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Wood stove burning when not home?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Exmasonite, Dec 4, 2010.

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  1. Exmasonite

    Exmasonite Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2010
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    287
    Loc:
    Northwest, CT
    Hey all, how's it going?

    So, this question got posted over in the Pellet Crib but got me thinking as I've got both a wood stove (That wonderful Kiwi Merlin 3) and pellet stove.

    What are people's feelings about leaving a stove burning when not home? I am fine with the pellet stove but for some reason, am very wary about the wood burning stove. Usually won't leave it on unless going < 10 min down the road for milk or beer. The big issue is that my wife works day shift and I work some night shift so i'll leave house ~ 5 PM and she may not be home until 6:30-7pm (1.5-2hrs). On 2 occasions recently, i've put 1 fresh log on the coal bed, let it blaze for about 5-10 minutes and then turn the vents down to almost nothing to let it smolder and putting out a little heat. Plus, my wife is more prone to crank the fuel oil than mess with the fire (still banging my head against the wall on THAT one) too much so i'm trying to make it idiot proof.

    What does everybody else do? Looking for advice, tips for the relative neophyte.

    Thanks.

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  2. thewoodlands

    thewoodlands Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2009
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    We have a pellet and wood stove and never burn when we are gone, the pellet stove gets shut down (not used much this year) and for the wood stove we make sure that most of the coals are burned down before we leave.


    zap
  3. santacruzbluz

    santacruzbluz New Member

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    Santa Cruz Mountains
    Funny you should post this, as I asked myself the same question today, and thought about posting it. I had a nice fire going in my stove, but not real hot, about 500 degrees on the stovetop. I wanted to go to town and knew I'd be gone at least an hour. I think conventional wisdom would say you should never leave a fire unattended. But I do it every night when I go to sleep. If I didn't trust that the stove was safe, I wouldn't be able to sleep. So if I believe it is safe, I should be able to go to town and let it burn, just as if I was asleep. So I cut the air down, went to town, and was gone for almost 3 hours, and came home to a nice, warm house. I just installed the stove and chimney myself, and know I did it right, using new materials. The stove is tight, so nothing is going to fall out of it, and there is nothing around it to catch on fire. I think the stove is safe, and so I'll act accordingly.

    Now I expect to hear how crazy I am. :)
  4. davidmc

    davidmc Member

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    Loc:
    NE Alabama
    I burn 24/7 and have for the last 10 years.

    I figure if I can sleep with it burning...... and I don't want to have to rebuild a fire daily.

    just my 2 cents
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  5. weatherguy

    weatherguy Minister of Fire

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    I would think most of us woodburners go to work everyday and leave the stove burning. I work from home but leave for 2-3 hours a day and always leave it burning.
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  6. santacruzbluz

    santacruzbluz New Member

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    I'm feeling better, but I wondered if it was something others do. Obviously a wood stove isn't like a campfire, which you wouldn't want to just walk off and leave burning.
  7. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    Usually load up an hour or so before going to work in the morning, when going to bed or when going out on the weekends etc. I will never leave it until it's settled in but once I feel that's done I have not problems leaving it. I installed the stove correctly so it makes no difference if I'm home to watch it burn or if I leave while it's burning.
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  8. TROY COOK

    TROY COOK New Member

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    Loc:
    Ramsay, Michigan of the U.P.
    We burn pellets and wood 24/7 also. We have for about 9 years.One thing I never do is leave home with a new fire,I make sure it's going good and under control,I always cut it back in the mid air range, and never leave rite after opening the stove doors just in case a spark or coal got out, Common sense will go a long way in safe wood burning..
  9. Exmasonite

    Exmasonite Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
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    287
    Loc:
    Northwest, CT
    Thanks for the info guys and keep 'em coming!

    Given that we purchased this house in September (our first winter) and I worry that my wood is a little on the green side (ordered some "seasoned" wood but i have my doubts), i don't think i'll take the chance until i've got a season under my belt and am better prepared (cut/seasoned my own wood, proper wood shed built, etc). I am checking the chimney pipes and chimney weekly for creosote build up. Will likely have a professional sweep come give me a check up in 4-5 weeks just to be sure.

    I need to do a search but any opinions on those Creosote sweeping logs? I am rather skeptical...

    Thanks again for all the help.
  10. madrone

    madrone Minister of Fire

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    Often, but only after the stove is cruising. It took quite a while before I felt like I knew the stove well enough to know when it's safe to leave it alone.
  11. ashpanannie

    ashpanannie New Member

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    Southern WV
    I have no worry when I leave home with my stove burning, except that I might not get back in time to salvage the coals on a reload! In reality, most heating options have the potential to start a house fire. It is the same using a wood stove as anything else....make sure heating units are well maintained, undamaged and up to spec.

