Jotul 550 ignorance

cp20855 Posted By cp20855, Nov 24, 2012 at 11:14 PM

  1. cp20855

    New Member

    Nov 19, 2012
    We have a bunch of questions.
    1. Do we need to buy a wood moisture meter? What kind? Or can we tell some other way if wood is dry enough?
    2. Do we need to build a woodshed? Hoping that a tarp over top of wood pile is adequate.
    3. Does it matter what length of wood to use? It takes 24" but shorter pieces seem easier to stuff firebox full (per Mr. Jotul-guy's instructions).
    4. We need more info on building fire to start up when fireplace is cold. Do you all think top-down is best? About how much wood goes in and what size? If we use the round cedar starter things, does it need kindling etc? The video that shows the n/s vs e/w arrangement of wood for topdown fire is completely different than the teepee shape the Jotul-guy showed us. His fire was roaring in about 20-30 minutes. Ours might take...hours....even when I used "kiln dried" wood from the local grocery store.
    5. You experienced people: do you still get smoke in the house? I sure hope not!

  2. jatoxico

    Minister of Fire

    Aug 8, 2011
    Long Island NY
    Hi welcome aboard,

    1. No, you can bang the wood together and it should make a nice plinking sound. It also helps to inspect the ends and look for splitting and cracks. Still it seems most over estimate how dry the wood they are using is (I did) and a meter helps.

    2. I did not have a wood shed when I started. I would bring enough wood for a couple days into the garage or in the room where the insert is. Shed is nice but can live w/o it.

    3. Doesn't matter, depends on the size of the fire you are trying to make.

    4. I started using Super Cedars this year. Even w/o them I found it is best to leave some space in front of the primary air intake ( the little dog house thing in middle front below door frame). Especially at startup, give the air a path to get to the wood and stack loose until the fire is cranking, doesn't matter as much once fire is kicking. After several fires a little channel in the ash may be needed to help to promote good air circulation to the wood. I've done the top down thing and it works but have not perfected it, easier to put some kindling on top of the Super Cedar right in front of the dog house and then build your wood around it. The air will push the fire right into the middle/back of the firebox and into your splits.

    5. No smoke in house, maybe a little spill over on reload or now and then you get a bad draft day. You can take a couple sheets of paper crumpled loose with door shut to send a shot of heat up the chimney to get that cold slug of air out of the chimney. I think the super cedars help in this regard. They throw off a nice little fire w/o much smoke and get the draft going in the right direction.

    Hope this helps a bit.
  3. firefighterjake

    Minister of Fire

    Jul 22, 2008
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
  4. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart LLC Mid-Atlantic Division
    Staff Member

    Nov 18, 2005
    Northern Virginia
    1, Yes. Buy one. and check the wood after you re-split a piece. Been doing this for thirty years and a wet one surprises me now and again. Get a cheap one. It is firewood. You aren't making cabinets with it.

    2. Top cover the wood however you can. If you use tarps put pieces of cardboard under them or wind action and abrasion will shred them in one season.

    3. Leave two or three inches at the end of the splits for the gases to burn when they cook out of the wood. For that stove 18 to 20 inch splits are golden. The 24" thing is great for a sales number for a guy that goes home and heats with gas.

    4. Start the way that works best for ya. If you don't have little splits of really dry wood and don't do it exactly like the video it ain't gonna work top down. Put three little splits with two side by side on one over the top of them and a Super Cedar in the middle and stuff is gonna happen.

    5. No I don't. Unless I screw up and smoulder the start up or pull the door open to fast to re-load. Do what ya gotta do to get that chimney, which you didn't tell us about, hot and you won't smoke up the joint.

    Stay with us. We will get this fixed. That is a great wood burning insert ya got there.
    jotulguy likes this.
  5. cp20855

    New Member

    Nov 19, 2012
    Thanks everyone! I can't figure out how to start a new post so putting new issues in bold and eagerly awaiting your expertise.

    Status: I am getting better at building and maintaining fires at about 550 degrees. (OH! Is that why this is a Jotul 550????)

