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  1. CiscoKid

    CiscoKid New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2009
    Messages:
    16
    Loc:
    Eastern PA
    I just got my first wood stove (an Avalon Perfect fit ) installed 2 days ago. I will admit I’m a total newbie to woodstoves, but I’ve done a lot of reading (mostly here!) and video watching to try to learn a bit. My 1st 2 fires haven’t gone very well at all, though. Despite leaving the air control pushed in all the way (full open), the fire never seems to get going very well unless I keep one of the doors open. With the door open, it starts burning well – lots of flame, etc. When I close the door, the fire really dies down to almost hot coals with little flame. Is this something I’m doing wrong, or does the air control need some kind of adjustment (other than pushing/pulling the lever).

    I’ve definitely made some mistakes but I’ve been learning from them (some of my wood isn’t seasoned that well, so I’ve been trying to use different wood that’s been sitting for a couple of years. I’ve also “smothered” the fire on more than 1 occasion when adding wood, creating a lot of smoke, etc). I seem to be getting the same results no matter what, though. If the stove is fine, I’m not sure how to get a hotter fire. I see the slot for what I’m guessing to be the air control (in the very front) has ash in it now – I’ll look to vacuum that out, but I don’t think that’s the issue either. One thing I might be doing wrong is not adding enough wood, but I’ve been reluctant to load more than 4 pieces or so because I’m only trying to do break in fires – could that be the issue? I didn't think that was it because it seems more like an air problem than a fuel one, but I'm not sure at all now what else to try.

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  2. gpcollen1

    gpcollen1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2007
    Messages:
    2,026
    Loc:
    Western CT
    What kind of stove temps are you getting - as that is the best indicator of how the stove is burning. It sounds like you still may not be burning good wood. One way to combat wet wood is to split it smaller and smaller. You may need to give it more air - door cracked - in order to get the stove up to temp and a hot coal bed. After that, you should be able to add more wood and not have to work so hard. Wet wood = an air problem as you just need more to get it to burn.

    In addition, you did not mention the bypass damper, as Avalon calls it. That needs to be open when getting the temps up in the stove. Page 19 of the manual describes the operation. You need to pull that thing out and let the smoke right up the chimney while getting this stove going. Once up to temps - 300 to 400 - I close the thing so you will get secondary burn.

    PS - your trouble shooting section in the manual basically says what I just did.
  3. Fsappo

    Fsappo New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2008
    Messages:
    3,551
    Loc:
    Central NY
    Did your dealer go thru the operation with you and start your first fire to make sure everything worked fine after they installed it?
  4. CiscoKid

    CiscoKid New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2009
    Messages:
    16
    Loc:
    Eastern PA
    CTwoodburner, unfortunately I don't have a thermometer yet - I'm planning on picking up one of them tonight. It did get hot enough to turn the fan on, but I'm not sure how long it took for that to happen - it was turned all the way down, so I didn't hear it for a long time. Some of the wood I was burning was very old, with some prior termite damage (I split it in half by stomping on it - very dry and brittle). I did leave the bypass opened initially for like ~20-25 minutes, but then I closed it and opened it throughout the burn looking to see if it helped. I'll look to follow your advice with the 400 degrees - I really wasn't sure from the manual how long to leave it open. How long does it usually take to get up to 400? Do you need to keep the door open to get there?

    Franks, the installer did not light the first fire. We burned on piece of paper and put it under the flue to show how to get past the pressure issue, but nothing other than that.
  5. Fsappo

    Fsappo New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2008
    Messages:
    3,551
    Loc:
    Central NY
    Thats all I got. The good news is you bought a nice insert, which after some work and practice should serve you well
  6. High_Iron

    High_Iron Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2007
    Messages:
    136
    Loc:
    Long Island
    you say you are smothering the fire when you add more wood. The biggest lesson you need to learn is to "set it and forget it". Its a new toy and you are playing with it, but you need to let the wood burn down to coals before adding more wood. It also sounds like you have wet wood. let the fire get nice and hot with the door open a bit, then close it. slowly close the primary air, a little at a time, not all at once. You just need to get past the learning curve.
  7. Pagey

    Pagey Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2008
    Messages:
    2,419
    Loc:
    Middle TN
    If you have truly dry wood and small splits with dry kindling, you should have no problems starting some small break in fires. Now, these are NOT going to be glorious, roaring fires with secondary combustion/bowels of hell flames rolling up the glass. However, they will be bright, crackling fires nonetheless. Try this: load about 3 or 4 splits that are no more than 2 to 2.5" across on the bottom of your fire box running north/south. Then take 2 more splits the same size, and lay one east/west across the back of the north south splits; lay the other at the front of the north/south splits. You've basically made a little "box" out of splits. Now, take about 4 sheets of black and white newspaper (no slicks or ads) and roll them up semi-tight from corner to corner and then tie them off in knots. Lay these four knotted papers on top of the "box" of splits. Now, pile some fine bits of kindling on this in a mound. Get plenty of small stuff on that pile. Pine bark is excellent! Finally, tie up one last newspaper knot and place this on top of your kindling pile. Light the top knotted paper first, as this will help warm up your flue and establish a nice draft. With that burning well, slowly close the door until you have about a 2" to 1" gap. Leave your primary air control fully open (depending on your model, that could be pushed in or pulled out). If you have dry splits and dry kindling, you should have a crackling little break in fire in no time.

    Large splits (especially hardwood) can simply be too big to use when starting a fire. They really need a hot, well established coal bed to really take off.

    Try the above and let us know how you do.

    Edit: you stove, like mine, has a bypass damper. When you start a fire or reload on a coal bed, make sure this damper is open. This allows the wood gases to temporarily bypass the baffle. This is a very handy feature, so make sure you open it AND your primary air control when starting your fires. For your "break in" fires, you can leave it open, as they won't get hot enough for secondary combustion, really.
  8. CiscoKid

    CiscoKid New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2009
    Messages:
    16
    Loc:
    Eastern PA
    Thank you all for the tips. I went out and got a thermometer, so I should be more in tune with the temps. I also picked up a lot more kindling and split some wood that looked like it's been sitting for a few years, and split it in line so I can set it up with what Pagey recommended (TY). I split it smaller (so I can do North / South) and thinner, and I'm figuring that even if it wasn't split up till now it has to be better than what I had due to it's age. I'll also be leaving the baffle open, and also be aiming for trying to get it hotter quicker - I will start another fire tonight or tomorrow AM and will post the results.
  9. Pagey

    Pagey Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2008
    Messages:
    2,419
    Loc:
    Middle TN
    Sounds good. I hope you have good results!
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