T5 Chimney Fire...?

Woody5506 Posted By Woody5506, Dec 14, 2018 at 10:06 AM

  1. Woody5506

    Woody5506
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    Feb 14, 2017
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    Well this may be a first for anyone on this forum with this stove and I'm not feeling too cool about it but I'm pretty certain I had a small chimney fire that I miraculously caught before it had a chance to get any worse. Here's the rundown -


    Loaded the stove up with 3 splits of honey locust and two large splits of ash over that for overnight burn. Fire didn't get going as well as I wanted it to so I monitored for 15 or so minutes, opening the air up more, closing it down, waiting, etc. Finally left it open (not fully) and left my wife down there so I could go shower. As I'm getting in the shower, probably less than 10 mins later something told me to just check the chimney which is visible from our bedroom. Lo and behold I see sparks coming out and the chimney illuminating/glowing. Run downstairs, wife is sitting there fairly oblivious and I shut the air totally off and go outside. See a good amount of smoke dump outta the chimney and within a minute or less everything was done....there was nothing coming out of the chimney, not even regular smoke from the load that was still burning. Chimney is double wall stainless, I believe Selkirk.

    My wife said she heard the flue making some popping noises so she turned the air down "a little bit"....When I came down that stove was blazing. Not trying to blame her but, it's a good lesson in how quickly things can take off.

    As far as the chimney fire goes, it surprises me for a couple reasons. One, I was up there about 3 or 4 weeks ago looking at the chimney and everything appeared fine. No unusual build up on the cap, no shiny creosote that I could see in the pipe. During that time I've been burning less than ideal locust. 2 year seasoned but the moisture meter is giving me readings all over the place with it, some at 20% some as high as 35%. Found it hard to believe it could be in the 30's after two years plus no sizzling of any sort when it's burned. I'll assume for now my moisture meter was indeed accurate.

    The last time I cleaned the chimney was September of this year. Right before the season started. Again, surprised that build up can occur that quickly in something that every other time I've cleaned, I've thought afterwards "wow I really didn't even need to clean that"....Usually less than a cup of anything comes out. The amount of badly seasoned locust burned has been about a facecord or a little more.


    As for burning now, it's on hold until I get up there today after work and try to see what damage there may be. I'm hoping there's none since I "think" I caught it quickly and was able to choke it out easily.

    Things I'm taking away from this - Stop ignoring the high readings on my meter even if it is 2 year split/stacked wood, run the soot eater maybe once a month just to be extra safe, and get that flue probe thermometer I've been putting off for a while so I'm not only going by the stove top temp.

    Other advice, opinions and shaming are welcome.
     
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  2. Ludlow

    Ludlow
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    I am beginning to rethink this. Bring back the smoke dragon.
     
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  3. KJamesJR

    KJamesJR
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    Jan 8, 2018
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    Some moisture meters have a calibrated gauge build into the cap. Could be your meter has lost calibration. You can check for calibration when you insert the two prongs into the holes in the cap, if yours has that feature. If not, you should get one that does. The reading when testing should be +/- 2% of nominal or something in that range. Those consumer meters aren't built for indefinite use. Could be your probe is way off given the inconsistent readings your getting or your batteries aren't putting out enough juice.
     
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  4. bholler

    bholler
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    Chances are there was no damage done but checking it out is a good idea. And yes get a flue probe. I think it is the most important peice of equipment.
     
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  5. begreen

    begreen
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    Wondering if this was not a chimney fire at all but instead if the air wide open was letting the fire and secondary combustion occur all the way up the chimney? Ludlow, turning down the air in a timely fashion is important in any stove. A smoke dragon could do the same thing.
     
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  6. bholler

    bholler
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    If he saw Sparks coming out the top of the chimney and a glow it was a chimney fire.
     
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  7. begreen

    begreen
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    If temps were above 1200º in the chimney then secondary combustion can occur there. I've seen red chimneys and sparks coming out of them with new pipe when doing an outdoor break in fire. Essentially it's a rocket stove. But given the poor wood, you are most likely correct.
     
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  8. bholler

    bholler
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    Yes and that is a chimney fire.
     
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  9. Woody5506

    Woody5506
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    I was wondering that too at first but the air was not left wide open, but more than halfway open. Sparks coming out of the top, yes, but not many.
     
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  10. Highbeam

    Highbeam
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    You said earlier that after your chimney fire you were surprised to see nothing coming out of the chimney, not even the regular smoke. There should be no regular smoke. Do you normally see smoke coming from your chimney?
     
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  11. Woody5506

    Woody5506
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    Only at startup but occasionally when air control is closed I will see a very small amount. I've seen more when, I would assume, the air is shut too soon. What I meant was I was surprised to see that clean of a burn immediately after the belch of creosote smoke.
     
