New (old) house and sketchy chimney setup story

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Beary

New Member
Sep 30, 2021
12
North idaho
I have been lurking this forum for a couple years now and figured I'd share some of the problems all y'all helped me figure out.

The wife and I bought a house March 2020, just before housing prices skyrocketed around here... was paying rent on an apartment for her to finish school in another city and trying to buy a house on my little cna wages and little credit history (just 22 at the time) but we got it done!

The house had a forced air furnace, but we were pretty broke so I wasn't keen on that.... however the wood stove the previous owner left us was... homemade, and not like nice warm bread fresh out of the oven. More like homemade bread that got salt instead do sugar and no yeast. The stove door would open when it was hot, but was damn near impossible for me to open when the stove was cold (I'm 6'1" and 300lbs and not all jiggly... yet.) So it was impossible for the wife to get open without an 3 foot pry bar.. It got us through with the half cord of stringy wet wood the previous owners left us.... but I was done with that and it was incredibly inefficient anyway. So Snowbound the next year we Wound up picking up a somewhat newer Osburn that was refurbished and LOOKED great, but I only got TOPS of 2.5-3 hours burn time. Turned out to have massive cracks behind the head shields. Seller was a great guy and took it back to repair tho So I wasn't out the cash. Then went on to buy a giant (to me) napoleon out of a guy's yurt. We'll probably be sticking with it for a long time, seems to burn efficiently and my honey is tired of moving wood stoves up and down the stairs with me.

However that is HARDLY the worst part. The stove was in the basement, hooked into the 50-60 year old brick chimney with single wall stove pipe alllllll the way up. Roughly 22 ft. No rain shielding on the chimney, just little bit of bent tin over the stove pipe sticking out the top. Needless to say this thing clogged up faster than a truck stop sh!tter. I was cleaning it at least every two weeks and it should have been every day. The "cimney" didn't have anything holding it up either, it all rested on the elbow stuck through the shoddy mortared hole in the side of the brick, our roof has quite a pitch so top down cleaning wasn't a winter option anyway. Cleaning it meant I just took the whole thing, and shook the bejusus out of it then vacuuming and getting a 5 gallon bucket almost full of creosote everytime.

Finally this year we just finished installing a rigid duraliner chimney liner, was NOT fun as I HATE heights and the only way to get the stove pipe out was to yank it all out of the top together, but it's done now and I'm sure will be well worth it. I ordered everything off of ebay, as it was the only place that could get it to us in a reasonable amount of time, saved a couple bucks too. Truly the masonry probably needs inspected and fixed up and and and- but this is a HUGE step up from 22 ft of single wall rusted out stove pipe and this old house has many other projects for us to tackle. Before rebuilding the chinney from scratch. This forum has been a huge help, and will continue to be as I now wonder if I'll have too much draft instead of... none. I hope forums like this never die, they've been instrumental in helping me figure out how to be independent and stretch my dollars farther. Everything from fixing my old astro van, wife's taurus and other old crappy cars to figuring out niche computer problems.

I'm very excited to burn with a proper chimney and seasoned wood this year!

I'll try to get some photos of the old stove pipe and add them.... some of the seems were separating, one segment was held on by one screw
 
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,953
Long Island NY
A few random remarks.

Buy a sooteater to clean from the bottom without shaking the bleep out of it.

Get a cap on top.

If too much draft, a damper in your stove pipe before it enters the chimney may work.

I assume you'll get feedback on your liner install after posting pics.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,606
South Puget Sound, WA
Sounds like progress is being made. What model Napoleon? Is it the 1900? What condition is it in?
 

Beary

New Member
Sep 30, 2021
12
North idaho
We used the extended a cap kit, so it does have a cap, and everything hangs from the baseplate and clamp (I found that interesting. Leveling the top of the chimney was finicky.)
The only thing I didn't do exactly by the book is I used one of their 45 degree elbows at the bottom that lines up with the pre existing hacked hole in the masonry. I think its meant to connect the flexible liner to the stove itself but... we're going from that to stovepipe for now and I'll have to figure our some sort of rigged thimble. There are NO combustibles anywhere near anything now, the chimney stands alone in the basement nearest wood is a support pillar a good 6 feet away. They call for a T or the flexible liner with insulation to hook up to the wood stove, but I don't see the purpose of the the T without being able to access the bottom, and a 45 degree bend seems better than a 90 to me anyway.

