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Newb Fire Starter - Seeking Knowledge

Post in 'Classic Wood Stove Forums (prior to approx. 1993)' started by CBGale2, Sep 20, 2012.

  1. CBGale2

    CBGale2 New Member

    Joined:
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    SE Michigan
    First off, hello! I just bought a house that has an existing wood burner in the finished basement. I've always wanted to heat with wood so I'm excited to use it this winter. I am assuming this is not one of the newer types so Ill post my plea for help here.

    The stove has the name of Sierra on the front of it, but I don't see a model number. It needs new door seals on it which the PO left for me to put on. The inside of it looks pretty dirty with what I'm assuming is creosote so I'm planning on giving it a good scrub. It has the one handle on the side that operates the slide door in the top back of the box (although it doesn't close completely and I havent tried to force it closed). And there are two slides on the front of it I'm assuming are for air intake. So any tips on getting started, concerns, comments...... I'll take it all.

    Here are a few pictures.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This was all redone last year and hasn't had a fire in it yet.[​IMG]

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  2. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    Welcome

    Nice Hearth.

    A hot fire with dry wood may eliminate most of the creosote. Save on some cleaning.
    The creosote looks like it has burned allot of wet wood.

    Looks ready to go to me. Nice job on the chimney.

    How's your wood supply?
    Well Seasoned dry wood is key! ;)

    Looks ready to go to me, give it a test run with a small fire & get used to it before winter.
    You can always open a few windows to cool the house down in the evenings.

    Not familiar with the insert but some one here will chime in with some burning tips

    Have fun & keep use posted, We love this stuff

    PS: burning wood can lead to a severe addiction, wood cravings, multiple wood stacks, wood processing equipment desires. . . etc :)
    milleo likes this.
  3. milleo

    milleo Feeling the Heat

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    Is there any dry wood left behind? Looks like they burned really wet wood in that baby.......Dennis I'm sure will chime in later this evening hopefully! I am not familiar with the stove either but other people will be here and help you out soon I hope....Awesome place to be with lots of good advice...Welcome to hearth.com....
  4. CBGale2

    CBGale2 New Member

    Joined:
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    SE Michigan

    Thanks Dave, yeah we loved the hearths in the house, there is one upstairs just like it with a regular fireplace.

    [​IMG]

    I have some wood that was left from the old owner and I imagine its been sitting for a long time but it needs to get cut down to size. I'm planning on buying some seasoned wood to get through this winter. We have a nice covered storage area out back to store wood that they had built, probably could fit 2-3 full cords of wood under it.
  5. firebroad

    firebroad Minister of Fire

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    Welcome! Like the others said, get a good HOT fire in there. You can buy some really dry wood (for a premium price) at the stores, it is usually kiln dried and ready to go if you don't have any handy yet. there is a product called KwikShot you can put in there with it, it helps loosen up the creosote in chimneys, there is no reason is should not work on the firebox, as well.
    Let us know how you make out!
  6. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Even though the clay tiles are new, it will draft better with a liner (possibly insulated) thrown down that flue.

    I'll echo whats been said also. Lots of wet wood has been burned in that stove. Burning seasoned wood (Cut, Split, and Stacked for at least a year) in amy stove makes life easier (EPA or not). So finding some good wood is key (thats even tricky/most sellers wont sit on that much wood for a year). Finding kiln dried wood or Bio-Bricks/Blocks may be your best bet. Unless the PO left wood, but I doubt it by the looks of the firebox.

    Welcome to the Forums.
  7. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    If I'm looking at what I think I'm looking at on the rear wall of the firebox...looks like a rear outlet for the flue. I believe what you're calling the "slide door" could be a bypass used for startup...intended to give the gases leaving the firebox a minimum resistance flowpath until the fire's established, then the bypass is closed. But maybe it's not, I'm not recognizing the stove. In any case, it looks as though the flue leaves the stove horizontally from the backwall, goes through a thimble into the chimney structure and then there's a 90° bend up...all of that could be packed with creosote and be just a big ugly fire hazard. What's known about the flue gas path after that? Has any sort of stainless steel pipe been added to that 90°...or is this thing just dumping straight into the chimney flue? The (brand new) chimney flue, of course, looks terrific. The interior of the stove & what I assume to be a glimpse into the exiting rear exit flue collar look terrible. I'd get a pro over there to thoroughly examine the entire system and get some recommendations on where to go from here. You didn't mention whether this chimney was completely interior to the structure, or has one or more walls exposed to the outside. It makes a difference in evaluating the operational "health" of the flue system. Total height of the flue from the stove to daylight is also of interest, as is the treatment (if any) of the flue top. Personally, I wouldn't get all excited about burning in that thing before getting good answers to a lot of questions that have to do with the safety of its operation. Rick
  8. CBGale2

