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Author: iels One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 5458  
Subject: Using a log burner Date: 28/09/2009 22:15
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I'm using a log burner for the first time and I started it on Sunday to burn off the 'new' smell, what they say in the instruction 'to cure the paint and glue". It didn't quite go as I imagined, but I'm not really sure what to expect, I suppose.

I'm using seasoned logs, about 2 yrs old I was told, and I'm storing these in a dry shed. The logs are very light and dry.

The burner has primary and secondary controls, and an airflow control. The secondary stays open (unless I want to extinguish the fire), primary open to begin with but close when the fire is established, and control the burn rate using the airflow control. It all seemed straight forward.

Following the instructions carefully, unusual I know :-) , I sort of expected a steady glow but don't get this. Once I've got the fire glowing nicely and then close the primary as instructed, the fire dies fairly rapidly. Also, the glass has started to be covered in a dark film, although there is supposed to be an airflow to help keep it clean. Of course, I've yet to build up a bed of ash in the base - maybe I have to be more patient!

What am I doing wrong? Can any one guide me please?

Thanks.
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Author: Basketbob Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 2740 of 5458
Subject: Re: Using a log burner Date: 28/09/2009 22:58
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Once the fire is alight, and you shut off the air supply, you are effectively going into charcoal making mode, which means that all the volatiles burn off (producing tar) leaving just the carbon. If there is next to no air coming in, the charcoal won't burn, so you need to play with it until you get the balance right. In my experience, there will always be some residue on the glass, and the steady glow you expect to see is only available in the marketing material.
I like it best when the flames just lazily lick the glass, very soporific. ;0)

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Author: ListCtrl Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 2741 of 5458
Subject: Re: Using a log burner Date: 28/09/2009 23:49
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My woodburner (Scan) has two controls which sounds like yours: bottom, cold air, and top (pre-warmed).
I'd normally only ever have the bottom control open when the fire is starting; once the fire is burning nicely, the heat output/flames can be controlled entirely by the top control.

How long after the initial blazing-nicely state are you switching the cold air off? It does need to be drawing well first.

If I have the fire on "tickover", i.e. the lowest top setting, then it can get a sooty film on the glass. This does normally get burnt off if/when the fire gets switched to the highest (top) setting. I clean my glass occasionally with an ash/water mix, btw, and this works a treat.

The ash base doesn't make much difference to the flames, IME, though I've heard it can protect the base itself.

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Author: ListCtrl Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 2742 of 5458
Subject: Re: Using a log burner Date: 28/09/2009 23:52
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I should have added that my ash base gets emptied regularly around once a week to the bare bricks, so that's a bit irrelevant, really.

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Author: NoodleBerry Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 2743 of 5458
Subject: Re: Using a log burner Date: 29/09/2009 08:09
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What make/model is it? Are the logs hardwood or conifer?

When you say that, in addition to primary (bottom fed) and secondary (top fed) air you also have an "airflow control" - is this what I would call a "flue damper"? i.e. a shutter that can restrict the flow of air up and out (as opposed to in for the other two) of the stove through the flue pipe.

I suspect you've just closed down the air too much - sometimes you need to re-adjust quite often to get the balance right. I think you perhaps just need to experiment a bit more with the three controls, being less worried about giving too much air and avoiding closing any vents completely.

Is your flue liner (I presume you have one) insulated and does it have any bends in it? The symptoms you've described are more likely if the flue has not got good and hot - it won't "draw" very well and this is essential IME - one of the important functions of an initial hot burn is to warm the flue and the stove.

As you've noticed and others have mentioned, if the charred wood stops burning at a hot enough temperature (and/or without sufficient oxygen) you get tars condensing (regardless of any "airwash" type function or the age of the wood) on the glass. Best way to clean it off is to use a bit of white spirit and/or wood ash on a scrap of newspaper.

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Author: zulus9 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 2744 of 5458
Subject: Re: Using a log burner Date: 29/09/2009 09:30
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I would guess you are not letting the stove get hot enough.

They work differently to an open log fire. It took a little time for us to grasp the implications. The wood heats the metal of the stove (not the room); the hot stove then heats the room. The stove needs to be kept at the right temperature (about 400F/200C and above if my memory is correct) for it to burn efficiently. We had a magnetic thermometer on the top of ours when we first had it.

We found that it takes a lot of wood initially to get the stove up to temperature. What I thought would last most of the day was gone in an hour. However, once the stove is up to temperature the amount of wood needed to maintain it is much less so over the course of a day it consumed about what we expected.

There is a lag between the stove getting to temperature and the room being warm enough. The trick is to reduce the air flow a little before it hits the required temperature as once the stove is hot it will continue to give out heat for some time.

Also I would suspect your wood is not very suitable. Well-seasoned hardwood is best. My logs are heavy even when seasoned.

HTH

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Author: brightncheerful Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Recommended Fools Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 2745 of 5458
Subject: Re: Using a log burner Date: 29/09/2009 11:19
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I have a Stovax multi-fuel burner in which I only burn logs. It's the only or one of the only burners that is designed to fit in the recess of a standard fire opening in a modern house - and my burner is about 14"W x 21"H excluding surround. Thanks to advice on this board I use ash (wood) which I buy by the ton, logs cut to size 10'' long, The first pile of logs I got were unseasoned, so I put a few in the garage to let them dry out, and replenish every time I used some. The second pile was seasoned and it made a difference, at least it would've done had I not stored most of the logs under a plastic sheet much of which was exposed to the rain. anyway, our burner has the same sort of controls as yours.

