jotul wood burning insert smokes

ithinkican_2007January 1, 2007

We bought a Jotul wood burning insert a few months ago and installed it ourselves (we've done it before)along with a new forever flex stainless steel chimney liner kit. Our stone fireplace is huge, with 36" depth firebox which would be great if the height were greater (we'd set a stove in it). All of the other minimum and maximum measurements required are within proper limits. We installed the liner with no problem, and the insert shouldn't be a problem, but the inserts chimney connection port is on the top of the unit. When the insert is positioned properly in the fireplace, the port is too far forward to even come close to the liner connection. So we had an adaptor fabricated to connect the two. It took three tries to get the fit right. Got it hooked up and have been burning good wood for about six weeks now. It doesn't draw as well as we think it should. We have to leave the door unlatched so it gets enough air to keep the fire going. So it's something you can't do and go to bed. Also no matter how slowly or partially you open the doors the darn thing smokes up the house. We think that because the offset adaptor had to be made to set it off so far, it decreases the drawing of air for the unit and creates the smoke problem. If there isn't a solution to fix it we are thinking about plan C. We are also remodeling the entire house (we just moved in this year). Downstairs, (the basement is being finished into several nice rooms,) is an area with an old woodstove that is 'under' the upstairs fireplace and has a brick wall behind it, block walls beside it & concrete beneath it. The old stove works great but we have planned on replacing it with a more efficient model. If we can't get the Jotul insert to work upstairs in the fireplace, can't we build a fireplace to set the insert into downstairs and hook it up to the chimney where there's plenty of space to make a good hookup? What would be the best method for building a fireplace area to set the insert into? We know there are issues with combustible products used, etc but need some advice on keeping this $3000+ investment from going up in smoke. Thanks for any input.

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What you should have done and can still do, is to destroy the lintel and the throat of the fireplace to install the lining as straight as possible.
You are correct that you have restricted the draft too severely with your current installation. No doubt, creosote is clogging up in the bends.
Also, if you are using wood that is not seasoned properly, you will have to clean out the insert every month or so. Some inserts must be removed every time for a chimney cleaning.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2007 at 5:24PM
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xanndra, thank you for the info. We forgot to say that we did cut out the lintel and throat when we installed the liner. That done, looks like we need to take this thing out and start over. Our lesson learned with this one, check to see where the insert exhaust port is located and if it might cause problem with installation. This is one time we wish we had it installed, maybe it would have been their baby when it didn't work. Now to build a 'fireplace' downstairs to set this thing in.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2007 at 7:42PM
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how tall is the current chimney and is the fireplace on a exterior wall? is the liner insulated?
Xanndra likely has the proper scenario but they make ofset adapters just for this purpose, there are lots of kennebecs and every other kind of insert out there installed with offsets. how far is the offset and what are the deminsions? The newer the stove, the tricker the install, and the more sensitive the draft.
Have you checked the cap for plugging?
Do you have the MINIMUM 14' of chimney? with the offset you need to add 5' more to make it work properly for a total of 19'. Thats just a rule of thumb, it might work on less, but the rule is for every 90* elbow you have to add 5 feet of chimmey, the first 90* doenst count.
I would be more concerned that the adapter was fabricated properly. If that is the case you need to add chimmey untill it works properly. Before i would add chimney i would insulate the liner if the chimney is on the exterior. IF it still doesnt work you need to make it taller.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 1:44AM
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mountainstoveguy, all of it makes sense to me. To answer your questions, The current chimney is about 15' from the beginning of the throat to the top. We installed stainless steel liner and insulated it. It has a cap or top on it but it's not plugged up. We ordered an offset adaptor from the chimney store but it wasn't offset enough so we took it to a local fabricator and they made one just like it but bigger. The measurements are: 1 3/4 inch deep, 16 inches wide, 28 inches long with the offset openings about 9". The offset is the only elbow but the liner angles up into the throat at about 15 degrees. We cussed a bit installing it at the point where the liner connects to the offset. If we add more chimney, do you have any suggestions on how to do it. Also we have the 2nd try of the offset adaptor as well as the one we installed, the 3rd. The 2nd one didn't have opening holes big enough so they just made another one. The chimney is on the exterior of the rear of the house. Thanks.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 9:09AM
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Make sure you neutralize the pressure in the room its in by opening a window, if you dont have a pressure problem in the house you may need to extend the chimney. You are on the very cusp of the manufactures minimum rating and you have that longer then average offset..I think thats most of the problem.
You extend the chimney buy using a anchor plate and a transition plate. The transition plate would be optional if you have a good way to attach the anchor plate to the current liner. Normally it would be installed like this:
Transition plate covers the chimney and the flange for connectiong the liner points down the chimney
The anchor plate bolts to the top of the transition plate and provides a connection for the class A chimney,.
If it wouldnt look too rediculious i would add 4 more feet.
If you have a negative pressure problem in the home, (if cracking the window improved things dramaticly) then you have a complete other set of problems to deal with.
go to and look up the three parts. You will need the transition plate, the anchor plate, and what ever length of pipe you need.