    CBGale2 New Member

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    Behind the stove is a large plate as if its covering a regular fireplace opening. The pipe from the back of the stove goes through that metal plate. How its connected from there on up I am not sure. The previous owner said that when they redid the chimney flues last year (3 of them, wood burner, fireplace, and furnace vent) that they had the mason lowered down the chimney and he was standing ontop of the fire box, they discovered that the connection to the stove was offset so that was fixed, not 100% on what that means. Sorry if any of my terminology is off here, just going by memory of what i was told. The chimney is all interior to the structure.

    [​IMG]
  9. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    C'mon, even with all the tile busted out, how could a mason of anything approaching normal human size be lowered all the way down that chimney flue? I think the first item of business would be to pull that thing out and away from the masonry and find out what's really going on in there behind it. I bet the connection to the chimney flue doesn't meet code. I don't like the looks of any of it, personally (not talking aesthetically here), and I think my recommendation would be to scrap this old thing, and install a nice, modern, efficient woodburning insert into that fireplace...(into which we have yet to peer, but could be ugly)...adding a full-height stainless liner up the flue at the same time. Your home, your call. Me? I'd do it right or not do it at all. Rick
  10. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    So Cent ALASKA
    As you will learn, buying seasoned wood from a wood seller is almost impossible.
    Seasoned to them means a variety of things but none of them have wood that has been cut, split & stacked in drying stacks for a year or 2.
    Best to get some now, get it stacked & seasoning. (Don't get any oak , as it takes 2 + years to dry well enough to burn)

    As the saying goes:
    "You burn what you got, seasoned or not" :)

    Good luck
    Keep us posted on your progress.
  11. CBGale2

    CBGale2 New Member

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    Well Santa always comes to my house and he gets down there somehow. LOL. Im just telling you what I was told, it is a pretty massive chimney..... anyway. Buying a new unit at this time isnt going to happen. If I cant get this in working order then I wont use it.

    I took a couple better pictures of things. It is a mess going out the back pipe, looks like it goes back and then a 90* elbow up, past that its anyones guess.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  12. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    ;lol Yeah, I know the chimney is a massive structure...but it only has three little flues that are open clear down into the house, judging from the pic of the top. I can certainly understand that replacing the appliance with an all new system could be out of reach for the time being. That fact, unfortunately, doesn't make this present installation any safer or ready to burn. As I said, I'd get a pro over there and I'd really like to see the thing pulled out for inspecting the fireplace behind, and finding out how it's vented. This kind of installation is (at best) referred to as a "Direct Vent", and there are some specific requirements which must be met to make it considered safe to operate. At worst, it's a "slammer"...no stainless pipe up into the chimney flue from the unit at all. Not good. I'd pull it and thoroughly inspect/investigate before proceeding. Rick
  13. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Oh, duh...I just looked more closely at the one pic from the side. This is not an insert...it's a free-standing stove set in front of the old fireplace and venting out the back through a big plate that closes off the fireplace. Interesting. Doesn't really change anything substantially though. Take it apart and see what you've got there, and get a pro involved...that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it. Rick
  14. CBGale2

