Minimum chimney length for proper draft for coal stove?

Minimum chimney length for proper draft for coal stove?

PostBy: mommag On: Tue Dec 05, 2006 8:28 pm

My husband and I just installed a Vigilant II coal stove and a Duratech chimney. After three days of starting and restarting a fire he is unable keep a fire going. The wood/kindling burn hot with no draft problems, but as he adds coal, the coals burn for a short time, then die out. He tried charcoal once, but had no luck. (Although, I think it was old matchlight and not the best). We had a Victory 700 stove years ago and never had problems starting it.

My husband is beginning to lose it. (Many beers have been drunk over this!) He has tried leaving the ash door open, which helps keep a low glow, but not a solid bed of burning coal. He removed the plate for Antracite burning. We are wondering if it could be that the chimney is not long enough to create a proper draft for coal. It is the double-wall Duratech 6 inch chimney and extends about 13.5 feet above the flue collar, straight up,through the roof (That was another fun day!) It has a cap. Should we extend it, or can anyone offer another possible cause/solution for this problem?

Thanks for any help!
mommag
 

PostBy: bugize On: Tue Dec 05, 2006 8:32 pm

:shock: how tall is your house...i.e,roof? your chimney should be a couple feet taller than your roof to get a decent draft! :shock:
bugize
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Mark3

PostBy: mommag On: Tue Dec 05, 2006 8:54 pm

We followed the recommendations. The chimney extends about 7 feet above where it exits the roof and is at least 2 feet higher than the roof height at the point 10 feet from the chimney. There is another 6 feet of chimney inside the house to the flue collar. Any ideas?
mommag
 


PostBy: bksaun On: Tue Dec 05, 2006 9:00 pm

Draft Meter, check it several times through out the day, especially during the warmest part of the day.

If you are trying to start anthracite, use a coal mouse or a road flare cut up into 4 pieces (use only 1 piece). I never had ant luck with wood or charcoal myself.

BK
bksaun
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Hybrid, Gentleman Janitor GJ-6RSU/ EFM 700
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 503
Coal Size/Type: Pea Stoker/Bit, Pea or Nut Anthracite
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer/ EFM-Gentleman Janitor
Stove/Furnace Model: 503 Insert/ 700/GJ-62

PostBy: Cap On: Tue Dec 05, 2006 9:30 pm

Sounds like your system should work. But I too struggled for a few years off and on throughout the learning process.

First, what kind of wood are you burning? I could never get a coal fire going with anything less than a solid hardwood such as oak, ash and/or maple. Get a really good & hot bed of wood coals. Maybe a few layers. Sprinkle on one layer of pea or nut coal. It should immediately begin to *crackle*. Leave the ash door open and once those coals are red hot, toss on a second layer and than a 3rd 10 mins later. Get the flue temps behind the stove up to 400F for at least 10 mins before closing the door. The hotter in the beginning of a coal fire, the better. Once established, you should be able to choke it down.

Use a candle and look for any leaks in your flue pipe by watching the flame get pulled into the seams. Seal the leaks tight. If you have a baro, wrap alum foil over it to seal off any air fron being pulled into the flue.

Last w/e, I seal all the small leaks in the stove pipe behind my unit. This amounted to a half of a turn on the ash pan door damper.

Good Luck, keep trying.
Cap
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Harman SF 250, domestic hot water loop, heat accumulator

PostBy: mommag On: Tue Dec 05, 2006 9:46 pm

Thanks for all the tips. Where can I get a draft meter and what is a good draft measurement? (Sorry I'm so dumb about this). I held a candle in the flue and he flame burned totally straight with no dancing. That's good, right? After reading many posts, it seems we are not alone with this challenge. I just want to be sure we don't have to add chimney height. As i said, though, there is NO smoke backdrafting when we start a fire...it goes right up the chimney. I think my husband has been using maple kindling, but maybe not enough. Also, when should he add a lot of coal? He is worried about smothering the fire, but maybe he's starving it. We have both chestnut and pea here to try. Does anyone have a Vigilant II who can suggest the best fuel? It sure is a cute stove, but I just want to be toasty!
mommag
 

PostBy: bugize On: Tue Dec 05, 2006 10:13 pm

:shock: sounds like the chimney hight is fine...starting pea would be tougher because it fits so tightly together,not much air gaps between the pieces of coal,nut should be easier to get goin and stay going,some use pea to keep a fire going longer,kinda chugging it along if you will.are you putting shallow layers on top of the wood fire until they get going then adding alittle more? :shock:
bugize
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Mark3

Re: Minimum chimney length for proper draft for coal stove?

