Yes, your stove is over drafting... Blame the EPA, NFPA, UL and stove Manufacturer jackwagons!

sadpanda

Member
Oct 15, 2015
82
Ohio
As @BKVP and others can confirm, this year marks the 20th anniversary of this EPA/manufacturer/consumer merry-go-round BS...

As explained in the ancient The Florida Bungalow Syndrome article, if you have experienced a cracked stove, creosote buildup, short burn times, run away/over fire, chimney fire, combusters only lasting 1-2 seasons etc. then you have been victim of this bureaucratic idiocy.

The end user is always left holding the bag... Anything we do to remedy the situation is strictly vorboten:
  • Key damper - EPA says no
  • Smaller flue diameter - NFPA says no
  • Flue restrictor - UL and NFPA says no
  • Barometric draft control - Sweeps scream creosote, UL says only on tested devices, manufacturers say...?
  • Modify the stove - EVERYONE says NO
My issue is this: Why in the hell is a wood burning stove NOT treated like every other system in a home regulated by the IBC?
  • Plumbing contractors are required to perform DFU calculations for drain/vent sizing
  • Electrical contractors are required to perform load/voltage drop/box fill calculations
  • Framers are given prescriptive tables for common header/beam/fastening etc. Anything beyond 'cook book' can be done with engineering evaluation
- - and the really ironic one - -​
  • Natural gas appliances require draft testing and calibration during commissioning. Flue pipe diameter IS allowed to be sized down as needed with caution

From a risk perspective:
  • plumbing is rather trivial, for most residential situations, worst case is property damage, not death
  • Even the most egregious electrical errors are typically saved by breakers
  • Framing code is super conservative and even the most bone headed mistakes (cutting joists nearly in half, cutting trusses etc) almost never result in catastrophic failure
  • Natural gas appliances have multiple safeties in place with the default condition being full shut down unless conditions are met
  • By contrast, LIGHTING A RAGING FIRE IN STEEL BOX IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR HOUSE? meh, send it bro.

I'm 100% against more regulatory involvement but the current regulations are irrational and have us over a barrel.

Just give us the formulas / reference tables like everything else. The formula for calculating theoretical draft is simple enough. Adjust for local average winter ambient temperature, type of flue pipe and installation method and BOOM we are in the ball park. Two k-type thermocouples, a data logger and a manometer can all can be had for peanuts on Amazon. Heck even wide band O2 sensors are standard fare for the average automotive enthusiast if we want to go full EU emissions geek. Do the calcs, add in a couple of monitored test burns for fine tuning/user training/validation and voila! We have a fully commissioned, safe, functional installation that keeps the EPA dweebs happy.


Why is this so hard?

/rant:eek:ff
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
86,564
South Puget Sound, WA
Point taken, though there are exceptions. All the calculations and tables can fail due to negative pressure in the stove room or geographical effects on the draft. Thus field measurement is critical.
Even the most egregious electrical errors are typically saved by breakers
Have to disagree with this statement. It is not untypical to find someone cheating and putting a lower gauge wire on an oversized breaker. This was in my last two houses. The first had the whole kitchen on a 40 amp circuit, outlets and all. Our current house comingled 14ga lighting wiring with 12ga on a 20 amp circuit. Happens all the time and once buried behind walls no one knows until there is trouble or fire. There have also been a lot of deaths due to poor or no ground circuits. Egregious errors in electricity can be fatal.
 
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Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
18,611
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
What do the epa’s ever tightening regulations have to do with my catalyst only lasting 2 seasons?They’ve only been rated to last 12,000 hours for decades.
 
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sadpanda

Member
Oct 15, 2015
82
Ohio
What do the epa’s ever tightening regulations have to do with my catalyst only lasting 2 seasons?They’ve only been rated to last 12,000 hours for decades.
I'm not saying anything about the tightening of emissions, I'm positing given low draft vs over draft, a cat in lower draft conditions will last longer. Obviously we are doing something wrong, catalytic technology has been around since the 70s and now last the life of the vehicle...
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
86,564
South Puget Sound, WA
Sums it up pretty well... my 2020 Drolet ht3000 overdrafting hard.
Was this a professional install or DIY?

Have you started a thread on this topic? If not, please do. In it let us know the specifics of the install including the height of the entire flue system.
 

Nigel459

Feeling the Heat
Oct 24, 2017
341
Ontario, Canada
I agree with the OP.

