New woodstove owner needs advice

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Amanita Cottage

New Member
Dec 12, 2021
13
Vermont
We just got our first ever woodstove. After lots of research we opted on the absolute steel hybrid from Woodstock soapstone company. It’s a bit overkill for our tiny cottage of 650 sq ft. We did a few smaller fires to season the stove and the past 2 days have been trying to figure the stove out. We managed an overnight slow and steady burn for 12 and never got cold. The one issue we can’t figure out is the black build up on the glass and inside the stove. It is supposed to burn itself off but only seems to build up more with each fire. We are using kiln dried wood and loading as per instructions and online vids from the company. We wait till the fire is going and the stove is at 300 and then lower the air intake and close the damper. The fire dies down but smolders and keeps us warm hours. We must be doing something wrong though and would love some input.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
92,798
South Puget Sound, WA
It sounds like the stove is being run too cool. Is there a catalytic thermometer on it? When you say, going at 300, where is the temperature being measured? Is this on the stovetop or is there a thermometer on the stovepipe and if so, is it a surface magnetic thermometer on single-wall stovepipe or a probe in double-wall?
Try doing some daytime burning with the air control at a higher position, maybe at 3 or 2, so that flames from secondary combustion are visible. 650 sq ft is a small space to heat with wood, especially if it's well insulated. If necessary, open a window to cool things down a bit.
 
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Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
2,164
Woolwich nj
Ok... so there is differences in dried wood.. there is kiln dried wood to actually dry it and kiln dried wood that is just to kill the bugs and stuff off. I applaud you for trying to get dry wood. Your wood may be sub par. Id get a moisture meter and check your wood. Split open a pice and check the moisture content of the fresh split face with the pins going with the grain. The object here is to rule out all the variables before someone says its an issue with the stove. Hows your draft..
 
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Amanita Cottage

New Member
Dec 12, 2021
13
Vermont
It sounds like the stove is being run too cool. Is there a catalytic thermometer on it? When you say, going at 300, where is the temperature being measured? Is this on the stovetop or is there a thermometer on the stovepipe and if so, is it a surface magnetic thermometer on single-wall stovepipe or a probe in double-wall?
Try doing some daytime burning with the air control at a higher position, maybe at 3 or 2, so that flames from secondary combustion are visible. 650 sq ft is a small space to heat with wood, especially if it's well insulated. If necessary, open a window to cool things down a bit.
I only put the converter on at 300. That measurement is taken on the top of the stove by the pipe. The internal thermometer reads about 500. The actual average burn temp on the outside sits around 400 external 700 internal. We have zero insulation aside what in the wood of the cottage for this year. If I crank it at 2-3 still nothing burns off but I am then out an entire bundle of wood in 2 hours instead of the 10 I get on the lower burn. It also goes way to hot and we were told anything over 700 risks damaging the catalytic converter (which we only learned after purchasing needs to be replaced ever 2 years at $160 a pop). We got this stove because of the long slow burns it promises. I just worry my chimney pipe looks as crusty and black and will pose a fire risk.
 

Amanita Cottage

New Member
Dec 12, 2021
13
Vermont
Ok... so there is differences in dried wood.. there is kiln dried wood to actually dry it and kiln dried wood that is just to kill the bugs and stuff off. I applaud you for trying to get dry wood. Your wood may be sub par. Id get a moisture meter and check your wood. Split open a pice and check the moisture content of the fresh split face with the pins going with the grain. The object here is to rule out all the variables before someone says its an issue with the stove. Hows your draft..
This is properly kiln dried wood we paid a premium for. It’s super light in weight vs the same amount of regular wood. It was recommended to us by neighbors that use it without issue in their normal wood stoves without any build up. How would I go about checking the moisture content of the wood? Thanks!
 

