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Nat321

New Member
Oct 7, 2021
5
Ymir bc
Hey everyone,

I’m hoping to get some advice as I just bought a house and the main source of heat is wood, secondary being electric. The winters where I live get cold so I want to gain some confidence with my wood stove.

So here are some details.
My wood stove is under a year old, installed this recent spring. When we initially were getting inspections done, the wett inspector failed everything, including our brand new wood stove. So we decided we should get a second opinion. The second inspector passed everything, and cleaned the chimney. We have a double walled pipe inside a concrete block fire chimney.
Of course being new to all of this I still got nervous, especially having the first inspection fail in all aspects. It’s as if the first inspector just walked in the room, looked at it and stamped fail and walked away.

Anyways, so the other night I got a fire roasting. I added two decent sized logs into it and it got cooking inside the house. Naturally I panicked but knew stoves can get that hot. What worried me was the flue was really hot. I have a temp gage about 5 inches above the stove, it was in the “safe burn” zone at around 250F. I went outside and checked the cap, it was dark and I couldn’t tell if my eyes were playing tricks but when I’d look at it in my peripherals, it’s As though the cap had a slight glow. We do need to replace the cap since it is a bit charred, the chimney guy didn’t mention anything that we needed a new one so he put the charred one back on. If it was in bad shape or a liability would he have changed it? Anyways back to the night I had a panic attack..

At that point of it raging the other night, I completely panicked, opened all the windows and sat in front of the fire wishing and praying it would go down which eventually it did.

My biggest fear is a chimney fire. And after reading over many posts on this site my anxiaty grew larger so since I’ve been burning small fires. But with smaller fires, my fear is I’m building up creosote.

What are some things I should know To build my confidence and not have crippling anxiaty that I’m going to burn my house down every single fire I have.

What does it take to have a chimney fire? It was swept a few weeks ago and we’ve had maybe a dozen fires since. The snow line is coming down the mountains so I’m going to have to get comfortable. What are some tips?
Is it normal for the flue to get super hot?

Here’s a picture of my wood stove. That is a new flue above the wood stove going into the chimney but I’m not sure when the last time the inner flue was replaced inside the bricks.

Thanks for any advice!

***Where there is a bit of discolouration where the flue enters the chimney, that was there before we bought the house and the second inspector said it was most likely due to the old wood stove and a poor seal. ******

29762C26-540D-4255-9469-D76ED05A9900.jpeg
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,314
South Puget Sound, WA
Welcome. Starting from the top, the cap should be made of stainless steel. If it is, then it may be ok if blackened. However, that also may be a sign of some creosote deposits. Hard to say at this point, a dozen fires is not usually enough to cause a problem unless the wood is poorly seasoned. Are you burning hardwood? If so, when was it split and stacked.
A common issue for new burners is that they wait too long to turn down the air on the stove. Surface temps on the single wall pipe will be roughly half that of the flue gases inside the pipe so start turning down the air when the flue temp reads around 600F and close it down until the flames slow down and get lazy. Then wait 5-10 minutes, while watching the flue temp. Turn down the air again. What you should see is the stovetop temp rise and the stove pipe temp on the pipe thermometer to drop and settle in at about 300ºF until the flames die down.

There are some tips up in the sticky section for starting a stove. And here is another one that covers a lot of general questions:
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,847
central pa
Hey everyone,

I’m hoping to get some advice as I just bought a house and the main source of heat is wood, secondary being electric. The winters where I live get cold so I want to gain some confidence with my wood stove.

So here are some details.
My wood stove is under a year old, installed this recent spring. When we initially were getting inspections done, the wett inspector failed everything, including our brand new wood stove. So we decided we should get a second opinion. The second inspector passed everything, and cleaned the chimney. We have a double walled pipe inside a concrete block fire chimney.
Of course being new to all of this I still got nervous, especially having the first inspection fail in all aspects. It’s as if the first inspector just walked in the room, looked at it and stamped fail and walked away.

