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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. 3fordasho

    3fordasho Feeling the Heat

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    Attached a pic of the cleaned and installed screen- looks like a good fit but it will sag about 1/4" along the back edge after a few heat cycles. I vacuumed the cat off, and used a vinegar /water mix sprayed through the cat, and then rinsed it with distilled water. (this was suggested by Woodstock, as the PH cat is too long to boil in a pan). Fired up the stove and it is burning good and the cat seems to be working... no smoke out the stack but I did notice the top of the stack is pretty dirty- suggesting the cat has not been doing it's job during previous burns... I guess for now I'll just have to clean both the cat and screen about every two weeks...

    My flue set up is straight out the back of the stove, thru wall to a tee, then staight up 18' (or is it 21') enclosed in a insulated chase except for the top ~4'. Flue pipe is Class A 6" Selkirk supervent insulated double wall, with a short section of double wall connecter from stove to class A.

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  2. 3fordasho

    3fordasho Feeling the Heat

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    Update on the first burn after cat cleaning- stove top temps rose to 400F much quicker than pre-clean cat burns, and flue temps sat right at 500f for the first part of the burn.. both signs the cat was working better than before... Since it was a cold start burn with no coals underneath the wood - after the top wood burnt down to coals the wood at the base just fueled the cat with smoke and little or no flames in the box.... but at that point the smoke smell became very notiicable to the point that my wife insisted on opening a window.... which I did plus opened the air enough to get flames in the box. I am starting to have thoughts of putting my 2nd fireview back in place of the PH :-(
  3. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Tim,
    I don't have that problem with smoke. Is that a regular for you? Have you tried plugging the roll pins at the top back corners?

    Was your air intake closed all the way when the smoke smell got bad. or cracked open? When you opened the air to get flames back, what were your temps, and did you get a good clean cat burn once you opened the air a bit? Outside temps?

    Just trying to understand what is going on. Wood is dry? Mine is drafting too much, and I don't have any smoke issue, certainly not once the fire is established. Unless the cat gets completely blocked...then things, understandably, just don't burn correctly.

    Is the issue that in attempting to reduce draft so you won't clog the cat, you reduced too much and smouldered?
  4. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Tim-

    How much longer are you covered under warranty?

    If the Fireview would be better for you, go for it. If this is a move you are contemplating because of the cat/smoke issue, can you wait a few weeks to see what happens when I put in a damper? Be a shame to change if the PH is sized well for you and a damper will resolve our problems. This stove will put out considerably more heta than a Fireview.
  5. 3fordasho

    3fordasho Feeling the Heat

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    I've located the pins and done my best to plug them with stove cement.

    The smoke issue comes and goes but obviously gets worse as the cat and screen start to plug up - this I can remediate by more frequent cleanings.
    The smoke issue seems to increase when the air inlet is closed or almost closed and there is no flame in the box... but I have had the smell with very active flames in the box and a not all the way closed air inlet. Sometimes it just occurs randomly or I have just not identified the combination of conditions that cause it.

    Tonight the smell occured after the cat was engaged and the flames in the box died off because only the wood at the very bottom of the stove was actively outgassing (no coal bed underneath because this was a cold start) The air inlet was slightly open (maybe 5 degrees open).
    The stove top temp was 350-400f when I opened the air inlet a bit, and flue temps close to 500f. Outside temps are 30f, I usually run this stove with the air inlet closed or close too it, but I close it down very slowly to try to maintain flame in the box, If I shut it down quick and achieve all cat burn (no flame in box) I am just asking for smoke smell.

    The wood should be very dry, the LEAST seasoned would be 3 years minimum split and stacked, and stored in a covered woodshed since last fall.

    I don't ever experience a reversed draft situation, but there is negitive pressure in the house. Maybe it's time to bring in more outside air.


  6. 3fordasho

    3fordasho Feeling the Heat

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    I received the stove last Febuary. The fireview is only better in that I never smell smoke in the house unless it's backpuffing and that is easy to solve.
    My goals with the PH were to extend burn times, and reduce the amount of times I need to burn two stoves. The PH has not really extended burn times, but overall temps in the house are 3-4degrees higher and I seldom need to burn both stoves.
  7. Todd 2

    Todd 2 Feeling the Heat

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    I'm thinking of 2 fire views myself. This was my original plan but I got PH fever and just had to have one, lol
    Not one complaint though when its operating proper, other than my basement is like south Florida trying to keep the upstairs heated.

