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Why won't our wood burner get going?
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# 1
jojo2910
Old 04-12-2012, 6:37 PM
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Default Why won't our wood burner get going?

Hi,

We had a Charnwood C4 isntalled last week. Over the weekend it worked great, now we can't get the fires to take or if they do take they burn out quickly.

We were wondering if it was down to the logs we are using? We had a delivery of 'seasoned' wood a couple of months ago and have stored it in a covered porch outside. The wood burnt over the weekend had been in the house for about a month as part of a feature but this week's stuff has come in from outside, so has maybe only had a day or two inside.

Is it possible that the logs are not seasoned and not dry enough to light? They feel dry to the touch, but when being split, some of them had water coming out of them and some have mould on them.

Or is there another possible solution? Is there a best way to get a WBS going?

Thanks in advance.

Jo

Last edited by jojo2910; 04-12-2012 at 6:39 PM. Reason: Additional info
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# 2
Macca83
Old 04-12-2012, 6:44 PM
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Have you got the flu and vents open? Wet wood is also a !!!!!! to get lit.
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# 3
Williwoodburner
Old 04-12-2012, 7:10 PM
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Default wet wood

Hi Jo,
sounds like you already know the answer, wet wood.
Wood should be cut split and stacked outside in a windy spot with top cover for at least a year, some like oak need 3 years, or as you are finding out it is difficult to burn, blacks up the window and can cause creasote in the flue.
If you have to buy wood get a moisture meter, when a delivery arrives, split a big chunk and test the fresh face, if over 20% it is not ready to burn.
I would reject any over 20% or negotiate a discount and store it yourself for next year.
Most firewood suppliers simply have not got the room to store hundreds of tonnes of wood cut split and stacked correctly for a year or more.
What most do is process it into builders bags (not ideal for seasoning) and then store it, or store in the round 8 foot lengths and process just before delivery, wood takes many years to dry if not split so this is not ideal either.
I suggest buy some briquettes or kiln dried (expensive) if you cannot find a supplier of well seasoned wood, and buy now for next year and stack it outside yourself for next year.
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# 4
jojo2910
Old 04-12-2012, 7:35 PM
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Thanks Willi. That's interesting as the glass had gone black. Off to see what supply I can get.

If anyone can recommend an online supplier or one near Weston Super Mare?
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# 5
Greenfires
Old 05-12-2012, 6:38 AM
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Sounds like a definite case of wet wood - you shouldn't be getting visible water out of it when you split it! Also remember that the black stuff building up on your glass is going to be lot less thick than the stuff which will be building up in your chimney where it's cooler!
With kiln dried logs you should have a reasonably low level of moisture - it usually comes in at around 18-20% - BUT - also worth bearing in mind that a) you'll probably pay a fairly hefty premium for it, and b) in many years, properly seasoned air dried logs are exactly the same moisture content or lower - but without the extra charge! All "kiln dried" means in reality is that the wood has been in a kiln and is drier than when it went in. Briquettes, as mentioned, are always much drier than any logs, so no energy wasted in driving off moisture. Most are around 5% - so quite a big difference. Also a lot more compact to store - most of our customers will get through the whole winter with a single pallet - and most are still using up what they have left from last year at the moment. You'll need several cubic metres of logs to do the same.
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# 6
jojo2910
Old 07-12-2012, 6:57 AM
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I spoke to the the shop that sold us the stove and they concurred in terms of wet logs. I've now purchased a moisture metre and some dry logs and the difference is amazing.

Thanks for the help.
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# 7
jeepjunkie
Old 07-12-2012, 8:38 AM
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Certainly looking around my area for logs prices I seem to be paying near the top of the going rate which is fine as the logs are top quality. A few times in the past I've bought 'seasoned' logs for what seemed like a good price only for them to unusable. Not good in the thick of winter when you need them...

In fact looking on Gumtree a few days ago its the same old cowboys as previous years flogging what is obviously not seasoned. Not only that bulk bags sold by these operators are tiny...
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# 8
Greenfires
Old 07-12-2012, 11:25 AM
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Lot of it about with logs unfortunately! There have been so many new stoves going in in recent years that there's always a big demand for logs especially at this time of year. The unscrupulous suppliers can shift whatever they've got and call it what they like - and it doesn't matter to them if the customer doesn't come back next year as there'll be a new crop of new buyers by then. The tale of "we had some good logs from this bloke but the last lot he bought were rubbish" is one I hear from customers week in week out every year. Another advantage of briquettes - if you don't put the right stuff in the machine you don't get briquettes out the other end - simple as that. So they're exactly the same from load to load and year to year and there's no "fingers crossed" element - you know exactly what you'll be getting.
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# 9
hethmar
Old 07-12-2012, 11:33 AM
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We sometimes get customers ringing up saying there is something wrong with their stoves because of the smoke, black glass etc. OH will go over with a bit of dry kindling and a few logs from one of our own piles and immediately the fire will burn as it should

