1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

New to the forum, problem with Harmon Oakwood

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Jim Barry, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. Jim Barry

    Jim Barry New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Messages:
    18
    Loc:
    Loch Katrine, Nova Scotia
    Hi,

    We've been told this is the place to solve fireplace issues.

    We purchased a Harmon Oakwood several years ago and from the get-go we have been experiencing whuffing problems. We actually did not know what was happening until it got really bad, as in, explosions that literally lifted the cast iron plate of of the stove top. I have document several youtube videos and I'll post the links here. I've had the manufacturer involved, the local dealer involved and several solutions offered, including a spinner cap to improve draft.

    I've provided comments to each video and for people who have posted comments or questions to the videos, I have replied to those. Settle in with a cup of coffee. Here is our story.

    [Edit: This first video will give you an overall view of the problem and a visual of the setup of the stove both indoors and outdoors. Trying to view the video text may be difficult to read for some in this forum format, myself included, so you can also view the video at YT for larger screen size.]

    Dec 18 2011


    Dec 22 2011


    Dec 23 2011 (nothing too exciting here except seeing some whuffing going on in a darked room).


    Dec 23 2011


    Mar 03 2012 (0:16 shows a good example of whuffing, then watch again at 0:53)


    Mar 04 2012


    Feb 04, 2013
    No video needed, as the problem continues. As I said to Joe DelaTerre this morning who commented about coming over the Hearth.com:
    "No we have not yet figured out the problem. For the winter 2012/2013 the stove still whuffs. Someone said a while back we have to keep the chimney hot. (Which I already knew about.) By that, they mean the temp gauge installed in the chimney should be in the middle of the grey zone. Well, in order to do that, the damper has to be open, and the draft has to be 1/2 to full open."

    That's the only way we can burn without whuffing. Problem is the stove "eats" the wood (as would be expected). I'm currently burning white/yellow birch and maple that's been seasoned for 2 years still outdoors in a covered lean-to. One of the videos shows those.

    Looking forward to comments, solutions.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. PLAYS WITH FIRE

    PLAYS WITH FIRE Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2011
    Messages:
    639
    Loc:
    Pittsburgh, Pa.
    Can't say what the problem is...but have some questions.

    How tall, from the stove is the chimney?

    Did it burn like that from day 1?

    Is this a cat stove (looked on their site and says firedome)?

    What are the stove temps and stack temps when this is happening?

    A cap that plugged will cause this but if this happened from day 1, then draft and or low burn temps caused the plugged cap.
  3. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,756
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    "More air: is basically gonna be the default answer. You have a build up of volatile gasses that are igniting and causing the mini-explosions. You either have to have the ability to burn them at a higher rate (so no build up) or the ability to move them out (more air, less efficient). Both solutions require more air. Sorry, that stove is kinda known for it.
  4. Jim Barry

    Jim Barry New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Messages:
    18
    Loc:
    Loch Katrine, Nova Scotia
    Hi PWF,
    20ft
    Yes
    Not sure. It does have a secondary burn which functions very well from what I can see/hear.
    All over the place, from 300 to 800F
    I'll agree the standard rain cap became plugged from poor draft. The spin cap, I believe, has solved the updraft issue.
  5. Jim Barry

    Jim Barry New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Messages:
    18
    Loc:
    Loch Katrine, Nova Scotia
    The stove has a dedicated 4" air intake to the outdoor that has a straight run 8ft. WETT installed as recommended by dealer, insurance and manufacturer.
  6. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,439
    Loc:
    SE MI
    Describe your chimney setup, top to bottom. Any elbows? That's generally a draft related issue, but that firedome system can be finicky. I think a deep, hot coal bed makes it work best.

    Have you checked the moisture content of the wood? Was it packed in the shed when it was green? Just to get some of the basic questions out of the way.
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    46,587
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Everything I see so far points to poorly seasoned wood. Beg, borrow or steal enough truly dry and seasoned wood for a week and see how the stove does. In the meantime give the fire enough air so that is doesn't start smoldering.

    This doc should be helpful:

    http://www.hawk.igs.net/~sunworks/backpuff.html
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  8. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,756
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    By "more air" I was referring to the primary air adjustment.
    And as BG suggests...can you confirm the moisture content of your wood?
  9. Jim Barry

    Jim Barry New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Messages:
    18
    Loc:
    Loch Katrine, Nova Scotia
    from the stove top, 6 inch double black pipe wall runs 6ft 8in where it meets the flange that connects to the 6inch exterior pipe 2inch thick wall (see attachment). And there's 4 lengths of that pipe, each 3 feet (?) long.

    stovepipeexterior.jpg


    Still whuffs with a good bed of coals.

