Stove setup, creosote, wood, etc questions

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Jhelmick

New Member
Jun 6, 2022
31
Charlotte, VT
Hello,
New member. I started burning wood 2 years ago when we moved into our new place, but grew up with my parents and grand parents heating with wood.

We have a 2020 Summers Heat model 50-SHSSW01. Double wall pipe with a 45 and a 90 and another 90 where it enters class A pipe in the chase. Total pipe length is about 25 ft. 1.5 story house with 1700 sq ft. We burn about 2 cords per year. A mix of cherry, ash, birch, maple and rarely oak. Season it in the open for 1 year, stacked off the ground in 2 rows with 2 ft between. Uncovered. Move it to a covered shed in the fall prior to burning. If I remember right moisture meter usually reads 10-15% but not sure how accurate that is. We tend to burn hot- 550-650 stove top and 850 to 950 flue temps. This is with the stove shut down all the way it will always take off and get that hot. I added a damper which helps some but still have to watch how much we load. Also watch the size of splits- only burn large splits at night which helps decrease how much it takes off.
I’m having several issues. One is creosote. Fires do seem to get lazy late in the season. The past 2 years the sweep said we had a lot of build up for only burning 2 cords. His advice is always to burn hot. I’d be afraid to burn any hotter. My other thought was seasoning wood longer however, I would worry about the stove taking off more.
Because the stove likes to take off we get a lot of heat until about 3am, then the stove cools off just as the temps are bottoming out outside.
I’m assuming the stove takes off because of strong draft due to the long stove pipe. Anything else I can do other than the damper to decrease this? I’ve thought about restricting intact air. The primary source is a hole that opens into the chamber below the fire box. No great way to control it from there.
Im intrigued by the BK Chinook 30, but have never burned a cat stove. It seems that with 900 degree flue temps, a lot of heat is being lost out the chimney. Maybe we’d keep more of that heat with the BK? I don’t quite understand why we are getting creosote with flue temps that high. Could the BK help creosote buildup due to cleaner burning? Maybe I could season the wood longer without having to worry about the BK taking off which may help creosote. Would excessive draft still be an issue with the BK? I’m assuming the BK would provide more even heat and hopefully longer burn times.
Appreciate any thoughts. Thanks
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,158
central pa
Hello,
New member. I started burning wood 2 years ago when we moved into our new place, but grew up with my parents and grand parents heating with wood.

We have a 2020 Summers Heat model 50-SHSSW01. Double wall pipe with a 45 and a 90 and another 90 where it enters class A pipe in the chase. Total pipe length is about 25 ft. 1.5 story house with 1700 sq ft. We burn about 2 cords per year. A mix of cherry, ash, birch, maple and rarely oak. Season it in the open for 1 year, stacked off the ground in 2 rows with 2 ft between. Uncovered. Move it to a covered shed in the fall prior to burning. If I remember right moisture meter usually reads 10-15% but not sure how accurate that is. We tend to burn hot- 550-650 stove top and 850 to 950 flue temps. This is with the stove shut down all the way it will always take off and get that hot. I added a damper which helps some but still have to watch how much we load. Also watch the size of splits- only burn large splits at night which helps decrease how much it takes off.
I’m having several issues. One is creosote. Fires do seem to get lazy late in the season. The past 2 years the sweep said we had a lot of build up for only burning 2 cords. His advice is always to burn hot. I’d be afraid to burn any hotter. My other thought was seasoning wood longer however, I would worry about the stove taking off more.
Because the stove likes to take off we get a lot of heat until about 3am, then the stove cools off just as the temps are bottoming out outside.
I’m assuming the stove takes off because of strong draft due to the long stove pipe. Anything else I can do other than the damper to decrease this? I’ve thought about restricting intact air. The primary source is a hole that opens into the chamber below the fire box. No great way to control it from there.
Im intrigued by the BK Chinook 30, but have never burned a cat stove. It seems that with 900 degree flue temps, a lot of heat is being lost out the chimney. Maybe we’d keep more of that heat with the BK? I don’t quite understand why we are getting creosote with flue temps that high. Could the BK help creosote buildup due to cleaner burning? Maybe I could season the wood longer without having to worry about the BK taking off which may help creosote. Would excessive draft still be an issue with the BK? I’m assuming the BK would provide more even heat and hopefully longer burn times.
Appreciate any thoughts. Thanks
How are you using your moisture meter? Have you checked the door gasket? At 25' with those elbows I don't think you should have excessive draft at all
 

Jhelmick

New Member
Jun 6, 2022
31
Charlotte, VT
To use the meter I push the prongs into the center of the split. It has a bunch of different settings and I’m not 100% I’m using the correct one.

