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Wind gust problems Smokey house

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by ScottF, Nov 17, 2008.

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  1. ScottF

    ScottF New Member

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    This weekend we had a big problem with stove. The house just completely fills with smoke every time we had a big wind gust. It was a very windy and gusty weekend. Up until now the stove and set up has performed wonderfully. We have been running it for about a month now with no problems . Here are some facts about the set up.


    -When the wind blew hard (gust) the smoke would just bellow out of all the leaky doors, air vents , cook plate etc. Just filled the house. Happened even after the stove was burning at 500 degrees for hours so it was a warm system
    - 1904 old smoke dragon. Not real air tight but controlled nicely with a flue damper.
    -15 foot interior masonry chimney with an 8x 8 clay tile liner, interior chimney
    - Granite chimney cap with about 8 x 15 inch openings (stacked half bricks on corners) on all 4 sides.
    - Chimney meets the 10 - 2 - 3 rule and is completely code compliant
    - Everything is brand new (except restored stove)
    - No trees withing 100ft, roof is a 5 pitch (with a 12 pitch roof nearby and behind)
    - We have the same problem with our open fireplace (different chimney same side of house) and have extended the chimney 3 feet taller than the 10- 2- 3 rule and it did not work

    Has anyone ever had this problem and solved it ?Does the Vacu stack or the wind directional caps work that Craig suggested in another thread? Anybody have a design for a home made or custom cap I can fabricate. ( I could make anything)? Any suggestions. Thanks in advance for the help

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  2. ScottF

    ScottF New Member

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    I have calls into two different companies.

    Chimney cap design maker of the draftmaster
    and
    ICP products maker of the vacu stack.

    anyone ever use either of these?

    Do they work?

    Which one is better ??
  3. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Do you have turbine vents for the attic? If so, you need to make sure you have twice the cubic inch capacity on the soffit vents.
    How leaky is the house? You need to determine why the house has low pressure inside on windy days.
  4. ScottF

    ScottF New Member

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    No Turbine vents in the attic. House is new and not leaky at all. However. I opened a window only 5 feet from the stove to see if it would make a difference and there is no difference at all . It still happened even with the window open. I dont think its a lack of makeup air in the house.
  5. Chettt

    Chettt Feeling the Heat

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    I wish I could help but that just sounds strange. How big a wind gust are we talking? You say it works fine with steady winds or no winds and that when it does backpuff it comes out around all the openings and hinges? If the smoke just came out some of the higher areas and not the lower parts, I'd think the stove just needs to be tightened up. Let us know how you fix this one.
  6. ScottF

    ScottF New Member

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    Chett, They said we had gusts up to 50 MPH this weekend. I dont know but they didnt seem that strong to me . My best guess would be about 30mph plus. It does work fine in normal winds or breezy days. And yes when it happens its like somone took a leafblower and stuck it in the top of the chimney. It just blasts out all openings. It is all true as you stated..
    It only lasts a few seconds but it is enough to fill the house. I will try a wind cap and I will let you know how it comes out. Last resort will be a chimney fan but I hope not to go there.

    No way to tighten this old stove. Its an antique
  7. snowtime

    snowtime Minister of Fire

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    I know you said you extended the other chimney and it did not help the fireplace. The point is though you do not have strong enough draft. First I would consider that this old restored stove would work better on a 6 or 7 chimney and if so you need a full liner of the proper size. Time to research your old stove. I think if its designed for 8 then you need to get a lineralso and extend it at least 3 above the current height.
  8. Peter B.

    Peter B. Feeling the Heat

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    ScottF:

    This is very much a 'for what little it might be worth' reply.

    For about five years, I burned my old stove (see sig) in a converted machine shed on a friend's farm.

    Typically, I had no draft problems whatsoever... but on days with gusts from a particular direction, I simply couldn't burn without severe backpuffing/drafting.

    I had adequate chimney height and a decent wind cap.

    What I figured (after the fact and without testing the theory) was that the chimney simply wasn't retaining enough heat to draft properly.

    My chimney setup was very different from yours (Class A through the roof and black pipe above), but your symptoms sound very similar.

    Oddly, the problem usually occurred on fall or spring days with moderate temperatures... maybe there just isn't enough temp differential to keep the draft going strongly?

    Maybe a flue liner of some kind?

