Neighbor complaint of smoke odor

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dh1989

Burning Hunk
Dec 6, 2014
121
East Bay Rhode Island
Hello,

I had my stove and chimney professionally installed in fall 2015. I have a Blaze King Sirocco SC20 with about 13' of insulated double wall pipe from the stove to the cap. I have a shallow roof peak and the chimney only extends one section above the roof (48"). I'm burning 3 years seasoned ~15% moisture content red oak, maple, and ash. I haven't had any issues running the stove the past few years, and have minimal visible smoke once the bypass is closed and the catalyst is working. I have noticed that here is sometimes a slight smoke odor in the yard depending on where the wind is blowing.

Today I was approached by one of the live in property managers at an apartment building about 100' behind my house. Apparently due to our unseasonably warm temperatures people have been opening their upstairs windows in the winter, at the same time that I am running the stove (I am a 24/7 winter burner). They are getting smoke odor coming in through their open windows and are hoping I can do something to reduce the odor. The property manager suggested adding more chimney sections to raise the cap height so that the smoke odor will hopefully go over the building. I'm wondering what everyone's thoughts on this are. He said it is only an issue when the wind blows from the north (the apartment building is to my south). He also claimed that some residents want to complain to the town about it but he wanted to talk to me first. The entire install was permitted and inspected with everything to code.

Here are some pictures from last year when I was on the roof to do some work:


This view is to the north east, where you can see all the houses are well below the flue height. I haven't had any issues in this direction:
IMG_1398.JPG


Here is to the south, with the apartment building in sight on the right. You can see the windows facing my house:
IMG_1401.JPG


Here's another view facing south:
IMG_1402.JPG


Lastly, here is how the stack looks from the street in front of the house:
IMG_5501.JPG


What does everyone think about adding more pipe? Would it be helpful? Based on my pictures it seems like the current stack height is roughly in line with the height of the apartment building. I know I'm probably going to need a roof brace to extend it further. He was suggesting possibly adding two sections (going from 48" to 144" above the roof line).

Thanks for any help or input.
 

Ctwoodtick

Minister of Fire
Jun 5, 2015
1,563
Southeast CT
We’re it me, I’d put it right back on the property manager and say that if his residence need to open windows in the middle of a mild winter, then it sounds like the issue is with the heating system in that building. It’s been mild here in the Northeast but not enough that should warrant opening windows at all. In no way shape or form Would I be changing your set up just to satisfy this person.
 

rwhite

Minister of Fire
Nov 8, 2011
1,800
North Central Idaho
Sounds like they were nice about it, and offered a good suggestion. I'd probably be apt to try it just to keep peace. I've dealt with shitty neighbors before that would rather have a cop or councilman show up your door. I think it was handled pretty well.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,496
Northern NH
Several years ago my neighbor plopped an OWB way to close to my house. It was real bad setting off smoke alarms in my attic. He was given a choice of extending the stack substantially or not using the OWB. He added 30 ' of stack and had to have a pole installed to support it. It made a big difference. The higher the stack discharge the better the dispersion. The hassle with extending the stack is it has to be supported somehow usually with guy cables.
 

jatoxico

Minister of Fire
Aug 8, 2011
4,335
Long Island NY
Is the cat in good shape? Maybe not burning as clean as in the past.
 
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Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,173
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
No matter what you do, those residents will complain when you burn. You are in a tough spot. First step is to eliminate the smoke while burning since that is how you were caught. Your cat is old and likely way past it’s prime.
 

Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
1,099
SW Missoura
Adding a section of pipe isnt going to change anything. I agree with above post in that i wouldnt change your system. Im pretty sure around here that if this was taken to the city here.....they would tell those folks to use some common sense and close their friggin windows if smoke bothers them. I dont know connecticut laws or your city laws and codes so im not much help. Hopefully they will realize that it is a rare occurrence with you saying it only happens in mild weather and they can live and let live.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,642
central pa
Adding a section of pipe isnt going to change anything. I agree with above post in that i wouldnt change your system. Im pretty sure around here that if this was taken to the city here.....they would tell those folks to use some common sense and close their friggin windows if smoke bothers them. I dont know connecticut laws or your city laws and codes so im not much help. Hopefully they will realize that it is a rare occurrence with you saying it only happens in mild weather and they can live and let live.
He is either just over or a little under the minimum height required for this stove depending upon which manual you go by. So adding some height could absolutely change allot. It could also be a cat starting to go bad as highbeam said.
 
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Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
1,099
SW Missoura
He is either just over or a little under the minimum height required for this stove depending upon which manual you go by. So adding some height could absolutely change allot.

Yea if he shoves it to the stratosphere. Wind is what is going to determine all that. I can walk outside on a start up on a windy day and if i am downwind i can smell smoke.....and im 23 feet below the chimney top.
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,642
central pa
Yea if he shoves it to the stratosphere. Wind is what is going to determine all that. I can walk outside on a start up on a windy day and if i am downwind i can smell smoke.....and im 23 feet below the chimney top.
Extra height will mean extra draft. Extra draft means getting up to operating temp faster which means less smoke on startup. And if the draft is to low increasing it will mean less smoke when operating.
 
