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I Made The Chimney Sweep Library

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Todd, Apr 28, 2006.

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  1. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Anyone ever visit this site? www.thechimneysweeponline

    I read the library section and noticed a section about cat vs noncat stoves. www.thechimneysweeponline/hocats.htm

    I sent Tom a letter since he said he has received few good ones about cat stoves. He replyed with a bunch of BTU and efficiency numbers to prove me wrong. As far as I can see wood stove numbers are only numbers and in alot of cases exaggerated to make a better sale. I believe in real world experience. Yes, the Fireview is a larger stove than the Homestead, but if you put the same amount of wood in each you can get a fair estimate on how they compare. My humble opinion is that the cat stove out performs the noncat. Longer burn, more heat, clean glass, less wood usage.

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  2. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I am waiting for the day that Tom sees a parade he doesn't rain on.
  3. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    I agree with the more efficient part. The clean glass is not always true or untrue there are several noncat stoves on the market with great airwash systems. I noticed on some hearthstones they'll build up in one corner or another.

    Another thing one has to consider is ease of operation. A cat stove is awesome for people that are into wood burning but you have to admit that there are some people out there who are better off with a non cat.
  4. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Most of the efficiency numbers I have seen on cat stoves are higher than non cats. I would say all stoves have to give up just enough efficiency to sustain draft but the hotter your stove pipe is, the more heat your losing up your chimney. Another point is that a catalyst burns the creasote causing thingies at lower temps so you can get away with lower stack temps and keep more of the heat in the stove, thus higher effiencey.
  5. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    I read that article before I bought my Woodstock and it nearly had me convinced to avoid a cat stove.

    However, after reading LOTS more, I became convinced that I needed a cat stove. Having burnt two Regency's and two different VC's (all non-cat) over the course of the last 20 years, I am convinced the cat stove is the right choice for me for all the reasons that Todd has stated.

    And I think Shane is correct.
  6. skypager

    skypager New Member

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    Definitely. I find it important as a hearth appliance sales person to explain the operational differences between cat and non-cat. A lot of what is best for the customer comes down to how attentive they will be to the stove and how important ease of use is. Not everyone wants to put in the little extra effort that a cat stove needs.
  7. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy New Member

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    very good info above, one more thing, draft is a important function of keeping the glass clean on a non cat. poor draft = sooty glass
  8. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    From what I understand a CAT stove IS more efficient than a non-cat stove while it's new. EPA requires cat stoves to pass half the emissions standards of non-cat stoves because they get dirtier and less efficient as they wear. Brand new, they put out half the emissions of a non-cat. Mid-life and the cat being dirtier their emissions tie with non-cat units. End-life with their cats very dirty they're putting out twice the emissions of non-cats. Over the life of a cat, if you average its emissions it will be about the same as a non-cat.

    So, my feeling is you haven't given your fireview enough time. It's brand new and running in tip-top shape. Come 2-3 years and the cat is dirty you'll start to notice it not running like when you first got it, and probably performing similar or exactly like your previous non-cat, and near the end of the cats life you'll probably start to notice it not running as good as your non-cat unit (at least you should anyway, your current unit is a step up from your old). It's all part of the life of a cat and right now, brand new, your unit is running in tip top shape and better than a non-cat but give it time. It's all normal. Then, you can get a new cat and notice an immediate difference and the process repeats.

    As for the glass, I think it's design I could be wrong. My in-laws have a cat stove and they have to clean their glass every single week. Their cat stoves glass gets ridiculously dirty even with wood dried for 2 years. I've heard Mo-Heat mention his cat insert's glass gets dirty. I have a non-cat and I can go 6 weeks to a couple months (if a log doesn't roll down and burn against the glass because my unit doesn't have andirons) my glass will stay nearly spotless except for the very 1/4" and 1/2" of the corners. My brother on his non-cat insert, his glass would dirty constantly. I think your glass staying clear is another compliment to the hard work and quality Woodstock puts into their stoves.

    I couldn't read your links, they weren't working when I tried.
  9. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Part of what you said is true about dirty cats. However you did not mention one can keep god preformance by cleaning the cat.
    Either blowing and vac it or place it in boiling water( more extreme way to clean them) 50 /50 solution of vinigear. I clean at mine at the start of the heating season and at the mid point
  10. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    I know a cats life is heavily dependant on the user. People with the same unit, some few will have their cat useless after 2 years particularly if they burn trash while other fews can get almost 10 years out of them. How many years do you get out of your cats Elkimmeg?

    How does one clean a cat? I'm pretty sure my inlaws own a VC Encore (cat stove), it may be the Defiant (cat stove also) and would probably like to clean their cat if they could but read they're extremely delicate and paper thin. Is that the case? They saw somewhere that someone touched a cat and it broke and pieces fell into their stove so they didn't want to touch it to clean it after reading that. How delicate are they, and how difficult/dangerous is it to get them clean?

    I'm wondering if their paper-thin break apart easily is an old wives tale.
  11. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    They can become very brittle and break up easily. One that is in good shape I guess could be compared to handling anything else made of ceramic. It's not going to turn into powder from you looking at it but you can't drop it on the ground either. You can clean the cells with a pipe cleaner or like Elk said blow it out with compressed air. Don't use anything abrasive or you'll do away with your washcoat and render the thing useless intact or not. While I have never tried it the boiling water/vinegar mixture is something I've heard about people using with great sucess.
  12. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy New Member

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    blow it out with compressed air?? thats sounds like that would be the perfect cleaning method, but my wife would kick my ass.
  13. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    Maybe I should've mentioned that be an outdoor activity. :)
  14. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    I bet a non cat stoves emmisions degrade over time also. And lots of people don't operate them the way they were intended. Those EPA tests aren't the real word. How many people just throw more wood on, instantly turn the air all the way down, beltch out tons of smoke, and waste heat?