The gasket looks to be in good shape. Anything I need to do other than a general look over?

Thanks
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,158
central pa
To use the meter I push the prongs into the center of the split. It has a bunch of different settings and I’m not 100% I’m using the correct one.

The gasket looks to be in good shape. Anything I need to do other than a general look over?

Thanks
When you measure is your wood at room temperature and are you measuring on a freshly split face?

Looks of the gasket don't matter. Take a dollar bill and shut it in the door. If it pulls out easily you need to adjust the door or need new gasket. Also check the glass gasket.
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
17,589
Philadelphia
Also check the glass gasket.
To check the glass gasket, open the door when the stove is cold, hold the door between your knees, grab the glass with your palms on both inside and outside, and try to shift it around within the door frame. If you can move it without a lot of effort, you may need to replace the glass gasket, or tighten the retainers.

Door gaskets usually go bad much faster than glass gasket, due to the wear and tear of opening/closing the door, and inadvertent damage when loading wood.
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,158
central pa
To check the glass gasket, open the door when the stove is cold, hold the door between your knees, grab the glass with your palms on both inside and outside, and try to shift it around within the door frame. If you can move it without a lot of effort, you may need to replace the glass gasket, or tighten the retainers.

Door gaskets usually go bad much faster than glass gasket, due to the wear and tear of opening/closing the door, and inadvertent damage when loading wood.
Yes but on these cheaper stoves many times the gaskets were never fitted correctly to begin with.
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
17,589
Philadelphia
Im intrigued by the BK Chinook 30, but have never burned a cat stove. It seems that with 900 degree flue temps, a lot of heat is being lost out the chimney. Maybe we’d keep more of that heat with the BK? I don’t quite understand why we are getting creosote with flue temps that high. Could the BK help creosote buildup due to cleaner burning? Maybe I could season the wood longer without having to worry about the BK taking off which may help creosote. Would excessive draft still be an issue with the BK? I’m assuming the BK would provide more even heat and hopefully longer burn times.
Appreciate any thoughts. Thanks
I'll let bholler answer the questions on your Summers Heat, I have no experience with that brand. But I have put about 70 cords of various hardwoods thru a pair of BK Ashford 30.1's over the last half dozen years, so I can answer some of your questions on the Chinook 30. The Ashford 30 and Chinook 30 are really the same stove, just wearing different outer skins.


1. It seems that with 900 degree flue temps, a lot of heat is being lost out the chimney.

A: Yes, a lot of heat is being lost up the chimney. I don't know how hot other non-cats run, but to someone who's only ever run cat stoves, that sounds awful high. I'm used to seeing 250F - 400F on the flue probe in my double-wall pipe, about 14" above the stove.

2. Maybe we’d keep more of that heat with the BK?

A: I suspect you have some installation or operation problem affecting your wood usage right now. But taking that off the table, and assuming both stoves were installed and operated properly the BK should burn slightly less wood. Likely not enough to make it the sole reason for switching, but something like 4% on average, based on the LHV and HHV eff% published for each.

3. Could the BK help creosote buildup due to cleaner burning?

A: Both of these stoves should burn clean, creosote build-up should not be an issue with either, if installed and operated properly. In fact, the BK is usually not quite as clean as most good non-cats, if you really want to split hairs.

4. Maybe I could season the wood longer without having to worry about the BK taking off which may help creosote.

A: This is one of the advantages of BK, they are infinitely controllable, from raging inferno to black box in seconds, with the turn of a knob. That said, most of the stove-buying market is doing just fine controlling their non-cats, others here can give you some pointers on how and when to throttle back on fresh load, to maintain better control.

5. Would excessive draft still be an issue with the BK?

A: Excessive draft does not seem to pose any controllability problem for the BK 30's. I ran one of mine on 4x the recommended draft for a full year, with absolutely no controllability issues. However, I did have issues with fly ash stirred up from all that high-velocity airflow, which could cause some ash-clogging issues in the catalytic combustor. Dialing back my draft with the use of a key damper in the pipe above the stove resolved that issue.

6. I’m assuming the BK would provide more even heat and hopefully longer burn times.

A: Yes, that's their primary selling point. A Chinook 30 should run 24 - 36 hours on a single load of hardwood, at the lowest output setting. Mind the point, you likely won't be heating the castle on that amount of wood in January, but it gives some nice flexibility for the months that aren't blistering cold, or any other time you want low heat over a longer period.

