How To Control Wood Stove in Mild Weather

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Blazzinghot

Burning Hunk
Dec 5, 2019
229
New Plymouth, Idaho
I have some questions about my 1997 Country Sticker wood stove with secondary burners. As you know I have tested several stoves with secondary burners before I sold them. This is my first experience in using one in my home. I understand that they allow more air in and cause a hotter fire with a beautiful flame but what do you people do to control the heat output on these stoves when the weather is not real cold?

When I have a good fire going, I can turn down the primary air as far off as it will go and the fire is still going at a very good rate. (This seems to only happens when I built a larger fire with hard wood) I have tested the door with both a lit match to see if air is being sucked in around the edges and with a piece of paper around the perimeter on the seal on the door and it is well sealed. My six-inch pipe from the top of the stove to the roof I would guess at about 18 ft.

I have good dry wood some mixed fruit trees with some pine. My stove seems to be sucking in too much primary air as it shoots the flame at quite a distance from the secondary tubes and sometimes, and at times only get orange and yellow flames.

If I build a smaller fire and try to shut it down then is smolders and the secondary's don’t work. Then I turn it up and I am back to a very warm home with open windows. Any suggestions?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,333
South Puget Sound, WA
As you close down the air, the draft will create a vacuum in the firebox and pull more air from the secondary tubes. This increases more complete combustion of the wood gases. Thus the flue temp will drop, but the stove top temp will go up. The solution is partial loads. Use less energy-dense wood species if you have them.

PS: That's a Country Striker.
 
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EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,714
SE North Carolina
I like top down fires with 2 medium splits and lots of kindling. Secondaries light off fast but with a small fuel load we don’t over heat. The key is getting the heat to the top of the stove for a fast heat of the flue and good secondary combustion.
 
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Blazzinghot

Burning Hunk
Dec 5, 2019
229
New Plymouth, Idaho
begreen, thanks for the reply. I have been trying smaller fires with milled pine ends but then we have feed the stove every two hours. I have two other stoves in my shop that I am thinking about trying but want to test them more before I do. But I am thinking that most stoves with secondary airs tubes are somewhat similar what is your experience? I did catch your closing comment "That's a Country Striker" is there something more you want to say if so bring it on. ;) I can always sell it and get a better wood stove.

WbS-P, thanks for the reminder on top down fires. I read begreens comments on how to use these wood stoves and have been using top down fires ever since with those nice fire starting cubes. I let the stove get nice and toasty or in my case blazzinginghot ha. But this stove seems to take in to much secondary air when I get a good draft going.

When my home is 60 degrees inside I don't need a real hot stove as we are well insulated. Are old farm house is 1300 square feet with two levels. I am sure we look odd to people driving by as they see our windows open. :eek:

I was reading on some comments on a YouTube video on secondary air VS catalytic that one person said the closed down there secondary air some and still have a good secondary burn with a longer fire. What are your thoughts?
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
2,879
Long Island NY
While the advice given is good, it is in these circumstances that a stove with a cat works well. Turn down the air, let the wood smolder, and let the cat eat and clean up the smoke. Good lower heat output )and longer burns) for shoulder seasons - especially if a thermostat is present on the stove.

I don't think this'll change your preferences, but I thought it good to mention in case others with similar problems read this.
 
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wjohn

Member
Jul 27, 2021
168
KS
I did catch your closing comment "That's a Country Striker" is there something more you want to say if so bring it on. ;) I can always sell it and get a better wood stove.
You called it a "Country Sticker" in your original post :) Maybe Autocorrect, ha?
 

ratsrepus

Minister of Fire
Jan 5, 2018
673
Howell, Mi
I hate to be like this, but the best way to control the fire in mild weather is to get a Blaze King
 
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Blazzinghot

Burning Hunk
Dec 5, 2019
229
New Plymouth, Idaho
stoveliker and ratsrepus I don't have a preference so am open to a cat stove. I watched several videos last night and read some articles about the Blaze King. I watched the video three times on how the Blaze King works. You two might remember I rebuilt a cat Blaze King a couple of years back. But sorry to say I did not keep it for myself and sold it. But life is a learning experience as I have learned more about wood stoves since then.

