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  1. Oldvigilantnewbie

    Oldvigilantnewbie New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Messages:
    4
    We have had the Vigilant since we moved to the house 9 years ago. We didn't really burn alot of fires because we had small children running around and our stove is out in the open. Now that the kids are grown up we have been using the stove more often (life saver when Sandy hit). Aside from vacuming out everything and inspecting chimney, we really didn't do any maintenance. This past weekend, we lit a fire and once the the fire started to die out we had smoke come into the house, to the point were we had to open all the windows. I have been checking all over the internet to what could have caused this to happen. From negative air pressure to gaskets. After inspecting the gaskets, I decided to replace them and its is fairly easy, but I have a few questions. Should I replace the gasket on the flue collar? I do have a gasket for it but the screw wont budge. I have thought of using WD-40 or the likes to losen it, but I am unsure if I could do that. There is also the gaskets around the windows and those screws won't budge either. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

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  2. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2008
    Messages:
    5,125
    Loc:
    Averill Park, NY, on Burden Lake II...
    Use a penetrating oil. Something other than WD-40, like PB Blaster. Apply it liberally & let it set for a couple-three of hours, & don't be afraid to add more as each hour passes... It won't hurt to use a small hammer-type impact driver on those screws. Worst case scenario you break the heads off & you'll have to drill the screws out. If you don't have an impact, you can always use a Philips head screwdriver & hit THAT with a hammer. You just need enough force to shock the screw threads loose once the penetrating oil has gotten into them. Make sure your Philips has a relatively unworn end or THAT can strip the screw heads...When you reassemble, put some Never Seez on the screws...Good Luck!
    Defiant likes this.
  3. remkel

    remkel Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    1,459
    Loc:
    Southwest NH
    I was going to advise you to proceed cautiously, but Daksy's advise is spot on. Good luck.
  4. Oldvigilantnewbie

    Oldvigilantnewbie New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Messages:
    4
    Thanks I will try the BP blaster. I read through the whole forum last night, did a few tests (flashlight one last night - by the flue where it meets the wall I saw light I'm guessing I can seal it with cement?) I also noticed that the bottom left air hole was closed..I usually have that open. I didn't budge the screws yet on the windows but I lit a test fire and noticed a few puffs of smoke come out of the the griddle(new gasket) I did get initial smoke from the doors lighting the kindling (usually happens when I light it) I also did a match test and I am happy to say the stove it self is air tight. Been running now for about a half hour and all the temps seem to be normal and it's doing what it should be doing throwing off a lot of heat! :) Hopefully when the fire dies down and I have coals I won't have a smokey repeat performance as the other day.
  5. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2010
    Messages:
    1,593
    Loc:
    Texas- West of Houston
    Forgive me if this is obvious but, you say you get smoke out the door when you're lighting kindling? Do you have it set on vertical when you're lighting the fire? You should. Make sure the handle on the side of the stove is pointing toward the front of the stove NOT pointing at the floor. I always remember it like this: If I'm going to open the doors the handle needs to point to the door. Don't ever open ANY stove doors while in horizontal mode or smoke WILL come into the room.
    You want to be in vertical burn mode to get the draft necessary to get a fire going.

    Also, I strongly suggest using the top down fire starting method. There is much discussion on this but basically, here's the way I do it. (There are variations, of course.)
    Put down two or three large splits east/west on the bottom of the stove, lay a few smaller ones on top of those. ( I like to use smaller, short splits and lay them north/south. Then lay smaller pieces on top of that: sticks, bark, kindling of any kind. Throw on several newspaper knots or tightly wadded balls.
    I stick newspaper knots down between the splits on the lower levels, too. Maybe ten to twelve knots/wads total.
    Make sure you have both air sources open fully. Light the newspaper. Since the fire is at the top of the pile it will create an instant draft. Soon the kindling will catch, followed shortly by the smaller, then middle sized splits. I usually close the left door at this time and keep the right door open about an inch. This creates sort of a venturi effect draft and really fans the flames. Don't walk away and leave the fire at this stage.
    In ten minutes to 15 minutes or so you could have a raging fire with a griddle temp approaching 700 degrees. Now I will add more wood through the griddle top, let the new wood get going, then throw the handle to horizontal burn, adjust the thermostat where I want it, and let it cruise for several hours.

    Works for me.
    Defiant likes this.
  6. Defiant

    Defiant Vermont Castings Geek

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Messages:
    2,112
    Loc:
    Old Lyme CT
    If and when you remove the flue collar there is a plate (smoke shelf) that is removable and lets you get access to behind the fire back where you should also vacuum out.
  7. Oldvigilantnewbie

    Oldvigilantnewbie New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Messages:
    4
    This occured after the fire was burning out. Where smoke was coming out of the griddle and the doors. There could have been a few reasons this happened, the side secondary air was closed and the gaskets were shot. There could have also been a lack of draft in the chimney. Since I had to run the stove yesterday all day, with at least the griddle and door gaskets replaced (havent gotten to the flue collar and window gaskets) there hasn't been any smoke coming in.
    I have learned a lot on this site on how to use a woodstove (I had a fireplace in my previous house) I always used vertical where the damper was always open. Happy to say I achieved my first horizontal burn! I was also lighting all the wood (trying to) all at once instead of creating a draft first.
    A few questions I do have. How high do you stack the wood inside? And I now know to keep the 5 small holes free of ash, what about the opening in the right hand side? I have always kept that clear of any firewood and ashes.
    I will try the top down fire starting method, I have seen previous posts about it. I will try this tonight when I am home.
  8. Oldvigilantnewbie

    Oldvigilantnewbie New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Messages:
    4
    Thanks Defiant I will remember to do that.
  9. remkel

    remkel Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    1,459
    Loc:
    Southwest NH
    The smoke shelf can also be removed without taking off the flue collar. It is a lesson in contortionist methods getting it back in, but it can be done.
  10. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2010
    Messages:
    1,593
    Loc:
    Texas- West of Houston
    I usually start a fire in a cold stove with a light load of wood. Once you get a good hot coal base going you can pack it to the gills for a long burn. I try to keep the back right clear as well as the five holes in the fire back. You're catching oh, Newbie. Let us know what you think about the top down burn.

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