New Kuuma Vapor Fire Install

KVFOhio

New Member
Nov 30, 2019
5
Ohio
I have been reading posts on here about the Kuuma Vapor Fire for a little while. I pulled the trigger and bought one earlier this year.

I was going back and forth with purchasing an OWB or the Vapor Fire (VF). The phase 2 OWB are pretty pricy compared to the Vapor Fire. There are plenty of pros and cons between the two. Everybody who has a VF says good things about them, so I went with VF.

I made several calls and sent emails to Dale at Lamppa Mfg. He took the time to answer all my annoying questions about the furnace and install. It is true they do care about the customer.

My house is 3,772 sqft. This includes the unfinished walkout basement. It is a newer build with 2x6 walls. The basement will eventually be finished.

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I fired it up for the first time this past Friday. I was a little disappointed when the blower never kicked on. It eventually did turn on when the high limit sensor kicked it on. I believe my issue is with the low limit thermocouple. I think it is bad. I did bypass it and the blower came on.

I didn't weigh the wood but here is a picture of the load I put in. I got a 8 hour burn from it. It is mostly cherry and two pieces of ash. It wasn't too cold out when I ran it. It was in the 30 - 40s. The house was 72 - 75 degrees. It was almost too hot. In the basement, I have only one vent, but I keep it closed. The radiant heat from the VF kept it comfortable.

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I have 25ft class A chimney running through the house. I have deluxe rain cap on it. The manometer is reading .03 - .04 wc. I cannot get any higher than that. I placed tin foil over the barometric damper to see if it was pulling in air, but it only got to .04. I think the deluxe rain cap is restricting it. I am within the recommended draft settings for the VF.

Something that I noticed was a little puddle of water where the flue pipe connects to the stove collar. The puddle was about the size of a quarter. My wood moisture content is 19%. This happened after a load. I saw it twice. Thoughts?

For those who have a VF, does your paint flake off easily? I look at mine and it flakes off.

I have only ran it for two days. We will see how it runs once it gets colder. I have it turned off today due to it projected to be in the 50s.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
5,513
NE Ohio
Welcome to the family KVF. Whereabouts are you in Ohio?
Your draft will get stronger with colder weather.
As for the puddle...was it right under the pipe, laying on the blower box top? That seems to be a common issue with new fireboxes of any brand...some claim the moisture has to be baked out of the firebrick. Plus you say the wood is 19% MC...If you think about it, that's a lot of water! 19% of the woods weight is water. I doubt you see this issue again unless you get into wet wood.
As for the low limit switch, mine was bad too...intermittent. Dale sent me a new one out, said they almost never see a bad one...but my second one was just the same. I replaced it with a Honeywell fan control/limit switch, problem solved.
I have messed with 4 Kuumas now, 2 from 2008, 1 from 2012, and mine was made in 2015...I've not been impressed by the paint on any of them...pre paint prep seems poor.
As you can see in my avatar pic I repainted mine before I installed it...partially because I didn't care for the color, partially because the paint was flaking off...and there was a few scrapes from the previous install and removal too. There was plenty of paint that was loose, but as I scuffed it up with a fine Scotchbrite pad, there was too much paint that looked fine, but came right off...was not adhered to the underlying metal much at all. In many of these spots you could see fingerprints etched into the metal where someone had grabbed the bare metal...the (2) 2008 Kuumas both had places where you could see shoe/boot prints where the paint was coming off. Seems to me that the metal needs wiped down with a prep/degreaser more thoroughly prior to painting.
Paint issues aside, by springtime I think you'll be a huge VF fan...
 
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woodey

Burning Hunk
Feb 8, 2018
156
ST. Lawrence Valley N.Y.
Nice looking setup, its kind of hard to tell from your pics but it looks like your Bio damper is set to horizontal you want the adjustable weight on the right side, sorry if I am looking at it wrong.
 