    One more thing Tim, running the PH & the FV the same avg temp how much more wood do you think the PH uses ?
    Or any one else that has had both, Thanks
  8. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    That is at least i n part a success then. Less wood and less work, and more heat. I'm hoping the damper will take care of the other problem.
  9. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    I have had both stoves. I don't use more wood with the PH, but I do get significantly more heat. Did a very unscientific experiment earlier this winter. Have a circular rack that holds enough ironwood to heat 2 1/2 days on average with the Fireview. During the recent cold spell, I loaded it up with sugar maple (significantly lower BTU), large splits, to see how long the rack would last. Got just about three days out of it. Which confirmed my feeling that I was not using more wood. But I pushed the Fireview a bit more than I do the PH, because it was really too small for my home. Cold weather I tried to keep stovetop near 550 on the Fireview. Am more like 450 on the PH, but get more heat. Thanks to the much larger glass, the near Rumford angle on the secondary plate, and the more efficient hybrid design. And this, in a scenario where I know I am loosing a lot of heat up the chimney. So things should only get better.
  10. HollowHill

    HollowHill Minister of Fire

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    I have the smoke issue as well, your description of when it occurs matches mine. However, my house is drafty enough to rival a wind tunnel, I have plenty of outside air and positive pressure. So, I'm not sure how much you would gain by bringing in more outside air.
  11. 3fordasho

    3fordasho Feeling the Heat

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    My house was build in 1880's. Plenty of leaks mainly around the old stone foundation into the basement. The rest I've improved greatly by adding insulation/windows ie the usuall stuff to the point that it can be heated with about 2.5-3 cords per season. The only time I've experienced reversed draft is when I started the stove and the attic hatch was open -that said, when I cracked a window last night it was amazing how much air was sucking in with the window cracked a 1/2". I'll leave that window cracked open for the next several reloads to see if it has any effect. I definately do not have positive pressure in the house with two 6" flues pulling air out and no fresh air intakes. Thankfully the rest of the exhausts in the house (gas furnace/water heater) are direct vent through side walls so they are not constantly pulling air out like a vertical vent does.


  12. 3fordasho

    3fordasho Feeling the Heat

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    It uses more simply because it holds more and with my reload schedule dictated by my work schedule I need to load it about 80% ful to get 8-10 hr burns.That said the house is warmer this year by about 3-4 degrees and overall wood consumption seems to still be at 2.5- 3 cords for the season - maybe up slightly but not real noticable. To maintain the same average inside temps as I had with the fireview, I would have to be home more, load the PH more often but with smaller amounts of wood. With the PH burning, I have less of a need to run both stoves at the same time - the only conditions that dictate two stoves fired are 0f or less and/or windy conditions.


  13. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    3fordasho

    Probably a dumb question, but have you stuck your nose all over the stove sniffing for the leak? Even at the air inlet plates? The door? The lid? The flue pipes? This just sounds so bad it should be easier to pinpoint the source. What about shutting the lights and shining a bright flashlight around the stove - sometimes that shows a smoke trail.

    I'm just thinking out loud - kind of.
    rideau likes this.
  14. Todd 2

    Todd 2 Feeling the Heat

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    The new screen, thicker wire, bigger holes, a 5/32 drill bit butt fits snug in the holes, stainless steel also.
    It is a good bit stiffer ??? will see what happens. screen1.jpg
  15. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    For Tim, Flamestead, Warm in Iowa and Todd2: (and anyone else who has a problem with clogging Cat in a PH):

    I was reading the post asking about experience with the ashpan, and It occurred to me we should rule this out as a factor affecting ash being pulled out of the firebox. I don't expect there to be a correlation, but lets be certain.

    Do you have ashpans?

    I don't.