7. Appreciate any thoughts.

A: BK is a good brand, with excellent support. That's not to say there aren't many others about whom you could say the same. If you want a BK, go for it, you likely won't regret it. If you choose another brand, ping the members who own it, to see what their experience has been, especially how the company has handled it if they've had any issues. Most importantly, remember that a stove is just another appliance, and one that's quite easy to re-sell with relatively little depreciation when you're done with it, if you keep it clean. So, don't fret the choice too much, you're not married to it, you can always try something else if you learn your first choice wasn't the best for your needs.
 

Jhelmick

New Member
Jun 6, 2022
31
Charlotte, VT
When you measure is your wood at room temperature and are you measuring on a freshly split face?

Looks of the gasket don't matter. Take a dollar bill and shut it in the door. If it pulls out easily you need to adjust the door or need new gasket. Also check the glass gasket.
Will definitely try the dollar bill test.

Yes to the split face at room temp.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
96,312
South Puget Sound, WA
Tell us how you run the stove, starting with how it is loaded, when the air is turned down, how far the air is turned down, temp readings, etc.

Definitely do the dollar bill test. There has been some door warpage noted on some of these stoves. Also, IIRC this stove has the startup air control. If that gets stuck open, it can cause the stove to burn too hot.

Is the wood moisture being tested after the wood has been resplit and on the freshly exposed face of the wood?
 

moresnow

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
2,074
Iowa
Something to look at. Not sure if this applies to your stove model for sure.
Open the loading door and put a straight edge on the stove face where the door gasket seats when the door is closed. Check that surface all the way around the door opening. I seem to recall some of the S.H. models had a problem sealing due to warping/defect on the front face of the stove . This caused a poor door seal leading to excessive wood consumption and tough burn control which are your symptoms. Take a peak. Let us know. Good luck.
 

Jhelmick

New Member
Jun 6, 2022
31
Charlotte, VT
Tell us how you run the stove, starting with how it is loaded, when the air is turned down, how far the air is turned down, temp readings, etc.

Definitely do the dollar bill test. There has been some door warpage noted on some of these stoves. Also, IIRC this stove has the startup air control. If that gets stuck open, it can cause the stove to burn too hot.

Is the wood moisture being tested after the wood has been resplit and on the freshly exposed face of the wood?
As far as running the stove, I usually build a top down fire. 3 decent splits on bottom. Leave the door cracked and secondary air fully open. Let the flue temp get to about 600. Close the crack further for a while. Then eventually close it completely.
I find if I close it too early, there’s not enough draft and the fire snuffs out. Then I let the flue temp climb to about 800 and start slowly backing down on the secondary air- half closed, then 3/4 closed, then fully closed at probably 10min intervals. End up with a nice secondary burn for a while. We reload it as needed. 2-3 splits at a time. If you load more than that it will take off and flue temps will go over 1000.
At night I usually add 4-5 large splits and set the automatic air set back. I also close the damper about 90% of the way. I’ll often check on it in an hr or 2 before going to sleep. It’s usually roaring away at 1000-1200 degrees. Sometimes I’ll adjust the damper to slow it down if it’s over 1000. Works ok. Stove top temp is usually at 400 degrees With a fair amount of coals left over 8hrs later. I usually hear the furnace kick on at about 4am. If I’m up I’ll add some wood.

I’ve found that loading logs sideways rather than front to back helps. It seems to slow the air coming from the primary hole in the front center instead of letting it run between logs that are stacked front to back.

Many days we can stop loading the stove after a short fire in the morning and let it go out. Restart at about 4-5pm. If it’s cold out and we need a fire during the day, we end up getting a lot of coals built up which takes a long time to get to burn up before we can load it again.

I typically only use the automatic air setback at night. I’ve worried about it not working but I’ve not found an instance where it definitely didn’t. Times I was worried about that I would disengage it and shut the air all the way down and no change.

I did the dollar bill test and it’s tight all the way around. Couldn’t pull it out.

As far as moisture tester, that makes a lot of sense. I had not been freshly splitting it prior to testing. Just testing the exposed split edge. Will try testing after splitting again from now on.

Thanks so much for the help.
 

Jhelmick

New Member
Jun 6, 2022
31
Charlotte, VT
Something to look at. Not sure if this applies to your stove model for sure.
Open the loading door and put a straight edge on the stove face where the door gasket seats when the door is closed. Check that surface all the way around the door opening. I seem to recall some of the S.H. models had a problem sealing due to warping/defect on the front face of the stove . This caused a poor door seal leading to excessive wood consumption and tough burn control which are your symptoms. Take a peak. Let us know. Good luck.
I put a straight edge on the front of the stove all the way around where the gasket seals and it’s good and straight. No warping fortunately. It also passed the dollar bill test.

