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Where do I take the temperature of a wood insert?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Parkview154, Oct 13, 2012.

  1. Parkview154

    Parkview154 New Member

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    My husband and I had our first wood insert installed yesterday (yay!). We've been fiddling with settings here and there trying to "learn" the stove.

    We had a strange thing happen yesterday which scared us a little. We had a layer of embers from our first burn and wanted to add more wood. My husband took home some scraps of kiln dried unfinished oak hardwood flooring from work and we added four pieces. Within minutes, the wood was blazing out of control - like an inferno. It was terrifying. Unsure of what had happened, we closed the damper all the way, turned the fan on high and fire died down within 7-8 minutes. We did not have a thermometer at the time, so I do not know at what temperature the stove peaked. We won't be using the flooring anymore. In fact, we got some Envi-blocks to try out instead and they seem ok.

    So anyway - I just picked up an IR thermometer from Home Depot, but I'm not sure where to take the temperature. We have a Vermont Castings Montpelier flush mount insert, so we can't take the temperature of the top or sides, and on the front of the unit, there is a HUGE range of temperatures and I'm not sure which is most accurate. Here's what I have right now: I've attached a picture of the unit that I took yesterday for reference.

    Middle of glass: 556F
    Top of glass: 527F
    Curved Trim on Top of door (Middle): 361F
    Sides of Door Trim: 236F
    Bottom of Door Trim: 216F
    Area Just Above Door Between Fan Vents: 348F

    This is with the damper fully closed and the fan on medium-low. Please let me know what you guys think. Thanks in advance!!! Montpelier.jpg

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  2. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    That looks like a lot of scraps of wide board oak flooring to me.
  3. Parkview154

    Parkview154 New Member

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    That picture was taken the first burn as we were starting our very first fire. I wanted a picture for the scrapbook. And it burned fine, so we decided to add more when the boards you see in the picture burned down to coals. When we added 4 fresh pieces on top of the coals, that's when it took off.

    I realize I'm a newbie, and I'm going to make mistakes, but please don't judge.
  4. corey21

    corey21 Minister of Fire

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    If there is stain on those boards its not good for your stove or chimney because of the chemicals in stain.
  5. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    Hi Ya Parkview !!! Glad to hear your installed & ready to roll !!!

    What you want to do is get a coal bed going. This could mean starting a fire with the scraps, then adding some bigger pieces of wood ( think big branches coming down from the trees in the yard, broken into pieces size wise enough to fit the stove), then adding the Envi blocks while the fire is still hot, and let then catch. Once you have some fire going with the blocks, slowly cut down the air control until you have a rolling burn.

    BUT , if these are your first break in fires, take it slow (I know it was cold last night), you're going to have to bring the temps up slowly over a few fires . Be prepared for some stink, new stoves do that.

    Try a small fire ( save the Envi bricks for a bit, atleast until tomorrow night), and slowly add heat.

    I'm not sure of the readings as the PE & the Englander allow me to the thermos on both stoves, so temps may vary, but I don't think they are out of line.

    I'm sending you a PM. If you need some splits to get this done, I'll be glad to drop some off to help you get this puppy going :)
  6. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    No reason not to use the oak flooring...just limit it to one piece to start your fires (use it as kindling) as long as it is unfinished. It should be nice and dry and really help you to get your fires burning hot quickly. One piece won't have enough mass to ever cause you any trouble. If your husband has a ready source of those scraps, you are set for kindling for life.

    Good luck, and many years of happy burning with your beautiful new stove.

    A bit late now to advise slow, low fires for the first few burns. In general the temps you are recording are nothing to worry about. The stove will take a bit to get up to the temps of the flames in the firebox.
  7. Parkview154

    Parkview154 New Member

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    I'm a little annoyed that the manual for the insert did not explain the proper burn in procedure. I would think something this important would be addressed in great detail in the paperwork.

    The hubby gets construction scraps all the time - the flooring we used was not stained or lacquered so I thought it would be ok. Newb mistake to put so much dry thin wood on at a time. Hopefully the stove is not damaged as a result of it's little rendezvous yesterday.

    Seems to have burned ok today with Envi blocks. I'm really enjoying the stove. I laid down in front of the hearth this afternoon with a book after getting it going and it was pure heaven! :D

    What do you guys suggest as a typical operating temperature? I've read some posts on here of people power-housing their units up to 800F. That seems a little risky to me. Maybe some units are made to take higher temps. Who knows. In my opinion, that's another thing Vermont Castings should have clearly addressed in the owners manual. I'll give them a call on Monday.
  8. KaptJaq

    KaptJaq Minister of Fire

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    Hi,

    I going to assume you are another LI burner. Welcome to the group.

