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I hat this @#$% EKO

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by deerefanatic, Jan 7, 2011.

  1. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    Based on what little data I have, I'd expect that if you're not getting secondary combustion now, you could expect to see a 40% reduction in wood consumption if you can get to the point where you're getting sustained gasification.

    I ran my first year with wood that I cut in the fall. Some of it was 35% MC. I'd get a good fire and bed of coals with a mix of pallet wood and drier hardwood, and then I could burn a good percentage of 35% MC and still get solid gasification. Wetter wood has to be split smaller :-(

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  2. mr.fixit

    mr.fixit Member

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    Just a couple thoughts I had;Ive never had any luck running my 40 with the primary air less than 1/2" open ,right now there at almost 5/8".I dont know if its the type of wood (red oak) or what but thats what works for me.It is dry though-15-20%. Most of the time I have smoke free burns.
    Am I wrong in thinking that a 60 is going to need more air than the 40?. Doesnt the 60 have 2 nozzles?
    I would try letting more air in the primary chamber.
    Another thing I have found that when I burn scraps from the woodshop is that if they go in first ,because of their shape ,(flat--rectangular)they cover or sometimes plug the nozzle resulting in smoke even though they are very dry.Round branch wood in first fixes that.Did I understand right that you were burning some sawmill cut-offs? Are they square shaped?
  3. rkusek

    rkusek Minister of Fire

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    Matt, I'm with you on finding time to stay ahead of the wood cutting. Especially, when I'm still trying to bring my storage and homemade expansion tank online as well as several other projects that need to be done on my off days. I've been running hard since Thanksgiving and my 3 cord pile of 2yr old wood is down to a little over a cord. Will be lucky to make it into February. I knew I didn't have enough but had too many projects going on. I will out looking for standing dead and using some walnut cut this summer to mix with the dry stuff. You just need to get ahead of the game. Pellets or coal might help you do it. FWIW, my circ pump on my EKO 40 turns on at 165 and shuts off at 159 and I'm using a Danfoss valve. Running without storage sucks for me. However, when I come back 5 hrs after it has burned out the boiler is still in the 150F's and getting it back up to temp is a breeze. I would adjust your NCFS settings to keep the boiler hotter. I've learned the boiler runs better when kept hot. On a cold start now I always let a few pieces burn with the ash door wide open for 20" to get that hot bed of coals. You might try the charcoal trick also. Amen on the small splits. Elm and Walnut seem to dry fast when split like this too.
  4. EricV

    EricV Feeling the Heat

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    I can't help much because I have a Tarm but I know dry wood is key. I think I would get a load of bio-bricks and burn just them for a few days to see if it makes any difference. Then you'll know if it's the fuel or hardware or the home. I suspect the fuel. Good luck!
  5. Birdman

    Birdman New Member

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    ok.... you can't be serious. 20 full cord of wood? Must be a joke. I have a very inefficient, poorly built log cabin... 2000 sq ft... with cathedral ceiling. I have a tarm 40 solo. This is my 3rd year burning.... 3 sports kids taht take 2 long showers a day... and I have never gone over 5 cord.... for all of October to all of march.

    Are you leaving your doors open when you heat your house? I think I could use 20 cord... but only if I left my front door open wide all winter long.
  6. deerefanatic

    deerefanatic Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for telling me what I already know Seyiwmz... If I could, I would. :( I "thought" I was doing the right thing by having the state weatherization program "weatherize" our house.. I'd have been better off leaving it un-insulated.. Take this as a note folks, an un-insulated house CAN be warmer than a house done improperly. :(


    Unfortunately, I'm stuck with what i've got... I used up my entire savings account putting this cure-all, end-all system in place. So now I'm stuck and HAVE to make it work for me.

    I will say this, I get "some" smoke in the upper chamber, but its usually live fire up there. Now, from what I understand, I should have lots of smoke and nearly no fire up there, so that means I've got too much primary air. BUT, if I close it down, it seems to never really take off. I'm in a catch 22.

    As a side note, I have Stainless 8" double-wall chimney, that starts about 5 feet off the ground and extends upward 12 feet from there. The stove is connected by a 2 foot piece of black stovepipe that is wrapped in fiberglass insulation. This pipe goes upward at approx a 45-60 degree angle. Plenty of rise. The chimney seems to draft well as I can remove the clean-out plate at the bottom of the T outside, and the smoke will rise up the chimney and none of it will spill out the bottom of the pipe.


    Yes, the wood is block shaped. What's strange is it had been burning "ok" up till recently. I'd acheive a roaring flame down in the secondary chamber, but it'd always be a rich yellowy-orange flame. Never the "good" blue flame... Only got that toward the end of the fire...

