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Astroflamm Integra Pellet Stove Not Running Right

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by jtgraup, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. jtgraup

    jtgraup New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2013
    Messages:
    7
    We purchased a 1994 Astroflamm Pellet Stove last year to heat our house versus the electric baseboard heaters we were using. Set everything up, gave it a good cleaning and it worked flawlessly and put out some major heat. Was able to heat a 2500 sq. ft. house with one 40 pound bag of pellets a day.

    Went to fire it up this season and the auger motor would not turn, so I ordered a new one and was good to go, or so I thought. This year the stove has been producing a considerable amount of soot compaired to last year with the same brand of hardwood pellets. Additionally it will not throw out the heat like used to or burn the pellets in the burn pot as efficiently. I used to be able to run the stove for 2-3 days and not have to clean the burn pot out as it would expell the ash to the ash pan without issue. Now the ash pot will form an ash cake within 14-16 hours and need turned off and cleaned.

    I am lighting the stove the same way I did last year by putting pellets in the burn pot, turn the unit on until the auger feed light comes on, turn it off, then use a propane torch to get the pellets going with the door most of the way closed. This year the smoke does not get sucked out as before, but will come out the intake pipe and then start to fill the room with smoke. When I close the door, the pellets sometimes go out, but then ignite, when they are light and it is starting, the flame begins very low like there is not enough air being introduced and then the flame gets very high and you can see smoke/soot at the top of the flames. The back wall also begins to get sooty.

    I have cleaned the stove several times including the exhaust pipe, behind the back wall, in the smoke chamber, the vent area where the combustion fan is, cleaned the cumbustion fan, installed new combustion fan gasket, installed new exhaust vent sensor and gasket, and tried adjusting the potentiometer for the air and auger speed to no resolve.

    The stove worked awesome last year and heated our house excellently at a great price, this year it has sucked and I have had to run the backup electric heat, which is rediculously expensive.

    No one in my area (Harrisburg, PA) deals with these stoves and want over $300 just to come and look at it. I am not sure if the motherboard could have gone bad or if I have a bad combustion fan, which still works the same as what it did last year from what I can tell.

    Anyone have any ideas?

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  2. steamguy

    steamguy Member

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2008
    Messages:
    105
    Loc:
    In the windy Columbia Gorge, WA
    I had a stove exactly like yours for many, many years. It heated our house effortlessly, and boy do I miss it...

    At first observation, it sure sounds like a blocked exhaust. I see you've pulled the firebox liners and cleaned there - just a note to make sure that the exhaust passage is visually clean as you do so. You can pull the 'scrapers' up and hold them in place with a vise-grips while you check with a flashlight and get your crevice tool back in there.

    One way to tell if your exhaust passages are blocked: Every time I started mine, I could hear the combustion fan really 'wind up' in speed because the airflow through it would be tremendous; especially with the door open. If you don't hear that combustion fan spinning up really fast, then you need to check to make sure that everything in the exhaust path is clean - so I'd pull off the exhaust pipe and suck out behind the combustion fan, plus pull the bottom off the cleanout tee and clean that; If you can look up through the exhaust pipe, make sure you don't have a bird's nest or squirrel's nest in it. If you're absolutely sure that all exhaust passages are good by visual check, then the problem just might be the combustion motor itself.

    <slap forehead>
    Other thing to check, and it's not generally known: on the right side of the stove, down by the controller board, is an intake passage cleanout cover with 4 each, 10 mm (I think that's the size) bolts. That intake passage can easily get plugged with stove ash, due to the swirling nature of the air in the stove. Open that up and suck that passage out with a vacuum and a crevice tool. Using a vacuum on the stove is really the only way to get it clean. Brushing will never do the job, unless you have all weekend...

    Also, get a really, really, really good surge protector on the stove. It only uses 60 watts when running, but the control board is very sensitive to spikes. And it's analog, and replacements are never cheap. A spike going through the stove can cause all nature of funny operation. Unplugging it and plugging it back in a couple minutes later can sometimes cure 'oddball' stuff.

    Good luck and hope that helps.
  3. jtgraup

    jtgraup New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2013
    Messages:
    7
    Thank you for the information. I will double check the chimney to see if something may have gotten past the cap. I just brushed out all of the exhaust pipe, so I know that is clear. When I clean behind the firebox wall, I lift the scrapers and get in behind - usually quite a bit of ash there. The exhaust fan does not spin up really fast like it used to, so maybe there is a blockage. I will clean it out really good again. Should I be able to see slits/slots for the exhaust to get through?

