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)

Newbie question... when to damp? How to run an Orley insert?

Post in 'Classic Wood Stove Forums (prior to approx. 1993)' started by area_man, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. area_man

    area_man Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2013
    Messages:
    99
    Loc:
    Oregon City, OR
    New to me house, and wood burning is all new to me. My question is, when do I damp the stove? I get a fire going with tinder and kindling, then a small log or two, then a couple of fuel logs. As long as the fire is blazing away, is it best to leave the dampers open and let the fire go until I'm at coals?

    The stove loads from the right and has dampers left and right. I just don't know when to close them or why, and what I should be looking for to get the best performance out of my insert.

    I located a vent in the wall a few feet from the stove that is open to the outside with chicken wire nailed to the exterior wall of the house. The previous owners stuffed the vent with newspaper. While I had the stove going I went outside and put my hand against the wall above the vent and felt no heat going out, so it seems like it might be there to assist the draft. The vent in the wall is roughly parallel to the stove door and about three feet away. The opening is about three inches across and eight high. Any ideas?

    Thank you.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. NortheastAl

    NortheastAl Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2012
    Messages:
    676
    Loc:
    Putnam, NY
    It sounds like that vent is for outside air to be able to get to the stove. It should have a pipe going directly to the stove, so I would imagine if the stove is off it would be very cold from the opening to the outside of the house.

    As far as the stove damper, it would be helpful to know what kind of stove you have. See if there is a manufacturer's plate on it and let us know.
  3. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2012
    Messages:
    6,185
    Loc:
    Philadelphia
    Al, do you know of any stove that can be run wide open without damage?
  4. Beer Belly

    Beer Belly Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2011
    Messages:
    1,621
    Loc:
    Connecticut
    Personally, I start throttling down when the flames are roaring heavily to calm them down a bit, or when the stove hits the temps I'm looking for.....usually about 550*F....Avalon Ranier Insert
  5. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,362
    Loc:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I'm new at this too, but here are my thoughts.

    For one, it's a bit of an art. You're managing the fire, not flipping a switch. Adjustments are incremental, not all-at-once.

    You don't want to waste fuel, right? That basically means you want to make sure that as much of the fuel as possible burns up inside the stove, rather than escaping unburnt as smoke. Once the heat is liberated from the wood by combustion, you want to make sure as much of that heat as possible stays in your house rather than being whisked up the chimney.

    If the stove is too cool, flames can be chilled and put out before the fuel is consumed and you end up with unburnt smoke going up the chimney, wasted. Some of this sort of waste is inevitable on a cold start, but try to keep it to a minimum by getting the stove up to a healthy operating temperature quickly. Try to avoid situations where you have a lot of wood heating up slowly, giving off lots of smoke that isn't being burnt.

    As a fire gets going and the stove and chimney get hot, the force of hot air rising through the chimney (draft) can pull air into the stove faster than is necessary for combustion. That surplus airflow is just carrying heat away. Assuming your stove has a glass door, you can easily gauge how much air is going through it by looking at the flames. Lots of airflow results in lots of turbulence, which moves the flames around a lot. Less airflow results in less turbulence, and flames more around more slowly. You need some turbulence to mix the incoming air with the fuel gasses / particulates / mists, but you don't need a fiery hurricane inside your stove.

    If there's not enough oxygen to burn the gasses / particulates / mists spraying out of the hot wood early in the burn cycle, then again the flames can be snuffed out and a lot of unburnt smoke goes up the chimney. So don't manage the fire in such a way that the wood gets hot, starts spraying flammable stuff out all over the place, and is then suddenly deprived of air. Make adjustments gradually.

