Wood burning Insert problems


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Old 01-26-15, 05:07 AM
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Wood burning Insert problems

Hi I'm looking for some advice. I have a masonry fireplace in my basement that I installed a wood insert into this past fall as a more efficient heating option. We have a two story house so the chimney liner is approximately 40 ft from the basement to the top of the chimney. We had been burning fires for the past few months without an issue. Now, it seems as though the fire isn't drafting properly as the firebox fills with smoke and smothers the fire. If I try to open the box to add paper, wood etc the basement fills with smoke, ultimately making the entire house smell. The thing that baffles me is that it had been working great and now it does not. I did not insulate the liner, I'm wondering if that may be the issue. I'm also considering going back up on the roof the remove the cap to allow the smoke to exit the chimney easier. There would still be a rain cover on the chimney. The idea of installing the insert seemed fairly straight forward, with the toughest part being getting up on the roof, however I'm wondering if there is something I did not consider prior to installing.

The box now appears to be covered in creosote inside due to all the smoke that was filling it so I'll need to clean that out, but that's a separate issue.

Any helpful tips to try would be greatly appreciated as I would love to enjoy the fireplace again. It's been nothing but a headache.
 
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Old 01-26-15, 05:12 AM
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Could an animal have gotten stuck in the chimney & died there? Something is restricting the smoke, from exiting.
 
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Old 01-26-15, 05:43 AM
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I'd start by cleaning the flue.
 
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Old 01-26-15, 05:52 AM
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As temperatures drop the cold air inside that liner get heavier and the driving pressures can no longer push the smoke up the chimney. If this is an outside chimney it becomes even more difficult along with the height.

Never used one, but I understand they make power vents for the top.

I also have never heard of an insulated liner, but if that is/was an option it might help.

The trick is to get the air in the chimney warmed up and then to have the hot smoke and gasses from the fireplace keep it warm. A problem arises when these newer more air tight units are dampened down to a very low fire, or worse, when everyone is done and the fire is allowed to go out, almost. Smoldering coals may not produce enough heat to maintain the draft, but do produce an abundance od deadly CO. If the insert is not sealed and burns inside air for combustion, that path reverses and floods the room with CO. Hypothetical, but not a condition you want to be even close to.

Where power venting might solve the problem, it fails when the power fails and that is when many want the fire for back-up.

Questions, is this an outside chimney?
What diameter liner did you install?

Bud
 
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Old 01-26-15, 06:31 AM
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The chimney runs up between the house and our garage. It is only exposed from the peak of the garage and up. I guess it would be considered outside, since our garage isn't heated.

With regards to the insulated liner, I have seen them when I was searching for a liner to purchase in the fall for the installation.

The cap on the chimney has some very small slits for the smoke/gasses to exit. I have a feeling that may be restricting the airflow from drafting properly, and there may be some buildup since when I first installed.

I appreciate the feedback.

Can you send a link for a power vent? I've not heard of this option. The only issue I see with it, is running the electrical up to it.
 
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Old 01-26-15, 09:13 AM
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You didn't say what diameter flue you have, but here is one from a search on "draft inducers for wood stoves".
Chimney Flue Vent Fans - Wood Stove Draft Inducer Fans | Rockford Chimney Supply

That's just an example as I do not have experience with them.

Insulated would have been better as it would maintain a warm temperature longer as the fire is reduced. I don't know how much space you have in the garage, but if you boxed that chimney in with proper clearances and insulation, once it warmed up a bit the mass would work to your advantage.

I do agree that the small slits may be hindering the full flow and you need to establish a good flow to warm things up. Good place to start, especially after I saw the prices on those draft inducer fans.

Bud
 
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Old 01-26-15, 09:35 AM
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I'm not certain insulation is needed on my fireplace. I failed to mention, we also have a fireplace in the kitchen which I just recently converted to gas that uses the same chimney, separate flue. It's ventless, however we usually leave the damper cracked to allow some of the gasses to escape, so that also helps to warm things up within the chimney.

The liner I attached to the insert is 6" as per the specs that came with the fireplace insert.
 
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Old 01-26-15, 09:39 AM
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By the way, thanks for the link. The draft collar looks like a viable solution. It's a bit salty, but it's worth it to eliminate the headache of smoke in my basement. I'll try my other options first, and as a last resort I may install that once the weather warms up.
 
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Old 01-26-15, 12:09 PM
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If you've been burning fires without trouble and now have a problem I would not be looking at core things such as flue size or it's temperature. After all, it has worked fine before. I'd get up on the roof and take a look at the cap and shine a light down the flue. I'm betting there is some restriction. If you don't find the culprit from up there I'd slide the stove out so you can stick your head in the fireplace and inspect the flue from that end. Maybe the damper fell closed or partially closed or something fell down the chimney.
 
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Old 01-26-15, 03:23 PM
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I'm going to have to pull the stove out. I came home this evening and the house smelled. Went down to the basement and a small amount of smoke was coming out of the unit....hate to say it but I may need to have someone come take a look.
 
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Old 01-27-15, 03:58 AM
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Have you been able to inspect the flue? If you aren't burning a hot enough fire the creosote/soot will build up faster. Except for first thing in the morning or if I come inside half froze, I generally have a slow burning fire in my stove which means I need to clean the flue every month or so.
 
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Old 01-31-15, 03:20 PM
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Cut the cap off. The fire can breathe! It's working like the day I installed it. Thanks to all for the input
 
 

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