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stove letting out puffs of smoke?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by michaelthomas, Sep 30, 2006.

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  1. michaelthomas

    michaelthomas New Member

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    Here is what is happening. I started a fire tonight because it is sopposed to get down to 42 tonight, or it seemed like a good reason to use my stove. I got the fire going easily, got the stove griddle up to temp with 20 minutes at the 55o degree mark, shut down the damper and had the intake at about 1/2 way (2002 or 03 model VC resolute) fire going well. minimal flame, lots of coal. Secondary burn kicking in very sporatically. It is like the smoke is building and then igniting in short bursts. But I notice that with the puffs it is puffing out smoke from I believe the door and the griddle. The griddle temp is still at 500. Do I not have enough draft? Should the secondary burn be constant? What do you think? Do I have a leak? Elk sealed it up as tight as one could. What is the deal with the smoke puffs?

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  2. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Mike it is still warm I think you are too quick at dampering down I know the stove temp is where one dampers down but usually I would get a good bed of coals (Not partically burnt pieces) from the first load load a few more splits let them get going good open air up to 1/2 then damper it down. This phenomon was discussed how a roar of air would rush down a chiimney right after dampering down. Then again it may still be too warm to draft using the secondary air passage which is more draft sensitive if smoke is comming out the griddle then it is a draft or back pressure issue. Could be more time needed in developing the learning curb

    Is it real windy?
  3. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy Minister of Fire

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    One thing to remember is that stoves dont smoke. What causes a stove to smoke is effected by draft, or control of the stove. If your shure its not technique, then its draft. I would bet on Elks comment. If not, what makes you think you dont have enought draft? refresh us on the hight, the amount of elbows, and the diameter. the stoves job is to provide heat, the chimneys job is to provide draft, the users job is to operate the stove correctly so the other two can do there job. Next time, burn the entire load of wood to charcoal before turning it down, then add a big split or a round and turn it down. Report to us what you find.
  4. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    I would think the stove should be sealed ...... Is that normal for smoke to come out of the door and griddle ? These have seals on them do they not ? If smoke is coming out then air would be going in these spots when there is no back puffing. I would think the ONLY place smoke "could" back puff on a sealed stove is the air inlet.
  5. Robbie

    Robbie Minister of Fire

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    Michaelthomas, sorry for the long post, but I wanted to add my "puffing" experience to your thread, and I think it will explain what I think your stove did.

    I had an almost perfect evening with my second season fire in my stove, cleaned and pipe extended 2 ft. per MountainStoveGuys advice, drawed perfectly and was for sure a better draft.

    My wood was perfect too, good and dry.

    I had a hot bed of coals, I then loaded with 5 or so oak rounds about 2 in. diameter. Not a big load, just medium for my stove.

    I went upstairs and stayed for about 20 minutes when I smelled raw wood smoke, I first thought it was coming in near my upstairs windows, so I went down to go outside and check.

    I first checked stove though, which I had dampered all the way down tight because my "new stove temp gauge" was on 500, and gettin hotter. I noticed my stove full of smoke, with NO flame at all............starving for oxygen, gases were slowly trying to move up stove pipe.................a classic example of "operator error".

    I watched for a second to see if I could catch where the burps or "puffing" as it is often called and sure enough, the gases reached the point where they ignited for a second which caused a "very slight".........POOF......for lack of the proper wording.

    Which in turn, cause the "poof" to expand within the stove and try to exit by way of pipe, the gases, expansion, and smoke made it as far as my in line pipe damper where it found an easier exit in the damper handle, much easier than trying to force all this slow moving smoke up the chimney.

    It puffed once, then I waited to verify exactly what was happening..........it puffed again, only blowing about a mouthful of smoke out my damper knob. I waited for another to make sure what I was seeing was not a fluke and it did it again.

    I then opened damper up about an eighth of an inch and the burn tubes ignited and stopped puffing. It then burned for 2 hours like this and never puffed again. This is the first time I ever dampered my stove ALL the way down and left it for some time. Even last year when I filled the box before bed I always opened it just a fraction, which allowed enough air to enter and apparently not duplicate these conditions.

    I'll have to admit, this bothers me a little, but I am sure it was my fault, the ironic part is I blame my new temp. gauge, which I really like, but I watched it too closely last night and did not let it get much above 500, and then only once.

    This meant more dampering, and also because it was in the fifties outside and reached 79 in my house pretty quickly. I am sure I understand what happened in my situation, I starved my stove for oxygen, it got it anyway somehow and had a mini explosion, which expanded and had to go somewhere, which in my case was similar to a weak water pipe joint, the smoke escaped in the nearest, weakest spot.

