need help cleaning super tall chimney

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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
28,443
central pa
sounds good. What kind of equipment do you have and does it work for inserts?
I use snap lock rods. Basically a professional version of the sooteater. But you don't have to pay for the pro version.
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
28,443
central pa
yes I believe so. I wait until I hit 500F to divert to the cat as per the instructions.
What does the cat temp do after you close the bypass?
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
28,443
central pa
Hmm I am not sure what the cat temp is. I have the temp for the stove itself with the included digital thermometer but I wasn't aware I could measure the cat temp. Do these cat stoves measure that?
If it's installed properly that digital probe should be right behind the cat.
 

joe12pack

New Member
Feb 20, 2022
17
San Rafael, CA
If it's installed properly that digital probe should be right behind the cat.
ok I see so the temps I am reading must be the cat temp. When I close the bypass the temps go up. When I first got my stove I recall I could get temps up to 1300. then it kept going down from there over the past 3 years so I rarely got temps over 1000. Is there a possibility that the cat is clogged up from the creosote?
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
28,443
central pa
ok I see so the temps I am reading must be the cat temp. When I close the bypass the temps go up. When I first got my stove I recall I could get temps up to 1300. then it kept going down from there over the past 3 years so I rarely got temps over 1000. Is there a possibility that the cat is clogged up from the creosote?
The cat also may need replaced.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
28,443
central pa
I am still not totally sold on cat stoves. do you have one? I am considering replacing this with a regular stove insert. seems like cat stoves are unnecessarily more complicated.
I am using one currently yes. They have their benefits but also some downsides. But honestly it doesn't sound like you are running or maintaining yours properly
 

joe12pack

New Member
Feb 20, 2022
17
San Rafael, CA
I am using one currently yes. They have their benefits but also some downsides. But honestly it doesn't sound like you are running or maintaining yours properly
yes I'll give it another 1 or 2 seasons and see how things play out and improve on my wood burning management. thanks.
 

ericm979

Burning Hunk
Nov 2, 2018
105
California
I'm finding that my eucalyptus firewood really holds on to its water. While the other species I burn (mostly madrone and tan oak) can be dry enough to burn well after one summer the eucalyptus needs two. That's stacked in IBC totes which are uncovered and in the sun for the summer. Under cover all year it might need three.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,171
South Puget Sound, WA
There is a long thread on the operation of this insert by users.

I'm finding that my eucalyptus firewood really holds on to its water. While the other species I burn (mostly madrone and tan oak) can be dry enough to burn well after one summer the eucalyptus needs two. That's stacked in IBC totes which are uncovered and in the sun for the summer. Under cover all year it might need three.
Yes, I wait at least 2 yrs before burning it.
 
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
4,353
Long Island NY
If your cat temp goes down, and you have had this stove for three years or more, and you burn e.g. every night for 5 months, I think your cat simply is at the end of its life. They are good for about 10,000-12,000 hrs.

I would not proceed like this for two more seasons; you are risking a chimney fire. I would buy a new cat and see how it does. Keep the old one in case it's still good. Then you have a spare on hand.

And please describe your wood drying (duration and how it's stored), and burning procedures.

Because this amount of creosote with this insert is absolutely not normal. Some thing(s) are going very wrong. And it's dangerous.
 

joe12pack

New Member
Feb 20, 2022
17
San Rafael, CA
If your cat temp goes down, and you have had this stove for three years or more, and you burn e.g. every night for 5 months, I think your cat simply is at the end of its life. They are good for about 10,000-12,000 hrs.
I think the temps went down over the years because of the creosote buildup. But yeah it doesn't hurt to have another one so that's a great idea. Might be a good experiment to see how it changes the temps. I'll definitely be doing a better job monitoring the moisture content and also doing a better job of storing the wood. I have tarps on the wood and we've had some really heavy rains this winter that caused a lot of the wood to get wet so I'll definitely do a better job on keeping them dry now that I see what's at stake here.
 

Rickb

Minister of Fire
Oct 24, 2012
1,197
St.Louis
maybe they burn 20 cords a year? otherwise i would be very concerned.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,171
South Puget Sound, WA
I think the temps went down over the years because of the creosote buildup. But yeah it doesn't hurt to have another one so that's a great idea. Might be a good experiment to see how it changes the temps. I'll definitely be doing a better job monitoring the moisture content and also doing a better job of storing the wood. I have tarps on the wood and we've had some really heavy rains this winter that caused a lot of the wood to get wet so I'll definitely do a better job on keeping them dry now that I see what's at stake here.
If you are into wood burning for the long haul, then build a well-ventilated woodshed to store the wood. It solves a myriad of problems. There are many examples in the Wood Shed forum here.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
16,358
Philadelphia
Good news, if you're able to access the flue by just opening the bypass. I scrolled thru the manual, but didn't see any side cross-section view that made it real obvious if this is the case.

ok I see so the temps I am reading must be the cat temp. When I close the bypass the temps go up. When I first got my stove I recall I could get temps up to 1300. then it kept going down from there over the past 3 years so I rarely got temps over 1000. Is there a possibility that the cat is clogged up from the creosote?
There's a few things going on here. A properly-functioning catalyst will maintain clean reburn at any cat probe temperature over 500F. Note this temperature is measured at the back of the combustor, via your combustor probe thermometer, the actual stove exhaust temperature may be closer to 250F under this condition.