One thing I forgot to mention is I am getting some paint peeling along the middle 1/3 of the door on both the hinge side and the latch side. The door is cast, the rest of the stove is steel. I was worried that is a sign of it getting too hot. Maybe there was an issue with paint prep? Figured I’d mention it.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,158
central pa
As far as running the stove, I usually build a top down fire. 3 decent splits on bottom. Leave the door cracked and secondary air fully open. Let the flue temp get to about 600. Close the crack further for a while. Then eventually close it completely.
I find if I close it too early, there’s not enough draft and the fire snuffs out. Then I let the flue temp climb to about 800 and start slowly backing down on the secondary air- half closed, then 3/4 closed, then fully closed at probably 10min intervals. End up with a nice secondary burn for a while. We reload it as needed. 2-3 splits at a time. If you load more than that it will take off and flue temps will go over 1000.
At night I usually add 4-5 large splits and set the automatic air set back. I also close the damper about 90% of the way. I’ll often check on it in an hr or 2 before going to sleep. It’s usually roaring away at 1000-1200 degrees. Sometimes I’ll adjust the damper to slow it down if it’s over 1000. Works ok. Stove top temp is usually at 400 degrees With a fair amount of coals left over 8hrs later. I usually hear the furnace kick on at about 4am. If I’m up I’ll add some wood.

I’ve found that loading logs sideways rather than front to back helps. It seems to slow the air coming from the primary hole in the front center instead of letting it run between logs that are stacked front to back.

Many days we can stop loading the stove after a short fire in the morning and let it go out. Restart at about 4-5pm. If it’s cold out and we need a fire during the day, we end up getting a lot of coals built up which takes a long time to get to burn up before we can load it again.

I typically only use the automatic air setback at night. I’ve worried about it not working but I’ve not found an instance where it definitely didn’t. Times I was worried about that I would disengage it and shut the air all the way down and no change.

I did the dollar bill test and it’s tight all the way around. Couldn’t pull it out.

As far as moisture tester, that makes a lot of sense. I had not been freshly splitting it prior to testing. Just testing the exposed split edge. Will try testing after splitting again from now on.

Thanks so much for the help.
Some things just aren't adding up. The flue temps are really high. You say the fire dies if you shut back to much at 600. That points me towards wet wood or poor draft.
 

Jhelmick

New Member
Jun 6, 2022
31
Charlotte, VT
Some things just aren't adding up. The flue temps are really high. You say the fire dies if you shut back to much at 600. That points me towards wet wood or poor draft.
Yeah, if I shut the door too quickly or turn the air down too quickly it will smolder out and die.

I felt the flue temps were high as well. It seems to take those high temps to get enough draft going. After it’s going we can let the flue temps drop to 400 and it will be fine. Just doesn’t seem to put out a lot of heat.

As far as the wood goes, I’d considered trying 2 year seasoned wood, but i was worried about things taking off even more of the wood was drier. I’ve burned wood that was seasoned longer and definitely had that issue. It seems up here 1 year is the norm. Is that common?
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,158
central pa
Yeah, if I shut the door too quickly or turn the air down too quickly it will smolder out and die.

I felt the flue temps were high as well. It seems to take those high temps to get enough draft going. After it’s going we can let the flue temps drop to 400 and it will be fine. Just doesn’t seem to put out a lot of heat.

As far as the wood goes, I’d considered trying 2 year seasoned wood, but i was worried about things taking off even more of the wood was drier. I’ve burned wood that was seasoned longer and definitely had that issue. It seems up here 1 year is the norm. Is that common?
Time drying doesn't matter moisture content does. There are way to many variables to say one year is ok or two or even 3.


Proper seasoning means faster starts faster turndown which should make your temps more controllable
 

Jhelmick

New Member
Jun 6, 2022
31
Charlotte, VT
Time drying doesn't matter moisture content does. There are way to many variables to say one year is ok or two or even 3.


Proper seasoning means faster starts faster turndown which should make your temps more controllable
Makes sense. Will see if I can get more accurate moisture readings.
 

Jhelmick

New Member
Jun 6, 2022
31
Charlotte, VT
Makes sense. Will see if I can get more accurate moisture readings.
I was checking moisture levels today. Freshly splitting definitely makes a difference and that makes sense. On what I have stacked for this fall, I was getting 22-23%. On a piece I had left over from last year I got 12%. Who knows where it was a few months ago.

