1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Question re: Shaking a Coal Fire

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Boston Mac, Dec 5, 2005.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Boston Mac

    Boston Mac New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Messages:
    3
    We're using our coal stove that came with our house for the first time this year. This site has finally taught me how to get the darn thing lit, but now we're having trouble keeping it lit. It burns great for @ 2 days (& nights) but then slowly gets colder and colder and goes out. When I go to light another fire, the box is filled with @ 6 inches of ash.

    I'm following the site directions to shake only a hot fire and only shake @ every 4 to 6 hours and to stop shaking when hot red coals begin to fall into the ash pan. Is ash accumulation puting my fire out? Should I shake it more? More often or for a longer time (more red coals in the ash pan).

    Since it's so hard to light the coal, I'd like to keep the fire lit for weeks on end (it's cold here in Boston!!) This site has been very helpful so far, I'm hoping for a little more expert advice.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. Ray4852

    Ray4852 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Messages:
    7
    I have a Harmon coal boiler. I do it every 6 hours. I shake to I see a glow on the bottom of the coal grates, Red ash comes out but I still have plenty of hot coals left. I refill with new coals. I never loose a fire this way. After 5 hours the coals are starting to burn out. Why wait when you can have a hot fire all the time. I empty my ash pan twice a day. never let an ash pan fill up, because you will ruin the coal grate from the hot ash sitting in the pan and cutting back the air flow.
  3. Boston Mac

    Boston Mac New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Messages:
    3
    Thank you for your input. Sounds like I should shake it a little longer until most of the ash is in the ash pan and the red coals are down on the grate. I am good about emptying the ash pan, but thanks for the warning!
  4. lime4x4

    lime4x4 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    134
    Loc:
    Northeast Pa
    i have a efel handfired coal stove i found to keep a good hot fire going and lasting i have to actually take a long metal pipe and go thru the coal bed to break up the ash that is fused together underneath the coal bad.Luck for me mine is also a top loading stove so it's not bad just extremely hot..lol.... I try to keep a good 6 to 8 inches of burning coal. i also do the samethning when adding coal just to help it along.Then i shake it till it's all glowing underneath the grates and i'm good for 6 to 10 hours..
  5. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    2,248
    Loc:
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    Lime is right. a little stirring of a coal bed is helpful to keep things going. Just somethign to check...Look at the pipe and be sure it's in good shape. I remember my fathers coal stove getting a little finiky one year, and we noticed that the stove pipe was full of holes. Coal emmissions are very acidic and over time (a few years) eat away the pipes. The effect is bad draft and worse...exhaust getting into your home.
  6. Ray4852

    Ray4852 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Messages:
    7
    The new stainless steel chimneys will last 30yrs if you clean them before you shut down the stove for the season. The stovepipe is what you should watch closely. It’s a good idea to put on a new stovepipe after 3 yrs. This pipe doesn’t cost much.
  7. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,255
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    Not only must you shake with a hot fire, but heed the advice that says you must have new coal on top and lit before you shake...

    Any poking, shaking or stirring of the fire must be from the side or bottom and within a inch or two of the grate - NOT from above. You will definitely put out the fire if messing around from above.
  8. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    2,248
    Loc:
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    Craig, Sorry I dissagree. We heated our house with a Warm Morning coal stove, and part of the ritual was to poke the coal with a fireplace poker a few times, then shake, then open the damper for about 1/2 hour, then load new coal.

    It worked for years and that fire would be running for up to 3 months or more at a time.
  9. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,255
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    I am speaking about hard coal....anthracite. Not sure if you are talking about same. Warm Morning Stoves, in general, were used to burn soft coal. That is a completely different fuel.

    As with every "rule" there are always exceptions. For instance, sometimes one had to poke a little hole from the top to get air flow and draft going, but in general I have always found that people who fiddle with a coal fire too much (as if it were wood) very soon find out this hurts the effort!
  10. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    2,248
    Loc:
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    You're right about the warm morning being a bituminous burner, but we did burn anthricite in it.

    On your point about fiddling though, definitely. If I'm in the room it sort of feels like I can't seem to stop messing with the wood fire. Plus it responds well to that. With coal, unless the fire is force fed as in the stokers, just leave it alone. We only messed with it twice a day, morning and evening. The only other "messing was small adjustments to the draft. Small was key, since once the stove reacted, the reaction could be big and too much of a reaction. changing the opening from 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch produced big differences in the heat produced by the fire, but the reaction time was measured in 1/2 hour to hour increments.

    That was actually quite a stove. Simple as dirt, and reliable as anything I've ever seen. It was capable of getting temps in the house to extremely high levels even with temps outside in the -20's.

    I remember the first time we lit the stove, it was about 30 outside and near 90 inside the stove room. My father was shaking his head...saying...I think we screwed up here...this stove is way overkill. But that was trying to get the initial fire going with some wood. Once we put some coal on and learned that a coal fire is pretty happy just loafing along, we got to be quite effective at heating with it. It's only downside was it was a really ugly stove. More of an industrial furnace look.
  11. lime4x4

    lime4x4 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    134
    Loc:
    Northeast Pa
    Well i burn anthracite in my stove and poke it from the top every morning and night and it always stays hot.If i don't to break up the fused ash on the bottom the fire will go out.But that's me. i leave the dampner wide open while doing this plus i leave the dampner open for about an hour after adding fresh coal but when i add coal it's about 4 inches worth in one shot.But i've found this works the best with this stove. But every stove is different
  12. davemich

    davemich New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    25
    Loc:
    St Joseph, Mi.
    With my Hitzer insert, I shake the grate once every 12 hours. I shake it until I see the red glow from underneath the grate which usually is after red coals drop to the ash pan. I have 2 grates and I shake until the glow is visable under both grates. I always empty my ash pan each time I shake and I will see the red glow from the grate above reflect onto my ash pan once I slide it back in after empting it. I then know I did the job. I have a hopper system so I always fill the hopper all the way prior to and during my shaking. I leave the damper door open until I see the familiar blue flame all around the new coal that has dropped during the shaking process...usually around 15 minutes or so. After this process which takes about 5 to 10 minutes, I don't have to touch it for another 12 hours!! Surface temp on my stove sits at around 400 degrees F. That gives me about 75 degrees in the room where the insert sits. Could not be happier with my coal burner!!!
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page