Am I just being paranoid??

abracadabra Posted By abracadabra, Feb 8, 2013 at 1:51 PM

  1. abracadabra

    New Member 2.

    Apr 9, 2012
    Okay folks, I'm just posting here to get some advice on my current stove and flue situation.

    First you should know that I've only been using wood stoves for a year or so, I've learned a ton and feel like I'm getting a good amount of heat out my stove.

    My setup is an old Warner stove that is supposedly airtight, which seems sorta true, and a double 90 degree single wall stove pipe w/ damper, the old brick chimney is lined w/ 6" flue. The stove is a huge beast, takes 32" log although I just burn whatever size in it.

    I didn't have any choice in this setup, its a rental and this is what was here.

    I typically run this baby pretty wide open as its so huge, I don't ever try to get an overnight burn, before bed I get it going good, then run the air control down to maybe 1/4" open, then in the morning I've got some good coals to start with.

    As well I typically start the day with a good hot fire and once any moisture is gone I run the air control down to 1/2" or 1/4". I don't mind burning more wood giving it more air if it gives me less creosote.

    So back to why I'm posting.

    One very early morning during a very cold week, below zero temps overnight for a few nights and lows during the day in single digits, i got up to start the morning fire. After raking the coals and getting some softwood kindling on and a few small pieces of hardwood, I shut the door and let the air open to get the fire going good. Now, the lights weren't on and the sun wasn't up so I could see things I don't normally see, and what I saw that scared me was that I could see in the chimney flue right where the stove pipe connects a small air gap, too small to see with the naked eye, but with the dark I could se there were some embers or burning creosote, and I noticed my stove pipe was really hot.

    I got all scared and thought I was starting a chimney fire, I damped the stove all the way down and once it got daylight I pulled the stove pipe and cleaned it out and also ran the brush through the flue from the roof. What I found is that there was hardly any creosote! I sweep the chimney out once a month or so because I'm new at this and feel a little paranoid about all the chimney fires I hear about.

    So I put the stove pipe back together and kept on burning the way I had been, using seasoned wood, letting the fire rage until any moisture burned off, then damping down a little and letting it roll.

    Now, just last week one morning the same thing happened, but I turned the stove back and until i didn't notice the burning creosote smell or see small embers in the teeny gap where the stove pipe attaches to the flue, then just went on my way.

    I got to thinking that this was what people mean by "burning the creosote" off in the morning.

    Then today, I already had the stove going, maybe the 3rd load of wood went in, my wife put the wood and she likes to get the thing really going......we have a really good draft and I could hear the fire being stoked by the air draft and when i opened up the door you could see how the long flames of a new fire can just go right up the baffle towards the stove pipe.....and what do you know when i look at the little teen gap where the stove pipe connects to the flue and i can see some burning embers or creosote or whatever!

    So tell me, am I being paranoid? After all if there wasn't that teen gap I wouldn't ever see embers or whatever in there and probably never think of it.

    Plus, I'm burning wood that isn't green, some of it isn't totally dry but I always burn off the water quick before damping down. I think the lack of lots of creosote shows I'm burning pretty good wood in a decently effective manner.

    But the paranoid part of my brain always wonders about chimney fires.

    And wouldn't it be common with a really good draft for embers to be sucked up the flue? The only problem would be if you had a ton of creosote in there that I could ignite, right?

    And I'm sure my stove pipe is still super clean, tapping it emits a ringing sound of a clean pipe.

    Bring me back to earth folks! My wife thinks I'm crazy, she thinks this big old stove is made to pump out the heat and that as long as things are clean, we're good to go. I think she might be right but sometimes I need to talk about things......

    thanks so much for reading, sorry its so long winded!!

    mark in Maine
  2. Heatsource

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Dec 19, 2011
    Northern CA
    if it is a concern you could fill the gap with gasket cement. cheap and easy fix for the 'noids
    but yeah, probably a little paranoid
  3. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage
    Minister of Fire 2.

    Feb 14, 2007
    For sure, when you put that pipe together, use furnace cement. For one thing, if there is a gap, air is going to leak into that crack and that could also mean some creosote problem later on.

    Good for you for cleaning that chimney that often because you are a new burner. Also good for you knowing that wood needs to be dry. I've never liked the thought of burning hot to "clean" the chimney. If you burn good fuel, you won't have that problem. Of course, this means that all of next year's wood should already be split and stacked out in the wind.
  4. Motor7

    Feeling the Heat 2.

    Nov 10, 2009
    East TN.
    I think your wife is right about the older stoves. I've see people run them so hot things go cherry red(no I don't recommend that). I would fix any air leaks in the flue, especially ones close to the stove since it can act just like a secondary, burning the particles off in the smoke right there in the flue....not something you want.
  5. coaly

    Fisher Moderator 2.
    Staff Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    NE PA
    How about a thermometer on the pipe 2 feet or so from the stove? Over 350 you should not be forming any creosote, and is just waste up the stack. That gives you a better idea when to close your air or damper it down and keep the temps where you're not going to get combustion in the pipe IF there is a leak into it. I would be lost without knowing the pipe temp and what I was putting into the chimney. You may find you're burning far too hot needlessly. When flames are so high they are leaping at the outlet, closing damper partially slows down the velocity up the stack. That is your only control with door open. You'll learn at what temp you have enough draft to close it slightly allowing smoke out, but slowing the fire. It will throttle the stove when starting with paper or cardboard to light the kindling instead of roaring up the stack. Maybe you're already doing this.
    If you can get a flexable rod like a drain snake up the flue outlet in the stove into the pipe, a Sooteater chimney whip can clean the pipe and chimney easily from the bottom up. Running it up the stack is so easy it will give you piece of mind that nothing is in there to burn. Your landlord would apprectiate it too. The easier it is to clean, the more likely it will get done. $42 bucks well spent. Good way to see what comes out without taking it apart constantly.
  6. abracadabra

    New Member 2.

    Apr 9, 2012
    Okay folks, thanks for all the replies.

    I got to thinking about the teeny gap in the pipe where it meets the flue and the posts about air leaks and secondary burns. Well, I was standing by the stove (which happens alot here in the winter) and the wind has been very strong today, its a blizzard outside, and I'm listening to the wind whistling in the stove pipe.....I put my ear up to the connection and I thought darn it I'm gonna just fix this, I grabbed some oven mitts and gave a firm push on the pipe where it connects to the flue........the whistling stopped, and my air leak has now been stopped.

    I'm guessing the air introduced in to the flue there was causing some secondary burning in certain conditions.

    I swear the stove runs a little hotter now, which is nice, trying to heat this old farmhouse.

    Oh, the last response mentions using the snake to clean the stove pipe without removing the whole works, well, that won't work for me as I've got one of those dang flue dampers right on the outlet of the stove.........its not too big of a deal to pull the pipe down anyway......for me at least.....

    thanks again,


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