Log burner advice

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  • Log burner advice
  • bash
    Member

    We’ve had our log burner for a week or so now but I could do with some advice. I seem to be OK at getting it going with lots of flame and heat by leaving the door ajar for 5-10mins, then closing the door but leaving both air vents wide open. The issue I’m having is that after another 10 minutes or so it pretty much goes out. The big log that I put in has started to catch and the embers are glowing red but not flame or heat.

    I’m lighting it by putting two logs on the bed of ash, Kindling in top, good few handfuls then scrunched up newspaper on top of that.

    Stove is a Dunsley Highlander 5 with a twin wall flue going up two storeys.

    johndoh
    Member

    If it is dwindling then it simply hasn’t got hot enough when you turn it down.

    What we do is put a single firelighter in the middle of the fire then a criss cross pattern of kindling on top (about 4 layers high) and light. When that has taken we add some *small* logs (often smaller pieces split with my axe unless I can find some smaller ones in the 1 tonne bag) then, when they have taken, start adding progressively larger logs.

    Of course you also need to check your logs are good and dry.

    Edit – a bit like this but I only use two pieces per layer (as it is a small fire)

    yetidave
    Member

    newspaper on top of the ash, kindling then logs on top. That way the heat of the paper burns through the stuff above.

    Need to get it hotter though, so consider more kindling or better burning kindling to get going better.

    Tried that upside down method, never really got on with it, went back to normal – newspaper below, lots of kindling and a couple of SMALL logs atop.

    whitestone
    Member

    I put a firelighter in the centre of the grate then decent sized logs to either side to basically funnel as much air flow as possible past the firelighter. Kindling/small bits of wood on top of the lighter with some larger bits on top of that. Then shut the door.

    If the wood’s dry enough then you can often just put a large lump of wood straight on top of the firelighter – the draught will pull the flames and heat through the gaps between the logs and get everything going.

    Vents open
    “v” shape with 2 large logs (I dont bother with ash on the bottom)
    newspaper in between
    half an egg carton or couple of cardboard toilet roll inners on top of that
    kindling on top of that
    slightly bigger sticks on top of that
    small log on top of that
    Leave the vents open (door open slightly too if necessary) for 3-4 minutes
    then vents down half way for 10 mins
    then vents open just a smidge for the rest of the time you’ve got it lit.

    djambo
    Member

    another thing to bear in mind is when you start adding the big logs try to avoid going straight for a hardwood log such as oak. something soft like pine or larch that burns quickly is better. I try not to put the hard wood on until there are lots of embers /heat already in the burner.

    sharkbait
    Member

    I’m lighting it by putting two logs on the bed of ash, Kindling in top, good few handfuls then scrunched up newspaper on top of that.

    Not quite right….
    Logs on ash > paper (or small bit of firelighter) > sticks > another log or two

    Paper/firelighter starts the sticks which starts the log which lights the bottom logs. You shouldn’t have to add more fuel for 20-30 mins

    If it goes out you’ve either not got enough sticks or the wood is not dry enough.

    Upside down lighting FTW.

    Are you absolutely sure you are opening both vents fully? Are you also sure that your wood is dry enough.

    All the fancy stuff about building an inverted pyramid of various timbers dried by virginal pygmies is a load of guff. Chuck in a fire lighter, loads of kindling and a (slightly dry) log on top. Door open 10 minutes. If log still hasn’t taken, more kindling.

    I find my stove works best when you get it up to temp quickly.

    sharkbait
    Member

    yep…. there needs to be a log at the top of the pile otherwise there’s nothing to burn! The logs at the bottom just help the fire to get going quicker.

    neilnevill
    Member

    While i agree with everything above…. Are you sure your logs are dry? I can go from match, to large hard wood log roaring and vents closed in about 5 minutes usually, but i know i have dry wood.

    neilnevill
    Member

    My method, Criss cross stack of kindling with 14 sheets (28 sides) of tabloid paper balled in and around. 2 medium logs on top. Vents open, match, door ajar. As flue temp passes 100C shut door. After another 2 or 3 minute flue temp will peak around 280-300C and that is when another large log goes on. Watch for 60 secs and as soon as flue temp starts to climb again, close vents and walk away. I always start with a clean grate. No bed of ash.

    Premier Icon bodgy
    Subscriber

    What’s with the whole logs at the bottom thing? I’ve never ever done that, not even once. I can’t think of a situation where that would actually be beneficial. Or are we all Scandinavian now?

    14 sheets (28 sides) of tabloid paper

    What happens if you only use 13 sheets?

