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Using Ash Pan Door To Help Get Fire Going - Why Not??

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Gabby12, Feb 1, 2013.

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  1. Gabby12

    Gabby12 New Member

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    I have heard others mention that you should not slightly open the ash pan door under the stove to help get your fire going but it is o.k. to slightly open your main door to do the same job.

    Trying this, the ash pan door method works so much better - turns the fire into a furnace pretty quickly.

    To me using the ash pan door seems to be a better method for a couple reasons.
    1- Opening this door directs the air up from the bottom and right into the bottom center on your coals.
    If opening the main front door the air gets sucked in right into the middle of your flame/wood thus not really stoking the fire al it really does is just blow the flames all around.

    2- Opening the ask pan door with the fire being above it there is less of a chance that smoke or flame will sneak out of the stove.
    Opening the main front door you have to be very carefull when opening this door to keep the smoke in the stove.

    So please tell me, why not use the ask pan door to stoke the coals?

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  2. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Chimney fire?
  3. ridemgis

    ridemgis Burning Hunk

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    The stove isn't designed for the intense blacksmiths forge-like heat produced. Making a habit of it is said to warp or crack the castings exposed. Use good dry kindling and work on your fire starting technique.
    PapaDave likes this.
  4. Gabby12

    Gabby12 New Member

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    Are you saying that the flame could leave the fire box and catch the chimney on fire?

    That makes sence to heat the stove up gradually. Has to be better for cast.
  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    There's a reason stove manufacturer's specifically put a clause in their warranties to void it if one uses the ash pan door to start the fire. We usually see one or two cast iron stove owners reporting a cracked grate or worse a cracked stove base due to this practice. Don't do it. It's easy to start a fire with the right materials and technique. There's no need to open the ashpan door.
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  6. ArsenalDon

    ArsenalDon Minister of Fire

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    Look, if you open it wide then it becomes a blast furnace just like they use in the steel factories of Pittsburgh...now...that being said if you control the crack....in my stove I can open it about 1/4 of the amount of wide open, the latch slightly seals, just not tight....it does let enough air in to start things up better, but when it is open full or even half way it creates the blast furnace effect and that could cause some damage....the other danger is opening it a slight crack and then getting distracted only to find out 10 minutes later that you have an overfire....thus why no one wants to see you do it....pssssstttt.....do not tell anyone on this forum that I do it when needed and have had no issues. The people here will chew me out for it and tell me how dumb I am for doing it.
  7. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    Hey, if you feel like cracking a casting or warping internal parts of your firebox, feel free. Using the ashpan door does a fantastic job at destroying the insides of a firebox.
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Why one would do this with a stove that actually has a built-in startup air control is beyond me. We had a fellow that liked to start his stove with kerosene too. pssst, that doesn't make it any wiser.
  9. ArsenalDon

    ArsenalDon Minister of Fire

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    here we go...I knew someone would eaves drop :rolleyes:==c.......Sometimes the startup air just does not get it rocking right...even the sales dude installer said a slight crack for a few min at startup is ok...I know as I have experimented for a second or two what the blast furnace effect looks like and I fully agree that that is damage and danger waiting to happen...but a slight crack on a fully attended stove sometimes is what it takes....now...I also admit and know all of my wood is not perfect and that will change over time but sometimes it is what it is and that is what it is......
  10. Gabby12

    Gabby12 New Member

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    Thanks for the input thus far.
    It's not my intent to do damage to the stove nor do I want to re-invent the wheel.
    My plan is to go slow, ask questions and the learn some knowledge from those that know.

    I also am asking these question as I am sure other newbie's will at some point read these posts and they will help them as well.
  11. ArsenalDon

    ArsenalDon Minister of Fire

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    HA just realized I said Dude...can't tell I am from CA can ya?
  12. katwillny

    katwillny Guest

    Great question Gabby, This is why this forum exists. Some forget that new people join this forum from time to time. had you not asked you wouldnt have these few nuggets of info. Ask away pal. We're here for ya.
  13. ArsenalDon

    ArsenalDon Minister of Fire

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    Well welcome
  14. ArsenalDon

    ArsenalDon Minister of Fire

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    I know, I know Browning...I am an idiot...but it is just sometimes and just a crack for a very, very short while when it needs it...I know I am asking for it, give it to me.....but if I pay attention to the type of flame and the situation and it is short it works ok.....now....I may be coming back at ya and saying you were right and I never should have done it but......I am hard headed.....so far so good.
  15. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    My brother in-law said the same thing when I told him it was a bad idea. Three weeks later he cracked a casting on his Oslo.
    jotulguy likes this.
  16. ArsenalDon

    ArsenalDon Minister of Fire

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    I am a guy that will say you were right if it happens....9 months now no damage and again...only at startup....
  17. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    What is not right is suggesting that this is 'wink, wink' all right to share with a new stove owner. You are a new stove owner, with less than ideal wood and are using a workaround . So far you have gotten away with some not great practices. One space out and that will be over. Wouldn't it be a lot better to try to improve technique and sharing that information instead?
    Hearth Mistress and PapaDave like this.
  18. ArsenalDon

