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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. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Interesting post, Josh, and thanks for it. Thanks also for flue length and ash pan info.

    I suppose rear exit versus top flue vent followed by pipe straight out through the roof could also be a factor in preventing cat clog, since it adds a 90 degree.

    It may be that when all five factors are present (no ash pan, top vent, long run, internal chimney, and cold climate), you are likely to have a cat clogging problem.

    Easy to add a damper, easy to add an ash pan. Pain to change the venting since it moves the stove out into the room, and changes all aspects of the room as a consequence. Cold climate, nothing you can do about it. Internal chimney, nothing you are going to do about it.

    It is interesting how some have such an issue with smoke smell, while others don't. Wonder why that is? And at least one person has both problems, so strong draft definitely doesn't stop the smoke problem. Would really like to figure out WHY some are experiencing it, and not others.

    I will get a very minor smoke smell from time to time, mostly when the cat is clogged but engaged. I figure then the smoke is just finding the path of least resistance out of the stove, so any small opening (like the roll pin hole) could allow some smoke emission. My smoke smell does not occur often enough, nor is it severe enough, to cause me to try to resolve it. It's not as bad as an open fireplace by a long shot. Just occasionally enough to make me aware there is a fire burning in the house. Smoke alarms and CO monitor have never registered any problem.

    I checked my door gasket recently (original issue, early stove), and I can't get a dollar bill out when I close it in the door, so I'm definitely not leaking smoke there. My original gasket has been perfect so far.

    I've never noticed any build up by the top back of the door. I believe you mean of creosote inside the stove? (Though that is near the area where I see the fire burn brightly early on ---upper right rear. Lately have been believing that is caused by the roll pin hole.) Next time stove is cold I'll have to shine a flashlight and look through the window. A bit hard to see there.

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  2. Boiler74

    Boiler74 Member

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    I should have also mentioned that when I put a new gasket on the cooktop I also reached back and plugged (or think I did) the roll pins. I'm tall with long fingers, but not fat hands. So I could reach them pretty easy.

    Here's the door on the top hinge side. See the build up?

    image.jpg
  3. Boiler74

    Boiler74 Member

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    Sorry it's not oriented right. Don't know how to fix on my ipad.
  4. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Yep, I see the creosote!

    Thanks.

    Didn't realize you meant on the door....
  5. Todd 2

    Todd 2 Feeling the Heat

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    I have found another issue with my PH, only have 4 months use on it and it may have been discussed prior ?
    My air control has been a little loose from the start so I took the back heat shield off to adjust it (the allen screw lock rings) and was checking things out with a flash light and If you look into the center air cavity the stainless plate is warped, you can see light through it with the flashlight inside the fire box and some of the furnace cement sealer is breaking loose/out around it, Not sure yet what this part of the air feed does yet but I'm going to study it more tonight. Pics dont show it well hard to get a shot of it with out taking apart.
    Any one else seen this, wonder if it affects anything ??? It don't show at this angle but the gap is about an 1/8" humped across from side to side with the flat gasket just laying in there loose.

    air intake1.jpg
  6. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    Todd 2 I don't remember seeing a gasket in there. I can't imagine it gets hot enough in that spot to warp the plate. I'll be curious what you find out - certainly give WS a call.
  7. chipsoflyin

    chipsoflyin Member

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    I got the same deal, leaks air into the firebox, when the stove is hot enough we can see small secondary flame where the air leak is. Looks like some rope gasket outta take care of it.
  8. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    Todd2 are you referring to exterior moveable air plate? After reading chipsoflyin I'm beginning to wonder...
  9. Todd 2

    Todd 2 Feeling the Heat

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    Yes, the air damper in the back, open it and look about 2" past it where the furnace cement seems start.
    It looks like it is the seem to the lower lip of secondary plate, the one with the air holes.
    You will not see gasket from this side unless the cement is cracked and broke loose, you can see the gasket from the inside of the fire box. I dont think this would lead to a smoke smell because it is always pulling air in. it does give a secondary flame when the fire is just right by the back of the fire box like Chips said. I think I remember someone else posting about this where they thought the bent it up putting wood in, it is a heat warp and what Chips said looks like some thicker gasket should take care of it. I'm gonna call Monday about what to do :rolleyes:

    plate1.jpg
  10. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    Todd

    I think they will tell you to tuck an additional rope gasket in there to seal the gap. The leak causes a hot spot on the plate from the flame.
  11. chipsoflyin

    chipsoflyin Member

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    That's exactly what mine looks like.
  12. WarmInIowa

    WarmInIowa Member

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    I have the smoke smell and do NOT have an ash pan. I also tend to get the cat full of ash every couple weeks. Not as bad as some of these pics, but as mentioned earlier, I vac it every two weeks or so after it burns down for a half day so it isn't so hot.

