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22 year old Vermont Castings Defiant Encore model 2140 performance questions

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I bought a home with this stove in the upper level. The main upper level is about 1,000 SF. The stove sits to one corner of that level. The bottom level is another 1,000 SF. I live in central Colorado at about 6,000 feet elevation.

I've only burned it twice thus far. I have never used wood stoves before so I am learning. Please tell me how this sounds, performance wise. I am pondering a new stove, and want to know if I should consider canning or repairing this one which has a burned up damper assembly and bad CAT element. The damper will not close and even if it did the previous owner said the CAT was bad and air would not flow through it right (making it useless, plus he said smoke would come out even if attempted):

Tonight it got down to 35 degrees so I fired up the Vermont Castings stove for the 2nd time. I have a magnetic thermometer about 18" up the pipe, and another in the center of the top plate (center top of stove). Here is two pics of stove with the damper defect I spoke of and I have a CL ad to sell it here:

I loaded it up about 4/5 full with small, medium and large size pieces of really dry wood. It lit real quick, had good draw, and I closed the doors right away. As it was going I tested the draw with the top plate slightly open as well as one front worked well. I had the primary air thermostat all the way open for max oxygen. In about 20 minutes it had reached about 550 degrees in the pipe and same on stove. This is the high end of the "optimum temp range" my thermometer states so I closed the air thermostat all the way to restrict air in hopes to tame it. It continued to rise quickly, as if that had no effect. About 5 minutes later the temp in the pipe had climbed to about 750 - 800 degrees and it was about 800 on the top center of the stove. I got a bit nervous. Then, about 5 or 10 minutes later the pipe started to cool and it dropped to within the optimum operating range (about 500 degrees) in the pipe, but stayed about 700 degrees on the stove. So I got off my fire-fighter gear and chilled, lol.

I took temp readings with a room thermometer after the stove peaked. It read 135 degrees at the sides of the stove (on outer ends of mitten dryer racks). About 18 feet away it was about 80. About 4 feet it was 90. Before I fired it up, the entire room was about 70.

The first batch of wood fire burned about 1.25 hours before it was just small hot embers. I added one more medium size piece of wood and that burned for about 35 minutes before it pretty much went out and was embers too.

How is this operation compared to your experiences? Was my high heat point too hot for that short period? Should I reduce the amount of the first fill-up to reduce the temp on the first burn? Maybe fill the fire pit about 1/2 rather than 4/5?

How about the burn time? Was it too short compared to better operating stoves?

As you can see from the pics, the damper door assembly is all burned up. That is where the flames really move across, so makes sense it is basically burned away after 20 years of use.

What are my options for controlling a fire when I have no way to close off the damper? Can I open a door and spray the fire with water? Can I install a stand alone pipe damper that flips open and shut at my command? At present all I have is chemical fire extinguishers and those Firex sticks you light and toss in (to rob the fire of oxygen). Those are not $30 a piece. Looks like a jumbo sized roadside flare.

Thanks much!
[Thumbnail for 001_VC-Defiant-Encore-2140.JPG]
[Thumbnail for 002_VC-Defiant-Encore-2140.JPG]
Posts: 24
Location: Aarschot belgium
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You can put a plate in (cast iron ) or a refractory stone so that your flames don't go directly in to your eaust fleu this will slow your fire douwn
that's the cheapest and simpelest method i can think off

kind regards ,
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This situation is called a "runaway stove" and can be quite dangerous. From the pictures you have posted, it appears that this has been an issue for some time now.
First things first: The Vermont Casting Encore is a fabulous stove that can be quite efficient and heats very well! However, due to the nature of the construction, it does require a bit of maintenance. It is a cast stove and must be 're-built' from time to time. This is dependent on how often it is used; if it is overtired; burning unseasoned wood; etc.
When these cast stoves are overtired, the joints may be compromised and will permit high volumes of air to enter the fire box. This lends itself to free-burning. The hotter the fire becomes…. The more air it draws. THe more air it draws, the hotter is gets and so-on and so-on. This is dangerous. Because it is getting air from the spaces in the joints of the stove, adjust and even closing the air feed control, will do little to stop it. Additionally, you may want to be certain to replace the feed door seals at least every other season, if not every season. I would recommend a complete rebuild. It is not a difficult process to DIY. Or, you may want to call a local shop to have them do it. Again…It is not too difficult.

