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new user of wood stoves has few questions

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by new to woodstoves, Sep 10, 2013.

  1. new to woodstoves

    new to woodstoves New Member

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    Loc:
    Deer Park, Wa (20 mi north of Spokane)
    We have had a wood stove for years that we only used for power outages. Last winter I used it all winter so decided to clean the metal chimney this month to get ready for this winter. In a different house we had back in the 80's we had a non certified stove that could be cleaned by placing a bag under the chinmey inside the fire box and it was a straight shot out the roof to sweep it. I discovered on the one we have now that it is a mid 1990's catalytic stove. I determined I couldn't remove any stove pipe pieces to bag the soot, so I removed the impingment plate and combuster in order to get the chimney soot to fall into the fire box. My questions:

    1) The chimney (stove pipes) had up to maybe 1/16 inch of soot build up. It swept clean with out much effort. How do you tell the difference between a little soot and cresote buildup?

    2) The chamber between the combuster and the stove pipe exit had several handfulls of fully burned white powder soot. Is it normal to get this type of build up in this area or should it be clean?

    3) The side of the stove has a button plug for a thermometer. What is the best way to get the plug out? I can't see it on the inside of the combuster chamber.

    We used this stove all last winter without ever closing the damper to benefit from the combuster but it still heated the place up almost too hot.

    Thanks for any comments and input......................

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  2. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    Do you have a plate on the unit that you can view that states what type of stove you are working with?

    If not, share a couple of pics of the unit and someone here should be able to ID it.

    If the catalytic combuster is still in good shape, and you have well seasoned fuel, then using it should let you get more heat with less fuel for an extended period of time.

    Welcome to the site!

    pen
    Oldhippie likes this.
  3. new to woodstoves

    new to woodstoves New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Deer Park, Wa (20 mi north of Spokane)
    The stove is a 1992 englander 24-ic. Since I removed the combuster to clean the flue I am replacing the combuster ( it was starting to , the warped impingment plate, and adding a probe therometer. I will be burning dead wood that was cut and split this spring and summer.
  4. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    You might be wise to pickup a moisture meter at Lowes or Harbor Freight, catalytic's do NOT like 25%+ moisture in wood.

    Split the piece and measure the inside to get a true reading, not the outside.
  5. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    1/16th inch of soot that was easy to clean out of the pipe sounds pretty good to me. Creosote would be heard to clean and would be shiny and hard, not loose and sooty.
  6. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    The stuff that is dangerous comes in the form of Shiny/Hard and Black/Gooey. That is the fuel for chimney fires. Soft and fluffy doesn't have any BTU's left.
  7. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forum New One!

    Around here we call the white stuff fly ash. The brown stuff is soot. The black stuff is creosote (and Jags explained the bad stuff). It sounds like you have done well.

    Caution, all "dead stuff" is not created equal. If it is standing dead, most likely the top part is ready to burn but the bottom part will still be full of moisture. In the future you would be best served to cut even the dead wood a year in advance. Also stack your wood.....after it has been split.....out in the wind to properly dry it.

    You do not necessarily have to have a probe thermometer. We got along for around 50 years with no thermometer at all. Now we have on on the stove top and one on the flue. It gives us all the information we need. Our stove recommends to not burn over 700 degrees stove top. Some recommend lower and some recommend higher temperatures.

    Could you also explain your comment about not using the damper last year. Do you have a flue damper or are you speaking about the draft control on the stove?
  8. new to woodstoves

    new to woodstoves New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
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    The stove has two air controls, the first is the one I called the damper, it is the large one that switches the smoke flow from by pass to combustor. The second one is the air control on the front of the stove fine tune the air mix I guess that would be the draft control.
  9. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Commonly referred to as the bypass lever and primary air control.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  10. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Jags is correct. Generally you want the bypass open when you add wood to the stove and the draft also full open. Most times if your wood is good, you can close the bypass after 10-15 minutes. That is when the cat will light off. If you do not open the bypass when reloading, you will not have a very long life with the catalyst. In addition, don't just use the time factor, make sure the fire is well established before closing the bypass.

    We clean our catalyst usually in the summer and again at mid winter. With ours it is simple to just lift the cat out and then we use an old paint brush to get the fly ash (fine white ash) off. You can use the canned air like office supply stores sell for blowing out the cat but never use regular compressed air or the cat can be ruined very quickly.
  11. new to woodstoves

    new to woodstoves New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Deer Park, Wa (20 mi north of Spokane)
    Well everyone, Thank you for the input and comments. Now I am ready to burn this winter. Have about 8 cord of wood ready to go, and it is dry. I will keep putting up wood this fall for next winter so I will start getting ahead of it. I was burning to hot last year, only light soot after all winter and a very warped flame impingment plate and warped top inner wall of the fire box. Now I know to manage the heat level. I have the stove ready, chimney cleaned, new combuster, combuster temperature probe, new impingment plate, straightened fire box wall, and flue temperature monitor. Can't wait to burn my first fire this fall, but that is probably still a few weeks away. Seems like I have a new stove and toys to tinker with. All in all not a bad week given that I didn't even know what a combustor was a week ago let alone that I had one in my stove.
    Thanks again. Carry on.
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Sounds like you are well prepared. Can you add your wood stove to your signature line and your locale to your profile?
  13. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    It sounds like you have chimney liner all the way to the top? Stainless? Insulated? 8"?
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2013
  14. new to woodstoves

    new to woodstoves New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Deer Park, Wa (20 mi north of Spokane)
    This one does have stove pipe out the top of the stove, vertically through the brick work, takes a slight bend inside the brick work, then connects to the double lined chimney liner flue at the celing. Total length is about 20 feet and all 8". The stove pipe is accessable inside the brick work but would be a fairly tight area to be disconnecting the stove pipe from the lined pipe.

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