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Timing issue...loading the stove when the stove isn't ready to be loaded

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Ansky, Oct 24, 2013.

  1. Ansky

    Ansky Member

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    It's 11:20pm, time for bed, and I wanted to load the stove for the overnight burn. The problem is, the fire is really still going great from my last load. Temp is actually a little too hot, 700* on my magnetic thermometer and the secondary burn is going crazy right now. But there is definitely room for more wood. In a few hours it will be out. What to do? I'll let it be tonight as it is not all that cold out (mid 30s). But what about when it's winter and really cold out. Would it be bad to reload at this point and risk he temp inside getting even hotter?
    OldLumberKid likes this.

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  2. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Be very very careful. If you add new wood on a large bed of hot coals you will risk a runaway situation and overfire.
    corey21, OldLumberKid and Ansky like this.
  3. lopiliberty

    lopiliberty Minister of Fire

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    Absolutely do not add more wood if the insert is at 700 degrees or you will have a runaway insert for sure. Been there done that ONE time and learned from my mistake;sick. I loading 5 large splits in my stove at 10 tonight and it was at 450 with a huge pile of coals and it shot up to 760 in a matter of 6 minutes but has since came back to 550
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2013
  4. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Actually, 700 is too much as it is IMO. Even with lower temps, runaway is a big risk when you load up on a hot bed of coals.

    Where are you placing your thermometer? Measuring temps on an insert is always a problem and you may even be hotter than you think.
    jeff_t and Ansky like this.
  5. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Never, ever load a stove when the stove top temp is over 400 degrees. As I say a few times here every year when you do that it will give you "pause to reflect" for an hour or more and scare the crap out of you.

    When that new wood offgasses the temp is headed to the moon. And you will need to change underwear.
    charger4406, m12, corey21 and 8 others like this.
  6. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    As a former member said the art of overnight wood burning is the coal bed. Before you load for the overnight burn you need the wood burned down to a coal bed and the stove top at 400 or less. Then you load the night burn and you, at least me, are going to spend an hour adjusting the primary air while it settles in before you go to bed.
  7. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    When I screw up and have too much wood in the thing when I need to load it for bed it can be done. But it takes a lot of experience that I can't detail in a post and isn't guarantied anyway.

    Practice. Practice.
  8. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    As others have said it's not fun to top off a hot stove full of wood. I'd suggest resisting the urge as others have suggested. :)

    You'll learn the timing of it all rather quickly. It will become second nature before long and you'll not only load the stove for your current situation but looking forward to the next burn. If you only need a few hours of heat before your overnight load you'll learn to only load a few hours worth of wood.
    jeff_t and Ansky like this.
  9. Ansky

    Ansky Member

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    Thanks for the responses. I'm glad I didn't load up before bed. I left it as it. When I woke up, the stove was cold, and there was nothing but ash left. But the house was still warm, 68 degrees. Hopefully by winter, I'll get my timing down. :)

    Ok, now I'm going to divert on my own thread a little. What if I did load up and had a run away situation? Is there anything that can be done to help bring the temps down? Fan on full blast? Damper open or closed? Open the door and throw in some wet paper towels? Thanks.
    DianeB likes this.
  10. Beer Belly

    Beer Belly Minister of Fire

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    I had a runaway situation once after throwing in a bunch of shorties (short pieces).....buried the temp gauge.....just closed down the damper, and hung on.....scary to say the least
    D8Chumley likes this.
  11. Beer Belly

    Beer Belly Minister of Fire

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    When you get older, there won't be a "final reload" for overnight burns....you'll be getting up in the middle of the night for a "nature call", and throw in a piece or two like I do;lol
  12. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    I load smaller loads during the day when I'm at home. Experience tells me within an hour or two if I load the stove so full I'll be able to safely reload in x hours. It varies by species, but small loads won't leave you hanging when it gets cold out.
  13. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    We have had the same problem, you come home from work and want to load the stove, but if you do, it won't make it all the way to the AM if it's really cold out but it won't be burned down enough to reload before bed. DH pushes it a bit with reloading when I think it's not really ready yet. He's still used to having less than seasoned wood (which will react differently than the 9-14% MC we've got now).

    I'll not comment on the overfire/run away as I'm not 100% sure. I know what we'd do but I don't want to give advice..we're not seasoned (pun intended) enough of wood burners yet. I can say if you search the forums you will find advice on handling it!
  14. Holiday

    Holiday Member

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    Air all the way closed and if you know where the secondary air comes block or partially block that for a while. That should take care of it. Fan on would help move the heat away also.
    corey21 and firefighterjake like this.
  15. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    I don't know if I'd have the guts to try it or not in the heat of things, but one school of thought is to open the door fully, thus flushing the firebox heat up the chimney so it calms down more like an open fireplace. It's counter intuitive, but it also would bypass the secondary burning which is contributing to much of the heat. I wish some testing facility would try this sometime.

