Troubles With Kitchen Coal Stove Draft

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coalstovelady
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Post By: coalstovelady » Mon. Oct. 16, 2017 7:38 am

I live in my home 40 years. I have a kitchen coal stove. The ash pit was modified to allow ashes to be poked down a chute into a concrete pit for removal rather than carry out the ash pan. This was done 100 years ago by prior owner. I have a double flu in my chimney. One for the kitchen coal stove, one for the basement furnace. Several years ago I had to change my furnace which was a hand fired coal furnace, Kewanee. I changed to natural gas. It seems my kitchen coal stove will not hold a draft. It seems the problem started at the time I converted but I'm not positive of that time frame. I didn't always use the kitchen coal stove but it always worked when I wanted it to work - until the past few years. ... I start my stove with paper, then wood, then put on the coal. The draft seems perfectly fine until I add the coal. Smoke goes right up the chimney. After I add the coal it starts to burns for a short time and then it is like 'oxygen deprivation'. Nothing I do will keep it burning and then it goes out and black coal is still sitting in my fire box. I have tried other coal from a different distributor so it is not bad coal. I have drafts on my stove and in the past I would always have to close them after the coal took off in order to dampen it down. Now I keep the drafts wide open to no avail. The fire goes out. It doesn't burn out. It simply goes out. FYI - there is a 'slide' at the base of the floor with the ash chute attached. That opens and closes as needed to allow the ashes to be poked to the concrete pit below located in the basement. The slide doesn't close completely but it never did. I can think of no other variable to cause my loss of draft. My chimney flues are tile lined. I welcome any questions or suggestions. I love my kitchen stove. Thank you.
Last edited by Richard S. on Mon. Oct. 16, 2017 6:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Changed title, please use descriptive titles. Thanks


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freetown fred
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Post By: freetown fred » Mon. Oct. 16, 2017 7:44 am

clean chimney (blockage)--crappy coal???????????? keep under-air vents open till coal gets goin??? Ash slide should not be a problem. I would re-check chimney!! Brush/clean it, visual is sometimes deceiving. Maybe pipe going into chimney has worked it's way in to far???m Just shootin in the dark here. PIX are mandatory!! :) Plus--finish fillin out your profile--nobody's gonna steal ya. :) Might be a member close by to lend a hands on!!!

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lsayre
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Post By: lsayre » Mon. Oct. 16, 2017 8:54 am

Before doing anything else, get a carbon monoxide detector and place it in your kitchen. And as Fred stated, have the chimney and flue pipe and the exhaust gas channel(s) within the stove fully and professionally cleaned. After that, if you fire it up and the CO (carbon monoxide) detector alarms, get out of the house.

Just a thought here, but if your stove was designed to burn only wood and bituminous coal, it will starve for air and go out with anthracite coal. I don't own or fully understand this type of stove, so others here will need to chime in and offer you assistance. Do you know what the stoves model number is, and who made it?

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Sunny Boy
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Post By: Sunny Boy » Mon. Oct. 16, 2017 9:53 am

Welcome, CSL.

Sounds like what Fred said, a chimney blockage, but since the wood and paper burn I don't think it's a complete blockage or the paper and wood smoke would back up into the house.

I've had the same thing happen about this time of year with my kitchen coal range, because I have a large maple tree near the back of my house and squirrels like to try to build a nest in the top of the chimney before I start up the range.

And critters may have moved in since the gas heat was installed simply because the lack of exhaust fumes smell inside the chimney with gas heat won't ward them off ????

The wood and paper create a very strong draft that will overcome a partial blockage, but the smaller firebox of a range's doesn't make a volume of exhaust, and coal fire doesn't make as high temps to make as strong a draft as paper and wood will. That's one of the advantages of using coal, a slower burning fire with lower draft pressures to allow a higher percentage of it's heat to transfer inside the home than a wood fire can.

If your chimney is straight, and there is a clean out door near the base, hold a hand mirror angled in through the door and look up to see if you can see daylight. If not there may be a nest. If you can't look up inside the chimney, than the stove pipe should be disconnected at the chimney and inspected and cleaned if need be. Or have someone check and clean from above.

Also check any horizontal sections of stove pipe for ash buildup.

And by the way, we LOVE pictures of old stoves (especially kitchen ranges for me :D ). Please post some of your range is you can.

Paul

coalstovelady
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Post By: coalstovelady » Mon. Oct. 16, 2017 7:10 pm

Hello again. I appreciate the suggestions. The stone mason who does my work did some repairs on the top of the chimney and I can't imagine he didn't check the chimney since I mentioned it wasn't holding a draft - but I'll call and ask him. Also my plumber who put in my new gas furnace was on the roof too. Can't imagine he didn't look down with a light. He also cleans out at the base - can't imagine he didn't look up to see the sun - but I'll ask. As for the stove pipe in the kitchen, that is a new pipe. Someone mentioned it might be into the hole too far. I'll check that out. However, the problem with the draft started before gas came in. I had a stoker EFM after the Kewanee. The stoker had a blower so I made the assumption that was the issue at that time. As I mentioned, the kitchen coal stove started to lose draft after the Kewanee hand fire furnace was replaced. Yes I have the carbon monoxide alarms. They have never gone off. I know paper and wood don't require a good draft beneath to burn but coal does. The coal just dies out after it is introduced. I've tried different sizes of coal too. I have burned that stove for 36 years. My chimneys were cleaned some years ago and in fact the chimney sweep some years ago said they were perfect and coal doesn't build up creosote like wood. I do want to get a stainless steel liner in the flu used for gas just to make certain there is no moisture issues with my mortared chimney as gas makes a lot of liquid. I got the % from the Utility company. Lots of moisture in gas. I still think something is sucking my draft from below. In the past there was a tremendous draft and if I didn't move the lids and adjust the draft, the lids would turn red. Now I have very little draft. As I mentioned the ashes drop to the basement concrete pit. The stove was modified by the prior owner. This is how the stove was connected when I purchased the home 40 years ago and there was never an issue until the Kewanee died. It held the fire today for several hours better than last week as it went out within the hour. It never did this when the Kewanee was here. It would burn for days and days and only went out if I let it go out. It's a mystery to me. Thank you.

