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Newbies here....

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by jjolm, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. jjolm

    jjolm New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2012
    Messages:
    7
    Loc:
    ND
    We had a Fireplace Xtrordinair Elite Plus 33 installed Thursday (very exciting!). There was an older (30+ years old) stove in the firebox that we took out after we purchased this house. Replaced the old liner with new and had the whole thing professionally installed.

    We are very new to all of this and are looking like two deer in headlights. Our biggest problem right now is that it took us a long time to get the stove hot enough to even get the blower to run. We do not have a thermometer and I think we are afraid of too big of a fire, or an overfire. (A thermometer will be purchased soon....) We kept the air intake open until a good fire was going, then moved it to half open. We thought the fire looked big, but again there was still no blower! So after an hour or so we moved the air back to full open, and shortly after the blower started. So I'm assuming we didn't get the stove hot enough. We are using wood that we purchased with the house - it has been stored in a shed for 2 years. We probably have 1 cord total.

    Couple of questions -- when filling the stove, do we fill it as much as we can? And what does a 'slow burn' look like? Should there be high flames? Anybody have a video? I feel so dumb... ;em

    Also, are we in trouble in terms of how much wood we have available?? I understand that we should start stockpiling asap for the seasons to come and that I can probably find seasoned wood somewhere, just will need to pay more $$? How many cords can a person expect to use in a season?

    Thank you so much for any and all help - it's really appreciated!

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  2. remkel

    remkel Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    1,459
    Loc:
    Southwest NH
    Good luck with the new unit. There is a learning curve as you are seeing, but trial and error is the best way to learn the idiosyncrasies of your stove.
  3. mfglickman

    mfglickman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2012
    Messages:
    676
    Loc:
    NW CT
    Hey there, and welcome!

    I'm not familiar with your stove but I'd say as someone who was new last year, the following probably applies:

    1- You should start stockpiling now for next year and the years after. Look for free scrounges, stop and ask tree services, call your town and ask what tree service they use and what they do with the wood, etc...with the aim to get some round dropped at your house (in exchange for beer? cookies? barter trade?) or to go pick some up that someone does not want. This you'd need to split yourselves. Good exercise (says I who don't do the splitting, but I DO scrounge, stack, and move wood around the property, lol). In the spring after burning season is a good time to start looking for future wood at bargain prices. In CT I paid $120/cord for 4 cords delivered over the summer, all hardwoods, split. Right now that same wood (they call it seasoned when it's cold out but it's all the same, fresh-split and not seasoned) goes for $250/cord.

    2- Look around Craigslist, your families and friends, real estate agents who have houses listed for sale/foreclosure that have seasoned stacks sitting in the back. Offer to take some off their hands, paying something that seems fair for the amount. We came across a bit last year on CL, where a guy was giving away his parents' wood, as his parents were elderly and no longer using it, and they just wanted it neatly removed from their yard. We also bought 2 seasoned cords this spring from a family that was unexpectedly selling their home. We paid $200 for 2 cords that were split small (way smaller than my DH could stand to do it) and seasoned about a year. So all but the oak is pretty good for burning and it was a win-win.

    3- If you cannot find seasoned cords (and do look at the Wood Shed forum for tips on how to tell if wood is seasoned and refuse delivery if it is not - there are many good posts on this) then supplement with bio bricks, eco bricks, envi bricks, one of the "pressed wood" products that you can get. Make sure they are just wood and no fillers like Duraflame etc. - never, ever put any chemicals in your stove! Broken up pallets are free and also work but they burn REALLY hot so be careful.

    4- Since you are new I'd recommend not filling it up to the top till you are sure you know how your stove runs with your setup. Things that matter are the stove, your wood, the draft, height of the chimney, type of liner, etc...so while someone may have the same stove as you they will never have exactly the same setup. Take your time and get familiar with your stove's behavior.

    5- Be cautious/err on the side of caution whenever possible. Never walk away when you're starting up (Both my husband and I did this this year, everyone does it once in a while, and you always feel like you've dodged a bullet - or not - depending on the outcome). I've started setting a timer on my phone or the kitchen timer to remind me to go back and adjust the draft, check to engage the cat, etc so I don't get distracted.

    6- Have fun and ask lots of questions here and share all your silly stories, mistakes and triumphs! This is a great community and the wealth of information from people here who've been heating with wood for many years is truly invaluable.

    Welcome again! :)


    Mary
    topknot and raybonz like this.
  4. jjolm

    jjolm New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2012
    Messages:
    7
    Loc:
    ND
    Thank you so much for the replies!! We are even having a "heat wave" of sorts for December here and we just can't stop playing with this stove. :)

    Here is a video I found - is this what all secondary burns should look like??



    Also, Mary, your #5:
    Can you go through this with me? What am I looking for at start up that could be bad - overfire?

    Right now I am not sure I am having secondary burn at all. My flames from the primary fire reach the small holes at the top, but I don't necessarily see flames originating from there, like the video shows. Also, we're still dealing with the blower going on and off - again because we're not hot enough? I have the air intake almost completely closed and the flames are still high, but blower is not going.
  5. Dakotas Dad

    Dakotas Dad Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Messages:
    1,374
    Loc:
    Central Kentucky
    Sometimes they look like this:



    and late in the burn, they may do this:

  6. Mrs. Krabappel

    Mrs. Krabappel Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Messages:
    1,555
    Loc:
    Blue Ridge Mountains NC
    your thermometer will really help you monitor temps while avoiding guesswork and overfire. You can pick one up for twenty bucks or less at your local tractor supply or box store.
  7. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2009
    Messages:
    4,165
    Loc:
    Central PA
    I think a good way to get started is to try to build short-lived but hot fires. Build a pile of smaller splits graduating from 3 or 4 inch splits on the bottom thru 2 inchers to kindling. Put a piece of firestarter in the kindling, light it, and see how it goes. With my stove I can let a fire like this burn with a lot of air (turning the air control down only a little, no more than halfway closed at any time) and get a hot but short fire.

    Do this once and see what happens. Next time make the pile a little larger and repeat. In a few days you'll have a good idea how a load of wood will behave, then the weather will change and you'll have to relearn the whole thing. Just kidding, but weather will have an impact. After a few fires you'll know how to get the stove hot but not too hot.
  8. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2012
    Messages:
    2,066
    Loc:
    SW Washington
    The single most important factor is dry wood. And the only way to be confident is to use a moisture meter on it. You split open a piece and measure on an inside face. Shoot for 20%. If the wood is not dry enough, it will be a disappointing burning experience. That's the first thing I'd look at if you are having trouble getting the stove up to a good temp.

    The owner's manual should give a few hints on good procedure.

    Avoid turning the air down too much, too quickly. Let the stove top get hot on high for the secondaries to get working and you can start to turn it down. Do that in stages, about 1/4 throttle at a time. Not familiar with your stove, so this is generic.

    The easiest way to get an overfire or runaway is by putting a bunch of splits on a hot bed of coals.. That causes too much off-gassing, too quickly and it becomes hard to control.

    Welcome and you'll get lots of good burning advice here.

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