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Safety Questions

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by ESP41, Jan 23, 2010.

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  1. ESP41

    ESP41 New Member

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    1st Post-so stats 1st. I have a Grizzly FP1-2 LEX/90. The builder installed it in 1995. Firebox is about 18"D x 21" W. It has a cat. Derco, maker of this Grizzly, is out of business. I never recieved the manual for this stove and cannot find one (anybody have one they can copy for me??). I burn about 2 cords a year (Dec-March). I know no one with a stove- so I have self taught myself. Not the best situation, but at least I have not burned down the house . The stove heats a 1500 sq ft basement and some of the floor above it (I am starting to work on improving the circulation between floors).

    [​IMG]

    My last chimney cleaner had a fit when he saw my stove. The stove pipe has a 8" to 6" reducer to meet up with the 6" triple lined stainless steel flue. He said it is a hazard and does not meet current building code. Of course he offered to install a new stove for $3,700.00.

    [​IMG]

    IIRC, the builder mentioned the reducer and said because the chimney was so tall (37') that the draft was more than sufficient and that the building inspector passed it. I have never had any problems getting a draft. But, the sticker on the back of the stove says to use an 8" stovepipe/flue.

    So who is right- the sweep or the builder?

    This same chimney cleaner reinstalled the stovepipe with a slight gap between the stovetop and the reducer. Look at the picture, just left of center front on the pipe. I think this could lead to a runaway chimney fire. Am I right to be concerned?


    Also, how long does a cat last? And if my cat is working properly, what should the thermometer on the single wall pipe read for a good burn?
    (I usually have it reading 250-300 degrees)

    I have to admit, I really like this stove. I can load it up, get a good burn going, damp it down, and still have enough coals to get a fire going 9 hrs later. But I wonder if I am burning too cool. BTW, The Grizzly can heat the 1500 sq ft basement to over 80 degrees regardless of the outside temp.

    I'm really glad I found this site. I have been reading it for days now. It's going to take a while to absorb it all.

    Thanks- Mike S.

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That is a really tall flue. It's a judgment call when the flue height exceed norms. Seems like your builder and inspector made the right call as proven by years of burning, right?

    With good care some cats appear to last 10 years. One thing not mentioned is how clean has your flue been when swept. That will tell you a lot about how you are burning and whether a change is advised. For now, continue to work on relieving heat from the stove area so that perhaps the stove can be run a bit hotter. To do this try blowing air down the stairs with a table fan placed on the floor at the top entrance to the staircase. See how that affects temps in the basement and upstairs.
  3. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forum Mike.

    Although not recommended to reduce flue size, some have done it, including yourself and with that tall of a chimney it evidently works.

    I'm wondering why you hired a sweep? Also, how often do you clean the chimney? What are you burning for wood?

    Now on that hookup done by the sweep, after seeing it, I definitely would not want him working around my place! Take care of that gap quickly. If you can't get the pipe down all the way you might just try some furnace cement. But it appears the guy didn't know how to position the adjustable elbow and that is what caused the crooked install of the pipe. It is difficult to tell by the picture but it also looks as if the pipe is a bit too high causing a slight downward angle at the top where it goes into the thimble.

    If it were me, I'd take the pipe apart and re-install....then be sure to put 3 screws in each connection after you put the pipe back together.

    Good luck.
  4. ESP41

    ESP41 New Member

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    No sweep (in the last ten years) has told me that my flue had any unusually high creosote. I have had a few chimney fires though. The fire always started by me not closing down the fire soon enough. Damping the fire down completely always put the fire out in the chimney. I recently cut a hole(24' x 12") in the floor on the opposite side of the house. There is a stairwell within 6' of the stove. I am hoping to put a fan downstairs and nudge the hot air up the stairwell. Temps have been in the 50's recently here so I don't have a fire going. The testing will continue when the temps drop below 40. The whole idea of giving the air a path to circulate is a recent revelation for me. (I know- slow learner :))

    How can you tell when a cat is bad? I have no problem with my burns, but the cat is still the original one (14 years old). Is there a visual inspection I can do?? (ie- clogged=bad, open = still good).
  5. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    If you can see the cat you can tell if it is working. If you get lots of smoke out of the chimney the cat isn't working. Better yet is to take the cat out and look at it. If it is crumbling and breaking apart, it needs changing. Otherwise, save your dollars.
  6. ESP41

    ESP41 New Member

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    My chimney is over 40' off the ground. 4' of it is above my steeply pitched roof. It is also on the end of the house. Call me chicken if you want, but I am not climbing up there. I suspect I would need some expensive safety gear to even attempt to look down my chimney. I have no fear of heights, but I do have a healthy respect for landings. So, a sweep does it for me. I have it done once a year.

    Typical wood for my area is Poplar, pine, and oak. In that order. The oak burns fine if aged over a year, but the popplar and pine burn much better after the 2nd year of aging. The wood I get is usually aged over a year, and I try to mix the greener stuff with the dryer wood. Once that Grizzly gets going- it can burn anything.

    The stove pipe is still the original pipe. I think I need to replace is all. The sweep did tell me the elbow was trying to fall apart. My eyeball tells me I need to move the stove a little to the right in order for the pipes to line up. If I replaced the pipe, should I follow the existing path? (ie, 45 off the stove up to a 90 degree bend at the top). Both of my bends appear to be done with some type of adjustable elbow. I have to read up on how to install stovepipe (the right screws, how many, joint goo, etc) and I hope to tackle the project after this years burn is up. Is there a good online place to buy the pipe and supplies? Maybe I should use some furnace cement to fill the hole in the pipe until then?
  7. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Well I completely understand why you would hire the cleaning done with that height!

