Cyber36 wrote:Are you suppose to leave a corner or side uncovered with glowing embers just reloading the FIRST time, or everytime you add a layer establishing the fire?? I think I understand the banking, refreshing the fire the inital first time & thereafter. Also, when can you tell when you need to add - by loss of heat, or a visual on the coals?? It's pretty dark in my firebox so it's hard to tell the difference between the black & the grey...........
Leave a section of the fire uncovered every time you add coal.
After I have livened the fire up (by giving it plenty of air) I usually place a very thin layer of fresh coal on top. I'll let that catch well (just a few minutes) & then (with a lively fire going) I'll shake it down. (just till the first red embers fall into the ash pan) At this point I'll leave the hottest section uncovered & dump alot of coal on the darker sections of the coal bed. After about 10 minutes or so (depends on your draft, etc) You'll see flames start to come up from under the areas you heavily buried with new coal. At this point (with these new flames showing) it is safe to add coal to the area you left alone before.
The reason for leaving some flames/red coal showing is to burn off any gases(from the fresh coal) & thus prevent these gases from building up & causing a "Puff Back"....minor explosion! If you don't see any flames & have put in too much new coal you can scrape off & expose some red coals &/or open the load door every few minutes to help burn off volatils & prevent puff backs.
To be safe, you should plan on doing this every 12 hours, normaly.
Sounds harder than it is