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No bricks in wood stove!

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by wowser, Mar 13, 2012.

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  1. wowser

    wowser Member

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    Bought a cabin last month and it had a wood burner. It's a 2003 small EPA Century I believe. Tried getting a fire going and couldn't get a good burn going. Wood would light but not really get going; no secondaries. Since I have a wood burning insert at home I know what it should look like. After about a dozen fires I decide to take a good look inside to see what's going on. Turns out there's NO FIRE BRICKS ANYWHERE! What? Any possibility of me damaging stove? I never really got it cranking and it didn't seem to ping a whole lot.

    Ordered 18 bricks from Ace Hardware. It calls for 18 inside the box and two above the baffle. Hoping those are at least in there. If not I think I have to take the stove pipe off to get to em.

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  2. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    wow you definately want bricks in that firebox, that's what builds the core temp of the fire up so the secondaries work correctly not to mention your stove's clearances are greatly effected by it having or not having firebrick in it. Without that brick, I'm sure your clearances would need to be greater around the stove sides and back than it would be with the brick in it. Check it over good for cracks or warpage, hope it is OK!
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  3. wowser

    wowser Member

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    I think it's okay. It never really got a good fire going so I don't think I over fired. I'll check it carefully next time I'm there.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  4. keninmich

    keninmich Member

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    So.....just WHY would someone remove all the fire-bricks??
  5. wowser

    wowser Member

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    Yea, good question. It was a short sale and the previous owner was kind of a jerk. They took things they weren't supposed to. It might have been final screw off, or more likely, he never replaced them. There were ashes and a few wood remnants in the bottom so I think he fired it without the bricks. Some people just don't know...
  6. keninmich

    keninmich Member

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    The fact that they were ALL gone seems like a good indication that they did it on purpose or had no idea they should replace them from time to time.

    I knew a guy once who took his out cause they were all cracked and nasty looking and who then decided that he really did not need to replace them.
    I tried to tell him that they were there for a reason and he had better get new ones.
    He finally realized a few fires later that maybe he should get some more....it was putting out virtually no heat.



    I am glad you did not ruin anything by continuing to try and make the fire bigger and bigger before you noticed they were gone.
  7. burleymike

    burleymike Feeling the Heat

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    I bet they took them out thinking it would make the stove put out more heat. I remember seeing a video on youtube of a guy complaining about EPA stoves and how they suck, all that firebrick insulating them prevents the heat from escaping in to the room. Some people just don't understand how a reburn stove works and figure they know better. If you don't see any cracks/warped steel you are probably fine. I know when my old insert cracked a few welds the steel warped badly after breaking off the cat holder. It sounded like a shotgun blast.
  8. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    You didn't see the bricks were missing when you loaded it the first time?
    It is a good idea to thoroughly inspect any stove that you acquire prior to burning.
    The prior owner more likely pulled the bricks out to make for a larger fire box thinking he could stuff more wood in there.
  9. Obewan

    Obewan New Member

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    Hello,
    I am a wood burning guy and I have done extensive research on wood stoves. I have heard that it is possible to burn through the steel depending on just how "Hot" you are burning your wood stove. "Hot" in this case will mean "over firing" your wood stove appliance. You never want to ever "over fire" a wood stove and there is no reason for such an event to transpire and it all depends on how you load your appliance with wood and then operate that same appliance. Learn first how to not "over fire" your wood stove and most wood stoves will do much better without firebrick installed inside them.


    I own three wood stoves and fire all these stoves daily. I have removed all the firebrick from the inside of two each Quadra-Fires and a Buck 28000. The Big Buck is the only stove capable of burning both wood and coal and I do not burn coal and therefor I do not need the custom firebrick installed inside at this time. What ever warnings others are giving you are based on years and/or damage caused by years of fires that are being over fired consistently and or considered out of control burns. Believe it or not steel does not burn or vaporize that easily as we were led to believe on 9-11. You need extreme temperatures to warp and or melt 1/4" plate steel and/or cast iron.