This is a whole nother can of worms, but the stove might perform worse in the basement. There are absoluty no guarentees that your basement will provide a better installation then what you currently have. To make a long story short, your house is one large chimney, heat rises in the attic positivly pressurizing the attic, the main level of the home is is a pass through point, and is typically neutral, and the basement is the supply, wich is under pressure because there isnt much air that can get in the basement, making it negative for pressure. That means the new chimney that is way up in the air has a pretty postive pressure at the top, and the stove at the bottem is in a negative room, and becomes the appliance that tries to neutralize the basement. The stove could be thought of as the same effect of opening a window to neautrlize a room. You can imagine the potential draft problems...

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 10:18AM
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Well you were so right about the creosote. We removed the insert from the upstairs fireplace. Checked first the negative pressure problem, not that. Extended the chimney, not that. When we pulled the thing out and disconnected everything, we were not surprised at the huge amount of creosote that had built up in the offset after only a few fires. Your right about having to clean it every month or more. If we hadn't taken it out when we did, after a few more fires we surely would have had and unwanted fire in the offset. So we took it downstairs and hooked it up to the existing chimney where the old stove was, and it draws so much better. Still think the jotul is more for looks than for heating. So the jury is still out on if we will keep it as we really need the heat more than the looks. The basement is a full walkout, with only the front wall being partially underground. All of the remaining three walls are above ground level. The property is on a hillside and there's really no chance that we have a negative pressure problem as too many openings are part of the heating issue:) Thanks for the input. We'll reveal the jury's verdict as soon as we know it (as to keep it or sell it).

    Bookmark   February 3, 2007 at 9:03AM
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Boy, sounds like you've done a lot of WORK! What does the Jotul weigh? I suspect 300 pounds or so, must have some strong big people in the family to be moving it around.

Sorry, I have nothing to add, just a couple of questions, and the experience below.

I can say my 20 year old insert that just dumps into the smoke chamber, not direct connect to a metal chimney, worked ok, it didn't have a lot of draft, somewhat like you described, but it did do a good job of heating. I suppose I've run about 15 cords of wood through it, and will this month have the chimney power cleaned to remove creo. This is the first time for this type cleaning, just swept in the past.

I did read your adapter was an air-tight connection between the metal chimney and the insert's firebox. I can't imagine why it didn't have good draw. I'm planning to go back to an old fashion fireplace, when it's cleaned again I'm having a Lock-top exterior "damper" installed, this has a chain hanging down the chimney for its operation and wouldn't work with the existing insert (would have to remove insert to open/close the damper). We hope this damper will really lock out air-flow and the associated smell...yes that is the driving issue to get ride of the insert, it was fine for 20 years but isn't good any more, smell wize. We have an air tight stove in the basement for emergency heating.

So, the drive to my question is I have to move my insert out of the house when I get to that point, and can say from my sliding it in/out of the fireplace it is heavy. Even with the glass doors and firebricks off/out it must weight close to 200 pounds..enough I can't do it with my wife's help, I'll have to call on a neighbor or hire its removal.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2007 at 3:35PM
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jerry_nj, my wife and I did all of the work ourselves. Went to Harbor Freight and bought a couple of flat platform dollies and some magic slider things that you put under furniture to slide on floors. Pry bars help too. And we used our moving straps to hold it securely on the dolly once we got it positioned. The jotul, stripped, probably weighs about 275 or so. We're in our 50's but are used to heavy work. It's working pretty good in the basement but we are still not sure if we'll keep it. Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 8:58PM
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I am having the same problemm with the smoke when I open the door. I had the same problem the first year I made this purchase about $3500 and I had it installed by the company where I made the purchase.
If there was a problem I would have thought they would have made the correction as that is the reason I had them do the installation in the first place.
Now I don't know exactly what to do as I also purchased a nice metal outside covering which they never installed, but received the standard covering instead. So I am upset from the begining and prefer not to do business with someone that is dishonest. Any helpful suggestion appreciated. Thank you.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 11:07AM
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