    You could be right about giving it time. I will find out in a couple years or so. I don't plan on burning trash or unseasoned wood, and will clean the cat as often as is needed. Woodstock has told me some people go as long as 10 years without replacing the cat, others 4-6 years, it all depends on alot of different factors. If the cat doesn't last I believe there is some kind of warranty and Woodstock will replace it or reduce the cost of replacement?

    Your probably right about the glass and design. But this is the first stove of 4 previous i've owned that never has to be cleaned.
  15. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy New Member

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    non cat stoves have to be operated properly to get the emmisions testing that they state. Thats up to the user. Non-cat stoves have a cat life, that is out of the control of the user to a point. They will fail eventually. There is a difference. Once again, non-cat VS cat is a issue that is based on customers needs and wants, no one is going to argue that a cat stove is slightly more efficient, starts easier, and burns as clean as non cat stoves, but some people dont want to be as involved with the cat process as others. It only takes one cat engagement below 450 degrees to plug it, there for haveing to access the cat and clean it, at which point you have a chance to damage it. The reason both technologies exist is because there are folks out there with different needs and wants. Both are good for there intended use.
  16. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

  17. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    I like the cherry burning aroma very pleasing.
    I forgot to mention when cleaning the cat there are two other operations one should preform.
    I have duct taped a flexible clear plastic hose to my shop vac. Produce great suction but used to reach in the
    combustor chamber and vac out the fly ash deposits. Makes no sense cleaning the cat then replacing it ina bed
    of fly ash. The other task is to make sure the probe sensor is clean Deposited with fly ash, it will not
    read or sense temps correctly. Use a damp cloth with detergent and clean it. If really deposited, since it has
    not been cleaned in a while, then use fine steel wool to restore it.
  18. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    I'm curious about the part with dirty glass & cats.

    Dirty glass is caused when the moisture in wood evaporates and condenses on the glass. While it sits on the glass, until the glass is warm enough to evaporate it the water collects smoke particles and gets dirty with them. When the water does finally evaporate the smoke particles it collected sticks to the glass in that spot and burns causing dirty glass. I'm sure when some of you have cleaned the glass, you've come across areas that were speckled with black spots. Those black spots were once water that collected smoke.

    To avoid dirty glass you need to try to accomplish the below things.

    1.) Have less smoke. Then the water droplets that form on your glass can't collect as much smoke particles before it evaporates. Using the top down method burns the smoke as it's created and doesn't let much unburned smoke be able to collect on the glass.

    2.) Prevent water from condensing on your glass. You do that by burning as dry wood as possible.

    3.) Direct the air flow to reduce the amount of water/smoke reaching the glass. You do that positioning your logs. Water comes mostly out the ends of the logs. Loading the logs sideways instead of front/back, causes the steam coming out the ends to hit the sides of your stove instead of your glass so much of the water condenses on the sides and not much left to pool on your glass. Loading front/back the steam comes out and your glass is the first thing it comes into contact with. Or, you can direct the air flow so no smoke rising off the wood is directed towards the front. You do that by having the air intake in the front, and flue in the back, without directing the air flow back towards the front (secondary burn units direct the flow back towards the front, but cat units I would think wouldn't need to).

    4.) If your glass does collect water and smoke particles, have a design that focuses on getting the glass hot enough to burn them off. I believe Pacific Energy has this technique, their units generally load front/back which is problematic for dirty glass, but they must burn it off later. They have probably the best reputation for the cleanest glass and my hat off to them, that's some engineering to have a front/back unit and one of the cleanest glass of the secondary burn units.

    I'm trying to think what a cat stove does differently, maybe it's air flow. A secondary burn unit directs the air flow towards the front near the glass and some can be blown down across the glass. If the glass has moisture on it, it collects the smoke. Maybe a cat unit doesn't need to direct the flow of air towards the front. They can have the air intake in the front, and flue in the back. I'll have to check out my in-laws unit when I visit again, which unforunately is a cat unit that always has dirty glass so don't know if that'll help. For secondary burn units you load your wood side/side and light a fire using the top/down approach. There's no smoke (it's all burned) and the secondary burn will start after 10 minutes if you do it right which does wonders. The modified Top/Down approach is not easy in a stove/insert though.
  19. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    Wow... wasn't expecting two pieces of glass. If it creates a dead air space, that would add insulation value while maintaining your ability to see the fire. The insulation of the dead air space would let the inner glass get to higher temperatures and possibly burn off any debri. But, my feeling is that's not why.

    Why the air feed under the existing flue. Nothing seems to apply to the fireview except that you loading it side/side helps it keep the glass clean. It's like take everything I know about stoves and throw it away when it comes to the fireview :)
  20. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    that would have a detrimental effect on heat transfer. VC used to make the baywindow faces for the RHEDV32 with glass in them making a double pane it had a serious effect on heat transfer. Now they make the bay window with a screen it's amazing the difference.
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