    Firebrick is what I call a reflector as it reflects some of the infrared energy back to the fire that is burning and then that heat goes straight up the flue and you are wasting dollars in lost wood heat. As an insulator it might protect steel a little bit and as a thermal mass it is poor, since it does not hold heat well. It is a ruse, is all I can imagine, and a way to make fire boxes smaller for creating smaller hotter fires that burn more wood than is required for the heat eventually generated. The EPA or some manufacturers may have suggested such a practice for reduced emissions, since hotter smaller burning fire boxes consume the wood quickly. This might lower the VOC's being released for testing but it does nothing for the heat you desire from your appliance.

    I have invented a device that allows me to use 1/2 the wood that others would burn under normal circumstances. I live in a mild climate in the Sierra Foothills and winter temps are mid 40's to the the mid 30's. All wood stoves will take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to come up to operating temperature, in order to kick on any fans, which will usually kick on the first stage at about 160 degree thermostat temperature reading. 2 pieces of wood can get your stove up to this temperature as easily as 5 pieces of wood and when you are trying push this created fire heat through the fire brick lining and then the plate steel/cast iron, it will take much longer to deliver heat desired to the room you want to heat with the wood stove appliance.

    So my recommendation would be to purchase cast iron pipe 1.5 inch diameter pipe and cut it to lengths to fit the interior stove areas where fire brick is now located especially above the top baffle area. One of my Quadra-Fire stoves had an insulation blanket in this area? Really? Its gone now and cast iron pipe is there instead and bam there is now heat coming from this stove! The cast iron also is a great thermal mass and holds the heat nicely longer than any type of fire brick. If you really wanted to create a thermal mass this should be done outside the stove appliance and in the room you are heating. Water is the best heat retention molecule on the planet. That is why they used boiler rooms and radiators in the old days to heat very large buildings. I chose not to install cast iron on the inside sides of my stoves since I wanted a larger firebox for less clean outs, since most of these new wood stoves are so small. When I removed the fire brick on the bottom I noticed the the bricks were worn from the ash shovel, so I cut a piece of steel flashing to fit the bottom perfectly and now that same shovel moves like its on silk. After 5 months this installed and very thin bottom piece of flashing still has not burned through and this fact still makes me scratch my head repeatedly over 9-11.

    So I hope this was helpful and it eases some concerns you have. Fire is not that dangerous after all if you can control its behavior.
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That's dangerous advice, especially for stoves that are installed with close clearances. What are the emissions from these modified stoves? What if one doesn't want an intensely radiant stove?

    If more heat is needed get a properly sized stove or work on reducing the heat loss in the house.
  11. Obewan

    Obewan New Member

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    begreen,
    I have to disagree the advice is excellent and you are predicting what?

    Both the quads have a 6 inch clearances and I have my cut seasoned wood stored 6 inches from each stove. Do you think removing the brick from the interior has something to do with altering this approved clearance for these two quads? Fire is fire my friend and temperature is temperature and it makes no difference how you achieve these stove temperatures and this clearance will not change based on the removal of any interior brick. Simply, if you "over fire" any wood stove appliance with or without brick you then enter the danger zone no matter what type of stove you are using. the clearances are based on maximum steel heat and not the brick.

    The key to productive and efficient wood burning is to get the heat generated by the burning fire inside the wood stove appliance into the room you want to heat quickly while reducing the loss in volume of wood fire heat generated up the flue. Most Americans are burning way to much wood to achieve the overall goal (heat) and any supposed improved VOC reducing appliance may be burning twice as much wood as needed or required to achieve that same goal (heat). This would equate into twice as many trees being burned creating the same and/or like VOC's to create like same heat.

    Its all in the BTU's and how these BTU's are used and then released and then stored inside and around the outside of the wood stove appliance. Insulated rooms hold heat better than non insulated rooms and any heat going up the flue will not generate any potential heat for the user. The time for this created fire heat to transfer (ifrared) to the exterior surface of the stove is then paramount to reducing the amount of wood burned. 5 pieces of wood will not transfer this heat (push) through that steel any faster than 2 pieces of wood. Heat can only move so fast through objects and as you are waiting for this transfer heat (money) is being lost up the flue.