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Lightning
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Post By: Lightning » Mon. Oct. 16, 2017 7:36 pm

I'll throw this out here, could there be any possibility the chimney is drawing air from somewhere else? Perhaps a chimney clean out door is open or cracked? Or could there be another place below the cook stove level where there is an opening? It sounds like you have two appliances on one flue possibly? Can you elaborate on any of that?

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Post By: michaelanthony » Mon. Oct. 16, 2017 7:45 pm

Hi CSL, you mention the ash pit to your kitchen stove is a clear path to the basement. Have you tried blocking the ash chute so the stove draws air from the kitchen? You could have a negative draft going on in the basement because of the new gas burner that probably has an outside air source. you can also try cracking a window down there as well...just my 2 cents.
Last edited by michaelanthony on Tue. Oct. 17, 2017 7:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Richard S.
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Post By: Richard S. » Mon. Oct. 16, 2017 7:51 pm

Have any other major changes been made to the house? A major renovation with new windows, perhaps something else causing the loss of the draft like an exhaust vent, dryer etc.

As an experiment try cracking a window near the stove.


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Post By: franco b » Mon. Oct. 16, 2017 8:29 pm

The wood fire burns well and the coal fire not.

Air is bypassing the coal which needs air from below which would not effect the wood fire. Find out where air is getting into the stove above the fire box and stop it.

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KLook
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Post By: KLook » Mon. Oct. 16, 2017 8:29 pm

How about they hooked the gas into the wrong flue and it has a baro? Or a draft control like my Weil-Mclain and it draws air in 24/7? Mine was a draft hood with a power damper...

Kevin

coalstovelady
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Post By: coalstovelady » Mon. Oct. 16, 2017 9:36 pm

Lee, I have been thinking that myself. Something is stealing my draft. Let me explain how my kitchen stove is set up and has been for 100 years. The stove ash pan was removed and below the kitchen floor is a chute that runs into a concrete bin. The ashes drop to the level down below. When I rake the grates, the ashes fall below. There is a "slide", a metal plate, and then the ashes drop into the chute and down to the bin. Over the years the slide never fully closed. That never mattered. It is all contained but even so the ashes were cold by the time I would use a poker to get them through that opening and down. I think the slide should be closed more than it is and perhaps that is drawing my draft down. There is no other reasonable explanation. I suppose I took it for granted that the plumber who installed my new furnace would have looked up from the clean out to see that the chimney was clear. I also supposed that my chimney man when fixing the bricks at the very top of the chimney would have looked down the chimney with a light. I saw this because these matters were worked on after I was having trouble with my kitchen stove and I mentioned that my stove was going out. At the time there was no focus on the problem being a draft since the smoke goes right up the chimney when I light the paper and wood. Never any smoke in the kitchen ever. It seems my plumber never knew I had two flues until I went gas and he had to go up to the roof which is 40 feet high. At that time he noticed the top row of bricks were a little loose and that is when I called the brick layer in. It's a sequence of events. Prior to my hand fire Kewanee furnace finally springing a leak, I lived in my home with my furnace and coal stove and never once a problem. I had the chimney cleaned by a professional some years ago and he said they were in great shape and I recall he was very impressed with the tile lining inside and had never seen that. Being that I was burning coal 24/7 all year round (got my domestic hot water from the furnace too) he did not recommend that I put on chimney caps. I have a separate chimney unrelated to this matter in the center of the house for the fire place, and on that one he installed a stainless steel chimney cap. If you have any more questions please ask. I have thought so much about this and asked questions to no avail. Thank you.

franco b
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Post By: franco b » Mon. Oct. 16, 2017 10:08 pm

Draft is not the problem. The problem is that the draft is not pulling air through the coal, but from someplace above the coal bed.

Warped burner plates, open or missing cleanout plates.

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freetown fred
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Post By: freetown fred » Mon. Oct. 16, 2017 10:10 pm

I'm thinkin you might be right on closing that trap door to the basement TIGHT. Process of elimination. Bottom, top--yep, process of elimination.

coalstovelady
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Post By: coalstovelady » Mon. Oct. 16, 2017 10:26 pm

Franco, I honestly think you have something in what you said. I have been saying this all along but not in the words you said it. It's like the draft dies. When I first light the stove I have my paper inside rolled up, then my kindling, then bigger wood. When that gets nice and hot down to hot embers, that's about a foot down, I start to add my coal. The wood and paper burn perfectly and it sounds like the roar of an engine as the smoke goes up the chimney and the draft is wonderful. But with the coal the draft just dies. There was a time when my lids would actually get red and so I never, ever left the kitchen after that when starting a new fire. I would dampen it out and then it was fine. My draft was always great. Sometimes I would even have to tip some of the lids to cool it down even after closing my draft below the coal bed. I don't get anything anymore. What would prevent the draft from pulling through the coal and where above the coal bed? Perhaps when I re-mortared the fire bricks I didn't do a good job. Those fire bricks are higher than where the fire bed is presently because it takes time to build up the fire bed when just starting it. I'm building a fire right on the grates which are about a foot down inside. ???

coalstovelady
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Post By: coalstovelady » Mon. Oct. 16, 2017 10:31 pm

Franco, what is a "clean out plate"? What is the burner plate? I want to be certain we are talking about the same thing please.


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