JRHAWK9

Minister of Fire
Jan 8, 2014
1,501
Wisconsin Dells, WI
Nice clean install!

Wow, that's a lot of square footage you are heating! :) What's the volume of your heating envelope? Looks to be 9' ceilings in the basement.

I've, personally, never had a low limit switch go bad, but have heard of others getting a bad one. They are not extremely consistent, IMO. You can buy 3 of them and it seems they all will have slightly different kick on/off temps. I did what bren did and I am actually using the Honeywell high limit control for both my low and high limit. Glad to see you already moved it up into the plenum.

I have seen a little puddle of water where you are talking a few times, but it's always right in the beginning of the heating season....like the first fire or two of the year. In fact this year I had one there. I think it's just condensation on the chimney wall making it's way down.

Are you talking the brown paint on the air jacket? Mine is fine and I've never noticed any flaking or tendency to do so. Mine is going on it's 6th heating season.

As far as draft, like bren said, it should get stronger with colder weather. I have 30+' of Class A ran inside and I have too much draft to where I had to add weight to the BD in order to bring it into spec.
 

KVFOhio

New Member
Nov 30, 2019
5
Ohio
Welcome to the family KVF. Whereabouts are you in Ohio?
Your draft will get stronger with colder weather.
As for the puddle...was it right under the pipe, laying on the blower box top? That seems to be a common issue with new fireboxes of any brand...some claim the moisture has to be baked out of the firebrick. Plus you say the wood is 19% MC...If you think about it, that's a lot of water! 19% of the woods weight is water. I doubt you see this issue again unless you get into wet wood.
As for the low limit switch, mine was bad too...intermittent. Dale sent me a new one out, said they almost never see a bad one...but my second one was just the same. I replaced it with a Honeywell fan control/limit switch, problem solved.
I have messed with 4 Kuumas now, 2 from 2008, 1 from 2012, and mine was made in 2015...I've not been impressed by the paint on any of them...pre paint prep seems poor.
As you can see in my avatar pic I repainted mine before I installed it...partially because I didn't care for the color, partially because the paint was flaking off...and there was a few scrapes from the previous install and removal too. There was plenty of paint that was loose, but as I scuffed it up with a fine Scotchbrite pad, there was too much paint that looked fine, but came right off...was not adhered to the underlying metal much at all. In many of these spots you could see fingerprints etched into the metal where someone had grabbed the bare metal...the (2) 2008 Kuumas both had places where you could see shoe/boot prints where the paint was coming off. Seems to me that the metal needs wiped down with a prep/degreaser more thoroughly prior to painting.
Paint issues aside, by springtime I think you'll be a huge VF fan...
I am in Granville.

The puddle is on top of the blower box.

Paint is flaking on the door and jacket. I will need to paint it as well.

Nice looking setup, its kind of hard to tell from your pics but it looks like your Bio damper is set to horizontal you want the adjustable weight on the right side, sorry if I am looking at it wrong.
You are correct. I was playing around with it. I covered it with tin foil testing the draft. I forgot to move it back. Thank you for reminding me. I havent ran it today. It has been warm enough where I haven't had to run the propane. The house has maintained the temp well. The temp is averaging in the upper 40s. It is falling down the lower 30s now.

Thank you for reminding me to move it back!

Nice clean install!

Wow, that's a lot of square footage you are heating! :) What's the volume of your heating envelope? Looks to be 9' ceilings in the basement.

I've, personally, never had a low limit switch go bad, but have heard of others getting a bad one. They are not extremely consistent, IMO. You can buy 3 of them and it seems they all will have slightly different kick on/off temps. I did what bren did and I am actually using the Honeywell high limit control for both my low and high limit. Glad to see you already moved it up into the plenum.

I have seen a little puddle of water where you are talking a few times, but it's always right in the beginning of the heating season....like the first fire or two of the year. In fact this year I had one there. I think it's just condensation on the chimney wall making it's way down.

