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Trouble with creosote dripping

Post in 'Classic Wood Stove Forums (prior to approx. 1993)' started by CD'sCycleShop, Dec 5, 2013.

  1. CD'sCycleShop

    CD'sCycleShop New Member

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    I just installed a 1978 Wood Chief wood stove in my house, and I am having trouble with creosote dripping from the stove pipe. I have been reading on here that I would have to keep the stack temp. around 250-275 deg. to eliminate the possibility of creosote build up. Well that is fine and dandy if I wanted to turn my house into a bakery oven. lol. When my stack temp. is 275 deg the top of my stove is 500 deg. I did read something about doing a chimney/stack burn out every couple days, and I interpreted this as getting the fire as hot as possible for 20-30 min and this will burn up any small amounts of creosote buildup. So all being said for my lack of knowledge, am I interpreting the burn out method correctly? or should I do something different? How hot does creosote have to get to burn? This is a little off subject, what is the fear I keep reading about chimney fires, how does a fire in a chimney burn down the house if the fire is in the chimney???

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  2. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Sorry if this sounds harsh, but I will just say it how it is.
    That stove....its a boat anchor and will need to be fed a lot of wood, will throw a ton of heat, and will have more chance of causing creosote build up than modern stoves will, if not run properly. Modern stoves will do the same, but burn less wood and have some type of secondary burn &/or catalyst to burn off more gases prior to exiting the stove, and can be run at a more variety of temps to suite the heating needs during the season.
    A stack burn is the old timers way of causing a so called controlled chimney fire to burn off accumulated creosote in the stack. Running the stove hot for 20 mins or so, will reduce build up during that time, but when running lower than needed temps, creosote will resume accumulating.
    Creosote can light off from too high a stack temp, embers flowing up the stack etc.
    Chimney fires don't always burn down the house. They do weaken the stack each time, can burn through an old rotted out stack, or an old chimney that has gaps, cracks, breaks.
    Chimney fires can also burn down a house if there is combustible materials around the chimney.
    There are many factors that can cause creosote and chimney fires.

    Best way to avoid chimney fire is to:
    Clean the stack/chimney as needed. Minimal 1x per year, whether it needs it or not. More if needed. Monitoring the stack once or so a month for the first burning season is a good idea to give you an indicator of your burning habits(good or poor), your wood dryness(good or poor), your stoves performance, etc.
    Burn truly dry wood.
    Burn hot enough to combat cooling of gases in the stack. Meaning No smoldering fires.
    Respect the whole process, and the dangers that could happen, if not cautious and aware of and honing your burning habits, the wood your burning and the way you operate the stove.

    It is not rocket science, but is much more than throwing some wood in a box, closing the door and getting warm from it.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2013
    PapaDave and Soundchasm like this.
  3. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    All sound advice HW
    Welcome to the world of Safer wood heat CD.Long story short CDcycle. A series of controlled chimney fires is not a sustainable home heating plan. Aside from upgrading the stove about the only way to run most old stoves safely is short hot fires. Its the hours of smoldering that could be hazardous to your home and life. Even dry wood will creosote(although not as much) when choked down and smoldered overnight.That dripping creosote can run down the outside of the pipe until it gets to a hot section and light off right there in your living space. I dont think id sleep to well with that setup. Regards
  4. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    Unfortunately I don't know about your stove, but I can tell you about your wood. What kind is it and how long has it been split and stacked?
  5. Nick Mystic

    Nick Mystic Minister of Fire

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    You mention in our OP that you have creosote dripping from the stove pipe. Where are you seeing this creosote residue? If your stove pipe and flue are correctly installed any liquid creosote should be dripping into your stove where it will eventually be burnt up. Of course if it drips onto your insulating blanket on top of the baffle that could be a problem in that it ruins the insulation and/or starts a fire on top of the baffle. If you are seeing the liquid creosote on the outside of a joint where two pieces of pipe come together then your pipe has probably been incorrectly installed with the male end of the your pipes facing up instead of down. Some photos will help us offer better, more accurate information. Welcome to the forum.
    PapaDave and stoveguy2esw like this.
  6. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Good point Nick. Does sound like the pipe is run the wrong direction.
  7. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    I dont think this particular stove has an insulating blanket.
  8. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    That stove may not even have a baffle at all.
  9. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Gonna drop this in the classics section with a link (for exposure).
  10. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    One thing is for certain. There is something wrong with the overall burn procedure. Wet fuel, smoldering fire, generating dripping creosote... This is not the way to intentionally run a stove. If the stove is too big that you can't run an efficient fire, then I would suggest "right" sizing the stove. You are creating a potential dangerous situation.
  11. tsquini

    tsquini Minister of Fire

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    +1 for the stove pipe going up and not down.
  12. red oak

    red oak Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forum. I have a Fisher Papa Bear built around that same time period. I agree with others who have said to adjust your stove pipe so that it goes up, and I also think that the wood your burning may not be dry enough. It should be cut, split, and stacked for at least a couple of years. I also would suggest that if your stove does not have a baffle you install one, I installed one on my Fisher and it has made it quite a bit more efficient.
  13. rwhite

    rwhite Minister of Fire

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    I can say until I came on this forum I didn't realize how many stove pipes are installed upside down. The idea is not to keep the rain out but keep the creosote in. I see pipe constantly now that are installed upside down.
  14. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    With creosote dripping out of the stove pipe there is no way I would use that stove in the way you are now, you are lucky you saw the creosote with the pipe installed wrong.
  15. Adabiviak