    I can envision an ash pan moderating the problem of fine ash being pulled up by the draft, because I'd expect a lot of the fine ash to fall through the grate into the ashpan and be far less likely to be pulled up into the firebox and back through the sagging screen. But I'd be really surprised to find a 100% correlation...surprised and unhappy, because I don't want an ashpan.
  16. Todd 2

    Todd 2 Feeling the Heat

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    No ash pan here, good thought !
  17. Waulie

    Waulie Minister of Fire

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    I have no ash pan and no clogging cat issue for what it's worth. My screen has also been sagging for quite a while and I haven't fixed it. I'll pull the cat again next warm temps and see but I'd be surprised to find much of anything like last time.
  18. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    I have the heavier screen. It never clogs, and sags much less than the thin screen. I have reformed it a few times. I don't think it's a permanent solution, but it's the best one so far.

    I didn't know it was stainless steel. the old one was Inconel. According to Wikipedia: Inconel retains strength over a wide temperature range, attractive for high temperature applications where aluminum and steel would succumb to creep as a result of thermally-induced crystal vacancies (see Arrhenius equation).
  19. Flamestead

    Flamestead Feeling the Heat

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    I do have an ash pan.

    Here's my cat after 2 weeks of continual burning
    DSC02756b.JPG

    And the screen...
    DSC02762b.JPG
  20. 3fordasho

    3fordasho Feeling the Heat

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    I have done the sniff test - I have a left door and the odor is just above the door on the left side. It could be the door gasket itself or the cooktop gasket on the left side. One of the door gaskets I replaced had brown color staining the white gasket which tells me smoke was getting thru it at that location. I'm on my third or fourth door gasket but the smell always comes back.

    As far as the cat build up - woodstock got back to me to say they are looking at the issue for a handful of people that are having the problem. Their email said strong draft and or burning biobricks / lots of bark may contribute to the issue.

    For the person who asked about the ash pan option - I do not have it.







  21. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    I had the smoke smell. (left side door, top vent) Last Sunday I re-gasketed with some grey wide gasket that WS sent me. I didn't use the furnace cement they sent; rather I used some rutland gasket cement as I figured it would be a bit less solid, but that may have been a false impression. Anyway - before I did the gasket I noticed that the frame of the door that contacts the gasket seemed to be pushing against a glob of cement in the corner (closest to the hinge). I was very careful to not let this happen again and pushed the gasket into the corner.

    Now we're about 5 days into burning and I haven't had any smoke smell that I can detect from that area. I hesitate to say problem solved as I know the gasket will continue to compress as time goes on, but I originally had the smell very early - noticed it as soon as the burn-in stink was gone (that masks a lot of smells I'm sure!). This convinces me that the smell is related to the door gasket in some way (not pins inside). I will be happy if I can get a couple months of no smell, but if it comes back I think the two-gaskets layered as someone suggested may be my next plan. I'm half tempted to try putting a gasket on the frame of the stove and see how that works out (would be a pain for loading I suppose if it came loose).
  22. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    I believe Slow1 and 3Ford have definitely identified a source of the smoke: door gasket, but I can't figure out how the smoke can escape that way. Normally when there is a leak, it sucks air into the stove. I always figured the black tarry stuff that always seemed to form near my fireview's door was from the cooler area near a leaky door gasket, but it never smelled like smoke. My old VC Resolute had a porous steel mesh griddle lid gasket that was intended to suck a slight amount of air into the stove (at least that's what I have heard) and it never smelled.

    What happens if you disengage the bypass after you start smelling the smoke - does the draft improve and the smell go away? If you open the air up a little, does the smell go away?
  23. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    SO:

    Todd 2, 3fordasho and I do not have ash pans. Our cats get completely clogged.
    Addendum: Warm in Iowa, cat clogs somewhat, cleans every 2 weeks, no ashpan. Man in upstate NY, short flue, poor draft, no ashpan, cat clogs.

    Flamestead does have an ashpan. He just posted a pic of his cat after two weeks of burning. It has build up, but nothing like mine, which can get almost completely clogged in that much time.

    I'm not burning biobricks or bark, but I do have a very strong draft (referring to 3fordasho's mention of Woodstock e-mail).


