Noob - New Stove - Very bad smell! Help!

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GMG

New Member
Nov 8, 2016
7
France
We're in the SW of France, where the weather has turned and we've had an Arduro wood stove installed a couple weeks ago. We ran it on and off over a few days with all seeming to go well until yesterday morning, when we woke to a very strong smell in the house. I had a look at the stove and found that around the join between the chimney and stove, there was a tarry liquid bubbling away and the source of the smell. We'd been using oak, that's apparently seasoned, so I was surprised that this was there, not to mention how quickly such a large amount had built up (it's run from the joint, over the top plate (below an insulating plate...so hard to reach!) and down along the doorway to the floor).

I let everything cool down and cleaned out the stove and have 2 questions:

1- I've never installed a stove, so am not really qualified to assess the work, but wonder if the installer simply failed to use a compound to seal the joint (and if compound is always used?). Aside from not using compound, are there other likely reasons for this problem? The person who installed it is a jack-of-all-trades type, employed by the owner of the house we're renting and it would be helpful to understand as much as possible so that we can work together to resolve this. Things can move slowly around here and I don't want it to take many attempts to fix this (I'm also buying a carbon monoxide detector to ensure that we minimise risk to our family, in case it does take several attempts before it's fixed)

2- The tarry substance has hardened, and I'll need to clean it (it's in some hard-to-get-to places as well and gummed up the joint for the damper...argh!). Any recommendations on natural stuff or active ingredients that should be in cleaning products to remove this? Looks like it won't be easy. As I'm out in a rural area, finding products that are common in large (anglo!) building supply places is unlikely here (which is the reason that I'm asking for active ingredients or natural solutions, as that will help track down corresponding products available in France).

Many thanks for any suggestions!
 
That black tarry stuff is creosote. Creosote is in the smoke that is generated by a wood stove.
Your problem is that creosote is condensing on the inside of your stove pipe. Your stove pipe is like a giant still for making alcohol, but your still is making creosote.
This happens to every wood stove to some degree. You have a bad problem with so much creosote running down the pipe in just 2 days.
Do you have a long length of uninsulated metal pipe inside the house? If so you need to change it for insulated pipe.
 
Cleaning that creosote up is a good idea, but it's treating the symptom not the ailment. You should get some pictures up here of the stove and setup. You should confirm the moisture content of your wood with a moisture meter, and you should confirm the temperatures that your stove is running at with a thermometer. You're looking for wood with 20% or less moisture content and stove top temps of about 500 degrees f. Although I'm unfamiliar with your stove but your manual should give you temps and where to read them.

It's a new stove, so have you had a fire hot enough in it yet that any of the paint has burned off/cured. Like has it got hot and smoke either come off of it or the connecting pipes that smelled really noxious and you had to open up windows and whatnot?

If you haven't then you're not getting nearly hot enough.
 
One thing that you can check right away. Stove pipe has a plain (female) end and a crimped (male) end. The male end is always pointing down, toward the stove. The male end inserts into the flue collar. This is so that the creosote produced drips back into the stove to be reburned instead of dripping out at the joints.
 
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One thing that you can check right away. Stove pipe has a plain (female) end and a crimped (male) end. The male end is always pointing down, toward the stove. The male end inserts into the flue collar. This is so that the creosote produced drips back into the stove to be reburned instead of dripping out at the joints.

Exactly. The top piece should always slide into the one below it...not over.
 
That black tarry stuff is creosote.

Yes, it's quite long pipe (as it's in a room with a very high ceiling).
I thought it would be creosote, but was surprised by how much and how quickly it appeared. The installer stopped by this afternoon and said he thinks it might be plastic that was lining the chimney pipe, but I'm wondering about this because 1) the quantity seems too great for some liner plastic (and knowing this would be used for a chimney, lining it with plastic, even for transport seems like inviting a problem). Even if that was the cause, I'd have thought that it would not come through the joint. He mentioned that it's not sealed, but I'd have thought there should be a seal between the pipe and stove?
 
Cleaning that creosote up is a good idea, but it's treating the symptom not the ailment.
Agreed! Any suggestions on best way to do this?
You should get some pictures up here of the stove and setup. You should confirm the moisture content of your wood with a moisture meter, and you should confirm the temperatures that your stove is running at with a thermometer...
Will try to get pics. I think I've got a moisture meter somewhere. Will try and dig it out and I'll look at the manual for temps.

It's a new stove, so have you had a fire hot enough in it yet that any of the paint has burned off/cured. Like has it got hot and smoke either come off of it or the connecting pipes that smelled really noxious and you had to open up windows and whatnot?
If you haven't then you're not getting nearly hot enough.
The manual advised to run the initial fires with the door slightly ajar, which did and susbsequently I've had it running with around three to 4 four 33cm logs (it's got a small capacity and doesn't fit standard logs...annoying). So it's burned, I think as hot as it'll go. It gave off a smell from the paint for the first couple days. Then a day or two was fine, but then the smell that led to this email appeared.
 
