How To Control Wood Stove in Mild Weather

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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,331
South Puget Sound, WA
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.
Guilty. It's not been necessary for our setup as long as the wood is dry. Though in defense, this was by blocking off the EBT1 which didn't work well in strong draft conditions on our stove. The EBT2 came a few years later and was a better solution and with it PE reduced the size of the boost air intake hole.
 

firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,508
Unity/Bangor, Maine
First year or two I routinely would over-heat the house (including myself, my wife and all of our critters) . . . now it is rare for me to do so.

For me it pretty much starts and ends with the fuel . . . specifically the fuel load. This time of year I use up all of those punks (punky, but dried wood), chunks (those ends you cut off from wood that was just a few inches too long) and uglies (the wood that is curved, did not split nice and neat, Y-pieces, etc.) I also tend to use more softwood this time of year -- softwood in terms of pine, cedar, hemlock, etc. and "soft" wood like poplar, basswood, etc. It is rare for me to load the firebox to the gills . . . and most importantly . . . no matter how cool it is outside and how pretty the fire looks . . . I try to resist the temptation to reload the stove -- instead bring the stove up to temp, let that metal get nice and hot and then let the metal radiate the heat for several hours while the sun does it's thing outside and brings up the temps.

I actually enjoy burning in the shoulder season as there is less wood usage and I use up the "junk" wood. The flip side is I do a lot more cold starts and use up more kindling.
 

Blazzinghot

Burning Hunk
Dec 5, 2019
229
New Plymouth, Idaho
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.
Todd, I am not sure what your are talking about? I don't know of any unregulated primary air in my stove?
 

Blazzinghot

Burning Hunk
Dec 5, 2019
229
New Plymouth, Idaho
begreen, I looked up your stove to see what it looks like and read just a little about it. This is another nice looking stove. Your reply to Todd was like you were speaking another language. But I am sure you both were on the same page.:)

firefighterjake, thanks for sharing. It seems that there is a common denominator in most of the posts about the best way to use my wood stove in the shoulder season. I had a load of wood that was delivered about a month ago and it has some of the weird looking pieces you spoke off. Those really burn hot and long. I could not stack them in the firewood shed as they were to odd shaped. I set them aside and am burning them first. I have two cords of wood one which seems to be several years old which has some fruit tree wood and some pine. The other is mostly maple with some pine.

I tried what you shared about heating up the stove and then letting cool down before I read your post so am heading in the right direction. Yesterday I was working in my shop and about 4:00 PM it started to chill down and I knew it was going to be a cold night. We let the stove go out at about 5:00 or 6:00 PM and did not light it until this morning and it was 27 degrees outside and about 60 degrees in our home.

This is the second time I have heard the term "shoulder season" if I had know this word I could have worded my title better on my post. Thanks for the help everyone had given.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,331
South Puget Sound, WA
begreen, I looked up your stove to see what it looks like and read just a little about it. This is another nice looking stove. Your reply to Todd was like you were speaking another language. But I am sure you both were on the same page.:)
Many modern stoves provide supplemental startup air. This is often called boost air. It is directed at the base of the fire and can come from the front or in some cases the back of the firebox. Pacific Energy developed a system for increasing the efficiency of the burn, at first in their largest stoves. This was the EBT1 and it regulated the boost air thermostatically, but not all that well with large loads of wood that outgas rapidly. After a few years they changed the design to the superior EBT2 which got moved. It regulates the secondary air barometrically and has been a much more successful design.
 

Todd

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2005
9,505
NW Wisconsin
Todd, I am not sure what your are talking about? I don't know of any unregulated primary air in my stove?
im not familiar with your stove but most non cat primary boost air comes in unregulated from a hole or holes centrally located in the lower front firebox just under the door. This is what we call the dog house. Most of the primary air is regulated with a slide mechanism and enters down the air wash over the glass.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
I add firebrick to the bottom of my burn chamber. This physically makes it smaller so less fuel can fit in the stove, and picks the wood up so the fire is at the top of the stove by the secondaries. This allows them to fire off faster, like a top down fire start. You end up with a quick, hot burning fire that burns clean.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,714
SE North Carolina
I add firebrick to the bottom of my burn chamber. This physically makes it smaller so less fuel can fit in the stove, and picks the wood up so the fire is at the top of the stove by the secondaries. This allows them to fire off faster, like a top down fire start. You end up with a quick, hot burning fire that burns clean.
Now that I have a 2+ cu ft stove with a normal firebox shape I see how this it a great idea.
 
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Blazzinghot

Burning Hunk
Dec 5, 2019
229
New Plymouth, Idaho
Good idea with the fire bricks I can see how this would help hold a bed of coals with smaller fires. I am glad I posted this topic because I was getting frustrated trying to keep the fire small. I was about ready to sell my wood stove and go get a pellet stove. But this last couple of days have been able to keep things under control thanks to all the suggestions that have been given. I still have to open windows on warmer days but this will soon end when the weather cools down.

Todd, thanks for the dog house info. begreen also sent a helpful link which I will read again later today.
 

