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I am officially a burner

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Tigg, Nov 5, 2012.

  1. Tigg

    Tigg Member

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    Loc:
    Mid, NC
    After a long overdue install, I buttoned up the stove and finally through some wood in.
    I was very nervous at first but my nerves have come to a relaxing point, finally, hah.

    The Tstat is set to go on at 68, it ussually settles between 68-72. I was amazed to see it reading 81, crazyness. The heat didnt come on for two days, that was until the fire burned out today. Sparked it back up when I got home and it seems to be burning well.

    I have a few questions.
    What are your routines? The experienced burners.
    I know the firebox has a lot to do with burn times. Can a certain size peice of wood help for longer burn times in a smaller box? Rounds, knotty wood?
    I also bought a damper for the flue, it was recommended by other burners to help control the burning.
    Should there be a raging flame the whole time? Or, is it ok to have more of a settling flame/red hot embers glowing?

    The stove I purchased is a Drolet Savanah. Its no Jotul but it suits us well :)

    This forum is great, I've been trolling for a while for info, every time I need info, its here.
    Thanks
    PA Fire Bug likes this.

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  2. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    Congrats on getting the thing going!

    As far as the sized splits you are using, the main thing in my mind is that they are well seasoned. I like to keep a variety around. This is easy for me since I split by hand. If a piece has knots and is being miserable, it goes into the wood stack a bit larger than average. If a piece splits easily, it goes in a bit smaller.

    As far as the damper goes, I wouldn't suggest installing it unless you need it. You'll know you need it if you are getting excessively short burn times or are closing the air down fully and still having the stove run out of control on you.

    pen
  3. corey21

    corey21 Minister of Fire

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    Congrats glad it is working out.

    As pen said leave the the pipe damper out only install it if you have to much draft.
  4. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Congrats on the new stove.

    It's good to be nervous at first . . . it helps develop good (and safe) burning habits . . . I worry more about folks that install a stove and aren't the least bit worried the first few days or weeks they light the fire.

    My routine: Depends of course on the time of year and temps -- whether I am starting a fire from a cold start or if it's a reload. This time of year I am just now starting to switch over to full time burning which is actually a lot easier for me . . . but it also means more wood is used since it is colder.

    Cold Start: I get the fire going using a top-down fire . . . and then let the fire go out if the temps outside/inside are comfortable or are forecast to be comfortable. If it seems as though the temps outside are going to stay cool I may do a reload . . . but reloading too often or with too much wood during the shoulder season can make the house uncomfortably hot.

    Burning 24/7: I wake up around 4:30-5 a.m. and get the fire going by tossing some kindling and small splits on the fire followed by the bigger wood. Once the fire is going and in "cruise mode" I leave . . . and my wife who works the 3rd shift comes home or wakes up and takes over for me with 1-2 loads during the day (depending on whether she has to go to sleep or has plans to go anywhere). When I get home I take over with 1-2 reloads.

    Rounds and larger wood = generally longer burns . . . but a lot depends on the wood species. The same sized round or split will burn quite different if it is pine vs. sugar maple.

    Flue damper . . . some folks need 'em, some folks like 'em for safety reasons . . . other folks like myself have never bothered with them and haven't really felt the need for one.

    Flames: I like the secondary burn -- and typically get it . . . but you don't need a raging fire to produce heat. Typically I'll get the fire going and the secondaries will be going for some time . . . eventually those stop and I have some glowing red coals . . . with some occasional flames . . . and that's OK since coals also produce heat for quite some time.
    raybonz and Halligan like this.
  5. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    The routines depend upon the stove, the fuel and the indoor/outdoor temperatures and one man's routine may differ a lot from another.

    As for the wood, the type of wood will be a better factor for determining how the stove will burn. The knotty stuff is good but difficult to pack in the stove. Rounds are okay if you give them time to dry and this time will be much longer than for splits.

