Is my Vigilant starving for air?

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John Gold

Member
Feb 6, 2013
12
We inherited a VC 1977 Vigilant when we bought our house and we love it. However, it seems like it's not getting enough air. I have to leave the front door open for a while when starting it and even then the fire just seems to fade during the day. If I open the front door it jumps back to life with the renewed air flow.

Can something be blocked? I've checked the air shutter in the rear and it opens fully. At least I've checked it when cold -- given the location of the stove, it's difficult to get my head back there when it's hot. The thermostatic coil and linkages seem to be in working order -- nothing's broken or hanging as far as I can tell.

There is also some kind of air vent on the side towards the back (secondary air cover) that is fully opened.

And of course I have the damper fully open (down)

I'm not sure what else to check. Any suggestions?

I do have the manual, but it doesn't address this issue.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
4,353
Long Island NY
Blockage in the chimney?

Did you tighten the home recently (so make up air can't come in)? Any exhaust fans running?

What happens when you leave the stove door closed but crack a window?

Big one: is your wood dry enough?
 

John Gold

Member
Feb 6, 2013
12
Blockage in the chimney?

Did you tighten the home recently (so make up air can't come in)? Any exhaust fans running?

What happens when you leave the stove door closed but crack a window?

Big one: is your wood dry enough?
Chimney should be clear - - I clean it every spring and there's never been an issue. No changes in home tightening. I might try cracking a window though to see if it makes a difference.

The wood might be an issue. My source is usually very good about supplying well seasoned wood, but this year I wasn't as impressed. It's not obviously wet, but maybe not quite dry enough.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
4,353
Long Island NY
Split a piece again, and measure it with a moisture meter. I have a general tools mmd4e from general tools. Not too expensive, and useful as drier wood gives more heat (less water to boil out of your chimney), and less air pollution.

Also,.less.than dry wood can block a chimney quickly. It's the end of a season, so that might be a problem.
 

Gearhead660

Minister of Fire
Dec 20, 2018
822
Southern WI
Is the air passage on the bottom of the left side inside the stove clear? ( not sure of exact terminology)
There are also air passages that run along the back IIRC.
Those passages easily get blocked with ash.
 
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fbelec

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2005
3,308
Massachusetts
my vote is with stoveliker wet wood (moist on the inside)
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
7,199
Northern NH
I am not familar with the details on this model but the big brother Defiant's had a rear chamber that would plug with ash and when the bypass damper was closed the stove would go out. This area needed cleaning on yearly basis and was difficult to get to.
 
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John Gold

Member
Feb 6, 2013
12
Is the air passage on the bottom of the left side inside the stove clear? ( not sure of exact terminology)
There are also air passages that run along the back IIRC.
Those passages easily get blocked with ash.
The left-side tube (I think that's for the secondary air?) does appear to be clear. I'm never sure how often to clean out the ash. So far I've been waiting until It's at the level of the doors (i.e. spilling out). But maybe that's causing my problem. That said, I've never noticed an improvement in function directly after ash removal.
 

Gearhead660

Minister of Fire
Dec 20, 2018
822
Southern WI
I am not familar with the details on this model but the big brother Defiant's had a rear chamber that would plug with ash and when the bypass damper was closed the stove would go out. This area needed cleaning on yearly basis and was difficult to get to.
You need to remove the stove pipe to get to it. I made an attachment for my vacuum out of 3/4" rubber hose to clean that area. PITA
 

Gearhead660

Minister of Fire
Dec 20, 2018
822
Southern WI
The left-side tube (I think that's for the secondary air?) does appear to be clear. I'm never sure how often to clean out the ash. So far I've been waiting until It's at the level of the doors (i.e. spilling out). But maybe that's causing my problem. That said, I've never noticed an improvement in function directly after ash removal.
I would check MC as others have mentioned, and be sure those passages are clear.
 

fbelec

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2005
3,308
Massachusetts
i'm still running a defiant 1 you can't let the ash build up to the doors. clean it out and leave about a inch from the floor of the stove. if running it daily you should clean it once a week.
 
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defiant3

Minister of Fire
Dec 23, 2010
997
No. NH
If it's not hrating up w damper open, it's a draft or a wood issue. It's nearly impossible to block the primary air passages that badly, also easy to just put a vacuum up to tje air tube on the left, and the holes in the lower fireback!