    Now for the questions...........do I need to get rid of this damper and replace with solid pipe ? I don't plan on this happening again, but I do not have a perfectly sealed exit pipe system from my stove to the wall, I know there are joints where air can get in or out, not much but a little.

    But.........it's never been an issue........... until now, I just learned it can happen this way.

    MountainStoveGuy, your advice really helped, it helped so much that my pipe was literally whistling (drawing air) through the damper holes in pipe, mostly on the opposite side of turn handle, pretty cool I thought ! :cheese:


    Robbie
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Robbie, just so I understand the exact description, it sounds like the stove also has a stove pipe damper is that correct? After the new wood was added, did you close down the air controls or the stack damper? Closing down the stack damper on a fresh load of wood is not a good idea. Even closing down the air controls on a fresh load of wood can cause a pretty smokey stove until the wood stops smoldering.

    Any time a new load of wood is added, you want to give it time to char and burn off some of the gases before closing the stack draft damper. If the stove is hot when reloading I usually let it burn with the air controls and stack damper full open for at least 5 minutes. Then I might close off the air to half and stack damper to half. Finally I come back around 15 minutes later and close them most of the way if I want a long burn. Your mileage may vary depending on the installation and draft.
  7. Robbie

    Robbie Minister of Fire

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    BeGreen, yes, and great advice ! I did not close pipe damper, never have, my stove has such a great lower control damper I never use in line pipe damper. Actually I wish it were gone, my installer put it in as a bonus type thing in case I ever needed it, I never use it.

    It all happened exactly as I described, your advice is VERY helpful and reassuring to me. I know I goofed, I loaded this new wood and "shut er down".

    Raw gases would occasionally ignite just because there was enough air coming in, but it would instanly go out after the tiny bit of oxygen would burn.

    My wife was none too happy, she said, "it's never done this before !" I explained I never dampered it all the way closed and left..........I did this ONLY because I was using my new pipe temp. gauge, which was located on the front of my stove, and reading a little over 500, I know this is not really hot, but I figured the only way to cool it down was to damper it all the way, I just made the mistake and left it.


    Robbie
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    If it's any consolation, I think this has happened to all of us at one point or another. Part of the learning curve. Your wife will forgive and forget I'm sure. For more info refer to the manual under "Overnight Burn".

    This is why it is part of why it is so important to have a good chimney system that is screwed together (3 screws) at each joint. I've seen a back puff that would have blown a weak joint apart. My fault, but I was glad that the system stayed tightly together.
  9. Robbie

    Robbie Minister of Fire

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    Thank you, she is fine now. But I feel I need to replace the pipe damper with a solid pipe. I am learning every time I use my stove, but it bothers me I messed up and did not think when I closed damper.

    Other than that, my stove, wood and preparation for this night was perfect.

    I also wanted to try to shed some light on Michaelthomas' question, I think my "puffing" was very similar to his, except his puffs came out of his stove in a different spot than mine.


    Robbie.
  10. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    So ........ sense there was no reply to this statement i guess this is normal for this stove to back puff from the door and the griddle "if" a back puff does happen ??? :bug: I can understand a pipe or a damper in that pipe but the stove?
  11. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    When the fumes ignite, there can be quite a poof. There's no latch on top load griddles. I could see the possibility of the lid being nudged open enough for smoke to escape.
  12. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I remember my old tin stove. You lifted up a lid on top to put wood in it. When it would get a big poof it would blow the lid all of the way open.
  13. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    I guess i had it in my mind that they all had a latch on top but now that you mention it...........
  14. michaelthomas

    michaelthomas New Member

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    Thank you all for your posts. the puff does make sense now. I had loaded it full for the night gave the new load 20 minutes to get up to tempand then shut the damper about half way. The fire was up to temp momentarily but obviously not going well enough to lower the intake. The mini explosion is exactly what I saw.
  15. Robbie

    Robbie Minister of Fire

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    Roospike, you should not ever have to worry about a puff with your stove since yours has that cool EBT system and opens up for a little air flow if I understand it correctly.

    When you pull my damper out, it's going to kill the fire in the stove one way or another after a while. At least now I know not to close the damper and leave it closed, it just spits smoke out at me........ :)

    I've been giving this occurance a lot of thought today and also realized that last year, I never dampered all the way closed and left it ever because my wood was so wet, I could never leave it closed or it would sit and sizzle.

    Hopefully I have learned a lesson in the fine art of not starving your stove of oxygen, it don't like it.......... :)


    Robbie
  16. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    The Summit calls him on his cell phone if it is getting around the time of month to add more wood too.
  17. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    ;-)
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