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You Were Expecting This, Weren't You?! (Tell The Truth)

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by soupy1957, Jan 20, 2010.

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  1. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Soupy, I feel for you with the extra burden you have. However, I'm also betting that you will soon take all the wood burning chores as normal. You will also find that it actually becomes easier when you keep that stove going. However, that being said, you need to be very thankful you have the furnace as a backup. With the wood stove, even if you can save half on the oil bill it is well worth it.

    One more thing. There have been times when I can not attend to the fire and thank God my wife can. It is not a good feeling to not be able to tend the stove but an excellent feeling knowing someone else can at least do part of it. I'm betting your wife could do some of the loading of the stove even if you have to split the wood smaller. Having just that little extra help could mean a lot to you.

    Good luck.

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  2. polaris

    polaris Feeling the Heat

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    As others have well stated once you learn to let the stove"cycle" things will get a lot eaiser. I let mine go cold usually every couple of weeks or so to clean it up a bit. With the recent cold snap though I went almost 4 weeks without letting it go out. That's nothing for some but a month is longer than I usually go. As was said, keep after it, the learning curve is a little steeper on these stoves than it was in the past.
    Joe
  3. Bobbin

    Bobbin Minister of Fire

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    Soupy, I posted earlier and didn't realize you'd posted just before me. It's an incredible amount of work to look out for and see to the needs of another person. Sometimes the responsibility can be overwhelming and isolating, which is not to say there aren't rewards, as well.

    I recall coming into the living room one very, very cold day. I saw Mum in the wing chair by the window with a magazine and a cat beside her. Sun was streaming through the window and the stove was cookin' along. She was just sitting there soaking up the warmth enjoying her magazine. And in the moment before she caught sight of me I thought how fortunate I was to be able to keep the frail, mentally failing woman who raised me warm and comfortable on a bitter winter's day. I wish I'd had the presence of mind to take a picture of that moment, but it lives on in my memory nonetheless.

    Great answer from Dennis. :)
  4. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    For me it takes a lot more messing aroung to start this stove from cold than to keep it going. Load 2 to 3 times (max) per day. My biggest hope is that it doesn't warm up so I have to let it shut down! Starting the old smoke dragon from cold was a lot easier than this thing.

    pen
  5. soupy1957

    soupy1957 Minister of Fire

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    Logger: go easy on me........lol........I'm an old guy.........lol

    -Soupy1957
  6. cycloxer

    cycloxer New Member

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    Perfectly normal. I typically burn Fri, Sat, & Sun. During the week I am not home until 9-10 p.m. several nights so no fire gets lit. I have NG primary heat, so it works out well. Sometimes, yeah, I don't feel like dealing w/ the stove so I don't burn. I keep my heat at 65, but when I burn the stove I like to get the room up to 70 or so and it is much nicer. I also keep track of my wood supply so that I can make it through the season w/o having to dip into my wet wood. Burning wood is a lot more work than burning NG.
  7. annette

    annette Member

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    It seems like you have plenty of other stuff taking up your time, I can understand you feeling like "ugh, is it worth the work to have a fire tonight?"

    I think as you get better at starting fires and loading up the stove for longer burns, the task will be easier. Since you seem to do a lot of cold starts, if you don't already have fatwood or supercedars or something to make a cold startup easier, I suggest you try some. When startup is fussy, it can take an hour to get real heat out of the stove, and I don't know about you, but I get frustrated, .

    This is my 3rd or 4th year with my stove, and I have finally started doing things right to have enough coals in the morning for easy startup. I have 3 inches of ash in the stove, get my last load of wood happily burning and charred, stove 400 or more, close the air gradually, then push all the wood into the back of the stove and shovel all the ashes on top of them. Previously I was loading the box up super-full, didn't have space for ash-shoveling, the house got really hot after I went to bed and I'd have night sweats, and I'd have no coals in the morning.

    This method is great at other times of the day too, anytime you're not trying to heat the house up quickly.

    I do have a big stove, (maybe 3 cubic feet? I should look it up) so I have room for all this ash and pushing wood around. I also let the house cool to 58 before the heat comes on! (I think it takes a very well-insulated house to maintain high temps overnight, since if I'm remembering physics stuff right, the greater the temp differential between your house and outside, the faster your heat loss).
  8. Mr. Kelly

    Mr. Kelly Member

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    Thank you for this thoughtful and memorable post. What a great notion that one could comfort others with the gift of HEAT! It's highly underrated, and often paid for unquestionably.
  9. quads

    quads Minister of Fire

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    +1!
  10. tfdchief

    tfdchief Minister of Fire

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    Not me! I get upset when it warms up like it has right now. Tough to keep the fire going 24/7 without getting to hot in the house. Tough to burn hot enough. I did get the chance to clean my flue. I also hate to see Spring come because I have to change my habits. I wish I could burn all 12 months. I have the wood burning disease and have had for a long time. Watch out Soupy, it is contagious. Hanging around here you are liable to catch something. :sick:
  11. PapaDave

    PapaDave Minister of Fire

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    +2+!
  12. SlyFerret

    SlyFerret Minister of Fire

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    If I were rich, I'd have one hell of a wood shed, a few really nice saws, a brand new splitter, a nice big trailer and a 3500HD Diesel to pull it with. Oh yeah... and I'd own a few hundred acres of my own land to supply me with wood.

