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Keep your wits about you - creosote creeps in unnoticed

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by MikoDel, Feb 28, 2013.

  1. MikoDel

    MikoDel Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Fort Washington, Pennsylvania
    Since this year's wood supply is better seasoned than any in my 15 yrs of burning, my normal "Holiday" cleaning interval of Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentines here in SE PA has been completely passed over. I haven't cleaned my stack once, although I have been keeping an eye on the flue cap, which is usually the first and best indicator of creosote buildup.

    But get this - today I sat down in the corner of the den, in a chair I don't use too often, and from that angle I noticed a huge red flag - the stack is sagging down from the weight of the creosote inside! Normally the EL and horizontal pipe are more or less level to the floor. I installed it - I know. But when I saw a noticeable down angle on the pipe tonite, it clued me in! At the very least I have to take off the bottom cap and dump the loose creosote. And I have a damper sealing kit which fixes the T to the upper sheet metal plate with two aluminum straps and two bolts. If I didn't have that support, the darn thing would probably be a lot worse.

    Always keep a critical eye on your systems!

    Attached Files:

    loon and Redlegs like this.

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Nov 18, 2005
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Yup, got me for the first time in 20 yrs. But I was expecting it with wood out of the shed. Fortunately nothing dramatic. It was actually a good educational experience.
  3. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

    Feb 9, 2009
    All my wood is 3 years + this year and I've still cleaned twice so far. I may run the sooteater up one more time when our shoulder season starts. I sleep better at night knowing "if" I get careless and overheat the flue there will be little to nothing that can light off.
    Redlegs likes this.
  4. Adabiviak

    Adabiviak Feeling the Heat

    Dec 7, 2008
    Sierra Nevadas, California
    That seems like it would have to be quite a bit of creosote to make your stack hang like that? Do post pics when you get around to cleaning it out if you wouldn't mind.
    gyrfalcon and ScotO like this.
  5. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

    Feb 14, 2007
    We last cleaned in 2009. No problem.

    Mike, that horizontal should not even be level. It needs some rise. Code says 1/4" rise per foot. We go 1/2" per foot and it works much better.
    Ashful and ScotO like this.
  6. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    Of all the flue pipe in my house, the one I check the most is the horizontal single wall pipe above the stove, where it goes to the wall tee. As Backwoods Savage said, you need at least a 1/4" per lineal foot rise at that horizontal pipe. When we first installed the stove almost 6 years ago, I had that pipe level.....the whole first year. Then I started creeping on this site and changed that pipe to a rise, it made a nice difference in draft (especially on start ups).

    I pull the inside single wall pipe once every three months during heating season to clean that section. It never gets bad, but I like the piece of mind that comes with a constant cleaning schedule. It's been fine thanks to three year seasoned wood....
    Locust Post and Backwoods Savage like this.
  7. TradEddie

    TradEddie Minister of Fire

    Jan 24, 2012
    SE PA
    If you've got creosote sagging the pipe, you don't just have a creosote problem, you have a pipe problem too, that should never happen.

  8. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

    Dec 14, 2007
    SE Mass
    Is that first 90° bend out of the stove flexible ? Never seen one with ridges like that.
  9. wkpoor

    wkpoor Minister of Fire

    Oct 30, 2008
    Amanda, OH
    That's just a corrugated fixed 90 degree elbow.
  10. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

    Dec 25, 2007
    Champlain Valley, Vermont
    I clean every year, but even when I've had a year with crappy wood and low-temp fires, I've never had more than a couple cups of powder in the stack. It depends a lot on your set-up. My second year, when I fussed at my sweep/installer about my worries about the wood and the fires, he just laughed at me. He was right. If I had constently good wood, I might never need to clean the darn thing...

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