Another Coal Newbie...

Modern and vintage hand fired coal stove are similar to a wood stove and in some cases can burn either. They need to be regulated and fed by hand usually every 12 to 24 hours depending on your usage. They require no power to operate making them ideal for rural settings with long power outages.
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quidproquo572
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Posts: 2
Joined: Fri. Jan. 02, 2009 7:41 pm
Stove/Furnace Make: HearthMate

Post Fri. Jan. 02, 2009 10:09 pm

First of all, thanks for all the info here. After living in my house for, ahem, 10 years, I finally got my little coal stove lit-it is a "HearthMate" that was in the house when I bought it, along with one ton of lump coal. So I finally got it lit using Matchlight charcol, and here come the typical newbie questions. I apologize if they have been answered before.
I have been running the stove for 3 days but I get very little heat from it-is this due to the size/quality of the stove? Standing a few inches away from it gets you warm, but the basement is just barely warmer than without it-I have opened the basement window an inch or so for air, and have the bottom ash door vents open to full. The main door vents are closed, and the flue is open about 75%. I put a thermometer on the flue pipe today and it reads a steady 290. I have a CO2 detector, no signs of problems. I do not have a damper on the flue, it is just a 90 degree turn to the chimmney flue. As someone else said, I can almost put my hand on the stove top. The coal burning looks nice and hot-orange/red. Also, can I fill the stove past the firebrick level?-there is another 6 inches above it. Thanks to all. I do not appear to be getting much ash-I have use about 125-150 libs of coal and have yet to fill the (small) ashpan...

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Devil505
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Joined: Tue. Jul. 03, 2007 10:44 pm
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: TLC-2000
Location: SE Massachusetts

Post Fri. Jan. 02, 2009 10:20 pm

Can't seem to find much on HearthMate stoves??

Is this your stove?
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rockwood
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Joined: Sun. Sep. 21, 2008 7:37 pm
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Stokermatic coal furnace
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Rockwood Stoveworks Circulator
Baseburners & Antiques: Malleable/Monarch Range
Coal Size/Type: Soft coal: Lump and stoker (slack coal)
Location: Utah

Post Fri. Jan. 02, 2009 11:21 pm

It sounds like you might not be putting enough coal in.
How big and how many pieces of lump coal are you putting in at a time? Normally lump coal ranges from small pieces up to about football size(sometimes larger) and so if you're loading the stove up with medium size pieces there should be a lot of heat output.
If you have a good hot bed of coals(wood coals, I don't use charcoal to light lump coal) and you load up the stove with coal and open up the ash door air vents all the way (DON'T leave the room with the stove wide open like this) you should have a raging fire within a matter of 5 to 10 minutes depending on draft. At this point you should be able to shut the air down some but you'll have to "play" with it to get the heat output you want.
Just keep an eye on the stove thermometer you have so the stove doesn't overfire.
Since you have never used this stove, you should thoroughly inspect the chimney to be sure it's sound if you haven't already done so.
"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." -Goethe

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grizzly2
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Posts: 842
Joined: Tue. Feb. 12, 2008 7:18 pm
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 30 - 95
Coal Size/Type: pea and nut/ anthracite
Other Heating: Jotul #3 wood stove in garage. Oil backup in house. Electric backup in house.
Location: Whippleville, NY

Post Sat. Jan. 03, 2009 6:38 am

If you are not getting enough ashes to fill a small ash pan after burning 125 pounds of coal, I suspect you are not shaking the grates enough, and are getting a build up of ash under the fire. This will cut down on burn rate and heat output. If your flue temp is 290* and still not putting out a lot of heat, that would suggest that you have too much flue draft, and are loosing too much heat up the chimney. You said the flue was 75% open right? That must mean you have a manual damper. If so, try closing it to 50%, or better yet buy a Field controlls type RC barometric damper, and set it to "4" . That would be .04 inches of water columb draft. That will keep you from sucking too much of your heat up the chimney. Also, try setting a fan directed at the stove. If you can just barely touch the stove, it is putting out about as much heat as my stove does when I set it for a low burn on a warmer day. Try setting your air intake draft to about 50% open. Too much air intake can actually cool a lazy fire, whereas is will make a hot fire hotter.

