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Oxygen starved fire or so it would seem

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by skidud, Oct 17, 2010.

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  1. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    What is meant by switching out the baffle for the shorter pieces?

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  2. skidud

    skidud Member

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    It has 8 roughly 4"x8" fiber baffles on the top of the fire chamber. I had to cut about an inch and a half off of two of them to allow the gas to escape up to the flue. The manual says to have a minimum of 1" gap there. I took the 1.5" piece (that I cut off) and put that in place of the 2.5" pieces (from which they came). It seems to have helped but it's definitely not right yet. My fire is not burning as hot as it should be. I'm gonna try some different wood and then add the second length of chimney pipe. I'm thinking this is definitely a matter of multiple problems for which I hope to eliminate one by one until I get it. It works now, but not like it should, or at least how I think it should.
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    With good dry wood and proper draft that stove should take off like a rocket. This is the first time I've heard of modifying the baffle. Are the baffle board firmly all the way back in the stove?
  4. Ivy Frank

    Ivy Frank New Member

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    This is unnecessarily snarky. Newb comes to the forum looking for help and you hit him with prose critique?
  5. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Hell I do not have enough thoughts to put into paragraphs, I missed that post.
  6. Ivy Frank

    Ivy Frank New Member

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    "Problem with my draft" is a relative term.

    I'd say that, for a PE stove, if you can't get a fire w/o the door open, then you have a problem with your draft. Just my opinion of what a problem is.

    I say that because starting a fire with the door open presents an opportunity for bad things to happen.

    In any event, I use top down method. Few logs on bottom, some 1" kindling, then a handful of 1/8" stuff.

    Put the draft on high, hit the 1/8" stuff with a propane torch for a minute of less, blow a few times to get it hot and bothered, and close the door.

    Success rate is about 99% with that method, if the wood is dry. 100% if I don't get lazy with the setup.

    My stack is about 28 feet tall, triple wall.
  7. North of 60

    North of 60 Minister of Fire

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    Precaud made perfect helpful sense which tho OP has used which got him helpful answer's, and talk about Cat snarky. Time to use the ignore button once again.
  8. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Some stove have that in the owners manual and it is still fairly warm, have you seen all the posts from the people who start fires with the door open?
  9. vvvv

    vvvv New Member

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  10. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Huh, who you talking to?
  11. Ivy Frank

    Ivy Frank New Member

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    Sure. Lots of people start fires with the door open. Lots of people drive without wearing seatbelts too.

    Point is this - you'll never have a fire caused by a door left open at the start of a burn if you don't leave the door open at the start of a burn.

    This reminds me of a guy who was having an intractable issue with his car. Couldn't diagnose it for the life of him. I walked up to the car, after listening to the symptoms, and said, "aha, I know what your problem is." Guy says, excitedly, "oh what's that?" I say, "it's a Ford. Get yourself a Honda and this ----- won't happen anymore."

    Point is this - a stove should not need to be jury rigged to get it to start burning, as it presents a fire risk. Stoves and ventilation systems should be designed and built with that at the forefront. Any manufacturer that instructed the use of the "cracked door" technique would, to me, warrant avoidance.

    If you have to start every fire with the door open, then I'd suggest a different stack, a different stove, or both.

    Regarding the OP's issue, holy canolee - scattershot approach works great on the 79 dodge with the tricky high tension problem, not so much on stoves.

    You say that you bought the stove used?
    It's been modified?
    You're not sure of the mods?
    4x8 whatsee-hoo-zee baffle HUH?

    My advice is this - sell the stove to your brother with the advice that Frank Ivy wouldn't use it as an outdoor Maple Syrup boiler.

    Go buy yourself a PE or other top-brand stove that doesn't say to jury rig the door to get it started.

    Improve your vent pipe to triple wall (best way to go), and make sure that you have a tall enough stack.

    Regarding your house, it sounds unhealthy. If it's that tight, you ought to leave a window open through the window, minimum. Better yet, put in an air exchange system.

    Houses should have 4 or 5 complete air volume exchanges everyday.

    Good luck.
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    On that same path, anytime you start a fire there is an opportunity for bad things to happen. What's the actual concern?

