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1jeeplvr 12-30-2012 07:23 PM

HELP ,fireplace virgin
 
So my new house has a fireplace with a blower in it.My first fire went ok but the whole house smelled like a campfire.I made sure the flu was open & I tried it with the glass doors open,shut & open just a crack.The house didnt have any smoke in it, It just smelled like I was at a campfire.Any ideas? Thanks

daggo66 12-30-2012 07:43 PM

Leave the glass doors open. Make sure all the doors and windows in the house are completely shut. Make sure the flu is ALL the way open. It can close by itself if it's windy outside.

whetstone 12-30-2012 10:35 PM

I heat primarily with a free standing fireplace, no blower. I installed it after an ice storm left us without power for 2 weeks. It will keep the house warm, and cook a meal, if need be. For the smell... The first couple of fires of the season seem to do that, but I don't know why. Burning a hotter fire helps by causing the flue to pull smoke upward more powerfully. Using well seasoned wood is another factor. And, find out where your house is pulling outside air from (it is, or your fire wouldn't burn), it could be drawing smoke into the house. Lastly, you have a large fire going in your house, it's going to smell some. We use a big air filter to clean and circulate the air, and the wife is a scentsy junkie so there's always some tropical honey melon flower scent in the air to override the little bit from the fireplace.

cakes567 12-31-2012 12:41 AM

When the doors are open make sure your flu is open the right way and not closed. When doors are closed make sure its shut. Does that blower have a filter on it? Make sure its clean and make sure all chimney flus are connected and tight, not cracked, seems are tight, nothings lose. And does it still smell like smoke if the blower is off? Or does it not matter if its on or not? I get it all filled with hot coals and by that time any smoke smell goes away for me. Get some real hot coals going in there and throw a log or 2 on every once in a while. And just keep them.coals going. Take a camp fire for example ... it doesn't get all smokie after its burned down and turned to coals.

1jeeplvr 12-31-2012 05:43 PM

Thanks for the input.Is my thinking incorrect that shutting the glass doors will help or will that hurt ? My thinking was prob wrong since daggo mentioned leaving them open And theres 3 settings on the flu,off,half open & fully open.after the fire is going where should it be.Sorry for all the questions.First timer here.

1jeeplvr 12-31-2012 05:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cakes567 (Post 3162679)
When the doors are open make sure your flu is open the right way and not closed. When doors are closed make sure its shut. Does that blower have a filter on it? Make sure its clean and make sure all chimney flus are connected and tight, not cracked, seems are tight, nothings lose. And does it still smell like smoke if the blower is off? Or does it not matter if its on or not? I get it all filled with hot coals and by that time any smoke smell goes away for me. Get some real hot coals going in there and throw a log or 2 on every once in a while. And just keep them.coals going. Take a camp fire for example ... it doesn't get all smokie after its burned down and turned to coals.

Im assuming your saying doors closed ,flu closed,when theres no fire.

BlueRidgeYJ 12-31-2012 08:32 PM

Keeping the doors closed during a fire can cause them to shatter. Crack them if you have kids, leave them off otherwise. They are there for when there is no fire, and that is the only time the flue should be closed. Always open it before starting the fire.

+1 on drawing in smoke, and to what whetstone said in general. You have a campfire in the living room. It will smell a little like camp fire, but all (95%) of the smoke SHOULD pull out, though some newer firebox inserts aren't effective with large enough to heat anything fires.

cakes567 12-31-2012 10:57 PM

Do you have a wood burning stove or fireplace? Like one in the wall with a mantel and all that stuff.

whetstone 12-31-2012 11:00 PM

Mine has a single door, designed to stay closed at all times. Most fireplace inserts will be the same way. A decorative fireplace will have "folding" doors that, like Blueridge said, will need to be left open while a fire is burning so that they don't get too hot and shatter.
http://i51.photobucket.com/albums/f3...70FC54F45F.jpg

cakes567 12-31-2012 11:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by whetstone (Post 3166595)
Mine has a single door, designed to stay closed at all times. Most fireplace inserts will be the same way. A decorative fireplace will have "folding" doors that, like Blueridge said, will need to be left open while a fire is burning so that they don't get too hot and shatter.

