script type=”application/ld+json”> { “@context”: “//schema.org”, “@type”: “WebSite”, “url”: “//rawchimney.com/”, “potentialAction”: { “@type”: “SearchAction”, “target”: “//rawchimney.com/search?q={search_term_string}”, “query-input”: “required name=search_term_string” } } < /script>

Blog

How Do I Stack My Firewood

If you do not stack firewood everyday, just how does one stack it?  You want the row to be straight and stable, and yet air flow into the wood so it will dry out and remain dry in storage.  The ends may collapse, the pile may fall over, it takes a bit of practice but I will give you a few tips.

KEEP IT OFF THE GROUND

Keep the firewood off the ground, preferably allowing an air space across the entire surface.  Stacking on old skids works well, as they can often be found for free.  The skids provide a smooth, solid surface and have air space beneath the wood pile.  Firewood should be kept up off the ground for seasoning to promote drying and prevent mold growth.

Having a fairly level and solid base is also good, keeps pile stable.  If you can not find skids, some small poles of wood can be used to elevate the firewood off the ground, and leaving a bottom layer of 4 foot long pieces helps (but you would have to order a small quantity of pieces left 4 feet long to to that – if you are able to get some 4 foot pieces of spruce or poplar it may be low cost or free).   If you use poles, try to get perhaps 4″ in diameter to raise off the ground a bit, you will need to have the poles placed close enough to keep sticks off the ground (which may be 12″ or 10″.. depending on your firewood length).

If you do buy your firewood and have a good place to store it, I recommend buying in the fall for the following year; a year in advance, or even the late spring – and keep for a year and half.  Why?  Well, you can be sure it is properly dried and you may be able to negotiate a lower price as the wood supplied will likely not be seasoned fully.

When you pile wood, try to ensure that you do not put all the ends one direction, when I say ends (the bottom part of the stick), which is usually a bit larger.  If you do the pile will lean to one side, and want to fall over.  This was worse when I helped out a friend who did around 200 cords of firewood a year for his work.  He would stack to 6.5 feet high, and it would shrink in drying to around 6 feet high.  Always place the big end of the stick on the low side of the pile.

However, you will always have problems in some areas.  The ends being a challenge.  I find that stacking a criss-cross pile at the end works.  If needed you may try two criss-cross piles beside each other, these will not roll down and fall apart if built correctly and will offer a base to hold the rest of the pile.

For firewood length wood, do not stack higher than 4 feet unless you have something solid to stack against.

If I sweep your chimney on a regular basis, I will always help find good local wood suppliers.

Looking for Chimney Sweeps in Midland and Penetanguishene

How Does An EPA Certified Wood-Stove Work

There are two basic methods of meeting the EPA smoke emission limits, which include catalytic and non-catalytic combustion. Each of these methods have proven to be effective, however there are some performance and visual differences.

In the catalytic combustion process the smoky exhaust is funneled through a coated ceramic honeycomb box which is inside the stove, within which the gases and particles in he smoke will ignite and burn. The catalytic system will lower the ignition temperature of these particles which cause immediate combustion as they pass through.  The catalytic stove is able to provide a long, even heat output.  The catalytic system is bypassed during starting of the fire and loading in new wood.  The catalytic unit will need replacement over time, but how long it lasts is for the most part dependent upon proper use of the wood-stove.  The system can last 10 or more years if used properly, and some manufacturers have warranties of 10 years on their units.  However if you are over-firing your stove, burning building materials, garage or not getting a regular cleaning then the catalytic system will have a shortened lifespan, often as short as 2 or 3 years.  One thing that is noticeable with these stoves, is the long, slow burn will result dirty glass because not enough combustion flows past the glass to keep soot from condensing on it.

The stoves which are non-catalytic are most common on the market, and they have a large baffle which provides a longer, hotter gas flow path and they preheat the combustion air before it is introduced into the firebox.  to While they are efficient and have low pollution output levels, they can not match the long, slow burn of a catalytic stove  But the owners of these stoves enjoy the beautiful fire they create, actually much more dramatic as the gases are burned off in the firebox.  The baffle and often other components will need replacement from time to time, as they do deteriorate with the high heat involved in an efficient combustion.  The non-catalytic stove is also much simpler in operation and use.

Catalytic stoves are somewhat more complex and complicated to operate, they do provide exceptional performance, however are best suited for those who appreciate technology and are prepared to maintain it properly.  Both catalytic and non-catalytic stoves have pros and cons, and users of either type can be 100% satisfied with the performance of their stoves.

Then of course we also have the wood pellet stove design, a topic for another day.  Although, realistically I don’t have a lot of exposure to these stoves, as there are not a lot in the area.