    The problem with inserts is it is so hard to find a place to take the temperature. The best place is the top of the firebox but, on an insert, you cannot see it. Any metal you can see on your insert has some air moving by it or under it. The temperature in these spots is lower than the actual top of the firebox. The only time I get accurate readings on my Montpelier is with the surround off. Then I can see the top of the firebox near the outlet collar. The numbers you give look good for normal burns. They are a little high for first burns but I have found the insert to be well built and it can take a little heat.

    The best way to deal with it is to get used to how your stove burns and the temps you get in the spots you can check. They will vary relative to the actual firebox top temp. If you see those temps rising above normal you know the firebox is above normal also.

    KaptJaq
  9. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    I cruise at 700 - 800 F on the PE usually. The Englander hits 600 -700, no problem

    One of the things I've learned is that most new burners are afraid to let the stove hit it's mark. You'll learn the stove, and figure out it's temperature "sweet spots".

    Over 500 is not a reason to sweat, it's usually a reason to rejoice ;)
  10. Parkview154

    Parkview154 New Member

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    I probably am a little timid. In fact - I know I am. I will probably get more comfortable with time. My biggest problem is that I worry about EVERYTHING. I can't help it.

    KaptJaq, where do you measure and what do you consider "normal"? Have you ever measured the exterior of the unit and compared it to the temperature at the top? What was the difference?
  11. KaptJaq

    KaptJaq Minister of Fire

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    800° is a little hot for a lot of stoves. Around 900° it will start to glow. When my insert is cooking and I can get readings near the outlet collar they are in the 650-700° range. At the same time the top center above the door is about 300-400. If the fan is on the center of the door is lower. Readings on the window are erratic. Some of the reading is through the glass, some is reflected room temps. Pick a spot like the center just above the door and use that as a relative guide. If you can burn with the surround off a few times see how the center above the door compares to just in front of the outlet collar on the top of the firebox.

    Trust your instincts. If you think it is too hot, it probably is. If the metal starts to glow it is way too hot. The problem is, on your insert, the first place to glow is the top center behind the surround. Go slow, get used to it and how it reacts to the wood when you load it and to the air as you adjust it. As you get comfortable with the stove you will probably burn it hotter.

    KaptJaq
  12. stovelark

    stovelark Minister of Fire

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    Hi Parkview congrats on your new Montpelier beautiful stove temp monitoring is not easy on this stove. I'm a VC dealer when we install we tell customers to always do 3-4 small break in fires in fact after we install we try and build first fire with cust if they have time- we then can go thru the operations with them using the air control the blower which is auto takes about 30-45 mins to come on usually. Sometimes we bypass the sensor if cust wants man control. For temp, Mont is an insert that you visually adjust and learn the heat setting you need. I doubt you hurt anything on your stove with the initial lighting, I will caution you about fire bricks they are drier than seasoned cordwood and need to either not be used or used sensibly. I would suggest cordwood only. For temps we put a magnetic ther on the door frame- typically 200-300 degrees being showed on the door frame (in the upper corners of door) will give you a nice burning med heat fire. Bear in mind tho, mag thermometers can lose their magnetic properties at very high temps so try not to overfire the stove radically and have the ther fall off, now you have a hot potato rolling around. I think time and patience will be your best guidance. Check owners man page 10-11 for operating suggestions too. Congrats again good choice of stove Remember good dry seasoned wood is needed, if you do that the stove pretty much does the rest. Good luck

    Stovelark
    Enviro EF3 pellet FS
    Enviro Empress FPI AC
    Enviro Kodiak 1700 FS wood
  13. Parkview154

    Parkview154 New Member

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    From what I hear, finding dry seasoned wood on Long Island is next to impossible because of all the scams. But I know what you're saying about the blocks. I stuck a moisture meter in one and it came out "0%". The company advertises this as an advantage because it causes less creosote and burns cleaner. If anyone can suggest a good firewood dealer, let me know.

    When we burned our first fire we had the damper down for almost the whole time. So maybe that helped. I do recall it taking much longer for the fans to turn on than the manual suggested. Maybe 45 minutes, like you said.