    I'm supposed to be getting a bag of charcoal today. I'm gonna spread that in the bottom of the boiler and see if I can achieve some gasification..

    In the mean time, I'm gonna try and close the primaries down some more and see what happens. And also check and see what my stovepipe looks like inside.
  7. deerefanatic

    deerefanatic Minister of Fire

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    I'm not kidding birdman... I heat the house, preheat the DHW (still burn some propane to heat it, but I get it preheated to at least 130F), keep my milkhouse at the barn heated to around 55-58 since that's where the well is (we don't milk cows anymore) and heat my 40x48 shop which has radiant in-floor heat. Actually, the shop takes less than the house to heat. :(

    We're constantly chasing the "blast of cold air" in the house. I've gone through more caulk and great-stuff than you can shake a stick at.
  8. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    Hi Matt-

    You mentioned that you use the side handle turbulator agitator, but have you actually opened it up and thoroughly cleaned the fire tubes?

    My first winter with my EBW 150, I ended the season on wood that'd had too little chance to season, and got some hard buildup in the firetubes that the turbulator/ agitator really did not clean off. Some work with a wire wheel mounted on a length of drill rod powered by an electric drill cleaned the tubes out, but it took some signifcant scrubbing with that to really clean the firetubes down to bare surface.

    Also, between finite range of movement and the fact that the turbs can't be a truly tight fit at all points of contact (as then they'd be too hard to move), the turbulator-based cleaning method is "better than nothing, but far from complete."

    I don't think that cleaning the firetubes will be a solve-all, but I get the sense that your difficulties may be the product of the compounding of a bunch of drawbacks, so whittle away as much as you can at every variable that you can.

    Good luck
  9. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    I also believe moisture content is the biggest culprit in this situation. Not that it makes a hell of allot of difference for this problem but those folks that are getting slab wood from a sawmill are getting all sap wood and bark unless tree grow really crooked where you are. That's not going to have as much energy as the splits that also contain the heartwood. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to get a cord of it for 65 bucks.
    I, too am burning wet wood at this time even though I have several cords of two year wood stacked. I helped a friend take down a huge double trunked silver maple on his front lawn and promised him I would take the top 25 feet off his hands that were laying across his driveway while he found someone with equipment large enough to take away the rest. This was in January of 2010. I dumped it behind my garage and split and stacked it in April. This stuff is so low quality for firewood that it's not worth the space it's taking up in the woodshed so I am trying to get rid of it. There was about three cord. I don't have a moisture meter. The reason I have not sprung for one is because I typically burn two and three year wood and there usually isn't a question on whether it is dry or not. The higher moisture content causes bridging due to the fact that the coals are burned up before the splits can produce more because it is still boiling water out of the piece. When the bridging occurs it does smoke. I need to stir the fire every 20 minutes to get the logs down closer to the nozzle. Good thing it is indoors and I only have to trek to my basement and I only have one 5 or 6 hour fire a day. Part of the problem could also be the poor coaling qualities of the wood. I'm going through it like crazy. I've already burned nearly 2 cords of it--- Good riddance. One thing that has helped was to adjust my low limit (circulator on) to 175*. The hotter the boiler the better it consumes the wetter wood. I've fooled around with the settings, primary, secondary, fan speed, etc. but I haven't been able to change the burning characteristics that much. When I went out to dinner with friends last week, I loaded the EKO with well seasoned maple because I wasn't going to be around to stir the fire and it reassured me that nothing has changed and the wood is the big problem.
  10. deerefanatic

    deerefanatic Minister of Fire

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    I agree...

    My wood though is NOT slabwood. I know that stuff. Unless it's free, I won't mess with it. My wood is chunk, heartwood. VERY little bark. 99% of the pieces have NO bark at all. Anywhere. What this is, when they take a log, they slab off the outside (slabwood) to make the log into a square beam. Then, they cut off the ends to make the log squared, and exactly 8 feet long. These blocks that they cut off the ends are what I'm burning.

    18lb bag of charcoal is on the way. We'll see if it improves things.

    I found lignite coal for $100/ton about 5hrs away. I may get a few ton and mix with my wood to see if things improve. But first, I'll cover the obvious bases.
  11. Rick Stanley

    Rick Stanley Feeling the Heat

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    Here's a copy of an article that was in the latest newsletter from SWOAM. Might be helpful...........

    Heating with Unseasoned Wood? It Can Be Done
    by Peter Lammert, Wood-to-Energy Specialist, Maine Forest Service

    As promised last month, here are some tips about burning unseasoned firewood. It can be risky (because of the potential of the flue gases accumulating as creosote), time-consuming (shuffling firewood around to help it "season"), and it may use all the dry wood scraps you can lay your chainsaw on.

