1975 Vermont Castings Defiant stove

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jennimessi

New Member
Nov 8, 2021
5
maine
I bought a house 3 years ago that had a defiant in it. I've never had a wood stove before. I just can't seem to get it to heat my house. It either takes like 4 hours to get it so that its comfortable or it's only warm near the stove. I've heard that this wood stove is "a beast" but the majority of my house is still chilly. I have about a 1600 square foot home. I have a couple of fans to pull the warm air into the rest of the house. I can't close the door or the damper or the fire goes out, I've cleaned out the ash thinking that this is the problem but it's still behaving the same as last year, I believe I have a high enough chimney, maybe its that I don't have properly seasoned wood, I have replaced the gaskets, my house is old so I know that it's not a tight house, there is no firebrick but a wood stove expert told me that that doesn't matter, I've heard that these are good stoves but it just isn't heating my house so my question is am I doing something wrong or is it the stove and I should replace it. I'm tired of being cold. thanks...
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,355
South Puget Sound, WA
It's likely poorly seasoned wood if all else is in order. The difference in heat output between wood that is 25% moisture (one quarter!) and 15% is large. The stove may also be performing sub-optimally if the secondary channel is full of ash or if the baffle is warped and not sealing well.
 

fbelec

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2005
3,178
Massachusetts
get a magnetic thermometer put it on the oval plate on the top. when the stove is running right it should be between 525 and 650. also mine overheats my 1400 sq. foot home. here is a cheap experiment go out and buy 4 packs of wood that is sold in a gas station or store. it should be around 5 to 6 dollars a pack. it contains kiln dried wood. nice and dry. get it going with one pack then once it's going throw in another pack. after a few hours throw in a 3rd pack and if needed after that throw in the forth. all keeping the thermostat on the left back near the top so that you are running 600 degrees. tell us how you made out
 
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jennimessi

New Member
Nov 8, 2021
5
maine
Hi thx for answering- i had kiln dried wood last year and still same performance. And. Do have a thermometer on it- usually only gets to 450 degrees. Also from what my neighbor tells me, the way wood stoves are supposed to work is that u have the damper open at first then when the stove gets wicked hot say around 600 degrees then u close it and the heat radiates outward- rather than upward- and heats ur house that way where as mine because i cant close my damper- the fire just always goes out, smoldering- the heat just goes up through the chimney…?
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,811
Northern NH
Original Defiants are beasts but they do not make up for installation and operational issues. 90% of issues new wood burners have are damp wood related.

First thing try the gas station wood experiment. Wood should never hiss when put on a hot fire.

Next some questions
Is there an 8" flue pipe on the discharge connecting to an 8" flue that is a couple of stories high? Defiants need draft and the only way to get that is a proper chimney. Many folks try to neck them down to a 6" flue and it just doesnt work unless connected to a perfect chimney (interior chimney with a lot of height and flue that is the right size.

You say you replaced gaskets, does that mean you disassembled the stove? (the only gaskets are on the doors and if they are bad the stove tends to get too hot).

Having to leave the door open is a sign of two things, damp wood or plugged air system.

Have you cleaned the hidden smoke chamber behind the fireback?. If its full it can raise havoc with stove operation. Find a copy of the instruction manual and it will describe how to get to this area with vacuum cleaner. Its not obvious how to get to it.

Is the fireback in good shape?. If there is an open crack in it, the secondary burn system will not work.

The rear air flap should be open when burning. In some cases the chain gets disconnected from the flap of the coil is broken or missing. If the flap is not open the stove is starved for air.

How long does it take to get to the point where you can flip the bypass damper down?. If you have damp wood the answer is usually never. If the stove bypass is not engaged there is a lot of surface area of the stove that never sees flue gas like the right side and the rear.

IMO, a Defiant of that age needs to be taken apart and resealed taking care to reestablish the secondary air tube. Its about an 8 hour project if you have a hand grinder with a wire cup brush and some scrapers to clean off the old refractory.

If you have dry wood and the stove is working the way it should, it is really too large for a house that size. That just means smaller loads fed more often.
 
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jennimessi

New Member
Nov 8, 2021
5
maine
Thx for ur response- i think that is prob a huge part if it- my wood not good and seasoned… ill need to take a look at the pipe to see, understand the size, like i said -im new to the woodstove lifestyle…
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,811
Northern NH
BTW there are lots of threads on old Defiants. The forum software even does the searching for you. Similar thread should appear below this thread when you respond.

Sad to say but in a year when fuel prices are going up sharply a lot of folks are getting into wood and getting truly dry wood is major hurdle. There are things called biobricks that are compressed sawdust blocks that can be used to get you through.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,443
Downeast Maine
I think that Defiant is too much stove for your house anyway. At the time there weren't many alternatives that burned even close to as clean as the Defiant, so that's what my house got as well. The difference being we had seasoned wood, but the stove was in bad shape. We couldn't run it on low, so it would either sound like a jet engine or back puff smoke into the house. Even in perfect working order with well seasoned wood it would have been way too much for our house. They are really made for Victorian homes that need a ton of BTUs.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,443
Downeast Maine
Ok well im going to go look at a Jotul #3 today so…
That's a good stove, but you will be pushing it on the colder nights. An F400 would be a better fit if you can find one.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,811
Northern NH
If the wood is marginal no stove is going to be sized right. Newer stoves will run even worse on marginal wood. The latest EPA stoves will not even run.
 
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fbelec

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2005
3,178
Massachusetts
and if you ran the gas station wood and only got 450 the air was to closed and not open enough or you need the stove cleaned and or your chimney my need cleaning