    We've burned the stove twice already, and both times we had decent sized fires (and one inferno after a reload the first night). The manual says for the burn in fire to "burn it brightly but not to excess". That's very subjective if you ask me. The dealer where we bought the stove offered to help us with the burn in if they had their guys do the install. But they were $350 more expensive than another installer I found. Because we're new homeowners and we're tight on cash, I thought I could save a few bucks by having someone else do the install.

    We didn't use the stove at all yesterday and I'm not going to light it this morning because it's not that cold on L.I. today. But do you think it would help to do two more smallish burn in fires? Or is it not worth it since we've already gotten it so hot? Please let me know! But glad to hear that you do think we did any damage.

    Thank you for your reply.
  14. stovelark

    stovelark Minister of Fire

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    Hi Park- Yeah getting seasoned wood is difficult dont think the wood supply guys do it intentionally (I hope). Yes i would do a couple more small fires- most people will run their stove 1/3 to 1/2 air damper open that will give you a nice low/medium sized fire and heat oujtput. Completely understand you wanting to save money in this economy everyone is trying to. Just be assured you got a good stove and it will keep you warm.
    Dont know if you have time but youtube posts lots of people (some smart, some not so) burning their stoves, you can look at heat outputs and flame pictures there. On a good medium burn, you'll have about half the firebox in flames and some secondary burning gases on top coming out of the stainless steel tubes in the top of the firebox, with a good going fire, less air in, slower overall burning and more secondary gases burning if the fire and wood source are well established. Enjoy your stove, dont think you hurt a thing. Good luck.

    Stovelark
    Enviro EF3 FS pellet
    Enviro Empress FPI AC
    Enviro Kodiak 1700 FS wood
  15. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    I am not sure if you had a dangerous fire or not, but I will say that a lot of new stove or insert owners are shocked when they see a modern stove/insert during a rolling but safe burn. Look around the forum and you'll find lots of proud stove owners showing pictures or video of their stove in full 'bowels of hell' mode. When my stove is burning nicely the full firebox can be full of flame and I consider it to be a perfectly safe operation of the stove.

    I would still burn hardwood scraps if I had them but I would be cautious at first, and I wouldn't add thin, dry oak to a hot bed of coals. Let the coals burn down until there is enough heat to ignite the wood, but not so much that the wood gasses are forced out too quickly. That is what happened in your stove.
  16. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I've burned raw oak flooring scraps for years, though mostly just a few for starting fires. They work fine with some basic caveats that Wood Duck listed. Take time to learn the stove and get comfortable with it first before burning any construction scraps for anything but kindling.

    Getting back to the OP I would try reading to the upper left or right corner, in the middle of the triangle next to the door.
  17. Parkview154

    Parkview154 New Member

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    So I tried a "break in burn" yesterday. Got a bundle of wood from home depot and made some small splits.

    Cleaned out all the ashes, crumpled some newspaper on the bottom and laid some thin splits of the hardwood flooring for kindling. Laid 3 2" logs on top of that as per the manual. Lit the newspaper, once the kindling lit, I closed the door.

    Smoke starting creeping out from around the door (which it has never done before) for about 30 seconds, then stopped. Used the air control to maintain a small fire. Added 2 more 4" pieces to the top and let it burn out. Temp on the middle above the door peaked at 165F. The little "triangles" to the left and right had temps in the 120's. The blower came on in about 40 minutes.

    Woke up this morning and the fire bricks and door are black with soot. Is this normal? And what do I do about the smoke? Read through the manual and I think it might be the door gasket. Is it unusual that it would need to be adjusted this soon?
  18. EnviBurn

    EnviBurn New Member

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    First time posting here.

    Hi guys, I'm in LI as well and had the Montpelier (from a shop in Huntington) for 2 winters already. I only burn Envi-8 blocks (from the guy at "the logs splitter" dot com, new owner this year) and just got 3 pellets for the upcoming burning season. Parkview, your fire bricks and door are black because your fire is not hot enough. But since you're just "warming up" a new insert...I'm not sure if you can go high temp yet anyway. I remember I did maybe 4 small fires before I really start burning big fire. With the Envi-8, I usually start with 3 blocks along with half a piece of "firestarter" or a couple fatwoods and shut the glass door right away. After about 2 hours (air fully open)....that 3 blocks will turn into a nice bed of red hot coals, about 2 inches deep. This is when the fun begins, I usually throw 4 more envi-8 blocks on top of that....let it burn with air fully open for about 45 mins then I close the air down to 1/8...almost completely close and that will milk the heat for 3-4 more hours...repeat as needed. For overnight, I'll throw in 5 blocks, but much closer to each other....get a good fire going then I'll choke it down for a nice slow burn of up to 6-7 hours. I never had to babysit the fire since the blocks are all the same size and burn exactly the same every time.