As already said, get a moisture reader, they are quite cheap now and make sure you store outside with plenty of air circulation. Try to specify ash - and hopefully you may get some from the supplier. Stock up now for next year.
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# 10
Greenfires
Old 07-12-2012, 12:05 PM
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I'd agree on a moisture meter - but I think ash is a bit over rated tbh. Its major plus is the fact that it tends to be naturally drier than a lot of other species to start with - that's where the thing about being able to burn it green comes from. Yes it probably will burn green, but no-one who knows their stuff would recommend that you do!

Some people have some very fixed ideas about firewood - "must be oak" "must be ash" etc. Oak can be a pig to use if you're inexperienced! "Never burn softwood" - what do they think the Scandinavians - who are way ahead of us in woodburning terms use? They have little else up there apart from a bit of birch and they get through much harder winters than we get!
The biggest thing to remember with wood is moisture. If it's dry then it doesn't really matter what you burn - it's all good fuel. You'll find a lot of people invloved in tree surgery or forestry burning the stuff no-one will buy from them - poplar, willow, leylandii etc - and they all find it burns absolutely fine and keeps them warm all winter!
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# 11
Williwoodburner
Old 07-12-2012, 12:12 PM
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Default Spot on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greenfires View Post
I'd agree on a moisture meter - but I think ash is a bit over rated tbh. Its major plus is the fact that it tends to be naturally drier than a lot of other species to start with - that's where the thing about being able to burn it green comes from. Yes it probably will burn green, but no-one who knows their stuff would recommend that you do!

Some people have some very fixed ideas about firewood - "must be oak" "must be ash" etc. Oak can be a pig to use if you're inexperienced! "Never burn softwood" - what do they think the Scandinavians - who are way ahead of us in woodburning terms use? They have little else up there apart from a bit of birch and they get through much harder winters than we get!
The biggest thing to remember with wood is moisture. If it's dry then it doesn't really matter what you burn - it's all good fuel. You'll find a lot of people invloved in tree surgery or forestry burning the stuff no-one will buy from them - poplar, willow, leylandii etc - and they all find it burns absolutely fine and keeps them warm all winter!


I agree 100%.
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# 12
A. Badger
Old 07-12-2012, 8:26 PM
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One exception to that - chestnut! It is often sold as suitable for stoves because they have doors that can be closed against the spitting. But the spitting is so violent and prolonged that it even happens when you have the doors open to refuel.

I do agree about oak, by the way. It just sulks on my stove. Lord knows how the French manage to use it so widely.
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# 13
Greenfires
Old 07-12-2012, 10:04 PM
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Yep that's true Badger - some softwoods can be a bit spitty too. I'd also make a mention of the old "Firewood poem" that's often referred to - a fair bit of that is just nonsense - though it does rhyme quite nicely!!
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# 14
Leif
Old 08-12-2012, 10:45 AM
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A slight aside, but last night I couldn't get my stove going, and the room was filling with smoke. It was caused by the extractor fan in the kitchen. The two rooms are separated by a hallway. I might open up the sitting room air vent to allow for this. I blocked it as it is not needed by the stove, and it encourages warm air to escape from the house. I recently discovered that some fires, such as the Charnwood C-Four, can take in air from outside via an opening in the back. Sadly my chimney is in an internal wall.
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# 15
grahamc2003
Old 08-12-2012, 11:45 AM
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A properly designed vent shouldn't let lots of draught in, unless being sucked in by a stove, when it is doing exactly what it should. Those put in for humidity reasons should control the humidity (to a lesser or greater extent) with no airflow through it. The water vapour migrates out through the air to equalise the relative humidity with the outside. Of course, there should be a 90 degree bend on the outside so wind hitting it doesn't just enter the room and cause a howling draught. If situated at a low level, there shouldn't be much warm air lost.

Regarding wood and moisture meters - I have doubts that they are always used correctly. Mine measures the moisture to about a millimeter depth if I really push the spikes into the wood, so the reading relates to the moisture at that level. Which of course isn't necessarily the moisture content deeper in the wood.

When I first got mine and used it that way, I though great, all my six month old wood is about 21/22% moisture, so just about burnable. But when I split it, it was much wetter indside, and not burnable.

So now if I'm in doubt, I take a half inch slice off a log, and remeasure the exposed surface. The half inch slice gets burnt.

I collect all my own wood, so although I have plenty, I rarely have plenty of dry wood. I speed up the seasoning by splitting thinner logs than ideal. I try to burn at no greater than 20/21%. Imv, the ideal log would be about 15% (to be pragmatic) and almost fill my (small) stove, only being put it when the stove was already hot. And made of wood, any old wood does me.