    That said, we like to put a rather large split or a round in the bottom rear of the stove when aiming for a long burn then fill with whatever else you are burning. That round or large split should be some of your best hardwood. But remember, oak is one of the best for long burns but it is one of the worst for drying. We give oak 3 years in the stack after it is split before we throw it into the stove.
    raybonz and Halligan like this.
  6. Tigg

    Tigg Member

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    pen,
    Thanks, its been a long ongoing process.
    A lot of the wood I am burning has been split by me :) or was bought and is seasoned. Most of my wood was split lasy tear, which in turn is not ready yet.

    As for the damper, darnit. I installed it when installing my flue. The OD of the damper is not the same diameter as the ID of the flue. It is roughly 1" smaller, in turn having a half inch gap all the way around. One thing I did notice is how fast it burns when opened. If I close it and open the bottom it burns quite well.

    Thanks corey

    firefighterjake,
    Thanks man, I appreciate it.
    Nervous is an understatement, it litterally keeps me up until I am exhausted, then two hours later I'm up again.

    Learning a routine has been consuming me. It is quite difficult to get it down when you are busy and the women of the household are too scared to get involved. I have come home and found random peices of wood just thrown in, ussually too big and not placed well. This is something that will have to change, especially when it starts to get real cold.

    How do you get secondary burn?


    Backwoods,
    That is true, it is something I have noticed while keeping the stove going. If its nice out, I'll try to keep a small brun going, as the day goes into night and starts to get cooler, I'll toss a few more on.

    I have been burning white and red oak. I also have some poplar that I have been using to start or reignite.

    Wow, I didnt relaize it would need that much time to season. Looks like I'm going to have to buy a cord or two. What we have wont be enough for this season.


    Thanks a bunch guys, I appreciate your time and info.

    I have a few more questions.

    1. Is there such thing a s too big of a fire? How do you know?

    2. I hear things falling inside the flue. What is it?

    3. I went outside and looked at my chimney and cap. The cap is discolored and one side of the chimney looks like it has a hot spot. Is this normal/common?

    4. How often do you clean out the firebox of ash?
    5. I am actually quite amazed at the amount of ash leftover. Could this be due to the secondary burn?

    Thanks again guys, I really appreciate all the help and time you have dedicated to my questions.
  7. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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  8. Halligan

    Halligan Feeling the Heat

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    I'm a new wood burner myself and you asked some good questions and received some great answers. I'm starting to get more comfortable with my stove every day but stay mindful of what the stove is doing. When I first started using it I was constantly looking at the stove and taking temp readings with the IR thermometer. Now I'm more relaxed but like I said, mindful.

    You can sort of relate being a new wood burner to being a new father. When my first child was born I was forever looking in on her for the first month or two to make sure she was OK. That worry wore off and by the time my second child was born I was like "whatever" she'll cry if she needs something.
    brakatak and PA Fire Bug like this.
  9. etiger2007

    etiger2007 Minister of Fire

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    Hey guys Im going to show how green I still am at burning but do you guys load your splits with the bark up or down? Take a triangle split for example, do you put it bark side down with the point up or would you lay that on its side?
  10. schlot

    schlot Minister of Fire

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    If I start a fire with one that has bark, I put it in so that a split face is towards the kindling. If the fire is going good, I don't care which way I put it in.
  11. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Ed, I always load with the bark up....except (see, every rule has an exception) when I start a new fire. That means bark down on those 2 splits. But that is the only time. By not it is a habit, but a good one.
    etiger2007 likes this.
  12. clemsonfor

    clemsonfor Minister of Fire

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    If you have to buy wood you will have trouble finding actually seasoned wood.

    As for splits I don't care, I load some bark down and on a hot stove then then fill in the gaps between them with the point of the split down. So the gaps will be filled with them. I pack it as tight as I can how ever the wood fits.
  13. Tigg

    Tigg Member

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    Mid, NC
    Well, I'm finally sleeping, only from exhaustion, hah. It still consumes me and keeps me up later than I would like.

    As for the discoloration of my chimney cap. I noticed it does have some gunk on it, actually inside of it. Is this creosote? Doesnt seem normal to me. I'm going to go climb up and inspect it again tomorrow.