That's a nice set up. Mines 2 door. About the same size as yours. Mine is an insert inside of a actual fireplace. Like one in the wall with stone around it and a mantel and all that jazz. The actual fireplaces aren't very heat affective. That style you need to keep the flu open just letting most of your heat right up and out the chimney.

1jeeplvr 12-31-2012 11:35 PM

Heres mine.I think its an insert but not 100%
http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a1...230_150148.jpg

cakes567 12-31-2012 11:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 1jeeplvr (Post 3166739)
Heres mine.I think its an insert but not 100%

That's nice to! Id keep the glass cracked a little bit when lit. Also have the flute open.

1jeeplvr 12-31-2012 11:49 PM

Is there any truth to having to start the fire with small kindling before putting any larger pieces on to warm up the chimney to get it drafting quicker?

1jeeplvr 01-01-2013 12:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cakes567 (Post 3166752)
That's nice to! Id keep the glass cracked a little bit when lit. Also have the flute open.

thanks.as you can see in the pix I had it closed thinking it would keep the smell out.Maybe not??

1jeeplvr 01-01-2013 12:04 AM

Just so you can get the whole picture heres a shot of it as we were doing the floors.Thats my dad doing the supervising lol
http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a1...127_131645.jpg

cakes567 01-01-2013 12:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 1jeeplvr (Post 3166811)
Is there any truth to having to start the fire with small kindling before putting any larger pieces on to warm up the chimney to get it drafting quicker?

Cant say iv ever heard of that. But you would still start the fire with kindling anyways and work your way up to bigger logs as the fire gets bigger tho.

As for the glass its not like its a perfect seal anyways so if its cracked a bit or shut all the way the smell would still leak out. Id keep it cracked just to get a little more air flow going. And when you crack the doors it almost makes a vacuum and just sucks the air in there and gets the fire hot. Try it sometime.

cakes567 01-01-2013 12:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 1jeeplvr (Post 3166857)
Just so you can get the whole picture heres a shot of it as we were doing the floors.Thats my dad doing the supervising lol

Wow that looks nice! Nice floor to!

BlueRidgeYJ 01-01-2013 08:46 AM

I love that floating floor. That stuff is nice to work with - is that the waterproof stuff (looks like it)? So much easier than hickory hardwood to install, and it looks good!

Using starter logs actually will add soot and debris to your chimney and firebox. They are made of "glue" and sawdust - which have a very low BTU (and ignition point, which is why it is used) so it will not generate a strong enough updraft to pull the soot out, so it leaves fuzzies on your firebox, flue, and stack. Smaller sticks are better to use (or an ignitor like newspaper) - they burn hotter, particularly dry hardwood scraps - like maple, oak, hickory, sicamore, etc.

Fun fact: Locust, which is technically a weed, has a higher btu than Oak.

ztman 01-01-2013 09:18 AM

From you pic with the fire burning, you have an insert with a blower. If you leave the doors shut, you are going to burn about ten times more firewood. You can see from your pic it looks like a blast furnace with the doors shut. I preheat the flu with small wood with the doors shut until the fire gets some coals, then i put larger logs on, close the door for about ten min. By then the fire box should be hot, open the doors, turn on the blower, and enjoy

Vroooom 01-01-2013 10:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 1jeeplvr (Post 3161530)
So my new house has a fireplace with a blower in it.My first fire went ok but the whole house smelled like a campfire.I made sure the flu was open & I tried it with the glass doors open,shut & open just a crack.The house didnt have any smoke in it, It just smelled like I was at a campfire.Any ideas? Thanks

You have a box that you can see...where the wood and fire are...thats the fire-chamber. It has a double-wall construction. You can see in the inner wall. Then there is a about a 1-2" air-gap anf the outter-wall which you cannot see. That air-gap space is called a "heat-chamber". The fire in the fireplace heats up the inner wall...which heats up the air in the "heat-chamber" and the blower fan blows the hot air out of the heat-chamber into the living space where you can enjoy it. Its just hot air that shouldnt have any smoke or particular odor if everything is working properly. So thats not your issue. The blowers got nothing to do with the smoky smell you describe. Next option...

