Not an optimal design if you plan to not have a professional company clean
it then. Hard to do yourself. But I note later your usage levels are very
low. If you are only using that fireplace 2-10 times a year, it will take a
very LONG time for pine to be a problem.
I am not sure but if it were me, I'd ask my local chimney fellows if it was
just a shift in heat or going to cause a problem to any seams just to be
I suspect, it is like 'big ben', the stove we had in Florida that as it hit
250F, would make a big 'boom' sound but was safe to use. It would do the
same on the way down to 250F but less noisy. Probably safe.
You can burn pine, but it leaves more residue than hardwood even if cured.
Cleaning more often is highly recommended if using pine. Example: at my
usage levels I would need cleaning probably monthly, maybe be able to get
away safely with every 6 weeks. With cured hardwood, I can safely go 12
An OP responded that up north they do burn pine (lack of hardwood) and that
the hardwood vs pine is a wives tale. Check it out with some google. The
difference is how often you have to have the fireplace cleaned to keep it
safe. At your usage, probably every 3 years easy if burning pine.
Seasoned to 20% moisture, a cord of southern pine weighs more and has
more BTUs than a cord of red maple or elm. It has almost as much heat
as sugar maple.
Pine doesn't produce coals very well and tends to make a lot of smoke.
The two are connected. If you bake wood hot enough to drive off the
smoke, you are left with charcoal. If there's less charcoal, there must
be more smoke.
A flame is burning smoke. Complete combustion produces water vapor and
carbon dioxide. Creosote is what condenses from unburned smoke.
I haven't burned much pine, but I knew a farmer in Vermont who preferred
it for his kitchen stove. Pine ignites easily and burns intensely, so
he didn't have to wait long to start cooking. His way of life was so
clean, aesthetic, and efficient that I'm sure he wouldn't have used pine
if it left creosote.
All wood produces smoke when heated. A smoke fire is harder to manage
than a charcoal fire. The hotter a smoke fire gets, the faster smoke is
produced. With enough air and wood, the fire could get hot enough to
ruin the stove. If you simply restrict the air to control the fire, you
can get unburned smoke, causing pollution, creosote, and waste. If you
control the fire by restricting the amount of fuel, you can have a
temperamental fire and unburned smoke due to low firebox temperatures.
In NC, my BIL bought an 800-sqft farmhouse and installed a small wood
stove. He built a 1000-sqft addition and installed a larger stove on
Because he had a solar unit, most of the wood burning occurred in about
12 weeks. He'd clean chimneys before and during the season, and still
he had chimney fires. What's more, his family would be cold when they
got ready for work or school because his fires didn't last long after he
went to bed.
He had worse luck with the big stove, so he swapped, using the little
stove in the big part of the house, where his family ate and slept. I
went to work for him and moved into the old part of the house, with the
stove he disliked. I found that I could use that stove to keep the
place warm all night. He didn't check my chimney until the end of the
first heating season. To his amazement, there was no creosote.
I recognized the difference between burning charcoal and burning smoke.
The first phase burns smoke. The amount of air hitting the coals
helps determine how fast smoke is produced. By regulating the upper and
lower vents, I could supply enough upper air for the flames to burn the
smoke cleanly, while by regulating the lower air I could regulate how
fast the coals smoked the wood.
Regulating the two vents also allowed me to burn smoke during the day
while accumulating coals to burn all night. It helps to keep the
firebox hot enough to burn smoke well but not so hot that smoke is
produced too fast. When I had flames in the stove, I found that an
external temperature of 350 - 500 F worked pretty well.
I also used flashing to make an inverted cone for the top of the flue.
Like the nozzle of a fire hose, it increased exit velocity. This kept
cold air out of my flue. This meant a more consistent draft and less
likelihood that smoke would condense in the flue.
I also liked bring wood in from the shed and stack it near the stove
several days before I used it, so the heat would make it as dry as
possible. Water vapor tends to suffocate a fire, so drier wood means
more complete combustion and less creosote.
If you live in Canada and buy firewood, this site is one that you should
read to avoid being ripped off:
Other useful information on firewood can be obtained here:
I wonder why they say wood that has been cut more than three years will
be difficult to burn.
I can see why the say big pieces don't burn as cleanly as small pieces.
If you split some of your 6" logs, the split pieces will season down
to 20% moisture faster.
If they're all equally dry, when a 10-pound log is heated to boiling, it
will release its 2 pounds of water vapor pretty fast. The water vapor
will tend to smother the fire, causing incomplete burning. If you put
in four 2.5-pound pieces, there will be less water vapor smothering the
This page says, "Burn the fire hot and refuel more often with smaller
loads. Keep the flame lively and bright."
I agree, and if the draft is right, this can generate a lot of coals,
enough to provide heat for hours or even more than a day.
Is there any reason to close the damper during the warm months? I
don't use AC, but even if I did, I don't think there is a reason to.
My damper hasn't been working easily for the last year. I have to
bend some rod to fix it, or whatever, but until I do, do I need to
shut it during the summer?
Sometimes an open draft can make a house more comfortable on a summer
Suppose at bedtime the air it's 65F outside and 80F inside. You open
the windows but nothing much happens because there's no breeze. If the
chimney is filled with hot air, that can create a draft, drawing cool
air in the windows.
If the chimney was exposed to the sun during the day, it may be hotter
than 80F. If cool air spills into the chimney, that will spoil the
draft. One solution is to put an inverted funnel on top so serve as a
sort of nozzle. Stacks on ships with boilers have traditionally been
tapered for the same reason.
Fat lightered splinters were near the stove, in a bucket. One match to
light the splinter and FIRE!
Fat lightered stumps burn for days in the ground...
I still love it when I cut a 2X4 and the resin smell is strong.
Reminds of years ago.
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