    B.A.Nana
    Member

    I’ve spent the last few months burning the contents of my old house, which has been mostly pine and easy to burn. Just recently took delivery of a builders bag of hardwood and really struggled with it for the first few fires as it requires a bit more skill (or more paper, card and kindling) to pass that tipping point where it won’t die out. Just persevere with it, using a bit more paper/card/kindling. I’ve found that there def is a tipping point either in the flue or box where, if you don’t pass it, it’s going to die out. I’ve also found that top down requires a bit more skill/knack, so maybe start with the standard method and get good at that before trying top down again.

    neilnevill
    Member

    I used to use 13 sheets…. My dad has for years. Then i had a failure, so now it’s 14 and never failed. You need to get the flue hot fast. The flue heat drives the draft and hence the fire, lots of flue heat fast will also stop creosote formation, plus strong draft and heat in the firebox will get the secondaries working fast and a clean burn. Best way to get heat fast is paper and small kindling, and plenty of it. If you want a scare throw lots of kindling on to an established fire and panic as stove top temps race to and past 350 ish C with the vents closed!

    Top down is recommended by morso and other manufacturers as it’s supposedly a bit cleaner, less smoke. Bottom up done right only smokes for 30 seconds and i find it easier.

    sharkbait
    Member

    What’s with the whole logs at the bottom thing? I’ve never ever done that, not even once. I can’t think of a situation where that would actually be beneficial.

    As the sticks burn bits of burning embers fall onto the logs and light them rather than just falling into the ash and dying. Fire also spreads downwards, so if you burn something on a dry log the log itself will start burning.

    It’s just more efficient ….. so yes, Scandinavian!

    he flue heat drives the draft and hence the fire

    A good flue should have plenty of draft without a fire – but it certainly helps.

    neilnevill
    Member

    I just thought, the spring weather won’t help you. Weather affects the draft alot. If things are damp outside draw is less, and if things are warm outside draw can be very very little. If draw is troublesome in your setup, open a window and/or warm the flue with a blow torch.

    neilnevill
    Member

    Yes a good flue would draw full stop. If it’s straight up, tall, outlet in a good spot and the stove has sufficient ventilation it will roar. However the physics are the hot air, less dense, rises up the flue and fresh cool, dense air replaces it. The bigger the temp difference, the stronger the draw.

    Premier Icon bodgy
    Subscriber

    Fair enough, sharky, I’ll give that a go and see what happens.

    Premier Icon bodgy
    Subscriber

    In addition to neilnevill’s points; ensure you have enough ventilation coming into the house. A mate of mine (who has a new build house) couldn’t light his stove and we eventually realised that all the UPVC and draught proofing was inhibiting the fire’s draw.

    I suppose the only real question left is…

    Have you ever tried just 12 sheets?

    neilnevill
    Member

    Yeah i used to be foolish, i tried 10 or 12 sheets. I was so wayward i didn’t even count. It lit but was a struggle. Then my dad can passed on the 13 sheet way and i never looked back.

    Premier Icon windydave13
    Subscriber

    I was having similar problems with mine although down to a dodgy door & glass seal. My challenge was it would roar away but put no heat out and if i damped it down it would virtually go out.

    I invested a fiver in one of these that goes on the flue if you can get to it, and helped make sure i always had the fire running at the correct temp. https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00F92EB18/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    As above my leaky seals meant it was drawing far too much air so i had to change the vents all the time, but monitoring the temp meant we didn;t burn anywhere near as much wood and the fire put out more heat.

    doris5000
    Member

    As the sticks burn bits of burning embers fall onto the logs and light them rather than just falling into the ash and dying. Fire also spreads downwards, so if you burn something on a dry log the log itself will start burning.

    aye, this is what I do – basically just build a normal fire, perched atop a big log (flat side up).

    it’ll usually go for an hour before needing any more attention 🙂

    ski
    Member

    Sounds like your wood is not seasoned enough to me?

    Following with interest as sometimes similar issue, but have definitely noticed difference between wood bought in and stuff from father in law’s wood store, so don’t underestimate seasoning of wood.

    Its either, or a combination of:

    Not enough small logs on top of the kindling (you needs lots of surface area). I saw pallet wood into 15cm lengths and then split it so they are random sizes from about 15mm square and up.

    Closing the air down to fast, the stove needs to start retaining heat so when your sticks are well alight, close the bottom air vents gradually. Get a flue thermometer, if you start closing the air you should see the flue temp go past 50 degrees C pretty quick.

    Adding large logs before the stove is getting hot (flue should be getting too hot to touch comfortably by the time you add logs.

    Unseasoned wood…should be no hissing or moisture escaping from the end of the logs.

