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Less is more...

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by LLigetfa, Dec 25, 2012.

  1. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    ...in more ways than one. Preface to say that it has turned cold recently. I got home from work yesterday to be greeted by the wife complaining that she could not get the house above 73::F all day. She decided that the problem was a buildup of ashes and so gave up trying and let the fire die down so that I could remove some ashes.

    Now, I do concur that with my stove, less ashes means more heat but in this case I was calling it "pilot error" and so ignored her prognosis. I shoved the ashes to the back of the stove, raked the coals forward, and proceeded to get a nice fire going. This of course was met with some disdain from SWMBO.

    Enter less is more #2. Again, this may be specific to my particular stove but none the less, I proved my hypothesis that too much air nets less heat. After I got the fire back closer to critical mass, I choked down the air way lower than she had it all day. Low and behold, the house jumped up to 75::F in no time and stayed there all evening despite the outdoor temp falling.

    That said, this morning I removed a pail full of ashes and had a nice hot fire going for her when she got up. A happy wife is a happy life. Of course now I need to quickly get the house back up to 75::F.
    Nixon, corey21, raybonz and 3 others like this.

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  2. Pallet Pete

    Pallet Pete Guest

    Funny last night got chilly and we woke up to a cold house because I did not fill the stove all the way at 9pm. When I stirred what looked like ash it turned red and got hot again ! I was so happy I could start a fire easily then proceeded to commit a rookie mistake and screw the whole darn re-fire procedure up. ;sick I filled the box up cracked the door to get it going and the darn thing would not go I was so confused this is not normal. In my mind I went over every step pull coals forward, load stove, crack door, let it light, shut door, and walk down the air. Frustration does not begin to explain how I felt as the stupid fire died every time I shut the door ( 3 times ) the world was collapsing and I could not stop it ! !!! Finally walking away from it out of frustration it occurred to me that the kitchen spray hose was out of place and a light went off ;) turn the air up stupid :rolleyes: ;ex five minutes later and :ZZZ raging away. less air is more unless your a seasoned idiot like me ;lol wood heat most of my life and I still cant get it right.

    Pete
  3. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    lol at Pete..I have done that also!
    Pallet Pete likes this.
  4. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Funny... that was the wife's only defense too except for the "can't get it right" part. I put a positive shutoff onto my OAK and forgetting to open it can have similar consequences.

    It wasn't a simple I'm right and she's wrong thing... we both had "right" points. I should point out that because my stove is OAK fed and it has a thermostatic control, piloting it can be a little more of a challenge than some stoves. Also, I further complicated it by modifying the zipper air more than a decade after the stove was installed. That, in and of itself, adds a whole new dimension to the equation.

    My stove has quite a narrow sweet spot that when hit puts out heat like there's no tomorrow. I call it going nuclear hence my "critical mass" reference. If "in the zone", it can keep the house pretty close to the 75::F she desires even when it plummets to -40::C (or F) outside. The colder it is outside, the more finicky the care and feeding. The bitter cold OAK air supply can easily take the stove out of the sweet spot. It is after all, counter-intuitive to be turning down the air to get more heat.

    One issue with turning down the air is coal buildup. That is where the care and feeding part turns into a science. It takes frequent rearranging of coals and ashes with my combo ash hoe/coal rake to move the air clogging ashes to the back and coals to the front where the air wash and zipper air make quick work of reducing them.

    The zipper air at times needs to be controlled opposite to the OAK air. Less OAK and more zipper. Then there's the thermostatic bi-metal coil that is not only influenced by the heat of the fire but also the OAK air temperature and you end up with something that needs piloting skills that can be difficult to master.
    Pallet Pete likes this.
  5. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    I dunno..less air is greater efficiency in my stove no doubt,,but if I crank the intake air she will get hotter for sure!
  6. Jack Straw

    Jack Straw Minister of Fire

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    "Less is more" I live by that motto.........
  7. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    I never claimed this to be a "one size fits all" rule. I can and have demonstrated that in my case, more is less. In fact, I ran my stove for years with way too much air and wasted a lot of firewood in the process.

