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Is my AM start up routine creating a fire hazard?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Hearth Mistress, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. Hearth Mistress

    Hearth Mistress Minister of Fire

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    Am I doing something wrong here? When I get up in the morning, the flue temps on the stove are under 200, but the stove blower is still on and I have plenty of coals to start a fire. I open the damper all the way, wait a few minutes for the coals to glow, open the door and start a fire using the "rake forward method."

    My concern is that I know the night before's fire eventually was a slow smoky burn, it's inevitable for me overnight with this stove. My glass is always clear in the AM but the bricks can get sooty. By cranking the temps back up in the AM - going from flue temps under 200 to 600 in about 15 minutes or so, am I just asking for a chimney fire? I should note that during this 15 minutes, I am in front of the stove, dampering down as the fire becomes a steady burn. I don't leave the stove on start ups, period. This sucker can go nuclear too fast so coffee, dogs, whatever can wait.

    Can there be enough build up in the chimney in one night to be a fire hazard? Since it is near impossible to keep the stove above "optimal burn temps" at all hours of the night, isn't this a normal burning cycle of a wood stove? My hubby is convinced that my AM start ups are creating a hazard but I would think a hot fire would burn off anything from the night before, before it settles in the chimney, pending that there isn't creosote built up already, which we don't have.

    I work from home and tend the fire all day so once it's going in the AM, it's running all day, cruising at 550-600, clear glass, white bricks, no smoke. I reload between 350-400 flue temps and just keep it going. We just got kiln dried wood so it burns like a dream all day mixed with my 9 month css ash, until about 11 pm when I load for the overnight....to start again at 6am the next day.

    Is this a vicious cycle or the proper way to burn?

    Thoughts?

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  2. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    You're burning EXACTLY the way most of us here would. Have your husband join us Hearth Heads for a bit. It may give him the peace of mind he needs....
    BrowningBAR and PapaDave like this.
  3. corey21

    corey21 Minister of Fire

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    Sounds normal to me.
  4. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

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    It's normal for temps to fall to below 200 at the end of the burn cycle. By that time, all you should have left are coals, which burn cleanly and without
    significant smoke. What you don't want is a low temperature smoky burn at the beginning and middle of the cycle. Of course, the only way to know for
    sure is to sweep the chimney at regular intervals until you are confident that you are not producing creosote. During my first year of burning, I checked
    after a month, after two months, and then three months. Because I never find much build-up, I sweep the chimney during the summer. The soot on your
    bricks is going to just burn up on the very next fire. Clean glass is a good sign, but isn't a guarantee of your chimney's condition.

    The short answer is that I think you are doing fine.
    A1Stoves.com likes this.
  5. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Sounds like you are doing fine, I go from a cold flue to some times 6 to 700 (surface single wall) stack temp in the morning and no problems what so ever, as northwinds said the end of the burn cycle is clean.
  6. Beer Belly

    Beer Belly Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like the same way I run our stove
  7. Huntindog1

    Huntindog1 Minister of Fire

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    What kind of flue do you have?

    Opening it up in the morning keeps the flue cleaner.

    You would have to have some major build up to have a flue fire and your burning season wood.

    Your flue would have to get really hot , not your stove, as my stove runs pretty hot but the flue runs well under temps to start a flue fire.

    So your burning an EPA stove with season wood , what little time your not burning super clean is not going to give you any major build up.

    If your flue is an insulated type thats another safety factor as the stuff left in your exhaust gases has less of a chance to cool and stick to the inside of the flue.

    So you have several things working for you.

    Most times you hear about a flue fire its gross negligence to get conditions right to have one.
  8. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    "Most times you hear about a flue fire its gross negligence to get conditions right to have one"
    Boy aint that the truth, when I tell people if they have a good system and good firewood and burn correctly they will have very little if any creosote I get a blank stare.
  9. James02

    James02 Feeling the Heat

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    I did this the other night, dang was I worried....But after reading this, it's groundbreaking!
  10. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Sounds great to me.

    However, I wonder if the goal for an overnight burn should be just enough coals to restart, rather than "plenty"? I've been opening it up a little more for the overnights, but each stove is controllable to different degrees, I guess.
    Huntindog1 likes this.
  11. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Depends on your house and at what temp you like to sleep at, I start out with a cold stove most of the burning season until it gets really cold out cause I like to sleep when its a little cooler (62 to 64).
  12. etiger2007

    etiger2007 Minister of Fire

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    Good post Mistress as I have had some of the same concerns, I loaded five ash splits at 8pm ( doing the rake the coals forward method, biggest split in the bottom back) lastnight by 8:30pm had good secondaries and a stove top of 600. Then I woke up at 4:30am stove top was 250 and the back log was a (coal log). The back bricks were black just above the back log, this tells me I probably had a dirty burn by the time the back log burned. I used to be concerned about this but Im not going to worry about it anymore, I plan on cleaning my chimney this week, first time since November 7, 2012 and I have tried many things during this time frame so it should be a worst case senario. I will post pics and start a thread just to share what I find. I can tell ya my chimney cap still looks clean so I should be fine.
  13. blwncrewchief