    Regarding draft, mine is poor; half the time not good enough, so that is not an issue for me. I am running a mix of wood and some of it is oak which is one season dried - not dry enough. So I contribute it to this for me. I didn't notice this as an issue last year when I had more dry wood. Also, as mentioned above, bark is not a good idea. I used some 1 year old dried bark as kindling and it plugged the screen in one shot. Not doing that any more.

    I feel confindent the smoke smell is from the door area. I have taken the door frame off and looked at the area behind the door; it doesn't look too bad and there is no reason to think the smell is coming from that area. I have replaced the door gasket about 4 times and each time the smell goes away for at least a few weeks then slowly comes back until it is bad enough that I take the door off and replace the gasket. I did this 3 weeks ago and it is pretty decent right now.

    I too have used a towel to block off areas of the stove to pin point the problem area - it is the top rear of the door for my stove. Having said that; I don't know how to solve the problem but it needs to be fixed as it is not tolerable when it gets bad.
  13. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Re Ashpan to date:

    Warm In Iowa and a man upstate NY (info from Woodstock) both have poor draft, no ashpan, and a cat clogging problem.
    Flamestead has an ashpan, tall chimney, some clogging problem.
    Three others of us have strong draft, tall chimney, no ashpan and cat clogging problem.

    I'm beginning to think the ashpan may be a factor in cat clogging. Still a very small sample.


    But I can see where it would make sense. If you have an ashpan, when you rake your coals forward after each burn, the loose fly ash will fall into the ashpan, where it is far less likely to be swept around by the air, and carried up behind the sagging screen and into the path of the cat. Far less fly ash in the box most of the time.
  14. Todd 2

    Todd 2 Feeling the Heat

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    Door gasket issue, wonder if the graphite impregnated gasket (the dark gray kind) would hold up better ?
    That is what is on the PE and it takes alot of heat abuse and holds up. I have seen it in round stock sizes.
  15. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    Rideau

    Just for the record, (and at the expense of jinxing myself) I do not have an ash pan and I do not have a cat clogging problem. I have decent draft (16 foot insulated 6" SS liner).

    I wonder if it's more about type of wood being burned? My screen clogged once after 1 load of damp Cottonwood, which has bark as thick as some splits, and the wood makes very fine ash.
  16. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Thanks, Tony.

    Doubt it's the wood. I was burning primarily sugar maple, recently switched to ironwood/beech mix. Wood is well seasoned. Same seasoning as in the past. I do let the coals burn down to ash. Clean the stove about once a week.

    DId not have this problem last year, or during the shoulder season. Was burning the same wood during the shoulder season. No cat problem until December. It's not a big deal, just a pain, and I'd like to resolve it.

    Another thing I can do is to check the cat before emptying the firebox. I always do it after, so fly ash may gett pulled up by the open air supply while I am emptying the box. If it is clear before I ampty, then I'll check it again after I empty the ashes. I am not aware of an ash problem while emptying, certainly don't get it in the room. But maybe I do stir up a lot that go up the chimney.

    How often do you clean your firebox? Keep a fair amount of ash in there? do you see fly ash flying around? I sometimes get it sitting on my window. Then it blows off. Think the strong draft during cold weather is doing it, but am really starting to thing that the lack of ash pan contributes significantly, by allowing there to be a lot of fly ash present when the swirling occurs. One person with no ashpan, a short chimney/lack of draft reported a clogging cat and a situation where fly ash sometimes comes out the door when he opens the door, so again for some reason ash flying around a lot in the stove.
  17. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    Rideau

    I clean my firebox probably about 1-2 times a week and sometimes have 2-3 inches of ash in there. I do not see ash flying around while it's burning, only when I empty the ashes. What bugs me is you were ok (no clogged cat) last year, not ok this year, with the same wood and same draft setup. What the heck has changed? The screen may be?