Anyways, so the other night I got a fire roasting. I added two decent sized logs into it and it got cooking inside the house. Naturally I panicked but knew stoves can get that hot. What worried me was the flue was really hot. I have a temp gage about 5 inches above the stove, it was in the “safe burn” zone at around 250F. I went outside and checked the cap, it was dark and I couldn’t tell if my eyes were playing tricks but when I’d look at it in my peripherals, it’s As though the cap had a slight glow. We do need to replace the cap since it is a bit charred, the chimney guy didn’t mention anything that we needed a new one so he put the charred one back on. If it was in bad shape or a liability would he have changed it? Anyways back to the night I had a panic attack..

At that point of it raging the other night, I completely panicked, opened all the windows and sat in front of the fire wishing and praying it would go down which eventually it did.

My biggest fear is a chimney fire. And after reading over many posts on this site my anxiaty grew larger so since I’ve been burning small fires. But with smaller fires, my fear is I’m building up creosote.

What are some things I should know To build my confidence and not have crippling anxiaty that I’m going to burn my house down every single fire I have.

What does it take to have a chimney fire? It was swept a few weeks ago and we’ve had maybe a dozen fires since. The snow line is coming down the mountains so I’m going to have to get comfortable. What are some tips?
Is it normal for the flue to get super hot?

Here’s a picture of my wood stove. That is a new flue above the wood stove going into the chimney but I’m not sure when the last time the inner flue was replaced inside the bricks.

Thanks for any advice!

***Where there is a bit of discolouration where the flue enters the chimney, that was there before we bought the house and the second inspector said it was most likely due to the old wood stove and a poor seal. ******

View attachment 282986
What reason did the first inspector give for failing the install?
 
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MongoMongoson

Member
Feb 6, 2021
238
Wisconsin
A little healthy fear is... well... very healthy when you first start burning wood. I hope you can avoid having any future panic attacks, though.

Can you share specifically what the first inspector had issues with?

I see you have a masonry chimney. Your setup looks very similar to what I have a weekend-use log cabin. Do you have a cleanout on that chimney? The cleanout is a metal door you can open to either clean the chimney or remove ash/creosote that collected in it after having the chimney cleaned. If you have a cleanout, you can give yourself some piece of mind by taking a look up the chimney through the cleanout. I use an old digital camera with a zoom and a flash, and I can get some pretty good pics of the inside of the chimney. If you can get pics, go ahead and share them here.

Whenever you start running a new stove or a new setup, it's a really good idea to inspect it fairly frequently until you are comfortable with how it runs. When I put the new stove in my house last year, I inspected the chimney after a couple of weeks, then every month after that just so I could get a feel for what was going on.

You have single wall pipe coming out of the top of the stove. With your system having been recently cleaned, I think it is pretty unlikely that your cap was glowing without the single wall pipe REALLY glowing. That one might have been your mind and worry playing tricks on you.
 
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Nat321

New Member
Oct 7, 2021
5
Ymir bc
Welcome. Starting from the top, the cap should be made of stainless steel. If it is, then it may be ok if blackened. However, that also may be a sign of some creosote deposits. Hard to say at this point, a dozen fires is not usually enough to cause a problem unless the wood is poorly seasoned. Are you burning hardwood? If so, when was it split and stacked.
A common issue for new burners is that they wait too long to turn down the air on the stove. Surface temps on the single wall pipe will be roughly half that of the flue gases inside the pipe so start turning down the air when the flue temp reads around 600F and close it down until the flames slow down and get lazy. Then wait 5-10 minutes, while watching the flue temp. Turn down the air again. What you should see is the stovetop temp rise and the stove pipe temp on the pipe thermometer to drop and settle in at about 300ºF until the flames die down.

There are some tips up in the sticky section for starting a stove. And here is another one that covers a lot of general questions:
Thank you for the info! I’m assuming the chimney guy who cleaned it a few weeks ago figured it was okay to put the chimney cap back on as is. Do you think there’s a chance my thermometer is reading incorrectly? It’s never gone above 300f. I have been turning down the air fairly quickly. I guess maybe the other night was completely normal that I got it super hot and I need to get comfortable with that.

Do you think I’m building up creosote making too small of fires? The temp gage stays at around 150-200f and I just let it die down then add another log.
 

Nat321

New Member
Oct 7, 2021
5
Ymir bc
A little healthy fear is... well... very healthy when you first start burning wood. I hope you can avoid having any future panic attacks, though.

Can you share specifically what the first inspector had issues with?