    When people are new to a wood stove or have just gotten a new one, I can see why it might take a season of caution before placing full trust, but I think many eventually do in the end.
  12. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    I no longer think twice about it but like you was careful until I was confident in the setup and the fuel.
  13. nojo

    nojo New Member

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    Stoves always going in the winter. I load it up even if I'll be gone for 6 hours. I hate coming home to a cold house. Just knw how your stove runs and you will be ok.
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  14. Bobbin

    Bobbin Minister of Fire

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    We routinely head out the door for work or some extended errand with the stoves cranking along. Here's how I see it, we have two high quality stoves and we paid attention to safe installation when they were installed. We maintain the chimneys and stoves and we burn seasoned wood. I don't worry any more about the stoves than I do about the any of major systems in our home malfunctioning while we're away. Sure, it could happen, but the odds are very much against it.

    I do understand the nervousness of someone new to burning wood, though. It can be easy to convince yourself that the contained fire inside your home is rapidly getting out of control in your absence... if you are given to bouts of the 'noids. You only need to use the stove more to gain confidence in its capabilities and your own ability to operate and manage it properly.

    And include your wife in its operation. It's really very, very simple and I'm always surprised at how many wives/girlfriends refuse to have anything to do with woodstoves.
    Dave K likes this.
  15. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Northern MN
    Now more than 20 years of wood stove heat for the house. Like others, I know my stove well and know where to set the air intake control to load the stove however I want and walk out the door and know the stove won't overheat. I also burn well seasoned wood, so creosote never is a problem, even if the fire is a little slower than optimum.
  16. jetmech

    jetmech Member

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    Loc:
    Dillsburg PA
    Have left the Intrepid ii alone for hours with no worrys, mine is a older 1303 that i completly rebuilt. SantaCruzBluz just curious how you like your intrepid.. have been kicking around replacing mine.....
  17. argus66

    argus66 Feeling the Heat

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    Loc:
    central coastal nj
    ya i too load up give it about a hour or so and leave it all the time. my pipe is clean and i burn 2 yr seasoned wood and maintain a good stove. so i sleep good and have no worries when im out.
  18. joshlaugh

    joshlaugh New Member

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    Granville, Ohio
    To be honest I have never considered not leaving the fire burning. Wood is how I heat my house so if we didn't keep a fire burning while we both worked, our house would be really cold. And with the size and age of ours it would take a long time to get it heated back up. I am sort of surprised at the number of people here that don't burn while they are out but we all do things differently. I suggest doing whatever makes you feel comfortable.
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  19. ansehnlich1

    ansehnlich1 Minister of Fire

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    I burn 24/7, day and night. Load it, run it up to 600 or so, set the air back, and head to work. I always check the doors and ashpan before leaving.

    You'll get more comfortable the more you use the stove.

    People heat with fire everywhere, gas, propane, fuel oil. There you have some pretty wild combustion going on, start ups and shutdowns off and on all day long, ignitors, retention heads, limit swithes, cad cells, electrodes, all designed to prevent explosions and runaway fires, and few have concerns about this equipment while away from home.
  20. Cowboy Billy

    Cowboy Billy Minister of Fire

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    I burn 24/7 too and I have no problem with it. But I will not leave my electric cloths dryer run if I am not at home! All that lint and heating elements scare me.

    Billy
  21. Shari

    Shari Minister of Fire

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    Good question (burning when not home). Initially I was concerned but most of that concern happened before we had the stove installed. Hanging out here at hearth.com I learned to have the confidence by having a pro install, insulated liner for safety, local code enforcement approval, etc. I have no problem leaving the house with the stove burning. I just make sure it's cruising before I leave. I figure going to sleep with the stove burning is no different that leaving the house with the stove burning so if I trust the stove to heat the house through the night then leaving the house with stove burning is no different. Yes, it was an odd feeling to begin with, but no worries here.

    Shari
  22. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    My father has been heating 24/7 with an old pre-EPA resolute since I was maybe 5. Especially when he moved to his current house for the first few years before they replaced the electric heat. Never and issue so long as you had the stove on low.

    With my new stove I was nervous at first until I learned how it reacts. Just get a good fire going and crank it down as low as it will go (like for an overnight) and there is never an issue. You will want to once or twice stay home with it all day and monitor a complete burn cycle from a full load, that way you know how low you can set the air for a safe unattended burn.
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  23. timlynne

    timlynne New Member

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    I have no problem leaving it for an extended period. I know that it is a safe stove and I have no combustibles around it. I agree that I am more concerned with a clothes dryer than the wood stove. Most wood stove related fires that I have heard of are chimney fires or were created by a bad chimney that needed a liner. Just keep your eye on the creosote and you will be ok
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  24. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    That's funny. I won't go to bed with the dryer going. The fire is burning as much as possible, though. In fact, we are leaving for overnight, and I'm stuffing it full right now so it's still nice and warm when my sister comes this evening to take care of my dogs.
  25. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    That's funny. I won't go to bed with the dryer going. The fire is burning as much as possible, though. In fact, we are leaving for overnight, and I'm stuffing it full right now so it's still nice and warm when my sister comes this evening to take care of my dogs.
    Elle likes this.
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