PA Backroad Burner

New Member
Dec 14, 2017
4
PA
Hoping to get some help...I just bought and installed a PE Summit insert in my masonry fireplace with heatilator setup. I bought my PE based on reviews I had read online. I installed a SS insulated liner in my 16’ chimney, insulated under the rain cap as well as the damper opening of the fireplace, installed a damper backing plate I fabbed out of a .22 gauge steel sheet, insulated and plugged the fireplace ash clean out and outside air intake. On the stove, I had installed the two plates on the rear that cover the “handle” openings and removed the inside air plate underneath the front of the stove. I had researched enough on these forums to think I had everything covered, but after firing up the unit, I feel as though I am not getting the heat output advertised nor the performance I have read about from other owners’ reviews.

The wood I’m burning is good. It’s oak, split and dried for 2+ years and tested for moisture. I have tried a variety of splits, as well as variety of loads in the stove (North/South, East/West, both, etc..)

The highest reading I can get off the stove is approx 430F about 1.5” above the center of the door. That is with the air control full open, after reloading the stove with a freshly raked hot coal bed. Any other time it reads in the 250-400F range regardless of the all the variations in operation that I have tried.

My house is a 1750 sqft ranch with a 1750 sqft unfinished basement. My stove is centered (lengthwise) in the house on the main floor along the back exterior wall. I have been unable to reach 70F in the house, with my thermostat located just around the corner in the hallway immediately off the room in which the stove is located.

The reviews I have read suggest I should easily be able to heat my main floor with this stove. Can anyone provide suggestions? I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks!
 

jackatc1

Feeling the Heat
Aug 15, 2011
384
Port Crane ny
I have a 15 year old PE Summit. House built in 1840. 1st flr. 1500'
Foundation dry laid up stone, old wooden storm windows.
Kitchen one room away from stove that is installed in same set up as yours
The Temp. is 75F Stove room 78F,Stove Temp 550 damper closed.
Burning 2 year old Beech.
Blower on high, wind 15 MPH Temp. 15F
22'SS 6" not insulated no plate.

I suspect your Oak wood. I would try some old untreated 2x4's
Or source some really dry fire wood not oak.
 
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Squisher

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2015
1,623
vernon BC, Canada
How does the box of your summit look? And the glass?

If your system is clean(check the cap!)and properly installed as described the wood is going to be the most likely suspect. How is the wood tested?

I have both a summit pedestal and a super insert. Neither could run wide open and not end up overfired. My pe super insert (size down from the summit) is on a similar chimney. 16' fully insulated and oval to boot. If I were to throw wet wood into them(which I have on occasion mostly by accident, sometimes by necessity) they will fall flat on their face as you described. But with good dry wood, this is what my summit looks like after 10min of WOT(wide open throttle). Overfired, I should've cut it back sooner.

IMG_1555.JPG IMG_1556.JPG
 
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Squisher

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2015
1,623
vernon BC, Canada
I see it daily as a sweep. No one thinks that their wood could possibly be less than ideal. I don't know if it's a pride thing or what. But I've seen people visibly go from friendly to pissed if you start treading down that path.

I was a logger, residential treeworker/certified arborist, and now a chimney sweep. I roll with two different brands of moisture meters and you wouldn't believe how reluctant people are to have me start poking their wood.

It's the main ingredient. And unless something is wrong with the install or the system is plugged. The wood is the biggest variable for how the stove will work.

Room temperature wood should be split and then a moisture meter should be jammed into the freshly exposed face in a bunch of spots. Do a bunch of pieces. Warm the wood to room temperature before splitting it! Less than 20% is good more than 20% is bad.

PE's are easy breathers that are fairly easy to operate. Check the wood, check the chimney.
 

Hogwildz

Minister of Fire
Are you running off an OAK or taking air from the inside the home.
If taking air from inside, you have to remove a knock out or plate depending on what body model you have (A,B or C), is using an OAK, then you want to leave the front plate or knock out in place.
you should at least have that stove room cooking.

Let us know about the air intake method you went with.
Where in PA are you?

2 yr oak is not optimal, especially is it was live fresh when cut & split.
 