Back Puffing

What is back-puffing?  Interestingly enough some know or have a vague idea, others are frankly clueless.  I have even had some Home Inspector reports handed to me, which are speaking to back puffing and are TOTALLY WRONG.  Another reason why Home Inspectors SHOULD NOT perform inspections for Real Estate transactions.  Another discussion topic however, related to why they do not perform a Level 2 inspection as mandated in NFPA 211 or why they do not verify no obstructions in flue again mandated by NFPA 211.

But back to the item of discussion, back-puffing.  Both back-puffing and build up of creosote within the stove are indications that there is a larger production of smoke than the chimney draft is able to handle.  It occurs when smoke becomes dense in the firebox and ignites.  The reason for back-puffing is most often due to mechanical and/or operational reasons.  These can be related to installation problems or operational problems, so I will list a few to review.  Modern, efficient stoves extract most of the heat from the smoke, which can make it more of a problem to rise up the chimney and does require a bit more understanding of proper operation than did the older less efficient cousins.

Cause 1: Cool chimney or pipe system

This is one of the most common causes, and is less likely to occur with factory built chimney or an insulated liner inside the masonry chimney.  It also is less likely to occur if chimney is inside house versus on outside wall.  The reason is to maintain a good draft, the chimney and stove pipe need to be and to remain warm. If you have long runs of single wall flue pipe, enough heat can be radiated into the room that there just isn’t enough heat left to warm the chimney enough. The cool chimney will absorb more heat from the smoke, taking it to the point it simply does ot rise up and out of the chimney.  Essentially as smoke cools it looses it lighter than air property and simply hangs in the air.  Furthermore, cool smoke condenses on the flue pipes and chimney creating a layer of creosote.

Cause 2: Masonry construction

Masonry chimneys are difficult to warm as there is a huge mass involved, however once warm they will also remain warm for longer periods.  If the masonry chimney is exterior to the home and exposed to winter temperatures, this even becomes worse, as there is a much greater degree of heating required.  This may mean you need to run with the stove damper wide open and even the door open a bit for a longer period to get the chimney warmed and working properly.  A better solution is to have an insulated liner installed.

Cause 3: Outside location

An outdoor chimney is much more difficult to warm, and will loose the heat to the outdoor environment much faster.can transfer its heat to the great outdoors readily. Also, the higher the chimney the more problematic this can become as the flue gases will cool as they go past more and more chimney wall.  Some recommend an external chase around the chimney, while better than nothing is not the ideal solution.  First I have seen far too many chimney chases which were not installed properly and in fact themselves added to the fire hazard or risk.  The best solution is actually an insulated steel liner or insert, which will make the chimney behave much like a factory built chimney.  There may be places in the south where external chimney chases are great, but in the Midland and Penetang area, frankly they are not the wisest solution.

So far we have covered 3 items, and they all sound similar!  But realistically these are the most common reasons for the problem.  Lets continue.

Cause 4: Oversized flue

The flue pipe should ideally be the same size all the way up.  Venting a stove to a larger flue creates some issues related to physics, hot gases loose heat when they are allowed to expand, and in a larger flue there is a lot of room for expansion.  Now sometimes with more than one appliance sharing a single flue, you have a larger flue size.  One of the reasons I am a strong supporter of one appliance per flue.  The worst case of an oversized flue is when somebody vents a stove or insert into the fireplace chimney, which is always much larger than the stove/insert flue size.  When the fireplace chimney is on an exterior wall, things get even worse.  Sometimes a stove vented into a fireplace chimney on an exterior wall will never heat the chimney enough to operate properly and will always be a problem with smoke and back-drafting or puffing.  As in any other masonry chimney, the best solution is to have a steel liner or insert take the flue gases to the top of the chimney and an insulated liner is even better.

Cause 5: Leaky chimney or pipe system

The chimney, flue pipe and stove must be one continuous and preferably air-tight system. Air-tight to keep smoke in is a great idea, but also makes the system work better.   A leak in a chimney causes loss of draft, air will be sucked in through the holes and reduce the upward suction or draft you want and need.  It a proper system the joints between sections of stove pipe will be secured with screws, and the joint between the flue collar and the stove pipe will also be tight. I have smoke pencils and infrared cameras to find leaks in the system.

Cause 6: Pipe layout

The design or layout of the flue pipes should be as straight as possible and as vertical as practical.  Fewer elbows are better and a 45 degree elbow offers less resistance than does a 90 degree elbow.  In fact two 45 degree elbows offer less resistance than a single 90 degree elbow!  Long horizontal runs of pipe should be avoided if at all possible as they are detrimental to having a strong and solid chimney draft.

