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Slight smoke smell in the shoulder season?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by BoilerMan, May 26, 2013.

  1. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2012
    Messages:
    1,490
    Loc:
    Northern Maine
    Hi all, I've been expierencing a wood smoke smell while operating my Quadrafire Millenium 4300 in our living room during this mild weather.

    Some info on the setup, been here for 4 years (house is 4yo).
    Class A straight up from stove with 16' exit point as measured from stove flue collar all 6"
    I got this stove used and it had been overfired, replaced the blancket and welded the rear baffle where secondary air is fed to the air tubes over the fire, welds still look good, would not effect any smoke spillage potential.
    I warm the flue prior to lighting a fire and do not expierence smoke spillage during a cold start, the smell only appears an hour or so into a good burn.
    I have a stack temp probe and run it in the 325-375 range it's 3' above the stove flue collar in single wall pipe
    The draught seems to be very good, door can be opened and smoke is pulled up flue and not out the door.

    What am I missing? The whole thing should be in a vacuum so where could the smoke smell be comming from?

    TS

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  2. downeast

    downeast Guest

    It's just S.O.P. for shoulder season burns BoilerM. Low, cool, short fires often lead to cap clogs.
    Since the cap is always cool, the creosote forms easier with those cool burns. Your lower stack in the 300's ::F is
    kinda cool for good clean burning especially without a cat. Bet your cap is clogged ( my choice of drink ).

    Our non cat Oslo BTW also smokes some now;a roof visit is needed to clear the cap when this GD rain stops:mad:.
    With temps in the high 40's-50 here lovely Maine ( like a PNW winter ), some heat wouldn't be too bad. It ain't cozy.

    Where are you ? High enough for the snow yesterday ?
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    44,448
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Could be there simply is not enough temperature differential between indoors and outdoors to provide sufficient draw as the fire dies down. If there is a low pressure system over your area it can make draft even lazier. Adding 2-3 ft. of chimney may be enough of a boost if possible. Also, be sure no exhaust fans are running and maybe try opening a nearby window an inch. FWIW, winter burning practices don't work well for us in warmer weather. In mild weather if I want a fire I burn a short, hot fire and let it die out.
    ScotO and downeast like this.
  4. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2012
    Messages:
    1,490
    Loc:
    Northern Maine
    It burns very clean even now, smoke free in 15 min or less. No creosote issues, I was on the roof about a month ago, and no buildup and it's been three years since I cleaned this flue. The boiler flue I clean of flyash annually, but I burn 1/2 cord or less in the stove and it's very clean, I wa just wondering if anyone else had this issue. Normal I guess, we are in the mid 40s and rain, rain, rain, low pressure system stalled here for aver a week.

    TS
  5. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    I would say its the natural draft, or lack thereof in the shoulder seasons. Reason is simply that the air is warmer and natural convection draft is less in warmer weather than colder weather. It always takes me longer to start a fire in warm weather than cold here. Warmer being anything above 40 deg. F. I noticed the same thing using the OWB at my ex's place. Warm weather, less convection draft. Damping down the fire in warmer weather or smaller shoulder season fires also creates less of a draw, and hence more smoke in the house.

    I have also had the creosote clog near the cap. Last year I had one in the fall. Paper thin, like a layer of a hornet nest, cone shaped a few inches under the cap, there was a 2 inch gap in the center. Only took a touch with a stick and it shattered. Quite different than the small stalagmites of creosote that form under the cap in really cold weather here.

    Rain rain rain, low pressure system stalled, you sure you do not live in Oregon? :rolleyes:
    ScotO likes this.
  6. downeast

    downeast Guest



    Right on target.
    It takes only 1 or 2 "cool" fires, damped too soon to deposit unburnt wood gases in and on a cap. It's the bane of shoulder burns, and, as BG said, low atmospheric pressure.
    Extending the flue could help, but it's still about the fires.
    Again, it's the delta ::DT, or temp differential, bottom and top of the flue that can clog caps.

    JMNSHO
  7. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    After reading and posting to this thread, I decided to go up and have a look at my cap. It was caked with heavy stalagmite glossy creosote globs on the underside of the cap. I pulled it and scraped them into a paper bag for later burning. Then I looked inside the flue up top, and there were the thin dull black paper cones forming inside from late season fires, about a foot into the flue from the top. I scraped them into the firebox below and the flue below that was clear. That creosote is not nearly as thick or sticky as the shiny stuff, and one swipe with a wood stick and it sluffs off.
  8. downeast

    downeast Guest


    Damn, it's lonely being right. ;lol

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