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Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Diane from WI, Jan 16, 2013.
Which still highlights the amount of ash removal is the problem.
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When you go to reload are you opening the by-pass first, second, push your air control in (open or high burn on your stove) crack the door (your choice) a bit so the draft is going through the by-pass up your chimney.
How so? I clean my stove once a week and get virtually no ash anywhere in the house. If I had to do it twice or three times as much, I'd still have virtually no ash anywhere in the house. Either there is some very sloppy ash removal going on, or the ash is actually coming from the unit or the old ash dump and being spread by the fan. Frankly, they're both kind of hard to believe but she clearly has an issue.
I would think you have ash entering your convection air somehow. I would try running small fire with out blower running. if you have no ash backpuffing in the room. I would look at areas that could allow ash to enter convection area. Looking at the manual that was posted here they show a cat temperature probe hole that is created by the installer and should be plugged afterward.
Let me state up front that this may be a long shot.....
I have a feeling that you may have a hole in the firebox that leak ash to the floor. If any small amount of ash falling down that hole, it'll be picked up by the blower and blow out to the room. Not sure how to test this...may be try burning one cycle w/o fan and see how your room looks like. Then remove the front plate and peek under the stove to see any potential ash on the floor.
OK. So it seems you are burning at most every night. The insert is getting cold during the day. You say the air intake is the area that gets clogged with ash. The air intake should be pulling air into the insert, but if it is clogging, I wonder if you are not getting a reverse air flow when the stove cools down, pushing air out that intake and spreading ash. Maybe your draft is not good enough to pull air when the air is closed down for a burn, but you are not burning and the insert is cold. You might try keeping the air open all the way when you are not burning. Or maybe you are getting real down drafts when the insert is cold. In which case leaving the air fully open could make things worse...When you burned with your fireplace, did you shovel the ash into the ash cleanout every time you burned? If you did, you may have always had a backdraft issue and not known it. You would have burned way less wood in a fireplace, probably, and may have gotten the ash out of the firebox before wind blew it around? This could be the problem if the ash is flying around when the insert is not being used.
If the ash is blowing around when the insert has an active fire, then it may be that the blower is distributing the ash for some reason. It shouldn't, and there is something the matter if it is, but it may be. Based on a lot of people's instinctive reaction, I'd suggest trying burning the unit for a few days to a week without the blower. If that burn does not result in ash flying around the house, then at least we know that we have the blower drawing the ash from somewhere for some reason.
You stated the blower was plugged in through the old ash cleanout in the basement. Can you get to the cord from the bottom? If so, seal really well where the cord leaves the ash cleanout as it heads up to the fireplace floor. There must be a cleanout flapper, which hopefully you can reach from below. If not, for goodness sake pull the insert out and check the set up. You may see evidence of ash being pulled from below. You certainly can use some insulation to keep any ash from being drawn up from below. Doing this won't take as long as all the cleaning is taking.
Or consider plugging it in another way. I am not familiar with inserts, but perhaps conduit can be run from your stove room to the back of the insert, and a dedicated plug installed in the area behind the insert? Then the old cleanout area could be positively closed off, and not be a possible souce for ash.
Another thought. If you use the dark/flashlight method to check about the ash flow, try it twice, once with the blower off, and once with it on.
And yet another suggestion: Ask your installer just exactly what your install set up is. You should know.
Does your house feel drafty?
Doesn't your manual have directions for cleaning your cat? It should show you where it is and how to clean it. It almost surely needs cleaning, but couldn't be the primary cause of your problem, since you state you had the problem from day 1.
The two posts immediately above this were written while I was composing. Both agree with trying burning without the blower...both have good suggestions too.
Thank you all so very much. A few answers:
1. We burn ALL the time, not just at night. But we let cool down every 3 days to empty, as the box is FULL.
2. I am hosting my installer and the company (hopefully) next week to get to the root of the problem. Again, they are "in" on this thread.
3. I am not a messy ash cleaner, and the vac was NEW as of Christmas (my hubby is sweet, no?) I will go back to shoeveling, but I ONLY shoveled (CAREFULLY) up to Christmas.
4. I am going to be learning about the cat and install when my installer comes for a visit
I am not planning to do anything for now - to me, that is what my installer/owner of company is for (and why I paid such big money for a professional install). I simply will not burn until they come out. STAY TUNED, and thank you for the MANY suggestions
You may still want to burn w/o fan before they come so at least they may find the ash trace evidence.
