Sunday, October 20, 2013

Avoiding the Draft

Greetings, Glorious Readers!

 Ok. Too dramatic. Let's tone it down a bit.

Day of rest is it? Sunday. Something along those lines.  I have taken to start watching Dr. Who episodes. (From the 60's beginning) I remember watching them as a kid on PBS. Although, those were the color versions. Say 70s/80s.


Most of the insulation is up. Only parts remaining is the South wall and the ceiling. South because it is a bunch of cutting. Ceiling... well, that involves me actually finding the stapler. Insulation will happily remain in a wall cavity until you find the stapler, however, when gravity abounds... Not so much.

A few days ago I remarked on a posting... hmm, I think it was Liz's down in Australia. Drafting. Yes, about needing a longer pipe. With the setup here involving ten feet worth of pipe indoors to get most of the heat from the fire before it vents above the roof, not a problem.

Since the first fire, I have been impressed with how well the camp stove keeps the smoldering smoke from leaving the wide open doorway.

Last night was different. It started to smell a bit weird in the house. A small amount of smoke. For the last week since gooping all the attachment points, there hasn't been any smells at all. Turns out, smoke is back drafting out of the box.

Hmm. Not good.

So I have to leave the door closed to keep the smoke inside. A pisser because when the door is closed, it blocks a lot of the heat/radiation coming into the house.

Heat transfers by three methods. Conduction (Hot thing touches bare skin), Convection (Can't sleep at night because its too damn hot in the attic), or radiation (Egads - Its 40F outside and yet I got sunburned! Feels lovely with the sun though...)

They sell those radiant barriers. The aluminum foil sheets you place in your attic or walls. Blocks out the radiation transfer of heat.

That is what your fireplace door does. In my case with it being a metal door. Yours probably is glass which is nice to watch plus let the heat out.

Get back to it already!

OK ok. So, I had to crawl up the ladder the 14ft up to the roof to pull the chimney cap off. See if it was blocked up there. The pipes inside were hollow. (Sound)

Inspecting inside the  vent without the cap revealed a little soot on the walls but no major blockage. I didn't expect much because its only been a month of burning. Actually fairly clean.

I suspect that the main pipe is pretty clean. The box gets hot enough to combust it plus clean the pipe.

Most of the wood burned has been the dry creek willow. It burns hot. When you allow it to really burn instead of smolder, it keeps it all clean.  The other day I purchased a thermometer to place on the pipe to guage the proper temperature for creosote buildup.

Now the cap itself has a bunch of holes in it. Let the smoke out. I knocked the cap a bit on the ground to clean out the vents. Then reinstalled it.

Came back in to start a new fire. Voila. Drafting back as before. Perfect. I can leave the door open (supervised) to get more heat indoors.

Conclusion. Vent cap is crap. I'll be looking for a different design. One that is a tiny cap over the top for precipitation and large fencing around it for critters but wont lend itself to being blocked up.

I believe it built up over the last couple days due to playing nicer with the pipe temperatures, plus burning pine exclusively. A local friend dropped off a couple buckets worth of pine log pieces.

In lazyness, (not wishing to go harvest/break up the willow in the creek/after spending all day putting up insulation).

It is a learning process.

Oh happy day! Back to Dr. Who. Season 1 ep. 12. It is going to take me a while to catch up to the 50th anniversary episode.


  1. I fight with my chimney at the cabin all the time. Damn thing has tried to kill me more than once...May I recommend purchasing a smoke and carbon monoxide detector!

  2. As I read your post, in the back of my head I'm thinking "smoke/CO2 detector"!! Lynda beat me to it. GO TOMORROW and get one. For you and Kiki. I'll sleep better at night too. ;-)

    And how fun to watch Dr. Who from the beginning. I grew up with Tom Baker as "my Doctor" and I liked him the best. In these new incarnations of recent years, David Tennant is my fave. Enjoy your trip through the years!

    1. Yea yea yea. You Osha people are going to break my bank! ;-)

    2. Thom Baker is actually the Doctor I remember watching on PBS.

  3. I would imagine the feed store right before the dive bar should have something. If not then the little hardware store in the town up the hill should definitely have a carbon monoxide detector. I just got over worrying about you freezing to death, let's not add suffocation! *grins*

    1. LOL. There you are. Howdy Neighbor. :) I'm sure I could find one up the windy hill.

      It is on the list. After cleaning the vent cap, it drafts wonderfully well now. The firebox can smolder and get all sorts of smokey as it does before the flames burst forth, all without smoke coming out of the open door.

      One of the beauties of having such a long pipe! But yes. I should get a detector from up the Hill.

  4. I love the color. Reminds me of something from the tropics or Key West. It will look great on your tiny house. You have good decorating skills. The place looks better and better each week. Pine wood burns fast and hot but will leave a lot of deposits as it burns, even more if it has not had time to dry very good. I had a small chimney fire last season from burning wood that was not real dry, buy shut every thing down before any damage. Just had to have the chimney cleaned before using it again. Do you have a draft damper installed in the pipe? By cutting back on the draft a little at night you could bank the fire a little (with the front door closed) and have it last much longer into the night. Just takes a little practice on how much to limit it. Looking forward to your next post

    1. Tropics. Yes. You are right. It is very Miami-esque isn't it. No damper, however, Im sure I could get a length of pipe that has one. :)

  5. Good problem solving. Yes, it's all a learning experience! (I just wish sometimes that I didn't have so much to learn. :)

  6. Friend! I think I may know what's going on...

    Our first winter here this happened to us. We'd been using the wood stove for a few weeks, no problem. Then a different weather pattern rolled in and changed the direction of the wind. Our house filled with smoke and we had to open all doors and windows when it was 6 degrees outside. It was extremely unpleasant. We had no idea what was going on.

    With some research we realized that our chimney pipe was too short. Turns out the chimney needs to extend two feet taller than the highest point of your roof. If not, wind from a certain direction (but not all directions) creates air pressure at the top of the chimney which is greater than the air pressure in your house, therefore pushing smoke into your home.

    We (reluctantly) went out and bought a few more feet of chimney pipe, along with bracers to keep it stable and the problem has not returned in two years.

    I've looked at pictures of your place and think that this could *maybe* be happening to you. Or perhaps (hope, hope) you've fixed it with the sooty-cap clean out. But should the problem return, consider a longer chimney pipe.

    BTW love the house color. Thinking of a red door? Perfection.

    1. Other-friend!

      That is also an idea. You know heaps about aerodynamics huh? :) I knew you were a space cadet like moi.

      Thanks for the agreeance on color. Red door while not as beautiful as 'Cellar Door' is still a pretty epic look for a building.