    Issues: can't seem to predict how hot fire is going to be (this is after the initial startup, not talking about from cold stove). Variables I can control that increase heat seem to be: more logs, drier logs (but I can't exactly tell how dry they are), smaller logs, open air slider thing. Any suggestions to speed up my learning curve?

    It frightens me when fire goes over 600 (into the red zone on thermometer). Is that really a hazard? To cool it, I close air thing, turn blower way up. Not sure if high blower really helps.

    Is there any interference between Jotul use and our heat pump? The thermostat (10 years old) failed and was replaced yesterday. Today new thermostat isn't working again. It is actually warmer outside than inside.
    The heat pump service person is coming out again today. He said that Lennox training class told them heat pump should be completely off if a wood stove is burning. I know lots of people who use wood stoves and heat pump at same time, but no clue if running simultaneously is really an issue. What do you think?

    Thanks. Going back outside to stack wood.

  6. Huntindog1

    Minister of Fire

    Dec 6, 2011
    South Central Indiana
    moisture meters at any Lowes $29
  7. cp20855

    New Member

    Nov 19, 2012
    I'll look next trip there. Thanks!
  8. Huntindog1

    Minister of Fire

    Dec 6, 2011
    South Central Indiana
    Variables in wood stove fires:

    Type of wood , Check online for a chart of how many Btu's are in different types of wood.
    How dry is the wood? Dry wood out gases quicker, its the out gasing that makes the flames and heat. More dry the wood faster the fire takes off.
    How hot is the coal bed your loading on? Bigger the coal bed and hotter, the wood will take off much faster so be ready to dial air back earlier.
    Start dialing the stove back normally at about 400 stove top tmep in 1/4 way steps then give it a few minutes to build some more heat due to less air flow thru the stove. Then dial it back another 1/4.
    If your loading very dry high btu wood on big hot bed of coals and you loaded the stove up really full try and dial it back at 350 to 375 and watch and see if it will keep going.
    Size of your splits, try and load big splits on those very hot coal beds. Big splits are like approx 7" or larger diameter roughly as splits are not usually round.
    Medium splits I am going to say are around 4" to 6" and small splits are 3" or smaller. Kindling 2" or smaller.
    The smaller the split size the hotter the stove should burn but harder to get and all night burn.
    The more air spaces between the splits the faster hotter it can burn but you can also turn down the primary air inlet to slow sown the burn.
    So if you load smaller splits with lots of air spaces be ready to dial down the air earlier as it will be easier for the fire to burn and more likely it can get too hot. Especially if you load small splits on a bigger hotter coal bed.
    If you load up your stove with a stove top of 350 or higher its gonna take off pretty quick with dry seasoned wood. so watch it carefully.

    Rake your coals forward is something to know about also.

    Your cold start up issues could be wood that has too much moisture.
    If you have some good dry oak that you can split for kindling it will get your stove hotter quicker.
    You should use small kindling 1" size or less if you having trouble with starts.
    For a cold start Top down method build a platform of splits plan it so you platform of splits below leaves you some room on top to lay a good quanity of kindling criscrossed for added air spaces then a fire starter on top.
    Your fire should be roaring in 20 minutes if not your wood is too wet and maybe a chimney draw issue.
    If you want to help the chimney draw issue try 2 fire starters on top of the kindling may help to more quickly warm your flue for a better draw.
    Dont keep you door open too long as the name of the game is too build heat in the stove.
    The door being open flushes the heat up the chimney and no heat builds in the stove.
    The reason for using fire starter and small high Btu kindling like, Oak kindling, is that it will
    burn hot and fast with the door shut to build heat. The door open may get you more flames but the heat is flushing up the chimney due to all the extra air flow.
    As the heat builds in the stove the rest of the wood will catch on more easier due to getting the heat up in the firebox quickly.
  9. scottgen20


    Feb 15, 2006
    Lower Saucon, PA
    Hi Carol,

    There won't be any issue running your heat pump and stove at the same time. Of course, you're running your stove to save money.. so hopefully the heat from the stove will warm up your house to the point where the heat pump thermostat no longer calls for heat.

    That being said, if your stove doesn't heat your whole home and you need the heat pump for supplement, you might need to look at your thermostat location in relation to the wood stove.
    Huntindog1 likes this.

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