I see you have a masonry chimney. Your setup looks very similar to what I have a weekend-use log cabin. Do you have a cleanout on that chimney? The cleanout is a metal door you can open to either clean the chimney or remove ash/creosote that collected in it after having the chimney cleaned. If you have a cleanout, you can give yourself some piece of mind by taking a look up the chimney through the cleanout. I use an old digital camera with a zoom and a flash, and I can get some pretty good pics of the inside of the chimney. If you can get pics, go ahead and share them here.

Whenever you start running a new stove or a new setup, it's a really good idea to inspect it fairly frequently until you are comfortable with how it runs. When I put the new stove in my house last year, I inspected the chimney after a couple of weeks, then every month after that just so I could get a feel for what was going on.

You have single wall pipe coming out of the top of the stove. With your system having been recently cleaned, I think it is pretty unlikely that your cap was glowing without the single wall pipe REALLY glowing. That one might have been your mind and worry playing tricks on you.
The first inspector was a bit sketchy in the sense that he failed the actual wood stove even though it was bought from their company this spring and he said it was no good. He also took around two weeks to even get us the report after hounding him since our purchase was time sensitive. It over all wasn’t a good expiriance. He also told us we had to entirely replace the bricks on the chimney. The second inspector, was someone who has swept the chimney every year for the last 10 years, according to the women we bought the house from, he also confirmed this and was confident the whole system was fine. So having two completely opposite final inspections was a bit confusing.

We’re burning larch and fur. Half of it is seasoned and the rest was fallen and split two weeks ago, the trees we chose to fall were dead standing. Our best friend is a tree faller so he knew exactly what trees were safe conduction to burn. Our wood isn’t overly wet but since we scrambled to get 5 cords last week it’s not as perfectly seasoned as it could be. This spring we will be more dialed!

We do have a clean out in our basement, I will go down there and take a photo for you. My partner works away from home so before we left we did a big double check over on everything, including the clean out. There was no major build up other then it just being old. For years the wood stove was originally upstairs and I think in the recent years they installed a wood stove on the main level. With the second inspector we looked up there with a lense and he showed us the build up, and showed us after he cleaned it which was minimal build up.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,314
South Puget Sound, WA
Do you think I’m building up creosote making too small of fires? The temp gage stays at around 150-200f and I just let it die down then add another log.
Possibly. How may splits are you normally burning at a loading?
 

Nat321

New Member
Oct 7, 2021
5
Ymir bc
Possibly. How may splits are you normally burning at a loading?
No more then two, but since the night it got really hot I’m only adding one.
What reason did the first inspector give for failing the install?
No idea, he even failed the wood stove itself even though it was bought from the company he works for in January, it was brand new never been burnt in. We even have the receipt from the previous owner. We also had to ask him multiple times for the report and waited almost three weeks to get the failed report. There wasn’t much detail other then everything needs replacing. He quoted us $11,000 and Get everything replaced which didn’t make any sense. Sure it’s an older home. It warranted us to get a second opinion which the second guy passed everything, and the only thing he saw was that it needed to be cleaned, which he did that the next day, he even went through his inspection with us in person. The second inspector has been cleaning this chimney for many years previous. The first guy didn’t even mention anything about cleaning or if it needed it. So being new to all of this I’m just learning my limits with how my stove and system works.
There is a small business in the next town over that does system checks and maintence on wood stoves I might give them a call in a few weeks if I’m still uncomfortable. But I’m learning so much already.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,314
South Puget Sound, WA
No more then two, but since the night it got really hot I’m only adding one.
You are just getting started grasshopper. That's a very small fire. The stove is probably not reaching secondary combustion with that small of a fuel load. Try a 4-5 split fire when temps outside get colder.
 
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EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,713
SE North Carolina
When I first installed my stove I was constantly checking temps with an IR thermometer. Best thing I did to fee more confident was to get an Auber AT 200 thermometer alarm. You can read it without getting up or just as you pass by the stove. You can see how your inputs affect the temp and if you get distracted it’s alarm will remind you to go turn the air down.