    Meanwhile, directing a fan onto the stove top would help cool the stove itself, as Holiday suggested.
  16. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    I've read this many times. Also the wet newspapers/green wood idea as well as cold ashes.

    I can tell you that the few times we've tried to operate our stove with the door open and a screen on, it didn't get very high top temps nor burn very well, so the opening the door idea probably does work.

    I also think that you would need to be very careful in doing so to be sure no firey logs might roll out (especially if you load e/w with a front loading door) or sparks go a flyin past the hearth pad.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2013
  17. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Random thoughts . . .

    As other folks have said . . . RESIST the temptation to add more wood on a fire already going along at a good clip. I have made that mistake not once, but twice (slow learner here!) . . . I did the early reload thinking I would go to bed and everything would be OK with plenty of coals in the morning -- instead I ended up having to stay up much later and was scrambling around trying to keep the temps within the safe zone of the flue and stove. It was not a fun, relaxing experience.

    It really is all about the timing . . . and figuring how much of a load and when to reload. It takes a bit of experimenting to get things right, but eventually you should be able to get it so that you're doing a reload about an hour before bed time . . . which gives you enough time to reload and get everything safely cruising along before hitting the sack . . . and then in the morning you should be able to wake up to a warm stove and some coals to get everything going again.


    Runaway fires . . . what I did both times was to use some aluminum foil to partially block the secondary air. Be forewarned though . . . you really need to know this location before time since the last thing you want to do is be crawling around and feeling around for the entry on a very, very hot stove. You should also know that while this will slow up the fire, you may get some very strange effects in your stove. I had super slow-mo flames and incredible secondaries that were almost beyond description which I am guessing is due to the high heat and semi-starved air condition.

    I also monitored the air control . . . directing as much heat into the chimney as possible without dangerously overheating the chimney. For a while I kept going back and forth between letting the stove get a bit warm and letting the chimney cool and then letting the chimney get warm and letting the stove cool. I had a fan positioned a few feet away pointed directly at the stove in an effort to cool the stove off as quickly as possible.


    Take my word for it . . . this is not a fun, relaxing night in front of the fire.
    D8Chumley likes this.
  18. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    A few shovel fulls of powdery ash will also semi smother the fire and help get the temp in control.
  19. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Right, some ashes or even if you want to keep a small bucket of sand handy. You'll have to clean out the stove later but it removes the problem fast.

    As for these two concerns, thing will be come sort of second nature quite quickly. You'll be putting wood in the stove as needed rather than simply filling the thing every time. Most times, we never fill our stove until way into December simply because it is not that cold outside yet so the temperature does not have to be raised that much. At this time of the year we load usually 2 or 3 splits, depending upon the size of the coal bed. That is, we put wood in the stove in the morning and then just before we go to bed or somewhere near that schedule.
    OldLumberKid likes this.
  20. rudysmallfry

    rudysmallfry Feeling the Heat

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    Ahh, the runaway fire. I've done a few of those in the hopes of not having to get out of bed to reload. It's not worth it. All you can do is shut the air down, damper if you have one, sit there with a can of ashes, a fire extinguisher and hold your breath as you watch the thermometer climb. Even once you're out of the woods, you still don't sleep because you keep getting up to check on it. So much fun. I adhere to the <400 rule now, even less if it's wicked cold out and creating more draft.
  21. dyerkutn

    dyerkutn Feeling the Heat

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    Where do you keep the thermometer in order to monitor the temp. I have one that says use for stovepipe. I have it about 18 inches above the stove. Does it make a different how close to the stove you situate it?

    Also, I have noticed that if I start the fire with paper and thin scraps to get it going, the temperature can shoot up above 500 even though it is just starting up. What about that?
  22. BCC_Burner

    BCC_Burner Feeling the Heat

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    Under 400 degrees at all times? Glad I went with a plate steel stove. My NC-30 cruises between 550 and 700 on the stove top. It hovers around 400 or so when there are just coals in there.
  23. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    A flue thermometer should be placed as per the manufacturer's directions. That's where it was designed and calibrated to be used.

    Sure, flue gas temps can be 500 or 600 easily early on. They will go down as you turn down the air control and let the secondaries do more burning.

    This thread, though, is about stove top temps.
  24. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    Just for reloads. Mine cruises around 600-650.
  25. BCC_Burner

    BCC_Burner Feeling the Heat

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    Makes much more sense. All has become clear.

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