Fire went out after 10 days of buring.

Fire went out after 10 days of buring.

PostBy: char197398 On: Fri Nov 28, 2008 8:24 pm

I started a great fire (after a few failed attempts…not a deep enough bed) 10 days ago. The stove is a new Hitzer 983 hand fed. I shake the stove approximately every 12 to 16 hours then add fresh coal to the top of the firebricks.
My shaking method is:
1. Open the ash pan door for approximately 2-3 minutes.
2. Add a layer of coal.
3. Shake the grates until red coal dropped into the ash pan.
4. Top off until full.

This evening when I came home the fire did not look right. It appeared that the front of the fire had gone completely out and only the back portion of the firebox was lit. After opening the door I found that indeed there was no burning coal from the front of the firebox stretching back to almost the halfway point.

During the week I noticed a few trends.
The front of the firebox would burn down faster then the rest of the fire. I basically chalked this up to not having as deep layer in the front due to the glass door. The door on the Hitzer does not sit completely above the firebricks. This gave my bed a slight back to front slope.
The other trend I noticed is that early in the week, the fresh coal would remain unburned for several hours with only small blue flames protruding up through them. However, later in the week the newly added layer after shake down would start to glow red in less than an hour.

The only significant changes that I made to the fire throughout the week were to the manual pipe damper and the draft control on the ash door.
I mostly ran the draft open approximately at 1/8” to ¼” depending on the outside temperatures.
The MPD I would close approximately half way during burning, but would open completely during shake down and refill.

Like I said tonight however, I noticed the fire had receded to the middle of the firebox.
When I tried to shake it down, I also noticed it was much more difficult. I decided to start to dig in the bed to see what happened. I discovered that the there were several large pieces of clumped together ash many as large as golf balls. At this point I am going to shut down the stove, wait for it to cool, then start fresh tomorrow. The only other thing I think I can add is that I am burning the “pea” sized coal.

Any suggestions on where I went wrong?
I know the description is rather long, but I figured the more into the better.

Thanks for helping out a newbie…by the way…this site is great! I would have struggled with the deep bed thing days without reading many posts here!
char197398
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 983 insert

Re: Fire went out after 10 days of buring.

PostBy: TimV On: Fri Nov 28, 2008 8:31 pm

Hi
Go to the addy link I pasted and read post "Ash build up in Vermont coal stove..."
Read the replys by "VigIIPeaBurner" and watch the 2 videos he posted . Great info that a million words would not describe and great info for new coal people with hand fireds :D
Here is link You may have to paste it.
ash build up in my vermont coal stove??
TimV
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Older Ashley Cabinet ( pre US Stove gobble up)
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Energy King 480 EK
Coal Size/Type: Warm weather smaller coal. Cold weather larger coal.
Other Heating: Oil Furnace Backup when repairs are needed
Stove/Furnace Make: Energy King Furnace
Stove/Furnace Model: 480 EK

Re: Fire went out after 10 days of buring.

PostBy: Dallas On: Fri Nov 28, 2008 8:35 pm

It could be that the coal you have is subject to forming clinkers ... when burning hotter, it could be that a good poking during your 10 days would have allowed more ash to drop through, and broken up the clinkers. Usually, it's an ash problem, when things slowly start to go to hell over a period of time.
Dallas
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Modified Russo C-35
Other Heating: Oil Hot Air
Stove/Furnace Make: Russo
Stove/Furnace Model: Modified C-35

Visit Hitzer Stoves

Re: Fire went out after 10 days of buring.

PostBy: Ashcat On: Fri Nov 28, 2008 10:59 pm

Hi Char--

I have a 983 also. I've noted many of the same characteristics as you with regard to how the fire burns in this box. Initially the coal closest to the glass burns quickest, but this means ash builds up there quickest, also. In addition, next time you have bare grates, look at the inch or so area, at the front of the box (and on the sides, too), that don't have grate under them. This means that ash overlying those margins of the firebox don't get "cleaned" when you shake the grates. What I do right before I shake --about every other time I shake--is take a poker to the corners and along the front edge, and try to poke at the ash and move it towards the center of the box an inch or so, so it can drop through when I shake. This will leave space for fresh coal in those regions, and if you're sure to increase draft a bit, that new coal should all burn well. Then dial back the draft to your usual amount. A magnetic stove thermometer helps alot in not overheating, knowing when temps begin to increase and you can close the ashpan door after a fill, etc. I found a nice one at a fireplace/wood stove shop. There is precious little real estate on the visible surface of the 983 on which to place the thermometer, but I think I found a good one. Most of the exterior surface is made up of either the door itself or the fan housing/ductwork, which won't give true stove temps. Just to the left of the top-left corner of the fill door is a good spot, where you can measure stove temp with nothing but 1/4 inch of steel plate between the thermometer and the fire.

