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Possible Wiki Item - What To Do With A Runaway Stove

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by BrotherBart, Oct 24, 2006.

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  1. Gibbonboy

    Gibbonboy New Member

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    Although it might not be practical for widespread use, I think a reasonably clever person could retrofit their system with a means to inject CO2 or Nitrogen into the chimney. CO2 is much easier to come by these days, with all of the places refilling paintball gun cylinders. It could be manual or automatic with a heat sensor/trigger. The proper heat sensor would be the trick to find. I know such a device could never be approved by any regulatory agency, but the worst that would happen (short of blowing up a cylinder, etc.) would be that it would fail to function, and if your were relying on it to extinguish, you'd be up the creek. Actually, if you didn't absolutely rely on it, the worst that would happen would be to have a false trip, putting out your fire.

    We inject CO2 into silo fires, it should work fine for this application, if someone could make a reliable delivery system. Of course, this really overcomplicates things, but I love a good contraption! ;)

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  2. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    this is a very good post. i think what begreen said is crucial. keep calm.
    i guess that is the only good thing about my old stove. i've heard the roar a few times and shut down the secondary air and put a pot holder over the primary air and between 5 to 20 seconds later the roar is gone and the stove starts cooling off. but you have to remember after shutting it down don't open the door for a few minutes or it will start right back up and yes poof the flames do come out at you. i speak from experience.
  3. propguy

    propguy New Member

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    ' That is the truth!!
    My situation is my stove sits on about a 15'x15' hearth area Porcelain Tile with nothing flammable within 15' and 5 steps to the door If the stove were across the room it could be a little tricky [carpet uh..... I don't think I would attempt that] could cost ya thousands$$$

    The bucket of sand is a GREAT IDEA I'm gonna work on that now!
  4. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Guys and Gals, I think old elkers hit on something here. Using a moist round (or split) in combination with dropping the air intake level would probably be very effective for most or all non-cat stoves. I am not sure how a cat stove would react. Maybe some cat stove owners would like to confirm or deny this as a possible solution, but for us non-cat owners......Brilliant!
  5. Gibbonboy

    Gibbonboy New Member

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  6. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    that is a great idea as long as you have the room for it and you didn't load it to the top.
    my stove has got hot on a half load but like someone said in a earlier post turn it down a ride it out. in my experience riding it out usually takes under a hour and it settles down.
  7. DriftWood

    DriftWood Minister of Fire

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    The best plan is do not let a problem happen!!

    In my first house the Sierra wood stove could shutdown it air tight. I cleaned the flue pipe monthly, no problem.

    In my present house I herd the jet engine in the fire place chimney starting worm up for take off. That day I used a dry powder fire extinguisher on the fire in the fireplace to kill the fire that was going at the time, problem.

    I then had fireplace glass brake with logs rolling onto them, glass not ceramic. This led to a room full of smoke and smoke alarms, problem.

    I looked at the 62 year old fire place set up. It was not giving off heat, wasn’t safe any more and installed a liner and a Hearthstone Heritage woodstove; do not let the problem happen.

    I have been wondering about a run away fire in my new Hearthstone Heritage, problem. I should contact Hearthstone about what to do if the glass brakes or a chimney fire starts,

    I have some asbestos cloth I could stuff into the secondary air inlet hole. I could make up a plug and try to shut down the secondary air to this stove.

    I’ve got some stainless steel; I could make up a metal door seal plate to fit between the door and the stove for the day the glass brakes.

    I will get a brush and start using it to clean the liner monthly, I am inspecting the door seals; do not let the problem happen.

    Plan for the worst?

    The best plan is do not let a problem happen!!
  8. vanasdale

    vanasdale New Member

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    Can a chimney-top damper help stop air from getting to a chimney fire? My first guess would be that it may be destroyed by heat before you notice you have a chimney fire.
    BTW, how would you know you have a chimney fire until a neighbor calls you to say they see flames coming out of the chimney? :question:
  9. BikeMedic2709

    BikeMedic2709 New Member

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    Baking soda. Excellent extinguisher. Keep several boxes around. Throw the whole box into the fire. Several if need be. Do not hit a small inclosed area with an extinguisher.
    Go to a local Fire Dept. and ask them the fill a 1/2 gallon bag with dry extinguisher powder. If you need to slow/ put out a fire; open the door & throw it in. This is also a great way to extinguish chimney fires.
    ELK has a great solution, to slow the fire. Water will take expand 17 times from its normal liquid state. This can really cool things down.
    But.. As stated here. Prevention is the key to safety.

