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Stoking in the middle of the night

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by chutes, Dec 3, 2008.

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  1. chutes

    chutes Member

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    Can't seem to master a true 8 hour burn out of my Pacific Insert (one that continues to maintain the heat of the home through the night). For example, last night I added fuel around 10:30, charred the splits real good and gradually shut air intake to lowest setting and went to bed at 11:00. Upstairs thermo read 70F (floor above the insert). Got up this morning around 6:15 and thermo read 61F. Not too bad for me, really, but kids were cold. Good thing was had some pretty great coals, so within a few minutes had it up and roaring again.

    Here is my question. Last night I woke up once in the middle of the night and thought "I should just go throw in a couple of small splits." But, if I were to have done that, I would have ended up opening the air, charring the new splits, then waiting a bit, closing down the air gradually and then returning to bed. It would have taken me 1/2 hour of my sleep time. What would happen if I threw a couple of splits onto the fire, left the air closed, and just went back to bed? Would it smolder for not having been charred? Is there anyway to quickly stoke fire if I wake up in middle of night without spending time charring splits and opening and closing air, or am I just best to wait till morning and get her roaring again? Thoughts?

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  2. the_dude

    the_dude Feeling the Heat

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    With my stove, if there are still some flames and not just coals, I can add a few splits leaving the air completely closed and it will burn fine. If it is just coals, and I add a split without opening the air, it will smoulder. Probably something to experiment with on a weekend when you can watch how your stove handles it.
  3. karri0n

    karri0n New Member

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    It really depends on your wood. If you have really good,dry wood, and a really nice coal bed with a few flames still licking off of it, it should be fine. If you have wood that you consider less than perfect, then you might need to fiddle with the air. In any case, you can probably close down the air as soon as you see flames coming off the new splits, as opposed to having to lose 30 mins, and therefore another 15-20 mins before you can fall back to sleep once you get back to bed. It might smolder a little bit, but it will start going and burn off anything that could cause a problem.
  4. gpcollen1

    gpcollen1 Minister of Fire

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    Depending on the stove, some additional wood with a solid coal bed/fire going really sets off the secondaries and burns clean enough for me. If you only have to bridge a few hours - or even 4 or 5 in my olympic, i don't need to shut the air all the way and I can burn here at a dull roar til morning like that.
  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    chutes, if you have an established coal bed, you don't need to char the wood before starting to close the air control. After a few minutes, try closing it half way. This should be shortly after the fresh load of wood is getting fully aflame. Give it another 5-10 minutes, then close it down. Also, try loading a bit larger splits and pack smaller splits between them so there is as little air space between the logs as possible.

    Overall, it sounds like you are not doing too bad for a 2 cu ft stove. Experiment more during the daytime so that you can watch how she burns. With the procedure I just mentioned, you may not have to get up to stoke the fire, though each load of wood varies to some degree. .
  6. meathead

    meathead Feeling the Heat

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    Like others have said - with a good solid coal bed going you shouldn't have too much to worry about as far as smoldering. Throw the splits in, leave the loading door cracked for a few seconds to make sure the new splits take off, and hit the sack without ever fussing with the air control.

    The only possible problem I can see would be if you don't time things just right. If you have a great coal bed with some open flame going at let's say 3 or 4 am, you get up and throw a couple small splits in, and you go back to bed for 3 or 4 more hours, you may wake up at 6 or 7am to find all you really accomplished was burning down your coal bed. You may find you are better off getting up early enough to have a great coal bed going and throw a couple small splits and one good size one in or some such combination so when you finally get up to start your day you have a good coal bed and some wood left burning that you can then shuffle around and fuel up on top of for the day.
  7. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    I am a serious pushover. My dogs sneeze and get riled up at about 4 am, so I take them out and feed them and go back to bed. If burning oak, then there's still a good coal bed- I can throw on good sized dry rounds and still close the air within 10 mins, 15 tops. If still worried- then use the lightest dryest wood you have for this- save some pine for the purpose. You'll be back in bed before the sound of you getting up reaches anyone's ears.
  8. chutes

