Jotul Firelight 12 Newbie

leopinetree Posted By leopinetree, Aug 7, 2018 at 11:03 AM

  1. leopinetree

    leopinetree
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    Hello everyone,

    New to the forum here. I will debut with many questions about my wood stove.

    We moved into this house 3 years ago, the wood stove sat in th basement unused since we had no idea if it was safe to use. I finally had the flue inspected and it looks squeaky clean, the tech said the stove looks good and other than needing a new damper gasket it should be safe to fire up.

    I am attaching some pictures of the interior of the stove. My questions:

    1. Do you guys think everything looks in order? I am specially concerned with the cat combustor.

    2.I read plenty on the wood x ecobrick dilema and wondered what would be easier for someone with zero experience heating with wood.

    3. The manual doesn’t mention the size of the gasket for the damper. Anyone would happen to know if 1/4 is the one?

    The stove seats in a basement, we plan on using as a supplement to our obscenely expensive electric heat. I plan on cuting vents of the floor for cold air return and hopefully enough heat will make it up the basement stairs.

    Thanks!

    Leo
    43ECE77A-6990-4B94-BDD9-455C8F738ED2.jpeg 35FB4E56-4ACB-44F0-90DC-1D053D13C2AE.jpeg 529BF365-FEC7-43A5-B9B4-99868C0A8D8B.jpeg 15AF8588-5001-43EC-B22C-185878455CD8.jpeg 037FD9EE-2F64-424C-ADB4-98E43DACA633.jpeg 70A1DF2D-C891-4C8C-B0DC-B66AAC3742D9.jpeg 3E60E739-1F24-4F08-8C81-F6F7436E946E.jpeg
     
  2. begreen

    begreen
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    The cat is partially plugged and needs to be gently cleaned. Try brushing with a soft brush and vacuuming.
     
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  3. Ashful

    Ashful
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    Or a soft pipe cleaner.

    Marking for later discussion. I owned three Jotul Firelights, until just a few years ago. Yours is in the later years of F12 production, as evidenced by the doghouse door.
     
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  4. leopinetree

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    Thanks guys. I am going to clean the cat mechanically as suggested.
     
  5. leopinetree

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    Thanks, Ashful. I don’t know much about these stoves so I might bug you in the near future.
     
  6. Ashful

    Ashful
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    Hey, got in late tonight. I was hoping to look up the combustor that some members have switched to in recent years, but I'll have to get to that another evening. These are decent stoves, but they tend to eat most of the replacement combustors. If you have an original combustor, and its still in good shape, you'll be good with that for now. But, combustors are replacement items, you'll need a new one someday.

    You're going to want good dry wood to run that thing, downdraft combustor stoves like the Firelight aren't the easiest to get into active reburn, but they work wonderfully once you're there. Dry wood is key.

    Some have had back-puffing troubles trying to run these very low and slow on shorter chimneys. I had that trouble with one of mine, the one on the shortest chimney. The one on the taller chimney never had an issue.
     
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  7. 212degrees

    212degrees
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    Hi everybody, I'm new to hearth.com too. I am in the process of looking for a used wood stove to heat my house that is 1800 square ft. I was advised to get a Vermont Castings or Jotul. The only VC or Jotul stove I can find in area is a Jotul Firelight No 12 made in 1993. Jotul's manual for that stove says that it outputs 10,500 to 32,100 BTUs/hr. But the newer version of the Firelight that has same physical dimensions (F600) outputs up to 81,500 BTUs/hr. I must be looking at something wrong, because I can't figure out how the same size stove can give such drastically different heat outputs. Does anyone have experience with how big of a house the Firelight will heat? Will the Firelight warm up my whole house? Thanks in advance.
     
  8. begreen

    begreen
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    Welcome. I would look harder and longer. The older Firelight was a complex catalytic stove. Many parts are no longer available. The new F600 has a different secondary combustion system. Note that there are different testing methods that explains the discrepency in btu output. Some list peak output and some list EPA tested output.

    I would advise you to also be careful when purchasing a VC stove. The oldest models were well built, but they are getting harder to get parts for. Some of the newer models became maintenance nightmares. If heat is the most important than maybe consider getting a new steel stove instead. It will use less fuel and burn cleaner as long as it is only fed fully seasoned, dry wood. There are several choices for under $1,000. How large an area will the stove be heating?
     
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  9. Ashful

    Ashful
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    What begreen said. Of course, this is when he’ll go back and edit his post to say Ashful is a butthead.

    1800 sq ft is well within the range of heating 100% by wood. Can you tell us anything about construction, insulation, floor plan?
     
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  10. 212degrees

    212degrees
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    i thought cast iron stoves were better then steel stoves bc no welds to crack open?
    thats a shame about VC later models. do you know about what year VC started to be a problem?
    i need a stove that will heat 1800 square feet. BTUs is most important in my choice, but ideally I would love a glass door so I can see fire.
    what stove brands would you recommend?
     
