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Seeking advice on EPA wood stove use

sb47

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BTW, in the past, opening a door has done nothing to improve the billowing smoke.

Drilling holes in the baffle is an interesting idea. I may do that. And maybe try to un-warp it a bit while I'm at it.
Did you wait a few min for the heat to build up in the pipe before you opened the door or did you open the door right away after opening the damper? If you wait 3 or 4 min after you open the damper, more heat will go up the pipe and create a better draft, once that draft gets started it may help keep smoke from coming out of the door. Remember the smoke and heat will take the least path of resistance.
 
EastoutWest

EastoutWest

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I had to come back in because I wanted to worn you that if you haven cleaned the pipe in a while you may have some creosote build up and if fire gets up the pipe you could end up with a chemistry fire
Thanks for all the ideas and the warning. I've experienced a chimney fire. It was scary. Fortunately I could shut that wood stove's intake down. Would hate to have one here. I cleaned out the indoor piping and the elbow up the chimney earlier today. There was an 8"x8"x2" baking pan's worth of creosote from the last few months plus half of last winter. Not crazy but I'm glad I did it. The pipe up the chimney is pretty clean, maybe an 1/8th inch buildup.

I may try modifying that baffle tomorrow. And either notch the exhaust damper so it can close further or possibly if I have some thicker scrap metal around try to add some kind of sliding bar(s) to progressively cover the intake holes. For now, I'm going to re-install the baffle as it is and try out aluminum foil over some vents. It's a good experiment and maybe temporary "fix" (at least to the burn rate problem).
 
Jeffkrib

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While you saving/thinking about what you next stove will be, with your current stove try cutting some extra large pieces of wood for your over night burns. I place two big logs side by side which basically fill the fire box. For an even slower burn (but not as hot) try placing two big logs east west with the bigger log in the front. Should be fairly safe as it won’t burn too hot or fast.
 

sb47

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Think about this. Air expands with heat so even if you can close the pipe damper completely off, what's going to happen? Thats right, the expanding air from the heat is gonna try finding a way out. and that may mean the smoke will try to come out the intake vents and or any leaks the stove may have.
Thats why I like no pipe damper and only an intake damper, when you shut it completely down the heat and smoke can only go one way, out the chimney.
 

sb47

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That makes perfect sense to me.

@Mad Professor , that looks like a great stove! Thanks for introducing it to me.
Just be safe when doing mods. You said the baffle had some ash built up so you might just try it out now that it's clean before you mod anything. Open the pipe baffle all the way and try blocking the intake holes and see if any thing changes. A good cleaning may have been all it needed.
 
Mad Professor

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Think about this. Air expands with heat so even if you can close the pipe damper completely off, what's going to happen? Thats right, the expanding air from the heat is gonna try finding a way out. and that may mean the smoke will try to come out the intake vents and or any leaks the stove may have.
Thats why I like no pipe damper and only an intake damper, when you shut it completely down the heat and smoke can only go one way, out the chimney.
A damper comes in handy if you ever have a chimney fire.
 
EastoutWest

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Here's a little update on the situation:

I haven't done any permanent modifications but did clean out the flue & elbows, flipped the upside-down riser pipe, added a spring to the flue damper to keep it from flopping loosely like it had been and the real improvement has come from slowing down the wide-open intake with aluminum foil. Great simple suggestion!

Two mornings in a row now I have had coals to stoke a fire! As previously mentioned in this thread, the stove has 7 intake holes without an intake damper/control mechanism. So I just folded a piece of aluminum foil a few time, slapped it over some intake vents and the draft held it in place. I've found covering 3 of the 7 holes slows down the burn considerably enough to keep coals for like 8 hours now and the stove is still warm to touch in the morning. So huge improvement to my quality of life with a $0.02 piece of foil!