    I define "unseasoned" firewood as wood with moisture content of 20-35%. Wood above 35% is "green", in my book. Wood with 19% or less moisture is "dry". Several Maine firewood dealers have honest-to-goodness wood or propane-fired kilns that can dry wood to as low as they want. But once they open the kiln doors, the outdoor moisture content is at least 20%, higher if it's raining. So unless the wood is transferred directly to a dry space, there's little sense drying below 19%. Wood, being hydroscopic, will start to re-absorb moisture from the air. So if you're lucky enough to buy wood with 19% or less moisture, treat it like a special commodity.

    Store it in a warm, dry place, as in a dry cellar. Have the wood dumped on a tarp next to the cellar door or window and then bet the kids in the house they can't get it all in the cellar before nightfall. That's where the tarp comes in. If they can't get it all inside by dark, wrap the edges around what is left and cover with another waterproof cover.

    Down in the cellar, at least 3 feet away from any heating device, pile up the dry wood on pallets, just in case you do get a flood, and enjoy the warmth.

    If you were not able to get dry wood, or worse, stuck getting green wood, here are my tips for maximizing drying. If you can order just ash from your firewood dealer, do so. If they charge an extra $10 to $15, it's well worth it.

    White ash, when growing, is about 15% drier than most other hardwoods. If you can get all white ash, you're ahead of the game. To get moisture moved out of green or unseasoned firewood you need two things -- an ambient temperature of at least 40 degrees, and some kind of airflow. The hotter and windier the better.

    The recipe for drying wood has the ingredients of time, temperature and turbulence -- the three Ts. Stack the split wood to be dried cross-piled in a dry, warm area. The warmth could come from a wood stove or other heating device, with radiant heat escaping from the sides or top.

    Pile the wood on pallets all the way up to the ceiling so air from the fans has to go through the pieces and not up and over the top or around the sides. You will have to re-pile the wood at some point to get the pieces from the bottom higher up, to best utilize the rising heat from the stove.

    If you don't have a heated storage space such as the cellar, you will have to make some space on either side of the stove, at least 3 feet away, for your criss-cross piles. Again, you will need a fan blowing from the other side of the stove, as well as dry scrap wood to start a fire and get a bed of coals established. When you have accomplished that, find smaller pieces of partially seasoned wood and add them. Once they're burning, you can add larger pieces.

    After 10 minutes or so, look at the ends of the larger pieces to see if there is a brown-colored watery foam bubbling out from the ends. This is the stage in wood-burning when the heat of the fire is causing the free moisture to "boil off". This process uses about 1/8th of the heat energy, and the smoke from the "brown foam" is what contributes to creosote buildup in chimneys.

    If you have space, bring in enough fitted wood for three days of stove-side drying before it is to be burned. And don't forget to keep the fan going 24/7 to push that heated air through the stove-side pile.
  12. Huskurdu

    Huskurdu Member

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    At the risk of further proving my ignorance.......I cleaned my hx tubes for the first time this last summer (after 2-1/2 years). Some of you might remember that I bought my Eburn 150 used.....you might also remember that my first year wood was not ideal. I found that two of my 4 tubes were completely plugged on the bottom. Probably caused by improper cleaning of the ashes in the bottom chamber. I do not know if this was my fault or not. I had to jam the 1/4" rod through it to break it up before I could wire bruch the tube with a drill!!!!! All 4 tubes had 1/8" to 1/4" creosote on them (whatever the gap is from the turbulators to the I.D. of the tubes. I would highly suggest inspecting those tubes to see what kind of buildup you have. I am quite embarassed that I let this happen and hope that it helps you in some way. My wood usage has dropped this year, I have no clue how much. I used about 13 cord last year and would like to get it down to 7-8 some day. I do love these $10 gas bills I've been getting. It really beats the $800-$1000/month alternative. :)
  13. mr.fixit

    mr.fixit Member

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    I aways think of adjusting a cutting torch flame(way back when)When you only had the acetelene turned on you got a large,yellow flame with soot--when you turn up the oxygen you get the tight blue flame.I know there are technical terms but I cant remember them from highschool!Any way I would try opening the primaries more.I wouldnt worry about how much smoke your seeing in the loading chamber,it all changes when you shut the door and close the damper. I just reloaded at 11;30 and as I sit in my chair eating and trying to type I can see the top of the boiler chimney through the living room window(boiler in detached garage)and all I see is heat ripples.Nice.
  14. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    :grrr: :ahhh: :shut:

    Holy crap, Batman! You are stubborn for holding out this long!

