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swapping out a stove

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Harley, Apr 12, 2006.

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  1. Harley

    Harley Minister of Fire

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    First – let me start off by saying great website – I learned quite a bit, and had a few chuckles along the way.

    By way of background – I’ll try to be brief, but give as much detail as I can. I bought my house about 12 years ago (approx. 1800 sf, plus 1 area of about 300 sf where there is a vaulted ceiling, so potential “heating area may be equivalent to approx 2100 sf +/-). The first year I was there, I bought a used VC resolute (Early model, in fact a resolute I), and vented into the existing chimney using 6” SS flexpipe kit. The flue is 12X12 tile lined. The chimney is “inside” the house, up until the point where it exits the roof, where it extends up another 8’ or so. The peak of the chimney is about 3’ higher than the nearest roof peak, which is about 10’ away. The location is Western Mass, elevation of approx 1400’. The stove, for the most part is the primary heat source.

    The resolute always had great draft, easy starts. I would clean the chimney mid season, and at the end of the year, and never had much in the way of creosote. My only “complaint” was that it was probably a little undersized for the size of the house.

    This summer, I replaced the resolute with a used Vigilant (early model, short doors), and changed to a 8” SS flexpipe. The starting and drafting of this stove seems good, but what I’ve noticed is, it appears to me, that the air holes in the fireback on this model are very low in the stove, and needs constant cleaning, or shifting of the coals and ashes to keep the airpath open. This also seems to choke the stove down during an overnight burn (or even after a few hours it needs to be tended). As a result, I now have a lot more creosote in the chimney to clean out, and overall – I’m not really happy with this stove.

    Is my thinking flawed in that I’m kind of blaming the stove design? Or is it that the air “demand” of this stove is much more than the resolute (i.e., the 6” vs the 8” pipe?). I know there are a lot of other factors that can affect the draft – exhaust fans, dryer, etc. but since I had 11 years with the resolute, I don’t think anything else has really changed.

    My thinking is probably going to the new Encore NC (maybe even the new Defiant NC <would this be overkill?>?. The stove will be pretty central in the house, so looks are pretty important (Not by any means do I mean that function and efficiency is NOT). Also, top loading is fairly important, as the hearth is at floor level, not raised, so front or side loading, I don’t want to be lying on the floor loading the stove.

    Am I thinking in the right direction? Or should I be looking at something else going on in the vigilant?

    Thanks for your help.

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  2. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    You have a Coal / wood Viligant stove, basically setup for coal burning, where primary air enters low. Wood burns best entering from the top. That is why it does not work as effeciently . A word to the wise here,, the old Resolute and non cat Encore have the same BTU output rating 40,000 With a central chimney and stated decent draft why not a cat stove? The cat Encore is rated 47,000 BTUs and 9 hour burn time. 18% more heat and one hour more burn time. You want more capacity right why settle for the same as you had before?" Do you want cleaner burning and use a little less wood? Then why not a cat stove? If you are looking for output, longer burn times, and the cleanest Stove ever tested, then why not the Defiant?
  3. Harley

    Harley Minister of Fire

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    Thank you for the reply... I'm not sure whether or not it changes anything, but the chimney is not really "central"... I kind of meant it more as real visible... part of the "furniture" and definately heating the house, but it is on an interior wall... just not in the middle of the house.

    I'm not sure if the Vigilant I have is set up for coal burning - there's no shaker or grates in the bottom section - just the same type of bottom as was in the Relolute ( a few divided off sections aboout an inch or so high in the base section of the stove running front to back)

    As far as the Cat/non-Cat, I'm just a little unsure about more parts (and only thinking more maintenance, more cost - but I'm sure I can get over that) - that's why I just threw out the ideas of the the NC encore or defiant. I'm not really concerned as much about overall wood consumption (I still have a heck of a lot to cut around the house - I usually go through only about 5 cord/year), but I'd like to make sure the stove is efficient, as far as not creating a lot of creosote - at this point, I'm a little more concerned about safety, and avoiding what seemed to be a lot of build up in the chimney this year.