    Excellent thread BB!
  10. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    About the water thing BikeMedic. What are the risks as far as 1). Thermal shock to the stove and chimney and 2.) Getting a blast of steam in the face when you toss H2O in a very hot stove?
  11. BikeMedic2709

    BikeMedic2709 New Member

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    Adding water to anything will cause expansion. Steel and cast iron could potientially crack. THEN YOU CAN HAVE REAL PROBLEMS! If the integrity of the stove is compromised you now have spillage of superheated gases and fuel. Even more difficult to control. The key is to fire control is controlling one of the three variables. Fuel. Heat. Oxygen. By removing anyone of the three, you will not have fire. The best and obvious way is by removal or limitation of oxygen. This is know as somthering. (Closing any and all air intakes. Until the heat is removed and fire is controlled.) If this is not working we conclude that we must take further steps. Remove the Fuel. Litrally removing the logs or whatever is burning. THIS IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND WHY THERE ARE FIRE DEPARTMENTS. PLEASE NEVER-EVER BE AFRAID TO CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT!!! THAT IS WHAT WE ARE HERE FOR.
    Also, as the H2O is heated it turns to steam. (Steam is invisable. Water vapor is not.) If the water expands in a capsule it will BLEVE. (Boiling Liquid Evaporating Gas Explosion) The key word here is explosion. I have sene many many many burns from people adding water to a fire and being to close. (I actually was on a hose-team and had steamburns from firefighting. I was Much younger and dumber then I might add.)
    Using dry chemical or baking soda works very well!!! Try it.
  12. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    baking soda or sand sound like great idea's. don't forget there doesn't have to be a on off switch here. if the stove is getting hot and there is no chimney fire just throw in a handful or two of what ever you have handy (baking soda or sand) just to calm it down.
  13. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Cutting off the air is the best possible action, in my opinion - and, if the installation is correct, this should allow control of the chimney fire.

    This is the reason why Elk and I are always talking about well-fit metal bottom seals in fireplace inserts. If the stove is freestanding, then making certain all pipe connections are tight as well as ash dumps, etc. will help.

    Chimney fires are almost a thing of the past when using newer stoves and decent wood/techniques. That in itself is reason for folks to upgrade if they have the $$
  14. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    Believe me, you will know if you ever have a chimney fire.
    We had one in the house when I was a kid.
    I thought that a jet was landing on the roof, no exaggeration that is what it sounds like.

    I wasnt speaking of a chimney fire.

    With a runaway stove it needs an air supply as well as somewhere for the combustion gases to go (chimney)
    If you block of the chimney (I have a manufactured chimney with a t-clean out) the fire will subside and them go out.
  15. Marty

    Marty Feeling the Heat

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    Particularly if you have a ready supply of dry fuel, as the transmiter will most likley not alert anyone that the stove is overfired beyond repair, 1/2 cord to the wind, in the yard.
  16. JMF1

    JMF1 New Member

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    On my Avalon there seems to be 2 holes, one on each side, where the secondary air is taken in. Would it be safe to attempt to block these to shut down the stove completely? I was considering trying this to see if it works but I want to be sure it's safe first. If so, seems like a great way to calm a runaway stove........
  17. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy New Member

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    Get a strong magnet and a piece of sheet metal and slap it over the secondary combustion air intake?
  18. JMF1

    JMF1 New Member

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    MSG.....that's what I was thinking, just want to throw it at the experts in case I am missing something.........
  19. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Those two small holes are unlikely to do too much to keep the fire running away....if everything else is shut.
  20. JMF1

    JMF1 New Member

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    Thanks Craig, does the secondary get air from somewhere else then?
  21. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    It may.....get some from the primary air - which is diverted off and released.....but I think any quantity that really means anything does come through the primary.

    A careful look in the stove or at the diagram in the manufacturers literature or web site will usually show the air paths.
  22. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Probably a more worthwhile pursuit is locating where the primary air comes in. Shutting off primary completely with the inlet control is a fallacy on the EPA era stoves. Part of the "idiot proofing" is that they don't let you shut primary air down 100%. I have proof positive of it with my new stove that has a single inlet aimed at the middle of the firebox in the front. The primary air control can be completely closed and that little inlet is still acting like a blowtorch cutting the front log in half.

    The first thing I did was locate that little pipe under the stove in the back where primary comes in. If ever needed gauntlet gloves and a rag are headed for that pipe.
  23. JMF1

    JMF1 New Member

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    I'll have to check the owner's manual, mine seems to behave pretty well so far though but using the blower is the key for this one.
  24. kd460

    kd460 Feeling the Heat

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    Getting into this late, but, I think a CO2 extinguisher may help. At least for those stoves that have the air inlet accessable. Blast the CO2 into the air inlet to calm things down (similiar to what Gibbonboy mentioned).

    This happens to be the only way to shut down a runaway diesel engine as well. Some even have a C02 injected system plumbed into the air intake in case of a runaway.

    What about a simple test? Get a fire going good and hot (within reason) and test your unit by dampering it down. See what happens. At least you will have a general idea of whether dampering down may work or not in case of a runaway. KD
  25. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Story about the Diesels. I used to work for a truck leasing company. Sitting in the Service Manager's office one day I hear a V-8 Detroit Diesel start up right outside the door. The RPMs started up and just kept going. It ran right through the governor and never missed a beat heading for explosion time. The faster it went the more air that Roots blower packed into it. The old Service Manager took the cigar out of his mouth, calmly stood up, walked out in the shop and picked up a new bundle of red shop rags and tossed it, still tied in a bundle, into the intake pipe. He then walked back in his office without even looking back.

    That sucker stopped dead.
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