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tips on using woodburning stove

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tips on using woodburning stove

Postby smojo » Wed Oct 08, 2014 5:59 pm

It's a bit quiet in here lately so I thought I'd start another topic that might prove useful. Especially to me ;) Just bought and had fitted a Stovax Stockton 5 with multi fuel capability. Been watching Youtube etc for tips on using it but interested to see what you seasoned woodburners have learned and want to pass on.

So I know I have to use logs below 20 on the moisture meter. I know I need to start with some small fires to "run it in" which I've done and had a few longer fires (a couple of hours). Although it's got "airwash" control, which is supposed to help keep the door glass clean, it has already had a yellowish coating on it which I have cleaned off with a lot of effort. In the end I used meths and a soft pan scrubber to remove it. Any better ideas? By the way, only burned wood in it so far.

I wonder if I have been using it wrong. Still in the learning curve. It has a primary air inlet on the front and a tertiary control underneath which blows air through the back panel. The airwash setting on the top seems to make the most difference to the burn. So as advised by the man who sold it to me, I open all vents when firing it up then close down the primary and tertiary and just leave the airwash in it's middle position which is "on". The left setting is boos which is supposed to be used if the glass is smoked up but the manual advises not to leave it on long. It's quite interesting to see what varying each air control does and affects the burn. So any tips very welcome please.
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Re: tips on using woodburning stove

Postby oldclaypaws » Wed Oct 08, 2014 7:17 pm

We have a Dunsley Highlander which is multifuel, but we hardly ever use coal. If you do use coal, it can get so hot the grate bars will start to distort over time and need replacing. We got through one set of grate bars but then spent £200 investing in a high-temperature chrome set which are virtually indestructible and don't bend.

Not familiar with tertiary air, maybe this is the same as our grate slide, which you partly open if using coal. With wood our grate bars on the bottom are kept closed, only opened for de-ashing.

To get it going, we use a piece of fire lighter, with kindling on top, and introducing progressively larger logs as it gets hotter. Eventually it just needs a couple of medium logs about once an hour, keeping a nice bed of embers. Last thing at night we fill it, get it going, them stop it right down to tick over all night. That's mainly cos the cat (who is 20 years old) sleeps in the lounge and we like it to keep warm for him.

We have a primary slide at the bottom of the door, and an air wash at the top. Both are opened when lighting until the fire is nicely going and you have a bit of a red glow in the bottom. Then the primary is closed, and the air wash is used to control the rate of burning, usually about 2/3rds closed. If the fire isnt hot and you close the air wash too much, you will get a deposit on the inside of the glass. You can remove it by either opening the wash more and having a hot fire, which should burn it off, or when the stove is cold, just wipe it off with a damp cloth. If using the stove correctly, you shouldn't get much deposit on the glass at all, particularly if using it for a full evening and keeping it ticking along nice and hot. Maybe you needed to keep it going longer.

Its as much an Art as Science and does take a while to 'feel your way' into it. Rate of burning can be affected by what fuel you use and even the weather- A howling gale outside draws the air through far quicker and you need to stop it down more or the heat will virtually all be sucked up the chimney.

Once mastered, its the centre of the home and almost certainly one of the best things we ever bought (second to the wood of course). Get a Dutch oven to sit on the top and also watch out for sweet chestnuts in the shops if you don't have your own crop- nothing like roasting them on your stove.
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Re: tips on using woodburning stove

Postby Dexter's Shed » Wed Oct 08, 2014 7:58 pm

hi smojo, I'd suggest getting one of these, attach to the flue above burner, at a glance you can see if your burning to hot or cold and adjust the fire accordingly, saves blacking up the glass every day

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/BlueSpot-8010 ... 339473b7ad
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Re: tips on using woodburning stove

Postby smojo » Thu Oct 09, 2014 8:28 am

Dexter - thanks, yes it's on my list as is one of those self powered fans. Our stove is fitted inside the old large chimney breast which as been opened up. So I reckon a fan will make a huge difference to the distribution of heat into the room.

Paws - not sure what the grate bars are? There are some bars across the front inside to stop logs rolling out but I guess you don't mean that. Di you mean the actual grate that the fule sits on? Mine has a sort of round rotating section in the middle of the grate which is connected to a pull lever which you use to riddle the grate. I believe that is only fitted on the multifuel versions as solid fuel needs bottom fed air. The tertiary air is a lever under the stove which opens a vent which goes up the back and through some holes in the fire box. I was told it is part of the system for burning some of the smoke. When you open it, the fire draws much stronger and if you have flames going on, you can see the air jets really blowing through them.

The manual says not to use bituminous coal (which we have a bunker full of) but to use smokeless stuff. I know how much soot ordinary coal makes so intend getting rid of it and getting some smokeless. That will only be used if we intend to go out for the day and want to keep it going. I would mix a small amount in with the logs as I reckon it will burn slower and last longer than wood on it's own.