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Squisher

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2015
1,623
vernon BC, Canada
i had assumed from the original post that he had the air intake squared away. But Mr. Hogwildz makes a good point and is worth confirming.

When the air is adjusted there should be a visible difference in the firebox. Like from wide open to full closed or vice versa. Does this occur?
 

PA Backroad Burner

New Member
Dec 14, 2017
4
PA
Thank you for all the replies and information gentlemen.

Squisher: In no way am I offended (or ever would be) by the suggestion that it could be my wood. I’m just trying to figure out how to get this stove cooking like all the owner reviews say it does. So I’m happy to listen to any suggestions offered.

Hogwildz: It is the C model Summit stove insert. I am pulling air from inside, so I did remove the front intake cover plate prior to sliding into the fireplace. I’m in York County.

Squisher: There is most definitely a visible difference in the firebox between full open and close on the air intake damper.

Based on everyone’s responses, I will definitely be checking performance with different wood. I have several piles stacked of different species, so I will experiment and get back to everyone. Thank you again for all the replies.
 
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Squisher

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2015
1,623
vernon BC, Canada
Sounds like a good plan. If you don't have a moisture meter just try to find what 'seems' like the driest and expirement if you've got a few different stacks.

Good luck. Hope to hear a report of some good heat output. You'll know you've run a load up good and hot when you start hearing some expansion creaks and pings and when you cut it back the secondaries will just explode in the box and be licking at the glass like an inferno. Also flames will shoot out of the primary air distribution plate for awhile when it's super hot and then air is first cut back. The heat off the front should be nearly overwhelming.

This is an insert so if you're having trouble getting the unit up to temp leave the fan right off at first. It'll work against you even with the thermal switch it's still robbing heat from fairly cool and if the wood is questionable leave it off until it gets good and hot.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,681
South Puget Sound, WA
How is the stove being loaded? It will burn hotter and faster loaded N/S. Where is the air control being set to once the wood is fully aflame? Less air will make a hotter stove. Too much air will send a lot of heat up the chimney.

Was the boost air cover removed and then put back in? Sometimes folks get this backward and cover up the boost air hole.
 
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heavy hammer

Minister of Fire
Jul 18, 2015
1,639
Kirtland Ohio
From what the other have said I say just check your wood. I have almost the exact same setup with my insert and its heats 2400 plus square feet easily. Is the glass clean as well? I am on my second year with mine and the glass never gets dirty unless your wood is a little wet. Last year I thought my wood was perfect but fond out some of it was still not dry enough. The summit is a great heater, once you get it figured out you will be happy. Begreen, Squisher, and Hogwildz are a great help I have gotten their advise more than once. Hope this helps.
 
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dleeallen

Member
Nov 17, 2008
11
Burlington, VT
You might try checking the temp near the corner of the door too. I find my summit insert very hard to get a good reading. But it's very easy to get it so hot is hard to be close to as squisher said. Careful to not over fire it though!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Sodbuster

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2012
1,454
Michigan
I would say it's your wood. Also check the back of the stove there is a cover that needs to be removed if using room air, otherwise you are starving your stove of air, like Hogz said. I'm using room air and my knockout is still in place, maybe I need to remove it??
 

Hogwildz

Minister of Fire
PA BB, go to a local store, buy a few of the pre-split wrapped bundles of firewood, put a few of them in on a bed of coals and see how they burn. I wouldn't load the stove full of them or you will be changing your shorts in short time. That will tell you if it is your wood vs truly dry wood.

If you need assistance, I can come down with some dry wood, and show you how I load & burn my Summit to give you an idea. I can also check the install etc., to make sure its set up properly.

Once you get it dialed in, you're going to love that beast.
 
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PA Backroad Burner

New Member
Dec 14, 2017
4
PA
After all the helpful advice, I got home from work last night and decided to throw some splits from my locust stack in the stove. I was gone from 6am-6pm and still had some coals in the bed. It took a little bit, but the stove topped out at 610F (measured 1.5” above the door). With the stove damper set on “H” high, I was getting pretty steady measurements of 550F. Within a couple hours my house was at 73F (thermostat reading in hallway) with the dining room (stove location) measuring 76-78F. Outside ambient temp was around 24F. I did place a small fan on the floor in the hallway leading back to the bedrooms, blowing back towards the dining room / living room / kitchen area. This really helped get the air circulating back to the bedrooms. By blowing the cold air back toward the stove location, the hot air backfilled the hallway and bedrooms. I cracked my 16 month old sons door open and it maintained his room around 72F with the stove cooking, which was perfect.