    ArsenalDon Minister of Fire

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    Actually Be...you are right...I will make it a practice when I am here to not follow this practice....fair enough and very well said. Thanks and believe me, I am glad to have found this place as it has saved me a lot of heartache....I would like to pass this along and again...you are right...thanks!
  19. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for understanding. You have a great stove, one of my favorites. Treat it well and it will treat you well for many years.
  20. formula_pilot

    formula_pilot Member

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    While I know it is not recommended, occasionally I have let air in from the ashpan door for 10- 15 seconds on the Jotul, just to get a flame started on a re-load that is smoldering on a small pile of coals. The brief charge of fresh air allows for flame to start, then I close the door immediately . I won't recommend anyone else do it, but I have occasionally chosen to do it to get a lazy reload back to a flame, rather than have it smoldering and smoking and making the glass dirty. I am very aware of the potential to damage the stove if a "blast furnace" effect hit the castings. I reason that 10-15 seconds is such a short a time, it is unlikely to create enough heat to damage the castings and better overall than another 10 minutes of smoking before the flame starts. I have a rather short chimney for the big stove. FWIW, I have never needed to do this with the Hearthstone, which has another 9 feet of chimney.
  21. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    In my search of buying all my used stoves that I have acquired, I have seen, literally, dozens of warped ash pan grills from cracking the ash pan door open during start up. This isn't to beat the topic to death, but more to show that it isn't a matter of if, but when the damage will occur.
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  22. coaly

    coaly Fisher Moderator Staff Member

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    Mine worked so well kicking it up in the morning, I added a themostat intake into the ash pan area.
    Be aware this is an Amish built stove that I talked with the builder / owner who adds something similar to many Amish wives cookstoves. (Stock on Hitzer hopper fed coal stoves) They all love it, and it gives it coal burning capability. It also voids the UL listing, but Amish self insure, so it's not a problem. As it heats up, the bi-metallic spring closes the intake preventing overheating. It was too easy getting busy in the kitchen to leave the stock intake wide open and get too hot.

    T Stat Install 1.JPG T Stat Install 2.JPG T Stat Intake 2.JPG

    T Stat Intake 4.JPG T Stat Complete.JPG

    T Stat Complete 3.JPG

    Grate is 2 feet from stove top. 20" wide, 22' deep. Never built a fire to the top, here's what 3 logs looks like on the bottom with thermostat wide open. Oven lever is "ON" so exhaust is going sideways under oven, away from cooktop. Otherwise flames reach bottom of pan set over open hole.
    Top view through open lid;
    Top view No flash.JPG

    Same fire through front door with flash;

    With Flash.JPG

    This is the same square inch area as stock intake, just relocated under grate and there is a huge difference in ease of starting and oven preheat time. This is firebrick lined, 1/4" steel plate stove.
  23. topoftheriver

    topoftheriver Member

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    We all know it is contra indicated. But many use the technique because it gives immediate reaction to the draft and flame. So, if you are going to use the ash door, be extremely cautious and don't walk away while the fire is gaining momentum. Although it is frowned upon, be sensible as to not ruin you stove and cause even more serious problems as they may be or occur. Many have given their fire a boost now and then; especially when the wood is compromised by green, wet, rotted, or otherwide. Just be cautious.
  24. coaly

    coaly Fisher Moderator Staff Member

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    Oops, I forget so many are still in the Iron Age on this forum. ==c

    That's my point. Instead of opening ash door in front, my controlled intake under grate closes automatically so it can't overheat. If the manufacturer designed it with X amout of square inch intake, measure the open ash door square inches and you get the idea of how many more times the air is you're giving it. It's a crazy amount. Intake area is sized for the grate area. You shouldn't exceed it.
  25. jotulguy

    jotulguy Feeling the Heat

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    Well it seems like there are a few folks every year that find this out the hard way. The main reason the warning is cast into the ash housing door and on the glass when you buy the stove is to protect you and the stove. At start up there is nothing.....and I mean nothing worse for cast iron then a huge temp difference. The kind of huge temp difference you can experience with the ash pan open. Cast if a fluid material that will expand and contract as it heats and cools. If one spot is 500 degrees and another spot on the same piece of iron is 100 degrees something has to give. Start up is hands down the worst time to open the ash pan door. The stove is at room temp and then in a flash the right side normally is at 300-500 degrees and the base plate will eventually crack. When it does happen if you have two choices, flip the stove upside down and do the repair or take it all apart and do the rebuild with the new base plate. A customer near Hershey Pa just went thru this and had the dealer do the repair. The total bill was over $1,000.00. The dealer had to pick up the stove at the customers house bring it to the shop to do the rebuild and take the stove back to the home and reinstall it. It is not a cheap repair.
    gyrfalcon likes this.
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