HT2000 issues

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New Member
Nov 22, 2023
I bought a house with a Drolet HT2000 in the (not yet insulated) basement last year. The previous owners claimed they primarily heated the entire house with it.
I tried my best last year, but went through a ton of wood to get the heat strong enough to migrate to the top two floors.

The basement has since been insulated, and I also replaced the baffle insulation blankets on the stove itself as the previous ones were quite tattered.

I had high hopes for this year, but so far I'm really having trouble with oxygen and drafting it seems.
Even with the damper wide open, once I shut the door the fire seems to choke out pretty quickly.
And until I get the fire going decently and warm the box up to at least 250-300 degrees, it really wants to push out smoke into the basement if I have the door cracked too much.
It's a real fine balance.

Once the fire is established I can shut the door, but this can take an hour at least of monitoring, and constantly checking "Is now the time I can finally shut the door?" - Often the answer is no, as the flames quickly lessen and turn blue. I didn't have this trouble last year. Thoughts? Thanks in advance!
It sounds like your wood may be wet. Try testing it with a moisture meter. How tall is your chimney and when was it last cleaned?
The property also came with what I *thought* was a lifetime of firewood.
Given how much we went through last year, It's probably about 3 years worth.

I didn't test the wood last year but I just bought a General MMD4E Pin Type, and most readings were around 10 percent or less.
Is that creeping on too low? Because it certainly seems smokier this year as well.

As for the chimney - the stove pipe coming out goes up 2' then does a 90'ish degree into another 2' of not-quite horizontal pipe, before then taking a another 45 degree turn and 6 inches into the basement wall.
From there it goes into an external masonry chase and 30+ feet up and out.
The chimney cap is higher than the highest point of the roof, but I'd have to get up there to measure by just how much.

I do know that the stove pipe design is not optimal - and I'm happy to discuss that as well - but regardless, nothing has changed since last year. Same wood, same chimney, and it was cleaned this fall.
Last year I was able to light a fire and SOMETIMES have issues with smoke (it was actually coming out the air control above the door more than anything) but for the most part it was comparatively maintenance free.
This year (with the new insulated basement and baffle blankets) I'm having to babysit the fire for an hour minimum, before I can confidently shut the door, go upstairs, and ask my wife "Does it smell smokey in here?"
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When is the last time the chimney was cleaned?
How are you testing with the moisture meter? Are you resplitting a room temperature split and then measuring in the middle of the fresh face? Pins with the grain?

Yeah, the stove pipe doesn’t sound efficient. Im having trouble visualizing it. Can you post a pic?

Is the chimney itself lined? What are the dimensions of the flue? Is it internal or external? Masonry or metal?

It sounds like a very tall chimney. If the flue is properly sized, it should be drafting so hard splits of firewood should be moving up it. (Not really) but if it’s not properly sized, and masonry, it could be taking too long to heat up and draft.

These were taken before the basement was insulated. I could take new ones this weekend but nothing's changed since this photo.

I give you, this is probably a brutal design for draft - but I actually did change it by removing a 3' length of pipe (shown in the corner) that the previous owners had - sticking it even farther into the middle of the basement.
They told me they had this stove for 4 years and it heated the house, with this design, without issue.

I don't believe them, but hoped insulating would help greatly. I haven't really been able to test that theory this year because I'm having so much trouble keeping it lit, and smoking out the house.

As for moisture - I was simply testing the room temp splits with the grain, not re-splitting them further and testing the inside. I will do that however, thank you.

I'm also open to chopping this stove pipe up and shortening that long horizontal piece further, I just couldn't figure out the angle coming off the first vertical piece. It'd be somewhere between a 45 and a 90, and adding too many attachments would bring the pipe too high to fit into the wall/chimney.
...unless that first vertical piece was at least a foot shorter as well, and I didn't know if that'd be too short coming off the stove.

Either way, both these issues (smoke and oxygen) are new, and the piping is at least no worse than last year, plus the wood should be a year older/drier.

Everything is 6" and the chimney was cleaned a couple months ago. It's in an external insulated masonry chase, along with the hot water chimney (seen above).
Is the chimney pipe itself "lined"? That I don't know - sorry. Forgive my ignorance - and I'm very grateful for any help.
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Ok. I can see the exterior pic now.

You should be drafting really hard through that chimney. Fixing the interior pipe so it’s more direct, eliminating as many bends as possible.. swapping that 90 into 2 adjustable 45s, 1 at the chimney and 1 a little above the stove.

Assuming the wood is good, it’s down to how the stove is run.

Can you d
can you describe how you’re running the stove? After it’s lit, turning down, etc. Are the flames strong? Do you see secondary flames along the top?
Wood: I split a few splits and re-tested (thank you for the proper method) and all came in around 13-16 percent. That seems good, but I could not tell you what type of wood it is however, simply what was left on the property in the stacks.

Stove Pipe: I don't think I can reduce the actual number of bends, given where the chimney tee is on the wall in relation to the furnace position, but I *could* reduce that 3' horizontal length (pushing the stove closer to the wall, which is fine) and also turn that first 90 into a couple 45s if you think that might help. My concern with that is I'd also have to reduce the length/height of the first vertical pipe, which is only 22 inches to begin with. I had assumed that the initial pipe couldn't have a bend in it too soon coming out of the stove, but perhaps that is wrong, or at least the lesser of two evils.