The only downside from my burn last night was that I felt I was going through loads fairly quickly in order to maintain the stove and room temps, although I didn’t take notes of how often I loaded. Maybe this is just an erroneous perception, so I will have to take notes as I experiment more with it.

Overall, I think the stove is going to work out really well and I agree with everyone’s assessment that my oak splits just weren’t putting out the btu’s. I just need some time with the stove to dial everything in and find the sweet spot that works best with my setup.

Hogwildz: I appreciate the generous offer and I very well may take you up on it if I run into any issues, but I do believe now that I’ll be able to get this stove dialed in just right as I become more familiar with it. I’ll keep you posted and if you’re ever down in the area you’re welcome to stop by and check it out. My beer fridge is always stocked!

Thanks everyone for weighing in with all the advice. I sincerely appreciate it. This forum is awesome and filled with a lot of knowledge and quality people which is always nice to see in this day and age. I’ll take some photos and post with a further update in the next few days.
 

Squisher

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2015
1,623
vernon BC, Canada
How is the stove being loaded? It will burn hotter and faster loaded N/S. Where is the air control being set to once the wood is fully aflame? Less air will make a hotter stove. Too much air will send a lot of heat up the chimney.

Was the boost air cover removed and then put back in? Sometimes folks get this backward and cover up the boost air hole.
You need to heed Begreens advice here.

These stoves are meant to burn in cycles. So from coals, you open the air wide open and load a full load. The air should be left wide open until you see the temp come up and have lots of vigorous flame in the box, then you need to start cutting the air back in 50% increments(Begreen suggest this often), so first cut the air to half open and watch your fire. You should see robust secondary combustion. The little holes in the top baffle should be lighting off, sometimes they look like blow torches if really hot, so,etimes they are lazier if not quite as hot. These are the 'secondaries' and they are the flame produced from the stove getting hot enough to reburn the smoke. At this point of half open the temp should continue to rise and you should be able to cut the stove back another 50% to 1/4 open. From there only minor adjustments will be needed. All of this should occur within your first 20-45min depending on how hot the stove was when you reloaded, how dry the wood is, how big or small the pieces are, etc, etc.

Once the load is settled in like this the stove should run in that lowest setting for the next 6-8hrs only maybe needing to bump the air open a little bit if you lose secondary combustion. Or near the end of the burn cycle you might open the air up some to burn coals down faster for more heat.

It's a learning curve for certain.
 

MDWOOD

Member
Nov 11, 2013
46
maryland
Hi PA backroad.
You must be close , I'm in northern Balto Co.
I have a super 27 free standing.

I only run my stove on HI (wide open) for a few minutes, just enough to get that wood charred.

If I continue on hi (wide open) I will send all the heat up the chimney and definitely over fire the chimney.

You have to cut down on the air, I have my stove on LO (closed) in less than 10 minutes.

This is how you use these stoves. they will get hot 700+

From your manual

For extended or overnight burns, unsplit logs are preferred.
Remember to char the wood completely on "H" (high)
setting before adjusting air control for overnight burn.

Bill
 

Hogwildz

Minister of Fire
If you would have closed the stove air down, you would have seen longer burn times & a hotter temp.
You DO NOT want to run the stove continually on high.
You DO want to cut the air back(after establishing temp of approx 400 degrees) and cut the air back as far as possible without stalling the stove.
Many of us PE burners can cut the air all the way back, then cruise the stove for 10-12+ hours before reload.

It will be temping to figit with the stove, we all have been there. But once you get the load established and cut the air back, let the stove take over. It should continue to rise another 200 or more degrees all on her own. Just need some patience.

Get yourself a few largest tote bins you can find at Walmart, and store some wood in those in the stove room. In a week or 2 they will be much drier and you should see a big difference in both ignition time & how they burn.

I was laid up with after surgery in 2010, and did just that. See photos.