Thanks for all the help and suggestions, especially @sb47 !
 
moresnow

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You will see a rather nice transformation in your wood burning if you get enough wood ahead to be properly seasoned. Cutting, splitting and burning wet wood right away is a recipe for disaster. Keep a very close eye on your chimney/connector pipe. If you had a 1/8" buildup in the chimney I would sweep it. Softwoods may take a year or longer to get down to 20% or less moisture content for me. Hardwoods can take much longer. Cutting dead is great but it means little on moisture content. I just cut and split a dead Elm that had no bark. Much of it was wet beyond my moisture meters capability to even read . All epa stoves require very dry fuel to function correctly. If/when you upgrade to a finer stove it will want good seasoned wood. You really should get your setup up to snuff as far as required clearance to combustibles and floor/ember protection. Good luck!
I did the foil treatment on a former stove as well. Worked great.
 

sb47

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Here's a little update on the situation:

I haven't done any permanent modifications but did clean out the flue & elbows, flipped the upside-down riser pipe, added a spring to the flue damper to keep it from flopping loosely like it had been and the real improvement has come from slowing down the wide-open intake with aluminum foil. Great simple suggestion!

Two mornings in a row now I have had coals to stoke a fire! As previously mentioned in this thread, the stove has 7 intake holes without an intake damper/control mechanism. So I just folded a piece of aluminum foil a few time, slapped it over some intake vents and the draft held it in place. I've found covering 3 of the 7 holes slows down the burn considerably enough to keep coals for like 8 hours now and the stove is still warm to touch in the morning. So huge improvement to my quality of life with a $0.02 piece of foil!

Thanks for all the help and suggestions, especially @sb47 !

Hopefully some of my ideas helped you narrow down the issue you were having and they were cheap easy test that cost you nothing to try and see if any of them made any improvement before you dive into more involved work and mods. I would keep playing with it till I got it working its best with the design. Then once you find the optimal combination, then do more permanent changes and easier to use controls. Glad your seeing improvements, And playing with it is part of the charm. Every stove design has an optimal formula to run at it best and most efficient it can be. You may find a certain size wood pieces work best in that size stove box.
Start saving your knots and forked wood for longer overnight burn times, and use your straighter grained wood for shorter day burns.
I clean my stove inside and out and sweep the pipe every season. It will keep the stove running its best and it's safer knowing each season you are starting with a safe clean stove.
Happy heating and enjoy it.

If you just so happen to have another section of stove pipe you might try temporally adding a few feet to the pipe length and see it will draft better with a longer stove pipe. It doesn't have to be stainless to try it temporarily. A longer pipe will hold more heat that should help make a stronger draft. If it works you can buy a stainless double wall section and add later if the taller pipe works. If it doesn't, then just remove the temporary section and put it back like it was.
 
EastoutWest

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Yep, the suggestions have all been helpful. Thank you all!

I'll have to work on getting ahead of the wood pile... I'm doing better this year than the last 3. But in my defense, the locust I primarily burn is very dry and leaves nice white fine ash on the inside of the stove, not soot like wet wood. Standing dead locust is way different than standing dead oak. I don't have a moisture meter but the locust is always significantly lighter, drier and higher pitched when you whack it than long dead oak. If I split a standing or recently fallen dead oak, it is very wet and needs the better part of a year to dry as much as the just split locust already is. Around here, when a locust dies, it will stay standing potentially for a decade or more. So by the time it falls and I harvest it, it is very well seasoned and just needs a few weeks to air out well.

All that said, it's not a good excuse to have a small firewood cache.
 

sb47

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Yep, the suggestions have all been helpful. Thank you all!

I'll have to work on getting ahead of the wood pile... I'm doing better this year than the last 3. But in my defense, the locust I primarily burn is very dry and leaves nice white fine ash on the inside of the stove, not soot like wet wood. Standing dead locust is way different than standing dead oak. I don't have a moisture meter but the locust is always significantly lighter, drier and higher pitched when you whack it than long dead oak. If I split a standing or recently fallen dead oak, it is very wet and needs the better part of a year to dry as much as the just split locust already is. Around here, when a locust dies, it will stay standing potentially for a decade or more. So by the time it falls and I harvest it, it is very well seasoned and just needs a few weeks to air out well.

All that said, it's not a good excuse to have a small firewood cache.