I know they recommend only burning under 20%. Is there an ideal? Is the lower the moisture the better?

I’m considering buying some kiln dried for this winter and let my stack season another year. I’m curious if it will make a difference. They say it comes at 8-16% now. I’d probably go ahead and put that in my covered shed until time to burn. Would this be worth trying?

Thanks
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
17,589
Philadelphia
I was checking moisture levels today. Freshly splitting definitely makes a difference and that makes sense. On what I have stacked for this fall, I was getting 22-23%. On a piece I had left over from last year I got 12%. Who knows where it was a few months ago.

I know they recommend only burning under 20%. Is there an ideal? Is the lower the moisture the better?

I’m considering buying some kiln dried for this winter and let my stack season another year. I’m curious if it will make a difference. They say it comes at 8-16% now. I’d probably go ahead and put that in my covered shed until time to burn. Would this be worth trying?

Thanks
Most target under 20%, and you won't be able to get much below 15% in your climate, unless you keep the wood indoors. Even 8% KD lumber will come up to 15% if left a few months in an un-heated shed, in most of USA and Canada, excepting the desert soutwest.

Also note that KD firewood is not the same as KD lumber. Lumber is kilned to get it to a stable moisture content for milling, whereas firewood is not KD'd for moisture, but to satisfy requirements for pest and disease control. I honestly don't know what MC% you'll get from KD'd firewood, I don't think it can be guaranteed. The numbers you propose may be true, or not... depending on the season and location in which it's kilned.
 

Jhelmick

New Member
Jun 6, 2022
31
Charlotte, VT
Most target under 20%, and you won't be able to get much below 15% in your climate, unless you keep the wood indoors. Even 8% KD lumber will come up to 15% if left a few months in an un-heated shed, in most of USA and Canada, excepting the desert soutwest.

Also note that KD firewood is not the same as KD lumber. Lumber is kilned to get it to a stable moisture content for milling, whereas firewood is not KD'd for moisture, but to satisfy requirements for pest and disease control. I honestly don't know what MC% you'll get from KD'd firewood, I don't think it can be guaranteed. The numbers you propose may be true, or not... depending on the season and location in which it's kilned.
Makes sense. I’ll be curious to see where my wood is this fall when we move it into the shed. At 23% now it seems well on its way to getting below 20%.

Assuming that was the case last year since it’s the same conditions, then that makes me worry wet wood is not the cause of my creosote issue. Which puts me back at square one.

I think I’ll try to find some dry wood for this year and let mine season another year and see where that leaves me.

Does anyone have Blaze King Chinook 30 experience? I’m wondering if that would help my issues of longer heat output and more temperature control.

Thanks
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,158
central pa
Makes sense. I’ll be curious to see where my wood is this fall when we move it into the shed. At 23% now it seems well on its way to getting below 20%.

Assuming that was the case last year since it’s the same conditions, then that makes me worry wet wood is not the cause of my creosote issue. Which puts me back at square one.

I think I’ll try to find some dry wood for this year and let mine season another year and see where that leaves me.

Does anyone have Blaze King Chinook 30 experience? I’m wondering if that would help my issues of longer heat output and more temperature control.

Thanks
Longer output and more control absolutely. But those longer burns will be at a lower BTU output. As far as the creosote issue it probably won't change that
 
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DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
1,453
Texas
I don’t think I’ve seen @stoveliker posting recently, but he burns a BK Chinook. Maybe he’ll be able to chime in to give you information you’re looking for.

@Ashful and @moresnow have the Ashford and the Sirocco respectively. It’s my understanding that the three stoves all have the same firebox, but the exteriors are different. The Ashford has a cast iron cladding, the Sirocco is plain steel, and the Chinook has a steel convection jacket. Does that sound right, BK folk?
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
17,589
Philadelphia
@Ashful and @moresnow have the Ashford and the Sirocco respectively. It’s my understanding that the three stoves all have the same firebox, but the exteriors are different. The Ashford has a cast iron cladding, the Sirocco is plain steel, and the Chinook has a steel convection jacket. Does that sound right, BK folk?
yep. See my post #7 above. for a (too long) full write-up on the BK 30's.
 

Jhelmick

New Member
Jun 6, 2022
31
Charlotte, VT
yep. See my post #7 above. for a (too long) full write-up on the BK 30's.
I somehow missed that one before. My apologies. Excellent info, especially the bit about not fretting on choice. Definitely answered my questions. One last question is how loud is the fan?

Thanks