Amanita Cottage

New Member
Dec 12, 2021
13
Vermont
I can’t seem to share multiple images without the forum locking up. Here are all the pics I am trying to share. From top left to right : the dry wood, the completely sooted over fire glass (whole burning too hot) the inside loading door, the fire, the magnetic temp gauge and the interns gauge in the cat.
6C732EBC-BD68-450D-8AC2-A259412560FD.jpeg
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
92,798
South Puget Sound, WA
It also goes way to hot and we were told anything over 700 risks damaging the catalytic converter
A catalyst is just getting warmed up at 700ºF. The cat thermometer can read as high as 1500º (normal range) without harming the cat. At the low temps the stove is being operated at, blackened glass will be a daily reality. Be sure to have the whole flue system cleaned after burning 1 cord of wood. That will let you know how cleanly the system is burning. If you don't see any smoke coming out of the chimney, then it's likely fine. Note that steam (white vapor) from the chimney is ok during cold weather. This dissipates quickly. It's the grey lingering smoke that you don't want to see.

The stovetop thermometer ranges are arbitrary and somewhat useless for stovetop reading. Just go by the temperature. It's ok and safe to take the stovetop up to 650-700º if there is a major polar express type cold snap.
 
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kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
6,532
07462
Last pic looks like the cat probe and its running on the low side of the spectrum, now if the stove is running per design spec your flue should be no dirtier then any other epa stove running as advertised regardless of what the window looks like, the cat should be eating all the harsh compounds before exhausting into the chimney.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
92,798
South Puget Sound, WA
This is properly kiln dried wood we paid a premium for. It’s super light in weight vs the same amount of regular wood. It was recommended to us by neighbors that use it without issue in their normal wood stoves without any build up. How would I go about checking the moisture content of the wood? Thanks!
I suspect the wood is fine. The stove is just being run at low output. Truth be told, the Fireview would have been a better fit. It can run at a much lower output than the AS. ~7,000 BTUs/hr vs 10,000 for the AS low output. But as long as the flue is staying relatively clean it should be ok.
 
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Amanita Cottage

New Member
Dec 12, 2021
13
Vermont
A catalyst is just getting warmed up at 700ºF. The cat thermometer can read as high as 1500º (normal range) without harming the cat. At the low temps the stove is being operated at, blackened glass will be a daily reality. Be sure to have the whole flue system cleaned after burning 1 cord of wood. That will let you know how cleanly the system is burning. If you don't see any smoke coming out of the chimney, then it's likely fine. Note that steam (white vapor) from the chimney is ok during cold weather. This dissipates quickly. It's the grey lingering smoke that you don't want to see.

The stovetop thermometer ranges are arbitrary and somewhat useless for stovetop reading. Just go by the temperature. It's ok and safe to take the stovetop up to 650-700º if there is a major polar express type cold snap.

08EA8CD5-4901-4BA2-AA86-0134E6B8A0D4.jpeg
The manual and when I called the company both said to never regularly go above 700 surface temps with this stove. So should I disregard what the company says and just blast it? Can you still get the 10-14 hour burn times at high temps? If so how do you do that? Thanks
 
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
4,353
Long Island NY
But they are talking about stove top temps in the manual. If you have a catalyst probe (gauge with tube sticking down into the stove near the cat), that can read 1500 and be ok.

Do you have such a thermometer? One that has a rod sticking into the stove?
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
2,164
Woolwich nj
This is properly kiln dried wood we paid a premium for. It’s super light in weight vs the same amount of regular wood. It was recommended to us by neighbors that use it without issue in their normal wood stoves without any build up. How would I go about checking the moisture content of the wood? Thanks!
you can get a moisture meter off Amazon for like 20/30 bucks.. your wood should be sub 20%MC check the wood as described above.. you may be running the stove cool, it may be a combination of things.. it's best to check the wood and always have a meter if you plan on burning. Im not saying you got ripped off, but may people come on here and swear the seller says the wood is seasoned only to find out its sub par.
 