I think most topics on this thread like "my new EPA stove sucks/doesn't work/doesn't heat/heats too well" are draft issues, once fuel quality is ruled out.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,051
NE Ohio
I've been saying for years that half the problems people come here with are due to wet wood...the other half are draft issues....and I am just shocked that you almost never see anybody suggest checking the draft (in the stove forums) or somebody says, "they checked it when they put it in...back in September"...say what?! They checked the draft with no fire, and when it was 60* out?! :rolleyes:
 

tabner

Member
Jan 17, 2019
130
Eastern CT
I've been saying for years that half the problems people come here with are due to wet wood...the other half are draft issues....and I am just shocked that you almost never see anybody suggest checking the draft (in the stove forums) or somebody says, "they checked it when they put it in...back in September"...say what?! They checked the draft with no fire, and when it was 60* out?! :rolleyes:
So is there no way to check your draft prior to your stove install? I have the installer coming tomorrow for a quote, and it'd be nice to measure a draft prior to a full install. I guess you just have to go off the installer's experience and assumptions based on your chimney size, location, geography, etc? - and then hold off on a formal draft measurement until it's installed and running (at which point you already paid for everything)
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
23,597
central pa
As @BKVP and others can confirm, this year marks the 20th anniversary of this EPA/manufacturer/consumer merry-go-round BS...

As explained in the ancient The Florida Bungalow Syndrome article, if you have experienced a cracked stove, creosote buildup, short burn times, run away/over fire, chimney fire, combusters only lasting 1-2 seasons etc. then you have been victim of this bureaucratic idiocy.

The end user is always left holding the bag... Anything we do to remedy the situation is strictly vorboten:
  • Key damper - EPA says no
  • Smaller flue diameter - NFPA says no
  • Flue restrictor - UL and NFPA says no
  • Barometric draft control - Sweeps scream creosote, UL says only on tested devices, manufacturers say...?
  • Modify the stove - EVERYONE says NO
My issue is this: Why in the hell is a wood burning stove NOT treated like every other system in a home regulated by the IBC?
  • Plumbing contractors are required to perform DFU calculations for drain/vent sizing
  • Electrical contractors are required to perform load/voltage drop/box fill calculations
  • Framers are given prescriptive tables for common header/beam/fastening etc. Anything beyond 'cook book' can be done with engineering evaluation
- - and the really ironic one - -​
  • Natural gas appliances require draft testing and calibration during commissioning. Flue pipe diameter IS allowed to be sized down as needed with caution

From a risk perspective:
  • plumbing is rather trivial, for most residential situations, worst case is property damage, not death
  • Even the most egregious electrical errors are typically saved by breakers
  • Framing code is super conservative and even the most bone headed mistakes (cutting joists nearly in half, cutting trusses etc) almost never result in catastrophic failure
  • Natural gas appliances have multiple safeties in place with the default condition being full shut down unless conditions are met
  • By contrast, LIGHTING A RAGING FIRE IN STEEL BOX IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR HOUSE? meh, send it bro.

I'm 100% against more regulatory involvement but the current regulations are irrational and have us over a barrel.

Just give us the formulas / reference tables like everything else. The formula for calculating theoretical draft is simple enough. Adjust for local average winter ambient temperature, type of flue pipe and installation method and BOOM we are in the ball park. Two k-type thermocouples, a data logger and a manometer can all can be had for peanuts on Amazon. Heck even wide band O2 sensors are standard fare for the average automotive enthusiast if we want to go full EU emissions geek. Do the calcs, add in a couple of monitored test burns for fine tuning/user training/validation and voila! We have a fully commissioned, safe, functional installation that keeps the EPA dweebs happy.


Why is this so hard?

/rant:eek:ff
You are a little confused about what is allowed and what isn't and who determines that.

The epa only sets emissions standards. They have absolutely no input at all in the design installation operation etc of stoves.

Key dampers are allowed unless the manufacturer says you can't use one. No agency says you can't.

Flue size. Nfpa allows downsizing or upsizing by 1" unless the manufacturer says otherwise.

Flue restrictor. Same as the others a manufacturer can allow it.

Barometric dampers. Again same as above but I honestly still believe they are a horrible solution to draft control on a wood stove.

Modify the stove yes everyone has to say it isn't allowed because making untested modifications to a stove could be extremely dangerous. But many people have successfully restricted the intake of their stove if they have excessive draft.

