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Rate my creosote!

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by newcomtd, Dec 23, 2013.

?

How bad is this creosote?

  1. Don't burn any more until it is swept. Do not enjoy a nice Christmas fire.

    7.7%
  2. Looks bad but having a few fires probably won't hurt anything.

    15.4%
  3. Looks completely normal for a wood burning newbie. Don't worry about it for a while.

    76.9%
  4. Something else...

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. newcomtd

    newcomtd New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2013
    Messages:
    47
    Loc:
    Ohio
    I've burned about 15 days since installing my insert and was curious what my liner looked like at the top. I popped the cap off and was surprised to see what looks like a lot build up for such a short amount of burning. I am burning all Ash that is reading between 12-20% on freshly split face with a Harbor Freight meter. Liner is 19 feet long, insulated, and in an exterior chimney. This is my first season burning wood and I've definitely had more smoldering than I would like, especially on start ups/reloads but once it is cruising there is no visible smoke. What do you think?

    Additional detail edit:
    I have a metal blockoff plate at the bottom with roxul above it but no roxul underneath the top plate.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 23, 2013

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  2. Ansky

    Ansky Member

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    central CT
    So, just be clear, all that is from just 15 days of burning?
  3. JA600L

    JA600L Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2013
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    Loc:
    Lancaster Pennsylvania
    I use dried scrap lumber kindling for all of my cold starts and reloading. The stove is always brought up to temperature with the driest wood possible. You need to accelerate past the cold stage without smoldering.
    MDFisherman likes this.
  4. newcomtd

    newcomtd New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2013
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    Loc:
    Ohio
    That bad huh? Well 15 days may not be exact but it my best guess.
  5. SKIN052

    SKIN052 Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Appleton, Newfoundland
    Not good for a couple weeks but no real heavy build yet, but you are heading that way. Clean it up, burn hot and use dry wood, always.
  6. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    4,783
    Loc:
    Schenectady, NY
    Burn a bit hotter and recheck it mid January.

    You're still learning your stove at 15 days. Don't sweat it, wait a while and recheck it.
  7. mliiiwit

    mliiiwit Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2012
    Messages:
    98
    Loc:
    Southern KS
    I think your pictures of the inside of the liner are top looking down. Is that correct? If so, you're looking at the coldest end and where the most creosote will condense out of the smoke. It looks like the outer rings of the liner have collect the creosote but the inner rings are not coated. Based on that, I am suspicious that ANY convoluted liner will have this appearance in short order. IMO, I would burn another couple weeks, doing my best to avoid smoldering, and then check it. I wouldn't be surprised if it looks the same or maybe better at that point.

    I suspect you are starting with larger splits or rounds since you're experiencing a lot of smoldering at start up. Keep in mind that wood is also a thermal mass, so it needs to come up to temp along with the stove before you'll get a hot fire. So what you want when starting cold is to bring the total mass of the fuel, the stove & bricks, the flue and the air moving through it all up to good burning temperatures as quickly as possible. The best way I know to do this is to use a lot of smaller rounds or splits. This will likely equate to a lesser total mass of wood and will have a lot more surface area. Those 2 factors allow the load and stove to come up to temperature faster and engages more of the fuel surface area a lot sooner. And more burning surface area equals more heat, warming the total mass of the load, the stove & bricks much faster and much cleaner. Once the start load has burned down to coals, then add a few small pieces under the larger splits or rounds for a long burn.

    As JA600L said, kiln dried lumber makes great kindling and starter wood. Just don't use treated lumber or lumber with any type of finish applied. If you have it available to you, seasoned "splinters" (extremely small splits - say 1" diameter at most) of juniperus virginiana - common name eastern red cedar - also makes great kindling for initial starts and for quickly establishing flames after reload.

    When starting a cold stove, I use 4 sheets of newsprint, cedar splinters, a couple pieces of 1x2 kiln dried lumber with small rounds & splits and never have a fail and it gets the stove up to temp fast. I'll create a tunnel with the 2 largest splits or rounds (3 to 4" diameter) laid east-west in the stove, one at the back and one in the front. Wad up the 4 sheets of newsprint and pack them tightly in the middle of the tunnel. Then I stack a couple of short lumber pieces north-south on the tunnel walls, then the cedar & lumber kindling east-west, then the rest of the rounds and splits on top of all that. Stack everything loosely so it all can breathe well. I also keep the draft fully closed on my stove and leave the door open an inch or 2 until the fire is going good, then close the door while opening the draft. Depending on your stove and draft, you may or may not need to do this. My PH and my draft combo makes it possible for my PH to vent out of the draft inlet if it is open. And it takes it forever to get going (smolders) if I don't leave the door open for a bit. But no other problems once the flue comes up to temp.
  8. JA600L