    No I have got checked with a digital meter. But its dry. The wood was not packed in a shed. Stored in lean-to's outdoors and covered, but yes, wood was green when put there. Initially when covered, the sun acts like a kiln in the spring and summer, you can watch the steam coming out. Very effective at drying the wood.
    stovewoodstorage1.jpg
  10. Jim Barry

    Jim Barry New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Messages:
    18
    Loc:
    Loch Katrine, Nova Scotia
    I don't have a digital meter with numerical readout. I do have a dig meter with a red/green digital scale but I don't rely on it as it does not seem to be very accurate. I simply go by the checking on the ends and the sound of the wood when knocked. I also resaw small planks of some of the birch and maple for woodworking small projects. Wood appears dry to me.
  11. Jim Barry

    Jim Barry New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Messages:
    18
    Loc:
    Loch Katrine, Nova Scotia
    I do what everyone else round here does. Cut the trees down, chunk and split, then store covered from the rain and snow for at least a year. Then its indoors for a couple weeks before it gets burned. If there's something I'm not doing right, I sure wish someone would tell me.
  12. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,756
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    I don't doubt the appearance, but you would be VERY surprised at how many folks find out that their "dry" wood isn't.
  13. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,756
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    After enjoying this forum for several years now, I can tell you one common link amongst most users having "burning issues" with their stove - the lack of dry fuel. We have had people swear on a bible, cuss at the moon and be willing to bet their house on dry wood...only to find out that it is not.
  14. Jim Barry

    Jim Barry New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Messages:
    18
    Loc:
    Loch Katrine, Nova Scotia
    Ok, so will someone tell me (or provide a link to) the proper procedure for determining the dryness of wood? What reading equipment? Where to check (end of wood or split and read the middle)? What's the acceptable moisture reading?
  15. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,756
    Loc:
    Northern IL
  16. PLAYS WITH FIRE

    PLAYS WITH FIRE Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2011
    Messages:
    639
    Loc:
    Pittsburgh, Pa.
    Sometimes when in warmer temps I will close the air down too soon and too much. I will get the, what I call. solar flares but they don't blow smoke out of the stove. This mostly happens in shoulder season cause I don't want to burn to much and get to my good stuff.

    Does this happen more at the lower temps like 300 or all the time from the 300 to 800 range?
  17. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    46,587
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    It depends on the wood species. Some are ok after a year of seasoning, some are not. If this is oak, then it takes at least a couple years to season. To test the wood moisture it has to be on a freshly split, inside surface of the wood. Resplit the wood and press the meter probes into the freshly exposed face of the wood. If you lack a meter, press it up against your cheek. It will feel cool and damp if not fully seasoned.

    PS: Although the wood is suspect, it is also partly the stove. Downdraft stoves can be notoriously fussy. The same wood in another stove might burn pretty well.
  18. Jim Barry

    Jim Barry New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Messages:
    18
    Loc:
    Loch Katrine, Nova Scotia
    Ok. So the moisture meter that was recommended to purchase arrived today from Harbor Freight. I split half a dozen pieces of maple, white birch, yellow birch. Pushed the pins in good, along the grain, just as recommended. Reading ranged between 14 and 18%.

    Stove still whuffs. Now what?
  19. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,756
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    More air.
  20. Jim Barry

    Jim Barry New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Messages:
    18
    Loc:
    Loch Katrine, Nova Scotia
    Its installed as per manufacturers instructions. And the manufacturer and dealer approved the install.
  21. PLAYS WITH FIRE

    PLAYS WITH FIRE Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2011
    Messages:
    639
    Loc:
    Pittsburgh, Pa.
    I have to agree more air! Sometimes this happens when I shut my air down too much when I know I won't be back for a bit(jumping in shower etc). I come back and it is whuffs pretty good and sometimes enough to smoke out into the room alittle. This generally happens when I load onto a good bed of coals and close way down to quick.
  22. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,756
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    The formula for fire is pretty simple. You have confirmed the quality of your fuel...Next you need oxygen. If you don't give the stove enough through its primary air setting, it is going to try and find some or go out. The woofing is caused by the lack of combustion air being met by drawing it from your chimney. It is far healthier to open the primary air a pinch. Hence - more air.
  23. Jim Barry

    Jim Barry New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Messages:
    18
    Loc:
    Loch Katrine, Nova Scotia
    The stove has a dedicated 4" line to the outdoors. We're familiar with the draft and damper issues and setups. Any combination possible you can think of; damper open, draft closed; damper closed, draft open; damper closed, draft partly open... doesn't matter. Some days it won't whuff. Most days it will.

    Today I can only keep it steady burning with the damper closed and draft wide open. Outside is sustained breeze of 12-15 mph all day today. Can't keep wood in the stove it burns so quick. If I try to close the draft slowly, like from wide open to half way over the course of 15 mins, the stove cools down to about 350F. If the wind stops, within a few minutes the stove will start to smoke little bits from the draft slider area...and then poof.

    Attached Files:

  24. Jim Barry

    Jim Barry New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Messages:
    18
    Loc:
    Loch Katrine, Nova Scotia
    Not sure what you mean by primary air. You mean the draft slider, right?
  25. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,756
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    First thing I would do for testing purposes it pull that 4" OAK off of the unit and see how it reacts. See if there is any change in the burn.

Share This Page