    I always bypass the cat when emptying ash.
  18. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    Regarding clogging:
    I also have an Ashpan, and NO clogs of the screen or cat. I took a quick peak of my CAT last night, it looks like it just came out of a box. Abosolutely NOTHING on it, and absolutely NOTHING on my screen. As previously noted, I also keep the box very clean, I rake almost ALL the ashes (about 90% or 95%) out of the box before reloading. Then I push all the hot coals that did not fall thru the grate and the little bit of ash to the front half of stove. If found I get better burns (longer, hotter) with very little ash left in there on reload.

    I'm burning a mix of Maple, Oak, Pine, Cotton and a few pices of cedar, all split between 1 year ago.


    Smoke smell:
    VERY interesting! And makes ALOT of sense. I'd put my money down on this being the fix/issue. We all seem to smell the smoke frm the top rear of door (regardless of Right or Left door), and many have changed the door gaskets to no avail, many a few times, so I think we can rule out the gasket. My door gasket looks perfect, it's white and has no marking or stains anywhere on it. It also seems tight, striagh with no bulges or low spots..., so I would find it hard to believe that is the issue. I also noticed it tends to be stronger when the stove is VERY hot. The hotter the stove, the more smell I get. That would be consistent with some possible "outward pressure" in the stove in certain areas/corners. Heat expands air, so even though the stove is sucking in air, the high heat can also create outward pressure in small time slices. That could be long enough to push a bit of smoke smell out a seam, before it is sucked back in and up the chimney...

    Interesting you guys are mentioning sinus issues. I have been stuffed up for a month or 2, and have wondered why, I'm not really sick, no cold symptoms. I wonder if the small amount of smoke smell is contributing? hmmmmmm....
  19. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    Another thought on the clogging, how do you guys that have clogging issues cold start your PH? Do you use kindling? A fire starter? Both? Paper? Fat wood? A lot of small stuff piled up? ........?

    Maybe there is a connection between the way you cold start and clogging....?
  20. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Don't think so. Very seldom cold start. Use a super cedar. Have ever since the clogging issue started. I had another thought about it today. Am going to try something else. If it works I will post. Is going to take a good week to set up the experiment, then a week or two to know if it is working. Don't use fatwood. Hardly ever (maybe twice this year) use newsprint. Didn't use any twigs at all for about two months. Used lots of twigs and a fair amount of newsprint last year without this severe clogging problem. My screen clogged last year, not so much my cat.
  21. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    I looked a bit last night at what Boiler74 was referring to, that small triangle area at top/back of door. I was only able to view it thru the front glass because I had a very hot fire going with 60 MPH winds really pullin on the draft... but I can see some creosote build-up above and behind that triangle area. There looks to be a seam back there, no necassarily associated with the door or door frame, it looks more like a seam between a piece of soapstone and cast iron/steal. There is a small gap back there, and I can't see from the front glass with a fie going if it is sealed or not. But there is definitely a bit of creo built up back there, and there is none anywhere else in my box. Interesting, I think we/he are on to something.....
  22. Boiler74

    Boiler74 Member

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    The door frame is attached to the steel firebox, so the seam you are seeing is probably between those two things. I'll be taking it apart next week, so I'll try to take some pictures. But if you look at the door frame, you will see two threaded holes under the hinge. I think that there are bolts threaded into those holes from the inside. So, I theorize you take the door off, remove those bolts from the inside, and swing the frame out toward you. The side opposite the hinge looks like it has a lip under the front corner. I'm not sure if the stone above the door frame is held in place by the door frame itself. Anyway, I think there is some sort of seal under the door frame, but according to Lorin, some stoves have come back to Woodstock with staining under that soapstone piece above the door frame. And the stoves came back because of the smell. Sooo, the seal under the door frame must not be working for those of us with the door side smell. They are sending me something called Res-Bond to try. I guess they've been testing it and are impressed with it.

    Josh
  23. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    Interesting. I got some Resbond for the gap in the Fireback. Sounds like good stuff - I checked it out on the Cotronics website.
  24. HollowHill

    HollowHill Minister of Fire

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    Wow! Let us know how it works and what you have to do to install it. Boy would I like to get rid of that smell...
  25. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    My cat after 3 weeks of 24x7 burning.... Not a thing on it.

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