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  12. Ludlow

    Ludlow
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    Im again reminded of why I put a gas fireplace in my house versus a wood stove.
     
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  13. Woody5506

    Woody5506
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    My gas bill was bad enough prior to the wood stove, I'm not interested in increasing it.
     
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  14. Ludlow

    Ludlow
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    I hear ya. Since the drilling got going again my gas bills are less than my phone and internet. I pray it continues.
     
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  15. Sawset

    Sawset
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    "Fire didn't get going as well as I wanted it to so I monitored for 15 or so minutes, opening the air up more, closing it down, waiting, etc. Finally left it open (not fully) and left my wife down there so I could go shower. As I'm getting in the shower, probably less than 10 mins later ---"

    This scenario would bother me. Twice, early on, I did something similar. I let the startup carry on for a bit too long, with the stack temps well below 250. And that first year the wood was a bit wet. I thought I could just let the startups linger - as in - it will take care of itself and be alright. After 15-20min or so of slowly waiting, there was a distinct smell of hot creosote. There was so much creosote condensing on the inside of the chimney that it was draining down, inside of the pipe, all the way to the stove, down through the air chambers in back and onto the floor. WTH. Learned my lesson. Now that stack gauge goes above 250 at startup withing minutes. I make sure it does. I didn't have the other issues as you describe, but probably had a small chimney fire nonetheless, and when inspecting later, there was no buildup except soot. Now years later, there have still been no issues, we run a clean chimney, but still I make sure that initial temp goes up quickly. Also, I've noticed, we can burn wood somewhat higher in moisture if that's what it is, just as long as that stack temp goes high and remains high.
     
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  16. begreen

    begreen
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    Yes, nothing goes wrong with gas installations.
     
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  17. Bad LP

    Bad LP
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    Apparently nobody heard of the Lawrence, Andover and North Andover gas explosions back on September 13th. It has cost over 70 million dollars to date and they haven't finished nor repaved all the streets they had to tear up to replace 45 miles of gas mains. Cause was human error.
     
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  18. Ludlow

    Ludlow
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    Statistically insignificant.....

    I do notice that one minute a poster will advocate running it good and hot for awhile and another will say you need to turn down sooner. The old smoke dragons could clog a pipe until the stove wouldnt draft anymore and not catch fire. Now with the EPA stoves, you burn one fire with 21.5% moisture content today and tomorrow you get her up to temp and the chimney becomes a Roman Candle. Seems like an awful lot of chimney fires lately.
     
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  19. bholler

    bholler
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    What makes you say the smoke dragons could clog the pipe and not catch fire? We see way more chimney fires from old stoves than new ones.

    And for the record the number of chimney fires that result in structure fires is statistically insignificant as well. But it is pretty significant to anyone it happens to. There are chimney fires all the time that is why I am so anal about making sure chimneys are correct
     
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  20. woodhog73

    woodhog73
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    The gas company put in natural gas in my area a few years back. I’m very rural but there is a vacation lake a mile away so they brought the line in. I connected. I could probably heat my house at 68 degrees all winter with my new high efficiency furnace for $750 bucks max. But my wood cost nothing but my time to cut it up. My wife loves an 80 degree House. And free heat. Wood burners are a different bunch no doubt. The appeal of turning a switch on a gas appliance is attractive . But a gas fireplace could never replace a wood stove to a true wood burner.

    That said I have a 2nd flue in my basement that I might hook a fancy looking gas stove to. For quick heat when guest are over and I don’t trust over night guests to properly run a wood stove
     
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  21. Matt93eg

    Matt93eg
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    Care to explain why the old smoke dragon that my parents used to heat the house when I was a kid had a chimney fire that cracked every clay liner and also put a vertical crack down the outside of the brick chimney?

    Also I used to work for a chimney company. I have seen my fair share of chimney fire “aftermaths” from smoke dragons.
     
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  22. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot
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    My neighbor's house burned down from a masonry chimney fire with an old wood furnace.
     
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  23. Ludlow

    Ludlow
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    To ask again, how is it that one post will say you need to run it hotter longer up front and the next advocates turning it down quicker as a reason why the fire? Seems to contradict.

    I do enjoy the exchange of viewpoints.
     
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  24. Woody5506

    Woody5506
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    Quick update....


    Inspected the stove, chimney...everything looked normal. Ran the soot eater quick for the heck of it, practically nothing in the pipe (obviously the fire burned it off) nothing looked warped, etc. Cautiously burning some ash now......carry on.
     
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  25. bholler

    bholler
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    Can you give an example of this? There are different way to burn different types of stoves so I really can't give you an answer without knowing more.
     
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