Here is how I load my Summit to give you an idea of how to achieve long burn times. I load 2x per day approx every 12 hours or so. The wood must be dry to get optimal heat from it.
 

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Squisher

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2015
1,623
vernon BC, Canada
Cutting the air back too hard too fast can often lead into the secondaries being overwhelmed at first and then falling off. You end up in a seesawing process of bumping air open to get secondaries and then cutting back because it's running away a bit. Just saying don't be in a mad dash to cut the air back to fast. I prefer to char my loads fully and settle them in gradually.

The tell tale is what comes out the stack(smoke or not) and what's in the pipe/chimney when you clean it out.

You will get burn times as Hogwildz has stated, espescially off of good hardwoods. But if your wood is questionable and your heat demand is large don't be dismayed if you have to run bumped open a bit and see some shorter burn times as I described. 6-8hrs.
 
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heavy hammer

Minister of Fire
Jul 18, 2015
1,639
Kirtland Ohio
The area your heating and the outside temps will affect your burn times as well. im reloading my summit every six hours or so but right now temps are in the teens and last night we were in the single digits. When the outside temps go up my burn times go up plus we like a very warm house around 74 to 76 sometimes warmer depending on how cold I got throughout the work day. Regardless it is a great heater, also running the blower will cool it down faster compared to not having it on. You will figure it out good luck with it.
 

Sodbuster

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2012
1,454
Michigan
The area your heating and the outside temps will affect your burn times as well. im reloading my summit every six hours or so but right now temps are in the teens and last night we were in the single digits. When the outside temps go up my burn times go up plus we like a very warm house around 74 to 76 sometimes warmer depending on how cold I got throughout the work day. Regardless it is a great heater, also running the blower will cool it down faster compared to not having it on. You will figure it out good luck with it.
Ditto on this. When it's 35-30 degrees I can get by with a morning fire and and evening fire. Furnace doesn't run at all. When it gets really cold 0 to 10 and it's windy, I can fill up to three times a day. I let the furnace cycle on, or I waste wood, by taking out coals that still have heat to give up.
 
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heavy hammer

Minister of Fire
Jul 18, 2015
1,639
Kirtland Ohio
When it's real cold single digits I don't care how much wood we burn. That's what it is for plus I will always get more!
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,681
South Puget Sound, WA
@PA Backroad Burner the key takeaway here is to start closing down the air once the fire is burning well in order to get more heat. Cutting down the primary air allows the draft to pull more air through the secondary ports. Secondary burning makes combustion more complete and the fire hotter. If the wood is dry then cutting back the air until the fire starts to get lazy, will intensify secondary combustion. Do this in increments, maybe 50% at a time, let the fire get lazy, then wait for it to regain strength and close it down 50% more or until the flames get lazy again. The insert temps will rise and the amount of heat wasted up the chimney will significantly decrease.

The second takeaway is that modern stoves love dry wood. Damp or poorly seasoned wood will put out less heat. If the family doesn't mind, bring some of the less seasoned wood into the house where it is warm and dry and let it sit for a week or two.
 
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Hogwildz

Minister of Fire
I would say it's your wood. Also check the back of the stove there is a cover that needs to be removed if using room air, otherwise you are starving your stove of air, like Hogz said. I'm using room air and my knockout is still in place, maybe I need to remove it??
Sod, if she is running well, you may just leave it be. The older A model knock out didn't make much sense to me, as it was in the side casing, and appeared the air could be taken from between the casing & insert body anyway.

The B & C models have a plate on the front behind the air lever, that calls for removal for inside air source. Its a fairly substantial plate, so I removed it. I have nothing to compare against to say whether it matters or not. It is easy enough to remove or replace if needed.
 

Sodbuster

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2012
1,454
Michigan
Sod, if she is running well, you may just leave it be. The older A model knock out didn't make much sense to me, as it was in the side casing, and appeared the air could be taken from between the casing & insert body anyway.

The B & C models have a plate on the front behind the air lever, that calls for removal for inside air source. Its a fairly substantial plate, so I removed it. I have nothing to compare against to say whether it matters or not. It is easy enough to remove or replace if needed.

I think I will, I have a B series, and it's purring like a kitten on 5 year old oak. :)