Man its a heat wave today … 53F ! If can you believe it ! Tee shirt weather ! Doors and windows wide open for fresh air! Hasn't been this warm since last September!
Other years I would wait till burning season was completely over before cleaning the ash from the studio rmh. This year I have been suspecting a major ash buildup. I was correct.
Normally I burn strictly Douglas Fir. At cleanout time, I generally get 1/2 of a five gallon bucket of fly ash and my horizontal pipes would only have a dusting at the bottom...
This year, circumstance's forced me into burning mainly white wood, and not even very good white wood. All logging slash run thru a processer. It burned like crazy , even climbing up the feed tube at times... (never did back smoke though). One of my indicators of a problem, was my temperature gauge in the exhaust stack. At times it was running over 440F ! Also you could watch it gain temp by leaps and bounds when adding wood, way to fast. My heat was leaving the mass not soaking in like it is supposed to.
To start, I cut a nice 7" half round piece of flat aluminum. Drilled a 1/2" hole near the top and mounted my fiberglass chimney cleaning rod to it. Wala ! One horizontal pipe "ash scraper".
First I opened up my ash pit cleanout door... OMG ash was covering 3/4 of it... looking in my transition area, I saw a sea of fly ash... shining a light down the flat pipe showed me it was OVER HALF full! No wonder my heat was spiking so fast... over 1/2 the pipe was insulated from the mass!
Next I popped the lid on my barrel... the one side was ash 3/4 of the way up the riser ! Holy cow batman how did this thing even heat up ? There were inches of ash sitting on the top of my riser! How was it working??? there is only 2.5" clearance to the lid ! Talk about crummy wood! I ended up cleaning out my transition area 3 times !!! 3 Full buckets of fly ash! All of it spread on the snow covered driveway to aid melting. My ash scraper worked great and my electric blower blew out the rest up the chimney. Whew, what a dirty job!
I'm thinking I better find the time to go cut more Douglas fir this summer... getting that punky white wood was easy and cheap but...not in the long run.
Just cleaned mine out about a week ago too. Not as much ash as you had since I had popped the barrel twice this winter for updates and tweaking.
Its interesting to know how far we can take it before we need to clean our dragons and also the signs (as you stated by the high stack temps) to know whats (probably) going on inside without needing to go inside and look.
Enjoying the meltdown here too Thomas! Pruning trees in a t-shirt sure is nice.
Good Morning all;
What an improvement! Room was definitely warmer this morning , with less fire.
Now, adding new wood does not make my exhaust temps jump an inch every 5 seconds! If fact to see it rise you have to stick around a few minutes and then its only a few degrees ! That heat is staying in my mass like it's supposed to!
I credit my temp gauge in the exhaust stack as the definitive way to monitor the health of your Dragon. There were other symptoms but none were as clear as watching that gauge leap higher when adding new wood!
In my shop brick bell rmh the stack exhaust temps will lower as much as 30 degrees when adding new wood! That is characteristic of hot air rising and pushing the cooler air to the exhaust stack.
My T&G DBM otherwise known as a candy thermometer in the exhaust stack... should be standard equipment on ALL RMH'S of any design. They can tell you when there is something new going on, IF you monitor it!
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