To Much Soot or Tar Buildup

to much soot or tar buildup

PostBy: DeNello On: Wed Nov 27, 2013 2:10 pm

I know some buildup is expected but what is "normal" Just got my Vogelzang potbelly wood/coal installed and have started using it but the soot buildup is outrageous.
I live in East TN, near the KY/VA borders, local supplier says the "Block Coal" is what every one uses in their home stoves.. Have tried large pieces, small pieces and small shovels full of very small pieces, combinations of size also various burning methods, most requiring us to open doors and windows to attain a comfortable room temp. first day the spark screen at the top of the pipe got totally clogged and backed up the draft so I removed it ... second day I tapped on the section of pipe running from the second elbow to the cap and the soot that fell into the elbow completely blocked the pipe.. we dismantled the entire system found stringy accumulations of about 1/2 inch throughout and a large amount in the elbow..... I have burned wood for years without problems but this is ridiculous... The draft works very good with a strong draw, rarely close the dampener more than 1/4 and then only for a short time. leave the bottom vent about 1/5 open and regulate with the spin vent on the loading door, always shake the coals and open the dampener and spin vent completely for several minutes when adding coal... nothing seems to reduce the buildup, thinking of just staying with wood but have a very nice 2 ton pile of coal sitting in the yard... any suggestions or insights will be appreciated
Stove/Furnace Make: Vogelzang
Stove/Furnace Model: potbelly PB65 wood/coal

Re: to much soot or tar buildup

PostBy: Lightning On: Wed Nov 27, 2013 3:44 pm

Bituminous coal is a tough nugget. I tried it for about a week, I seemed to get a grip on it but had some of the problems you describe.

There are bit burners here that love it and are good at it. Hopefully they will chime in to help.

Welcome aboard partner. :D
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Overmodified/Bored out Clayton 1537
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite/Awesome Size

Re: to much soot or tar buildup

PostBy: carlherrnstein On: Wed Nov 27, 2013 8:25 pm

That model potbelly stove isnt really that great however I wouldnt give up on it. Bit coal really is a lot like wood in some ways it has a two stage burn, the first is smoky and flames a lot, the second is glowing coke. When its time to add fresh coal I would add about 10-15 or so pounds of coal in a pile towards the back side of it an make sure that the fresh coal doesnt cover more than about half of the glowing coke, then I would keep a eye on it with the under fire air opened up so the fire can get going after that big mass of room temp coal heats up and starts burning, once the fire creeps up the pile of fresh coal I would add another 10-15 lbs just inside the door also making sure not to smother the fire or cover over the glowing coke.

You might have problems with over heating if the ash door or shaker cover fits poorly.
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: combustioneer model 77B
Coal Size/Type: pea stoker/Ohio bituminous

Re: to much soot or tar buildup

PostBy: DeNello On: Thu Nov 28, 2013 8:02 am

thanks for the input, I am beginning to think that I have made a mistake in thinking I can heat with coal in my situation.. We have a small home the room with the stove is the largest at about 20" x 25" with an 8 x 10 kitchen at one end and a short hall to the bed and bath at the other... the thought of putting 10 to 15 lbs of coal into the stove at one time seems like insanity because the soft ball and tennis ball size chunks I have been burning (perhaps 2 to 3 lbs at one time at the most) & ( burning as I have been doing) create excessive amounts of heat, much more than we need to heat the home. SO... my question now is... am I burning small amounts to hot in an effort to reduce the soot build up while attempting to keep the heat output tolerable.. when I should be burning larger amounts at a lower temp which would give me more control of the burn and heat?? At the moment I am at a complete loss and beginning to think I will have a two ton monument to my misguided efforts sitting in a corner of the yard for years to come, What is the correct way to burn efficiently and have some amount of control of the heat output ? Or.. do I have the wrong type of stove for my needs..??
Stove/Furnace Make: Vogelzang
Stove/Furnace Model: potbelly PB65 wood/coal