    chutes Member

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    Thanks for so many great responses. I do work from home, so I'm experimenting today to how tossing splits onto coals works without too much air adjustment. I also think that I'm only getting about 4 hours of good burn from my stove. If I could turn that into 6 hours, then I probably wouldn't have to worry too much overnight. I typically open air up completely and char the wood for 15 minutes every time I add a new load. I wonder if I'm going through my fuel a bit faster because of that? Maybe if I just leave it 1/4 open - on good bed of coals of course - if I'll get more duration from a full load. I also need to try BeGreen's suggestion of putting in smaller pieces to reduce air space. Doing that might also help me get closer to 6 hours from a packed load. Then, maybe instead of losing 9 degrees overnight maybe I can get it to where I only lose 4 or 5 degrees. That would be much more pleasant for the little ones in the morning.
  9. Pagey

    Pagey Minister of Fire

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    Great topic! Really looking forward to learning more about this myself. I could probably pick up some tips here to get more overnight time out of my Endeavor. Right now I too feel as though I should/could get more out of it.
  10. oilstinks

    oilstinks Feeling the Heat

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    im with u chutes. my max is 6hr useable heat and thats pushing it. 4hr is closer. usually have to blow on the coals to get going again. I have to put a couple of splits on during the night to make it through the night without the furnace kicking on. My advantage is im heating a singlewide. I heat it up to 78 or so at bedtime 11-12oclock throw a couple on 4-5 aand it will stay 68 to 70 in the morn. I lose a lot of heat through thes trailer walls ( some with no insulation i have discovered!). None the less i love my 13nc even though my setup seems to be very picky about air setting but im still learning.
  11. RobinJoe

    RobinJoe New Member

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    I find that putting a few crumpled newspapers sheets in under my new splits will ignite on its own in about 1-5 minutes. I usually leave the door open a crack until it ignites. If I'm impatient, I'll use a match to get it started. With all the heat from the coals, the new splits light-up and burn well even with limited air supply.

    I also try to mix my "chunk-wood" poplar with oak. The poplar lights quickly and gets the oak burning for the long run.
  12. Henz

    Henz New Member

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    the only thing you can do is to try it for yourself and see how it goes..I had a buddy of mine that had the same questions as to what the stove does in the middle of the night. He was so curious that he finally setup his video camera in front of the stove and turned it on once he had totally shut it down for the night. He then replayed it on his TV with the time elapse on the screen and in fast foreward he found that at a 10pm shutdown, the wood was pretty much gone by 4am..HE didnt however put a thermometer in the picture so he didnt know how fast the temps fell.
  13. RedRanger

    RedRanger New Member

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    Thanks chutes: now you have given me something interesting to do today. Experimenting.

    Like you I sometimes get up at 4 a.m. and by the time I add a couple of splits, open it up -gradually shut it down--a half hour has passed and I`m wide awake and end up not bothering to go back to bed. And that makes for a Cranky day. :p
  14. caber

    caber New Member

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    This is what I do for really cold overnights. I make a big fire around 7pm and get the house up to 78. Then around 10:30, I rake the remains forward and pack in a big load of my best wood. I let it all catch and heat up, then throttle it back and let it cruise around 400 then go to bed around 11. I'm up at 5am and its usually 70-72 with some good coals left. On the weekends I'll toss in more logs, do chores and be back to bed by 6. I know the stove won't burn all night, so I play the curve - get the indoor temp high enough so that when it starts to fall, it has a long way to go before its really cold.
  15. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    If you're splitting your own wood, try chopping some into square blocks that will just fit into the stove...that is the most compact mass you can fit in the stove.

    What seems to get the longest burn for me: Rake all coals forward, throw a couple of big, heavy blocks of wood in the back of the stove, a couple of rounds, or splits which mate up pretty tight (ie bottom split goes (>, top split <), then maybe a stick of lighter wood in the very front.

