wood stove burn problem

jluck123January 22, 2009

I have a pretty old VC Resolute that I used to love but it is now causing problems since I started using it 24/7 a couple of years ago. First it started building creosote and after some tiles cracked with a minor chimney fire, I had the flue re-lined, going from 8" square to 6" round. Now I get nowhere near the draft I used to get and now when I close the damper to use the secondary burn, the fire simply dies down and smolders and I am now building an enormous amount of creosote. (If I close down, I need to clean my chimney every week!) I get the stack temp to 400 before I close down, but it doesn't look like I'm getting any secondary burn, just generating a lot of smoke. Now, I don't close the damper, just lower the thermostat really low on the primary air. Cuts down the creosote, but also goes through more wood. Any ideas what the problem might be and what I can do to solve it?

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Probably time for a new catalytic combustor. We have a Dovre 500CC which exhibited the same symptoms years ago. We got a new cat and the stove burns as new. A 6" cat should run around $60.00.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 6:26PM
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also, if your draft is that poor with the new liner, you should look to change that, ideally bust out the remaining tiles and install an 8" insulated liner if possible or extend the height of the chimney.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 10:42PM
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Thanks bushleague, but its a non-cat stove.
berlin: someone here wrote about how non-insulated liners (this is one) actually get pretty cold and don't let the pipe get hot enough. Think that may be it? Chimney is about 40' and extends about two feet above the roof peak sop height should be okay. Would hate to rip out the liner (two years old and not cheap!)Isn't there something that spins at the top and increases draft?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 12:14AM
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a non-insulated stainless steel liner has little thermal mass so it heats up/cools quickly with the wood loading cycles in your stove. if the chimney is on the exterior of your home the liner should have been insulated. you could try pulling it insulating it and reinstalling; it might help, but you'll probably have to use an 8" liner if you want the draft you used to have. the gimicky draft caps, spinning caps etc. generally don't work well, and the ones that do work ok initially, soon become useless from getting gummed up with soot/creosote IMHO don't waste your money on that stuff.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 12:55AM
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how well seasoned is your wood?

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 1:43AM
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You're having creosote buildup and a chimney fire. The above question about how seasoned the wood is, is a valid question. Up here in VT we don't cut the trees and stack the wood for a year, but we fell the trees in winter and cut them up in summer for burning the following year. That's standard practice with the dealers.
Also creosote builds when burning soft wood like pine. Also having a "cool" fire will cause buildup. So how hot is the stove?

Also you say you have an "old" VC. How old? You need to have the correct size chimney for that stove. Today's modern stoves have a 6" flue while the old smoke dragons had an 8" flue. You need to have the correct size. And insulating the chimney will do wonders. Just having a chase around an external chimney can cure a number of problems.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 7:46AM
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Thanks to everyone for your comments. The wood is seasoned. It was cut a year ago, split and stacked last spring. Mostly oak and locust. The stove is a 1979 Resolute. 6" was standard with it. I have an outside chimney, made with concrete 'donut' sections and tile inserts. The original tile lining looks like it was 6x8. The stove dealer dropped a 6" SS flexible liner a little farther than where the flue enters the chimney (about 10' off the ground outside). There is about 6" more beyond that T junction and the liner is open on the bottom end. I have a cleanout at the base of the chimney and I can run about 40' of brush up to the top to clean it.
Lately I have been choking down the primary air and leaving the damper open. This keeps the pipes clean, but man I'm going through the wood. Doing this, the temp of the flue about 2.5 feet above the stove varies 350-500. Even if I get a good bed of hot coals and then shut the damper, that temp drops to 250. Lord knows how low it is when the flue enters the chimney. All in all, I suspect a lot of the issue is insulation on the liner. BTW, I thought I might have had an ash build up that was blocking the secondary air ports and used a shop vac to blow air into the primary and secondary air intakes. Didn't help.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 5:41PM
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I'm not 100% happy yet, but I think I was able to make a difference: I sealed any air leaks around the cleanout so no cold air is being drawn into the chimney below the T where the flue joins the chimney.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 3:51PM
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You need to seal off the bottom of the SS pipe. They should have run it all the way down to near the clean out and put a removable cap. Your draft is being wasted on the open end of the flue pipe.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 2:42PM
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When the weather is warmer, I will contact the outfit who relined my chimney and make them do that. I assume they'll have to pull the whole thing and then add another section. As I said, sealing the clean out door has helped enormously, so I'll get through the winter anyway. Thanks everyone for your thoughts and suggestions.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 3:06PM
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