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Progress Hybrid cat question / smoke smell

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by 3fordasho, Feb 6, 2013.

  1. Flamestead

    Flamestead Feeling the Heat

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    My cat and screen would get just like the picture above if I didn't clean it regularly. The screen gets a coarser build-up and takes a stiff brush to clean it well. I do really like this new screen, despite the sagging, because it is easy to pull out and clean, and it lets a lot more air through than the initial style, even when it isn't clean..

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  2. Waulie

    Waulie Minister of Fire

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    This is so strange to me, but apparently common. I really am thinking hard about what could cause such a huge difference, but I just can't imagine. It's been almost a month since I cleaned my screen (when I bent it back in place) and it is still clean as can be. When I pulled my cat a couple weeks ago for the first time this season it had maybe 1/1000 of the buildup in that pic. It's got to be something.

    I'm burning a mix of hardwoods. Ash, sugar maple, and beech mostly with ash accounting for probaby 70%. It's dry but not Dennis petrified wood dry. It's been split and stacked for about 1.5 years on average.
  3. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    I've been burning almost 100% sugar maple, just starting with ironwood. But, I had a problem with ash build up on both the screen and the cat last year, when I was burning mostly ironwood...and ironwood that was many years dead standing, then fell, then was c/s/s and in stacks for several years...so it's not likely my wood. This is the same wood that I burned in the FIreview for years, and I never had to clean the cat in the Fireview, even at season's end. The only thing that has changed, other than stove design, is my pipe. And the fact that we are dealing with a finer mesh, steel cat. The 90 degree bend at the back of the stove for the rear exit Fireview has been eliminated. I suspect all this must have something to do with my draft, which is "improved" since the 90 degree was removed. Am guessing the draft is pulling up fly ash. In this cold weather, even with air completely closed, I have active flames in the box for many hours, and cannot get a cat burn with no active flame. Not crazy flames, but flames. And a stovetop temp, as measured on cast iron by flue exit, of about 450. I am now 5 hours into a burn, and the stovetop temp is 450, flue temp about 500.
  4. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    That would also be my uneducated guess along with some people may be burning hot enough to burn the fly ash of their screen.
  5. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    I Thought you were talking about the cast iron piece above the cat. That makes more sense - thanks for the Picture..
  6. mfglickman

    mfglickman Minister of Fire

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    Just a wild idea that I've not seen suggested here yet....how close are your neighbors and do any of them burn wood?

    Reason I ask is that several times lately I've smelled smoke in the house, at a time when either the fire is going merrily along or in coals - not startup at all. Felt like I'd lost my mind, looking for the source...then finally I went outside, and found the air full of smoke in the backyard - yep, my "next door" neighbor (maybe 100 yards away) had smoke billowing out of his chimney...and that was finding its way through air leaks into my house.
  7. WarmInIowa

    WarmInIowa Member

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    I clean my screen at least once or twice / week. I have the new screen, so it is quick and easy; I just use the fireplace tool with the bristles. I has to be done in the morning when it is cooler after burning all night or the bristles catch fire..... oops~

    I also vac the cat about every two weeks. Otherwise it doesn't start to accumulate fine ash. This keeps it plugged and free. Again, I just plan ahead. There is usually some time in a week when I end up working late, so that it's been 15+ hours since I loaded and it has burned down cool enough where I can vacuum it in place. I don't removed it to do this. Just a 10 second quick vacuum to keep accumulation off of it.