The airwash setting - yes I have found that about 2/3 closed gives a nice setting once the thing is going. More than that and the wood burns very fast, less than that and the flames will die out if not going strong or will just sort of "dance" lazily and that is when it seems to soot up the glass really quick. I keep the tertiary setting about half or 2/3 closed too. The primary air setting seems to make little or no difference and I reckon that probably comes in more useful when burning solid fuel.

Now sweet chestnuts. I have two very large ones in my woods. I was dead chuffed and hoping to get at least a handful from them. I have never ever seen them growing in local woods so was excited in summer when I saw signs of the long flowers. When I went last time, there were several empty shells on the ground. I have a couple of horse chestnuts too. Loads of empty shells of those. Not one single nut or conker to be seen anywhere. Same with my hazels. There are some very fat squirrels belching in my woods now. Ba****ds :evil:
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Re: tips on using woodburning stove

Postby Dexter's Shed » Thu Oct 09, 2014 11:19 am

smojo wrote: There are some very fat squirrels belching in my woods now. Ba****ds :evil:


this puts up a good reason to control them,
our first year in the woods and we spotted loads of green hazel nuts, planned on returning to pick them when they were brown, was looking forward to goose wood hazelnuts, on our return......ALL GONE :twisted:

this year however, we have picked quite a few, and so have visitors who have stayed over, the only thing that has changed between then and now is that I control the little bugga's
I also found a sweet chestnut, not on our plot, but a neighbours, but we all share, roasted some last weekend, heaven :D
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Re: tips on using woodburning stove

Postby MartinD » Thu Oct 09, 2014 11:39 am

Dexter's Shed - how do you control your squirrels? Polite notices asking them not to touch your nuts, or something more drastic?
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Re: tips on using woodburning stove

Postby oldclaypaws » Thu Oct 09, 2014 1:19 pm

Last year we had a mast of acorns (squirrel staple) and loads of sweet chestnuts lying around- we froze 14lbs of them to use throughout the rest of the year. The squirrels were preoccupied with the acorns and left the chestnuts intact.

This year, no acorns at all, so the squirrels are well hungry and out to munch on anything else they can get- which happens to be the chestnuts. Our Chestnuts have been carried away to 'picnic areas' by tufty and friends, and ripped to shreds. Haven't seen a single edible sized chestnut left.

I'd advise pick and freeze as many chestnuts as possible when you get them, because you can't rely on a harvest every year, especially if you don't control the squizzers.

Starting to get pretty brassed off with tufty and co. Squirrelgeddon looms.

Smojo- We all have different stove designs, I don't have a tertiary air system so can't comment on it. As you say, the soot appears when you stop the airwash almost closed, so you need find the right balance. There's nout like reading the instructions to clarify how you're supposed to operate something, I find. I read up on those fans and opinions are mixed as to how effective they are, haven't got one so cant comment, but I think room size has quite a bit to do with it. Most people seem to manage quite nicely without them. If you do want to use some solid fuel, which can save reloading the stove quite so often, we always bought smokeless anthracite 'nuggets' which burn long & steadily, light well and produce lots of heat. Pricey though.
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Re: tips on using woodburning stove

Postby SimonFisher » Thu Oct 09, 2014 1:42 pm

smojo wrote:... as is one of those self powered fans. Our stove is fitted inside the old large chimney breast which as been opened up. So I reckon a fan will make a huge difference to the distribution of heat into the room.

We've a Stovax Stockton 4 which also sits in the chimney. I tried a Sirocco Stove Fan last year: -

http://www.stovefans.co.uk/stove-fans/sirocco-fan

Despite being described as very quiet or almost silent, I found that not to be the case and returned it to the supplier. If you've got the TV on you may not hear it but if you're sitting reading you may find it quite annoying in a quiet room. The problem is that a small fan rotating at high speed will invariably make wind noise.

smojo wrote:The manual says not to use bituminous coal (which we have a bunker full of) but to use smokeless stuff. I know how much soot ordinary coal makes so intend getting rid of it and getting some smokeless. That will only be used if we intend to go out for the day and want to keep it going. I would mix a small amount in with the logs as I reckon it will burn slower and last longer than wood on it's own.

We used smokeless 'coal' before we had our ready supply of our own logs. Compared to the small quantity of ash that burning wood produces, the amount of waste from the smokeless stuff was incredible. It's also quite pricey stuff. We haven't used it for many years now.
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Re: squirrel control

Postby Mod 2 » Thu Oct 09, 2014 2:40 pm

**** MODERATOR NOTE ****
Post on squirrel control split to new thread.
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Re: tips on using woodburning stove

Postby Judith » Fri Oct 10, 2014 8:23 am

Cleaning the glass - I use this: http://amzn.to/1o2U74F. Lasts for ages and does a good job.

Have also used wood ash very effectively, or (when things went badly wrong) Mr Muscle oven cleaner!

We also have a fan on our wood burner which is silent and does a fantastic job of circulating the warm air around a drafty kitchen. (Like this one:http://amzn.to/1yfkgjW)
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