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PE Summit insert 2nd season disappointing. Looking for ideas why.

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by relay, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. relay

    relay New Member

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    Hi everybody,

    I was hoping to get some ideas from seasoned pros about disappointing performance from our PE Summit on our 2nd season.

    We installed a brand new PE Summit INSERT and used it last season. I spent quite a bit of time on here (THANKS AGAIN FOR ALL THE INFO AND SUPPORT!!!!!!) before I chose the Summit. I installed it myself using a fully insulated SS flexible liner in the existing chimney. The lenght of the liner is about 13". Its a 1 story ranch and the chimney is in the center of the house, not an outside wall. Ichose a liner for improved draft and safety. I also installed a complete heat shield to reflect the heat from going up the open area of the chimney. The house is about 1900 sq ft all on 1 level and fairly open.

    Last year I put about 2 cord of wood through it and about 3 tons of Bio Bricks. I cleaned the chimney back in September of this year and there was 1/5 of a cup of crud. I removed the baffel for cleaning.

    Last year, it was fairly easy to keep the house around 70 degrees when the temp was around freezing outside. Obviously much colder ouside was more work. This yeay, we are loading and loading the stove but simply cannot maintain above 66 degrees. Last year, 66 is what it would hit in the mornings when it was out of wood. This year, 62 is what the mornings are and I am stuffing the stove far more than I did last year.

    Now I know that wood varies greatly, however, I am seeing this with red oak that I split myself 2 years ago as well as with the Bio Bricks which are at least 99 % consistant IMHO.

    Last year, the most I ever loaded with Bio Bricks was 16 of the 2lb bricks and even that could be a bit scary if you let too much of them get really going. It was easy to get to 700 degrees, even dampered way down. This season, I have loaded up to 20 of these bricks and let them get going and I can barely hit 600 degrees. I am going through at least 30% more of my fuels this year and its still not enough for comfort.

    Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions for my to do at this point?

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  2. WhitePine

    WhitePine Feeling the Heat

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    Any chance those bio bricks have sucked up some moisture somewhere?
  3. madison

    madison Minister of Fire

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    When the stove is cold. Remove baffle and shop vac the secondary air supply tube, remove boost manifold and vac primary air supply. Is it possible when you cleaned the chimney that some crud got down the secondary air channel in the rear of the stove?

    Have you noticed that you are running the air supply lever differently this yr?

    Also, I wonder if the bio bricks are consistent from yr to yr, or supplier to supplier, production lot to production lot etc etc. Maybe this yr they compressed cow turds, chicken crap or jimmy hoffa into them etc etc. Never used them.

    Also, sounds like you used a lot of bio bricks last yr - which was a really warm winter?
  4. blades

    blades Minister of Fire

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    Red Oak, internal moisture to high, Big splits will take up to or more than 3 years to achieve 20% or less internal moisture. So using less than adequately seasoned ( dry enough) wood will increase the amount of compressed wood product consumed to maintain the same heat output due to the moisture cooling the fire. Additionally there can be variances in the quality of the compressed wood products as well as was mentioned above if they for some reason absorbed additional moisture over time.

    As to your stove, it is possible that your loading door gasket or possibly some other or combination there of ( not familiar with that stoves construction) is leaking this would lead to a higher consumption rate as well. Another area is if it has been quite windy for extended periods of time, or colder than previous years in your local as this can increase your draft rate quite a bit which leads to a higher consumption of fuel. Next is to look around the home , what has been changed that is different than last year? Or perhaps the home has developed some new external air leaks that you are un-aware of. Maybe dryer or bath room/kitchen exhaust dampers are jammed open ( happens quite a bit particularly dryers) just some ideas, hope it helps , and do the dollar bill test on the loading door of your stove. Stay warm, Chris.
  5. 69911e

    69911e Member

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    If your wood and door gasket are good, try cleaning the stove inspect the chimney again as suggested above. Be sure to have a replacement baffle gasket.
    1: Use a mirror or inspection camera to inspect the baffle air channel (secondary) in the back which goes down to the air intake below for debris. You need to cover this when cleaning to avoid the stuff falling in.
    2: Also vacuum/blow out the air intake at the lower front. (I use a shop vac with 25' hose from the pool to get the vac outside).
    3: Inspect the air intake tray underneath for buildup to feed rear intake in #1 above.
  6. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Not sure about up there, but this year so far around here we barely been getting out of the 30's if that during the day, and into the teens at night. Compared to last year at avg of near 40's during day and 20's to 30's at night. Makes a huge difference in home temps here.
    Have you inspected the cap and made sure it has not gotten clogged since Sept?
  7. jackatc1

    jackatc1 Burning Hunk

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    Do you use the blower to move the heat out into the house.
    Even at 500 degrees you should maintain at least 70 degrees.
    Unless you have a massive air leak.
  8. Sisu

    Sisu Feeling the Heat

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    Did you block off the baffle supply tube when you swept your chimney? If not, it could be full of soot.
  9. relay

    relay New Member

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    Eastern MA
    Thanks for the suggestions so far!!! I really appreciate it.