    Once mine is nice and hot, the flue temp normally reads around 160 degrees C, bottom vent all the way shut and top vent about 80% open. This gives a nice lazy flame, the glass stays clear and most of the time, the fire bricks stay beige/clean. Sometimes they blacken up during the first 30 minutes or if I put damp wood or pine in the stove, but they burn off pretty quick.

    If you leave the vents open, all the heat just shoots straight up the chimney and the stove never gets hot enough to close the vents down.

    Finally, as the stove is dying down, give it some extra air so it can burn out quickly, rather than smouldering away after you’ve gone to bed, and turning the glass black.

    dyls
    Member

    Use kindling, then some smaller logs on top and then the larger logs. Make sure the logs are dry as well.

    dantsw13
    Member

    I use the Top-Stoking method. 2 logs at the bottom with a “valley’ between them. Tiny piece of fielighter in the valley. 7/8 pieces of kindling on top. Small log on top of the lot.

    One match to the little bit of firefighter, close door, open vents, 2 minutes to roaring fire. Every time.

    If the logs are too close to the front of the firebox it can affect the airflow. This stoking method, used by the Scandinavians, is very efficient, because as the kindling heats the bottom logs and they start releasing gas, the gas is ignited by the kindling, instead of being wasted up the chimney in the old fashioned method.

    thecaptain
    Member

    As suggested above, top down should work ok if constructed reasonably well, I find it much less smoky compared to conventional. Problem I sometimes have is the paper basically blowing itself out before the kindling is properly caught, mostly cos I’m too stingy with both (I don’t have unlimited supplies of paper and kindling takes a bit of effort to make). Paper knots are better than just scrumpling up IME, and sticking bits of kindling through the knots keeps good contact between the two and stops the paper falling off as it burns.

    bash
    Member

    Thanks for all of the advice. I suspect all those that are saying I’m not getting enough heat into the flue are correct. I’ll order a flue thermometer so I can at least relay some numbers if I’m still having issues. I’ll give it a go using the normal way rather than inverted and see how I get on. I think I may be also putting the big hardwood logs on too soon as well. (So basically getting most things wrong :))

    I’ll get a moisture meter and check the logs but the merchant has come recommended, could always be a bad batch I suppose.

    sharkbait
    Member

    If you buy logs in you should always buy them well ahead of time as these will be the driest ones…… towards the end of the season the chances are that the logs will have not been split long and therefore will be wet.

    Take a look at Arbtalk and see how many sellers are trying to buy loads of wood because they’ve sold out. Once split these logs will still be wet.

    If you have the space you should be looking at your wood supply for 2018/19 right now!

    neilnevill
    Member

    it does also depend on the log type. I find, my dad, and my brother, that oak can sulk. Its like it gets lonely, i needs company. I’ve been burning oak I’ve seasoned for 3 years, 18% moisture on over a dozen fresh splits (I checked it), but a single log on its own slowly dies down. it will burn with lots of air, but slowly. Soft wood actually contains slightly more calories per kilo as its got more VOCs like lignin it also burns much more freely. So it may just be you need a couple of smaller bits, not one large log.

    thecaptain
    Member

    Regarding flue thermometers, does anyone actually have a single skin flue? If insulated, is the measurement useful?

    Also, yes as above two bits of wood are always better than one IME, the extra surface and air gaps makes everything work much better. Not always easy when you’ve got some huge knotty chunks that each fill the firebox!

    B.A.Nana
    Member

    This stoking method, used by the Scandinavians, is very efficient, because as the kindling heats the bottom logs and they start releasing gas, the gas is ignited by the kindling, instead of being wasted up the chimney in the old fashioned method.

    Interesting, but does this apply to modern stoves with secondary burning?. There’s flutes of flame coming out of the holes in the back of mine, almost straightaway.

    footflaps
    Member

    Regarding flue thermometers, does anyone actually have a single skin flue?

    Yep, bit out the top of ours is single skin, regularly see 350C on the thermometer whilst getting it up to speed. Normally, run at 250C once it’s heated up.

    I think its normally single skin when your flue goes into a chimney? Even twin wall presumably starts at single skin directly above the stove?

    Footflaps, must be farenheit 🙂

    B.A.Nana
    Member

    Surely majority will be single skin. The valiant one sits directly above the box, which is useful if space is tight (i believe some sit higher up the pipe).

    sharkbait
    Member

    because as the kindling heats the bottom logs and they start releasing gas, the gas is ignited by the kindling

    I’m not so sure about that as gas is only released from the wood once stove temperatures are much higher than can be achieved with kindling in the first 10 mins of burning.

    Interesting, but does this apply to modern stoves with secondary burning?

    It only relates to starting the fire. AFAIA the secondary burn does not start until the stove temp is well over 200c.

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