I like the idea of a biometric coil to control the heat. I do like the flames created in a secondary burn system but I also like saving money on firewood. Well I had better not get this topic flowing again. For this year I am going to get by with the wood stove I have for now unless I decide to switch it out for the Pacific Energy stove I just finished in my shop.
 

xman23

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2008
2,390
Lackawaxen PA
For my stove in shoulder season. First need a hot stove and a bed of coals, 2-3 inches. That takes a few reloads. Then it doesn't much care what I do. I can choke it down and add one split at a time. I like evening and morning fires and let them burn out.
 
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Blazzinghot

Burning Hunk
Dec 5, 2019
229
New Plymouth, Idaho
wjohn, glad you could join us. I was hoping for some help with my stove questions but I am always in need of help with my grammar and spelling. I was thinking you must be a retired English teacher. ;)
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
2,879
Long Island NY
In practice, wood savings are unlikely to be experienced as different between a BK and another modern (high efficiency) stove.

It's no problem, I just wanted to point out that your problem has a solution. Multiple ones, e.g. small, intermittent fires, open windows :), or even long fires with lower output - and I mentioned what parts a stove should have for the latter (without mentioning the brand, initially).
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,714
SE North Carolina
I hate to be like this, but the best way to control the fire in mild weather is to get a Blaze King
Well I’ll throw out a mini split heatpump then too. 1 ton unit when it’s mild it very energy efficient. But neither are direct answers to the OPs initial question.

begreen, thanks for the reply. I have been trying smaller fires with milled pine ends but then we have feed the stove every two hours. I have two other stoves in my shop that I am thinking about trying but want to test them more before I do. But I am thinking that most stoves with secondary airs tubes are somewhat similar what is your experience? I did catch your closing comment "That's a Country Striker" is there something more you want to say if so bring it on. ;) I can always sell it and get a better wood stove.

WbS-P, thanks for the reminder on top down fires. I read begreens comments on how to use these wood stoves and have been using top down fires ever since with those nice fire starting cubes. I let the stove get nice and toasty or in my case blazzinginghot ha. But this stove seems to take in to much secondary air when I get a good draft going.

When my home is 60 degrees inside I don't need a real hot stove as we are well insulated. Are old farm house is 1300 square feet with two levels. I am sure we look odd to people driving by as they see our windows open. :eek:

I was reading on some comments on a YouTube video on secondary air VS catalytic that one person said the closed down there secondary air some and still have a good secondary burn with a longer fire. What are your thoughts?
Two hours keep desired temp or to keep the stove burning. I do think there has to be an ideal primary to secondary air ratio. Many stoves only adjust primary air. My first though on this is that makes sense because the secondary combustion just burns byproducts if the primary. If this is true then to much secondary air will just cool the fire box and you will not have much secondary combustion. So if this thinking holds you have to much primary air/combustion or are turning it down to late.

Counter point to this. Every epa stove has a minimum burn rate. This minimum rate given full and clean combustion may be too high of an output.

Just some thoughts

Evan
 

Blazzinghot

Burning Hunk
Dec 5, 2019
229
New Plymouth, Idaho
stoveliker, I guess It was slip and my part because I new what wood stove you are using. And again I will say it is a great looking stove. Thanks for the suggestions.

Evan, I can always use suggestions that is why I am seeking some help. Sounds like I should not play with the secondary air system. I will keep working on the controlling the fire.

xman23, From your suggestion along with others it sounds like I am heading in the right direction. This morning it was colder and I was able to build a decent fire with not having to shut the stove down as much. As you stated I had a nice bed of coals on the back side of the stove then just added a piece of wood when needed. The trick is not to let the coals get to small. Thanks
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
2,879
Long Island NY
It's fine. I have to tread carefully; I don't want to be accused of bringing up a brand too often, or in cases where it may not be a good solution.

I concur with the heat pump proposal too. (And disagree that the minimum burn rate of all EPA stoves would be too high - see my earlier remarks and look at the minimum output of the range such a stove can do...)
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,318
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
A few things:

1. Turn off the blower if you are using it, this slows heat transmission to the room and uses the stove as a heatsink, allowing slower release of the heat.
2. Timing. Light the stove when the heat is needed the most, right now I have a fire lit an hour or 2 before bed, and then immediately in the morning. Lighting the stove between about 10am and 6pm is a recipe to overheat the house. Yes the temperature will swing up and down a bit during the day, but such is life with a non-cat stove.
3. Have small(ish) fires, short fast burns help minimize heat output from the stove while also burning cleanly, running too low just creates smoke and creosote. Running warmer can also create coals which continue to put out a smaller amount of heat for hours. Smoldering the wood doesn't really do this. Selecting wood the produces more coals can aid in this. If you are getting soot buildup on the glass, or baffle you are running the stove too cold. The baffle should always be hot enough (except on startup) to be free of soot.
4. Open the blinds, on sunny days open the blinds on the windows and let the light into the house, it's amazing how much heat can be added to home from sunlight alone, bypassing the stove entirely.