    It would be of interest to hear from others with very tall internal chimneys, especially those living in colder climates: Do you have excessive draft, limiting ability to close down for a slow cat burn in very cold weather, and/or do you have a problem with your cat clogging?

    I'm going to call Woodstock and see if they are in a position to run a test with their PH and see: if they remove their ashpan& have a tall stack, will their cat clog? May be that the temps are
    moderating enough now so that the problem is abating.

    Addendum: Starting to think the ashpan may be a factor.

    If there is no further information forthcoming about this, and if installation of a damper in my pipe does not solve my cat clogging problem, then I guess my next step next year is to try an ashpan. Ugh.
  24. Boiler74

    Boiler74 Member

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    I have been battling a smoke smell since almost the time I got my PH installed. At first I thought it was the cooktop - my first top was warped along the front edge, and I thought that was the problem. It failed the dollar bill test miserably. New top and gasket helped, but the smell was still there. So, with Lorin's advice, I used a towel and narrowed the smell down to the door side of the stove, not the top. So, I redid the door gasket, but it didn't help. So I sought Lorin's advice again. WS is theorizing that the smell is coming from where the door frame meets the steel shell of the stove. And they have been testing a sealant to seal up this leak.

    I think, but I'm not sure, that they are talking about the joint where the door frame meets the fireback/secondary tubes. You know that little triangle on the top of the door, hinge side. The triangle that makes the opening not square. I seem to get a lot of build up right there, and I think that little opening is creating a little chimney. I know it's counter-intuitive, but if smoke/odors get into that gap, then they can work upward, either exiting around the top of the door frame or at the very top of the door side, coming out between the exterior soapstone and the top. Take a towel and hold it against the union between the side and the stop, above the door. The smell goes away for me.

    I do not think it's the door gasket. I bought some gasket tape.... flat gasket material. I draped it over the hinge side gasket, and looped it around the back of the door so I could hold it tight to the gasket and shut the door. Then after the door was shut (took some pushing) I stuffed the rest of the 6' gasket in the gap between the door and the frame. All around the door. Did this multiple times, and it didn't fix the smell.

    So, I'm eagerly awaiting Lorin's email this week. Hopefully the new sealant they are testing will be approved and they will ship out. If I can't get this issue resolved before the end of the heating season, the stove is going back. The smoke smell is playing havoc with my sinuses.

    And before you ask..... I do have an ashpan. I back vent into an insulated chimney liner going into an exterior masonry flu via a T in my firebox. The liner is right at 20'. I also have an OAK. My house is pretty tight, so I've burned with a window cracked, window closed, HVAC fan on and off, OAK hooked up and not. Nothing fixes the smoke smell.

    I have been getting 8-10 hour burns with pine, so I'm happy with burn times considering it's pine. I love the stove, and don't want to send it back. But I also can't live all winter with sinus issues.

    As for my CAT and screen, no issues at all. I've checked the CAT twice and didn't even have to clean it. I have brushed the screen off a few times. I don't think I have an incredible draft like some on here. Before reloads, when I open the air, ash doesn't swirl around like other have described. I actually have a small problem with ash coming out the door when I open to reload and stir the coals. Not much, but enough to notice. I kind of wonder if this isn't a result of the pine I'm burning, creating finer ash? (pine is under 20%, and I cleaned the flu after my first month's burning and only got a cup of very fine powder)
  25. 3fordasho

    3fordasho Feeling the Heat

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    Josh,

    Please keep us updated on the sealant. I think your onto something here. I've often thought how can it be the door gasket after trying several different gaskets. One thing that is confusing is the randomness of the smell occurance- I wonder if it has something to do with positioning of the wood in the firebox and how it is outgassing at the time. I've also had the thought that even though the stove should be trying to suck air in were ever it can, with all the nooks and crannys in a stove who knows how the smoke flows around inside it and in certain spots it could work it's way out even though the draft pressure should not allow it.

    The smell is my biggest issue with the stove, when it is bad it bothers my sinuses as well. It also prevents me from closing the stove down to get the burn times I would like at a lower heat output.

    The cat build up I can deal with and I suspect it might change when I get out of the oak tops I am currently burning (lots of bark- not much heartwood)




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