    Some answers: I performed a complete cleaning of the pipe and stove last September. VERY little creasote buildup.
    I stuffed a plastic trash bag into the rear air channel to prevent debris from falling into it. I removed the baffel before cleaning. I cleaned the inside of the stove.
    I removed the front plate and vacuumed out the air intake in the front.

    We use the internal blower for moving the heat around and an additional fan down the bedroom hall to move cooler air toward the stove.

    The Bio Bricks look same as last year and no exposure to humidity that I can tell.

    I know there was very little to no snow in the New England area last year but I did not think there was that much of a difference in temperatures. must investigate.

    I can think of only 1 change in the house that might have an effect. My wife removed some old but VERY heavy curtains in our family room which is 2 rooms away from the stove. She replace the heavy drapes with very light and sheer curtains which have probably 0 effect on insulating the windows. The curtains were on 2 large expanses of windows, 1 - 12" expanse consisting of 5 - 2' W x 5'H windows and a 2nd expanse consisting of 4 of these windows. Basically , quite a bit of window surface area exposed. They are double pane windows but somewhat old.

    Could it be the combination of window dressings removed and the lower temperature and the stove is just not able to keep up with it?

    Attic has old 6" insulation with foil on it and I ran a 2nd layer in opposite direction about 6 years ago. I had blown in insulation down to all of the exterior walls.
    The windows are all newer double pane but certainly not latest and greatest.

    Given that I have around 2000 sq ft of house that is "reasonably" insulated, should the Summit be able to keep the open living areas around 70??????????
    It just does not seem like the stove gets anywhere near as hot as it did last year.
  10. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    2600sf here, and waking up to 64 when it is in the low teens.
    Last few days topped off about 68 inside. Today hit 70(not pushing hard for heat), but it is sunny, and slightly warmer out 30 right now.
    Next week they are calling for mid 30's and one day near 40. It will hit 75-78 no problem then.
    20 seems to be the biggest swing change on temps.
  11. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Kmart has fairly cheap priced insulated curtains that work very well.
  12. 69911e

    69911e Member

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    Your chimney is actually below the 15' min height. If all else is good and you (verified) temp gauge indicates low temp, you could try adding a few feet to get more draft.
  13. relay

    relay New Member

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    More details and replies:
    Height - I was concerned about that as well but many folks told me it should not be an issue with an interior chimney. I also wraped the SS liner with insulation .

    Also, the stove does not seem to be burning down fuel as well as it did last year.
    If I use Bio Bricks, lets say 16 for a cold night, there is usually about 25% material still left in the stove but the stove temp has dropped below 300 so the fans shut off.
    If I am burning wood for multiple days, it is easy to get a layer about 6-7" deep of unburnt coals. This is at least a few inches above the lip for the door.
    I do not remember this from last year. It seems like if there was 25% Bio Bricks in the stove, I would still have 350-400 in the morning. With wood, the coal bed with be around 4-5", certainly below the door. If I open up the air flow sooner in order to burn up the coals, I am going to get fairly short burn times.

    Puzzling... The % of art vs. science here is tricky :)
  14. relay

    relay New Member

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    Also, starting fires is MUCH harder this year. Even from coals.
    Have to leave the door open for awhile for it to really get going before closing or it will die out.
    Does that indicate a lack of air flow into the stove?

    Could low air flow also explain the tons of unburnt coals on the bottom?

    THanks for everyones continued support!!!!!
  15. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The first suspect is the wood. It has multiple signs of not being fully seasoned. That makes it hard to start and creates a lot of coals. Tell us more about the wood you are burning this year. Have you tried to resplit a few splits and check for moisture on the freshly exposed wood face?

    Also, after cleaning was the baffle gasket replaced?
  16. relay

    relay New Member

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    Begreen - The bulk of the wood is maple from a tree downed in june of 2010. It was cut to length and then split and stacked in large pile for the rest of the summer and through winter. In spring it was stacked properly for airflow. It shows much cracking at the ends, however, lots of hissing for a few minutes in the stove.
    2nd batch is 3 year leftover oak that was 2 years seasoned last year. 1/2 cord was not used last year. Seems to be same issue as above.