One thing that you can check right away. Stove pipe has a plain (female) end and a crimped (male) end. The male end is always pointing down, toward the stove...
Thanks. Will check this with the installer in the morning.
 

"Cleaning that creosote up is a good idea, but it's treating the symptom not the ailment."

"Agreed! Any suggestions on best way to do this?"

My suggestion to swap the single wall pipe for insulated pipe was to try to cure the creosote problem. There also have been 3 or 4 other suggestions offered to you.
 
You can google cleaning creosote off bricks to give you some ideas on some basic ingredients for cleaning creosote off of things. Depending on the severity it isn't going to be easy to clean. Whatever retailer you bought your stove from may have some commercial products available otherwise you're going to be doing some expirementing to figure out what works.

People here are just more eager to help to figure out the root of the problem rather than just how to clean up the mess.
 
Thanks. Will check this with the installer in the morning.

I am anxious to see how this is. If the installer did it wrong you may need to try to separate it yourself to get the honest answer.
 
To check wood with a moisture meter, re-split a piece and test on the freshly-exposed face. Jam the pins into the wood firmly. 20% or less is good, but I doubt your Oak is that dry.
 
Thanks to each of you for your help! Here are some pics...
 

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Thanks to each of you for your help! Here are some pics...
Thank you. Do not forget to split and check wood moisture content.
 
if you pick at the goo, can you verify that it is consistent with plastic as your installer suggests or is it really creosote?
you can usually just snap in two a splinter of wood to see if it's so green it would cause your stove to expel such an abundance of goo. It should be easy to tell if it's plastic or not.
 
do you have stainless steel appliance adapter between the stove collar and class a pipe?
 
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The installer seems to be stalling. Plastic and creosote are very different materials, but regardless whatever is in the pipe is supposed to flow back into the stove. The way to do that is to have the pipe's male end inserted into the flue collar. Allowing that tarry substance to fall on the stove top is dangerous and must be fixed.
 
The person who installed it is a jack-of-all-trades type, employed by the owner of the house we're renting and it would be helpful to understand as much as possible so that we can work together to resolve this
The installer seems to be stalling
I would not let this hack get anywhere near the stove again. Either get up to speed on how to fix it yourself, or get a certified pro to fix it. Even with a corrected install, I fear you still have a wet-wood problem. Without dry wood, the stove will be hard to run, won't put out much heat, and will be dangerous unless you brush the flue every few weeks. You could buy "eco-brick" fuel to use, but I don't know how pricey it will be over there...
 
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Update!

The installer came full of contrition...and a correct joint (I.e. male to swap out with the previous). He's back today to ensure that a couple details are set right. In the meantime I've gone into town and bought a carbon monoxide detector to install (I'm playing it safe that this is all done as it should be)!
I went out this morning and split some wood and used a moisture meter and the values are all good (16-19).
Unfortunately some of the paint has rubbed off the top of the stove and the bare metal shows. I'm assuming I'll need to paint this as I imagine it'll otherwise rust?
Thanks to all of you for your help. Exceptionally wonderful and helpful! I'll let you know how we get on once everything is set and we light it again.
 
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split some wood and used a moisture meter and the values are all good (16-19).
If that's the case, I wonder why your pipe had so much runny creosote after just a few days of use? Did you see the secondary burn of the smoke when you used the stove? Did you go outside to confirm that there was no smoke coming from the stack, once you had the stove up to operating temp and the air cut back to your cruise setting? If not, the "operation" section of your manual should lay out the procedure for getting the stove to run clean.
 
Thanks. The installer went to specialist before coming out with the (male) joint for the stove itself. We'd had lots of wet weather and the other thing that he'd been advised was that the gap between the chimney cap and the opening is too great. He's replacing it with something with a shorter gap. Could that explain it?
 
Thanks. The installer went to specialist before coming out with the (male) joint for the stove itself. We'd had lots of wet weather and the other thing that he'd been advised was that the gap between the chimney cap and the opening is too great. He's replacing it with something with a shorter gap. Could that explain it?
Possibly. If that "creosote" in the picture above is mostly water, I guess they are saying that rain was getting inside the pipe because the cap sat too high?
I'll let you know how we get on once everything is set and we light it again.
Looking forward to hearing how it works out. I assume everything was installed according to the stove maker's and chimney maker's instructions? How tall is the chimney, from the top of the stove to the top of the stack?
 
Stove installer should remove all creosote deposits and drips on the stove, then touch up the bare metal areas.

To keep creosote build up at a minimum, during milder weather burn shorter hot fires and avoid low, slow burning fires. This year, if the wood is not very well seasoned expect to have the flue system cleaned every 3-4 cubic meters of wood burned until you see how cleanly the system burns.
 
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