I woke up in the middle of the night smelling a strong odor of smoke. I got up to find the house full of smoke like fog. I went to check the stove and there was only a large piece of wood smoldering but no flames. I checked the door to make sure it was sealed. All looked good. So I stoked the fire up to get the draft to pull the smoke out the chimney and opened the door and put a fan to push the smoke out of the house.
So today I pulled the chimney pipe to check all the things we had discuses that you were having and what do you know. Crystallized creosote had pilled up on top of the intake where the pipe enters the stove. The pipe was actually pretty clean but a swept it anyway since I had it off and took my shop vac and cleaned the creosote out and used the exhaust side of the vac to blow out all the passages on the catechist and put it all back together. It's to hot to light a fire today but I bet it was the exact issue you were having. Now I just have to wait till a cold front comes in so I can test it out.

It's kinda funny that we were just disusing this same issue with your stove and mine started doing the same thing. It seems I had to do it early this year since I have only had to do it once a year in the past.

I broke the elbow on my pipe but luckily I had a spare.

How is your stove running now?
 

sb47

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Well I'm happy to report that the cleaning job I did, did the trick. My stove is back to running like normal again.
A cold front came in today and I was able to light a fire and no smoke coming in the house anymore.
It doesn't take much for them to get dirty enough to slow or stop the drafting effect and that causes smoke to seek the least path of resistance, and that is usually back into the house through the intake vent. Feels good to suggest something that helps someone with an issue they are having, and to have the same issue myself and follow my own suggestions and do the same and it worked. :havingarest:
 
EastoutWest

EastoutWest

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Thanks for all the support everyone. It really has been helpful.

I still think, for my case, the draft issue is the design of the weird diffuser/secondary burn plate in the stove because I burned a tiny fire in it without the plate and it drafted beautifully... but the flames went right up the stove pipe so not safe or efficient to run it that way. I've learned to just put up with the smoke spilling into the house when I open the door and have adapted my habits to minimize that (open the flue, wait a few moments, open the door slowly and as little as necessary to add fuel and/or stir up coals).

The best change to my heat quality has been using the aluminum foil to block off intake ports for longer burn times. There are 7 holes total and I made two foil covers; one that covers 3 holes and one that covers two holes. So for burning overnight or with particularly hot-burning wood, I can cover 5 of the 7 holes and still have some coals up to 10 hours later. Which is a huge improvement over 4-6 hours max. Once the house is up to temp and I have coals in the stove, I don't have to maintain a very hot fire to keep the house toasty. If it is a particularly cold day, I can just cover two or three holes to maintain a hotter stove.

It also means I use less wood. This brings up a gripe I have with the efficiency ratings of stoves like mine. Sure, maybe my stove running wide open with no intake restriction will burn the wood inside at the greatest efficiency (converting the max amount of the fuel into heat rather than smoke), but it overheats the space and burns through wood much faster and I bet a lot of that heat goes right up the chimney. But if instead, I block some of the intake, the conversion of fuel to heat might be less thermally efficient but the load of wood lasts much longer. So I use less wood overall and maintain a more comfortable environment.

As for an external intake, I do like that idea and don't think it would be too hard to implement if I were to take the intake air from the chimney (there is a 6" liner in a 24" chimney). I will definitely consider that when I build a stove, modify my existing stove, or get a new one. It really makes sense as it will probably greatly reduce the amount of cold air sucked into the house by the stove as it is.
 
billb

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OMG, those are awful stoves, they never should have been allowed to sell them in this country. There are a couple boxwood stoves that are just as bad if not worse.
As you're finding you have to be careful how much wood you put in and far too much of your valuable firewood's heat is going up the chimney.
There are a lot of nice new stoves but there are also an awful lot of old airtights that would be less hassle than that thing. I wouldn't waste any time on it. Seriously, life's too short.
Newer catalyst stoves are nice to try to squeeze every last bit of BTU out of your feedstock and run a stove on low to get long burn times with low output, but if all you want is a basic stove you can't beat the simplicity of a tube stove. There are some dogs out there for whatever age stove you're looking at but there are some nice ones too.
 
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