    One other factor that I forgot to mention is blower speed. Running the blower too soon or too high can keep the stove from reaching the "sweet spot" affecting the heat output.
  8. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    You certainly are correct that the stove will give more heat once you get the draft dialed down. Why send the heat up the chimney?
    Nixon likes this.
  9. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    Funny stuff guys! Also it is interesting how 73 is too cool for us wood burners! Here it is normally 73-75 nice nice and cozy!

    Ray
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  10. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Actually, I'd be content at 73. It's the wife that is discontented at 73.
  11. Pallet Pete

    Pallet Pete Guest

    Yup Yup Yup !! Love my wife but I don't want the Bahamas in my living room ;lol. Truthfully she would be happy at 80 and I like 70-75.

    Pete
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  12. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    80 is a bit much for us too.. 70-75 is just about right..
  13. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    LOL... 80 would be the norm here if she had her way.

    The wife was busy in the kitchen cooking so I thought I could let the temp drop a tad. Got it down to 74 before I was found out and got an earful. I gave her some lame excuse that I was burning down the coals but she wasn't buying it.
    Nixon, Backwoods Savage and raybonz like this.
  14. Pallet Pete

    Pallet Pete Guest

    I feel bad for Dennis if you throw an extra toothpick in his stove the house is 90F in 10 seconds :p Ok seriously its really only half a toothpick I stretched the truth a bit. ;lol

    Pete
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  15. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    The problem has been all the Christmas baking the wife was doing made the house get hot trying to run the stove at the same time.. We should be back to "normal" now :)

    Ray
  16. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    And around here it is me that likes it on the warm side most of the time. Yet there are times when the wife wants it warmer. One day I had brought a thermometer inside. When she complained that it was time I put some wood in the stove I looked and the temperature was 77 degrees.

    Humidity makes a big difference too. Wife likes to dry the laundry near the stove and on those days it get a bit uncomfortable in here.
    raybonz and Pallet Pete like this.
  17. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    Here, hubby prefers it warmer, like 80. And right now he's sick, so 85, 90 would probably make him happy-I'm running the stove though so it's 77 :) (he's got like 5 blankets on-I don't think I could get it "warm enough" today!)

    I'm a little afraid of how warm it's going to be once we finish insulating, etc here.
  18. remkel

    remkel Minister of Fire

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    Wife complained the bedroom was too cold the other day. I quickly pointed out that she had left the window open from the night before because she thought it was too hot. That quickly ended our conversation.
    raybonz likes this.
  19. Hearth Mistress

    Hearth Mistress Minister of Fire

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    I'm GUILTY too! On xmas eve, coming home exhausted to a cold house. I have a small stove so I was so over joyed I had coals to re-fire, a rare occurrence for me, did the same thing :)
  20. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Fear not! Insulation is a great thing. We insulated, put in new doors and windows plus an addition. It is amazing how little it takes to heat this old crate now. It is wonderful!
    raybonz likes this.
  21. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    We moved around some of the insulation in the attics this past summer doing work and never got it put back. We want to get it all reinsulated and some plywood down where we need walkways and storage areas. Walls are as good as they're getting-the ones we had to pull down (bedroom, living room) were insulated then. Dining room looks like it has insulation, one kitchen wall doesn't but it's behind the cabinets, so oh well.

    Doors and original wood windows are staying, we have aluminum storms on the original windows. The two in the living room are newer junk and need to be replaced, I'm hoping to find good wood frame ones with matching aluminum storms for those, but that's long term since I'm sure it's going to take a while!

    Once it's done though, we'll have to be extra careful with reloading and fire sizes because we're WAY oversized with the stove here. It's not too hard to get it really warm in here in shoulder season, just one too many reloads or too big of splits, or hardwood instead of softwood...and we're above 80. It was in the 40's rght before Christmas and I had to open the front door (we have an old style "screen door" with the switchable glass and screen inserts as well, and the glass insert was in, so it's not like it was completely open to the outside) because we'd kept the stove going feeding it a split at a time to keep coals and at the same time I was making cookies and chicken soup so the range was heating up the place. It was down right too hot in there, I wanted to go clean out the attic or something, where it is cooler, lol.
  22. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Well, definitely most of us go through that in the shoulder seasons. But come the January cold and things can be much different. I brought some oak to the wood rack today and we'll burn a few splits of that tonight. Still no really cold air but when it gets down around 10 or so I like to burn some oak.

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