VC Dauntless, problems with smoke

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anniemade

New Member
Feb 15, 2021
5
Maine
Hello! New to this forum. We installed a new Vermont Castings Dauntless in November. We have been having an issue with smoke coming into our house when we are loading the stove and cannot figure it out. Any insight would be helpful! We had it professionally installed and the dealer has been to our house to service it, telling us that there was no issue. (There obviously is.)

Getting the stove going is hard/takes almost an hour, but we have mostly figured that out. We are coming off an old, larger model, so have had to get used to using much more small wood and kindling. The manual calls for 4# to start each fire and that is about right. Once the fire is established and we want to add wood from the top, no matter what we do, smoke comes into our house. The dealer told us to hold the lid at an angle for a minute before opening fully, to reorient the smoke, which doesn't work. This isn't exactly all the time, but most, even today after it's been running for several days straight, when I was adding logs, it let smoke into our house. Honestly, we can't figure out what is different/next steps!

Other things to know-->
  • Wood is dry, mix of hard + softwoods
  • All dampers are open
  • Flexburn, no cat
  • Chimney was new in 2005, is clean + clear
  • Ash removal regularly
  • Weekly inspection/clearing of the air holes in the back, as we burn it so much
Otherwise, the Dauntless has been great. So pretty, efficient, runs for days. But, this has been exasperating. Thanks for any thoughts!
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,130
central pa
Hello! New to this forum. We installed a new Vermont Castings Dauntless in November. We have been having an issue with smoke coming into our house when we are loading the stove and cannot figure it out. Any insight would be helpful! We had it professionally installed and the dealer has been to our house to service it, telling us that there was no issue. (There obviously is.)

Getting the stove going is hard/takes almost an hour, but we have mostly figured that out. We are coming off an old, larger model, so have had to get used to using much more small wood and kindling. The manual calls for 4# to start each fire and that is about right. Once the fire is established and we want to add wood from the top, no matter what we do, smoke comes into our house. The dealer told us to hold the lid at an angle for a minute before opening fully, to reorient the smoke, which doesn't work. This isn't exactly all the time, but most, even today after it's been running for several days straight, when I was adding logs, it let smoke into our house. Honestly, we can't figure out what is different/next steps!

Other things to know-->
  • Wood is dry, mix of hard + softwoods
  • All dampers are open
  • Flexburn, no cat
  • Chimney was new in 2005, is clean + clear
  • Ash removal regularly
  • Weekly inspection/clearing of the air holes in the back, as we burn it so much
Otherwise, the Dauntless has been great. So pretty, efficient, runs for days. But, this has been exasperating. Thanks for any thoughts!
How tall is your chimney
 

Jmorg

New Member
Feb 26, 2021
38
Virginia
Hello Anniemade, just wondering if your issue was ever resolved? I just had a Dauntless installed and can’t wait for cool weather so I can light it up!
 
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,937
Long Island NY
Is your home very tight (modern insulated)? Do you have (e.g. bathroom) exhaust fans on?
What happens if you open a window while you reload (to let in air, remove any underpressure ("vacuum"))?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,572
South Puget Sound, WA
It would be great to know more about the installation but the OP has not been back on H.com for almost 6 months. The symptoms sound like weak draft. This could be for a number of factors. We don't know what the stove was vented into (masonry or metal chimney), stove location, etc.

Jmorg, what is your flue setup like?
 
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Jmorg

New Member
Feb 26, 2021
38
Virginia
It would be great to know more about the installation but the OP has not been back on H.com for almost 6 months. The symptoms sound like weak draft. This could be for a number of factors. We don't know what the stove was vented into (masonry or metal chimney), stove location, etc.

Jmorg, what is your flue setup like?
Begreen, I’m using it as a hearth stove. I have a masonry chimney but it’s fully lined with a stainless steel liner and insulated. It’s got a good draft and I’ve been using a wood insert but have been wanting another free standing stove for a while. I really like the look of VC but have been leery of getting one because of the negative reviews in recent years. Hopefully they have done a better job with the internals…we’ll see. I’ll try to put a link in to the YouTube video I put up doing a mini review of the stove. Feel free to give me any pointers as this is my first VC stove.