I believe the napoleon is actually a 1400, I'd have to check again. It just seems so large to me since growing up we had a wood fired furnace or a little fisher stove. It's in great shape tho, one spot of surface rust on top from a water pot-actually kept the guy that looked at it the day before me from buying it, his wife didn't like that it was 'ugly'. Mine helped me carry it down the stairs :)

I might redo the gasket for the heck of it, but it seemed seal fine last winter, but that was without a good chimney... bricks look good, tubes are good. I was very lucky to snag it after having to return the Osburn.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,606
South Puget Sound, WA
The 1400 is the mid-sized Napoleon and a dependable heater.

The tee on the liner can be extended to the cleanout below if there is one with a cap on the bottom end.
 

Nick Mystic

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2013
1,127
Western North Carolina
Before I knew much about woodstoves I installed a single wall stove pipe to my stove using a 90 degree elbow instead of a T - connector. I was having to burn poor quality wood and got a lot of creosote buildup like you mentioned with your earlier setup. Without a T - connector I would get creosote falling down my stovepipe and gathering in the bottom of the elbow at the back of the stove. Even though I cleaned my chimney regularly I ended up with at least two chimney fires from this pile of creosote sitting in the elbow. So, The T- connector is also a safety measure in that it provides a space for the creosote to collect below the heat flow going up the chimney.
 

Beary

New Member
Sep 30, 2021
12
North idaho
I can see the T being a sort of catch for creosote instead of an elbow, and the prior sketchy install was a 90 degree elbow that did indeed not only hold the weight of the chimney, but also collect crap. The durliner one is a 45 degree though, it won't be holding any creosote. The other methods of install in the instructions to the back of a fireplace insert or top of a stove typically use a section of their flexible liner with insulation around it. They say to use the T connector if you have a cleanout available, I don't so... eh. The flexible pipe sections don't seem fun to deal with, ridig stove pipe or double wall coming form that 45 to the stove top just seems like a much better plan me, and in my case will be a heck of a lot easier to clean getting through that 45, rather than an 90 degree elbow.

I finally picked up a moisture meter and my wood for this year is coming in anywhere from 10-15 so I think ill be pretty well set.

The hell of the setup last year still has me paranoid and I'll be keeping a very close eye on things regardless, but I think it's going to burn awesome. First fire will be in the next few days as overnights drop to low 30's and daytime highs are only scratching 50.

Reading everything on here has broken me, I drive around and stare at neighbors chinneys now....
 

moresnow

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
1,848
Iowa
I can see the T being a sort of catch for creosote instead of an elbow, and the prior sketchy install was a 90 degree elbow that did indeed not only hold the weight of the chimney, but also collect crap. The durliner one is a 45 degree though, it won't be holding any creosote. The other methods of install in the instructions to the back of a fireplace insert or top of a stove typically use a section of their flexible liner with insulation around it. They say to use the T connector if you have a cleanout available, I don't so... eh. The flexible pipe sections don't seem fun to deal with, ridig stove pipe or double wall coming form that 45 to the stove top just seems like a much better plan me, and in my case will be a heck of a lot easier to clean getting through that 45, rather than an 90 degree elbow.


I finally picked up a moisture meter and my wood for this year is coming in anywhere from 10-15 so I think ill be pretty well set.

The hell of the setup last year still has me paranoid and I'll be keeping a very close eye on things regardless, but I think it's going to burn awesome. First fire will be in the next few days as overnights drop to low 30's and daytime highs are only scratching 50.




Reading everything on here has broken me, I drive around and stare at neighbors chinneys now....
Are you re-splitting and checking the freshly exposed inside face on your selected test splits? If you are, you have really dry fuel. If you aren't you re getting useless data. Simply probing the existing exterior or ends of splits means zero.
 

kborndale

Feeling the Heat
Oct 9, 2008
311
LI
Are you re-splitting and checking the freshly exposed inside face on your selected test splits? If you are, you have really dry fuel. If you aren't you re getting useless data. Simply probing the existing exterior or ends of splits means zero.