Evan
 

kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
6,282
07462
One of the worse things you can do, especially when using semi seasoned wood is to under burn your stove, this year especially, hot fires with multiple splits are your friend, the hot fires help burn off more crud and warmer chimney temps will help keep creosote from forming as much, your also going to want to monitor your chimney cap and consider doing a mid-season cleaning, this will establish a good baseline of your burning practices, if your mid season cleaning isnt that bad then your on the right path, if its really dirty then you either need to burn hotter, or learn and understand the importance of dry fuel.
 
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MongoMongoson

Member
Feb 6, 2021
238
Wisconsin
One other thing... In your first post you said the flue got really hot and that was a concern to you. But you are questioning your thermometer. I have used those magnetic thermometers, and still do use one on one of my stoves. I know it is 50 degrees off. Those thermometers are convenient, easy to install, and can give you some idea of what your stove is doing... but they are not terribly accurate. They do not give you instantaneous readings. There is a delay as the temperature changes.

How did you judge that it got really hot, so hot you were concerned? Keep in mind that stove pipe directly above the stove is a piece of thin sheet metal. There is a fire in a metal box below it. It is going to be hot. You cannot touch it. It will be so hot that if you touch a stick to it, the stick will char. A match will burst into flames. None of those things indicate it is too hot.

The Auber Evan mentions is a very nice way to get instantaneous readings, but it might seem like a big step right now. Something else he mentioned is relatively cheap and accurate. It is an infrared thermometer... maybe called an IR gun. It will give you much quicker feedback and allow you to check your magnetic thermometer.

EDIT:
Let me clarify something here. The IR gun gives you instantaneous readings of the surface temperature of your stove pipe and the stove top, whatever you point it at. There is STILL a delay between the surface temperature of your pipe and what is going on inside (even longer delay when you point it at the stove top, that is much thicker metal)... it's just not as bad of a delay as you get with the magnetic thermometers. The best response time I have seen is with an electronic, digital, stove pipe probe like Evan suggested... But that is a level of complication you might not want just yet. I will say that once you have one of those installed, you won't want to go back to the old fashioned IR gun or magnetic thermometer.

Also, you asked about your surface thermometer and if it could be wrong. Yes, it could be... It is probably not off by hundreds of degrees but it might be off by 100. I told you I have one on a stove pipe that I still use and it is off by 50 degrees. That one reads 50 degrees lower than actual. I have another, older one, on that same pipe that reads 100 degrees high.

Something else I was thinking about for you... and that is the cost of peace of mind vs. the cost of heat. How much does your chimney pro (the one you trust) charge for an inspection/cleaning? I bet it is a LOT less than you'd pay BC Hydro for a month of electric-only heat. So think about it that way. What if you burn wood for a month then call in the pro to inspect? You aren't paying for the electricity, but you are paying for peace of mind. He can tell you then if you are doing something wrong, and he should be able to tell you if he needs to come back in 3 months or in the spring.

63985_W3.jpg
 
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MEngineer24

Member
Dec 6, 2020
170
WV
When I first installed my stove I was constantly checking temps with an IR thermometer. Best thing I did to fee more confident was to get an Auber AT 200 thermometer alarm. You can read it without getting up or just as you pass by the stove. You can see how your inputs affect the temp and if you get distracted it’s alarm will remind you to go turn the air down.

Evan
Quick question for you. Do you utilize the auber at200 for flue temps with a chimney liner? If so, could you please explain your setup.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,713
SE North Carolina
Quick question for you. Do you utilize the auber at200 for flue temps with a chimney liner? If so, could you please explain your setup.

I originally purchased the washer probe and had it setting on my stove top under a piece of scrap metal. Worked fine but kept getting bumped and falling off. Now it’s just shoved up between the insulation and the liner. I have a pre insulated liner. It’s not ideal. Goes up fast but not down. I will be ordering regular probe and drilling and installing it mounted the the outer liner best I can.

I will also be ordering a second (maybe the wireless version) for my downstairs insert. It’s a wrapped insulation liner. Probably will drill and use a hose lamp to secure the probe.

I thought about installing at the appliance adapter. I would like some feedback if that’s a good idea or not.
Evan
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,314
South Puget Sound, WA
When I first installed my stove I was constantly checking temps with an IR thermometer. Best thing I did to fee more confident was to get an Auber AT 200 thermometer alarm. You can read it without getting up or just as you pass by the stove. You can see how your inputs affect the temp and if you get distracted it’s alarm will remind you to go turn the air down.