    --

    For all those shaking their heads about those of us still trying to burn in antiques, I would bet dollars to donuts an EPA stove would puffback under the same circumstances.

    Peter B.

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  9. ansehnlich1

    ansehnlich1 Minister of Fire

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    You mention a 12 pitch roof nearby. Even though your chimney meets the 10 2 3 rule, if that roof is higher than your chimney, and close enough to your chimney, it could cause a down draft under windy conditions and result in your smoke problem.

    My dad has that kind of setup, his fireplace is in a one story addition that is attached to his 2.5 story farm house. The roof on the farm house is MUCH higher than his chimney, and that causes a problem.

    I lived in a house that had a problem with the chimney on windy days, did the same thing you talk about, but only when the wind came out of the South. That house had no close trees, buildings, or anything, HOWEVER, the back yard (south) rose quite steeply for a couple hundred yards, so that the terrain was higher than the chimney. The hill went WAY up, if you climbed up there you'd be lookin' down on the house. When the wind blew out of the south it would blow down that hill and push smoke down the chimney and right into the living room. We learned to watch the weather and when they were calling for strong southerly wind we wouldn't burn.
  10. ScottF

    ScottF New Member

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    You both bring up good points. The temperature yesterday was not that cold and only about 50 degrees. I dont know which way the wind was coming from but I believe it was the west because there was a cold front going west to east. The back of the house does face west/ south west.

    Also the 12 pitch roof behind both chimneys is way higher than the top of either chimney. I did follow the 10 - 2 - 3 rule but I suspect I am getting a high pressure area when the wind hits the higher roof . Would a wind cap solve this condition?
  11. ScottF

    ScottF New Member

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    by the way Peter, My stove looks a lot like yours.

    Attached Files:

  12. Peter B.

    Peter B. Feeling the Heat

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    ScottF:

    Out of curiosity, what make and model is your stove?

    Mine is actually unrestored (as yet), but I still have hopes I'll get to it.

    I've modified my Round Oak for improved efficiency and control... I no longer have the 'high drama' moments with runaway temps (and glowing steel) that you report in the 'smoke dragon' thread.

    But I recall (about twenty years ago, before the mods) I was sitting in the dark on a very cold night, running the stove for all it was worth, and the (heavy cast) firebox itself started to glow.

    Here are some teaser pics of my stove unrestored, as it might look restored, and the internal modifications I made.

    Peter B.

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  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Well ya know that's going to generate some curiosity ;-). Is that a cat honeycomb in there?
  14. Peter B.

    Peter B. Feeling the Heat

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    BeGreen wrote:

    >Well ya know that’s going to generate some curiosity. Is that a cat honeycomb in there?

    --

    Yes sir, it is.

    At the moment, I'm running a 1" thick (cheapo) model with a few years on it, but I checked this afternoon and got a reading of 900* immediately above the cat with 500* at 12" above the stove top... both measured with Condar probes.

    I have a new 'name brand' 2" thick in reserve which should give even better result... but I might wait til next season to install it.

    I may not be EPA compliant, but I think I'm doing better with the cat than without.

    Peter B.

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  15. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Very interesting. I like the easy access. How do you engage, disengage the cat? Do you have a rod attached so that it can slide in and out of center place? The deflector bowl shaped base that the cat is sitting on is interesting too. Is this stock or a retrofit? Maybe you should repost the pictures in a new thread and tell us about the project. It's really fascinating.
  16. Peter B.

    Peter B. Feeling the Heat

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    BeGreen wrote:

    >Very interesting. I like the easy access. How do you engage, disengage the cat? Do you have a rod attached so that it can slide in and out of center place? The deflector bowl shaped base that the cat is sitting on is interesting too. Is this stock or a retrofit?

    --

    Yes, there's a 1/4" rod which extends through an (already existing) hole in the back of the oval stove-to-flue flange... a simple slide forward and back.

    All you see is retrofit... 'designed' and installed circa 1989... with some minor changes since.

    I first bought the stove in '75... and learned about the EPA Phase 1 regs in '88 (or so). Couldn't afford a new stove at the time and thought I'd try my hand at modifying the dragon.

    I took great pains to be sure everything I did was 'reversible'... so if I chose, I could remove all the mods and restore the stove to original.