Combustors degrade overtime, the previously quoted 10 - 12,000 hours is likely on the lower end of their lifespan for some of the coating variants, but bottom line is they don't last forever. Most figure on replacing them every 3 years, or thereabouts. However, your temperatures are actually pretty good, if you're actually holding 1000F over the first several hours of the burn. Is it possible the temperature is crashing an hour or two after you turn it down, and you're just not noticing it? That would be more typical of a depleted catalyst.

I am still not totally sold on cat stoves. do you have one? I am considering replacing this with a regular stove insert. seems like cat stoves are unnecessarily more complicated.
Not unnecessarily, at all. There are non-cat stoves, which perform this reburn function without the aid of a catalyst, but they must maintain reburn temperatures over 1100F. By comparison to the cat stove, this severely limits the useable temperature range of the stove. The sole purpose of the catalyst is to allow you to maintain that same clean reburn down to 500F, which enables the user to turn the stove way lower, and get burn times at least 2x-3x longer. This may not be important to everyone, but I wouldn't use the word "unnecessarily", and I don't really think they're more complicated.

There are literally countless "cat vs. non-cat" threads on this forum, I'd suggest you go check them out, if interested in making the switch someday. There are pros and cons to each, and each camp has its fans. I've seen many people on this forum, after being bitten by the serious wood-burner bug, switch from non-cat to cat stoves. I honestly haven't seen many go the other way, but it does seem like non-cats may be the winner for the more casual burners. As begreen and bholler both like to point out, the regulars on this forum are hardly typical woodburners.
 
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bigealta

Minister of Fire
May 22, 2010
706
Utah, NJ
Well good job getting up there and finding that nasty chunk. Try starting fires with top down set up to reduce your smoke and creosote. Also dry wood as others have stated. You should go from 10 gallons to a few cups if you do this.
 
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joe12pack

New Member
Feb 20, 2022
17
San Rafael, CA
Well good job getting up there and finding that nasty chunk. Try starting fires with top down set up to reduce your smoke and creosote. Also dry wood as others have stated. You should go from 10 gallons to a few cups if you do this.
I just looked up Top Down fire. I guess I've been doing a Down-Top fire this whole time. I'll try the top down approach. Thanks!
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,171
South Puget Sound, WA
Not unnecessarily, at all. There are non-cat stoves, which perform this reburn function without the aid of a catalyst, but they must maintain reburn temperatures over 1100F. By comparison to the cat stove, this severely limits the useable temperature range of the stove.
The rest of the post is good advice, but this is total nonsense, as many thousands heating their homes with a non-cat know.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,171
South Puget Sound, WA
I just looked up Top Down fire. I guess I've been doing a Down-Top fire this whole time. I'll try the top down approach. Thanks!
This thread may be helpful.
 

PaulOinMA

Minister of Fire
Oct 20, 2018
1,267
MA
I checked where San Rafael is. How often do you burn, and for how long?

My insert use pattern is as a glorified space heater. I burn nightly over the winter to heat the den and kitchen to keep the thermostat down in the rest of the house. 1990-built house isn't set up to move heat around. I average 140 fires a year lately. That's 140 cold starts to burn a few hours at night. I just wanted a secondary-burn tube insert.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
4,353
Long Island NY
The rest of the post is good advice, but this is total nonsense, as many thousands heating their homes with a non-cat know.


I'm sorry, while I agree it could have been stated more precisely, you are taking things out of context. Right below what you quote it says:

The sole purpose of the catalyst is to allow you to maintain that same clean reburn down to 500F, which enables the user to turn the stove way lower, and get burn times at least 2x-3x longer.


And that is not nonsense. Yes you can heat your home with a non-cat just fine. But the range (for continuous, no-action needed) burn is larger for a cat stove. As ashful (intended to) say/said.

Yes, you can heat a home with a noncat stove by making small fires,.or intermittent fires. But both require more user action than slowly but consistently chewing through a load of wood while getting a smaller output without user action needed.

That, the convenience of less user action at lower outputs for a cat stove is what the improved range is and is where the limitation lies for a non-cat.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,171
South Puget Sound, WA
Some of us don't think of the stove as an appliance and enjoy the interaction. Most cat stoves are not thermostatically controlled. They often don't have much more operational temperature range or longer burn times than the non-cat. And on the opposite end, the non-cat can often put out more heat when it's really needed and very cold.