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Vigilant Cresosote Problems

Post in 'Vermont Castings & CDW Dutchwest older Models' started by remkel, Dec 30, 2010.

  1. remkel

    remkel Minister of Fire

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    Thought I would share a little insight through hard lessons.

    Running a 1978 Vigilant and have had an issue with creosote buildup. Cleaning the chimney every 6 weeks or so.

    This last cleaning I began thinking a bit more of why I would get this much buildup. Grew up burning and never remember this problem. One cleaning a year. I was seeing 450-600 degrees on the stove top, and somewhere near 205-210 on the pipe. Took the following actions:

    1- Removed the plate at the top of the baffles, vacuumed and then blew out the baffles.
    2- Burn small amount of wood with damper open until they are breaking down to coals to allow more heat up the chimney (33 foot run)
    3- Load up the stove and let burn in open position for a little longer
    4- Shut down the damper

    I am now seeing pipe temps of 300 or so and there seems to be much better draft through the stove. Took me a long time to get there, but I am hoping this does the trick. I will know when I pull the pipe off in a couple of weeks to inspect the flue.

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  2. cmonSTART

    cmonSTART Minister of Fire

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    Keeping flue temps up a bit will cut down on creosote, but in my experience these old VC stoves (particularly the Vigilant and Defiant) are big big creosote producers. Smaller hotter fires versus large smoldering ones for these old stoves!
  3. cmonSTART

    cmonSTART Minister of Fire

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    Oh and by the way, hello neighbor! Welcome!
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The new routine sounds good. It's very important to keep the secondary passages clean and the secondary flap open to get a good burn out of the stove.
  5. remkel

    remkel Minister of Fire

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    Thanks Pyro.

    Antrim is one great little town. Used to love going to the Ryborn when they played the blues!
  6. remkel

    remkel Minister of Fire

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    I forgot step 5 which goes to your suggestion. Smaller amount of wood when loading. Being certain to leave plenty of air space in the firebox which seems to be helping. I wil keep you posted on the progress and thanks for the feedback.
  7. cmonSTART

    cmonSTART Minister of Fire

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    We only moved here in 2005, but it's amazing how many people loved that place when they were open.
  8. wkpoor

    wkpoor Minister of Fire

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    6wks between cleanings, wish I could do that good. I'm 3 weeks between with good dry wood 3 yr old splits and I burn good hot fires. I pull pipe about twice a week and I tap pipe everyday. I too try to maintain 300 on the stove pipe surface. Nothing seems to work. Sold a second identical stove to a friend and he is having same problem. I've come to the conclusion its the stove.
  9. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    That was our mistake with the old Defiant, trying to shut it down too far, too fast. You are on the right track by getting flue temps up.
  10. NH_Wood

    NH_Wood Minister of Fire

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    Hey Remkel - I'm in Rindge too! Love this town. Hope you've solved your problem. If you ever run into lots of wood, PM me and perhaps we can process together! Cheers!
  11. Fsappo

    Fsappo Minister of Fire

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    Back when we used to sell the old Defiants and Vigilants, our VC rep told us to make sure every customer had a stove top thermometer on the top right side of the griddle and to not shut the main bypass damper until the surface temp was over 600 degrees. Then just set the bi metallic thermostat and let it do its own thing. We used a vigilant for 2 years that way, with properly seasoned wood. Cleaned the chimney once a year. I also rebuilt the stove once a year, but that was just for kicks. This is going back 20 years or so and brings back fond memories.
  12. Renaissance

    Renaissance Member

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    Personally, I've found that the biggest cause of smoke/creosote buildup in this stove (second to wet wood) is trying to build the fire too quickly.

    Getting the stove up to 600F from a cold start cleanly takes at least 90 minutes, starting with a single split and slowly adding more fuel. It's possible to do it sooner, though with more smoke and creosote accumulation.

    I've put a cord through the stove since the chimney's last cleaning and it doesn't seem to need another cleaning at this point.

    What kind of buildup are you getting on the glass?
  13. remkel

    remkel Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the feedback. I have been trying to determine exactly where to place the stovetop thromostat. I will go move it immediately and go forward from here! One of the best clarifications I have had in a while.


    Just a clarification, is the thermometer on the griddle itself or on the cast just beside the griddle?
  14. Fsappo

    Fsappo Minister of Fire

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    A lot of the vigilants didnt have glass. But it is a good hint to look at other parts of the stove interior. Should not see glaze on the inside of a wood stove for the most part
  15. remkel

    remkel Minister of Fire

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    Do not have any glass on this stove- pre-glass door era.
    There is one particular area of the chimney where I see the highest accumulation- there is a 45 degree angle about 6-10 feet up. I think the mason encased this section in concrete, so the gases cool here an I think that is what is causig a good part of the accumulation. The rest of the chimney does not look too bad, just this area. Hopefully by running the stove a bit hotter it will make up for this cooling a bit.
  16. remkel

    remkel Minister of Fire

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    Occasionally I will see some on the damper, but for the most part, interior has been clean. Think I am getting there slowly. Thanks to everyone on Hearth.com that has provided suggestions. I think I am close, but will keep tinkering about with it.

    Love this woodburning stuff. You can't help but get sucked into making things better. Same thing with making maple syrup!
  17. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    With all due respect, I don't know what you are basing this on, but that is clearly not what the research shows. The kindling phase of wood burning is about 10 times as dirty as the cruising stage. The faster you get the stove up to operating temps, the less total particulate matter is formed, and by extension, the less creosote is formed. That's the whole purpose of insulating the firebox in EPA stoves, to get internal temps up as quickly as possible. I get my Vigilant up to 600-650ºF within 20 minutes on a cold start, and it burns fairly clean within minutes of closing the bypass.
  18. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    I really disagree with that.
  19. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Sounds like this is with poorly seasoned wood. If this is the OP's problem, then it may be so. During the bypass open phase, the stove is burning the least cleanly, so getting the stove hot enough to close the bypass should be done as quickly as possible. I would add some carpentry scraps to the starting fire if the wood is somewhat unseasoned.
  20. Fsappo

    Fsappo Minister of Fire

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    About a half hour or so with good seasoned wood to get the ole VC stoves up to temp from what I remember.
  21. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    That's about right. Sometimes less.
  22. Renaissance

    Renaissance Member

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    I agree, you can get it up to 600F within half an hour, but it will smoke more and that will cause buildup on a cold flue.

    You can also burn with very little smoke (though not very efficiently) in updraft mode at much less than 600F.

    Maybe our installations differ.
  23. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    It will not.
  24. Renaissance

    Renaissance Member

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    OK, then I guess mine is broken.
  25. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    Actually, I would suspect your wood is wet. With dry wood you can burn the vigilant hard and nearly smoke free at start up.

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