    Look forward for some pointers from fellow Montpelier owners here to increase my burn time, the fireplace shop at Huntington thinks I should burn even hotter and get 10 hours of heat out of this...
  19. Parkview154

    Parkview154 New Member

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    Hi EnviBurn, thanks for taking the time to reply.

    What temps to do you get on your stove? I was going to buy Envi-blocks from the Log Splitter also but was advised that they are too dry and might burn too hot. I've already made some mistakes (as you might have figured from my previous posts) so I need all the tips and advice I can get. Burning exclusively with the Envi8's how many tons did you need to make it through the winter?

    The reason we got the Montpelier was because of the advertised burn time. I didn't want to have to wake up every few hours to babysit the stove at night. Maybe the Envi's burn faster because of the low moisture content, and the cordwood burns slower because it has a relatively higher moisture content and that's why you're not getting the full 10 hours out of it. Just a guess. Maybe one of the pro's can pipe in and let us know what burn time they get with the Montpelier with Envi's vs. cordwood.
  20. freddypd

    freddypd Burning Hunk

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    Parkview. Check out lifirewoodreview.com.

    I am a new wood burner also on LI. I am interested in learning the ins and outs of wood burning and hope to get an overnight burn eventually.
    Bluezx636 likes this.
  21. stovelark

    stovelark Minister of Fire

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    Hi again Parkview- as noted above the soot is from low burn temps on the small fire. Nothing was wrong with your door gasket- prob had a cool chimney that didn't want to draft yet. Ideally you would want to light the stove and kindling, close the door and walk away. Instead, most of the time we have to compromise, keeping the door cracked open to get it going normally, never leave the room with the door open though!! . You'll discover your way of lighting and getting your stove going. The Montpelier has to get warmed up like any stove. I would stay away from Envi bricks- stoves are meant to burn seasoned cordwood. For burn time 6-8 hours with a good charge of wood is expected from that stove. That means 6-8 hours later (depending on the burn setting you have set) you should come back and have enough coals left to support reloading and recapturing the fire. Have patience as the cold settles in, you'll find it much easier.

    Stovelark
    Enviro 1700 Kodiak FS wood
    Enviro Empress FPI AC
    Enviro EF3 pellet FS
  22. firebroad

    firebroad Minister of Fire

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    Hi Parkview, welcome!
    I am CERTAINLY no pro, and am a newbie as well, but here is my two cents worth:
    Last year my wood was less than perfect, somewhere between 20-25% moisture. But, you gotta burn what you have, so I supplemented with biobricks.
    This year my wood measures 10% or so==c.
    I could never achieve an overnight burn, and a load of wood would only last for about two hours or so. Conversely, this year I have no problems getting the fire going, it burns hotter, and yet it burns longer. One load will burn all night, about eight hours. Now, I would think that the hotter the burn, the more it would burn itself out; I attribute this phenomena to being able to burn with the air intake lower. Last year if I tried to shut it down that low, the wood would just smoulder and blacken the glass. (I have yet to clean the glass this year, and though it is still the shoulder season, I have burned 5 times, last weekend all weekend until Sunday night.
    I would have killed to get some of that flooring last year, as I needed a lot of bio bricks to average out the moisture in the loads.:cool:
  23. Parkview154

    Parkview154 New Member

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    Hi Stovelark,

    Is it the low moisture content of the bricks that make them bad for the stove? Or something else? From what I gather, the Envi-Bricks are made from compressed hardwood sawdust with no glue or binders. I trust your judgement, I'm just trying to determine why the stove would burn differently with hardwood logs vs. compressed hardwood sawdust.

    I lit another burn in fire this morning and left for work when I had a large pile of coals. I left the fan on medium low and the damper closed. I didn't have any problems with smoke this time, so you're probably right about the chimney draft.

    Thanks again for your reply. Everyone has been super helpful and I've already learned so much in just a few days. :)
  24. Parkview154

    Parkview154 New Member

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    There seem to be a lot of Long Islanders on this forum! :cool:
  25. James02

    James02 Feeling the Heat

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    whoop whoop...post whor!ng
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