How much of the ash are you removing each time?
Yes, I agree, go ahead and burn without the fan. You may not have the ash problem without the fan. Won't get as much heat into the house, but will still get a good amount. And then, if you don't have further ash in the coming week, at least the installer knows it's the fan that is blowing the ash...he'll just have to figure out why.
My stove has the shallow bottom as the stove design is such that it has very little head room. I always wondered why till I found a stove design article on the omni emissions testing website pointed to the fact these type designs with low head room make for more efficient stoves. But anyhow last year I was learning the stove and cleaning it out way too much as after a burn the stove bottom looked full so I was cleaning the thing out way too much. What I learned by accident was that the ash in the bottom when you first open the door up after a full nights burn , that ash is all fluffed up. What I do now that lets me go for like over a week with out cleaning in a stove with a shallow bottom, is I take my ash rake.
Something like this:
I use it like a manual bull dozer pushing the ash first all to the back of the box and then pressing the ash up against the back wall. I make sure I press all the ash a couple times back against the back wall of the stove. What this does is compress all the fluff out of the ash. What is left is about 1/2 to 1/3 the volume that the fluffed ash was. And it doesnt want to fly around after its been compressed and the fluff taken out of it.
I am able to go over a week and sometimes time 2 weeks with out cleaning out my stove if I do this every time I reload the stove. Then before reloading I rake the coals forward to the front of the box which gets me a longer burn time as another post about rake your coals forward talks about.
I you take a real bright light and shine it around the stove it will maybe high light were the ash is coming from. You can see the small particles floating around in the air easier like when bright sun light is coming thru a window you can see dust flying around in the air.
Had one of those door to door sweeper salesmen do that one time to show the dirt the old vacuum was letting thru the old filters.
One other thing to consider....if you're cleaning out that frequently, the stove door is open and full of hot coals. I know when I shovel into my ash can and some hot coals go with it, the amount of ash in the room is more than if I were just doing a straight cold clean out. Heat rises and if you're letting your pale sit there a bit with hot coals as you do your thing with the shovel, broom, vacuum you're just letting more ash in. At least when you're moving it around in the box, it has the flue to draft up.
I sincerely thank all of you - and HOPE that my installer and store that sold me this unit really read this thread. To answer a few recently posed questions:
1. When I clean the stove, I do not suck everything out (even when using the ash vac). We typically say "no more adding" when we go to bed at night (10 pm), and then it gets cleaned after work the next day (so 20 hours after we stop adding). A stray red ember may be in there, but there are no active coals at 20 hours. I understand that you need some ash - I do not want to give the impression that I am vac-ing completely out. We simply used the vac, since Christmas, because it seemed cleaner than digging with a shovel and putting in an ash can.
2. I do not whip the door open. Typical load routine: Pull out top lever (opening draft, as if I am lighting), push in slow burn lever (making it in the "fast burn" mode, where it is 99% of the time anyway....), and slowly open the door. I do carefully put the wood in, I realize that tossing it on top of ash would make ash scatter. However, even billowing the door and being inattentive with adding should not, in my naive opinion, cause about 3000 SF of living space (that is not closed off from the fireplace) get THAT dirty. The dining room about 25 YARDS from the fireplace (but with big arched doors) needs weekly dusting from the large amount of soot.
3. I absolutely will try the burn without blower tonight. That of course also means a LOT of dusting this evening! However, I really want this issue solved, as I am ready to stop using the stove.
4. I really could not go more than 3-4 days (MAX) without cleaning, or the ash would be even with the bottom of the door, thus spilling out when the door opens. I am not talking about the "overflow" that is on the wrong side of the "divider" - I am talking about true totally full spillage.
5. Again, we ALWAYS burn on high, maybe once every 2-3 weeks we pull the "slow burn" knob partways out. But usually the coals will still be there for the 8-10 hours we are gone to work, so we high burn to keep the house warm (helps out our furnace).
THANK YOU AGAIN, dear people. This forum is truly amazing. I posted last night hoping to have ONE suggestion by tonight! Man, you people ROCK!
Will let you know the outcome of my "turn the blower off" tests, and also after the visit of the fireplace team next week.......
Do you know if they installed a new liner?
I agree that the likely culprit for the ash all over the house is the blower on the unit, the question is then where is the ash coming from, might be a long shot but i would look long and hard at the old ash dump. It's possible for the unit to have a fault, but in my opinion, not highly likely. The liner connection to the unit would not be airtight, draft takes care of that.