    I also have replaced the door gasket several times to reduce the smoke smell. Each time it works well for a couple months and then starts to smell more again. Right now I replaced it two weeks ago, so the smell is not bothersome - yet.
  8. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    When you clean your creen, do you remove the screen from the stove, or clean it in situ? I'm a bit surprised vacuuming the cat in the stove works well, because all the accumulation is on the far side.....Also, a pain to be having to do the screen and cat clean so often...means one has to let the stove cool down. Have you let Woodstock know you are having to do these cleanings this often? They can't want that to be necessary....A problem for them to resolve, for a number of us.
  9. 3fordasho

    3fordasho Feeling the Heat

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    I am pretty much having the exact same experience right down to the door gasket. I've replaced the door gasket twice and it needs it again. I'm sure it would pass a dollar bill test but it seems this stove needs a very tight seal around the door. I've burned two different fireviews and never replaced a gasket, never a smoke smell unless it's backpuffing and thats easy to avoid. Wish I could solve this issue but my attemps have at least reduced it so it's not as objectionable.

    Lately I've been noticing smoke out the stack at times when the cat should be active and cleaning up the smoke- like a fresh charred load, stove top at 300F or so.. if the flue temp drops below 400f there will be smoke out the stack... My fireview will not smoke in such conditions. The PH cat is just at one year old about now... wonder if I've got a bad one..



  10. WarmInIowa

    WarmInIowa Member

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    No, I don't have to remove the screen, just brush it off in place. Takes 10 seconds. Yes, Woodstock is aware of my issues and has been working with me to resolve them. I haven't mentioned about vacuuming the CAT that often, but I have a tendency to want to keep things cleaner than necessary, and having a plugged CAT is not something I want since it will most likely increase the smoke smell issue.
  11. 3fordasho

    3fordasho Feeling the Heat

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    Shut the stove down yesterday (Feb 24) - time to clean out ash build up in the firebox- although I could have let it go another week. Pulled out the cat for grins and it's almost as plugged up as it was when I posted a pic of it back on the 8th!! Something is definately not right... I'm starting to think the cat just isn't firing off and not burning off fly ash like it would if functional... That coupled with excessive smoke out the stack and again I'm thinking bad cat.
  12. WarmInIowa

    WarmInIowa Member

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    I agree, sounds like you have one of the older cats; I think most or at least many of us with the original cats have had them replaced. I have, and it made all the difference. I was experiencing the same light off / sluggish issue as you.
    New cat = no problems with light off anymore.
  13. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    I don't think I like idea of not being able to see if the cat is working.
    That said I really like that stove and if I needed one that stove would be on my short list...but the more I read I dunno.
    Still the company seems second to none with customer support!
  14. 3fordasho

    3fordasho Feeling the Heat

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    I've run these issues by the woodstock folks, we'll see what they come up with. For now they are sending me the cat cleaning proceedure using vinegar/water. Personally I think the cat has been dead for a while now ;-)

    The SS cat in my fireview can go a whole season between cleanings, and cleans up the smoke much better.
  15. georgepds

    georgepds Member

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    FWIIW, when I visited the woodstock stove factory, to order a PH, I asked about cleaning the cat with vinegar. The stove rep told me it would destroy the cat..

    I'm open to reason one way or the other.. my entire experience on this matter is recommendations in this forum, and the words of the woodstock stove rep
  16. 3fordasho

    3fordasho Feeling the Heat

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    Here is the cat- last cleaned on Feb. 8th:


    [​IMG]
  17. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    HOLY SMOKES! Is your Iconel screen sagging in the rear?

    SLOW1 mentioned poorly seasoned wood leading to a clogged screen - last year I had one fully seasoned but very wet load of Cottonwood that completely clogged the screen.It was so bad I had to snuff the fire out because the house got smoked out.
  18. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    WOW! That is un-believable. Take the soot from ONE of those little honey-cones, and spread it around the entire cat, and that is the worst I have seen on mine. Something is definitely not right.

    Here is a thought, is your BYPASS working properly?? When you turn the bypass handle, does the bypass open and close correctly?
  19. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    Good thought, Machria on checking the bypass.

    That is one clogged cat.
  20. Waulie

    Waulie Minister of Fire

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    :eek:

    I don't know, but something is for sure not right.

    I'm surprised WS is not just sending you a new cat, especially if you have the original. The original cats clearly had issues. After a quick "try this", they sent me a new one with no issues at all. Like WarmInIowa, it has made all the difference for me.