Evan
The Auber also reads far more quickly and accurately than a mechanical probe thermometer.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,314
South Puget Sound, WA
I thought about installing at the appliance adapter. I would like some feedback if that’s a good idea or not.
Locating it there will give a high relative reading, but it is an option.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,713
SE North Carolina
Locating it there will give a high relative reading, but it is an option.
Allows for removal when without removing block off plate when sweeping. The way I have been installing washer probe temps are all relative anyway.
Thanks for the feedback.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,314
South Puget Sound, WA
Allows for removal when without removing block off plate when sweeping. The way I have been installing washer probe temps are all relative anyway.
Thanks for the feedback.
Exactly right. Either way you need to do some reference adjustment.
 

rudysmallfry

Minister of Fire
Nov 29, 2005
501
Milford, CT
Try not to panic. At one point, we've all sat there with a fire extinguisher hoping for the temp gauge to drop.

You said your thermometer is 5" above the stove. I believe the sweet spot of optimum reading is 18". If you have double wall coming out of the stove, it should be a drilled probe thermometer. A surface thermometer won't give you an accurate reading. If you do have double wall, panic should not set in until that sucker climbs to 800 degrees. Safe temp is between 400-500 and assures you a mostly creosote free burn.

Like others pointed out, a common mistake of new burners is not shutting the air down soon enough. I only let my fire burn until I can close the door without any change in flame. After that, it's only a few minutes before I drop down to 50%, and then another 15 minutes or so to mostly closed air (looking for a nice lazy flame) Whatever you do, do not reload onto hot coals with your air fully open. Your temps will take off so fast your head will spin. Every stove and setup are different, so just play with it until you can consistently get that nice lazy flame. Secondary burns are very pretty to watch.

I have no input on the blackened cap. There are many far more experienced people hear that can answer that one.
 

clancey

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2021
2,032
Colorado
Oh Lordy these people have PHD with this wood burning and do not fret new wood stove burner for my first burn is coming on Oct 28th for my stove installer promised me he would burn my first burn on my stove..I just bought this stove for emergencies in case the grid goes down or something in the winter time..I am like you not confident at all and hoping my house does not burn down and people say the smell of a new wood stove used for the first time is terrible and I intend to open up all windows and doors even if it is below freezing--lol Your not the only one but you are getting excellent advice and I am on this thread---my day is coming---ugh...old mrs clancey
 

rudysmallfry

Minister of Fire
Nov 29, 2005
501
Milford, CT
Oh Lordy these people have PHD with this wood burning and do not fret new wood stove burner for my first burn is coming on Oct 28th for my stove installer promised me he would burn my first burn on my stove..I just bought this stove for emergencies in case the grid goes down or something in the winter time..I am like you not confident at all and hoping my house does not burn down and people say the smell of a new wood stove used for the first time is terrible and I intend to open up all windows and doors even if it is below freezing--lol Your not the only one but you are getting excellent advice and I am on this thread---my day is coming---ugh...old mrs clancey
The burnoff of a new stove does stink. Run a bunch of fans to try to and blow it out the windows. The stank should be gone in about 20 minutes.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,314
South Puget Sound, WA
I have no input on the blackened cap. There are many far more experienced people hear that can answer that one.
I think there is a possibility that as soon as the OP starts burning full fires at a decent temp that some of that carbon will burn off.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
2,833
Long Island NY
The burnoff of a new stove does stink. Run a bunch of fans to try to and blow it out the windows. The stank should be gone in about 20 minutes.

If one follows the (ok, most) manual(s), it is more than 20 minutes. At least for a painted steel (as opposed to a cast iron) stove. Break in fires generally should progress from small kindling only, to two small splits, to a bigger load. Both to drive out moisture, cure cement, and cure paint. As a result, at least if you have a painted stove, each time the temperature exceeds the previous high, it will stink.

Mine stank for all three fires. Hours.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
2,833
Long Island NY
Oh Lordy...maybe I will move the stove "outside"--kidding,,,clancey
depends on whether your stove is painted or not.
Also, just close the door between the "home proper" and the stove room (which looks like it was a porch earlier). Then open all the windows and door of that stove room. You'll be ok.
 
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