    It was an 'ell of a lot of fun, and I thought of trying to 'hire out'... but most people who own these stoves don't even burn them anymore... and those that do aren't necessarily interested in increased efficiency.

    Oh, well.

    Peter B.

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  17. Peter B.

    Peter B. Feeling the Heat

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    By the way...

    Most of the modifications were made with 'found objects'... and a hacksaw and bench grinder.

    An internal 'flue' made of rectangular box steel (now burned to a rough archway as seen in the pic above) opens near the firebox floor and leads up (through a right angle) to a baffle (a stainless frying pan with a cutaway to accomodate the flue) - where the exhaust is ducted up to an added catalyst.

    The supporting platform for everything is the bottom of a 35 gallon oil barrel, which made a nice fit in the top of the stove. The catalyst top guard is made from a 'cast off' cast iron Dutch oven. The catalyst slide cradle was made from an old brake rotor.

    Firebrick surrounds the lower firebox to help retain heat. A supplementary air supply feeds a nominal amount of preheated air to the fire when all drafts are closed.

    The basic mods have served me for almost twenty years now... with some repairs (and catalyst replacements).

    All in all, it was more fun than just shelling out for a new stove, but I think I might trade up one of these days to something with a glass window.

    Peter B.

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  18. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    My hats off to you sir. Made my day!
  19. ScottF

    ScottF New Member

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    peter, Very ingenious modifications. I am very interested in speaking to you about making the same ones to my stove. My stove is a 1904 Phillips and Clark Geneva oak 314. We are very pleased with how it heats and it has no mods. As a matter of fact it works much better than the Jotul 3 we have at a cabin. Two different animals but it throws tons more heat and holds 5 to 6 medium splits (the jotul holds 1) and lasts for 3 hours at about 500 degrees. Heats 3000 SF very nicely and holds the house at 72 all the time. At night the brick holds the heat and we wake up to no less than 68 degrees. No complaints other than the wind problem

    This weekend I will extend the masonry chimney another 2 feet higher and add a special wind cap.
  20. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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  21. Peter B.

    Peter B. Feeling the Heat

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    ScottF:

    I'd be happy to talk with you more about the stove modifications, but it's pretty definitely an off-season sort of project, since - at the least - the top section of the stove has to be removed to install the various components.

    To be honest, I would make changes to my original 'design' if I were to do it all again, but have never finalized an improved design even in my imagination. Meanwhile, I'm a perfectly lousy draftsman with or without a computer drawing program, so it might be hard to convey specifics.

    I put 'design' in quotes because it was largely a trial and error process, and evolved over a couple of heating seasons.

    The original objectives I had were to try for better control of the burn rate (because - as mentioned - there was precious little beforehand); to gain a longer burn time; and - with any luck - to improve efficiency and reduce emissions in process.

    In the end, it turned out the very last 'trick' I implemented was the most effective for controlling the fire. That was to drop the internal flue/baffle entry fairly close to the firebox floor, so that all the exhaust had to pass near(er) the coals before exiting. The older stoves - with a 'straight up, straight out' design - and not the best door and draft seals, don't have much of a prayer of being regulable... and just putting the catalyst in that straight path (believe me) didn't help at all in terms of control... though it might have helped clean up a slower fire.

    By the way, there's a fair amount of discussion here whether stove pipe dampers are necessary or desirable for the EPA stoves. With beasts like ours, they are pretty much necessary... if you don't have one installed already, I'd advise putting one in as a first step toward *any* sort of control.

    There's no way I can meaningfully quantify what improvement (if any) I made to the basic efficiency of the stove, but for what it's worth, yesterday while I was back and forth to the forum here, I got what I might call an 'honest' 6 hour burn out of the stove on three (pretty chunky) 16" to 18" oak splits... while the flue probe (at 12" above the stove pipe) read between 500* and 200*. Outdoors, the smoke level from the chimney was low... and the odor ranged from a mild, pleasant burning oak scent to sweet or 'clean'.

    There are tradeoffs to what I did however... the firebox volume is considerably reduced, there is a greater tendency (though generally tolerable) for the stove to smoke a bit when reloading (onto anything but coals), and - of course - the top loading feature (which I never used anyway) is gone.

    So, some additional fodder for thought, eh?

    I'll likely be 'around' lurking here at the Hearth Room most of the winter... even if I don't post a lot.

    Good luck with the chimney extension and wind cap.