Amanita Cottage

New Member
Dec 12, 2021
13
Vermont
But they are talking about stove top temps in the manual. If you have a catalyst probe (gauge with tube sticking down into the stove near the cat), that can read 1500 and be ok.

Do you have such a thermometer? One that has a rod sticking into the stove?
As mentioned above- I am using a stovetop thermometer as well as the catalyst probe. The catalyst probe is always much much higher but I just go off the magnetic external temp (see pics above) It goes over 700 on the stove top if I have the damper at 3 and builds up even more soot on the glass. Plus the stove starts singing and popping at that heat.
 

Amanita Cottage

New Member
Dec 12, 2021
13
Vermont
you can get a moisture meter off Amazon for like 20/30 bucks.. your wood should be sub 20%MC check the wood as described above.. you may be running the stove cool, it may be a combination of things.. it's best to check the wood and always have a meter if you plan on burning. Im not saying you got ripped off, but may people come on here and swear the seller says the wood is seasoned only to find out its sub par.
Thanks- I will head over to Amazon to check it out.
 

Dix

Minister of Fire
May 27, 2008
6,516
Long Island, NY
Welcome to the forums !!!! Always nice to see another Sistah here :) !

I won't comment on the cat situation (don't have a cat stove), but I suspect the firewood might be a part of the problem. You'll get it figured out.

In the mean time ... get ahead on firewood NOW! Shot for 2 years, at least !
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
4,353
Long Island NY
The manual says that the stove top shouldn't go aboven700. The cat probe certainly can. A cat gets active only above 500. Above 1600 it gets damaged.

So, going by your cat temp and keeping it below 700 means you are burning very very low. You are not near overfiring. Only if you see over 1550 on the cat and over 700 con the stove top (magnetic) one are you risking overfiring.

The blackness is because you run low. If the cat works well, your chimney may be ok. If you're on the verge of falling out of the active range of the cat, you might be dirtying your chimney. But in that case, you are also likely to see your cat getting black and plugging up with creosote.

So can you see the cat? If so, take a pic and post it. (Don't take it out; some stoves have gaskets around the cat that need replacement each time you pull the cat.)
 
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Amanita Cottage

New Member
Dec 12, 2021
13
Vermont
Welcome to the forums !!!! Always nice to see another Sistah here :) !

I won't comment on the cat situation (don't have a cat stove), but I suspect the firewood might be a part of the problem. You'll get it figured out.

In the mean time ... get ahead on firewood NOW! Shot for 2 years, at least !
We are trying to figure out how much we will need and stock up. We have 12 acres roughly of densely forested land and are hoping to start harvesting and seasoning some of our own wood down the line. Considering it’s going to be in the 40s and high 50s the next week here in a freak heatwave I think we will have to hold off on realistic calculations for a bit:) It is a learning curve but we already love the warm heat this stove puts out. From fire to being cold enough to need to reheat we were at about 15 hours. Not to shabby for an unusual red summer cottage we are making a year round home and perfect for lazy mornings snuggling rather than rushing to light a wood fire. Our electric heating was over $550 last month and looking at just 2 days of not using any electric heat we are using nearly 90% less electric than the days prior.
 

Amanita Cottage

New Member
Dec 12, 2021
13
Vermont
The manual says that the stove top shouldn't go aboven700. The cat probe certainly can. A cat gets active only above 500. Above 1600 it gets damaged.

So, going by your cat temp and keeping it below 700 means you are burning very very low. You are not near overfiring. Only if you see over 1550 on the cat and over 700 con the stove top (magnetic) one are you risking overfiring.

The blackness is because you run low. If the cat works well, your chimney may be ok. If you're on the verge of falling out of the active range of the cat, you might be dirtying your chimney. But in that case, you are also likely to see your cat getting black and plugging up with creosote.