    It's entirely possible to liberate heat from wood fast enough to damage the stove, especially when you load up a bunch of small pieces of very dry wood, or when outdoor temperatures are extremely cold, resulting in unusually strong draft. Safe temperatures vary depending on what your stove is made of (steel, cast iron, soapstone). It's really helpful to have a stovetop or flue thermometer (or both).
    Beer Belly likes this.
  6. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2012
    Messages:
    6,185
    Loc:
    Philadelphia
    area_man: Please post the make and model of your stove. Then, download the user manual for this stove, and get yourself a stove-top thermometer. It's very possible you have already damaged the stove by running it wide open, particularly if you put more than two or three pieces of wood in the stove at once. Let's be sure you know what you're doing before the next light-up!
  7. NortheastAl

    NortheastAl Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2012
    Messages:
    676
    Loc:
    Putnam, NY
    No, I don't. Just curious as to why you would want a stove like that? The stove can't do all the work of monitoring a burn. A wood burner does require attention, and maybe those that don't want the worry of monitoring a burn should look at a pellet stove.
  8. NortheastAl

    NortheastAl Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2012
    Messages:
    676
    Loc:
    Putnam, NY
    I agree. Don't start another fire until you get all of this straightened out.
  9. Cynnergy

    Cynnergy Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2012
    Messages:
    265
    Loc:
    Coast, BC
    Sometimes running a stove wide open is the only way you can get a burn at all if you're using wet wood. Been there, done that ;em. But it wasn't my wood pile, honest!

    Area_man, there is lots of great advice on here, you've come to the right place. Everyone here will tell you to burn dry wood that has been cut, split and stacked for at least a year (and more is better). I'm a newbie too, so I don't know much about fuel logs. I think there are certain kinds that are ok, and others that you're not supposed to use because they burn too hot. Do a search of old forum postings using the 'search' box, it's great.
    milleo likes this.
  10. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2010
    Messages:
    1,168
    Loc:
    Northern ON
    FWIW I ran a smoke dragon for quite a few years - dialed it in differently from the current EPA stove. I got my first good long clean burns @ 3 years into the newer stove while shutting the primary air off completely. Every burn is another lesson in getting to know the system - before you know it you'll have a good feel for whatever the conditions are that day (the outside temps, humidity, condition of your wood supply, etc) and how to dial in the stove to fit the situation. The folks here will help guide you, there's no magic number though, but figuring it out for your install is part of the fun.
  11. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    46,991
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    We need the make and model of the stove to advise. Pictures would also help a lot if you can post them.
  12. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2012
    Messages:
    6,185
    Loc:
    Philadelphia
    Coolest avatar of the day. What kind of boat? Heavy tug?

    cynnergy.jpg
  13. Cynnergy

    Cynnergy Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2012
    Messages:
    265
    Loc:
    Coast, BC
    37' landing craft aka the Sealander.

    It's my cousin's, but he lets me drive sometimes ::-).
  14. area_man

    area_man Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2013
    Messages:
    99
    Loc:
    Oregon City, OR
    My first couple of fires never had more than three logs in them, so I'm not too worried about ruining the stove yet. Today I shoveled the ash out and shop-vacuumed the interior and got about 1.25 cubic feet altogether, along with a fist-sized bunch of nails. The woodpile at the house has a bunch of construction scraps, so I guess that's where the nails came from.

    I got a thermometer from a local farm shop and stuck it on the side before I started my burn today. This was the first time I loaded it up for a burn, and it was a GREAT help in figuring out what to do with the dampers. I got a bunch of wood in there once it got rolling and watched the gauge. Once it got up to around 600 I aimed a fan from a cold part of the basement towards the stove and closed a damper and got it down to about 500-550. The basement heated up nicely. It was 46 today, and my room thermometer registered about 66. It's one of the old Da Vinci style ones. I painted in the next room for hours, occasionally adding a stick when the wood burned down to coals.

    I can't see the plate. It's mounted underneath the firebox close to the pillar. I tried slipping my phone under the firebox to take a picture of it but they all came out blurry. A few days ago I thought it said Oreily out of MN, but google is not telling me anything about it. I took some pics of the stove and pipes and stuff so when I get some time I'll post them to see what you guys think.

