Anybody burn wood for heat? Advice please.

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12,243
Location
Indiana
Thread starter
We have a little wood stove in the living room. Nothing fancy, but it keeps the load off the furnace. It's a "high efficiency" stove according to the manufacturer with igniter tubes on the top of the box. Supposedly you can get 15 hours of burn time, but I haven't been able to do that unless hot ashes count. I bought a stovepipe thermometer to make sure the fire is hot enough not to create creosote, but I'm having a hard time maintaining that temperature long term say 3 hours or so after filling when there's nothing but hot coals. When it gets to the creosote level on the thermometer after burning a few hours, would this create creosote or is that more of an issue when the fire is initially warming up? All of wood I'm burning is fully seasoned btw. Dead elm, some hickory etc. No pine. I've cleaned the chimney once since buying the house.. It didn't really need it IMO, but I don't know how often the PO used it either. Thanks guys.
 
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12,243
Location
Indiana
Thread starter
Here's the thermometer. It normally stays on the low end of the burning range unless I open it up. The hottest I've ever had it was right in the middle at 12:00.

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35,852
Location
ME
Have you tried hearth.com? A small, hot fire is better than a big, smoldering one. It would seem that a small one, or coals, dampened down, would not have much air flow in, so what little heat goes up the chimney will still be hot. So the thermometer should read "burn zone"... until it doesn't. All fires peter out sometime. I bet you get creosote on every "cold start" but if you leave the stove cranking it'll "undo" that. I have a nifty chimney cleaner, a bunch of 3-foot fiberglass rods and a nylon "weedwhacker head". Pull the stove, stick the head up the chimney, then keep clicking more rods into place. Run it with my drill. Don't have to climb on the roof. Do it once a year.
 
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12,243
Location
Indiana
Thread starter
That sounds like the thing I used. A co worker let me borrow his. Seemed to work well. I did it from the roof. Let it all fall and settle in the stove then went back a week later, removed the pipe from the stove and vacuumed out the junk. Somewhat time consuming but no mess in the house either.
 
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When I'm home I'll get a fire going and after it burns down to coals I load two logs at a time in a cross cross fashion. When they burn down to coals but are still in a recognizable shape, I throw on another two logs. I find throwing on only one log causes it to burn out too easily. My stove is an airtight unit with a connection from outside air. I don't dampen it down. My temp will be 500 F when the stove has lots of wood in it burning and cruises along at around 400 F all day. I don't mind keeping the temp high as it lowers the chance of creosote build up. So basically it has two logs in the stove most of the time. I find I need to stoke it every couple of hours and will put in three logs if I leave the house. All this is predicated on it being colder than 15 F. If it's above that the stove just over-heats the house. I use ponderosa pine and fir. smile
 
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7,937
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Champlain/Hudson Valley
It sounds like you don't run a fire every day. Running a fire consistently helps you establish a routine for cleaning. People who live on wood heat use a hot fire...get it cooking and load it up before bedtime....then let it run down. One real drag is when you want heat and you have a "warmer day" whereby the draught is diminished . It's an unavoidable mixture of efficient and less-efficient burning.
 
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12,243
Location
Indiana
Thread starter
Originally Posted by Kira
It sounds like you don't run a fire every day. Running a fire consistently helps you establish a routine for cleaning. People who live on wood heat use a hot fire...get it cooking and load it up before bedtime....then let it run down. One real drag is when you want heat and you have a "warmer day" whereby the draught is diminished . It's an unavoidable mixture of efficient and less-efficient burning.
If it's consistently cold, I'll try to keep it running 24/7. If it's not burning, there will at least be hot coals to get it going again. Lately it's been a pretty mild winter so I haven't bothered. I'm still figuring it out as I go as I've never done this sort of thing before and this is my first winter officially using it.
 
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In the shop
My brother has been using their fireplace often as they have plenty of rock oak and red and white oak in his area. You dont need much hardwood to have a fire throw off serious heat wink
 
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1,017
Location
Minnesota
Our firebox is built in to a fairly massive brick structure that is also a room divider. Thus, not on an outside wall, so no cold input and all heat radiates inside the home. It can take a few hours to heat up that heatsink, but it produces pretty reliable heat, and when the fire may die down a bit that mass radiates heat for a long time. So we fuel the large box infrequently with mostly 2 - 2 1/2 foot long whole log hardwoods with pine for fire starters.
 