I also wonder whether you are shaking vigorously enough. Most of the time--and this could be wrong, but it works for me--I shake not only until I see one or two hot coals falling into the pan, but until I begin to see an orange glow reflecting from the ashpan, indicating that there is very little ash between the grates and active fire. Also, I've gotten into the habit of shaking before I add new coal, after I've livened up the fire with an open ashpan door for 1-2 minutes, and opened the MPD. One thing this seems to accomplish is alot of tiny ash particles (is this what's meant by fly ash?) seem to go up the chimney (and hopefully out, rather than settle back down).

If you haven't already let you fire go beyond resuscitation, you might try the poker thing with the ash in the corners and edges.
Attachments
Therm 004.JPG
(216.34 KiB) Viewed 15 times
View: New PagePopup • Select:BBCode
[nepathumb]8847[/nepathumb]
Last edited by Ashcat on Fri Nov 28, 2008 11:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Ashcat
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 983
Coal Size/Type: Nut/Blaschak

Re: Fire went out after 10 days of buring.

PostBy: Devil505 On: Fri Nov 28, 2008 11:07 pm

I'll be willing to bet you had air pockets that you didn't poke into & fill with fresh coal.(I've always found a mature fire develops air pockets under "bridges" that waste allot of valuable firebox real estate with dead air instead of coal)

shaking a hand fired stove ?
Devil505
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: TLC-2000

Re: Fire went out after 10 days of buring.

PostBy: Ashcat On: Fri Nov 28, 2008 11:30 pm

Char--
I looked at your location--Chester Co, PA. Me too. I'm near Longwood Gardens, a mile or two east of there. The Fireside Shop, on Rt 202 just north of the Delaware state line, is where I got my thermometer ($20, must have cost them $5, but I couldn't find it locally enywhere else). Where are you in Chester Co.?
http://www.chaddsfordfiresideshop.com/
Ashcat
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 983
Coal Size/Type: Nut/Blaschak

Re: Fire went out after 10 days of buring.

PostBy: JIMTORL On: Sat Nov 29, 2008 8:43 am

I have the 503 and I find it needs to be poked once in a while. I seems if I only shake for a few days it starts to burn uneven.
JIMTORL
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer

Re: Fire went out after 10 days of buring.

PostBy: BM-80 On: Sat Nov 29, 2008 9:46 am

Hello Char....
I saw this post today (and your other post under 'newbie frustration...) and I can relate to your experience. I've been having better luck than you, that is until yesterday. My fire had been going about 8 days but yesterday I noticed that, while the fire was not out, it was dieing a slow death. But in my case it was the right half that was going out. (Although in the past I had the same problem with the FRONT....just as you're now experiencing). I ended up calling the rescue mission "fire repair".
First, I opened the ash door and loading door and took my shovel and dug/probed the side that was going out. It was basically dead, with not one glowing coal. What I noticed most was that there was a great deal of ash (powdered, properly burned, ash). Even with my limited knowledge I could figure out that a fire was unsustainable without room for air to feed the fire). I then dug/probed the side that was still burning and sure enough, there was less ash...or at least not enough to completely choke out the fire. Okay, so I "deduced" that (at least in my case) the area that "died" did so because of excess ash. I believe that in my case I did not shake the same amount on both sides, and so cause my own problem on the side that I did not shake enough.
I "repaired" the fire (it was a point of pride to see if I could avoid using another match.... I just wanted to see if I could do it) by digging a deep hole on the side that went out, and by shaking/pushing as much ash as possible (on that dead side) down into the grate. While doing this, I place 2" chunks of hardwood on the GOOD side to get them burning. I also used a piece of bent rod inserted underneath the bad side to force more ash to drop. I got about 60% of the ash removed from the bad side, there was still plenty left. I then placed the burning chunks of hardwood into the "hole" and then tried to "shovel back" without putting the chunks out. This was a little bit tricky and I had to proceed slowly.
By this time, because of the shoveling on top of the "good" side, the good side was going out. This fact re-enforced my theory about too much ash choking the fire. So I just kept adding hardwood chunks, getting them burning, and then half-burying them all around the firebox, all the while shaking vigorously. I got three and a half ash pans by the time I was done. Obviously, I had too much ash in the fire. By adding new coal slowly, I was able to "repair" the fire...I still shook the stove at least a half a dozen times in the next 2 hours, slowly clearing the fire of ash.
I believe, in my case, that the build-up of ash is cummulative.... that the longer the fire is burning the more (if I am not shaking properly) the ash builds up to unacceptable levels.
The whole point of this lengthy explanation is
1) the problem associated with excess ash choking a fire.... and
2) the "cummulative" effect of increased ash over time

I have, in the past, also had problems with the FRONT of the stove, just as you are now experiencing. I was already aware of this issue because of this forum. I had already learned to poke/probe/push the ash way up in front so that the front doesn't die. But I believe the concept is the same. If you don't have a problem with coal quality, this (too much ash in the front) may be some of your problem Hope this helps someone...
Bob M
BM-80
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 983 insert

Re: Fire went out after 10 days of buring.