    If I read what you said right, then I don't think I have a problem with the change in the 6" to 8", or that the Vigilant was too big of a stove for the house size? Would the Defiant (either one) be alright, without causing a draft problem?

    I'm also a little confused going through the new brochures versus the older ones, and the older owner's manuals. I know the definition of BTU's hasn't changed, but did the means of measuring them? How could some of the newer designed stoves be putting out less BTU's than they used to, even though their efficiency is reported to be increased? Maybe I'm missing something

    Thanks, again... any info would help
  4. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    First of all code the cross sectional code no 6" pipe can draft correctly in a 12/12 clay flue. The area is too large to heat up the clay liners to enhance draft.. To an extent 8" flue collar may not be larger enough either Thinking it over You may have a draft issue
    no matter what stove you use. Ecpecially a modern EPA stove. That old resolute may have worked but that does not mean a new one would Whole different draft requirement. With that said VC makes a conversion 6" collar that will work on the Encore.
    When you went 8' connector pipe did you use a rteducer to make the connection into the masonry back to 6"


    As for cat stoves got a bad rap little more work controling the rewards longer cleaner burning and more heat output
  5. Harley

    Harley Minister of Fire

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    Thanks again...

    As far as the reducer - I did not use one on the change to the Vigilant. It was a new 8" flex pipe through the damper assembly and into the clay liner. I guess my best bet may be to have a new liner (8") run inside the 12 X 12 existing liner? I think that would hold enough heat to make sure it warms up properly and keep the smoke moving up and out to avoid the creosote issue.

    Cat/non Cat.... I guess I shouldn't be afraid of the new technologies. It seems like a lot of you on here have them... I haven't seen any real horror stories in browsing through the posts. Well, at least were at the end of the burn season, and I wont have to make any quick decisions. I'll have to keep reading.

    Thanks again
  6. Harley

    Harley Minister of Fire

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    Thanks, Dylan for the good karma advice.

    To be honest, that's probably what I would do. I'll keep you all posted as I get closer to decision making time.
  7. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    I think the situation is that there's a flex liner 'direct connected' into a tile flue, so maybe only 6 ft of liner.

    Seems an 8" collar stove ought to be able to heat a 12x12 (more like 10x10 internal) interior tile chimney adequately.

    My gut reaction here would be to reline with a liner appropriate to whatever stove you like. You've got room for an 8" liner, so pretty much any stove is open to you.

    And I'd put the liner before the stove - spring for the liner and get a decent used stove (or the one you have, perhaps) vs. a new stove with the existing setup.
    .

    Steve
  8. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Vermont Castings makes a replacement adapter that is 6" round it ia actually the cast part of the reversable stove part as an option
    instead of the oval 8". Their specs limit the stove opperation to not being able to support the open spark screen option with the 6" collar All other functions work and are tested. The Encore I am installing VC in Vermont is sending me the 6" round collar flange plate hunter green to match my stove. I believe the Defiant also can be opperated with the 6" factory flange collar.

    I a bit confused by this question The code Cros-sectional code is NFPA 211 2003 Interior chimneys may vent into a clay liner up to 3 times their crossectional size 6" round 28.25 app X 3 = 84.75 so that 6" may be vented into an 8/12 flue =76"
    The common 12/ 12 clay flue area is 118" too large for the 6" appliance. Now on a chimney with a wall or walls exposed to the outside the cross-sectional code is 2x greater 2x 28.35 = 56.5 meaning the 8/12 clay liner is too large to support proper draft 76" and is damn close using 8" stove appliance in a 12/12 ok to use 8" in an 8/12. These codes reflect the results of modern stoves and their draft requirements. IT does absolutely no good to have a stove that can not draft properly So the anyone who thinks he does not need a permit or inspections vents into the 12/12 and wonders why his stove does not draft or function correctly? Tell me what he has accomplished?