    CBGale2 New Member

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    I found the UL tag on the back. Its a model 2200 and was tested in 1980. House was built in '79.
  15. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, that's at least someplace to start trying to run down any available info on the old appliance. Doesn't really change much about the situation, though. Looks to me as though it could have been burned incorrectly and the system never properly cleaned in all those 32 years. I'd give at least $1.00 to see a pic of that flue before all the old tile was bashed out & replaced. My gut tells me it was pretty ugly/scary. Maybe it never burned, maybe it did...if it looked like the inside/back of the stove & exit piping (which it most certainly must have) I'd have to speculate that at least one chimney fire was experienced, or a chimney fire was inevitable. In any case, a chimney fire can ruin your day (or night)...and take your whole house away from you...not to mention the people who may be in jeopardy. I'm not trying to be alarmist or overly dramatic...just emphasizing the point that there are good reasons for the codes/standards/regs/guidelines, including appliance testing & certification. I burned in a little old side-load Sierra stove in a weekend place we had back in Virginia. Nice little stove. Had all the documentation, it was quite obviously installed carefully and correctly, and well cleaned/maintained. My homeowners insurance agent (a savvy guy, BTW) came out, looked it over, took some clearance measurements, and gave it a thumbs up. If I was your homeowners insurance agent and knew poop from Shinola, I'd give that setup an immediate thumbs down. That's the way I see it. Rick
  16. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    CBG - I completely agree with Rick on getting a pro out there, or at least, pulling the old Sierra out and taking a look-see at what is behind the block off plate. You could do so and post pics here. The collective knowledge of this place is amazing.

    Basically - we KNOW the stove was not burned properly just by looking at it. Fuel, draft, user all come into suspicion at this point. If you are going to bring fire into your home, do it correctly. You don't know what is behind that plate and that is enough to scare the crap out of me. Maybe it is right, maybe not. Even if not it should not be hard (or overly expensive) to make it so.

    Personally - I would line the new clay chimney (more $$$), but that is not always a requirement (although HIGHLY recommended).
  17. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That's a seriously gunky mess of creosote in the pipe. It looks like the stove was filled with poorly seasoned wood, lit, then shut down and left to smolder for hours. I suspect this is just dumping above the smoke shelf. Lord knows if they even bothered with a block-off plate. Pretty scary stuff when one considers the chimney fire potential. It just gets worse further up the chimney as the smoke cools and condenses.

    Personally I also would pull the unit and consider replacement. If you decide to keep it for a season, pull the unit and figure out how it's connected to the liner. And get the driest wood you can, ash if possible for this season. For burning info, BrotherBart had a similar model for many years and can offer some pointers.
  18. CBGale2

    CBGale2 New Member

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    Thanks guys. I will for sure check things out and not do anything stupid. I kinda like the house, so Id rather not roast a smore over it. So lets assume for a minute everything was good to go with this thing, I had 6 cords of well seasoned wood, and a new fire poker. Whats the general opinion on start up and running this thing?
  19. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Paging BroBart. New Sierra club member in the lobby.

    The main thing is to try to avoid a smoldering fire. Give it enough air to burn the wood steadily, particularly at the beginning of the fire or after a reload. Once the fire is mostly coals the air can be closed down further. You can use your chimney as a visual guide. If dark smoke is constantly billowing out of it, the fire is smoldering.
  20. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    BroB can probably give some very specific info, but there are some generalities to go by as well. FIRST thing I would recommend is getting a thermo on that stove. Pretty inexpensive and is kinda like the speedometer in your car. You can drive without it, but it is really good info to have.

    Be aware that with the stove in this gunked up condition - the first fire or two may no be indicative of its real operations. I would start by starting a small/medium HOT fire. Cook some of the gooey flammable stuff off of the inside of that stove. The idea of the small fuel load is to reduce the amount of available fuel if this thing decides to light off.

    EDIT: I would seriously consider trying to clean the stove and stove pipe of excess gunk. That is a whole bunch of available fuel that if it lights off is gonna scare the crap out of you.
  21. CBGale2

    CBGale2 New Member

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    I wont fire it till that junk is gone. Any ideas for getting that off there, I poked at the junk in the pipe and its haaard and stuck. I just light that chimney sweeping log the previous owner left in it and poof its gone, right? LOL
  22. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Uhhh...no. Sounds like you are gonna need to mechanically remove it (screwdriver??). If it is just one section of pipe - replacement may be the easy route.
  23. red oak

    red oak Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forum!

    Congrats on buying the house! I understand the desire to heat with wood all too well. Hopefully you're not feeling too let down with all of the safety concerns being mentioned.

    I would really advise you to get a professional to inspect your setup. Someone that you can talk to, ask questions of, and that can walk you through the process.

    Second, at some point I would get a stainless steel liner in the chimney. At some point many clay liners become cracked.

    Third, as for the wood - are you buying it? 6 cords should be enough for most winters but much depends on stove, insulation, heating space, dryness of wood, etc. If you're certain that you will burn wood then go ahead and get some now.

    Keep us posted - I really hope this works out and you can burn wood safely.

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