• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

newby question: wood not burning very hot  RSS feed

 
gloria smith
Posts: 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm brand new to wood burning for heat and have no idea what I'm talking about- apologies for the newby questions. We just got a new woodstove to heat the house. A friend gave me some wood that he told me was "seasoned and dry". I've noticed that when the fire is flaming, it produces a lot of heat. If it is smouldering, it doesn't even heat the stove, much less outside the stove. Am I doing something wrong? (I don't know how to explain what I'm doing, I light the fire... and sometimes it starts flaming other times it doesn't). If it does need to be flaming, how do I make the wood flame instead of smoulder? The dampers are fully open.
 
Mike Cantrell
Posts: 555
Location: Mid-Michigan
28
bee books duck food preservation forest garden hunting solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My first guess is definitely wet wood.

Lots of people, maybe even MOST people, don't have a good grasp on wet wood and dry wood.

They think if the tree's been dead for a couple of years, then the wood must be dry. Makes sense, right? (It's false.)

Or if they cut it into logs a couple years ago, then the wood must be dry. (Also false.)

Or if they cut the wood, and split it, and stacked it into a pile, it must be dry! (Could be, but if it's been out in the rain, probably not.)


So right now, you can look at the ends of the logs. If they're checked, that's a good sign, but not a guarantee. "Checking" is the word for the way wood develops these little cracks as it dries and shrinks:



If you want to know for sure, you need to measure. A moisture meter doesn't cost much, and it will make a huge difference in your woodburning life. Instead of guessing and supposing whether your plans are working (your firewood procurement plans, your firewood stacking plans, your firewood burning plans), you can find out and adjust accordingly.

Here's a meter at Amazon for $11, with a five-star review.

Good luck! When you work the kinks out, wood heat is glorious!
moisture-meter.jpg
[Thumbnail for moisture-meter.jpg]
IMG_20160111_131247657.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20160111_131247657.jpg]
Wood checking
 
chad Christopher
Posts: 310
Location: Pittsburgh PA
12
chicken duck forest garden fungi trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Damp wood. New burner blues. Its not just the moisture content, but also type of wood, stove, home efficiency, chimney-flue size and shape...

It takes at least a full season to learn a stoves burning habbits

The newer epa stoves have a tendency to coal up fast. Raking coals forward between loads helps break down excessive build up. Coals are great on a 30 degree day, if your stove is properly sized. But sometimes its just too cold for coals to heat. Full loads also seem to be better at reducing coal build up. Opposed to just tossing in a piece or two every 30 mins.

If this is not your primary heat, just burn as best as you can, and stock up on wood for next season. If you try to heat with inferior or unseasoned wood, by burning excessive amounts, you are just wasting money and wood. Use the coals to heat as best as they can, and let that wood mature. Consider it an investment, like aging a wine.

If this is your primary heat source, or would like it to be, its time to suck it up And but some good splits from a reputable supplier.

By year three you should have good fuel security, the warmest house in town, and tons of delicious bread and stews. It just takes time.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1379
Location: northern California
46
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Species makes a significant difference as well. Generally the denser and heavier a wood is, the hotter it will burn whether wet or dry. Slow growing species tend to produce dense hot and slow burning wood, which is usually desirable for home heating, but can be a problem for establishing plantings with fuel in mind. Resinous woods showing streaks or clumps or resin (such as pine), can burn furiously, and put out a lot of heat, but are soon spent, and if they are damp will deposit creosote in your stovepipe. In fact this is more of a problem with any wood burned green or damp....so if you are forced to use such fuel, check your stovepipe more frequently.
 
Dan Huisjen
Posts: 51
Location: Acadia Region, Maine.
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Gloria, it might help to know a little more about the stove. Is it new? Or is it just new to you? Can you tell us the brand and model?

A new clean burn stove should really never smolder, once the stove is up to temperature. The smoke should combust before going up the chimney if the combustion air damper is open at all.

When the wood isn't burning well, is there any moisture fizzing out the end of the log away from the burning part?
 
gloria smith
Posts: 4
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Its new to me. It's fairly large Olympic- though I don't know the model number. How do I know if the smoke is combusting? I do have a moisture reader coming in the mail... some of the wood fizzes steam other doesn't- so I think that might be the issue
 
Glenn Herbert
gardener
Posts: 2226
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
78
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm not familiar with particular brands of woodstoves, but if you can see the smoke and it is not burning, there is not likely to be any place hotter where it will burn. Catalytic stoves might take care of that, but if so, I would expect there to be a particularly hot area near the top/back wherever the catalytic unit is. Do you know whether your Olympic has a catalytic secondary burner? And if it does, what condition is it in? They wear out/go bad over time and need to be replaced.

The Olympic is apparently the largest stove in the Avalon line. You can download its owner's manual here:
http://www.avalonfirestyles.com/TravisDocs/93508061.pdf

Reviews of it are split, some say it is great and some say it has serious deficiencies (I suspect many of those have poor installations). It does apparently have secondary combustion tubes which burn out and need to be replaced at intervals, so inspecting it closely would be a good idea.

 
allen lumley
pollinator
Posts: 4154
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
58
books fungi hugelkultur solar wofati woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
_Due to other peoples ideas of what was"Seasoned Wood" I actually spent couple of ''heating seasons'' using mostly'' Piss Elm'' wood that sizzled more than burned!
- Actually it makes very little difference what you burn as long as its dry. Dense wood weighs more and provides more Heat Energy!

Generally the catalytic units do not return the efficiency commonly expected ! Big AL
 
Dan Huisjen
Posts: 51
Location: Acadia Region, Maine.
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I had an Avalon back in the late 90's. They use a clean burn secondary combustion system. They aren't catalytic. They're pretty good stoves.

Yep. Wet wood.

Allen is right. If wood was sold by dry weight instead of volume, people wouldn't care so much what species it is. It's somewhere around 6400 BTU per pound, multiplied by your combustion efficiency. For that stove, it should be around 75% efficient.
 
Glenn Herbert
gardener
Posts: 2226
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
78
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
75% efficient if it is burned at full heat output and not dampered down to burn overnight, that is

A wood gasifier can be run at a low firing rate, but I don't think that really qualifies as a gasifier.
 
Mark Clipsham
Posts: 29
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If the wood hasn't been split (even small stuff) it takes a long time to dry out and it spits out the end because it has so much moisture in it. For lack of a better place to ask this - what is the best way to feed a stove? Specifically - the most efficient wood input to heat output? I have noticed that just having a little wood in the bottom of the stove on a bed of coals seems to give off as much heat as having it full and blazing - so is it more efficient to have just enough for it to burn (well) or should you put a certain amount of wood in rhetorically (like a half full fire box)?  It seems like the more you put in and is burning at one time the more heat goes up the chimney after the minimum amount needed to keep the fire going. Don't really have the tools and time to do real research on this but would like to hear what others have to say even if it is anecdotal. Even wood stove companies do not seem to have recommendations for this.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!