    Look, I know nothing about Eko's, Storage, or NoFo's controller system. But I've heard enough about each one to guess that the system you have should work fine.

    I burnt some of the worst wood you can imagine the first year with my GW. But 20 cord?!? I'd have to kill someone. Quite possibly myself :-/

    So what I will say is very basic stuff:

    Can you consistently make 180* water? I'm guessing not.

    Improve wood quality. I would buy a cord of good HardWood-easier said than done, possibly. Cut-offs and slab and other uglies have never worked for me. I found that I could burn Hemlock slab . . .until it dropped below 25*

    Once you have 'good' fuel (possibly alternative sources as mentioned by others) start eliminating loads until you can maintain 180* water.

    SWAG method - I'm gonna say you have a problem with the way storage is hooked up (are the tanks prioritized or is the house?) or that shop slab . . . tell us more about the shop slab. You said that prior owners heated the same house with less wood. Were they heating this shop? What happens if you shut down the shop?
  15. Hunderliggur

    Hunderliggur Minister of Fire

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    Are you sure your upper damper door is closing all the way?
  16. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    Perhaps you should search for something that is restricting your primary air. Something that you wouldn't think would go wrong. Like checking that worthless flapper on the incoming air to see if it is stuck or some restriction in the primary air tubes. I think checking the fire tubes would be a place to start.
  17. leaddog

    leaddog Minister of Fire

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    Wet wood will make you burn more probably more because it won't COAL properly. I have an eko-80 and have used some wet wood and dry wood and there is a WORLD of difference. That said here is my suggestions.
    Split your wood as small as possible and stack as much as you can near the stove to help dry..
    Adj your output temp so you have atleast 180* leaving the boiler. 185* is better. My boiler runs way better at 185* leaving than 165*. The reason is the wood in the top chamber is drying and coaling better.
    Get a stack temp probe if you can and watch the center stack temp. You can tell alot on how it's burning with those readings. Try for 350-425 readings.
    Make sure you have a GOOD coal bed going before you load it up with wood that isn't dry or you will never get good gasification as the moisure will cool the fire down to much. If you have to put in just very small load of the wet wood untill you have a GOOD bed and then add wood.
    If you don't get a good bed of coals these will transfer heat only thru the top chamber and are even less efficiant than an owb.

    One other thing. You said you have lots of flame in the top chamber. If you have flame imediantly on opening the top door you must have a door seal or the draft cover isn't closing all the way. You should only have a fire on the bottem of the upper chamberand when you open the top door you should have to just crack it for several seconds because other wise you WILL get a back flash when the smoke and gasses flameup. I have had to open it up and let the fire build up in the upper chamber and then close it down several times when I have filled it with wood and didn't get a coal bed first. Each time I opened it I then had to shake the logs to help get a bed under the nozzles. This goes back to my bad habits starting fires in an OWB.
    Hope this helps. There is light at the end of the tunnel even though you can't see it yet. If you need to pm me and I'll send you my ph no. and maybe I can help that way.
    leaddog
  18. taxidermist

    taxidermist Minister of Fire

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    Also Matt I have been using 20 to 30 % wood and I can still heat my storage 1000 gal to 180* Wet wood = more air.


    How much total are you trying to heat? Drafty house, milk house and a shop? Are they zoned or do they all get hot water all the time?


    Rob
  19. slowzuki

    slowzuki Feeling the Heat

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    From a guy who has burned a lot of wet wood, and has burned blocks,

    Bring a load of the blocks inside somewhere, restack with one edge up, so there is an air space between each one. They will never dry flat stacked. Alternatively, see if the mill has a kiln and can run a load through. At 30% moisture they will cause enough burning problems to likely double your wood consumption. My wood stove inside will burn some really wet wood, but I've learned its pointless, it cuts the stove output to less than 1/2 and as little as a single load will significantly clog my chimney.

    Honestly if you can't get ahead enough to burn dry wood, you should buy some coal or biobricks and let what you have season. You're only comfort is an OWB would use at least as much wood as your setup now is using.