Cause 7: Blocked passages in the stove

Over the years some stoves were simply designed poorly.  Vermont Castings was one that comes to mind, having heat-exchange passages in the rear where smoke must pass before leaving through the chimney.  Smoke traveling through these spaces slows down in velocity and in doing so is also given the opportunity to cool in temperature, condense and leave creosote deposits.  These can then lead to partially blocked passages, which restrict the smoke flow, increasing the chances of back-puffing.  The area behind the firebrick must be hand cleaned with a wire brush.  On the Vermont Castings Defiant and Vigilant stoves, you can reach into the the smoke entry port at the bottom right end of the firebox and through the flue opening to clean the upper end of the passage. On the Vermont Castings Resolute stoves the upper left and right inner panels must be removed to release the refractory brick, which allows cleaning behind it.  The Defiant and Vigilant are both stoves where the air inlet tubes can actually become blocked with ash buildup, in these stoves close the stove doors and open the damper and use the vacuum to push the air in through the primary air inlet on the rear of the stove – this should clear the air ports inside the firebox (ensure there is a blanket over the openings of the firebox to catch any dust and ash in the blown air).   Look at the owners manual for your wood stove, it should give instructions on maintenance and proper cleaning of all smoke passages to ensure proper operation.
A good Chimney Sweep will clean not only the chimney but also the wood stove.

Cause 8: Insufficient combustion air from house.

The homes today are much better insulated and sealed than in the past.  The wood stove does not have any mechanical draft assistance to pull the air in and allow it to overcome this tightness or to overpower other appliances which are pulling air out (dryer, range hood, bathroom fan, etc)  These appliances with fans will always grab the air first, and if the wood stove is in the basement it is already at a disadvantage placed on it by physics.   If your stove burns better with window nearby slightly open, that is a sign that it is lacking combustion air supply.  The solution is often to provide a direct source of combustion air from outside to the firebox, or to place a proper HRV or central ventilator into the home.

Cause 9: Overdry firewood

Realistically the ideal drying time for firewood is generally around 12-18 months.  As wood drys there is actually less highly volatile gas remaining in it, however what does remain if overly dry can get out much faster than from greener wood.  What this means is that with wood that is overly dry, there is a period in the early burn cycle where there is a lot volatile gas in the smoke than if green wood were being burned.  If the wood is over 2 years old, use smaller loads and adjust the air supply to maintain desired hear or mix with greener wood to diminish the amount of volatile gases in the smoke and to help absorb some of the heat produced.  Also keep in mind that smaller pieces have more surface area for the same amount of wood, the volatile gas is released from the surface, therefore smaller pieces are able to release more gases into the smoke.  It helps to mix larger pieces into the load and not to use only small wood in the fire.  Often times in early fall, you may be burning some of last year wood, which has had the extra summer to dry and  back-puffing can be more common than it is in the spring.

Cause 10: Seasonal changes

Back-puffing is impacted by chimney draft, which is impacted by temperature.  In the fall and spring, when smaller fires are built as it is not as cold, the draft may not be as strong.  The colder outdoor air in winter and hotter fire will both help to improve the chimney draft.  During spring and fall you may need to use smaller loads of wood and let more air in, with some stoves you may need to leave the damper open for the total burn.

Chimney Creosote Problems – Plugged Cap – Deglazing Chains

Chimney with serious creosote problems, in fact the creosote was leaking out of the bottom of this chimney when water entered during rainstorm. This was a clear indication that the chimney was full of creosote and the owner was seriously negligent in having the chimney cleaned.  Some think we suggest annual or even more frequent cleanings to make more money, on the contrary the reason is because the fire code states this, and they do so because of historical evidence on the need of cleaning.  In this particular case, which is a worst case scenario, the whole house had a smell of creosote throughout.  The smell was because the chimney was plugged and had no airflow, the spark arrester was more than likely plugged with ash and creosote.  It is true that chimneys require cleaning and servicing at least once a year, or more if you burn wet wood.  This video shows the use of deglazing chains used to clean heavily coated chimneys like this one. After sweeping it, and cleaning the rain cap and spark arrester

Chimney Creosote Removal

Creosote is a very dangerous substance to have in your chimney, creosote can cause unpleasant odors and corrosion of metal surfaces and deterioration of mortar and brickwork.  However it is also a fuel and can cause very serious and damaging chimney fires. This video explains creosote, and shows some of the tools chimney sweeps use for the removal of creosote.

A Wood Stove in the Basement

I see a lot of wood stoves in the basement.  Generally speaking it is not a bad idea.

But there are a few things that are common with basement wood stoves.

  • An unfinished basement without insulation on the walls.
  • Back-drafting – caused by negative pressure in in the room.

Call for advise if having problems with wood stove in basement.

Your Local Chimney Sweep and How To Fix A Leaky Chimney

Chimney leaks can be a real pain.  If they leak with each rainstorm, it is usually easy to find, and most often is in the flashing of the chimney or the storm collar.