    One other point here is there has been no mention of a thght damper plate seal? Could dilusion of outside air getting the chimney chase, Be effecting the draft? You bet it can. To help find a working solution we need all the facts.



  9. Harley

    Harley Minister of Fire

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    There is a damper block off plate that I put in, when I used the 6", and another new one with the 8". Both times they were sealed up fairly good. The only difference between the 2 different installations was that currently (with the 8") I believe I have a much more airtight seal. 1) because I did a better job of trimming and fitting this one, than the one I did 12 years ago and; 2) this time I used insulation that came with the kit to really make a good seal.

    Are you thinking that maybe the (let's call it the "leaky") 6" venting might have pulled inside air up the chimney and helped push the smoke out? (which would have lead to the lesser creosote in previous years). If that's the case, would I be better off with a new liner (I.e., 8" round). So far.... it doesn't seem that anyone thinks the Vigilant (and its air inlet holes I described before) are the culprit.

    Still plenty of time left. I just want to make sure I do it right, safe, and ONCE.

    Thanks again
  10. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    This is possible the space behing the air holes could be plugged with ash and requires cleanning out
    It works by shifting the coals but there is probably another problem. I know this happens with the modern relolute
    Naturally if not getting air you cannot draft well and incomplete burning leads to cersote buildup.
  11. Harley

    Harley Minister of Fire

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    The holes do get plugged... If the stove is running - I usually "poke" them to get them opened back up... usually weekly I let it go out and vacuum out all of the holes, and behind the back plate. That's really what is causing the confusion for me.... is it the stove, or really a draft issue, given the history.
  12. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Here is what I have to do Ash does accululate in the area behind the holes Just poking them out helps,
    but they fill right back up again I removed the flue collar or refactory in front of them I use a shop vac duct tape a piece of garden hose on it and reach in and vac the ash I also use a paint brush o attavcched to a dowel and swish it arounf in there then vac out If I cannot see clearly threw all holes I use a dowel and move it back i and forth to loosen up stuborn accumulations then vac it again.
    Once clean Your problem should go away. With a dust mask, resperator, blow gun. and air comperssor I also have used that method of blowing the ash out also again vac
  13. Harley

    Harley Minister of Fire

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    Yup... when I do vacuum it out complety... It does help a lot, and the stove burns good - I'm just thinking I have to vacuum it out a lot more than I should have to (weekly). That's why I'm confused as to whether or not it's more of the way the stove is designed, or if there really is a problem with the draft.
  14. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    getting back to your orininal post It is possible two things are going on with your stove
    one inadequate air feed. blocked air feed passages. You can not remove the ash resovour by just running a vac in front. You have to remove the entire accumulation.
    2. 12/12 flue located ina chimney exposeed to the outside is too big of an area to heat up for positive draft, you need a liner.
    Its not working right now or you would not be posting your concerns. As it stands you have a direct connect in an 12/12 exposed chimney and it is not working correctly. For a srove to draft correctly it must have a good air supply also it must have adequate draft requirements both are lacking. There are tens of thousands Villigants working correctly. Correct the existing defeciencies and yours should preform as well. I'm not trying to be hard towards you, only offering suggestions to improve a current situation, not working as it should
  15. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    I service the stove in Sept including removing the backer plate or flue collar and vac it out. I think he described
    his installation as a direct connect, running the flue connector from the stove into the first flue liner. 12/12.

    Another bit of info would be helpfull the verticle lenght of his chimney

    BTW the holes on the bottom are used for the secondary air flow when dampering down.
    Harley has indicated it takes quite an effort to manitain a fire in fact it goes out, Also cresote build up.
    All indications of blocked inlet air or weak draft and thirdly, possibly less than dry seasoned wood
  16. Harley

    Harley Minister of Fire

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    Sorry about the confusion - maybe I can clear it up a bit. The stove exhausts into an 8" oval flex pipe. The flex pipe runs up through the damper assembly, and extends up another 5' or so (still oval in shape) to the first flue tile. From there, the exhaust heads straight up the the 12X12 (actual ID approx 11 1/2 X 11 1/2) flue tile. The actual height of the chimney (only measuring the tile lined section) is about 25'.