From the pictures that you have posted, it appears that the fire back is cracked / broken. This, in and of itself will not permit a re-burn and will cause the stove to be severely inefficient. This need to be replaced.

Let me reiterate… This is a 'high-end' stove. Not a cheaply made stove and should last a lifetime. The Vermont Casting Stove Company has made this stove for many many years and many homes have been heated with them. Great stove. But, they do need rebuilt every so often.

Hope this helps.
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Yes, the Defiant Encore is a wonderful stove, enough so that I bought a second one for a vacation home. Cast iron does not like to be overfired and it looked like that is what happened to that one - and then someone tried to straighten it out. The other person was also correct that these stoves need to have periodic maintenance. The CAT should be taken out, inspected and the honeycomb vacuumed yearly, replaced when necessary. If the damper is stuck open, yes, the stove will overfire. I had a damper cable break after about 15 years and mine closed all the way. I had to call a service man to fix it.

In building a fire in your Encore, start with newspaper and kindling and maybe one medium log. Once it is burning well, then add others. I start my fires in a manner that is NOT recommended. The caveat is that you CANNOT leave the stove unattended when you do this. My front doors always stay closed and I do all my fire building and log loading from the top. I take my first piece of newspaper, crumple it and twist a point on it and stick it through the grate. After adding more paper and kindling I open the ash pan door and light it from the bottom, leaving the ash pan door barely cracked and NEVER leaving the stove. The bottom air draw is like having a set of bellows to get the fire going. Once it is burning well, add more logs and close the ash pan door. When the temperature gets high enough AND you have some decent coals, THEN I engage the CAT. Do it too early and you'll see the temperature drop and the flames quickly die. In the morning, with only an ember or two left, I add a few smaller logs, crack the door (with the CAT disengaged), and in no time the fire is resurrected.

So long as the fire is burning well and wood hasn't been added recently, to load the stove I disengage the CAT, open the damper and can load from the top without any smoking. The stove will continue to draw up the flu  long enough to completely add your firewood. Loading from the top means far less mess than if you are opening the doors every time you want to add a log.

I will close with mentioning again - opening the ash pan door is NOT recommended by VC. If you forget and walk away you can overfire your stove and damage it in the long term. At the same time it can be a great way to efficiently start and manage your fires, minimize the mess and not spend a lot of time doing what can be done in a fraction of it.  
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I know this is an old thread, but for posterity sake:

I have been burning wood for 38 years. We purchased a Vermont Castings Defiant Catalytic stove 20 years ago. It has heated our home ever since. I know stoves very well.  I have cookstoves, weldment (fire brick) stoves, coal stoves, on and on! Likely 4 wood stoves here, 6 cookstoves.

The "cat" in my stove is ORIGINAL, never replaced! The key is to get the fire going, build a substantial bed of coals and to burn off most of the Volitile Organic Compounds VOC from the wood (which is what causes creasote) this is burning off the impurities and approaching charcoal....THEN turn on the converter. If you pile in a bunch of wood it takes an hour or two depending on moisture content to burn off the VOC's. If just adding a might be 30 minutes. If you do this you will get substantial life and service from your Cat.

The red stove pictures in this thread has been significant ly over fired, note the warped, cracked piece in the rear. . Additionally, the temps the original posted listed are crazy high. If my chimney get 500-600 I am shutting things down (choking air etc). We do use the ash door to get things going. As stated BE CAREFUL!!

Additionally, some folks may have draft issues, we have a nice liner in our chimney at home, but our cabin has a chronic cold chimney and if I were burning there I would think something was wrong with ANY stove!

We LOVE, LOVE our Vermont! .
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