  11. 212degrees

    212degrees
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    the house is older- built in the 70s and then abandoned since 1986. I got ahold of it this winter and it was covered in vines and had multiple holes in roof. walls are stick frame with minimal insulation. attic insulation is going to be the bomb once i finish putting on new roof. floor plan is one big dining room/living room with one wall between it and kitchen and a long narrow hallway with bathroom and 3 bedrooms coming off of it. there are many thin, single pane windows and sliding window doors. on scale of 1-10 for holding heat with 10 being best and 1 being a tarp, this house is solid 5. I assume the hallway and rooms will not get warm, but id really like the kitchen and dining/living room to be toasty in winter. area is not that cold in winter. 49/25 degrees high/low average. but its wet so it feels a bit colder. what stoves do you recommend?
     
  12. begreen

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    Cast iron stoves are typically good looking and usually quite radiant heaters, but very often over the long haul they will need more maintenance. A cast iron stove will often have larger clearance requirements due to the high radiance. A well made steel stove is not likely to crack welds unless it has been overfired. There are exceptions, but that is not the norm. For a durable, affordable steel stove, take a look at the Englander 30NC or Englander 50SSW01 (also sold under the Summer's Heat brand as model 50-SHSSW01), and the Drolet Myriad II or Drolet HT2000. If you have the budget there are many more choices and some are quite good looking, but they cost more. Note that the flue and hearth system may cost as much or more than the stove.

    Be careful reading marketing specs. Any of these models will produce enough heat to easily heat the space. It's typical with a ranch style house for the LR area to be the warmest and the bedrooms the coldest. There are some tricks to help distribute the heat like a ceiling fan, fan in the hallway blowing cooler air into the warm area, or if there is a basement, a ducted blower system doing likewise.

    Again note that any modern stove is going to need dry wood and it will need a good flue system for proper draft.
     
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  13. Ashful

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    Well, a stove in a leaky house without an outside air kit will always dry things out, usually too much. So, if you have high winter humidity, consider that solved. As you tighten up the house, you may want to consider an OAK, but you can evaluate that later.

    A desk fan on the floor, pushing cold air out of that long hallway, will do a reasonably good job at moving heated air along the ceiling to replace the cold air you’re moving out. It creates a nice convection loop.

    Cast iron stoves are not more durable. The iron is, but they fail at the cement seams. I had three Jotuls, prior to switching to welded steel stoves, and they required maintenance. Welded steel is the way to go, for ultimate durability and simplicity, with the caveat that you don’t distort the box by over-firing.

    With a stick-frame house, I don’t see any huge advantage in radiant vs. convective designs, other that what begreen already pointed out: some of the most radiant stoves have larger clearance requirements.
     
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  14. 212degrees

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    wow. i really like those 2 brands of stoves. i didn't realize I could find a brand new stove for $1000. I have a few more questions:
    1) All stoves you recommended don't have catalytic chambers. How do you feel about cats?
    2) The house has a subterranean basement that I was planning on drying out (it has a flooding issue currently) and then converting into a workshop space. To keep it warm in winter, I was going to install a stove downstairs. If I do that, can I tie the downstairs stove pipe into the upstairs stove pipe or do I have to have two pipes sticking out of roof? Or could i just get a really big stove and put it downstairs and heat the whole house? When I was looking at the stoves you recommended, I saw furnaces that heat 3000 ft. How is a furnace different from a wood stove? does the name just denote XL size?
    thanks for all your insight.
     
  15. 212degrees

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    I am sold on the welded steel stoves. You and begreen have completely convinced me.and yes, I am definitely going to need to set up some convection loops in the house. Is an OAK basically a hole under the floor of the wood stove? Whats the point of an OAK?
     
  16. begreen

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    I love cats. Ours likes to curl up in front of the stove all night long.

    Only one stove is permitted on a chimney. Two stoves can not share a common chimney. I may be possible to heat with one large stove in the basement, but it depends on the stove location, stairwell location, openess of the stairwell. This can be less efficient, especially if the basement is not insulated. Also, if there is no outside access to the basement, getting wood down to the stove can become a major chore.
     
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  17. 212degrees

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    ok. thanks.
     
  18. Ashful

    Ashful
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    Oh no you didn’t! Easily the most-debated subject on this forum.

    Cat stoves have the performance advantage, tube stoves have the maintenance and fire view advantage. But I will be quick to say that the nay-sayers on both sides vastly exaggerate the negatives of the other, they both obviously work well enough to maintain substantial market share. Cat stoves are NOT the dead black boxes that non-cat guys will try to have you believe they are, and non-cats are not the frightening run-away machines some cat guys will claim they are.

    On this forum, you’ll find a lot of folks who have switched from non-cat to cat stoves, and they give a million reasons why they’re better. But what you need to remember is that people who hang out on stove forums are the enthusiasts, not the average user who doesn’t want to maintain a properly operating catalytic stove.
     
