Review: Jotul F 3 CB
Jotul F 3 CB
I am a former chimney sweep, wood stove and chimney installer and part time salesperson for woodstoves such as Garrison, Jotul, Upland (in the 1970's). I have also been a frequent wood stove user. From my past experience i knew Jotul was a good woodstove so i purchased a Jotul F 3 CB on sale during Jotul days last August 2013. Prior to this stove my last woodstove purchase was in 1988. I installed the Jotul in my downstairs fireplace. My house is 1960 vintage and the metal fireplace was no longer usable/safe for various reasons that would take too long to explain. The chimney was in good shape and was brick with a clay liner approx 10" x 6" interior diameter. I installed a stainless steel flex pipe liner 8" x 4" inside the liner from top of chimney to the top of stove. At the top of stove i used an 8" x 4" to 6" converter. I did not use insulation around my pipe because there was not enough space in my clay liner and thru the damper opening even with the damper removed. I live on top of a ridge and my chimney is 25' in length. Because i was installing in a fireplace i used the F3 short leg kit. There was no way to install a damper because of my flex pipe size and because you couldn't reach it anyway inside a fireplace application. I had run my stove break in fires outside before installing this unit to help get rid of some of the smell associated with new stoves. My first fire after installation was a major surprise. I used a few small pieces of red maple to start the fire. I had both draft controls wide open. In my case the draft was exceptional. The fire started easily with no puff back. I turned the lower draft control off as instructed because my fire was started. The fire continued to grow in strength so i started to lower the air intake at the top draft control. This had no impact. The fire was burning out of control. I was starting to get a little panicked so i shut the upper draft control. Now both draft controls are off and the fire is still out of control. I thankfully didn't have too much wood on the fire and had a good installation but let me say this stove in my situation runs wild. After this incident i studied the stove design more closely, talked to my dealer and read the EPA rules regarding woodstoves in general. I learned that things have changed in the woodstove business. You can't totally shut off the draft in this woodstove by design. This is fine if you have poor to medium draft but if your draft is good or really good like mine (i can hear the wind sucking up my stove pipe) your stove could easily over fire if you are not careful, especially on a windy day. Here is what i did. First, start your wood with a few small pieces of softer wood but then only burn seasoned hardwood that has been stored properly. The hardwood burns slower. The other thing i did was take a look at how the upper draft control works. If you look in the stove up near the top of the door you will see the openings controlled by the upper draft lever. When the lever is all the way closed the draft openings (5) are still partly open. The trick is to close what openings are still left with the draft control closed. I did this with furnace cement. This isn't easy and i had to create my own tool out of sheet metal to install the cement. I also used small pieces of sheet metal as backers to prevent furnace cement from getting unto my draft control rod. Let your furnace cement dry properly. Installing cement sounds crazy i know but with this stove as built not only couldn't i control my fire i was listening to the heat getting sucked out of my house through my woodstove control when my stove wasn't in operation. After each small intake hole EPA required be left open cemented shut i tried my stove again. All i can say is it works better but the draft controls on this stove aren't built to be airtight so stick with the hardwood and keep an eye on the fire until you get used to how this stove operates. You may create a little more creosote my way of operating but the EPA spec that requires a higher level of stove fire is a fire risk (in my opinion). With my changes i feel more in control as compared to the stove being in control. I assume this problem is not just with newer Jotul stoves but all new stoves. Be forewarned and be careful. These are all my opinions, each installation is different.