If I am reading your post correctly, Diane, you are routinely lighting your stove from the coals froma fire you last fed 20 hours before? You are getting productive heat from the insert during the day from a fire lit the previous evening? wouldn't even being considering going back to my furnace, if that is so. I'd be sweeping and dusting every day. But...you won't have to. We'll solve this problem.
That seems odd too. By "high" do you mean with the air control wide open? If so, that indicates partially seasoned wood methinks.
Based on what you are saying I don't think it's anything you are doing wrong, my guess is that there is a failed weld or some other leak in the bottom of the firebox causing the ash to fall through and get blown out the top. To check this, remove the cover plate of the inset, and place a "filter" of some sort on the outlet vent, then put the cover back on. At the rate you are collecting ash in the house, the filter should fill up quick. If it does, then that IS your problem, I'd recommend you either get the unit taken out completely and get your money back, or have it replaced plus some compensation, that is complete crap that you have to deal with that on a new installation.
I see on page 12 of stove manual talking about two holes on the floor of the stove for the bolt to adjust the level of stove. Theses holes are under the firebrick and need to be covered. You may want to have your installer check them too.
Regarding excessive ash. If you burn high all the time, you'll probably go through wood much faster than normal, and that will contribute to the amount of ash you get.
My older version of the Avalon flush with full load will provide effective heat (stove temp > 200*F at front door) at least 6 hours before I need to reload. If I burn high all the time, it'll probably consume all the full load wood in 4 hours. That'll give me 50% more ash than normal run if I burn nonstop.
How long is your average burn time before you reload full?
Yes, that's why I asked about running it wide open. I suspect that's consuming a lot of wood and producing much less heat than the stove's potential.
Fire guy going Monday at 830. He's been reading this forum z(good ideas out there, troops!)
New things to know:
1. We burn on high o get highest heat output. Again, 3000 SF open area, house is 6000 SF with bedrooms considered. Trying to lower our heating bill, thus we added this to our large open fireplace and burn wide open to take advantage of heat
2. Yes, we go through a lot of wood. Our wood is dry- 10% moisture on wettest pieces. Most are 5.
Thank you for telling me to stop the blower. I think I figured out our problem.... For those familiar with this model, we have a slight "gap" on front panel that touches the floor. Like 1/8 inch. There is no seal on it (caulk or otherwise). When ash topples out, we shovel it back in. Or when coals fall out, we shovel them back in. By doing this, ash is getting under the unit, thus getting blown out. I turned off blower all day today while I've been cleaning(I'm on hour 8 of cleaning) in the dark, with a flashlight, we saw ash blowing Gwen blower was on. With blower off.....seemingly nothing.
So, first of all THANK YOU for the flashlight suggestion!
Secondly, should the bottom be caulked or mounted tight to floor?!?!
Again, you people really know your stuff
Ps. Yes there is a new liner.
Dumb girl question: running at slow burn produces same heat as high burn??? WHO KNEW?!?! Will be low burning henceforth!!
This is my first 3 years of wood burning experience too so please take it as grain of salt.
Burning is a self sustain system of producing enough firebox heat to force the outgas from wood, and the adequate outgas from wood need to create enough flame to create the wood gas. With new wood in the stove, it's like a sticky gas pedal that you can increase your speed (by doing full burn) but the RPM will (likely to) stay at the last RPM the moment you stop pushing the pedal. So if I allow the full burn to go up till 450*F before I pull back, it'll likely to stay at 450*F after that. I can wait until it goes up to 600*F and choke the stove to allow higher rate of secondary combustion.
So if you close the air down at higher temp, I think the stove should produce pretty much the same amount of heat compare with full burn.
That's the simplify version of the answer. Whether it'll stay @ 450*F, drop down, or rocket up to 700*F (over burn) depends on several things. The dry wood will allow the stove to be closed down at lower team (since less energy is wasted to boil water). Lots of smaller pieces of wood (more surface area) will create more outgas than one big piece of wood at the same temp so big piece of wood may need to go up higher temp before start cutting down the air. Also the full burn allows more "cold primary air" into the firebox, which may counter the goal to increase stove temp. That's part of wood burning that make it look more art than science...and it took this dumb 2 season to understand this.
Not sure this answers your question. Senior members will probably chime in with wiser words.