According to the burner supplier/installer, there's a big difference between the impression given in burner advertising bumph and reality. One of the things you discover is what you're finding.

It is essential to have the chimney swept regularly, that's maintains the efficiency of the flu and avoids build up of soot and tar on the linings. Also, you have to do a balancing-act between the room temperature before you light the fire and the outside temperature otherwise there's a risk of down-draught, in which case smoke wafts down the chimney, suffocates the flames and seeps out through the ventilation gaps in the burner into the room. (Which is why it pays to ensure all the doors to the room are shut so as to stop the smoke getting into other parts of the house.) If it's been raining before you light the fire then the flu is likely to be damp and any soot and tar that's stuck to the surface of the flu will add to the smell. I find the way to avoid down-draughts is to not be in a hurry to put a log on the kindling flames but ensure that the heat and force of the flames from the newspaper and kindling is powerful enough to stop the smoke coming down chimney and instead push it upwards. Sometimes I open the windows in the room before lighting the fire just to be on the safe side; also I have a candle burning next to the burner which can to a limited extent absorb any smoke leakage.

Next, which is to get to the stage you're at, I place 1 log on the kindling and with the controls fully open wait for it to catch and start to flame. Depending on the density and dryness of the log that can take a 5-10 minutes or so. having done that, I then put another log on.

All this time the primary and secondary controls are fully open.

Having got to the stage at which you're at, I close the primary to about half way, monitor the situation then gradually close to about three-quarters. What you're wanting to avoid is the possibility as another fool has said that the heat is not enough to maintain the burn rate, without additional air coming in.

Rarely do I close the primary completely. The fire would have had to be burning for several hours, with several logs consumed before I risk trying to let in run on very little air. The secondary control I find next to useless so only have it fully open whilst the fire is on and use it to switch the fire off.

The glass will get covered with a dark film: that I find normal. The film varies in concentration depending on the tar and impurities in each log which means there's no telling how much film you'll get in advance. However, I should imagine it does vary according to the type of wood you burn. With ash, I find it varies between very light film, which only needs a slight rubbing to remove and the glass sparkling in about 5 minutes, to heavy duty where on one occasion it took me almost half an hour to remove a particularly difficult patch and getting on for an hour to clean all the glass.

I clean the glass next day (when the fire has burnt out and the burner is cold) and I use Ecover cream cleaner, non-scratch, applied with kitchen paper towels. I also empty the pan of ash in the base; also I hoover out the inside of the burner fairly regularly to get rid of ash and stuff.

With an efficient fire, you shouldn't get much ash, maybe a few tablespoons full after about half a dozen logs.

Generally, I find it's all about trial and error. Just as you think you've mastered the art, in comes a down draught and covers all the furnishings and TV in the room with a sprinkling of smoke-filled dust.

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Author: iels One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 2746 of 5458
Subject: Re: Using a log burner Date: 29/09/2009 19:29
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Ours is a Yeoman Exmoor - http://www.yeoman-stoves.co.uk/html/wood-exmoor-stove.html. A division of Stovax, apparently.

The airwash control is at the top of the front panel, and is like a vent to control the intake of air at the top. The primary air contols are two disks on the front, under the glass, that you spin to open or close. Finally, the secondary control is set under the base.

Starting the fire involves opening the Airwash control fully, Primary air control to 25% (err...guesswork!) and the secondary fully open.
Add paper & kindling, & light.
As the fire establishes, close the primary air control - I have it burning for between 10 to 15 mins. Then, control the burn rate with the Airwash control only. Secondary to remain fully open (this is only closed, along with the other controls, to extinguish the fire).

The logs we have are seasoned, and are a mixture of soft and hardwoods. It's the first time I've bought logs like this, so trial and error, as someone has said.

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Author: PessimisticBull Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 2748 of 5458
Subject: Re: Using a log burner Date: 30/09/2009 13:27
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Not much else to add to the previous replies.

Certainly for cleaning the glass, a bit of scrunched up newspaper, a bit of spit on it, then dunked in the ashes of the previous fire cleans the glass nicely. You can then through that newspaper back into the burner to start the next fire (so not too much spit!).


Trial & error for the air controls, I tend to stay with the fire for a while (10-15 minutes) at the start adjusting the air intake until it looks about right. There will not be a 'correct' position to use leave the airflow as it will depend on the wood you use each time and things like how windy it is. (When it is windy you will be able to close the airflow off much more than normal as the effect the wind has on pulling air in to the stove and upwards)

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Author: greasysprout Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 2749 of 5458
Subject: Re: Using a log burner Date: 01/10/2009 18:49
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Certainly for cleaning the glass, a bit of scrunched up newspaper, a bit of spit on it, then dunked in the ashes of the previous fire cleans the glass nicely. You can then through that newspaper back into the burner to start the next fire (so not too much spit!).
I also use ash to clean the glass. I just dip a damp cloth in the ash (no spit involved) This is the way my handbook advises cleaning the glass. its effective and cheap.

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