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Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
1,099
SW Missoura
Extra height will mean extra draft. Extra draft means getting up to operating temp faster which means less smoke on startup. And if the draft is to low increasing it will mean less smoke when operating.

I agree with that...i just think that at any point that he is creating smoke that extra height short of monumental measures is going to be minimal in solving the problem. Some time down the road he will have a cold start.....this year or next and those neighbors are going to complain again if they have open windows and the wind is blowing their way. Maybe extra height with a new cat since apparently its smoking throughout the burn.
 

blacktail

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2011
1,419
Western WA
If it's warm enough that they're opening windows, you're probably burning the stove as low as possible. I guess cat stoves are supposed to burn clean anyway, but maybe burning hotter will clean it up some and also get your exhaust up higher.
 
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Alpine1

Feeling the Heat
Apr 27, 2017
390
Eastern Alps, Italy
I would add a section of pipe and install a new cat, just to be on the right side. You’re a 24/7 burner and after 5 years the cat might be approaching the end of its life (roughly 10.000 hours). Just my 0.02$
 

Socratic Monologue

Burning Hunk
Dec 2, 2009
196
WI
It is an interesting situation. You have every right to burn a stove that's code compliant, and your neighbors have every right to have clean air to breathe on any day of the year they want to.

I'd likely do what I could to help the situation (cat replacement, chimney extension if knowledgable folks think it could help), and if that isn't good enough, I would let the neighbors take the next shot.
 

rwhite

Minister of Fire
Nov 8, 2011
1,800
North Central Idaho
Not till they pry my cold dead fingers from my wood stoker!!
I get everything everyone is saying but the reality is that burning fuel is an easy target if folks can see it in their back yard. That's the kind of attitude that gets ordinances passed. Whatever you can do within reason to keep the woodstove burning is best. With a BK it may mean something as simple as adjusting your reload times to early morning and night. Maybe it's a section of chimney. Who knows but if we as woodburners dont do the best we are sure to be out numbered at the ballots
 
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Smolder

Member
Dec 25, 2019
113
Ashton, Ontario
I really hate the idea of being forced to “buy” my heat from a supplier... i like being in control of my heat. Where I live you die without heat and the alternative fuels are expensive (and I can’t produce them).
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,642
central pa
And what exactly does someone opening their windows on a mild winter day to get fresh air have to do with pot??? Especially when it can be used medically in Rhode island legally?
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,642
central pa
Why should he have to smell that stench?
When did he say a thing about it? You simply pulled it out of thin air.


The property manager is just doing their job and trying their best to keep the peace between the tennant's and the op. Why would any of you suggest that the op be rude or disrespectful towards them. No good would come of that at all.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,496
Northern NH
IMHO, make a attempt to improve the situation by replacing the cat and adding a section of pipe. That gives the property manager some proof to the tenants that you have done your part to improve the situation. There is a pretty direct correlation between a warm enough day to open windows and a potential for poor combustion from a wood stove. A wood stove is designed to burn within a certain range of heating demand, get below that range and the stove is not going to burn as cleanly. A good cat increases the turn down, a worn out cat is going to reduce that turn down.

Stack height can make a big difference. Local turbulence with surrounding terrain and structures reduces as the height of the discharge point increases. By the way stack caps also can make a big negative difference, on industrial projects the air regulators generally specifically ban stack caps as it substantially reduces the exhaust plume velocity. A real good way to illustrate stack dynamics is pretty simple. get a long thin tapered candle and a short stubby candle. mount sothe top of the candles are at equal height. Now light the candles and observe the flames. The tall tapered candle will have long skinny fairly steady flame. The short stubby will flicker and be far shorter. Room air is going to be entrained in the flame to cool it down. On long skinny candle it smoothly comes in from below the flame from all sides and contributes lift to the flame (laminar flow) . On the short stubby candle, the air has tough time getting into the base of the flame (turbulent flow) Now get a piece of metal and put it just on top of the flame. You will see that the flame starts to shorten and gets more turbulent. There are also games you can do with draft inducers which would be to take a hollow cardboard tube with a larger diameter than the tall skinny candle and slide the tube up and down with the tube concentric with the candle but below the flame. Take a look at bunsen burner and it had the same type of draft inducer. Additionally vary the diameter of the inducer. Ideally if you can get laminar flow of cooler air to blend with the exhaust plume it will carry the overall plume higher in the air.

Adopting the attitude that the adjacent property owner should pound sand and " they will drag my woodstove away from my cold dead fingers" doesn't help anything. All it takes is the right persons to decide they need a cause and a local ordinance can get passed to make the wood stove owners life difficult. Public nuisance laws are real easy to pass if the right people in city government are for them.
 
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