If your metal fireplace enclosure has bi-fold glass doors like mine does. There is an old, barely visible warning tag near the top-center of the opening that says to either have the doors open or closed all the way. The reason for this is airflow. Hot air rises..but it also expands. If you have the doors closed the expanding and rising air is forced up the chimney. You will have reduced flame because there is reduced airflow accross the burning fuel. But it looks nice and you still get some heat. Awwww....thats nice.

If you have the doors open, your heated air rises and expands but the thermodynamic intake of surrounding air keeps everything flowing up the chimney. Strike a match then blow it out and hold it about 2 feet from the front of the burning fireplace and watch the smoke from the match. You should see that the fireplace is sucking air out of your living space and that air has to go somewhere...UP. Doors open gives you more fire cuz you get natural airflow accross the fuel "fanning the flames" More fire...more heat...use the screen when needed to keep the fire where you want.

If you leave the doors HALF open...Things get complicated. You will see an almost blast-furnace effect as the air intake accellerates through the narrowed opening...more air..more fire..more heat...thats a good thing. But now HYDROdynamics come into play. As the air flow squeazes through the partially open doors, it creats an "eddy effect" behind the doors in the section of the bifold that still protrudes out of the fire-chamber into the living space (very slightly). That "eddy effect" is an area of lower air pressure which sucks air out of your fire-chamber into those small pockets behind the glass doors. Ari from the fire chamber contains smoke. The low pressure sucking air in...to a confined space (the glass walls) the airs gotta go somewhere....up and down...out of this pocket...into the living space. You are pumping smoke into the living area. Small amounts of it, but you will definately notice the smell. But I doubt this is your issue.

What...after all that writing (and reading) I still havenet described the problem? Nope...but I've helped you understand a little more about how the physics of a fireplace can work for...and against you.

I have a hunch your problem....is your heater. Nope, not the heat-chamber of the fireplace. Your heater...the thing with vents in your ceiling. Here is the usual scenario: Cold day...heater is cycling normally...wake up make your coffee, cuddle up on the couch and decide to make a fire. (just did that myself). get the fire started, fire-chamber and chimney are starting to heat-up so the thermodynamic flow isnt working for ya quite yet...but getting there. The HEATER cycles on...and here comes the fun. The air intake for your hvac (Heater/ventillation/air conditioning) creates an airflow in your house which is designed to...circulate air from the living spaces back to the return air vent so that the heater can then re-heat the air..blow it out the vents...perpetuate the cycle.

Well its also sucking air...out of your fireplace. And when it sucks air from a freshly lit fireplace whose thermodynamic airflow hasnt buit up...it sucks smoke. And then it circulates smokey air for a while. Just a little dab'll do ya. The nose is pretty good at detecting small traces of smoke. Remember the match test? Next time your fireplace is cold (chimney flew is open) turn on your heater...strike a match and hold it 2 feet in front of your fireplace fire-chamber...blow it out and watch the smoke as the air comes down the chimney, through the fireplace, out the door, into the living area and continues back to whereever your return air is located.

In short...to prevent this. When you are staring your fireplace, turn off your heater, Open the flew, Start the fire, close the doors, let the heat build up and the airflow start upwards (give it about 15 minutes), Open the fireplace doors if you like (use the screen if needed) then re-start your heater. Sounds complicated but it aint. Or.....you can just light the fire like most folks and enjoy the aroma of a fireplace while peacefully trying to ignore your wife bi__ing about how smokey it smells. (slurping your coffee helps drown-out the sounds of bi___ing).


Now...if you think I can take up a lot of space explaining fireplaces....wait until you see me explain why the engineers at Jeep intentionally designed the wrangler to have a forward "rake" (just like every SUV on the road). Heres a hint...its to reduce something called "Parasitic Drag"....its an aerodynamic thing. But thats a whole different class. :)

Happy New Years all.

dylan1991 01-01-2013 01:52 PM

Dang nice write-up vroom! Makes me wish I had a fireplace. As I sit now, I'm screwed if the electricity ever goes out. :banghead:

1jeeplvr 01-01-2013 08:58 PM

Wow Vroooom,yopu know a lot about fireplaces.It seems therfe a lot more complicated then just lighting a fire & letting it go up the chimney.Anyway,my house is heated with hot water baseboards.Does your theory still hold true?