 
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Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
2,038
Woolwich nj
Begreen, I’m using it as a hearth stove. I have a masonry chimney but it’s fully lined with a stainless steel liner and insulated. It’s got a good draft and I’ve been using a wood insert but have been wanting another free standing stove for a while. I really like the look of VC but have been leery of getting one because of the negative reviews in recent years. Hopefully they have done a better job with the internals…we’ll see. I’ll try to put a link in to the YouTube video I put up doing a mini review of the stove. Feel free to give me any pointers as this is my first VC stove.


Your draft will be weak in the summer. Your not really going to actually see how the stove operates untill the cooler weather comes. A good review will be with the stove running at at normal temperatures like 350 to say 500 degrees. a small break in fire at 150 degrees will not be sufficient to heat the flue and get good draft so smoke spillage would be normal, probably for any stove under those conditions

The T in the back will also slow your draft some.
Will you be putting in a K type cat probe to measure your cat temps.. will you be doing a flue probe also
 
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Jmorg

New Member
Feb 26, 2021
38
Virginia
Yeah I knew the draft would be weak but I just couldn’t wait…lol! I have a stovetop thermometer on the griddle but probably won’t be putting one on the flue. Since it’s a “flex burn” model I’m actually not going to use a cat for the first winter. I might put one in the following winter, depending on how it does without. Thanks for checking out the video!
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
2,038
Woolwich nj
Yeah I knew the draft would be weak but I just couldn’t wait…lol! I have a stovetop thermometer on the griddle but probably won’t be putting one on the flue. Since it’s a “flex burn” model I’m actually not going to use a cat for the first winter. I might put one in the following winter, depending on how it does without. Thanks for checking out the video!

run it with the cat. your flue will be much happier . Your burn times will be better and you'll go through less wood. Major mistake dialing the air back with out a cat.. just saying
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,572
South Puget Sound, WA
VC makes some of the best-looking stoves. It looks great in that setting. One concern I would have is that with the thermostat in the rear of the stove, it may get false readings of the hot fireplace cavity instead of the ambient room temp. Corie, any thoughts on this?
 
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Jmorg

New Member
Feb 26, 2021
38
Virginia
run it with the cat. your flue will be much happier . Your burn times will be better and you'll go through less wood. Major mistake dialing the air back with out a cat.. just saying
I will eventually but I definitely don’t want to spend that extra $200 for the cat without seeing how it does first w/o the cat. Do you have a VC?
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
2,038
Woolwich nj
I will eventually but I definitely don’t want to spend that extra $200 for the cat without seeing how it does first w/o the cat. Do you have a VC?
Yes I have a VC 2 n 1 2040 and I wouldn't burn with out the cat. The cat is going to help keep the stove pipe clean and I rather spend 200 for the cat and not worry about creosote build up. Below is a pic of my cat running. having a hot cat will help keep your flue temps up when you cut the air back. Having your flue temps up will make your stove happy and it will run better. You have a down draft stove that exits out the back of the stove instead of straight up and you have a 90 on it. this will restrict the stove some.. Draft is what operates the stove. Poor to weak draft will make for an unhappy stove and stove owner. After my stove is up to temp I close the damper and run the cat. my cat is on 80% of the time. The cat is using the smoke as fuel. This unburned smoke is what is building up the creosote in the flue. Do what you want its your stove. Some come on here and dont take the advice from people with experience and they cant figure out why there stove doesn't run right .. its up to you.. the cat is not 200.. its 125 Don't buy the cat from VC
20201227_192034.jpg 20210209_072526.jpg
 

Jmorg

New Member
Feb 26, 2021
38
Virginia
Yes I have a VC 2 n 1 2040 and I wouldn't burn with out the cat. The cat is going to help keep the stove pipe clean and I rather spend 200 for the cat and not worry about creosote build up. Below is a pic of my cat running. having a hot cat will help keep your flue temps up when you cut the air back. Having your flue temps up will make your stove happy and it will run better. You have a down draft stove that exits out the back of the stove instead of straight up and you have a 90 on it. this will restrict the stove some.. Draft is what operates the stove. Poor to weak draft will make for an unhappy stove and stove owner. After my stove is up to temp I close the damper and run the cat. my cat is on 80% of the time. The cat is using the smoke as fuel. This unburned smoke is what is building up the creosote in the flue. Do what you want its your stove. Some come on here and dont take the advice from people with experience and they cant figure out why there stove doesn't run right .. its up to you.. the cat is not 200.. its 125 Don't buy the cat from VC
View attachment 280773 View attachment 280774
I appreciate all the advice. That’s a good looking fire…can’t wait until fall!
 