The fact that your are keeping the fire going puts you ahead of many other beginning coal burners. Even though you have some lump coal already, I recommend you buy a few bags of brand name (such as Blashak or Reading) nut size coal, and see if that gives you a better burn. Don't give up :!: Learning to burn coal well takes time. I learned much of what I do know from the coal veterans on this site. It seams I learn something new every week that I burn coal, which so far has been just under one year. :)
The only redeeming value of winter is that I can have a fire in my stove.

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coaledsweat
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Joined: Fri. Oct. 27, 2006 2:05 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260M
Coal Size/Type: Pea
Location: Guilford, Connecticut

Post Sat. Jan. 03, 2009 10:50 am

quidproquo572 wrote:I put a thermometer on the flue pipe today and it reads a steady 290. I have a CO2 detector, no signs of problems. I do not have a damper on the flue, it is just a 90 degree turn to the chimmney flue. As someone else said, I can almost put my hand on the stove top. The coal burning looks nice and hot-orange/red. Also, can I fill the stove past the firebrick level?-there is another 6 inches above it. Thanks to all. I do not appear to be getting much ash-I have use about 125-150 libs of coal and have yet to fill the (small) ashpan...
Fill the thing right up to the top of the firebrick, and then mound it up a little in the middle. Don't put burning coal against steel unless there is water behind it (boilers only) or it will eat the steel. You need a barometric damper if your stovepipe is hotter than your stove, it should be the other way around. The heat is going up the chimney, not into your house.
Nothing is impossible for people who don't have to do it themselves.

quidproquo572
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Posts: 2
Joined: Fri. Jan. 02, 2009 7:41 pm
Stove/Furnace Make: HearthMate

Post Sat. Jan. 03, 2009 11:36 am

Thanks for all the info-the coal is actually described as "Chesnut" on the bags, and I did have the chimney inspected, great idea though. So last night I made the newbie mistake of thinking I have to get the ash out, as the ash pan is not even 1/2 full after 3 bags of coal...shaking every few hours has done nothing-so used a fireplace poker to stir the coals..wow! the fire almost went out in just minutes, flue thermoeter read only 110, thought I was a gonner-so I added some coal, left the ash door open, and waited, and waited (I did not leave the basement though) and it did restart!!
How often/vigoursly should I shake?

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grizzly2
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Posts: 842
Joined: Tue. Feb. 12, 2008 7:18 pm
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 30 - 95
Coal Size/Type: pea and nut/ anthracite
Other Heating: Jotul #3 wood stove in garage. Oil backup in house. Electric backup in house.
Location: Whippleville, NY

Post Sat. Jan. 03, 2009 8:50 pm

Being fairly new to coal burning, and only with my Hitzer, all I can give you is generalities. Most people shake the grates twice a day. When burning hard I find I need to shake 3 times a day. Shake until quite a few embers are falling into the ash pan. If there are dead spots in the fire, as seen by coal not burning in a corner for example, or no embers falling from an area of the grate durring shakedown, you will need to rake. Raking is taking a round metal rod about one quarter inch in diameter and bending an "L" at one end about 4 or 5 inches long. The handle part of the rod needs to be long enough to poke the "L" up through the back grates without getting your hand under the grates. Just stick the "L" end of the rake up through any areas of the grate below areas of the fire that are not burning well and shake the rake back and forth until embers fall fron that area. I find that when burning pea size coal that I need to rake the front corners of my grate fairly often, like once every two days.

I am sure some of the long time hand fired coal stove burners like Devil will be able to add anything that I have missed. I find that tending my coal stove is so much less labor than burning wood that I enjoy the little chores it takes to keep a good fire. I also think that learning something new that is as usfull as coal heating is very rewarding. Stay with it and you will be tending your stove like a pro without even having to think about it (much). :)
The only redeeming value of winter is that I can have a fire in my stove.

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