Also I thought I had it figured out BUT you mentioned the blower has no way of getting smoke out of it.I lit a fire today and I didnt get the smell.Heres the only thing I did differently.I used small pieces to start it and didnt immediately throw on big pieces right away.I also waited until the fire was good and hot before I turned the blower on.I thought the blower deal was my problem but now I dont think so.Im baffled.Ill give it another try soon.

And Blue Ridge its a Pergo,floating floor.It wasnt bad to install just back breaking & time consuming.

Vroooom 01-01-2013 11:40 PM

Nope....the idea of the FOrced air HVAC pulling smoky air out of the fireplace into the living space and circulating it around the house.....doesnt fit if you have radiant heating.

In that case...(shrug).

:)

Shrimp 01-02-2013 12:52 AM

If you keep your door open a crack it will burn better but it will also burn your wood up faster. You want to start a small fire to get a good coal bed then add some wood to it and close the door. The high temperature of the coals will superheat the wood and ingite it and will burn it longer as long as your flue or whatever its called is open if you cracker your door your just shortening your burn rate. You want the heat of the coals to do the work not the forced air. I have a quadrafire 2100 insert and after getting a coal bed and adding my initial load of big logs i turn on the blower and enjoy the hot air it pumps out.

Edit btw vroom is correct, thanks for the insite for the amatures out there

1jeeplvr 01-02-2013 06:38 AM

It was windy that day.I wonder if I was getting wind coming down the chimney?? I wil say though.Im learning a lot about fireplaces from everyone here.Thanks for that.

daggo66 01-02-2013 07:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 1jeeplvr (Post 3171871)
It was windy that day.I wonder if I was getting wind coming down the chimney?? I wil say though.Im learning a lot about fireplaces from everyone here.Thanks for that.

I use a lot less words, but all the information is in my first post. Keep the fireplace doors open. Make sure the "damper" is fully open. Everyone, including myself, calls it the flue. If it is even partially closed it will affect the airflow and allow smoke in the room. A windy day can cause it to move. I didn't believe it, especially after my wife told me, :whistling: but I checked and sure enough it made all the difference between smoke in the house and not. I have a heat pump and do not turn it off. As long as you don't have any windows or doors open, you should be OK.

Vroooom 01-04-2013 09:02 PM

Sometimes (admittedly rarely) understanding HOW someting works can be not only helpful in diagnosing issues...but can also be fodder for contemplating the nature of seemingly unrelated issues.

Other times....like my post above....its just a bored writer enteraining themselves on what is later learned to be an irrelevant tangent.

BlueRidgeYJ 01-05-2013 09:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 1jeeplvr
It was windy that day.I wonder if I was getting wind coming down the chimney?? I wil say though.Im learning a lot about fireplaces from everyone here.Thanks for that.

Could be, but it would have to be VERY windy. Think blowing across a coke bottle windy. (I have seen it, but on the ridgeline where high winds are common) it isn't so much wind down the chimney as it is positive pressure put on the top of the chimney for the smoke to overcome. Without a fire, wind can make your damper or "tophat" if ya have one dance around.

I still think you didn't have a hot enough fire yet. If wood smolders, it smokes. When it flames, it smokes much, much, less and has higher btu's.

Perhaps a little of both?

And yes, we all call them flues. Technically the flue is the pipe through which the smoke escapes, the damper is the little door to keep nature out and allow regulation of air flow. Put them on top of a hearth & firebox, build a tower around them, add a cap, and you have a chimney. ;)

Good advice about 'em by all.

1jeeplvr 01-08-2013 09:30 PM

So I think Ive narrowed down my smoke prob to not properly building the fire,not getting it hot enough & causing excessive smoke.Whats everyones fire building method? A friend of mine takes a bunch of balled up newspaper then makes a tpee to go over that out of smaller kindling then goes over that with larger pieces.How do you do it?

Shrimp 01-08-2013 09:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 1jeeplvr (Post 3202063)
So I think Ive narrowed down my smoke prob to not properly building the fire,not getting it hot enough & causing excessive smoke.Whats everyones fire building method? A friend of mine takes a bunch of balled up newspaper then makes a tpee to go over that out of smaller kindling then goes over that with larger pieces.How do you do it?

Sameway but i wait for the small sticks to turn to charcoal and the start adding bigger sticks on top


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