    -SF
  13. KateC

    KateC New Member

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    We got our insert as a furnace-assist and as such has more than met expectations. It didn't take long however, to become addicted to the whole life-style involved and all that goes with it, not to mention finding this forum and the invaluable information available. For awhile I got caught up in a sort of 'competition mode' and pushed the stove, the house and myself to get the longest burn, highest temps, buck Uncle Sam, etc., and frankly drove myself and my man insane with unrealistic expectations, control-freakiness and hot-flashes. I love my stove and always feel sad to see it darkly unused, even in summer, but I also appreciate taking a break from it, especially by this time of winter. Part of me feels guilty for turning up the furnace and letting the oil burn, but it's also nice to go to bed early and not worry about waking up to a cold house. Even with second-nature experience and the best wood it can sometimes feel like a ball and chain, so I feel really fortunate to have the choice.
  14. jadm

    jadm New Member

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    Soupy - Your do have a lot on your plate. Sounds like you do know when you need a break and are not afraid to take one!

    Took me awhile to get the hang of loading up and keeping the fire going. Like others have said - single pieces of wood = lots of coals. If I were to keep a fire going all day I learned here it is better to reload before temps. dip below the 300* mark.

    Mostly I build a fire in the am - load with 3-5 splits and shut the air down. That will keep things in the 70* area most of the day without reloading because we get afternoon sun help as long as it isn't cloudy. The coals keep an even temp. going.

    I build another fire at around 7:00 P.M. and that heats things up again for the night.

    I have learned how to start up fires so it's not so much of a hassle as it used to be. Have gotten the timing down. It has taken time to do all of this - I am slow and this is my 3 year with this particular insert and I feel like I am almost comfortable with the routing.....

    I am pretty good at judging how much wood I have to bring in every day now too. I can only carry 2 pieces at a time so it takes me longer to do but I do not mind.

    Once you get the timing down amidst all you already do - you will be pleasantly surprised how smoothly things can go and all should become more enjoyable and worth the extra effort.

    Hang in there because it does get easier but there is indeed a learning curve involved. ;-)
  15. soupy1957

    soupy1957 Minister of Fire

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    I find that each day I bring in some wood from the garage, and make sure to fill the 24" wood ring in the living room. That goes for the small brass bucket I have the Fatwood in, and also the medium-size kindling bucket.

    To burn all day, the house would get TOO warm, so I try and moderate the burning times. I'm only heating 1200 sq. ft. and two of the rooms are below grade. Even using the forced-hot air furnace fan to circulate the air only gets the "below-grade" rooms to about 50ºF at best (no fear of freezing the pipes, but a tad uncomfortable in the early mornings, working on the computer in my bathrobe (now THAT'S a picture, eh?!).

    When the temps get to the bottom of the burn zone is one aspect, but I judge the fire itself. I try not to let the fire go to embers before adding more wood, and a couple of pieces max, per new load, if I'm gonna keep the fire going.

    We've got a major re-construction going on at our house right now as well, with construction workers building an addition, gutting the kitchen, building a half-bath, replacing the roof, .........all sorts of stuff........I have to be considerate of the guys on the roof, (for example) and NOT burn when they are near the chimney (for obvious reasons).

    Still wish I knew what that light-gray, smooth barked piece of wood I have is, ...........it burned like a bugger!!!

    -Soupy1957
  16. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Beech perhaps . . . it's light gray and has smooth bark . . . especially young to middle-aged beech.
  17. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    I've been doing some thinking and here are some of my thoughts in no particular order.

    For many of us burning wood is not a chore . . . but if and when it becomes a chore there is nothing wrong in taking a break from burning. After all, it's your stove, your wood and your life . . . burning wood is not a competition to see if you can burn less wood than another member, use less oil or burn more efficiently . . . it's about keeping warm. Plain and simple.

    Some people start burning with wood and find that they don't like it . . . it can be a lot of work and it can be messy. For folks using older stoves or unseasoned wood the experience can be even worse as they burn through so much more wood and/or spend a lot of time coping with woodstoves with smoke that spills out into their home, smokey fires that splutter along and produce little heat and they have the constant fear of a chimney fire. I feel for these folks since burning wood for me is truly enjoyable . . . it's work . . . but I like every aspect of this work . . . cutting, splitting, stacking, starting the fire, etc. . . . in fact, and my wife will tell anyone the same thing, I find working with wood to be a real stress reliever . . . rather than something that stresses me out . . . if and when burning with wood becomes a cause of stress then I'll call it quits.

    Many folks start burning wood to save money . . . and you can save money vs. burning fossil fuels. However, if you start burning wood and opt to stay burning wood solely because you're saving money I don't know if you truly would look at woodstoves in the same way as a person who enjoys the sense of independence, the smell of wood smoke in the air outdoors, the beauty of the dancing flames . . . when burning wood becomes a way of life, a life-style, rather than simply a way to save money, then you'll know you're a true woodburner.