    Peter B.

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  22. ScottF

    ScottF New Member

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    Peter, the tradeoffs you mention might be a little more than what I am looking for. The volume of the chamber is important but anything that makes it smoke more on loading is way out for me. I would not be able to stomach that. For the most part we are happy with the performance of our stove. Besides the wind problem, which I intend to correct this weekend by building the masonry chimney a couple of feet higher and adding a wind specific cap, the only thing I might want to improve is the length of burn. We do have a manual flue damper and without it we could not control the burn rate at all. The stove is way too leaky. But with the flue damper we can. It allows us to get anywhere from 2 to 3 hours on 5 - 6 medium size splits. This is OK for us because we have 3000 sf to heat with all high ceilings. Therefore we must run is at least 500 degrees measured at the top cast iron top.

    One small issue, if you leave the flue damper open, is the flue pipe which is very short and goes right out the back will get too hot and turn red. The flames actually shoot out through the flue pipe and overheat the flue. If you look at this thread

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/28603/

    About adding a cat to an old stove and look at pistonslaps reply he seemed to have the same problem and added a baffle shaped in a c shape. It blocks the flue and causes the smoke to go around the sides of the c shape. It seems like a great idea and might work for my stove. What do you think based on your experiments. Seems like it would solve my problem of the flames going out the flue and overheating it. It would probably push some of the heat back in the stove. Of course I can solve the problem just by closing the flue damper but as you probably know if you close it too far too fast you build a high pressure in the stove and smoke comes out of all the doors and top. What do you think of the baffle?

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  23. Peter B.

    Peter B. Feeling the Heat

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    ScottF wrote:

    >About adding a cat to an old stove and look at pistonslaps reply he seemed to have the same problem and added a baffle shaped in a c shape. It blocks the flue and causes the smoke to go around the sides of the c shape. It seems like a great idea and might work for my stove. What do you think based on your experiments. Seems like it would solve my problem of the flames going out the flue and overheating it. It would probably push some of the heat back in the stove. Of course I can solve the problem just by closing the flue damper but as you probably know if you close it too far too fast you build a high pressure in the stove and smoke comes out of all the doors and top. What do you think of the baffle?

    --

    I think it's a fine idea, especially based on what he says as far as increased burn times and retained heat go.

    In his case or yours, my 'umble opinion is that it's far from any sort of 'complete solution', but I also think any impediment or diversion you can make with respect to the straight smoke/flame path (without inducing smoke into the room at any time !!!) is likely helpful.

    (I can hear the strict EPA stove adherents writhing in their seats, but hey...)

    A local friend of mine had an ancient 'built in' convection wood furnace that I genuinely admired... and I tried to convince him to try some very simple (no cost / low cost) partial remedies that might - in the aggregate, each applied individually - have made a real difference for him... but this year he went out and bought a Central Boiler outdoor instead... and is slowly ripping out all the old indoor 'stovewerks'. I could have shot him.

    Anything you try, just keep it simple and easily reversible and sooner or later you'll likely hit on a combination of things that can make an improvement for you.

    One of the beauties of experimenting with an antique stove (or certain smoke dragons) is that there's little you can do that *won't* somehow improve their performance. They are just that primitive.

    Keep us posted.

    Peter B.

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  24. ScottF

    ScottF New Member

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    Thanks Peter, I will let you know how the baffle and the wind problem comes out. One thing about the old stoves. They sure have come a long way as far as technology, However, They have gone many steps backwards in the looks deparment as far as Im concerned. They just do not build them with the level of beauty and craftsmanship that they did 100 years ago. That is the sole reason I sacrafice the modern performance. I will never own a new stove unless someone can build a true reproduction of my old stove with the performance of a new one. We love the beauty of the old stove and It works good and serves all our purposes. I know this is just my taste and appreciation for old things. I understand a lot of people would disagree.
  25. dznam

    dznam Member

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    We installed a Vacu-Stack last year to deal with the same type of problem you describe. We have a range of small mountains just behind our house in western Maine and the winds from the north that pour down from them tend to be quite gusty. When the wind is gusting or blowing hard (25mph+), we got a poor draw from the chimney which is masonry and about 25' tall. While we've only got about about a half season of burning with it installed, we're quite pleased with the results: it has essentially eliminated our draft problem.
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