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  19. 212degrees

    212degrees
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    ;)
     
  20. leopinetree

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    Hello everyone,

    OP here. The stove has been working ok-ish, I guess. I ran a few fires now using a mix of white oak that isn't as dry as it should be and eco-bricks. I am still learning how to get the hang of working the stove. Here are my issues, I'd love to hear what you guys think about it all.

    1. It takes a while to get it started with decent fire going but my guess this has to do more with both the quality of wood and the ability of the operator.

    2. Engaging the catalytic combustor is definitely an art. As of right now, it seems like I need the temp on the pipe thermometer to be around the red mark (500F) for it to engage. Once that happens the amount of smoke coming out of the chimney decreases to a light amount. I've gotten it to where it is barely visible before but there is always a little going on (white to light grey). Sometimes I close the damper too soon and the fire dies down a ton so I have to start over, sometimes even cracking the door open (is that okay?). How does one even know if the cat is really working? Should one always have flames in the stove or are red hot ambers okay after a while. The only way I can keep a flame going is by having the air flow control between full open and mid way. I am too nervous about choking the fire down too much. I do think I am running through wood a little quick. Two big splits will burn for 2-3 hours or so.

    3. Had a scare with backpuffing last night. I wasn't aware it was a thing. Had a fire that had died down to hot coals. Opened damper, let the draft pick up and loaded some logs. I think I rushed things and closed the damper too early. Had the stove whoosh and do its mini bang. Not enough to smoke the basement or lift the top loading door but enough to let me think twice about leaving the stove running with no one home. It twice in a row, second time around, I just left the damper open for a while. Temperature on the pipe thermometer went way pass red (probably around 700F) for a good 10 minutes as the fire in the box roared until I closed the damper again. It was somewhat windy when it happened. Stove has been running now for a few hours with no other issue.

    The stove does put our some serious heat. Our house is around 1800 sqft, basement is partially finished and the side where the stove is located gets to around 80F, the first floor has been at 72F or so and the second floor at 68F. Nice and toasty.

    Thanks again for all the comments. Happy new year to everyone!

    Leo
     
  21. Ashful

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    1. The Jotul 12 is a downdraft design, which means the combustor is not above the fire getting pre-heated while the fire gets going, and is not really in the exhaust path at all until you close that bypass. So, unlike most modern cat stoves where the combustor is already at light-off temperature before you close the bypass, you're essentially cold-starting the combustor each time you close that bypass. Not a huge issue with a strong fire and dry wood, but you're right, it can't be started early.

    2. Yes, pipe thermometer is the best gauge of when to close bypass. It has been a few years, so I don't exactly remember when I would close the bypass, you might find it in one of my old posts. But yes, I definitely learned to choose the closure time based on pipe temperature.

    3. If you go from full vigorous burn to closed down very quickly, you can generate back-puffs. After closing the bypass and getting the combustor up to 1000F (10-15 minutes) I would lower from full to 1/2 to 1/4 to almost fully-closed in 5-minute increments, and would have no trouble with that. I also found that running the stove on the shorter chimney (15 feet) would generate small back-puffs when I ran fully-closed, so I always ran that one just a hair above fully-closed. The one on the tall pipe (30 feet) could be run fully-closed without issue.

    There is a hole in the back of the stove, which comes with a screw plug installed in it, which is where you should insert a cat thermometer probe. I would use special high-temperature thermocouple probes from Omega with thermocouple meters from Amprobe, so I could set the meter next to the stove for viewing, rather than sticking my head behind the stove to read an analog meter. The Amprobe meters would also record min/max/average temperature for the burn cycle.

    My main issue was that sometimes the combustor temperature would go nuclear, even over 2000F a few times. That is what made me finally decommission mine.
     
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  22. wooduser

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    Tell us about your wood supply!
     
  23. leopinetree

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    It all makes perfect sense. Thanks for the explanation about the stove. I will keep using it and see what happens.

    Honestly, the wood isn't great. Got a lead from the neighbor who burns plenty of wood, the supplier claimed the wood was seasoned and ready to burn. It is white oak that isn't green but it isn't fully seasoned either. I am not sure what the moisture content is but a large split will hiss for a while before starting to burn. I am going to call around to see if I can find truly seasoned wood. It was my mistake, I made the decision too late in the season to heat with wood.
     
  24. begreen

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    This is common. Oak takes 2-3 yrs. to season after it is split and stacked. See if you can get some ash or maple right now and stack it, top covered, in rows that are oriented to allow the prevailing winds to blow through them.

    Moving this to the main forum. The F12 cat was a modern stove.
     
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  25. Ashful

    Ashful
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    Also, you might do well to pick up some compressed wood bricks, which are very dry. Lots of folks here have gotten thru their early years, mixing compressed wood bricks with less optimal wood, to net a reasonable average MC% per load.

    Wood bricks are more expensive than firewood, but still less expensive than oil or propane.
     
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