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Scary moment with the "new" Firelight 12

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Bluerubi, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. Bluerubi

    Bluerubi Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2012
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    137
    Loc:
    Auburn, NH
    I spent some time yesterday morning reading the discussions around managing an overfire situation, and honestly thought it would never be a concern with my recently rebuilt Firelight 12 due to the ability to really close down the air supply, and the further restriction the cat provides when engaged. That position hasn't changed, but what I never took into consideration is how to manage the fire if the glass breaks during a burn.

    During my rebuild, the pane on the right side was broken, but the left looked intact. I therefore only chose to replace one. My assumption was that it was the correct type of glass, and that once cleaned and regasketted I could use it as is. Not sure it it was tempered instead of ceramic, tightened too much when put back in, or just fatigued from a long hard life, but it cracked wide open during my first attempt at a larger load of wood.

    Temps were by no means unrealistic per the multiple thermometers I have mounted, I never left the stove unattended so I could observe the burn behavior, and no wood ever came in direct contact with the glass. I remember sitting there watching Moonshiners as the fire was just starting to get going, when I heard a snapping sound in the direction of the stove. Didn't think too much of it since all looked fine, but then I started to hear the stove pipe ping and pop, and the fire was looking far more vigorous than it did a short time before. Temps started to climb on both the flue and the stovetop gauges, and despite closing the air supply all the way the fire kept getting more intense. I checked all possible air supplies (open doors, not completely sealed top loader, the condition of the air control lever, and all looked fine. Panic was starting to set in when I looked at the stove from a different angle and noticed a crack that crossed the entire pane of old glass, but was obscured by some of the decorative iron on the door. Upon discovering my uncontrolable air source and realizing I hadn't thought of anyway to mitigate that type of failure, I thought back to the reading from yesterday and grabbed the partially filled ash bucket from upstairs. I then engaged the catalyst chamber to reduce the draft and watched intently to see if I'd have to pour the ash bucket down through the top loading door to prevent a meltdown.

    Thankfully the temps slowly started dropping, and after a couple hours of babysitting I finally felt safe to go to bed. The glass crack had opened more, but the reduction in draft was able to bring things into a manageable state. Going forward I'm going to implement my favorite idea from the group which is to fill a bunch of small plastic bags with sand to be used in emergency cases like this.

    Sorry for the length, but thought I'd share a failure mode I never planned on having to address.

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  2. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2012
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    5,941
    Loc:
    Philadelphia
    Wow... sorry to hear about that! Glad the freshly-rebuilt stove wasn't destroyed.

    FirefighterJake started a thread just this week, about a chimney fire, in which various methods for killing a fire were discussed. If I read him right, it seems your good old ABC household fire extinguisher is the preferred method, not bags of sand.
  3. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Messages:
    27,816
    Loc:
    Michigan
    Welcome to the forum Bluerubi.

    Scary times! Good thinking on your part too rather than getting all rattled and not being able to think straight.

    One comment though. You wrote, "...the ability to really close down the air supply, and the further restriction the cat provides when engaged." Let me say that if the stove gets going too hot, you can open that bypass to help cool the stove. Yes, the cat provides some restriction, but that does not mean a cooler stove. Just thought you might want to keep this in mind for the future.

    In addition, I'll relate a tale here that I've told before. My wife is good with the stove but sometimes she has a tendency to forget things. One day I came in and found her standing by the stove opening and closing the bypass. Why? She said the stove was overfiring (700 degrees is the recommended high for our stove) and was trying to keep it below 700. I looked and sure enough, she had the draft setting at zero; closed. So I naturally told her to give it some air. She about freaked and thought it would get hotter. I told her to just try it and told her to move to a setting of 1 (settings from 1-4). She finally did, and the stove top cooled. Then she remembered... Hopefully she won't forget again. But this is something to remember. Many times on an soon to be overheated stove it just needs more air.
  4. mfglickman

    mfglickman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2012
    Messages:
    676
    Loc:
    NW CT
    So weird but true. Kind of like steering into a skid...you just have to trust it. :) Glad everything is OK!
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  5. etiger2007

    etiger2007 Minister of Fire

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    Feb 8, 2012
    Messages:
    1,218
    Loc:
    Clio Michigan
    Great job getting things back in line Blue, I find it hard to sleep after a scare like that lol.
  6. My Oslo heats my home

    My Oslo heats my home Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2010
    Messages:
    1,584
    Loc:
    South Shore, MA
    +1 on what Dennis said. You hear of overfiring stories and runaway situations on here from time to time. FFJake is always sharing stories when fires go bad. i'm glad you kept your cool, didn't panic and regained control of a tough situation
  7. Bluerubi

    Bluerubi Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2012
    Messages:
    137
    Loc:
    Auburn, NH
    Thanks for the advice. For general high stove temps I do just what you suggested and increase the airflow to cool the stove and flue, but in this case the draft was so strong I had to take measures to reduce it since the fire was raging out of control. This is a basement install, on a fairly tall house, so the chimney height is approaching 40ft. With high flue temps it pulls smoke like a freight train, so I knew my only hope was to slow it down.

    New glass is on order, and a flue damper installed, so provided I'm around if this ever happens in the future I have the ability to shut it down.

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