Are you talking the brown paint on the air jacket? Mine is fine and I've never noticed any flaking or tendency to do so. Mine is going on it's 6th heating season.

As far as draft, like bren said, it should get stronger with colder weather. I have 30+' of Class A ran inside and I have too much draft to where I had to add weight to the BD in order to bring it into spec.

The basement is a 8ft ceiling. The rest of the house has 9ft.

Both the jacket (brown paint) and the door (black paint) are flaking.

I also forgot to mention my blower 1/2 horse. I bumped it up because my furnace is in the center of the house. I have a pretty long run to push the air down.

I hired the HVAC work, but I installed the chimney myself. I did have to put a 15* offset in to avoid a truss.

I am curious to see how well it does once it finally gets cold.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
5,513
NE Ohio

RockyMtnGriz

Member
Apr 19, 2019
87
SW Montana
Very nice looking install! I can see the problems with your paint, and all I can say is my paint ended up much nicer than yours. The only place I've had trouble with the paint is on the top bonnet around where the outlet plenum is, partly because it got pretty well mangled in transit, and also because the paint was poorly bonded to that part. So far, I've been able to ignore it, but I wish I had just stripped it bare before I installed it.

I had the same problem with the fan not coming on initially. I'll second, or forth, or whatever, the Honeywell fan control in place of the snap switch. I bought a spare while I was at it, since nothing mechanical lasts forever.

It looks like your ducts are very free flowing! I wonder if you might have some trouble with the furnace tending toward gravity heat operation at the lower settings. That could be a problem with heat distribution with long, uninsulated ducts. As I feel my way through mine, I think I'm seeing a tendency there with my similar setup, not sure yet if it's really going to be a problem though. Just throwing that out, as you might actually find that the thing works better with the blower turned down, but running more. It'll want to cycle the fan more with the Honeywell control, I bet.

From what I've seen of my Kuuma, I just can't imagine having a puddle from the stove pipe. Everything is just dusty dry. But there's lots more humidity available in other parts of the world, so maybe that's it.

Anyway, nice job!
 

gary38532

Feeling the Heat
Nov 11, 2019
444
PA
For those who have a VF, does your paint flake off easily? I look at mine and it flakes off.
My front door is peeling pretty bad. I complained about it and they said they had issues with it but rare on VF100. They told me they would send me a can of the new paint they are using (said its better). They must have forgot because that was months ago and never did.
 

lampmfg

Burning Hunk
May 16, 2011
175
Tower, MN
lamppakuuma.com
We had an issue with paint recently but determined it was the painter, who is now no longer with us. We will help you through the paint issue, but please be patient. Send us another e-mail if it's been a while. Dale now has an office manager, and this is helping him immensely to stay on top of stuff like this better.

Thanks,
 

gary38532

Feeling the Heat
Nov 11, 2019
444
PA
We had an issue with paint recently but determined it was the painter, who is now no longer with us. We will help you through the paint issue, but please be patient. Send us another e-mail if it's been a while. Dale now has an office manager, and this is helping him immensely to stay on top of stuff like this better.

Thanks,
ok sounds good
 

Beaster

New Member
Nov 10, 2019
8
Saskatchewan, Canada
I'll be following this thread very close. We plan on building a very similar sized bungalow & basement next year. We would like to install either the Max Caddy or Vapor Fire in parallel with a natural gas furnace to help cut down our energy bill. Your VF and propane furnaces are hooked in parallel right? If so, I'm curious what your HVAC guys used for dampers in the supply and return lines between the 2 furnaces.
 