And at room temperature.
 

profdlp

Member
Sep 23, 2017
29
Westlake, Ohio
...Reading everything on here has broken me, I drive around and stare at neighbors chimneys now....
I spent Saturday pulling my chimney liner through, then went out to dinner Saturday night. The place had a big fireplace on one wall. (No fire going, though.) So of course I had to embarrass my wife by walking over and sticking my head in the fireplace to see if I could get an idea of how hard it would be to do a liner.

It's a sickness.
 

Caw

Minister of Fire
May 26, 2020
1,021
Massachusetts
I spent Saturday pulling my chimney liner through, then went out to dinner Saturday night. The place had a big fireplace on one wall. (No fire going, though.) So of course I had to embarrass my wife by walking over and sticking my head in the fireplace to see if I could get an idea of how hard it would be to do a liner.

It's a sickness.

Welcome to the support group.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,953
Long Island NY
Lol. Same here. Chimneys. The color of the smoke. But also trees. "See that one? It'd heat our home for half a winter. And no knots to split thru!"

And I get an eye roll in return... (in summer - because in winter the cozy heat is well-appreciated by all...)
 
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Caw

Minister of Fire
May 26, 2020
1,021
Massachusetts
Oh yeah my 6 year old notices the color/volume of smoke now. We'll be driving down the road and he'll go "hey dad look at this guy, he's not burning clean" or "why doesn't this guy have a chimney cap". Makes me smile! I'm molding the next generation of wood burners. Pretty soon he's gonna have an account here lol.
 

Beary

New Member
Sep 30, 2021
12
North idaho
I am resplitting to check the moisture, very happy with the wood this year.

Last year's wood that sat in my basement all summer is at 8 percent and lower! We run a dehumidifier in the spring just to be sure any moisture stays under control from the concrete walls.

The amount of chimneys I see around here now with NO cap, or what I'd clearly also just stove pipe sticking out the top is scary....

My neighbor took his cap off last year because he thought it was the reason his wood wouldn't burn well (wet wood, short chimney....)
 

Caw

Minister of Fire
May 26, 2020
1,021
Massachusetts
My neighbor took his cap off last year because he thought it was the reason his wood wouldn't burn well (wet wood, short chimney....)

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MongoMongoson

Member
Feb 6, 2021
215
Wisconsin
My neighbor took his cap off last year because he thought it was the reason his wood wouldn't burn well (wet wood, short chimney....)
That isn't that uncommon. I have seen a lot with no caps, or have heard of people removing the cap for the same reason or "because it gets all plugged up". Some people burn all winter and throw a bucket on top for the summer.

I rented a house that had two chimneys. One for the oil burner, one for the wood stove. Neither had caps. When I started burning wood, I put a cap on the wood stove chimney. When it would rain, I'd have water running across the basement floor because of the oil burner chimney. I also had to let several birds out of the basement.
 

Beary

New Member
Sep 30, 2021
12
North idaho
Finally got a photo of the condition of the old stove pipe that was run up the chimney. It's obviously a little smashed from me throwing off the roof, but the seems had started to separate quite badly, and some of the joints had one or two screws left holding everything together...

I can't believe this is how these used it for years.
20211011_083133.jpg
There's a photo of the new setup too, there's a fully stuffed and shut down load in the stove and virtually zero smoke. I'm super happy. Upstairs was 72 degrees all night last night with 24 degree outdoor temperatures and we haven't taken out our air conditioners from the windows yet...lol

20211011_083206.jpg
 

clancey

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2021
1,736
Colorado
That stove pipe looks really bad to me and I am glad you took care of that problem--all rusty and stuff and that split in it--terrible...clancey
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,606
South Puget Sound, WA
Regular black stove pipe should never be used inside a chimney. It's good that you caught and corrected that very dangerous situation. This is a much safer setup and without the dillution of draft in the rusted pipe, I think you will find the Napoleon a much better stove now.