    On the wood, it all depends upon how it is "aged." You will find that most of us on hearth.com and those who have burned for some time have definite ideas on what aging is like. When we talk about aging, seasoning or drying wood, we usually only count the time AFTER the wood has been split and stacked. If left unsplit, most wood just won't dry much; it will be dry on the ends but not in the middle. Popple and pine should burn nicely after only a year of seasoning. Oak is 2-3 years. Again, I am talking about time after being split and stacked.

    Those adjustable elbows work nicely when you don't have exact angles. If you take the pipe apart or go to a hardware to see one and adjust it you will see how handy they can become. You can make any angle you need using them. I haven't worked with them for quite some time but whenever I did it was nice to be able to adjust the angle of the pipe.

    All the pipe you should need you probably can pick up locally but there are online places also. Perhaps someone else will chime in on suppliers. As for the screws, I've always used #6 little short screws, 3 per joint. Furnace cement can be bought at a local hardware and they can even tell you how to do all you need done. It is not difficult after you learn what is involved.

    Furnace cement would probably hold that pipe for a little while but it is touchy. Better to fix it right and have peace of mind.
  8. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Back before it was forbidden by code, it was common to reduce 8 to 6. The theory was/is that there is more velocity in a 6 inch flue so it stays warmer (less time to cool) and therefore cleaner and has better draft. We would carry the 8 up from the stove as far as we could to extract more heat from the flue and then use two tapered reducers, an 8 to 7 and a 7 to 6.

    I don't think there is anything unsafe about your installation and the sweep is just sticking with code from a liability (due dilligence) perspective.
  9. ESP41

    ESP41 New Member

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    OK. I took your advise and fixed the stovepipe. It just need some finaggling by a caring person. The stove pipe fix went so well, I thought I would tackle taking a peek at the cat. After breaking of the bolts that hold it in place and destroying the gasket; the good news is the cat looks very good- not crumbly at all.

    [​IMG]

    The very bad news is the roof of my stove. What the hell can bend 1/4" steel like this??? It is bent up about 3/8" from flat on the back edge towards the right side!!!

    [​IMG]

    There is a lot of light ash above inside the cat camber. The flange that holds the cat in place is flat and in good shape. There is no way that the seal was good between the flange and the roof, therefore the cat was not doing all it was supposed to.

    So now what? Junk the stove? Try to bend the 1/4' plate? (no way!!) Find a custom gasket to get a seal?? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    <sigh>

    Mike S.
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Heat warped that plate. There are very high temps generated by the cat. You could try making a gasket out of thick rope gasket material, but it looks like the seal would be uneven due to the warp. Worth a try, maybe pack it in around the flange as best as possible? If not, it may be time for a new stove.
  11. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    The answer is HEAT. If you have a good quality C-clamp, you should be able to bend that back. Get some strong square stock to bridge across the opening and work your way around with a C-clamp. If you can reach the warped rim from above, you can use a mallet and a bar to pound down the upturned parts and the C-clamp tu pull up the down-turned parts.
  12. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    Agreed. But I'd be doing this w/ a buddy and a set of torches to heat that bad boy up while trying to bend it back.

    In all, it appear stout yet. I'd say bring her back true and let her run another few years and check things again. Sooner if something seems like it's acting funny.

    Really, doesn't it suck when you try and do a little maintenance and end up opening up a can of worms? Even though it stinks, I think it is smart that you are checking this out and will address this.

    pen
  13. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    A person that owns welding/cutting torches probably knows enough about metal and wouldn't ask the question so my assumption is ESP41 doesn't have the needed torches. Having the welding equipment, I would go a step further and double up the thickness of the flange to prevent it warping again.
  14. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    Probably not, but people do have friends! For a few beers I know I wouldn't have a hard time getting a set to show up at my house. Maybe not everyone is that fortunate, but I'd ask around first. That's a lot of metal to bend w/out heat IMO. Also, it usually isn't too far of a drive to find a rental shop anymore.

    pen
  15. ESP41

    ESP41 New Member

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    Well, I tried a propane torch and a man-sized pair of channel locks. I think I still hear the stove in the basement laughing at me as I type this. I know someone who is a welder, but it will cost me. I will try to call him on Monday. The more I look at the stove's roof(with a straight edge), the more apparent it is that the warping covers a large area. If I need to pay someone a couple bills to fix it, and guessing I will need a cat in a few years (another $200.00)- now might be the obvious time to replace it. ( But I really don't feel like diving into the pellet vs wood debate!!)

    I will talk to the welder Monday and (if necessary) look for some thick rope gasket to get me through this season. The wife gets cranky when it is cold outside and she does not smell wood burning.

    I really appreciate the input you all have provided. Thank you.
  16. Wood Heat Stoves

    Wood Heat Stoves Minister of Fire

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    straighten if you like, but if not re-inforced it will rewarp quickly
    welding supports might be tough though
  17. tickbitty

    tickbitty Minister of Fire

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    Those Grizzlys are cool looking stoves. I have mostly seen that stove as an insert. I saw one in the DC area craigslist a couple months ago for not too much $. Wonder how tough it would be to find one you could use for parts.
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