KVFOhio

New Member
Nov 30, 2019
5
Ohio
I'll be following this thread very close. We plan on building a very similar sized bungalow & basement next year. We would like to install either the Max Caddy or Vapor Fire in parallel with a natural gas furnace to help cut down our energy bill. Your VF and propane furnaces are hooked in parallel right? If so, I'm curious what your HVAC guys used for dampers in the supply and return lines between the 2 furnaces.
Hello Beaster,
The HVAC company installed four manual dampers. One damper on the plenum of the propane furnace. One damper on the cold air return. Then two dampers where the VF connects to the main trunk.
Very nice looking install! I can see the problems with your paint, and all I can say is my paint ended up much nicer than yours. The only place I've had trouble with the paint is on the top bonnet around where the outlet plenum is, partly because it got pretty well mangled in transit, and also because the paint was poorly bonded to that part. So far, I've been able to ignore it, but I wish I had just stripped it bare before I installed it.

I had the same problem with the fan not coming on initially. I'll second, or forth, or whatever, the Honeywell fan control in place of the snap switch. I bought a spare while I was at it, since nothing mechanical lasts forever.

It looks like your ducts are very free flowing! I wonder if you might have some trouble with the furnace tending toward gravity heat operation at the lower settings. That could be a problem with heat distribution with long, uninsulated ducts. As I feel my way through mine, I think I'm seeing a tendency there with my similar setup, not sure yet if it's really going to be a problem though. Just throwing that out, as you might actually find that the thing works better with the blower turned down, but running more. It'll want to cycle the fan more with the Honeywell control, I bet.

From what I've seen of my Kuuma, I just can't imagine having a puddle from the stove pipe. Everything is just dusty dry. But there's lots more humidity available in other parts of the world, so maybe that's it.

Anyway, nice job!
I installed the new snap disc and worked like a charm. I will be ordering a Honeywell.

So far low and slow has heated the house nicely. I haven't had the blower kick on high yet. We will see when it truly gets cold. It's been in the low 30s/ upper 20s at night.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
5,513
NE Ohio
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brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
5,513
NE Ohio
Last edited:

lampmfg

Burning Hunk
May 16, 2011
175
Tower, MN
lamppakuuma.com
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brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
5,513
NE Ohio
We were hoping to show it actually being done. There are always questions.
There always are...every install is so unique...I'm jealous of these guys with a wide open ranch basement though...I had about every obstacle to deal with on my install...all were overcome though, some by design, some by pure luck, or maybe some divine intervention!
 

JRHAWK9

Minister of Fire
Jan 8, 2014
1,501
Wisconsin Dells, WI
I just received my new Vapor-Fire!! Now for the install
Your setup is going to be a bit different than most, seeing you have a down-flow furnace IIRC. Do you plan on running it in series using your LP furnaces blower? Personally, I'd run your setup ideas by the guys here on the forum, as they may be able to see potential issues and guide you along the way to help you avoid any do-overs in your install. It will be much easier and less expensive to get it setup correctly from the get go rather than have to go back and re-do things later on. Just a thought.
 

Erichomeowner

Member
Apr 6, 2020
41
Sister Bay Wisconsin
Your setup is going to be a bit different than most, seeing you have a down-flow furnace IIRC. Do you plan on running it in series using your LP furnaces blower? Personally, I'd run your setup ideas by the guys here on the forum, as they may be able to see potential issues and guide you along the way to help you avoid any do-overs in your install. It will be much easier and less expensive to get it setup correctly from the get go rather than have to go back and re-do things later on. Just a thought.
I ordered a bigger horse power motor because I will be pushing hot air down and into my crawl space. after a great conversation with Dale and explaining my situation he seems to think the vaper fire will have no problem heating with my type of install.
 
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JRHAWK9

Minister of Fire
Jan 8, 2014
1,501
Wisconsin Dells, WI
Vapor-fire is installed

I was thinking about your setup the other day and wondered how it was coming along.

You may want to remove that stove pipe thermometer from the front door. One, it looks like you may be covering one of the secondary air openings, and two, the door is not a very good spot to measure temp, as it stays relatively cool and three, those things are not very accurate anyway! :cool:

Pickup an internal probe type of gauge so you are actually measuring the INTERNAL stack temp on your flue. You will find out the external surface temp of your flue is going to be pretty low.
 
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