I Used To Recommend Banking Coals. Now I Don't.

BrotherBart Posted By BrotherBart, Jan 12, 2012 at 12:46 AM

  1. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart
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    I have long been a proponent of banking coals under ash when it is too warm to put on more wood but you know in the next few hours you are going to want to start a fire. And it also keeps a stove and flue warm for a long time. Well, not anymore.

    Today has been in the forties and raining all day and the house was at a comfortable temp so I banked the coals from the morning fire after noon for a late afternoon restart. Later I did a good bit of cooking in the microwave oven that is across the house in the kitchen which for all intents and purposes is one room with the family/stove room. A little before I was ready to uncover the coals and restart the fire I walked past the Kidde Nighthawk CO detector over the kitchen counter top and, as I do often, hit the button for the highest stored reading since the unit had been reset. I have never seen anything other than "0" displayed. This time it showed a reading of 20 parts per million. Not a dangerous level or one that would set off the alarm but I wasn't happy to see anything but zero. I went over to the stove and uncovered the coals and put some small pieces on to get the fire going in the warm stove. And had a heck of a time getting a draft going.

    I am convinced that I know what happened. The coals were sitting there under the ashes giving off CO which was supposed to be going up the chimney. But between the high pressure right over us with the rain and that microwave oven, which happens also to be the range hood, running there was a flue reversal and the hood was sucking CO out of the stove inlets.

    The draft is back up to speed and no new CO has been detected but I just wanted to tell you folks that I no longer recommend something I have done for years. Banking coals in a wood stove.

    And shiver a little when I think about how many times I have done it and then gone to bed for the night.
     
  2. fossil

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    Interesting, and makes sense (your analysis/conclusion). Glad you've never suffered any ill effects. Rick
     
  3. pen

    pen
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    Makes a lot of sense, even though there are folks on here who will try and argue that there is no CO w/ those coals :-S

    I'd say this may be another reason to consider an oak. Same thing could happen w/out specifically banking the coals if someone has the air set too low.

    Thanks for sharing.

    pen
     
  4. begreen

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    Sheesh. It's getting so that you can't trust any banking system these days.

    PS: looks like you meant to say low pressure. There's two sitting over VA right now.
     
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  5. SlyFerret

    SlyFerret
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    See! This weird weather this season will kill you if you aren't careful!!

    -SF
     
  6. Fake coal burner

    Fake coal burner
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    Mine reads 15 ppm when the inversion sets in bad. It even sticks to your nose.
     
  7. BrotherBart

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    I never could keep up with which was which. Must be how I failed the TV weather interview.
     
  8. corey21

    corey21
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    Glad every thing is OK now. This winter has been very odd
     
  9. jatoxico

    jatoxico
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    Interesting. Wonder if a potentially more serious situation could be created with a with a smoldering load that loses draft.

    I had another short period of a reverse draft today. Paper smoke coming through around the door gasket and air control lever. Second time thats happened. Usually I can just throw in 2-3 crumpled pcs of paper. Now I know when I feel the air coming down into the room when I open the door I have to be careful when establishing draft.
     
  10. begreen

    begreen
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    Yes, we just started stage 1 burn ban with cold temps and a 15-20mph wind. WTH?
     
  11. BrotherBart

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    So THATS where the high pressure is!
     
  12. Stump_Branch

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    No ill effects? Have you never read his profile?

    In all seriousness its good to see you have a monitor. I hope woodburners consider having one. Just the same with functioning smoke detectors.
     
  13. maxed_out

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    hey BB glad you are ok. in addition to the pressure, got me thinking about how fast a metal liner can heat up and how fast it can cool down.
     
  14. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart
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    It has probably happened before, which as Stump_Branch pointed out would explain a lot of things :lol: , but I just added the detector with the read-out this season. All bedrooms have one but they are just alarms. Same as used to be downstairs.
     
