should it smell??

Re: should it smell??

PostBy: glacier bay On: Wed Feb 10, 2010 4:17 pm

I have been burning coal since 1980 in my Glacier Bay. About 7 years ago I started to get the sulfer smell in the house sporadically. When I was burning wood during late fall I started to see smoke coming into the house through the air flow adjustment dial on the door also on occassion. After awhile the light bulb went on and I realized that this only happened on windy days. My house is built around 1,000 ft from the crest of the hill. I called a mason out and he asked me about any new development in the neighborhood. YES, 4 new homes on the immediate crest in the past 5 years. Apparently these new homes changed the dynamics of the wind flow on the downward side of the mountain. The solution was simple. I had the fireplace rebuilt and extended 5 feet above my roof peak which totally solved the problem even with greater than 50KT winds. It was time to rebuild it anyway since the original was built in the early 50's. Hope this helps.
glacier bay
Stove/Furnace Make: Glacier Bay / Old Erie Stoves,
Stove/Furnace Model: CFS Coal Fireplace Insert

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Re: should it smell??

PostBy: rberq On: Wed Feb 10, 2010 7:05 pm

Impressive, that homes 1000 feet away would make that much difference!
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine 1300 with hopper
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak Anthracite Nut
Other Heating: Oil hot water radiators, propane

Re: should it smell??

PostBy: Brent On: Mon Feb 22, 2010 7:49 pm


I have a Keystoker (90KBTU, Hearth model) running for its fourth winter. All has been well, until recently I've been getting an odd chemical smell in the house, intermittently on different days. It's definitely not sulfur/combustion gases...very different smell/CO alarm is quiet...and it's not the beginnings of a hopper fire. Draft is good, clear chimney, etc. Rather, it seems to be a hot oil smell and there's a very faint visible vapor coming off the coal in the hopper. I believe that there may be some contaminant on the coal as some of the coal in the hopper appears wet or oiled, even when it's been in the hopper for hours. It's not wet with water.

This morning I scooped out the 20 pounds or so of coal in the hopper and the vapor continued to come off it until it cooled. I'd guess the coal was 150 degrees F as I could put my hand in it, uncomfortable but not burning hot. Again, there's not an over-temp problem in the hopper. Just very warm from being close to the firebox. I'm burning bagged rice coal from Blaschak.

I'm guessing a few bags worth had some oil or other contaminant spilled on them. Anyone else have similar issues?

Many thanks.
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker
Stove/Furnace Model: Hearth 90K BTU

Re: should it smell??

PostBy: zeke On: Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:54 am

had the same sulfur in my house the past 2 weeks. Cleaned out me chimney real good and haven't smell it since. It's been about 2 days!!
Stove/Furnace Make: Herman
Stove/Furnace Model: vf3000

Re: should it smell??

PostBy: steamup On: Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:54 pm

I get a vapor from my k-6 hopper when the boiler has been firing hard. It is only from where the hopper touches the boiler. The heat is heating the coal enough to drive off a vapor. Keep in mind that the boiler is sitting in a 50 deg . F. room.

Even "dry" coal has some moisture content. Anthracite has some volatile matter also. I suspect that the vapor I see is some of this moisture/volatile matter starting to drive off. Because it is in a cold room, it is more visible than in a heated room.

Anyone else have similar experience?
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman-Anderson AA-130, Keystoker K-6
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: HS Tarm 502 Wood/Coal/Oil
Coal Size/Type: pea, buck, rice

Re: should it smell??

PostBy: wlape3 On: Tue Feb 23, 2010 1:28 pm

I see vapor all the time when the hopper level is low enough. In my case it is definitely water as my rice coal is nearly always wet even after draining for days.

Brent, does the smell seem to be an organic smell? Does it make you feel a little queasy? Could be motor oil, tansmission fluid, or any number of other liquids.

I had a small amount of rancid vegtable oil to get rid of the other day so I dribbled it over my rice coal in the hopper. Pretty soon it smelled like I was baking something in the furnace! Seems to cut down a bit on the water vapor too.
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Alaska 140 Auger
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Other Heating: Propane
Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska

Re: should it smell??

PostBy: bobo On: Sat Feb 27, 2010 8:51 pm

I had a sulfur smell for a few weeks too. I just started coal burning this season. Come to find out, after the CO2 detector went off one night and consequently shutting down the KAA2, that I had a 1/2 inch flue instead of the 6 inch like I am suppose to have. The next day after shutting it down, I removed the flue right at the exit of the boiler and *POOF* a could of fine ash went everywhere. The exhaust was completely clogged with fine powder ash. There might have been a 1/2 hole to exhaust from. After the cleaning everything was great. I started the fire back in middle to late Sept and it was going up until a few days ago when I shut it down and cleaned it. What is the normal time span in which you should give the pipes a good cleaning?

Stove/Furnace Make: Peerless / Keystoker
Stove/Furnace Model: WB-3 / KAA2

Re: should it smell??

PostBy: crazysteamer On: Sun Feb 28, 2010 7:51 am

Another possible source of the smell can be a crack (weld?) in the combustion chamber, allowing combustion gasses to get into the circulation air system.

Normally, you would expect that since the circulation air is at a higher pressure, it would leak in the other direction, but I have seen industrial situations where because of air flows, there were actually areas that were at pressure BELOW atmospheric in certain areas of the system.

Again a CO detector should tell you this - you can also just do an eyeball inspection for cracks.
Stove/Furnace Make: Reading
Stove/Furnace Model: Susquehanna

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Re: should it smell??

PostBy: csstoker On: Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:23 pm

check your baro setting-a little less baro and the heat rising from the hot bottom hopper coal should go into the stove instead of rising up the hopper.

if you don't have them, get CO detectors pronto and check levels. If it is not coming from the hopper, shut her down until you get your leak fixed
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Alaska
Coal Size/Type: Rice