Re: to much soot or tar buildup

PostBy: dcrane On: Thu Nov 28, 2013 9:00 am

I wish I could lend some advise to Bit burning that might help :( I will say that as with anthracite coal stoves im sure there is a VAST difference between a great burner vs a crappy miserable burner. Im not so sure the model you have does anything great (wood, bit or anthracite)... it appears to be the most basic design from 1800 reproduced as cheaply as possible for decoration more than "real, functional, quality home heating unit. I would not believe that Home Depot and Chinese ebay companies really have a handle on anything coal, other than profit margins and supply ability. I don't say this to offend you (My opinion is based on zero real world experience with bit)... I would just hate to see you base your experience on this one stove. Its sometimes amazing how you can spend pennies on the dollar for a tried N true quality stove VS. buying Junk brand new :idea: maybe someone can offer you some quality Bit burners that may turn up used that you can keep an eye out for??? this may be the best avenue to pursue at this point? One stove that comes to mind is called the "Warm Morning" (massive amounts of preheated secondary air flows to all levels of the firebed via firebrick) and a stove that is very controllable to hold heat and maintain a steady burn OR knock your socks off if needed.

I hope some folks who know bit. stoves well can make some suggestions on models... happy Thanksgiving!
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Crane 404

Re: to much soot or tar buildup

PostBy: blrman07 On: Thu Nov 28, 2013 10:26 am

I will echo what DC said about that brand of stove. It has so many air leaks it is virtually impossible to seal them. It can be done but you have to virtually disassemble the stove and put it back together with refractory cement at every joint. The feed door leaks, the ash door leaks etc etc. About the only thing it burns reasonable is small wood pieces. I am quite sure I am now going to get some PM's or flames :mad: from people who love their Vogel.

Burning either Bit or Ant coal requires the ability to control the air flow above and below the fire. More so above the fire with Bit coal. I tried it for awhile in a handfed stove and decided the stove I had wasn't designed for bit coal.

You can do it if you follow the rules for bit burning requiring banking the coal and finding the right size and type. My recommendation is watch Craigs list or this forum 4 sale section for a stove that really is designed to be a bit coal burner.

Rev. Larry
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Bucket a Day
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vigilant Casting 2310
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Wood in the VC and anything that will fit in the Bucket a Day. It's not fussy.

Re: to much soot or tar buildup

PostBy: DeNello On: Thu Nov 28, 2013 12:27 pm

Well, first thanks again for the input and I know that this model stove is at the bottom end in quality and functionality... the wife and I are making some progress... today is day three and we have so far experienced everything from a totally clogged flue, dismantling the pipe and cleaning the entire system,.. to a very unexpected glowing metal around most of the stove just above the level of the grate... I thought I would see if the very small pieces of coal and the dust (left after breaking the pieces into 4" chunks as outlined on the Vogelzan "How to burn coal" web page) were of any value.... Sooo I added 2 small fireplace shovels sized amounts spread around an already burning area of the 4' pieces.. we were sitting there sipping coffee when the wife says.... "Dear I don't think that was a very good idea and pointed out the glowing areas on the stove.. ANYHOW
the house is still intact and we are making progress... after shutting off the air as best we could and blowing air over the stove with a box fan we ended up with a nice amount of (coke?) glowing coals in the stove... and most of the stringy soot thingies are gone from the inside... closed the flue and went almost 1hr without having to add fuel... could have gone longer but did not to have to relight the thing.. Now I know that was not the recommended way to get a good base of coals... but did learn that you can shut the system down and close the damper without getting any smoke... at this point I'll take whatever knowledge I can get...

Wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving... and getting back to the inferior aspects of my stove... kinda of knew going into it that it was not a quality item but we do not have a large area to heat and even less money and people did get by with similar stoves in the 1800's.... We will do the best we can for the remainder of this season and perhaps next year be able to move this stove into my shop and acquire a more suitable unit... until then its small pieces and amounts in the center of the stove, try to build up a good base for the night and be able to get 2 or 3 hours between adding fuel ( I doubt it but ...) there is always wood and we do have an electric furnace and I do have a nice stash available if I need to replace this "Authentic" 1800,s style railroad pot belly hunk of Chinese cast iron ... Happy Holidays
Stove/Furnace Make: Vogelzang
Stove/Furnace Model: potbelly PB65 wood/coal