    This way, the pile starts burning from the front back...maybe a couple of hours before the chunks in the back even get going.
  16. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    BeGreen, I am a bit confused what you're talking about here...I pretty much have to place three splits N/S, and then three more on top of them E/W, in a criss-cross, with an inch or two between splits. If I load the way I think you're suggesting, I would just have a big, smokey mess. I've found that I have to leave some decent air space between my splits to get good secondary combustion. Even then, I can't shut the air control all the way. I found this to be true even when I was running a Dutchwest Catalytic.

    Do you get good secondary combustion with just a supply of smoke, or do you have a fire propogating from the top of your load? Man, if I could figure out how to pack wood in like that and still avoid lots-o-smoke, I could get a really long burn. Right now with an outside temp around 20, I can load at 9:30, be in bed by 10:00 or 10:30, and have the house stay warm until 6:00 or so. That leaves me with a stove-top temp of ~250.
  17. snow4me

    snow4me Member

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    Heat the house up to 80 degrees before bed and in the morning it will be 70. :cheese:

    Daryl
  18. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I follow Caber's lead and run the house up to 78 or so in the evening and then stoke it for the night. The stove doesn't make good heat for long enough to maintain 78 through to the morning but I know that it will be 68-70 or a loss of about 10 degrees in the morning and the stove will be 200 or so. I then start a new fire. Nomatter what I do, the house will cool overnight due to short burntime so I need to anticipate the drop and get a run at it. I don't bother reloading at night on a regular basis but if I woke up and the electric heat was running then I would certainly stoke the stove.

    Mike: I load like BG suggests. Pull all the coals to the front to form about a 3" red sausage and make sure not to plug up the doghouse vent. Then stack a dense load of E-W splits right from the ashbed on up to the tubes. The fire will begin to burn on the glass side of the wood load and then the doghouse vent will blow a hole into the wood load. Plenty of clean burning and the longest burns are to be had this way. The only time that I couldn't load a firebox this way was when I had wet wood. Very good secondary burn too.

    If I had a stove big enough to keep our house hot through the night then the same stoves would be too large for the daily duties. My next stove will have a cat. I expect the cat owners to pop up here soon and rub it in how they don't have these problems.
  19. InTheRockies

    InTheRockies New Member

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    chutes,

    Try experimenting with different loading patterns for overnight burns. I will burn splits during the day, but at night I load two small diameter rounds EW and then put as many small pieces as I can fit NS. Rounds seem to burn longer. I intentionally cut my wood to 2 sizes; even though I can use 22 inch pieces for EW loading, I cut my longest pieces to 18 inches so I'd have room at each end for NS loading. I cut my short pieces to 14 inches for NS loading. So far, I've only been packing both EW and NS for overnight burns. (I'm able to get a 7-hour burn and still have a good coal bed in the morning.) When we get a bitterly cold spell, I may be packing the stove that way during the day to generate maximum heat. Good luck. You'll find the sweet spot, just keep experimenting.
  20. chutes

    chutes Member

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    Experimented. Of course, this is during the day, when temps are a bit warmer outside, so assume that I will not get same results on overnight in 20s (which it is lately) or overnight temps in the single digits which are coming soon. Also, I understand that every load will differ slightly depending on wood as well.

    Loaded it relatively full (about 80%). There was room for another medium split and perhaps a couple of small splits in between spaces as Be Green suggests. In other words, could have certainly put in more wood. Loaded all this onto a nice bed of coals at 10:15 AM (all times eastern). At 2:11 PM the blower went out for first time, but then went back on after a minute or two. Stove temp according to magnetic rutland is 350F (through most of this burn it was at 450F which is what I would call my typical reading. Rutland is located on right side of door next to seam as Hogwildz suggested to me months ago when I asked about location on Pacific Insert). I'm about to open the door, rake coals forward, and toss in two or three medium splits without adjusting air control. We'll see what happens. Oh, and the blower just went off again as I was typing but then came back on again a minute later.