I wouldn't recommend modifying the secondary air system, I've been down that road before, it's a lot of hassle to get right and getting it wrong results in smoke/soot from the stack, increased creosote buildup and even increased wood consumption. Wood stoves as a general rule need to be operated with excess air to the fire, there will always be unburnt oxygen going up the flue, this is just of a fact of life with solid fuel stoves. If you have excess draft draft a flue damper is the best way to control it, but given the time of year and your stack height of 18ft I don't believe this to be the case, you are just seeing the minimum burn rate set by the manufacturer to ensure a clean burn.
 

FPX Dude

Feeling the Heat
Oct 4, 2007
402
Sacramento, CA
I turn on the AC or WHF for awhile, just so I can get it cold enough, then start one... :)
 

Blazzinghot

Burning Hunk
Dec 5, 2019
229
New Plymouth, Idaho
ABMax24, This was a very detailed description and much appreciated. I get up early in the morning so I would be starting my fire about 4:00 or 5:00 PM. We both like sunlight in our homes and always get the morning sun which does warm things up. The rest of the day we don't get direct sunlight in this area of the home and can be chilly so we are learning to keep a small fire going during the day. Thus my reason for asking my first question. Like many others we like sleeping in a cold room so don't build another fire in the evening. But the main principles you shared are very good. We can get by in this area without a fire every night during the winter. I am not speaking for others in this area as I have a friend that keeps his home at 80 most of the time with his wood stove. Along with all the others this is very helpful reply.

I was thinking about a damper but then decided against it. I just need to learn how to control the wood an as you stated with this type of stove It will get hot at times so I will need to open the windows.
 

Blazzinghot

Burning Hunk
Dec 5, 2019
229
New Plymouth, Idaho
FPX Dude, Ha I feel the same way at times. I love getting my wood stove going in my shop and love to watch the flames. Why you could burn wood all year round if you wanted to.
 

wjohn

Member
Jul 27, 2021
168
KS
wjohn, glad you could join us. I was hoping for some help with my stove questions but I am always in need of help with my grammar and spelling. I was thinking you must be a retired English teacher. ;)
Not trying to be an a**, just pointing out why begreen called it a Country Striker and you seemed concerned that he was saying it was a bad stove or something. We were just concerned you thought you had a Country Sticker ;)
 

wjohn

Member
Jul 27, 2021
168
KS
I do about 1/3 full loads personally and feed a log in now and then, but my stove has the air controlled thermostatically.
 

Blazzinghot

Burning Hunk
Dec 5, 2019
229
New Plymouth, Idaho
wjohn, thanks for the clarification but on my part it was just a misspelled word. So was not sure what your point was so no problem on my end. I have had several stoves go through my shop but when I picked up this Country Striker with the hearth pad for $175.00 I decided to put it in my home. I just love the looks of it. This one had the brass coated door and large window. Here is a picture of it in my dinning room.

Installed.jpg
 
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Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,529
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
People liked their country striker stoves. I just touched one last week. It is a small stove but built well. As a noncat, the lowest burn rate is not very low. This is why I switched to a cat stove with low output capabilities. You can live with the striker by getting used to temperature swings and building lots of fires.
 

clancey

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2021
2,036
Colorado
lol lol You people are funny especially the english teacher--enjoyed...in the meanwhile that stove is very pretty and I hope things will work out for it and I have a feeling controlling the fire in mild weather is going to be one of my issues too...although I am just beginning this wood stove burning..clancey
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,333
South Puget Sound, WA
We rarely have an overheating issue in mild weather. It was 42º this morning at 7am when I started the fire with a 3/4 full firebox, 45º outside now, 5 hrs later, shoulder season temps. By controlling the burn the stovetop never got over 500º. House is a very comfortable 72º with the STT at 400º. The T6 ability to buffer heat always amazes me. If we get overheated, it's me that did it.
 

Todd

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2005
9,505
NW Wisconsin
Some non cat owners block off the unregulated primary air from the dog house inside the fire box. This may help reduce hotter stove top temps and give a longer more even heat output.

I also just go with 1/2 to 3/4 load fires in the evening before bed and house temp usually holds til next evening.