  15. precaud

    precaud
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    Add a secondary air intake control so you can shut it down more. Then you won't have to bother banking the coals, and the CO won't leak out.
     
  16. Geoff John-West

    Geoff John-West
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    You got me thinking. Does CO emit from a closed ash pail that I let cool beside the stove? I can't smell anything.
    Geoff
     
  17. HotCoals

    HotCoals
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    Probably not if it's sealed good.
    Try putting your CO detector near it and see.
    When I clean my ash out it goes into a metal bucket and into the basement with a cover with heavy weights on it. ..for at least a week and then dumped in the garden area.
     
  18. spirilis

    spirilis
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    Yeah this kind of weather makes me forget the stove and let the heat pump take over... Doesn't help that I have an exterior masonry oversized terracotta clay chimney either...
     
  19. JonP

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    CO is odorless. I put my ashes in a covered pail and put it outside with some bricks on the lid so the wind can't blow it off. I don't want to risk anything, indoors or out.
     
  20. Stump_Branch

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    All that CO intake did was make you addicted to this thing of burning stuff. For most of use its a very good thing.

    I must have misread, you have a detector with a read out? I have just pure alarms. Can you post a pic of the gadgit? How many ppm does it take to set off an alarm?
     
  21. semipro

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    Unless you keep your stove going strong 24/7 at some point your going to run into a low draft situation like BrotherBart described whether you're banking coals or not.
    If this just happens to coincide with the right weather conditions and the use of indoor ventilation (range hood, dryer, bath fans, etc.), Carbon Monoxide could be a real problem.
    Like many, we let our fire go out at night and build another one when we get home from work.
    Unfortunately, the way many stoves are built with leaks and multiple air inlet ports, an OAK would not prevent the problem and could even make it worse (and I'm a big proponent of OAKs).

    I urge everyone who uses combustion heating to install, maintain, and monitor at least one CO detector during the burning season.
     
  22. hardwood715

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    Wow, wonder what explanation or scolding old Elk would have given you BB, But old Brownie would cook that CO into the biosphere, Glad your still alive and kicking my friend!!
     
  23. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw
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    i think the biggest "teaching moment" from this thread is that "CO DETECTORS ARE A MUST HAVE" even with a great installation a great stove and all the experience in the world one cannot plan for all contingencies, especially the fickle nature of draft when affected by weather conditions. CO detectors are insurance to help protect us from these unusual happenstances, in my humble opinion no house should ever be without smoke and CO detectors if ANY combustion device is used. and probably would be worthwhile even in cases where these devices are not used.

    noting also the practice of keeping an ash bucket inside the dwelling is a bad idea as well due to the fact that CO can be emmitted by coals slowly being consumed as they rest in the ash, ideally the coals and ash should be contained in a metal container WITH a lid and should be stored outdoors on a non combustible surface where they can be extinguished safely.bear in mind folks i do not point this out as a "scolding" but as a plea for safety over convenience. note my tagline "inviting fire into your home should be done with the utmost care".


    great thread BB, glad that everything turned out ok my friend.
     
  24. Jags

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    AND - all burning fossil fuels emit CO even at the coaling stages. Its a fact. Ash buckets should be stored outside of the house envelope.

    I'm with ya Bro. If my alarm reads anything other than zero, I pause and reflect.
     
  25. woodgeek

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    I think anyone with a natural-draft combustion system, stove, boiler or furnace, needs to have robust CO alarms. We had a cheapie CO alarm that didn't go off despite our getting low-grade CO poisoned for a couple months when our boiler flue got plugged. Only after it let out a single 'peep' one night did we figure out why we felt so lousy for the previous couple months. They are designed to alarm only in immediately life-threatening conditions--they will ignore a low level of CO that can really slow you down....

    Now I have a real-time display where I can see it, as well as others for backup.

    And yes, virginia, coals in a bucket on your hearth will emit CO--I find it hard to believe that a lid will keep it in.
     

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