Baffle: Again, I replaced the blanket/insulation on top of the baffles this year - could that be the culprit somehow? They are pushed all the way to the back, same as last last year, but I do remember reading that the baffles could be moved to the front of the stove, leaving an inch or two (?) gap at the back instead. This would reduce the efficiency, but potentially improve any smoke issues ...I'm allegedly told.

Usage: Even when the stove was running "fine" last year, I never got super long burns out of it. My walls and floor were a bare concrete heat suck, so I rarely damped it down more than 1/2 in the day. Overnight I took it to about a 1/4 and sometimes there were embers in the morning to salvage. I'd (re)light with small kindling - nothing like the packed fireboxes I'm seeing and reading about in the pinned megathread on here. I'd be too nervous that if things went south, there'd be smoke pouring out either the door or the air control vents above the door (both happened last year as well if I got too ambitious on a cold start)
This year I've tried to repeat starting small, and adding larger pieces (with the door open) as the pipe heats up. Seemingly I get a good fire going after 10+ mins, everything has caught nicely and the magnet thermometer (18" up!) reads about 350-400 degrees , but soon as I close the door it starts to die. Air control wide open. This repeats several times over until it eventually cooperates for reasons unknown, but by this point my "Awair" basement air monitor shows that dust particles have increased 10 fold, and there's a soothing campfire smell throughout.

Appreciation: I know I'm typing a lot, but thank you for taking the time.
Does the chimney have a cleanout opening at the bottom?
Be nice to pull the stovepipe off the chimney and get a few pics inside to verify what liner you have.
Your connector pipe is rather convoluted. Fixing this could in no way harm or hurt your situation.
Have you tried opening the nearest window a bit while starting the stove?

Is there any other appliance using fans/blowers/available combustion air? Forced air furnace? Air circulation fan? Clothes dryer?
It does have a cleanout underneath, yes. Below is the photo I took of the soot in it after sweeping.

And this is the photo I took from the chimney tee looking up, I think? Or maybe it was from the cap looking down? I don't recall, but either way the below is the chimney "liner"

"Convoluted" is a polite way to describe my stove pipe. Do you have thoughts on the methods I described above as far as softening that 90 degree to two 45's, perhaps with a short length in between? I'm just concerned about a bend that close to the stove top itself if I go that route.

I did open the door and window this morning, but that was after the fact to air the smoke out. I admittedly didn't pay attention to the chronology but I'm not sure if that helped with the fire being choked out once the door was closed - I'm thinking it did not - but would that at least help with my smoke issue? You can't put any type of fresh air intake on an HT2000 I've learned, but letting in (more) cold air through a window is an acceptable price to pay if it keeps the morning smoke inside the box.

And finally, there is a furnace and dryer nearby. The dryer wouldn't be running, but the furnace was likely on during the re-lighting routine, yes. What's the physics there?

Again, thanks for the help.
Are we looking at a rigid steel liner from the top?
Really should have a pic in the thimble.
Is there a cap on the bottom of the steel liner that you remove for sweeping? Put it back on if its off.
Tough to really know what you have for chimney components from here.
If anything, I would seal up the cleanout opening tightly and see if you make any headway.
Shut off the furnace 10 minutes prior to lighting the stove. The furnace/fan may be competing with the stove for available air. See if there is any startup improvement.
Forgive my ignorance when it comes to the components.
A "liner" is ...the inside of the chimney?

I swept it from the top, on the roof. Do people sweep from the bottom, going up?
I'm trying to google image the cap that would go on the bottom of the liner/tee(?) but I keep getting pictures of the top cap.
Is there a diagram you can post so I know what we're referring to?

The cleanout is about 2' below where the pipe enters the wall (thimble?) and has a metal lid. Seems snug enough, not sure how I'd seal that further unless with tape?
Since the soot falls to the bottom of the clean out, would assume the tee doesn't have a cap on the bottom. I have seen double chimneys where the clean out is open to both chases. Any chance yours is also? If so, you could be losing draft due to it pulling from the water heater flue.
Since the soot falls to the bottom of the clean out, would assume the tee doesn't have a cap on the bottom. I have seen double chimneys where the clean out is open to both chases. Any chance yours is also? If so, you could be losing draft due to it pulling from the water heater flue.
Yes, soot goes right to the bottom. There is a separate cleanout for the water tank chimney however.

Should/could a cap or seal be added now, after the fact?
And what is the concern, that the 2' of pipe headed down at the tee could be causing at least some of the draft issues?

Incredibly, I was able to get my hand and arm in there enough to feel the bottom of the tee.
I can feel two of the sides of the round bottom, however the opposite two seem to be sitting on a small ledge of masonry, holding the whole thing up. I'll buy a 6" cap and see what I can do regardless, but I'm skeptical I can get it to fit given the above.
Thank you for the suggestions either way.

This picture is of the cover, presumably pretty standard. It seems to fit and seal well enough, but I suppose I could tape it up as well until the next sweeping if anyone thinks that might help with the draft.