Now all that being said I do agree there is a problem that there is no set way to compensate for excessive draft. I really wish there was a way as an installer that I could preset the intake for the draft in that particular installation. Especially for inserts. Freestanding stoves are pretty easy to address with a key damper.

Now we also have to look back before regulations. All of those problems you listed absolutely existed before regulations came into the equation. And honestly for the vast majority people if they install correctly and use good fuel modern stoves work very well.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
23,597
central pa
I've been saying for years that half the problems people come here with are due to wet wood...the other half are draft issues....and I am just shocked that you almost never see anybody suggest checking the draft (in the stove forums) or somebody says, "they checked it when they put it in...back in September"...say what?! They checked the draft with no fire, and when it was 60* out?! :rolleyes:
Well I have to disagree. Most problems are fuel. Next is operator error. Then draft. But honestly those really are the only real problems you can have with a natural draft appliance. You just have fuel air and user input. Those are the only variables.
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
23,597
central pa
So is there no way to check your draft prior to your stove install? I have the installer coming tomorrow for a quote, and it'd be nice to measure a draft prior to a full install. I guess you just have to go off the installer's experience and assumptions based on your chimney size, location, geography, etc? - and then hold off on a formal draft measurement until it's installed and running (at which point you already paid for everything)
No there is no way to check draft ahead of time. How tall is your chimney and where will the stove be located
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,453
Downeast Maine
Will the same flue have the same draft readings with different stoves?
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
23,597
central pa
At least current stove owners can get a reference before selecting a new stove.
Yes but it can also really only be tested during the burning season
 

tabner

Member
Jan 17, 2019
130
Eastern CT
No there is no way to check draft ahead of time. How tall is your chimney and where will the stove be located
It's an internal chimney from the basement floor up through the center peak in the middle of the house. So three floors plus about 4 feet of attic and 4 feet above the roof. The stove connects about 6 or 7 feet above the basement floor. So maybe 25 ~ 30 feet total. It's 8" square clay tile inside square cinder blocks. But stove has to be offset a little bit and connected sideways rather than directly from behind. So I've got to go horizontal about 30 inches. But I'm gonna use two 45s, so it'll really only be about 12" of actual horizontal through the thimble and into the chimney. 6" double wall.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
23,597
central pa
It's an internal chimney from the basement floor up through the center peak in the middle of the house. So three floors plus about 4 feet of attic and 4 feet above the roof. The stove connects about 6 or 7 feet above the basement floor. So maybe 25 ~ 30 feet total. It's 8" square clay tile inside square cinder blocks. But stove has to be offset a little bit and connected sideways rather than directly from behind. So I've got to go horizontal about 30 inches. But I'm gonna use two 45s, so it'll really only be about 12" of actual horizontal through the thimble and into the chimney. 6" double wall.
You will have excessive draft. Unless your basement is a negative pressure area.
 

tabner

Member
Jan 17, 2019
130
Eastern CT
You will have excessive draft. Unless your basement is a negative pressure area.
Thanks, I guess that is preferable to the alternative problem - not enough. You think it's worth asking for a damper with the install? Can I put it in the 45 section? Otherwise the only spot would be right on top of the stove, like 8 inches up.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
23,597
central pa
Thanks, I guess that is preferable to the alternative problem - not enough. You think it's worth asking for a damper with the install? Can I put it in the 45 section? Otherwise the only spot would be right on top of the stove, like 8 inches up.
Yes you will need atleast one damper if not 2. It can go anywhere in the connector pipe
 
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Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
18,611
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
Thanks, I guess that is preferable to the alternative problem - not enough. You think it's worth asking for a damper with the install? Can I put it in the 45 section? Otherwise the only spot would be right on top of the stove, like 8 inches up.
You can buy appliance adapters, that first 6" section of pipe on the stove, that come with a key damper preinstalled. It's okay to be right on top of the stove. The only bummer is measuring daft between the key damper and the stove gets harder when you have no pipe length there.
 
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tabner

Member
Jan 17, 2019
130
Eastern CT
You can buy appliance adapters, that first 6" section of pipe on the stove, that come with a key damper preinstalled. It's okay to be right on top of the stove. The only bummer is measuring daft between the key damper and the stove gets harder when you have no pipe length there.
Is it preferable to have your flue probe above or below the damper? Or doesn't matter?