So can you see the cat? If so, take a pic and post it. (Don't take it out; some stoves have gaskets around the cat that need replacement each time you pull the cat.)
In the pics the stove was at 750 and still sooty. Called the company once and will likely do that again after I test my supposedly kiln dried wood for moisture content. Appreciate everyone’s advise and input.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
4,353
Long Island NY
One burn with a short time at 750 stove top won't remove all the black.

I don't know the design of your stove, but if I soot up my window with a few full loads running low, it'll take a full load at full blast to clean up things.
 

John B

Member
Sep 26, 2012
91
I have the same stove. For clean glass you want the cat temp (guage on the side of the stove) to be in the 1000 area, and you want to have secondary flames shooting from the tubes at the top. On a really hot burn that cat guage could go to 1450, which is about as far as you want to go but totally fine to do.

To get it hotter, most likely, during startup you just need to lower the air at a slower rate so the fire can build more, and even leave the air a little more open for the duration of the burn. What notch is the air set to when you finally let it go on its own?

What I do is get the stove hot enough to close the cat lever (500-600 on cat guage), but leave the air on high. Then after 5 -10 mins lower to 3/4. Then wait a bit more and lower to 2. Then finally, once its got nice and hot, lower to 1 or just below 1 and let it run. At that point my cat guage will be around 1000-1200 steadily. Usually then have clean glass and a nice secondary burn show.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,737
Downeast Maine
Just a note, but stove tops can handle peaks of 750-800 DF for short periods of time, ie an hour or so. Keeping the stove above 750 Df for several hours could cause a problem. I understand the apprehension about stove temperatures, the stove was a large investment and you want it to last a long time.

Going by your pictures that firewood looks pretty dry. I know end checking can happen on wood that's not quite dry enough yet, but wow, that's a lot of checking. Most sellers of "kiln dried" or seasoned firewood are not really selling wood that's ready to burn in a modern stove. It looks like you are lucky, but you need to get your firewood for 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 put up now, like everyone else already said.

Your glass will clean up when you get that cat up a bit hotter.
 
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Amanita Cottage

New Member
Dec 12, 2021
13
Vermont
One burn with a short time at 750 stove top won't remove all the black.

I don't know the design of your stove, but if I soot up my window with a few full loads running low, it'll take a full load at full blast to clean up thing
I have the same stove. For clean glass you want the cat temp (guage on the side of the stove) to be in the 1000 area, and you want to have secondary flames shooting from the tubes at the top. On a really hot burn that cat guage could go to 1450, which is about as far as you want to go but totally fine to do.

To get it hotter, most likely, during startup you just need to lower the air at a slower rate so the fire can build more, and even leave the air a little more open for the duration of the burn. What notch is the air set to when you finally let it go on its own?

What I do is get the stove hot enough to close the cat lever (500-600 on cat guage), but leave the air on high. Then after 5 -10 mins lower to 3/4. Then wait a bit more and lower to 2. Then finally, once its got nice and hot, lower to 1 or just below 1 and let it run. At that point my cat guage will be around 1000-1200 steadily. Usually then have clean glass and a nice secondary burn show.
We get the secondary burn (you can peek in on the millimeter clean top edge and see the flames there). I will try your suggestion once it cools down again- a freak 45-57 degree heat wave the next week here means we stay relatively toasty with just a small space heater running. Most likely will be after we get back from our Christmas trip and I will update then. Thanks to you and everyone for the advice!
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
92,798
South Puget Sound, WA
View attachment 287578
The manual and when I called the company both said to never regularly go above 700 surface temps with this stove. So should I disregard what the company says and just blast it? Can you still get the 10-14 hour burn times at high temps? If so how do you do that? Thanks
We can only go by what has been shown to us. 700º on the black and silver catalyst thermometer (inside) is not the same as 700º on the Imperial stovetop thermometer. As the instructions note, the cat thermometer can read 1400º. It's the stovetop Imperial thermometer that should not go higher than 700º. My comment is on these reported temps which show a moderately warm stove, but certainly not hot.

Screen Shot 2021-12-13 at 5.57.51 PM.png
 
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