    Routine . . . Establishing a routine makes things so much easier as things then become a normal part of life . . . and they seem to get done faster when you're not having to think. For example, each morning I start off by reloading the stove or restarting it if necessary . . . and I bring in the day's wood to the woodbox and do a quick sweep and mop of the hearth. Once to twice a week I'll dump out the ash pan and clean the haze off the glass. Every Sunday I reload the week's worth of wood on the porch and on the first weekend of the month (weather permitting) I'll check and clean the chimney . . . all part and parcel of burning wood.

    Restarting the fire: This can perhaps be one of the most frustrating aspects of wood burning . . . especially if you don't have the right materials or have a technique down pat. I have to use kindling . . . it's what works for me. Others are big advocates of fatwood or Super Cedars . . . based on what I'm hearing I would encourage you to try one of the Super Cedars -- in the past one of our members here has sent out free samples just for the asking . . . take him up on the offer. Truth be told . . . confession time here . . . at the start of each burning season it takes me a week or so to "remember" how to build my fires from scratch . . . those first fires sometimes fizzle out . . . or just ponder along until they finally get going after 30 minutes . . . or an hour. However, like anything else, you do it enough times and after awhile you will get better and better so by mid-winter you can get a fire up and going in minutes without even having to think about it.

    Adding wood: It's been said, but I'll reiterate. It may seem to make sense to add 1-2 splits to a fire during the day . . . but in fact this leads to more coals and is more work . . . it is usually far, far better to do a full reload . . . less reloading, fewer coals, etc.

    Don't be a slave to your stove: This is my mantra . . . I bought the stove to serve my needs and wants -- not the other way around. And so if I don't want to wake up to do a reload in middle of the night, I'm OK with the oil boiler kicking on . . . and if I go away for a week's vacation I'm OK with the oil boiler heating the house while I'm gone . . . and if you want to take a break I say go ahead . . . after all the priority should be you and your wife . . . not making sure the woodstove is happy and fully loaded with stove chow.
  18. karri0n

    karri0n New Member

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    I'm rather surprised you can only get 4 hours of burn before the fire is completely turned to ash. I know it's a small stove, but that sure seems awfully short to me. You might want to try closing the air down sooner, or installing a pipe damper.

    How many feet of pipe coming off that thing do you have, and is this an internal or external chimney?
  19. jadm

    jadm New Member

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    Very nicely written Jake. I think it should be saved somewhere so others have access to it when needed.
  20. Hiram Maxim

    Hiram Maxim Minister of Fire

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    You have to do what works for you!

    The good thing is.....when you want it, its there. No Guilt, No Worries!

    However I will tell you this......I look forward to getting my Natural Gas bill now. ;-)

    For the most part, the bill is same $40.00 as it is in June,July and August.

    Good luck with your renovation.

    PS: Jake that is Fantastic!

    Cheers,Hiram
  21. Bobbin

    Bobbin Minister of Fire

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    Spot on, Jake!
  22. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    I'm totally confused. All I know is that people here are offering advice about something so I'll summarize what has surely been said:

    You need an F350 4x4 with a long bed, a Stihl 880; and a Fiskars.

    there. hope that helps.

    PS, if i was rich, I'd be like the other poster who would have a brand new one ton truck, a handful of awesome stoves, every saw i felt inclined to buy when I was at the store, the mostest awesomist woodshed, and a the biggest collection of splitters and mauls you've ever seen. Then i'd start buying the weird and wonderful harvesting equipment that Lee sometimes posts links to.
  23. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

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    Jake - bang on. Soupy - I do believe there are kindred spirits here.

    I recently ran into my old dentist - working in a local big box store of all places. Still a young man. His career? Ended with a stroke. Cause? Stress. He was now 99% recovered - and actually very very happy - doing the "manual labor" thing. What does this have to do with me or wood burning? Like Soupy, I am a caregiver (son). Life takes a sharp left turn. Even with all my aches and pains (decrepit old fart) I can honestly say that a cool sunny morning out in the yard by the woodpile with a coffee and an axe - although hard on the back - is very very very good for the soul. Especially when the effort translates into a couple of nice dry chunks of maple taking off in the coals while the family stays warm inside and the pups stretch out in the warm and sunny spots by the stove. Some of my friends think I'm crazy, but this is actually all part of what keeps me sane.

    Soupy - hope you don't have to throw in the towel.
  24. soupy1957

    soupy1957 Minister of Fire

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    Nope..........burned for two days in the wood stove since writing this thread starter...........just wanted to find out how many folks DON'T burn "every day" is all.

    Guess I got my answer, in SPADES!!

    P.S. What's a "Fiskars"?????

    -Soupy1957
  25. logger

    logger Minister of Fire

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    I was only kidding, but thats not to say I wouldn't be suprised if your stove cries itself to bed each night and feels unwanted. My little guy would suffer from seperation anxiety if I left him cold. lol
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