    As far as the regular vacuuming - I think I'm getting it pretty cleaned out. I get the hose behind the backing plate through the large opening in the plate, and also suck out the smaller holes in the plane, and the "tube" that runs up torward the front of the stove. I also vacuum out the air inlet in the back (where the T-stat flapper is), as well as the small side hole.
  17. Harley

    Harley Minister of Fire

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    ooops... missed another thing.... The fire never has gone out... it just gets choked down, and I will have to open the damper to get it heated back up again. During an overnight burn, I've never had unburned logs ther in the morning.
  18. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Before you think of replacing your stove, I would install a full liner all the way to the top of your chimney. I bet it will do wonders for your draft and current stove.

    If you look into a new stove, check out Woodstock Soapstone. I heat 1800 sq ft very nicely with their Fireview. And they have a 6 month money back guarantee.
  19. Harley

    Harley Minister of Fire

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    Thanks guys.... I think I will have to start looking at liners.

    Dylan - as far as the vacuuming/filters - I've never had a problem. I actually have a central vac, which I find to be almost useless for the carpets, but makes a heck of a "shop vac" - plenty of suction, and any of the really fine stuff that may make it past the filter is actually exhausted outside the house, so no dust clouds inside.

    To me, it seems those air ports are just too low in the stove, where they are too close to where the ash accumulates, and since there's not a lot of room for ash "storage" - it has to go somewhere.
  20. seaken

    seaken Minister of Fire

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    Harley,

    If I may butt in. I think I can say with some confidence that the Vigilant is performing as designed. It may need to be refurbished but it otherwise sounds like it is working normally. The holes you are talking about are not really that critical to the primary combustion process. You are probably getting better results when they are cleaned out bceause your wood is not very well seasoned and the extra air supply aids the rate of combustion. The Vigilant was designed to extract more heat from the fire and smoke and the results of that technique is more creosote. They did not fully understand how to acheive complete combustion AND increased heat extraction. They were close but the technology had not yet matured to where we are now. In fact, in some circumstance you can end up with more creosote if the air holes in the back are wide open. The air was not pre-heated enough and can cool the smoke. That's why there is a fob to help control how much air flow goes to those back holes. Combined with wet wood and a wide open fob you'll get more creosote build up.

    In all early stoves the key to less creosote is well seasoned fuel and HOT fires. However, most people prefer LONG SLOW FIRES in their Vigiilant and the result is lots of creosote. You might have been better off with the Resolute because the rateof burn was hotter to give you the BTU's per hour you wanted. Was the Resolute badly warped? After 12 years of the Resolute burning hot was it completely broken down? Or, could you replace the interior panels and re-seal the shell and get another 12 years?

    If you stay with the Vigilant than I agree with the rcommendation to fully line the chimney. Make sure the oval pipe is NOT simply 8" diameter pipe that has been ovalized. Use the proper "large oval" size to go through the damper and transition to 8" round with an Oval-Round adapter with the crimped end down. Seal both the top (not air tight - need to allow for expnsion and contracion of the metal) and bottom and that should give you pretty decent draft conditions. Since you'll get lots of creosote I would also recommend insulation wrap and regular cleaning. Putting in the liner will not reduce the creosote by itself. You'll have to work that out by using better wood and hotter fires.

    Good luck,
    Sean Kennedy
  21. Harley

    Harley Minister of Fire

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    Thanks, Sean. I don't think the problen is the wood... mostly sugar maple, oak and some cherry. dried for about 1 year, and under cover.

    Based on what you're saying, I don't think I would stay with the vigilant, I want to also lower my cresote production. As far as the resolute went, I replaced the rear fireback when I bought it (it was cracked) - the 2 sided were ok, so I kept those, and after 11 years, still no problems - they were all in fine shape when I got rid of it, so I don't think I was ever overfiring it. I just thought at the time, that a little bigger would be a little better - but it just didn't work out that way.
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