Manual Stove Pipe Damper on Antique Multi-Fuel Stove

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Location: Merseburg, Sachsen-Anhalt. Germany

Post Wed. Feb. 25, 2009 5:37 am

hello from an expat coal-burning newbie (so please-go easy!),

my wife and I are heating our second story house with an antique stove. no glass, just two cast iron doors and a shell of cast iron and ceramic tile. the guts are cast-iron and the firebox is firebrick or rock and mortar. we've had an unusually cold winter this year, and really been putting the oven through its paces. we burn scrap wood that we've cleaned out from the property and have drying in a covered stack outside and brown/lignite coal briquettes (i know, not anthracite or bituminous!). brown coal is crushed, cleaned in a crude coking type process if my german serves me correctly, and than pressed into briquettes without binders. during this cold spell, we most-likely over-fired our stove and now the pipe damper isn't functioning correctly. Could it have been the heat? burning scrap wood leaves a residue on the damper?
i'm just an idiot photographer, but my gut is telling me the high heat was the culprit. without having disassembled it, it looks like the damper handle is a pin which would pass straight through the flapper. different masses expand and contract differently via heat and cold. if the mass of the flapper is different than the handle/pin, than they would expand and contract differently, thus causing warping, correct?
as for the safe working of the stove, even though the damper doesn't function correctly (open in the "closed" position or half-way between open and closed), I know I am getting a decent draft when:
1. smoke doesn't enter the room when I burn wood
2. both stove doors are closed, the air vent is opened all the way, and I fiddle the stove pipe damper until I hear a good roar in the firebox.
we have a co detector near the stove close to the floor. I don't want to tackle a repair job during the heating season if need be. we are in the process of renovating the entire house, and what seems not so problematic in the beginning, turns into an open can of worms.
for those interested, the kacheloven works like a champ. from a 1hr burn of wood, it heats beautifully for 12-18 hours. throw a couple of brown coal briquettes on the fire, and you've got good coal embers to get the wood fire going again. our wamsler oil stove, that is another story...

thanks for any help!!

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Rob R.
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Post Wed. Feb. 25, 2009 6:23 am

Welcome to the forum.

Unless you really got the stove roaring and warped something as you suggested, I would examine the damper for creosote/ash buildup. I am not familiar with the burning characteristics of your coal, but it doesn't take a lot of wood burning to have creosote buildup in the stove pipe.

Do you have any pictures of your stove?


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oliver power
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Post Wed. Feb. 25, 2009 7:23 am

A couple thoughts; Tapp on the stove pipe. If it sounds tinny, probably no build up of creosote. If a dull thud sound, clean pipe. Chimney may have creosote build-up. Stick a mirror in chimney, and see if it needs cleaning.

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Location: Whippleville, NY

Post Wed. Feb. 25, 2009 6:13 pm

Excellent photo of your stove and the fire. But then you are a pro. Good luck with the damper problem. :)

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Post Thu. Feb. 26, 2009 5:17 pm

Thank you all for answering. I will try to cover each of your suggestions here:

I am pretty sure I got this stove roaring. this coal may burn differently than anthracite and bituminous coal (i've never burned coal at all before!!) after I get a small wood fire burning well, I place some of the briquettes on and leave the air vent wide open until the coal is burning good and hot. when the coal turns white, I throttle the stove down 'till the air vent is open just a crack so I can still have draught to vent CO out. only thing is, the coal wants to keep burning like it did, and it sucks air in through the vent in a loud roar. with the roar, I can picture the flames acting like a jet and tickling the pipe damper, and I am pretty sure no chimney fire as I place my ear against the other side of the brick wall the flue runs up. no roar there, and no visible flames or excess smoke / steam from chimney outside. I have learned to gradually throttle down before the coal is completely white hot, and that has eliminated the roaring - slowly equalizing it if you will. I have pics, but need to figure how to post here.

I did tap on the stove pipe. Got a nice crisp and loud tinny/metal sound. We have our chimney sweeped every three months. part of living in a socialist utopia - the gov't doesn't trust the individual to live responsibly (yet it does allow one to burn old rubber tires in their fireplace, but will confiscate a boiler if emissions aren't up to snuff!!) will try and look in the pipe next time the stove is cooled for interior cleaning / ash vaccuuming.

thanks for the compliment.

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Post Thu. Feb. 26, 2009 6:41 pm

Maybe install a new hand damper in the stove pipe between the stove and the chimney? Let the fire die down as much as you can, have things ready, do a quick job. Leave the one in the stove for a summer project.

Welcome to the Forum! I'm 1/2 German.... been a long time since I was in long in fact, I was just 1/2 a DNA strand in my Grandparents code.

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