    Adabiviak Feeling the Heat

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    CD'sCycleShop, I'm a little concerned for your safety. It may be serendipitous that your stovepipe was installed upside down - much better to find out that you're burning in such a way that you're producing lots of creosote by seeing it leak out of the stovepipe than by having a chimney/house fire.
  16. CD'sCycleShop

    CD'sCycleShop New Member

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    WOW! Thank you everyone for your advise and concern about my old stove, and stack installation. I am learning more and more that burning wood is an art, I have been using a big front loading stove in my shop for the last 3 winters, and I have come a long way since that first fire, and I realize I have a long way to go. As my confidence has grown in the last 3 years using my shop stove, my wife and I agreed we would try a stove in the house(stove was free) this winter. Most of the wood I am burning is standing locust that has been dead for many years, as the bark is missing on most of the tree. I am also using some red oak that had fallen 2 summers ago. Next winter I will be more prepared. Just last weekend I dropped (2) 30" / 40' oak trees that have been dead for the last 4 years that I know of(no bark at all on (1) of them, and about (1/2) the bark on the other. So is the moisture content usually within range on a tree that was dead for many years, and has just recently been c/s/s. What is the baffle used for, and where does it install?
  17. red oak

    red oak Minister of Fire

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    Hey fellow Virginian! You ready for this snow and ice we're supposed to get tomorrow?

    As for the wood, it generally should be cut, split, and stacked before considering drying time. There are some exceptions though, I recently cut a black locust that had been dead standing for a couple of years and it was ready to burn when I split it. For oak, the ready to burn wood would generally be smaller wood toward the top of the tree and on the limbs and branches. Oak generally gives up its moisture very slowly so it can take at least 2 years to season. That's 2 years cut, split, and stacked.

    The baffle is a piece of metal that diverts the smoke and heat from going straight up your stovepipe. You want to direct the smoke through the flame so a few more gases get burned, and the heat you want to go into your house rather than up the chimney. To install one, simply measure the width of your stove and find a piece of metal to match. I made mine 1/4" thick steel.

    [​IMG]
  18. CD'sCycleShop

    CD'sCycleShop New Member

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    Hello neighbor, I guess I am ready as I can be for the storm moving in tonight, hope you are. I do wish I had a lil' more wood split and ready to burn. Thanks for the insight on the dry time and going for the tops on dead standing timber. It seems I can barley keep up with the demand of my stove, and that all I do on the weekends is cut and split wood. My big Wood Chuck stove in my shop has a baffle that is adjustable built into the stove, I was wondering what the official name of that flapper was. So what is my best bet for dry wood being how I did not stock pile any wood during the spring? should I concentrate on dead standing locusts to finish out the winter or just burn 1/2 seasoned oak??? I also got my pipe turned around today, Im hoping that will help some.... looks like I need to start fabricating a baffle.
  19. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    If you are going to burn less than seasoned wood (not recommended)at least add some dry pine to it if possible.
  20. red oak

    red oak Minister of Fire

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    CD it's going to be hard this winter. You're burning an older, inefficient stove while burning unseasoned wood. These two factors could more than double the wood you use. I would concentrate on dead standing wherever I could find it, and concentrate on the top half or so of the tree as well as limbs and branches. Split a good bit of it as small as you can. Use the small stuff to get the fire going good and hot before adding larger wood. As Seasoned Oak mentioned pine is ok to burn if it's been dead standing for awhile as it will dry a lot quicker. Also you'll want to check your chimney every couple of weeks to make sure no creosote gets built up. Plan on cleaning it a few times this winter if necessary.
  21. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Keeping track of flue temps is very important when burning wood that is not totally dry.
    PapaDave likes this.
  22. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    We can guess all day long what the best choice for you to burn or you could buy a $20 moisture meter. In your situation it will be very handy. I would suspect the locust will be your best option. Its a dame shame burning unseasoned locust though. Locust is one of the premier woods out there, when its seasoned.
    When working to increase your wood stores, look for locust, ash, and maples. Stay away from oak for now unless its extremely dry (very rare).
  23. CD'sCycleShop

    CD'sCycleShop New Member

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    Great advise again guys, thank you! As a HVAC Technician for 22yrs I never thought I would be asking how to run the heater that keeps my house warm. LOL. I can maintaine flue temps around 200 - 225 deg.(temp taken where the hard pipe goes into the thimble) by cracking the damper 10% open, mixing the seasoned and unseasoned wood together, and leaving the 6" flue damper 100% open, I can get away with packing the stove full twice in a 24hr period. Things are starting to come together. Has anyone ever heard of using a chain to clean a chimney? And shoot I didn't know I could burn pine on a regular basis, I have access to plenty of seasoned pine.
  24. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    I plan on burning my seasoned oak as soon as i run out of pine. After 5 years i still haven't run out of pine.
  25. red oak

    red oak Minister of Fire

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    Yes pine would be a good choice for you right now I think, to at least mix with some other hardwoods. Your flue temp can and should be higher. On the stovepipe thermometer that I have that's still in the creosote range. I like to run mine at about 400-500.

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