PostBy: BM-80 On: Sat Nov 29, 2008 9:55 am

Just forgot to add one more thought....

It might be worth a try using nut coal instead of pea. Nut coal MAY leave more room for air passages. Maybe some other people might know more about this, but I seem to remember reading (on this forum) that some guys use pea on top to "slow" the fire down....
BM-80
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 983 insert

Re: Fire went out after 10 days of buring.

PostBy: Devil505 On: Sat Nov 29, 2008 10:53 am

BM-80 wrote:I just wanted to see if I could do it) by digging a deep hole on the side that went out, and by shaking/pushing as much ash as possible (on that dead side) down into the grate. While doing this, I place 2" chunks of hardwood on the GOOD side to get them burning. I also used a piece of bent rod inserted underneath the bad side to force more ash to drop. I got about 60% of the ash removed from the bad side, there was still plenty left. I then placed the burning chunks of hardwood into the "hole" and then tried to "shovel back" without putting the chunks out. This was a little bit tricky and I had to proceed slowly.


Next time, you can save yourself allot of time & effort by filling that "dead hole" with just fresh coal.......Don't touch the good side or try to move burning coal around....just leave it alone.. As long as one part of the fire bed is still burning well, the fire will work itself sideways & catch the fresh coal just fine. Trick is to just leave it alone & in maybe 12 hours your whole firebox will be burning just fine. No need to throw wood in there. Just fill it with coal & give it time. (this will happen many times throughout the winter, so just consider it a normal part of your routine.....filling "dead holes" with coal & leaving them alone)
Devil505
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: TLC-2000

Re: Fire went out after 10 days of buring.

PostBy: char197398 On: Sat Nov 29, 2008 12:53 pm

Ashcat wrote:Char--
I looked at your location--Chester Co, PA. Me too. I'm near Longwood Gardens, a mile or two east of there. The Fireside Shop, on Rt 202 just north of the Delaware state line, is where I got my thermometer ($20, must have cost them $5, but I couldn't find it locally enywhere else). Where are you in Chester Co.?
http://www.chaddsfordfiresideshop.com/


Wow small world. I live in the Marshallton area and I know exactly where the fire shop is that you mentioned. Today during cleaning I can now see where the excess ash build up is and as mentioned it's around the sides and front where the grates do not extend. I will be sure to pick up the thermometer as I fully expect to head down to the Concord Mall area sometime this weekend. I’ll start again fresh later today and make sure to keep a poker handy.

Thanks all. ;)


Tim V.
Thanks for the video post lots of good info.
char197398
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 983 insert

Re: Fire went out after 10 days of buring.

PostBy: Ashcat On: Sat Nov 29, 2008 2:15 pm

Yes, small world!
I looked online for prices on that thermometer, and 19.95 was the cheapest I saw. So $20 isn't a bad price at all. They sell pokers and similar items, too. Yes, Concord Mall--home of tax-free shopping.
Good Luck.
Ashcat
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 983
Coal Size/Type: Nut/Blaschak

Re: Fire went out after 10 days of buring.

PostBy: Uglysquirrel On: Sat Nov 29, 2008 5:09 pm

It's certainly refreshing that the fellow newbies are having the same issues!

I'm reading a 1980's book by Steve Sherman (Amazon used books) on coal maintenance. Although he does use a mpd, there are a lot of interesting points he brings up. Two things I'm considering doing is 1) laying a thin film of new coal on top before refreshing/shaking and 2) before putting in the new coal and after shaking, he recommends moving an inch or so of the the burning (top) rear coal to the front of the stove with a hoe like device and then bank the new coal in the rear. Logic is you are putting the coal into a real hot coal pocket with burning coal in frt to burn the gasses as the new coal starts to burn. This kind of makes sense to me since in my experience the top 1/2" or so of coal does not burn, it turns kinda brown and I'm not sure if this (old top) coal can be easily ignited. Other thing is next time after you refresh and before you throw on the new coal , take a poker and take off the first 1" of top coal, what you'll see is a mass of intense burning coal, likely far hotter than the top coal.

I don't think in doing the above it will harm anything, seems logical, and it will likely speed up the ignition of the new coal. Doing the above along with increasing the bottom air for a short time until you see a stove temp rise may be the way to go.

Goal here is to share info. hope this helps us nebofiles.
Uglysquirrel
 
Stove/Furnace Model: Pocono

Visit Hitzer Stoves