PostBy: boilermaker On: Tue Dec 05, 2006 11:01 pm

mommag wrote:My husband and I just installed a Vigilant II coal stove and a Duratech chimney. After three days of starting and restarting a fire he is unable keep a fire going. The wood/kindling burn hot with no draft problems, but as he adds coal, the coals burn for a short time, then die out. He tried charcoal once, but had no luck. (Although, I think it was old matchlight and not the best). We had a Victory 700 stove years ago and never had problems starting it.

My husband is beginning to lose it. (Many beers have been drunk over this!) He has tried leaving the ash door open, which helps keep a low glow, but not a solid bed of burning coal. He removed the plate for Antracite burning. We are wondering if it could be that the chimney is not long enough to create a proper draft for coal. It is the double-wall Duratech 6 inch chimney and extends about 13.5 feet above the flue collar, straight up,through the roof (That was another fun day!) It has a cap. Should we extend it, or can anyone offer another possible cause/solution for this problem?

Thanks for any help!


Hi...
First of all, what kind of grate are you using? You said you removed the plate for anthracite. What is that?? Second, try a bigger coal such as nut to get the fire going. Once it's going you can go to a smaller size if possible. Third, what size chimney did the literature with your stove tell you to use. Coal requires a good draft and 6" might be too small depending on your stove size. Forth, is he trying to get the coal going too soon? I start my fire with good old pine and have no trouble because I use lots of it. It burns real hot for a short time but will warm the chimney to draft and I lay my coal right on top of it before I even light the fire. Usually one shovel of it to start. You need to have a substantial layer of wood to get all corners of the fire box warm. You can try squirting the wood with charcoal lighter. This will actually burn off before the wood gets going real well and therfore allow you more kindling time. Also, make sure any over fire air dampers are closed. In other words have only an under fire air damper open. Leaving over fire air open will "short circuit" the air across the kindling fire. You want as much air as possible under the fire.
For draft sake you want at least a .2 over the fire. That's inches of water. Again, it depends on the unit. I can vary from installation though. A .2 will at least indicate that you in fact, have a draft. Don't pile the coal on too high at first. Build it up slowly until you have th size fire you require. One big thing that people tend to forget these days is that houses now are much more air tight than they ever were. You need to make sure that there's sufficient air entering the house so that the fire can draft. I can't tell you how many heating calls I've been in in the last 30 years where the only problem was the customer sealed up his boiler/furnace room and ruined the fire. Oil, wood, coal, pellets....it doesn't matter. But coal needs a good supply of replenishment air to maintain itself. In my cellar I have a "calibrated" air leak that allows air directly to the boiler. It cuts down on all window and door drafts and keeps the fire brisk.
Good luck!
Doug
boilermaker
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Sime, hand fired hot water boiler
Stove/Furnace Make: Sime
Stove/Furnace Model: 6 section hand fired boiler

PostBy: mommag On: Tue Dec 05, 2006 11:56 pm

We are using the grates that came with the Vigilant II. It is a new stove certified for coal only. The plate I was referring to is one which allows more airflow for anthracite coal as opposed to bituminous. We havw somwe nut coal, and will try that. The flue collar is a 6 inch diameter and that is the diameter recommended for the stovepipe as well. We went with the double wall chimney all the way, thinking it would stay warmer. I believe there is only under fire dampers on this stove. We have also kept the ash door open while trying to get it started for more air. The stove is in our family room which is open to the whole house and has cathedral ceilings. Our home is about 12 years old, but I can find some drafts (lousy contractor), so I don't think it is a sairtight as some homes. However, if the problem continues, I will crack a window. I closed the stove up and places a jar candle on the grates and it stayed lit, so there appears to be air.