    Despite that, I think something else might be going on. I mean really, where is all that crap coming from? Machria had a good thought on checking the bypass. I hate to say it's a wood issue, but man I can't imagine what else would be clogging the screen and cat so fast.
  21. 3fordasho

    3fordasho Feeling the Heat

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    The least seasoned of the wood I'm burning this year is honey locust that was cut and split in may/june 2009. Just for grins I'll resplit a few and check with the moisture meter when I get a chance. The rest is even older red and white oak. No issues burning the same wood in my Fireview and the cat has not even been out since the start of the season. No real suggestions from Woodstock as of yet.






  22. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    There must be a way for the Progress hybrid owners to tell if the cat is fired..cat probe?
    Higher stove to temp?
  23. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    My cat gets just like 3fordasho's, and can do it in less than two weeks, when the weather is bitterly cold. I've become convinced that it is my draft, sucking ash up through the darn dangling screen, which also gets pretty blocked. I believe I just have too much draft. That may be entirely the result of taking the 90 degree bend out when converting from the rear exit flue Fireview to the top exit PH. Woodstock did recommend to me last year that I put a damper in, but I didn't want to so they had me try the "engage the cat immediately" routine, which does result in a slow cat burn for a bit, once the cat lights off...ie: I don't go to secondary burn immediately...but pretty soon I get an active secondary burn. And my flue is hotter than I want...can't get internal temps below 550 or so. So I will be adding a damper, either in a few weeks or before the shoulder season next year Don't know if I want to take the stovepipe apart, clean, add a damper, and burn for a month of shoulder season this spring, or just wait til the summer, clean and burn in the Autumn...will depend on whether I decide I want to know whether or not I have solved my problem before the next heating season commences. Of course, the problem won't be as pronounced once the weather moderates.
    I have had a minor issue with the handle on my bypass coming loose, but I have checked the function of the door, and it seems to be fine. Woodstock told me they were redesigning the handle or attachment of it? Don't know if that has happened, or if there will be a retrofit. They are also (or have) improved the attachment for the smoke shield at the loading door, but I am uncertain if there is a retrofit. Lorin is checking for me. Mine comes loose and dangles, which is irritating when loading.
    Any problem I have had with this stove has been an "incidental" , though sometimes irritating, one which I would expect as a possible minor issue with a new design. Woodstock is working quickly to correct/solve problems. Thye made it quite clear to us when we ordered early that they were anxious to get a lot out into homes quickly so they could see how they burned and what issues arose in varied real life scenarios, and they gave us a great price for doing this, as well as making the stove available to us a full heating season earlier than it might otherwise have been available.
    So, I am grateful to the company, and very satisfied. Loved the Fireview, and love the PH, which burns and heats remarkably well, and meets all my needs.
  24. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    Can't you just pull the cat and burn it like a non cat during the colder weather or until WS figures this out? Having to take the cat out every two weeks for cleaning is nothing short of ridiculous for a person who is trying or needing to heat their home solely with wood. It really gives the non cat crowd a legit gripe about cats stoves requiring extra attention/maintenance.
  25. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Won't burn it without the cat. I don't let the stove cool down before removing the cat...just let the stove burn down to small coal bed so I won't have a smoke issue in the house when I remove the cat. then use a dishtowel to remove the cat (easy), go outside, wait a few minutes and brush it, maybe blow through it, then replace it. Takes a total of maybe ten minutes. A nuisance because it should not be necessary so often, but doesn't really take longer than removing ash from the firebox, so not a big deal, and a problem that Woodstock is working with me to resolve. Most peopel don't have this problem. I have a tall internal chimney in a very cold location, on top of a cliff at the edge of and above on the southern shore of a large lake that is miles long. Prevailing winds come howling out of the norht, tear across the lake and up my cliff. SO I have a significant draft on those bitterly cold (15-35 below F) windy days.We had a lot of them this year. Last year I did not have this problem. Only had to clean the cat once.

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