    Barrel kit stoves give off great amounts of heat and why is that? Thin steel for easy transfer and transport of the fire heat into the surrounding areas. The optimum is to be able to place wood inside a stove and have this fire heat (BTU's) move out to the exterior plate surface effortlessly and quickly. So a digital laser thermometer should read 350 degrees in the stove (fire) and 350 degrees on the exterior surface at the exact same time. This occurs when the heated molecular structures of the steel are excited and communicating with each other during the heat transfer dance you created by building the fire.

    Bringing up the stove temperature slower and more controlled and with less wood allows this heat transfer to be controlled and then to become very efficient as wood is then added to increase any heat outputs then desired by the user. Heat can only move so fast through objects and fire brick does nothing for heat in my opinion.

    Hope this helps!
  12. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Lot of stating of opinions as facts.

    Wood stored 6 inches from the stove? Have you read any of FIreman Jake's postings? Glad this isn't my home. Pray you haven't any children living there.

    Good to know you are better informed about required safety clearances than the stove manufacturers and testers.

    Why buy a manufactured stove at all? Just weld some 1/4 inch steel together, make a hole in the top for the flue (if you believe in those), and toss the wood in...oh, 2 pieces for the first hour.

    The best thing about your humble advice, in my opinion, is that the reasoning is a bit hard to follow, so not too many people will follow it.

    Incidentally, many EPA stoves use remarkably little wood and burn and heat very efficiently and safely just as they come from the manufacturer.

    Merry Christmas and a happy new year.
  13. Billybonfire

    Billybonfire Feeling the Heat

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    As I understand it firebrcks are there for a purpose
    to protect the body of the stove
    to keep firebox temps up for longer efficient burning.
    I am sure the stove makers know what they are doing by now after all some have been making stoves for 150 years or more and have people designing and testing to make their products as efficient and safe as they can.

    Billy.
  14. Obewan

    Obewan New Member

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    begreen,
    You had asked a couple questions I failed to answer.

    My invention reduces the smoke and VOC's escaping from wood stove appliances. Therefor there is no problem with slower fire start ups using less wood, since very little smoke is seen when using my device. There will be a little smoke as the preheater ignites the wood but that will be minimal and then all that will be seen will be the light airy water white smoke. This is the optimum for efficient wood burning.

    By bringing the interior of the wood stove appliance up to temperature slowly, as well as the surrounding interior wood, the optimum burning environment is being created via my device. The molecular structure of the steel is being prepared (preheated) for efficient heat transfer to the exterior surface. It does not take a ton of wood to achieve this goal and if you want to burn green and burn less wood then this creation is for you. Burning green means patience since the transfer of heat is a constant through steel and often sadly slowed by firebrick.

    Not everyone wants or needs raging radiant fires and my device can be burned alone, by itself, and no, no one has to have a raging fire and they can control all their fires from the get go using this device. My goal is to save several million trees a year while attempting to keep our air cleaner. The device gives the user a very pleasant dancing fire to view the entire time its working inside the stove and it will always look and behave the same way when it is fired and used each day. The device is reusable.

    I have research this matter now for 4 years and I have still waited to bring my creation into the world. Yet this created device of mine has started every fire I have started now for the past 3 years. I created it and I like it and I use it. I can take two 1 inch rounds and have a pleasant visible fire for a couple of hours. I have my own reasons for creating this device and I am almost ready to market it. This creation of mine sometimes even amazes me.

    You can trust my advice since there is no reason for me to mislead you or anyone else.
  15. Obewan

    Obewan New Member

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    Its ok guys since you think I do not know what I am talking about and/or saying and isn't that they way the world spins and operates these days?

    Clearly none of you have looked at your home furnaces with zero clearances and/or other heating appliances. There happens to be a 3" clearance on the smaller Quads at corner points to combustibles and yes a 6" clearance on the rear with the top shield. So gee sounds like I know my stuff and others are now spouting opinions.

    Now, if you guys are burning your stoves "all out" full blast all day long and its sub zero outside and she is at 500 degrees all day, then I would worry too. You are burning a ton of wood no doubt!

    My advice and the research I have done is free of charge and no one has to use any of this advice given.

    I do know that I burn very little wood and yes the areas I am heating are as warm as I want them to be and yes these stoves are very safe, since I surely do not want to burn anything down.

