moved along the back of the stove until it, presumably, used up its fuel source. Was this creosote buildup within my wood stove that was simply burning up? There were no flames, but something was definitely burning/melting at the back.
    If this was creosote within my wood stove, should I be worried about creosote within my chimney lining even though I have only had the stove for less than a month? I am unable to get up on my roof to check my chimney, so I would have to call someone to do this, but do you think it is worth doing right now? Is it foolish of me to keep burning the wood I have when it will be a mixture of wet/dry wood?
    Finally, how can I tell if my wood is dry enough to safely burn if I am unaware of how long it has been seasoning. I have been told that the check marks on the end of the wood is a good sign to see if it is dry, but is this a reliable way of determining the greenness of the wood? Are there other ways of determining the dryness of wood? As well, I have read that different types of wood require more/less drying time than other types of wood, but everyone seems to recommend one year of seasoning. Is this the safe bet? Thank you all for your responses and helping me figure out how to best use my stove. Cheers.

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  2. orange56

    orange56 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2009
    Messages:
    5
    Loc:
    Cape Breton Island NS
    Oh, and I should mention that I sometimes get smoke all over the viewing glass (not black, just smoky). This mostly occurs when I damper down for the night--which I believe means that I am smoldering the fire, which I now try not to do.

    As well, the wood that is obviously wet sizzles when it is placed in the fire (and boils sap out of it), but then other wood I used ignites almost instantly in the fire--can this distinction be used to determine wet/dry wood?

    Finally (again), some of the wood that I have gets a really good flame while other wood does not--can this be used to determine dry/wet wood? The wood that is sizzling is white birch (which also gives the good flame), but I do not know what type of wood is igniting quickly but lacking flame because it was given to me from a gentleman across the street--I think it is beech.

    Thanks.
  3. mskif

    mskif Member

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  4. sandie

    sandie Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2009
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    Loc:
    West of Boston, MA
    I am brand new to this forum and I do know you are not doing yourself or stove any favors feeding it green wood. Dry wood makes a sound like a bat and ball and not a thud, more of a hollow sound.
    Boiling sap- creosote is what occurs when you boil sap, that is a wet wood even if not wet with water!
    Cut wood this year is not to be used til next year after you have stacked it in a way of good air circulation, cover it but have the poles of the wood holder higher than the logs so that when you put a tarp over it does not actually touch but it does cover the wood by about 18" on the sides which keeps the wood protected from rain and snow. below the tarp/cover the air will circulate and dry your wood. Put the wood on a pallet or something off the ground so it does nto rot.
    Not sure what the dancing lights were on back of the stove but certainly would call the manufactuer.
  5. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    It's a light orb from the ghost of wood that was incinerated in your very stove. Nasty critters, sometimes they make your stacks fall over too.

    Matt
  6. quads

    quads Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Central Sands, Wisconsin
    Check your chimney for creosote buildup and clean it if needed. Check it at least once a month if you're burning unseasoned wood.
  7. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Western PA
    Cape Breton? Very cool. I almost bought land a few years ago outside of Halifax. Canadians are way more fun than Americans, Tiki Bar TV anyone?

    Regarding your question, I think the burning bits you saw in the firebox were not creosote, which would form along a solid surface and later burn there, I think . And unless you are running your stove on the cold side, I think it'd be pretty hard to have creosote form in the firebox itself. Hot burns should keep much or any creosote from forming there.

    A smoky fire though is not a good thing. Perhaps you are turning down the air too far?

    The moisture meter is a good idea, but you can't check every piece. You could check the splits you use to start the fire, then burn it hot, then burn the questionable pieces. The hot firebox and flue gases should run any water vapor right out of the flue before creosote can form.

    What might be best to get is a good thermometer or IR temp gun, so you can verify that your flue temps are staying high enough. If the flue gases stay above 250F all the way to the top, creosote is unlikely to form in the liner, no matter how wet the wood.
  8. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Unity/Bangor, Maine
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