    Mosture could certainly be my issue with the wood but what about the BioBricks? The burn is very different this year.
    Here is a perfect example, I just cleaned out 3/4 of the wood coals, loaded stove up with 16 bricks over 2 hours ago and have the damper wide open and holding temps at 450 and I have the blower on lowest setting. Any higher and temps drop too much. I started out at 300 when I loaded the bricks.
    Last year if I left the damper open like this, the stove would have been past 700 easy. In fact, even dampered down, 16 bricks could come close to 700 if too much got going. You had to damper down early and let it build slowly.
    Its like its really dampered down before the damper is closed. Must be air flow issue. Would explain the left over fuel in the stove in the mornings but the stove temp is so low. Basically a stalled burn....

    Thanks!
  17. tim1

    tim1 Member

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    I too have installed the pe summit, best damn stove, bar none. I burn 3 year seasoned fir in about 7 inch splits. This stove really heat with no blower. I have had lots of smoke dragons, good stoves in their time, but this stove really surpasses them all. Just a minute,gotta open a window, 29 degrees out and 60mph winds here in the gorge in Oregon and I am roasting! Sound like you got good advice on all fronts, wood and bricks and all, just will say you have the best stove!! Tim
  18. jackatc1

    jackatc1 Burning Hunk

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    Loc:
    Port Crane ny
    My house C 1840 I heat 2000' 500' closed off for the winter.
    Foundation is laidup fieldstone, original windows, wooden storms.
    Attic 12" fiberglass, walls ? Front door drafty,small basement foam
    board, large crawl space no insulation, outside chimney, top stuffed with mineral wool no blockoff plate.
    Six" stainless flex not insulated, PE summit insert.
    Never above 600, 20'x15' liveing rm80 degrees easy.
    Dining room 20x15 75 degrees easy kitchen 70 easy.
    bedroom 65 bathroom 65
    2nd flr three bedrooms 65 bathroom 65.
    25 degrees and droping with wind. NOT SO EASY!
  19. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    I agree on less than dry wood.
    Bio bricks are only going to do so much, especially if they are spending some energy drying out less than desirable wood.
  20. relay

    relay New Member

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    Hogwildz: I don't typically burn Bio Bricks with wood. I sort of keep them seperate.
    Last year I had a nice system, burn wood all day and Bio Bricks at night. The bricks burned consistantly every time and allowed the wood coals to be burned up to a nice ash.

    I am going to shut the stove down this weekend and pull everything apart and take a look.
  21. relay

    relay New Member

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    One post asked if i replaced the baffel gasket when Iremoved it for cleaning.
    I did not, considering it was only 1 season old, I figured it should be good for 2 seasons.
    Should I replace it everytime I remove the baffel for cleaning or is it a yearly thing?
    Could this be a good part of the problem? There must be plenty of users that don't replace this gasket for years at a time.

    If I need to replace, should I buy one or make one? If make, where to get materials?

    Thanks!
  22. PapaDave

    PapaDave Minister of Fire

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    If you've been burning less than dry wood for a couple months or so, I'd suspect a dirty flue/cap. The hard to start and keep lit fire, w/o keeping the door open is a big clue.
    Worth a look.
    fox9988 likes this.
  23. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    You do not need to replace the baffle gasket if it is in good shape. Most become brittle and break or fall apart when removing the baffle for cleaning.
    I make my own as they last longer and don't cost much to make.
    This would not cause the issues your having.
    To make your own, pick up some 3/8" rope gasket and lay out on baffle tracing the outside of the hole with the gasket, leave about 6" too long, then unravel the braid equally on both ends so that when you tie the ends together, the baffle is just the right size to fit over the air channel at back of the stove that the baffle rests over. When you tie the opposite ends together, it will pull the ends of the gasket tight together. Several strands of the braids tied together makes a nice tight, strong union.
    Warning: You may get itchy fingers after doing this. Not too bad.
  24. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Agreed, that is what I asked initially. Especially if burning lower & slower in the shoulder months, with moist wood, you may simply have a clogged or partially clogged cap/screen.
    PapaDave likes this.
  25. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The factory gasket is thin and flimsy. I have always replaced it after removal of the baffle. It's cheap, so I bought several for this task. Without the gasket there will be some secondary air leakage at the back of the stove. As he noted, Hogwildz has had his Summit for a couple more years and early on took some 3/8" rope gasket and made a custom gasket for this area. It lasts much longer. When I run out of my stock I will be doing the same.

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