    Like I said there is no reason for me to mislead anyone.
  16. ailanthus

    ailanthus Feeling the Heat

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    Get your popcorn ready...
    Dune, rideau, laynes69 and 3 others like this.
  17. tobaccogrower

    tobaccogrower Member

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    and beer
    rideau, laynes69 and rkshed like this.
  18. Obewan

    Obewan New Member

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    Billy,
    You know I have looked at this fire brick concept from all angles and I can not find any research that supports your comments. If you have research stating the exact benefit of these fire bricks installed inside any wood stove appliances, please point me towards this research paper. Pros and cons. I have given you what I believe are the cons already.

    The Big Buck 28000 was installed in 1978 and the fire box is huge and there is no fire brick inside it to protect the steel sides or steel interior top. There is no interior upper baffle plate. This steel has not burned through yet? The flames hit this top plate, nope, nada and we are talking about a great deal of fires raging inside this bad boy now for what 33 years. The Big Buck is a triple wall stove and one of the best wood stoves ever made and to think I can even reduce the smoke coming out of this stack too! That is amazing!

    There was a design flaw that I discovered when evaluating this wood stove appliance. The thermostat that controls the rear circulation fan was installed on the second wall out from the fire box. 1st wall is fire box, 2nd wall is to export hot air from rear fan, 3rd wall out is intake cool air from room pulled by the rear circulation fan. The manufactures thought that somehow this stove would work better if they put that thermostat so far away from the raging fire? I can only guess how much wood was wasted trying to get any heat out of this bad boy and how many owners were scratching their heads wondering were all the heat was. It was going up the flue with all their money attached to it.

    These people thought that by having the heat from the raging inside fire travel first through the steel fire wall and then through the 1 inch air gap to get to the second steel plate and then through that second steel plate to reach the thermostat that it would throw more heat? I simply bought some oven wire and removed the thermostat from its location on the exterior of the second wall out and brought it to the front of the stove directly on the first fire wall. The thermostat is now reading the actual fire temperature based on the first wall reading and bam now I am getting tons of heat out of this Big Buck and burning very little wood.

    I have no idea how many of these stoves were thrown away or scrapped and I do know tons of wood has been and is being lost up these older Buck flues due to this simple manufacturing error. Its all based on the above research I already gave you.

    Simple solutions to achieving more heat and better results thinking outside the box created by others.

    Hope this helps and pass this info on to any older Big Buck owners if you know any. Save a tree or two!
  19. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    Do you have a magic heat? Just askin'.
    Dune, rideau, corey21 and 2 others like this.
  20. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Obewan, did your career selling the 150mpg water powered carburetor not work out?
    Treacherous and rkshed like this.
  21. rkshed

    rkshed Feeling the Heat

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    Obewan,
    Can you post a picture of your invention?
    Its still early in the morning and I just can't picture it.
    Also, when everyone climbs out of bed this morning, hold onto your hat. These guys, and rightly so, are going to waterboard you for more info...
  22. jotulguy

    jotulguy Feeling the Heat

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    That clearance isnt 3 or 6 inches once you remove the firebrick. You mentioned earlier that they are there to reflect heat.......that is how you get your clearance. I would love to see some pics of your set ups. Would you mind posting a few?
  23. Dakotas Dad

    Dakotas Dad Minister of Fire

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    Man alive. I can't decide if he is about to start selling his "device" or what.

    I bet I could keep my house warm in the foothills with 2 pieces of wood too. Go up to my dad's place above Truckee and see how it does. I actually doubt the state of California looks favorably on modifying an EPA stove, since they look very dimly at the practice of burning ANYTHING for any reason. And hate wood burners with a passion. Mostly due to the independence it gives them I bet...

    i will also admit, on occasion, Jos Shmo out thinks all the engineers on the planet and comes up with a valid new idea/method for stuff..

    Awaiting pictures and test data.

    OH.. and 911 was not an inside job or .gov conspiracy. Just so you know.
  24. clemsonfor

    clemsonfor Minister of Fire

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    Thia wAs my thinking.
  25. charly

    charly Guest

    Zero homeowners insurance once they see the stove mods,,,zero,,,, burn you have nothing!
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