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Jupiter, Florida
Of interest, the BTU content of wood varies significantly by type, but not by weight. Seasoned hardwood is considerably heavier than Sitka Spruce by size, but by weight they have similar BTU output when burned.
 
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In the shop
Originally Posted by Cujet
Of interest, the BTU content of wood varies significantly by type, but not by weight. Seasoned hardwood is considerably heavier than Sitka Spruce by size, but by weight they have similar BTU output when burned.
I would never ever burn spruce, pine or hemlock or ANY softwood. Only seasoned oak, cherry rock maple, locust or hickory
 
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35,852
Location
ME
Originally Posted by 53' Stude
I would never ever burn spruce, pine or hemlock or ANY softwood. Only seasoned oak, cherry rock maple, locust or hickory
Can you see the coals with your nose that high in the air? LOL What grows around people is what gets burned.
 

CT8

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15,408
Location
Idaho
I heated my past house for 17 years with high efficiency wood stove . I would build a fire and let the stove run open until the fire and stove was hot [not red hot] then close the stove damper then the air injected would burn the "smoke" which included the creosote causing parts. After the wood was really burning and starting to be red all over i would close down the air but not all the way just to slow down the burn. In the 17 years there was hardly anything to clean when I brushed the chimney. The High efficiency stoves are wonderful
 

CT8

Messages
15,408
Location
Idaho
I heated my past house for 17 years with high efficiency wood stove . I would build a fire and let the stove run open until the fire and stove was hot [not the metal red hot] then close the stove damper the the air injected would burn the "smoke" which included the creosote causing parts. After the wood was really burning and starting to be red all over i would close down the air feed but not all the way, just to slow down the burn. In the 17 years there was hardly anything to clean when I brushed the chimney. The High efficiency stoves are wonderful
 
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707
Location
Southwest Michigan
I was told "back when" to throw a handful of salt in the fire when it was burning hot to help volatilize the creosote. There is a man-made "creosote sweeping log" you can burn periodically...don't know if it's compatible with a high-tech stove.
 
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1,121
Location
Wisconsin
My folks have had a pellet/corn burner since 1992, sadly they are a yuppy novelty now making them unaffordable unless you have a farmer willing to sell some shell corn directly (most don't want the hassle)
 
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11,914
Location
North Carolina
Originally Posted by 53' Stude
Originally Posted by Cujet
Of interest, the BTU content of wood varies significantly by type, but not by weight. Seasoned hardwood is considerably heavier than Sitka Spruce by size, but by weight they have similar BTU output when burned.
I would never ever burn spruce, pine or hemlock or ANY softwood. Only seasoned oak, cherry rock maple, locust or hickory
We had a wood stove for heat when i grew up. We did burn softwood without issue. But the key is to get the chimney hot first with hardwood. Then burn your softwood good and hot, not dampered down. Then end of the day switch back to hard wood for the damping down in the evening. The cold chimney will collect more of the flammible creosote from the soft wood, so just get it hot first before, and hot after you burn softwood.
 
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6,037
Location
Florida
Larger pieces of wood and round/square shapes will help it burn longer. You're just not going to be able to get a really hot fire and also a long burn time in a normal size stove.
 
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10,426
Location
Cincinnati, OH, USA
Originally Posted by 53' Stude
Originally Posted by Cujet
Of interest, the BTU content of wood varies significantly by type, but not by weight. Seasoned hardwood is considerably heavier than Sitka Spruce by size, but by weight they have similar BTU output when burned.
I would never ever burn spruce, pine or hemlock or ANY softwood. Only seasoned oak, cherry rock maple, locust or hickory
Ash is awesome to burn-if you can get it dry enough, any decent wood from a deciduous tree will burn and create at least some heat. I've been burning dried tulip/yellow poplar this winter, it's been fine, but ash lasts longer & generates more heat. With the Emerald Ash Borer epidemic in these parts, there is so much standing dead & recently cut down white ash available for free that I would likely be able to use it for years. Still have a dropped ash at my Mom's with a 4 foot diameter trunk waiting for me to cut up & split when the tulip is gone. As above, NO PINE, spruce, or other evergreens!
 
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10,426
Location
Cincinnati, OH, USA
Also, a stainless liner is pretty much a must-have for a brick chimney. Mine accumulates some creosote when cold, then when I get it going it tends to expand & flake off. Last time I had it cleaned the chimney sweep said the mesh cap was the only part that had much of anything on it.
 
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