    What if it is impossible for the stove to have a 2 story flue? 28ft is a tall stack. Our PE has about 8ft less and starts better in milder weather with the door ajar. But I usually don't do top down starts, prolly should get into the habit. Once it gets cold outside, the stove starts faster and with the door closed. Add a chunk of SuperCedar, it is childs play.

    There are a variety of stove fire box shapes and baffle arrangements too. Some stove designs start much better with the door ajar. This is what we found burning in shallower firebox stoves like the F3CB and F400.
  13. Ivy Frank

    Ivy Frank New Member

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    Criticizing the formation of paragraphs in a post seeking wood stove help is "helpful?"

    Ok. Here's some help for you.

    When you modify a noun with multiple adjectives, a comma is required between the adjectives. Thus - "perfect, helpful sense."
    If you are going to use "which" to add a subordinate clause to modify a noun, precede it with a comma. Thus - ". . . helpful sense, which the OP . . . ."
    Two spaces after a period, not one.
    The use of an apostrophe before an "s" at the end of a noun implies possession, but your "answer" doesn't possess anything. Instead, you intended a pluralization of "answer," and, accordingly, no apostrophe was required.

    So, am I making "perfect helpful sense," or am I being snarky?

    Seriously though, folks, Hearth.com was never about being uppity with newbs. Greetings should be warm and gentle, like those for which BeGreen and Craig himself are known.
  14. Ivy Frank

    Ivy Frank New Member

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    Come on, that makes no sense.

    What you're saying is, "well, there's a risk of explosion every time you fill your gasoline tank, so what's the problem with smoking?"

    Door open = Greater risk.

    Show me anybody who is in the habit of starting a fire with the door open until "the kindling is going" and I'll show you somebody who has forgotten about a fire with the door open at some point.

    OK - it usually works out without a house fire.

    But not every time.

    My stack is too tall - 28 is not ideal, but it's what I had to do for my design.

    But there are minimums. I hear "11 foot" and I think, "burn problems."

    Even in a one story house with a standard roof you've got 5 feet to the ceiling, 5 feet of attic or so - if you need to have 8' above roof then that's what you need - or locate the stove in a different place and run it up an outside wall.

    Point is, there are minimums that should be attained - if you can't obtain the minimum, keeping the fire open to the room "until it gets going" is a poor substitute.
  15. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Starting a fire with a propane torch does not sound like the safest thing to do either!
  16. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    We've never forgotten so far. However, I can definitely say that there are a lot of people that have forgotten to close the bypass on their stoves and perhaps taken the flue over its rating. Do you have stats on house fires caused by spacing out the door being open starting a fire or just conjecture? This is not a door wide open, but just ajar. I firmly doubt this would be in print in stove manuals if it was high risk, but you know liability law better.

    FWIW, aren't many fireplaces open to the room?

    Attached Files:

  17. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    From EPA Method 28, the testing standard for wood stoves:

    "8.12.1.4 The wood heater door may remain open and the
    air supply controls adjusted up to five minutes after the
    start of the test run in order to make adjustments to the
    test fuel charge and to ensure ignition of the test fuel
    charge has occurred."
  18. freeburn

    freeburn Feeling the Heat

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    Skidud- what's your temp outside the house when starting this fire? If it's too warm you aren't going to get any draft unless the door is open.
  19. tutu_sue

    tutu_sue New Member

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    You mentioned that you have double wall pipe with a vent hole in it where you aimed the laser thermometer. What kind of pipe do you have? Are your venting connections - flue collar to stove pipe, stove pipe to chimney, chimney to chimney very air tight? Air getting into a leaky venting system can compete with the stove and affect operation. If you really want us to help you nail down the problem, pics of everything inside and out will go a long way and help hold our attention.

    I think I've seen leave the door open in one of the Hearthstone manuals, too.
  20. madrone

    madrone Minister of Fire

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    It's probably green, indicating large amounts of copper in the soil where the tree grew.
  21. madrone

    madrone Minister of Fire

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    I believe there's even a video on the Lopi site on operating your stove that tells you to leave the door open at start up. I'll have to find it. The stove shouldn't be left alone at start up anyway.