    This might seem counterintuitive, but is there any softwoods around there? They are a lot easier to dry inside in the winter and could give a source of light off wood to get things started.
  20. Duetech

    Duetech Minister of Fire

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    Ok Matt I have heard it here and you reminded me of it too. My EKO40 has the turbs for cleaning the boiler hx tubes and that usually does it BUT. EKO used pins and cotters to hold the turb blades on the turb shaft. I was getting smoke and off color fire. I popped the access cover off the top-back of the boiler (with the boiler shut down) so I could look at the hx pipes and found two of the turb blades stuck in the tubes completely disconnected from the turb agitator shaft. I had to twist one of them out while pulling almost the whole length of the tube the other one was only for about half of that distance. The bad one I had to use visegrips on and a hammer at first just to get it moving. I went to 1/4" ss bolts and lock nuts (non nylon of course). Disassembly and reassembly got a lot more difficult but corroded cotter pins took a hike and never returned. I had to build a special tool to ream the heat tubes (3' x 5/16" rod with a large washer ground down to fit in the tube and not score th sides the tip with the washer looks like a flat circle with a shaft sticking out of it flatwise [go figgur??]. the washer was welded to the shaft. To do that I had to cut a slot in the bottom of the waser for the shaft to fit in) The tool fits in the cordless drill and cleans the tubes in seconds. Smoke and gasification problem solved. At the time I had been using less than ideal mc wood. Hope this helps.
  21. Hydronics

    Hydronics Feeling the Heat

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    Have you checked your secondary tubes to see if they're aligned with the holes in the refractory? Grainger sells a very small flexible end pen light that you can put in from the nozzle. Take off the front panel and look into the secondary tubes and verify light is coming in from each hole.
    Are you making sure both nozzles are covered with coals before walking away?
    For what it's worth; I understand your frustration. Hopefully you can get it sorted out, I'm quite satisfied with my EKO 60.
    Best of luck to you.
  22. Hunderliggur

    Hunderliggur Minister of Fire

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  23. deerefanatic

    deerefanatic Minister of Fire

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    OK.

    My EKO 60 is out in an outbuilding that's just barely big enough to fit a person in there with the boiler.. So now possible way to really stack any appreciable amount of wood in there. :(

    The house, shop, and milkhouse only get hot water circulated to them on-demand. The house heat and milkhouse heat are the top priorities.. Milkhouse DHW, shop floor, and storage are for when there is ecxess heat available or whenever the stove is hot enough and one of the priority zones are not demanding heat.

    I went out and cleaned things today. My chimney is clear all the way to the top.. I can see up it. My stove pipe amazingly was clean with NO fly ash accumulation in it. I also noticed I have a tremendous draft in that chimney.. Felt like a wind blowing up it when I'd stick my hand in there.

    My HX tubes had nearly a 1/4 inch of junk accumulated on em. I welded a small wire brush on some rebar and ran it up and down each tube. Also took a hand wire brush to the turbulators and knocked all the junk off them. I removed all my refractory blocks from the bottom chamber and thoroughly cleaned that as well.

    I used enough kindling to cover the bottom of the stove, then added about 10 lbs of charcoal on top of that. I let this mixture burn for about 20 mins, then added about 6 blocks of wood. After an hour or so, I filled the stove half full. When I closed the bypass, I'd get a roaring yellow flame that lasted the whole sum of about 30 seconds and died down to 2 little flames that barely extend out of the nozzles. My Combustion chamber thermocouple reads 1190F right now with my stack at 429F. I opened my primaries up to 5/8 inch (there were about 7/16) I know my secondaries work because multiple times I've stuck my hand in the nozzles when the fans are running (stove cold of course!!) and can feel air come out of the secondary ports.

    I just reset my NFCS unit to 150F minimum for return water. We'll see what that accomplishes for us.

    So far, I spent my afternoon in a grand waste of time it seems, though my stack temps are down so I'm at least getting more of my heat out of this inefficient burn. :(
  24. Hunderliggur

    Hunderliggur Minister of Fire

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    Do you have a barometric damper on your flue? You may have TOO much draft, drawing the fire and heat out of the boiler. They are easy to install with a T at the output of the stove or bottom of the stove pipe. You set a weight on the damper to adjust the draft. The manual has specific specs on the draft requirements and you can have too much draft. I have attached a picture of my setup. They are common on oil burners (so I am told).
    When I adjuted my settings tonight I had a cycle like yours, immediate big flame, little (or no flame), then it settled down into a medium flame in the picture. Others can chime in on your "Combustion chamber thermocouple reads 1190F right now with my stack at 429F" since I don't have any instrumentation (yet) but it sounds like you are in the right ballpark.

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  25. willworkforwood

    willworkforwood Feeling the Heat

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    +1 No fly ash is another sign that the draft may be sucking the life out of the fire. You could run an easy experiment by setting a piece of plywood on top of the chimney, with a hole cut in it smaller than the pipe, in order to stifle the draft. Maybe try a couple different size holes to see if one of them really boosts the fire. If it does, then you can go with the BD as Hunder said above.

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