Creosote

by Lip
(Indiana)

I have a BuckStove brand woodburner. I have a 6" Magic Heat brand heat reclaimer mounted 14" above top of stove, the following problem occurs with or without the Magic Heat installed. (By the way, Magic Heat is very well built, and an excellent source of extra heat that would be going out the flue otherwise, about $150.00 - $200.00 !!, just an experienced opinion, not an advertisement ). PROBLEM: creosote runs out of joints between 2 foot lengths of pipe outside. I can tape joints, but fear that might cause too much buildup on the inside of my outdoor flue. I burn mostly seasoned ash, and flue draws very well. Any advice/ opinions appreciated.


Answer

Lip,

Excellent question, there is a lot to go over here so I'll answer your question in several parts and hopefully you'll gain some important insight.

First, I'll cover the Magic Heat reclaimer that you are using. Heat reclaimers are notorious for causing excess creosote build-up. The reason for this is that they cool the temperature of the flue gases which leads to condensation in the flue that causes excess creosote. Because you mentioned that you have a problem with or without the Magic Heat, I'll assume that another issue is at work here. But I can assure you that the heat reclaimer is not helping matters any. The only time that I would recommend using one is with an old style potbelly stove where it is difficult to control the temperature because they burn so hot. Even then, it is important to do frequent cleanings to reduce the likelihood of a chimney fire.

The other causes that are potentially contributing to your problem would be inefficient burning, unseasoned wood and a chimney that is not properly insulated and/or in a poor location.

You mentioned that you are burning "mostly seasoned ash." Does this mean that the ash is mostly seasoned? Or do you mean the most of the wood you burn is seasoned ash in addition to other seasoned wood? I ask because it is extremely important to only burn seasoned wood to avoid creosote problems.

Inefficient burning is another typical culprit leading to excess creosote. When a fire is starved of oxygen it will smolder, burn inefficiently and lead to excess creosote. People do have a tendency to burn inefficiently sometimes to have fires last longer to save on fuel costs. The problem is that you pay for it with creosote and possible chimney fires. Since I do not have any experience with your particular model of wood stove, I can't speak to it directly but it's a good idea to consult the stove manual to make sure that you are burning efficiently according the manufacturer's recommendations.

The third common problem is with chimneys. I'm not exactly sure from your description, but it sounds like your have a metal chimney that runs on the outside of your house? If that is correct, the chimney is not in an ideal location. Ideally, a chimney should be inside the house and leave near the peak of the roof. This keeps the chimney flue warmer and reduces the likelihood of creosote build-up. If this is the case, I realize that moving the location of your wood stove/chimney is probably not a realistic solution, but I recommend making sure that you have a well insulated chimney. Because you mentioned that the flue draws very well, it sounds like the chimney may not be your problem but it's still worth a look.

In regards to the creosote running out of the stove pipe, it sounds like a problem with the pipe installation. Most stove pipes have a male and female end. The male end should always point down and the female end should always be up. This orientation ensures that creosote will always run down the inside of the stove pipe rather than leak on the outside of the pipe.

In conclusion, you definitely have a problem somewhere in your setup. It will probably take a little investigation to figure out what exactly is causing the problem. I do urge you to reconsider the heat reclaimer, as they are notorious for causing excess creosote and consequently dangerous chimney fires.

I hope this helps and check back in with us when you find a solution. Thanks!

-Firewood Matt

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Aug 19, 2015
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Apr 12, 2013
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I love my Magic Heat Reclaimer NEW
by: Anonymous

I have had no issues with my magic heat reclaimer whatsoever. I have not seen an increase in creosote build up but I also use very dry hardwood. I;m using it on an older Drolet Woodsman wood stove which is not that efficient to begin with but with the magic heat on there it is a powerhouse!
I used to use 4+ cords, now around 3. I used to have rooms in my house I just couldn't get even remotely warm, now they can get too hot and I have to open a window!
Just make sure to clean the unit and flue pipe yearly and maintain everything as per the manufacturer instructions. I even installed a dimmer switch on mine so that I could control the fan speed and decrease the noise it makes for those times I want absolute quiet.
There is a ton of great advice,reviews, videos, faq, owners manual, and specifications available at this great website http://www.magicheatreclaimer.com

or check out this great video review on youtube to see it in action http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJzkW6LYnh0

Nov 10, 2010
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thanks
by: Lip

Again, thank you for your timely response. I'll update when I finish the installation.

Nov 09, 2010
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Stove Pipe Installation
by: Anonymous

Lip,

Here's my opinion - your safest bet is to install a separate chimney for the wood stove according to the manufacturer's recommendations and, of course, with compliance regarding local regulations and codes.

Connecting the burner to the existing masonry flue could certainly work, but it could also lead to problems. To be certain, you should really hire a professional to examine the flue and tell you if it's actually a viable option. I can tell you that if the masonry flue is currently being used for gas appliances, it's a bad idea (and probably against code) to connect the burner to that flue.

The 45 degree bend connecting the burner to the chimney does not really concern me too much. Of course, the general rule is that the straighter the chimney, the better the draft. My main concern is how compatible the chimney will be with your wood burner.

In reference to your concern about the creosote build-up, now that the reclaimer is out of the picture, just be vigilant about operating the stove properly (no inefficient fires) and using adequately seasoned wood. That should really take care of the creosote problem.

Good luck!

-Firewood Matt

Nov 09, 2010
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Installation
by: Lip

OK Matt...new question, maybe a dumb one! Would you prefer to use an existing masonry flue with tile lining, requiring a 45 degree bend from Buck stove into the side of it (I'm concerned about creosote buildup running down past where stove pipe enters the masonry flue then pooling inside the base of the flue, making a REALLY hot fire if it ever ignites!) or a double wall straight up through ceiling ( no bends ) exiting near the peak of the hip roof, with any potential creosote running straight back down to stove? I'm only asking this because the installation into the masonry flue would be much easier! Thanks.

Nov 02, 2010
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Thanks
by: Firewood Matt

Thanks for checking back in with us. Sounds like you have everything sorted out. Good luck with your new setup!



-Firewood Matt

Nov 02, 2010
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follow up
by: Lip

Thank you so much for your timely and insightful reply! As this was my first time contacting anyone online for advice on anything, and not knowing what sort of reply that I would receive, I didn't go into much detail about my installation. First, I had already corrected several problems prior to your reply - (they were things that you correctly identified). What I didn't mention was that this was somewhat of a trial installation to find out whether wood heat in my house would be feasible and agreeable for me. I previously heated my garage with the same Buck Stove, but garage isn't sealed as tightly as the house, and I wasn't sure if wood smoke smell or oxygen depletion would be a factor. Turns out these are no problem. I do have an interior masonry flue which I can tap into and now that I've used the wood heat for a couple of weeks, I'm looking into moving burner and correctly plumbing it all up. The central location will radiate perfectly into the other rooms, and it was my plan to relocate to there anyway if the test was successful. Because of the efficiency of the stove alone, I've already removed the Magic Heat (it was overkill, heatwise ). I burn only seasoned wood, ash mostly; my poor wording in original question! Thank you again for your help.

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