    One more question. This week has been an off week. I have not been able to tend to the stove often, once at 4:30am again at 3pm and once more at roughly 9/9:30pm. Well today has been a rough day, the fire will not spark at all, its smoking like crazy causing my smoke detector to go off quite frequently. I try using small kindling to spark it up and once I put a larger split on that, it smolders. I'm stumped.
    It seems like there is not draft. What could be the problem? Could it be the wood? I'm more than likely burning would that may not be ready to burn, thats what is going through my mind.

    Thanks again guys
  14. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    It could be the wood, and it could be some of what you are seeing in/on the cap has it partially plugged and is reducing your draft. I'd let the thing go for the evening and go take a look at that cap tomorrow and it wouldn't hurt to run the brush down through the chimney while you are there. Let us know how you make out.

    pen
  15. Beetle-Kill

    Beetle-Kill Minister of Fire

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    "I am officially a burner"-
    Waiting for pics. of the fresh burns/scars on the wrists and forearms. >>
    gyrfalcon and remkel like this.
  16. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Mild temps during the daytime. We got up over 50F here today. 13º warmer than yesterday. Opened the stove door to adjust a split and got a snootful of smoke. Describe the flue system on the stove. How tall is it from the stove top to the chimney cap and how is the stove connected?
  17. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    Congrats Tigg and welcome to the forum! Please post pics of your setup as we're visually oriented here ;)

    Ray
  18. katwillny

    katwillny Guest

    Congratulations and welcome to our hearth bar. You will soon finding yourself coming to this place A LOT. For us married guys with kids who have and lots of responsibility this to a certain degree makes up for not going to the pubs or bars. LOL. Since i cant always go out due to fatherly resposibilities, once the kiddos are in bed this place gives me some social interaction, and yes i have a lot of 'real" friends. lol. I say all that to say, welcome to the forum and make yourself at home.
  19. Tigg

    Tigg Member

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    Mid, NC

    Our temps have fluctuated quite drastically. Yesterday morning it was 29 and by noon it was 50, though that may not be too drastic I guess. From someone who does not like the cold, its drastic, hah.

    That is a great question. It is all duravent tubing, single wall on the interior and double wall through the attic out. In total it is 13' tall. It is connected with 3 equally spaced self tapping screws at all fittings. I also have a spare 3' section of SS double wall. I'm thinking I may need to use it.

    I just came in from checking the cap on the roof. I am absolutely shocked. It was completely covered (from the inside) with soot, I cleaned it and instantly noticed a difference. I had thought about, is this due to burning unseasoned wood?

    Thanks

    Thank you very much guys, I appreciate the welcome.
    As most of us here, being a father of two and working two jobs I'm most definately consumed but am finding more time to jump aboard :)
  20. BobUrban

    BobUrban Minister of Fire

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    Tig - x2 on the weather and wood possibly being the culprit here. Certainly the dryer or more seasoned your wood stash the easier it will be to light. Standard here is 20% or less moisture with less being optimal. Many here use a moisture meter(rather inexpensive and handy tool) to check their splits. I use the "get way ahead technique" learned from one of my fellow Michiganders here :) and just let it sit in the wind and sun for 18-36 months in optimal wood seasoning conditions but a MM is probably a good investment for the learning curve of seasoning wood.

    The other culprit of weather can have a lot to do with getting a fire going and burning well. After you have checked the cold flue/chimney and cap and run a brush through there to clean it(may as well if you are going up top) use some news paper to heat the fue before starting a fire. Use more small splits and kindling to get it going a bit before adding larger splits and get a little coal bed and decent heat flow going up before the big stuff goes on. I have only had one day with this type issue with my new stove and that was a 45 pushing 50 degree day with rain and heavy air that was pushing air down the chimney. PITA!! But after getting the flue good and hot she burned like a champ.

    Most important of all is check and clean your flue/chimney and cap - do this often if you are potentially burning non-optimal wood and until you get a real good handle on how your set up is operating - monthly is a good idea at first and is what I did all last year.

