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You Bet Your Ash

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Troutchaser, Jan 4, 2011.

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  1. Troutchaser

    Troutchaser New Member

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    I decided to take advantage of the mild temps on New Years Eve and clean out the stove. Thought I'd even empty the ash pan and maybe try removing ashes with it for some time and see if I preferred that over scooping them with the ash shovel.

    Sat. and Sun. I was constantly stalling and re-starting my loads. It was downdrafters hell. But why? All systems were go when closing the bypass.
    After two days of ash buildup (still not a full pan, but getting there), I finally have gotten her acting her old self. I can only guess that ash acts as a terrific insulator to keep the heat from being lost to the bottom of the stove-as I've read here at Hearth over and over.

    Never doubt the benefits of ash in the bottom of your stove.

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  2. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    A few weeks ago I decided to go back to using the ashpan. Like you, I had taken to just shoveling, as I found the stove performed better when the ashpan was full. But the buildup of coals during the December cold snap was a pain - I got tired of having to burn them down. And removing ash while burning 24/7 meant dumping some of the coals - it was either too many coals or too few.

    My solution was to double up the grate (I just happened to have two; the used stove came with an extra one). So instead of a single, very open grate that lets ash and coal fall through easily, I now have a much tighter opening with two criss-crossed grates.

    The ash now needs stirring to fall through, instead of sifting down rapidly on its own, so I have great control over how much ash I leave on the floor of the firebox. It is quite easy to remove pure ash, with very few coals, while the fire is going.
  3. Troutchaser

    Troutchaser New Member

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    Did you notice your Oakwood balking with an empty pan? Night and day for me.
    But it sure would be nice to go back to using the ash pan.
    How often were you scooping ash? When burning heavily, I needed to get it out every two or three days to make room for a decent coal bed.

    I can't believe the coal beds I'm waking up to with locust and ash. I can get the stove hot and back in service for another 8 hour run in about 30 minutes.
  4. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    I haven't had my smaller Lopi (Republic 1250, 1.6 cu. ft. firebox) very long, but I dont' notice much difference between ash vs. no ash, except with no ash I can fit more wood in.
  5. Troutchaser

    Troutchaser New Member

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    Maybe it's got more to do with that big empty ash pan under it.
    Republic doesn't have an ash pan, does it?
  6. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    Correct. There is no ash pan on the Republic.
  7. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    With an empty ash pan I need to use a lot more kindling/small splits to make the stove happy. With the pan full, yes, it was every 2-3 days to remove ash, but that would also wreck the coal bed. This new "double grate" routine is the best of both worlds for 24/7 burning - I stir the coals with a poker or shovel and some ash falls through, but some also remains; it's almost as good as having a solid firebox floor, but with fewer ashes. And no more charcoal bits in the ashpan, it's all super-fine ash.
  8. jjames

    jjames New Member

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    This is new ground for me.

    Any input on how to treat my ash with a T6?
  9. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    Your stove has a more conventional top-burn technology, which isn't as picky as our "downdraft" stoves on this whole ashpan issue. Not sure how the PE ashpan or "ash chute" (is that what it's called?) works, but I'd suggest starting a brand new thread if you are having troubles. Regardless of stove, a lot of folks just do their best to separate ashes from coals with a rake, then shovel 'em out.
  10. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    I'm sure that's a big part of it, especially with a downdraft design. If it were mine I'd see the light and go back to the shovel. I think ash pans in a stove like that are a concession to what folks think they want before they actually have it. My Vigilant doesn't have the ash pan, but the local VC guys told me that you should leave it full if you do have one. Better insulation and it keeps the air flow going through the hottest part of the fire instead of underneath it.
  11. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, the manufacturer tells you to keep a good coal bed and then they literally undermine that by putting in a big ol' ashpan. But the trouble with the downdraft design is that if the coals are too deep and are mixed with ash, you don't get good airflow into the afterburner that way, either. Not to mention making sure your splits don't cover it up. It's a minor but constant battle to keep the throat clear, with a bit of poker/shovel work required.
  12. Troutchaser

    Troutchaser New Member

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    I'll leave the pan full for now, you bet. Back to scooping and seperating.
    I generally stir through the coals to settle what ash I can, but after a few days that ash will just get too thick.
    Keeping the throat clear is sometimes a problem late into the burn when things settle. Generally, everything has outgassed enough that it doesn't hurt much. Maybe a little puff here and there. But that's not really an ash buildup problem.
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