I still don't know how you measure flue temperature and draft. Where do we get a meter?

Just wondering, can I use those firestarter bricks that I start my fireplace with to help get everything going?

Everyone is so helpful...thanks so much. We will try again tomorrow. My husband is becoming a real grouch over this because he thought he had a handle on coal since we had the Victory 700 for 12 years, but the newer models must operate on a differnt principle. He said he got the coals crackling, but they never gave off the blue flame and the whole bed never got really red, just some of the coals. When should he add the deeper coal layers? Do you think he missed the time to load it and the fire starved? Or will he smother it?
mommag
 

PostBy: LsFarm On: Wed Dec 06, 2006 3:07 am

I'm not familiar with this particular stove, but make sure the only air getting into the stove is through the bottom, under the bed of coal. If any vents are open above the coal the coal won't stay lit.

Also the fire and coal must cover the entire grate, there must be no place for air to get around the bed of coal. Make sure the bed of coal is deep, at least 3-4" as a minimum.

These are usually the problems, not the chimney.

Hope this helps, Greg L
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

PostBy: Berlin On: Wed Dec 06, 2006 6:12 am

"Also the fire and coal must cover the entire grate, there must be no place for air to get around the bed of coal"

lsfarm is right, this is likely your problem from what you describe, make sure that when the coal is initially added you fill in the corners of the stove first, then put an inch or so on top of the wood, leave the ash pan open untill it lights off for the first time.
Berlin
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Will-Burt Combustioneer 77B
Coal Size/Type: Ohio BITUMINOUS pea stoker coal

PostBy: mommag On: Wed Dec 06, 2006 8:24 pm

THANK YOU, EVERYONE!!!!!

I'm sitting here watching the beautiful glow and feeling the wonderful heat of our coal fire. My husband follwed all the advice and got a great fire started on his first try. He'd been reluctant to add a deep layer thinking he would smother the coals, as that is what would happen with our old Victory 700 hopper fed model. But he trusted you guys, and we're on our way now to a cozy winter. The only remaining problem is that our house is a bit smoky and somewhat smelly...is that the new cast iron psint burning off? Hope so.
I wish I could find my camera! I'll be sure to submit a photo soon.

Thanks again,
Peggy
mommag
 

PostBy: barley master On: Wed Dec 06, 2006 9:11 pm

good to hear your warm. as long as you dont smell any sulpher it is normal until the paint is done curing the smell will go away soon :)
barley master
 

PostBy: rouxzy On: Sat Dec 09, 2006 3:56 pm

Where the stove is new you will temporarily smell a funky smell when the stove gets hot. My wife thought I was burning plastic or paint when I first got a good fire going. This smell will be short lived and go away. Enjoy the heat.
Tom
rouxzy
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III
Coal Size/Type: Stove, Nut / Anthracite

vigilant II also

PostBy: woodburner On: Fri Jan 26, 2007 9:20 pm

I also have a vigilant II coal stove and a prefab chimney in the house. A resolute woodburner(the 1989 model :roll: ) too. Both stoves are great and the only trouble I have with the vigilant when burning coal is it gets too hot!
I always start a good wood fire ,3-4 hours, and make sure I have a real good bed of coals then start adding pea coal two or three small shovels at a time until the coals are burning orange. The burning wood helps the coal to draft - the biggest problem with coal is keeping it drafting. It may take me an entire evening to get the coal up to the bottom of the front grill and even then 3-4 more inches until the top of the grill is reached.
Coal likes to be clean (no ash residue) and it likes to be layered and multi leveled - not one or two layers of hot and cold coal.
The only trouble I have is the pea burns too hot and fast so I mix it with chestnut to slow it down and get a longer burn.
Keep burning! :roll:
woodburner
 


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