gthomas785

Minister of Fire
Feb 8, 2020
530
Central MA
I will eventually but I definitely don’t want to spend that extra $200 for the cat without seeing how it does first w/o the cat. Do you have a VC?
When I got my Encore I thought the same, went about 2 days before I installed the cat and I haven't gone back. $200 every 3 years or so is nothing for the performance boost you get from the catalyst.
 
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Jmorg

New Member
Feb 26, 2021
38
Virginia
When I got my Encore I thought the same, went about 2 days before I installed the cat and I haven't gone back. $200 every 3 years or so is nothing for the performance boost you get from the catalyst.
Hey gthomas785, question for you…what were your burn times like w/o the cat vs. with the cat? I’m just wondering if VC has figured out a way to improve efficiency in the newer flex burn models of the Intrepid and the Dauntless…or maybe just because they’re smaller than the Encore and the Defiant? Maybe they have or maybe not…I’ll find out soon I guess.
 

gthomas785

Minister of Fire
Feb 8, 2020
530
Central MA
Hey gthomas785, question for you…what were your burn times like w/o the cat vs. with the cat? I’m just wondering if VC has figured out a way to improve efficiency in the newer flex burn models of the Intrepid and the Dauntless…or maybe just because they’re smaller than the Encore and the Defiant? Maybe they have or maybe not…I’ll find out soon I guess.
I don't have a lot of data because I only ran without the cat for 2 days and it was in October, but I remember noticing the "useful heat" increase from about 6 hours to 8-9 after installing the catalyst. The chimney also smoked a bit without the cat.
 
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Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
2,038
Woolwich nj
Hey gthomas785, question for you…what were your burn times like w/o the cat vs. with the cat? I’m just wondering if VC has figured out a way to improve efficiency in the newer flex burn models of the Intrepid and the Dauntless…or maybe just because they’re smaller than the Encore and the Defiant? Maybe they have or maybe not…I’ll find out soon I guess.

Your burn times will be as advertised with your stove. I have gotten well over 14 hours on mine, but it depends on how its loaded. Your stove is a little smaller than mine by .5 cuft I can see you getting the 11 hours. To get a longer burn time you will need to use hardwoods like oak , hickory woods with high BTUs. This wood will also need to be dry, most of mine is like around 16%mc. I split my own wood so I split specifically for over night I split square and rectangle this allows me to pack the box totally full with no gaps between the wood. The bottom pieces are like 5x5x18 inches the bigger the wood the longer the burn. Running the stove like this is best when the cat is in. 50 lbs worth of wood off gassing is something I wouldn'twant to experience with out a cat.
Do you have a moisture meter and what kind of wood are you burning. Did you process the wood yourself or is it purchased from someone.
 

Jmorg

New Member
Feb 26, 2021
38
Virginia
I do process my own wood. I have mostly white oak, some maple, and a little bit of poplar. I do have a moisture meter and I let my wood season about a year and a half on average, maybe a little longer. Moisture readings usually 15-19%. About half the wood I have now was cut to size for my old EPA insert so it’s a little long for this stove but most of it is 18” so it will fit but just a little snug.

Where did you buy your cat? I can’t find one for the Dauntless for less than $200.
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
2,038
Woolwich nj
I do process my own wood. I have mostly white oak, some maple, and a little bit of poplar. I do have a moisture meter and I let my wood season about a year and a half on average, maybe a little longer. Moisture readings usually 15-19%. About half the wood I have now was cut to size for my old EPA insert so it’s a little long for this stove but most of it is 18” so it will fit but just a little snug.