    Hopefully that helps a little bit. Be safe and have fun. Not much better than wood heat - not much worse than a chimney fire or house on fire!!

    Bob
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  21. Tigg

    Tigg Member

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    Bob,
    Thanks for the advice, I take it to heart. I just came in from cleaning the cap and as far down as I could into the flue. I am going to invest in both a chimney sweep as well as a moisture meter(thanks again for advising me on that :) )
    This has been a learning experience for sure. Consuming me more than expected, hah. All well worth it though.
    What was wierd was I could tell something was wrong, my oldest has been home in bed for several days and I (as well as my wife) noticed she was not well. Later on yesterday we all were not feeling so well. As soon as I popped a few holes in the cap free of soot I heard a difference in air flow from the stove. After being in the house for several minutes there was an instant difference, no smoke or smell of smoke and most of all you could see a difference in our oldest as welll as everyone else.

    I will be inspecting both flue as well as the cap often, probably more often than necessary but like you said "not much better than wood heat-not much worse than a chimney fire or house fire".

    Thank you very much guys, I greatly appreciate the help info and advise

    Thanks again
    Sam
  22. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    Holy crap Tigg do you have CO detectors in your home?? In Mass. it is a state law that ALL residences with ANY fossil burning fuels have them! This can be a lifesaver!

    Ray
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  23. BobUrban

    BobUrban Minister of Fire

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    X10000 on a CO detector - crutial and to not have one(or a few) is a serious risk. Potentially more important that smoke detectors with regard to LIFE. With a fire, in most, lets hope, circumstances everyone gets out and you loose stuff. With CO you go to bed and no one wakes up. Truly an attempt to startle you. They are inexpensive and worth their weight in gold.

    Beyond that, it your cap was getting clogged that is surely creosote so please get a brush and run it down your chimney. Takes a few moments to 1/2hr depending on the set up and again, potentially life saving. They are inexpensive and easy to use.

    I will assume that your wood is less than optimal based on the information above. Not the worst thing and, in principle, not a problem if you take the precautions necessary to keep safe. Just more labor intense as you NEED to clean more often and you are getting less "bang for your buck" with regards to heat. I think it was stated here like this: Water doesn't burn! So the more moisture in your wood the more energy you loose to drying it out in your stove and the quicker you will develop dangerous creosote in you chimney.

    Burn what you have and work to get ahead for future burn seasons and you will be fine - just play it safe and clean often.

    Almost everyone has at least one "poor wood" season getting started. unless you are obsessed like me and hang out on forums like this before you buy a stove :)

    I am glad you took the time to clean it up.

    Bob
    raybonz likes this.
  24. Tigg

    Tigg Member

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    Ray,
    I'll be going out to get one today. Born and raised in Boston, you are correct it is mandatory to have several in every home. It will now be mandatory in our house as of today.

    Thank you very much

    Bob,
    You did it, you certainly did startle me. That is my priority for today first thing this morning, CO mm and a chimney sweep. Most importantly is the CO.

    I will be running a brush through it today. Thats on my "to do" list. My set up is very simple, straight shot 13' in total. My only concern/question is. All of the creosote is falling or getting swept down. What do you do with it? Or, how do you get rid of it? Is it safe for it to be collecting at the base of the flue?

    I ask that because this morning I started up a new fire using quite a bit of newspaper and split a large bunch of kindling and there is a wierd smell. Can the creosote that fell cause this smell? Should I put it out and clean it completely before starting another fire? I'm leaning towards yes.

    As for the wood, I believe you are correct. But, I have read that if it makes a sound like a bowling pin, it is ready to burn. Is this true? The splits I have are not big by any means and most are very light, some may be heavier but still small splits.

    I think this may be my "poor wood"season :( . I dont think I hung around enough to be quite honest. I will most certainly be hanging around more often now.

    Thanks Bob, thank you very much as well

    My wife wants me to thank you guys as well, you have been very kind. You guys have been a life savers.
  25. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    Tigg good to hear this.. The law is one on every level of the home including the cellar except the attic.. I have 3 here..

    Ray

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