    JA600L Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
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    307
    Loc:
    Lancaster Pennsylvania
    Using wood pellets over coals is extremely useful as well to bring the stove up to temperature. They are fairly cheap and make no visible smoke.
  9. JA600L

    JA600L Feeling the Heat

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    Loc:
    Lancaster Pennsylvania
    After trying this many times and seeing how much work firewood is, and worrying about creasote, wood pellet stoves really seem like a good alternative for a clean burn.
  10. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    14,851
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    The Romanian Judge rates it a 7.45.
  11. red oak

    red oak Minister of Fire

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    northwest Virginia

    My thoughts exactly!
  12. dave_376

    dave_376 Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    Messages:
    108
    Loc:
    central Ct
    It doesn't look great but all that you can see is the very top of the pipe. There may be no creosote forming 5 feet down from the top. The end of the pipe could be the only part that is cold enough for creosote to stick to. Burn it hot and recheck in a few weeks. I would also get a Gardus Soot Eater and clean it from inside your house occasionally. All you have to do is let your stove cool off and spend 10 minutes with a drill to clean it.
  13. Lumber-Jack

    Lumber-Jack Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
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    The fact that you are up there checking it out and concerned and aware of what is going on puts you miles ahead of most people. As someone else suggested, get a broom and sweep it while you're up there, and check it and clean it again in another few weeks, and just keep doing that until you are comfortable with what's going on. The mistake that most people make is that they don't care about burning dry wood, they don't pay any attention to what's happening in their chimneys, and they never clean them, and sooner or later they get enough creosote build up to have a serious chimney fire. You are nowhere near that, and as long as you stay on op of it like you are, you never will be.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2013
    Swedishchef, Elusive and SKIN052 like this.
  14. T-Rex

    T-Rex New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    Loc:
    Long Island NY
    Just installed new chimney pipe about 30 days ago. I've been doing my best to burn dry seasoned wood and to burn it hot but realistically I can't burn consistently at 300-500 because its just too hot and it's more comfortable burning at 200 degrees. The top of my chimney cap appears to have a lot of creosote. Most people tell me to burn hotter and some tell me not to worry, I'll be fine it's only been a month. I'd like to sweep the chimney sometime in January if I can get on my roof. Do you think after 1 month of burning I'm at risk of a chimney fire?
  15. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Schenectady, NY
    When I started I'd brush every month. I brushed from the bottom though and it only took me about 15-20 minutes to do it.

    If you can see a lot of creosote on top of your chimney you should probably at least look at it. 200 degrees is asking for trouble. Risk is a word that has a different meaning for everybody. I'd say you are at risk. How much risk I haven't a clue on. Check out the 3 stages of creosote so you'll know what you are looking at.
  16. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    You are at risk. You won't be able to tell how much until you look at it though. 200 degrees is way to cold and is asking for trouble.
  17. KindredSpiritzz

    KindredSpiritzz Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2013
    Messages:
    259
    Loc:
    appleton, wi
    what creosote?? you dont have any creosote. Start worrying when it starts looking like this.

    Attached Files:

  18. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    Messages:
    2,267
    Loc:
    Quebec, Canada
    I have seen much worse! I don't think it is that bad. As Lumber Jack stated, the fact that you're even concerned is a great attribute to your burning habits/desires to do things right.

    As others stated, get the fire going hot and good in the first 5-10 minutes. On my stove I have a bypass that I leave open for 5+ minutes. Once my probe thermo reads 200 (and there is a lag), I close the bypass but lead the stove door open until the stove top temps reach 400 or so. close the door and close the air in stages. Right now, 40 minutes after a load, I have good secondaries. Stove top temp is about 650 and flu temps are 435 or so. No smolder if possible...

    Happy heating!

    ANdrew
  19. osagebow

    osagebow Minister of Fire

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    That looks similar to my midyear inspection last year. Burning much cleaner this time around - you'll get he hang of it.

    No reason not to crack a window / door if the living area temps climb a bit, so you can keep the stove at proper temp. It took me a while to realize this.
  20. T-Rex

    T-Rex New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    Loc:
    Long Island NY
    Thanks for the information. I'll tackle the roof next week to check out my chimney pipe. I'm waiting for a heat shield to be delivered so I can burn at a higher temp and not worry about my walls. In the off season I'll complete the walls with wall board and brick with a 1 inch gap for heat.

    Right now I'm battling a very dry house due to the wood stove. I ordered a humidifier and hope it will give some relief to my dry sinuses and skin. My wife and boys are extremely dry and it makes sleeping at night somewhat difficult.

    We love the stove...we are warm and hopefully we'll get this all under control. Thanks for the information.

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