    And Precaud's advice was good. I didn't sense any trace of snark. It's something I myself took a while to learn about posting, and I wish someone had said something sooner.
  22. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Let's try to focus on the OP and find out why this 1400 is balking. I am concerned about having modified the config on a new stove. That appears to be treating the symptoms and not the problem, but may have repercussions once the actual problem is remedied.

    Primary suspects are a combo of so-so wood, short flue and warm outside temps. Need to confirm that the baffle was seated all the way to the rear of the stove.
  23. Ivy Frank

    Ivy Frank New Member

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    4 bucks worth of kiln dried 2x4 from Home Cheapo will eliminate the first.
    First cold night eliminates the 2nd.

    Short, cold flue or rigged stove is where I'd look 1st.
  24. skidud

    skidud Member

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    Well, I'm back and it looks like I missed a lot. I won't attempt to hit all the points but I'll knock off some.

    My first post was rambling but like I said, it was late and I was a little frustrated. I didn't take any offense to the poor paragraph comment but could see how some might. I'm on quite a few forums and it'll take a lot more than that to get my feathers ruffled.

    See, I do know how to make paragraphs!

    Next thing is, when the devil offers to buy my stove cause hell's getting chilly, I'll sell it. Until then, I'm keeping it.

    The baffling in the top has not been modified by anyone other than me. I don't know the exact history of the stove, but what I do know is too long to post. The short of it is, I bought it from a guy (who never used it) who got it from another guy. It showed no signs of being burned more than one time. Perhaps this is because the original owner put new firebrick in it, hence the screwed up baffles.

    FYI, when I speak of draft, I'm referring to the amount draw or vacuum the chimney is producing. I would consider back draft (or negative draft) to be air current going down the chimney and into the chamber/room. Having strong draft and no supply of oxygen to match that draft is going to result in no fire. Whether I have a draft problem or not remains to be seen. I definitely have an oxygen problem. Seeing the choked out fire smoke get sucked up through the flue when I crack the door would show that I have some draft. Leaving the door cracked until a fire is going is recommended in different literature including my owner's manual. I'd question if stoves that don't require this are stoves that have bypass controls or a lot bigger control range on the damper controls. I'm fine with leaving the door open to start a fire (see the part about hell freezing over).

    The outside temp was around 60-65 on my latest attempts, the first attempt it was probably a little over 40, my inside temp would be 68.

    The baffles are all the way to the back, the stove is not "new" but built in 1999. I agree with not treating the symptoms but the supplied baffling was not correct per the owners manual. It is now, per the owner manual, and that did seem to help. I would never, nor would my wife ever allow me to, try and jury rig a stove to make it work. I have a family that sleeps in this home and they're safety is my number one concern.

    I am going to let it cool overnight, pull all the firebrick/baffles back out and figure out why my damper control is not letting in oxygen. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm still not convinced that this isn't an issue of something being goofed up with an air passage somewhere. I've seen homes with some REALLY REALLY poor chimneys layouts and they're getting burned all winter long. You won't convince me that my draft is worse than theirs (unless the inside/outside temp is in play) or that any of them is having to leave their stove door open the entire time to keep a roaring fire going. I will continue to believe that I've got an airflow problem until I have, one way or another, checked that every passage is clear and proven otherwise.

    Lastly, if anyone is still reading, I really do appreciate what everyone is doing to try and help. You guys are all great and my wife just laughs when I tell her that so many people are helping me get to the bottom of this. She thinks you guys are nuts for getting on here to help someone out, whom you don't even know. I think your all nuts too but I'm very grateful just the same. I'm going to bed now, my daughter has been up with a cold and I've been juggling her, the stove and this forum all day. Have a good night everyone.
  25. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Just crack the door an inch until the kindling is all burning and the stove will do just fine. Air restricted stoves just will not take off and run with the door closed. Period. Paragraph.

    When you reload, leave it cracked open until the splits have started burning. Five minutes usually max. Stuff needs air to burn and the flue needs to be sucking it through the stove.

    Edit: And tell your wife she is right. We are all nuts. Wood burning nuts. We like burning very large weeds to heat our houses.
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