    I also picked up a steel ash can today. Also had fun chopping a little wood. The only chopper I have is a cold steel trail tomahawk, so I basically turned small construction scraps into slightly smaller construction scraps. At least I'll have a little small kindling to feed the fire.
  15. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,362
    Loc:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Sounds like you're making progress. Congrats on the successful burn.

    In many circumstances you'll need to start closing the dampers well before it hits 600, so don't get too settled on that number. With a good load of dry hardwoods, especially if there are other factors in play, e.g. the wood is split small, it's exceptionally cold or windy outside, you're loading new wood onto a large bed of existing hot coals, etc., if you wait until it gets to 600 before you start dialing it down then it may be difficult to keep it in the safe zone. One evening earlier this winter I made the wrong combination of decisions for the circumstance (loaded a bunch of odd-shaped chunks of high-BTU hardwoods onto a large coal bed on a very cold night) and though I started closing the damper at 400F, there was just too much heat being produced too fast and the stovetop was soon flirting with 900F. That's not an experience I want to repeat anytime soon.
  16. Foragefarmer

    Foragefarmer Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2013
    Messages:
    247
    Loc:
    Central, Virginia
  17. area_man

    area_man Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2013
    Messages:
    99
    Loc:
    Oregon City, OR
  18. Foragefarmer

    Foragefarmer Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2013
    Messages:
    247
    Loc:
    Central, Virginia
    I would say you are in luck then. Those stoves are seriously ugly.
    Joful likes this.
  19. area_man

    area_man Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2013
    Messages:
    99
    Loc:
    Oregon City, OR
    IMAG0126.jpg IMAG0131.jpg IMAG0127.jpg IMAG0140.jpg IMAG0119.jpg
    OK, here's some pics of the stove. I think it's steel. Almost rust-free, just a few spots here and there. I got one of the woodpile, too. It was dark when I took the pic... anyway, what do you think? The chimney is exterior to the house. From what I've read that's not optimal, but I'm not going to build another chimney. I don't have that kind of money.

    The fire I got rolling after I cleared out the ash and got the thermometer stuck to the side was MUCH hotter and did a great job of heating up the ground floor. I'm sure the fan helped spread the love around a great deal.

    The downstairs living room has an open doorway to the stairs and an open doorway at the top. I can't close a door to keep the heat at the bottom. I was thinking about installing some heavy curtains at the doorway that leads to the stairwell to try to keep the heat down there. I don't think it's enough stove to heat the whole house.

    My next plan is to fit another insert into the fireplace upstairs to heat the main living space and the kids' bedrooms upstairs. I bet just having the fireplace upstairs sucks heat out of the house. Right now I think a Century 45 would work well there. There's a lot of good information on this forum, I've been browsing around for a few nights and I bet I can figure out how to install it myself with the pipe and everything else. The upstairs stove would probably be more efficient and throw more heat, and I could probably switch to wood as my primary heat for the house. That would be great.

    One other idea. I read a bit about using water as a heat sink that would throw off heat for a while after the stove cools off. I have a couple of large SS pots with a lid that fits tightly. If I put one on the left side of the stove that wouldn't interfere with how anything works but would store heat for a few hours. Does that sound reasonable, or would the pot boil and make a big mess? I wouldn't want ten gallons of boiling water throwing off gallons of steam in a day.

    Below, see the pic of the thermometer. I didn't realize until after I posted the pic that you can see the dainty little tomahawk in the upper right.

    Attached Files:

    raybonz likes this.
  20. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    46,991
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    That's an old ~1980 Orley. Moved to the Classics forum for a more targeted response.

    This is a tough heater. There are lots of them in the Northwest. They handle a big long log, thus the left and right air controls. This stove will really crank out the heat, but it will also go through wood like candy. Try to keep at least a 2" deep ash bed in it. There is no magic to damping down this stove that I know of. Burn only dry wood and turn it down enough to be comfortable, but try to keep a low flame going and not to smolder or smother the fire.

    Note that this stove can not legally be resold in OR.

Share This Page