    blwncrewchief Burning Hunk

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    Don't worry about it too much. Just keep an eye on the chimney. Is that 600* a surface temp on the flue or a probe? If it is a probe that is not hot at all. 600* is about the lowest I see on a start up with up to 800* being a normal occurrence. If that is 600 surface temp that is pretty hot. It probably helps to get it hot if it is an every day thing. If you check the flue the biggest thing you don't want to see is shiny tar like stuff. You may some up at the very top and that is not that big of a deal but any down further than the top is bad. From there fluffier is better and the lighter color, from back - brown - gray is better. What you see in the flue is the best indicator of how your burning and your wood. I just swept mine yesterday and had about 1/8-1/4" of fluffy almost black build up, didn't quite fill a 20 ounce cup, after one cord and 6 weeks of fairly mild mild weather. Not great but not horrible for a large stove and mild weather. What was there is probably mainly from the cold starts and cool reloads. From this point forward it should be colder letting me burn better and I should only see mainly any build up turn to grey witch is basically just ash.
  14. pen

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

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    The key thing is consistency with good practices. If you do your best to follow good burning practices (no smouldering) using well seasoned wood, then this situation wouldn't be an issue at all.

    In general though, taking it hotter than necessary in the morning isn't going to help remove any creosote from the chimney, it simply shows you at what temperature whatever accumulation there is in the chimney will or will not ignite at. The convenient thing is you are present for the situation if there is a problem.

    Now, for the guy who's had his stove puffing smoke out the stack low and slow for several months; if he were to get things good and hot just once, he's probably going to have an issue.

    pen
    etiger2007 likes this.
  15. James02

    James02 Feeling the Heat

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    What's technically smoldering?? I have had red hot coals under a freshly fed stove, charred wood and tiny little flames coming out from under the wood...Good or Bad?? It's not something i often practice though...
  16. pen

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

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    I'd say it's when the chimney is a smokin' for no good reason other than the air is turned down too low in an attempt to extend the burn time and/or a poorly seasoned fuel is used and you have excessive smoke billowing from the stack long after the reload.

    pen
  17. corey21

    corey21 Minister of Fire

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    Even if you get a little smoke it will be white most of the time. That is what mine does sometimes now if it was dark blue smoke you might have issues.
  18. Hearth Mistress

    Hearth Mistress Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the feedback guys. We just had our chimney swept by the "professionals" since they installed our stove, first one was free. They showed me what was in my pipes, light gray fluff and there wasn't a lot of it.

    My temps quoted are from a Condor probe thermometer about 14" from the top of the stove, in the double wall pipe between the stove and the elbow. It does spike to 750-800 occassionally, but I have usually cut the damper down by then so it settles to about 600 and stays there a while.

    My stove only has one control, the air flow is a pull stick underneath, out is open, in is closed, even a girl like me can operate it :)

    I'll have to get the hubby on here to read a bit, that is a good idea too! Thanks again!
  19. pen

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

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    That sounds perfect HM.

    pen
  20. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Smoldering is burning at low flue temps.
  21. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    I think if you are worried about building up creosote in the flue, you should burn hotter overnight. I set my stove to burn hot overnight knowing the higher air setting will result in a shorter burn time. I'd rather be confident that I am getting a clean burn than have lots of coals in the morning. Firestarters are cheap. With a hotter burn I figure I am getting a more efficient burn - in other words getting more of the heat from my firewood - than I would with a smouldery burn.
  22. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Keep doing exactly what you are doing. Your sweep just confirmed it. As long as you are burning seasoned wood your burning habits sound right on and match mine almost to a T.
  23. RORY12553

    RORY12553 Minister of Fire

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    I have been leaving it open a little more myself rather than shutting it down completely. I used to load during the day and then damper it down completely and I stopped doing that too if i am home. Overall less coals for the next start up but higher stove temps overall.
  24. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Flue temps people flue temps, dont just guess monitor your flue temps and life will be good.
  25. charly

    charly Guest

    Jeni, that's kind of how my FireView runs in the morning as well, coals, load some wood and bingo in about 5 minutes or less I can have 500 degree internal flue gas temps as well.. I love having a good draft for start up,, less time the flue sees cold temps....running my stove my flue stays any where's from 350-600, we are talking with a probe on double wall pipe..350 will be well into the burn with my cat glowing away and the stove turned down...Like Oldspark said,, keep the flue temps up where they should be until the wood has charred up...sounds like your a pro;lol. That's great your getting to enjoy that stove and nice heat,,,it never gets old;)

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