Blazzinghot

Burning Hunk
Dec 5, 2019
229
New Plymouth, Idaho
I did not know if to start a new thread or not but decided to revisit this one with another question. I sometimes have trouble with my wood stove taking off maybe what some of you call a runaway fire. Last night was down to about 17 degrees so I decided to load the stove up before bed and used mostly Ponderosa pine some nice big pieces. I turned the wood stove down as far as it would go and it was still cooking away and over firing. This has happened several times before and I really don't like not being able to control it. I am thinking about getting a newer stove with a secondary burner but am wondering if I will solve the problem? Any suggestions? And for you cat guys reading this thread I would love to get a cat stove but it is out of my price range for right now.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
2,879
Long Island NY
You may have to turn it down sooner than you did when it was milder outside.

How tall was your flue stack again?
 

Blazzinghot

Burning Hunk
Dec 5, 2019
229
New Plymouth, Idaho
Hi Stoveliker, After reading all the replies from my first question I always try to keep a about an inch to two of hot coals on the bottom before adding wood. I did the same last night and wow after I went to bed my dear wife said she had to open the windows wide open as the stove was just going wild and did I mention it was 17 degrees outside. ;) The wood stove was shut down all the way. So I put the big pieces of wood on the hot coals and closed the stove down all the way and it just took off.

My stack is about 18 feet. I am in a double story old farm house and the ceilings are not not a normal 8 ft. but shorter.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,331
South Puget Sound, WA
Was a key damper installed in the stove pipe? That's much less expensive than replacing the stove.
 

clancey

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2021
2,036
Colorado
Maybe its the type of wood that you are using with a lot of sap or something and does not that wood burn really well because of the chemical in the wood as well as maybe loading it up too much..Just saying --I had the same problem last night only the opposite way for I had a whole bunch of trouble starting my wood stove to get to flame stage with kiln oak 16 inch pieces on top of coals about two inches I guess...clancey
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
2,879
Long Island NY
18 ft is not crazy, but combined with cold outside, and a (to my taste) lot of coals, it all may add up to it taking off faster and harder than you want.

I would try to close the air down sooner after reloading. (Possibly while waiting for a key damper..)
 
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Blazzinghot

Burning Hunk
Dec 5, 2019
229
New Plymouth, Idaho
begreen, I was under the impression that a damper is not usually used with the wood stove with secondary burners? I thought of installing one when I first started this thread and then for some reason decided against it. But with all the wheeling and dealing I have done buying wood stoves I have a key damper so just need to install it.

clancey, I am not a wood expert but from what little research I have done they say Pondarosa has more pitch or sap and makes more smoke and creosote . I know it burns with very yellow flame with hardly no blue flames. And yes as soon as I put it in the fire is is like it had been soaked in diesel. I might also add the wood is very dry.

From the last load of wood I purchases there was some very hard wood which was like coal. I had to have the stove almost all the way open for it to burn and even at that it would hardly flame but burned like coal. So I have experienced the same thing you did. The days of just tossing in wood and firing it up are long gone now it is more of a science.

stoveliker, It appears I got the point about the key damper but thanks for the extra nudge. The one that I have needs some love and care so will clean it up today and install when I can.

I don't like a fire I can't control so I will try a mixing my wood next time and soon as the weather warms up install the key damper. Thanks again for all the help. I almost ordered a new stove this morning but decided to ask you fire guys first. It is very frustrating when a fire burns out of control and I have to open windows.
 
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FPX Dude

Feeling the Heat
Oct 4, 2007
402
Sacramento, CA
Out of control fire is scary and no fun. When it takes off like that, it's fuel type and amount used. Do you think any air leaks, or is door sealing good, try the dollar bill test?
 

Blazzinghot

Burning Hunk
Dec 5, 2019
229
New Plymouth, Idaho
FPX Dude, I certainly agree about the out of control fire. It bothered me enough that I was looking at new wood stoves. I don't expect for you to have read all the posts on this topic as this was a new question about the same stove. I did mentioned in my first post that I tested the door with a piece of paper and everything checked out ok but since then I have added round homemade bushing to the stove door latch just for extra measure. The door is tight and sealed well. I am hoping the key damper will help. I have already wire brushed it and have it waiting for when I can put it in. I don't have any back up heat right now as I am waiting for two split units to be installed.

For others who have posted I just finished reading the threads on dampers on modern stoves. In short it will help with slowing down the draft coming into the secondary burners. I don't want to slow it to much but only the times when I have dry fast firing wood in the stove.

And when did I change from being a member of this forum to a Burning Hunk? :);)
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,331
South Puget Sound, WA
begreen, I was under the impression that a damper is not usually used with the wood stove with secondary burners?
Some manuals recommend it, some don't. IMO it's a good idea on any stove having issues with strong draft. With really tall chimneys it might take two. It's a common fix. In the Striker manual a damper is listed in the venting parts list.

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Blazzinghot

Burning Hunk
Dec 5, 2019
229
New Plymouth, Idaho
begreen, thanks for taking the time to look this up and post it here. It is reassuring to know it is a common fix. I don't know why I have such a strong draft in 18 feet of pipe but when the stove pipe gets hot the stove it just goes crazy with the very dry pine wood. Other than that I enjoy watching the flame dance around and sometimes in mid air especially with the hard wood. Th e large window is great and stays fairly clean.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,331
South Puget Sound, WA
It happens in some locations due to local terrain and the chimney location. I think the pine is probably pretty high in oily resins which are contributing to its volatility. A damper should put you more in control.