Last edited by grahamc2003; 08-12-2012 at 11:47 AM.
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# 16
hethmar
Old 08-12-2012, 2:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greenfires View Post
I'd agree on a moisture meter - but I think ash is a bit over rated tbh. Its major plus is the fact that it tends to be naturally drier than a lot of other species to start with - that's where the thing about being able to burn it green comes from
Well, I agree virtually anything can be used if seasoned (though we werent over pleased to see a customer using tarred up railway sleepers - as far as he was concerned they were dry, seasoned and usable) - we are mixing in some 8 inch dia ivy at the moment! HOWEVER, we and you know what can and should be used. My point was, if the inexperienced person requests ash then hopefully the supplier will supply some decent stuff that will be very usable the following year, rather than offload 6 week cut willow. (which we have seen block flues in a few weeks of customers using). I was assuming you are in the stove business or sweeping? In which case you would know its best to make over the top recommendations because otherwise you will find wet wood of any type causing problems with inexperienced burners stoves.

We have split oak logs in the garden that we still wont use after nearly 3 years.

So a moisture meter and split dry wood and a decent shelter is the way to go. Oh and a stove temp gauge. Though do use it correctly. Had a man just yesterday telling me he couldnt get his stove over 400 degrees which was the recommended temp in his stove manual. When we checked he was running using the centigrade rather than fahrenhite markings

Last edited by hethmar; 08-12-2012 at 2:42 PM.
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# 17
Greenfires
Old 08-12-2012, 3:51 PM
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Haha - some customers frighten the life out of you don't they?!! Did a stove thios morning for a couple of guys - not drawing and smoking back apparently. Yes - that might be to do with the cheap housecoal you've been feeding it for god knows how long! Think I've only had one who'd had a go with sleepers - and they frightened themselves to death with them so it was a one off!

Yep - I take your point about over the top advice - that's a fair comment. I probably spend almost as much time talking to people about how to run a stove properly and what to stick in it as I do actually sweeping their chimneys. Some of them apologise for asking "stupid questions" but I always tell them there's no reason why they should know all this stuff - most older people have memories of their parents or grandparents using open fires - but there's not yet such a long tradition of domestic woodburning or multifuel stoves, so why would they know all the ins and outs. So there's no such thing as a stupid question.




There could be some pretty daft answers though....;-)
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# 18
hethmar
Old 08-12-2012, 8:04 PM
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Also yesterday, chap with a problem with smoking - we fitted and lined for him nearly 7 years ago. I said to him "and you have had it swept?" "Yes - you did it". I said, no, sorry, we dont sweep chimneys. He said, "It was definitely you who swept it when you fitted it"

On the data plate, on the warranties, on the invoice it says how often to sweep and to retain the certs on top of us telling customers verbally when we leave the job - but this bloke hadnt seen or heard any of that. He then asked how it was swept! Replied it had a soot door in the stovepipe - Id checked the record on my computer as we were talking - "but how, do you sweep the outside of the liner?" he said?

Honestly, I give up - and that person is in a professional occupation involving a stethescope, gawd help us.
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# 19
muckybutt
Old 08-12-2012, 9:08 PM
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Glad i'm not the only one to have come across a custy that thought it a great idea to burn the old railway sleepers!

A while back a young couple rang me for a sweep, I think weve had a chimney fire can you come and give the chimney a sweep was the message, so i duly turned out.
Lovely 18c cottage beamed ceilings and all that, any how stove was fitted - no liner, had a look withthe inspection mirror and all I could see was cinders from the tar, went on to give it a right good fettle and got nearly 3 bin bags full of crud and cinders down the chimney. I was intreagued as to what they were burning - the reply oh my other half decided to chop up the old railway sleepers we have in the back garden they burn relly hot and give off loads of heat......durrrr yeah they will do they are soaked in tar !
Result was that the insides of the chimney were burgered many of the bricks had split and quite a few were glazed over, the chimney breasts on both floors had the plaster blown off them in the ensuing heat generated by the fire. When asked what they did to put it out, oh my boyfriend stayed up all night to make sure it burnt itself out no fire brigade ? no we didnt want them messing the carpet up. To be honest and I told her so I was surprised they had a house left !....surprisingly never been back to sweep their chimney....some folk really do take the urine
You may click thanks if you found my advice useful
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# 20
Greenfires
Old 08-12-2012, 9:24 PM
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Haha - I went to a customer the other week after a chimney fire. Asked the lady if they'd had the brigade out. "No" she says - "hubby's an officer at the station and said that no way was he calling them !!!!!!s out as he'd never hear the end of it"
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