Leaking that drips onto the wood stove is the storm collar, if into area surrounding chimney is the flashing or maybe shingles close by.

But what if it leaks when it is not raining outside?  Then it is likely a condensation problem.  Moisture from the home is entering the flue and condensing on the surface of the support box.  This I have seen most often in the summer months and is more common when air conditioning is in use.

Some chimney designs allow the addition of insulation to the support box, which will help address this problem.  Note that when permitted it must be the insulation specifically designed for that chimney.  If you were to place insulation into the support box not specifically designed for and approved by the manufacturer then you will loose certification on that component, which negatively impacts a whole host of things.  In a nutshell, you don’t want to go there.

Finally, the third leak source is caused by wind getting up under the storm collar.  There is direct ventilation from the area under the storm collar down into the support collar.  As many of the appliances and chimneys area here are near a lake, there is often a wind blowing.  Rain gets blown up under the storm collar and into the top of the flashing.  This can also happen in a heavy rainstorm, and we do get those, and a steep steel roof.  With the later it only happens during a really heavy rain storm.

 

These are items known by the manufacturers and while they are not common, these problems can be annoying to those who have them.

Ensuring Your Chimney Sweep Is Reputable and Honest

At RAW Chimney Sweeping & Inspection a reputation is important.  It is something you develop over time and do not wish to loose.  It is very important to be known as a reliable, professional, honest and fair sweep.  It goes a long way!  More and more you will see companies offering services for low prices, skimping on training and equipment.  If you see a Chimney Sweep, or any company for that matter, offering their Sweeping and Inspections at rock bottom prices — then beware. If prices seem too good to be true; then most likely they are.

When Looking For A Chimney Sweep – Or Inspection Look A The WETT Website.

Click Here

Haugh’s Wood Stoves

We see a lot of them, they were made in Orillia, so kind of makes sense.

In the 1980s they had a booming business.  However, for various reasons the Orillia operation was finally closed in 2008.

For a bit of history:

  • 1980 Solar Wood Company establish – Gord Cook, Orillia
    • Began producing his own product line of wood stoves
    • Expanded into Fiberglass diving boards, pool steps, pool slides, & 8 ft. sailboats
  • 1982 Solar Wood began making one model of wood stove for Haugh’s products for SEARS
    • One model, 14 employees, 5,000 sq ft
  • 1984 Haugh’s Products purchased the building & equipment from Solar Wood
    • Began to grow the stove business to other mass merchants: Canadian Tire, Beaver Lumber, etc.
  • 1986 First Building Expansion
  • 1987 First EPA approved stoves developed
  • 1988 Second Building Expansion
  • 1990 Third Building Expansion
  • 1992 Last Building Expansion, building was now 52,000 sq ft employing close to 100 employees during the busy season
  • 1994 Haugh’s Products developed “Century Heating” line of stoves
  • 1997 Orillia facility was purchased by Jacuzzi
    • Facility continued to make pool parts, now for Jacuzzi
  • 2003 CFM purchases the Jacuzzi Heating division
    • Continued to supply labor for pool parts, material & machines owned by the pool division
  • 2006 CFM Orillia continues to employ +100 employees manufacturing wood stoves
    • Continue to supply labor to produce parts for pool company
  • 2008 CFM Corporation seeks protection from its creditors. Under the Monitor’s supervision, the assets of CFM have been sold to various entities. Stove Builder International has purchased, as of July 19, 2008, the assets of the CFM’s plate steel stove division located in Orillia, Ontario. More precisely, SBI has acquired all the rights to the Century Heating brand.

Yes – I see a lot of these stoves, they were popular.  Good stoves of the day, but any decent stove today will use 1/2 or 1/3 the amount of firewood.  If the chimney has been maintained/replaced and the stove itself is in good condition, they may still be a workable stove for somebody who uses on an occasional basis.  They however would not be my recommendation if used as a primary heat source, not because they were a bad stove in their day, but because they are outdated and the modern stove is a whole lot cleaner and more efficient.

 If you own one, and are in need of a manual, you may find one here:
//www.century-heating.com/en/
Note: you will need the model #, which you should find on the back.  There will be a data plate with information – DO NOT REMOVE THAT FROM THE STOVE OR YOU WILL LIVE TO REGRET IT!..
On that plate will be several model numbers, and one of the model numbers should have a mark beside it which would indicate the model of that particular stove.  Search the website for that model # and you hopefully will find a manual.
I have some common ones listed below.

They also still sell some parts for these stoves, which may fit. I have been fairly lucky in thew few I have needed, but best to check with the supplier first in an attempt to ensure they fit your particular stove in case there have been changes throughout production years.