    Edited to report that all loading is NS. I would have to segregate smaller splits in order to have some sizes that would work for EW loading.
  21. Cearbhaill

    Cearbhaill Feeling the Heat

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    I've been experimenting with the same insert and still haven't found the perfect answer.
    I do know that loading in the middle of the night is not the answer for me. I fall back asleep waiting for it to get going and let the whole load burn right up on full air- did it last night, in fact.
    I don't like when that happens!

    In mine, the blower running on "high" seems necessary to prevent an overfire when things are at peak temps, but then seem to cool the insert back down too quickly after I have walked away. What I want is a temperature sensitive blower that cuts itself back as the temperature in the insert begins to fall. Most of my "getting up and down" is to adjust the blower to match the thermometer.
    Is it just me that does this?
  22. chutes

    chutes Member

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    I'm certainly no expert, but after experimenting with the blower I've found that I run it on "automatic" so that it shuts off when temp of stove is down, and I keep it set a few notches above medium (the white line on the blower dial is at about 4:00 or 5:00). I just find that it runs well on that setting and that I like the way it pushes heat around the house. At the highest settings I seem to go through fuel faster, and at exact medium I don't seem to get the heat into the outer rooms. Almost like medium high is the "escape velocity" for the warmth to most efficiently radiate into outer rooms. Of course, I don't know what I'm talking about and am just relying on cave man instincts that say "this seems to be working good, so keep doing it."

    I did notice that the manual says to set the blower to low when the air control is set to low. I have to say that I haven't done that. I keep it at 4:00 or 5:00 even when set to low air intake. Guess those instructions are in the manual for a reason. Think that I'll set air intake to slightly greater than low, as manual says that for "any air control setting greater than 'L' (low), operate blower speed control at desired setting."
  23. Cearbhaill

    Cearbhaill Feeling the Heat

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    Those manual instructions have confused more than one person around here :)

    My blower is always on automatic- when it cuts off I know I need to get up and tend it. But I usually vary the speed several times during each burn cycle trying to fine tune my results as far as extending the burn time while simultaneously getting as much heat into my home as possible. I can heat better or I can heat longer but the happy medium eludes me.
    It's a never ending quest.
  24. Jake Weaver

    Jake Weaver Member

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    Here is my two cents for what it is worth...I load up at 10:15pm - by this time the temp upstairs is 72 degrees. The fan is on auto and set about 4 o'clock. My youngest is 17 mths old and is usually up around 3-4am and I come down and put 3-4 splits (splits down) into the coals and shut the door- it catches right away and I am back to bed in a few minutes. By morning- 7am- it is 68 degrees upstairs, coals are still hot and the glass is still clean.

    When I throw more wood in I don't adjust the air control- just maintain the lowest setting. The splits being down in the coals catches quick and that seems to be the key for me. As long as it stays near 70- preferrably few degrees higher- my wife stays happy :cheese:
  25. chutes

    chutes Member

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    Unfortunately my experimenting today did cost me, as the house is cooler than it should be now. By trying to "recreate" overnight conditions I kind of let my fire die all the way down and then reloaded only slightly to simulate what would happen if I threw a couple of splits on overnight without adjusting air intake. It worked by the way, but it wasn't what you might call the best way to heat my house during a daytime burn. It would certainly help to maintain the temps overnight once I've made it toasty in here, but unfortunately I lost that daytime, concentrated effort that would have gotten the house back up into the 70s. Now instead of 70s upstairs, which is what I typically get, I'm at 66. I should be able to get that to 68 before I go to bed, but if I have last night's heat loss then we're talking waking up in the high 50's. Brrrrrr. Live and learn. I like the advice from some others in this thread. Spend the day (since I'm here and burn 24x7) getting the house nice and warm for the overnight. Even if I suffer the same percentage loss in heat overnight, the temps would still be warmer in morning if I can get the overall temp up a couple of degrees before bedtime.

    At least now I know that I can chuck in a couple of splits in middle of night, should I wake up, and not have to adjust air intake.
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