Where did you buy your cat? I can’t find one for the Dauntless for less than $200.
Applied Ceramics.. on line. I looked it up the web sites a little different now, but with the way things are its not surprising.. You use to be able to order directly from them.. vc cat was like 125..
 
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anniemade

New Member
Feb 15, 2021
5
Maine
Hello Anniemade, just wondering if your issue was ever resolved? I just had a Dauntless installed and can’t wait for cool weather so I can light it up!

Hello! Thanks for tagging me, I wasn't following this forum at this point. The Dauntless is beautiful and runs well once it's started, but takes a long time to get to that point. It's our main heat in Maine, so it our first season was a hard learning curve. It continues to smoke if we open the top and it isn't fully underway. Our tech said we should crack the top for up to a minute before we load, which can help, but really getting it going through the front is the best workaround we have found. We have learned that we truly do need a LARGE amount of kindling and the front door ajar for an hour plus to get it going. Our house is not that tight, we have a masonry chimney, and we have had our installation re-checked by professionals and they say it is working as it should. (The front glass cracked, so we had to have it replaced anyway under the warranty.) My partner and I have both lived with woodstoves for years and have never had other models required this much attention to get going. (I suspect part of this is that it is so tight and we have been limping along with outdated models in that past!) Anyway, feels like we have figured out how to make it happen, but not as easy as our former stove, which was a 35+ year old VC something, I can't remember. Happy to answer other questions, if I can!
 
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Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
2,038
Woolwich nj
Hello! Thanks for tagging me, I wasn't following this forum at this point. The Dauntless is beautiful and runs well once it's started, but takes a long time to get to that point. It's our main heat in Maine, so it our first season was a hard learning curve. It continues to smoke if we open the top and it isn't fully underway. Our tech said we should crack the top for up to a minute before we load, which can help, but really getting it going through the front is the best workaround we have found. We have learned that we truly do need a LARGE amount of kindling and the front door ajar for an hour plus to get it going. Our house is not that tight, we have a masonry chimney, and we have had our installation re-checked by professionals and they say it is working as it should. (The front glass cracked, so we had to have it replaced anyway under the warranty.) My partner and I have both lived with woodstoves for years and have never had other models required this much attention to get going. (I suspect part of this is that it is so tight and we have been limping along with outdated models in that past!) Anyway, feels like we have figured out how to make it happen, but not as easy as our former stove, which was a 35+ year old VC something, I can't remember. Happy to answer other questions, if I can!
when your reloading was your air cut back or did you have the cat engaged..
 

Jmorg

New Member
Feb 26, 2021
38
Virginia
Hello! Thanks for tagging me, I wasn't following this forum at this point. The Dauntless is beautiful and runs well once it's started, but takes a long time to get to that point. It's our main heat in Maine, so it our first season was a hard learning curve. It continues to smoke if we open the top and it isn't fully underway. Our tech said we should crack the top for up to a minute before we load, which can help, but really getting it going through the front is the best workaround we have found. We have learned that we truly do need a LARGE amount of kindling and the front door ajar for an hour plus to get it going. Our house is not that tight, we have a masonry chimney, and we have had our installation re-checked by professionals and they say it is working as it should. (The front glass cracked, so we had to have it replaced anyway under the warranty.) My partner and I have both lived with woodstoves for years and have never had other models required this much attention to get going. (I suspect part of this is that it is so tight and we have been limping along with outdated models in that past!) Anyway, feels like we have figured out how to make it happen, but not as easy as our former stove, which was a 35+ year old VC something, I can't remember. Happy to answer other questions, if I can!
Out of curiosity, is your flue lined with a insulated stainless steel liner? If not, that would probably help. Have you tried the top down method for starting the fire? Seems like that would help heat up the flue more quickly and help with the draft. I never cared for the top down method for my old stove, but I think it will work well for the Dauntless.
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
2,038
Woolwich nj
We don't have a cat, reloading with all dampers set to open. Sometimes crack the ashtray to have as much air flow as possible, but try not to!
so what your saying is you dont close the damper while burning.
This is what im asking BEFORE you reload.. was.. your damper closed at any time.. was your air cut back at any time.. I am asking.. how was your stove running prior to your reload.. how was it set up.. how did you run it..