    The intake passage clean out I have not seen as you describe, but will look again as I have had all of the panels off of the stove. There is a clean out in that region that I have cleaned, a cover is attached with a single thumb screw and accepts the exhasut from the firebox and connects to the combustion fan. I clean this area every 2-3 weeks depending on how it is running. I generally do a full tear down and clean after a 1/2 ton of pellets is run through it. Pellets are Turman, by the way. I'll see if I can find another clean out. I am able to get my flexible cleaning rod to go from the burn pot area to the fresh air intake without any obstructions. I will also try unplugging it for awhile to see if it may "reset" something. Thanks for the suggestion of a surge protector, as I do not have one currently.
  4. Mark_ms

    Mark_ms Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2008
    Messages:
    189
    Loc:
    Upstate NY on VT Border
    You should remove the flue pipe from your exhaust port at the combustion motor you may have have some restriction of air flow there. Be sure you have some Hi Temp sealant wen you reconnect the pipe back to output. Also you may (recommended) install a a T-pipe fitting between your exhaust and pipe, it would make for easier cleaning down the road.
  5. jtgraup

    jtgraup New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2013
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    Took the entire exhasut pipe appart when I cleaned it last time and it had about 3/16" of fine ash around the inner circumference, but the pipe brush took care of that. That was the first time I cleaned the exhaust pipe since installation. I have a T-pipe fitting installed after a short piece of exhaust pipe and then is goes up and out. I clean out the T-pipe catch can about every two to three weeks, never been more than an inch of ash.
  6. andyc

    andyc Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2010
    Messages:
    36
    Loc:
    n.central ct
    I too have the Integra stove like yours. Have had it for 18 years. If you are sure everything is clean, that is usually the problem. Hit the start switch with the door closed, let it start feeding pellets, no need to start a fire, let it run for a minute, auger should start, combustion motor will start. Open the door and a few seconds later the auger will stop (no more blinking red light) and you should hear the combustion motor start to wind up after 15 to 30 seconds. If the auger does not stop then chances are the air sensor in the intake tube is no good, if the combustion motor doesn't ramp up then chances are the main circuit board is bad. Through the years I have had 3 main boards including the original,2 augers and 1 air sensor go bad.
    Main board is about $400. to $450. air sensor $120. to $150. They are great stoves but getting tougher and more expensive to find parts.
    I am going through the same situation as you are right now, I think its another main board again for me.
    Good luck keep us posted on what you find.
    Andy
  7. jtgraup

    jtgraup New Member

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    Andy, thank you for the test procedure and information. I just tested the stove you suggested. Closed door, turned the stove on, pellets began to fall into the burn pot. After about a minute or so I opened the door. The pellets stopped being dispensed after about 5-10 seconds, then the combustion fan ramped up. So I would guess that could theoretically rule out the air sensor and main board being bad.

    I also did the Dollar Bill Test and have a good seal all the way around the perimeter of the door. The top center was a touch loose, in that with some decent force I could pull the dollar out, whereas with the rest of the seal, I could not. I fluffed the gasket in that area. Overall the door gasket is in good shape and appears to have been replaced just prior to my purchase.

    I have off work tommorrow, so I am going to get up on the roof and pull the chimney cap to see if something may have gottten in and built a nest. I am almost hoping so, that way I have a simple resolution, but not going to hold my breath.
  8. jtgraup

    jtgraup New Member

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    Feb 13, 2013
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    Just checked the chimney and it, along with the exhaust pipe are perfectly clear top to bottom.

    Next up, unplug it for the day and see if that somehow changes things.
  9. andyc

    andyc Member

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    Messages:
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    Loc:
    n.central ct
    JT,are you sure the fan ramped up, listen to the combustion motor when the door is closed and make sure you are not mistaken and that it is indeed ramping up,if it is ramping up try cleaning the stove again.I use a flexible round brush about 2" in diameter to clean that back passage with the single thumb screw to make sure the little passages behind the heat exchange tubes are clear. I also usually take an electric leaf blower and stick it in the back passage to try and clear all the fly ash and blow it by the combustion motor. One other thing to try is get some electrical contact cleaner pull the air sensor out and spray the probes tha stick into the intake tube, after cleaning that don't touch the probe with your fingers whir sensor is out make sure the intake tube is clear of dust, dog hair,etc. Good luck, let me know what happens. Remove the cast iron panels and combustion motor and really clean that thing out. That's what it sounds like to me,it needs a good cleaning
    Andy
  10. Mark_ms

    Mark_ms Member

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    Loc:
    Upstate NY on VT Border
    Also you may want to check the voltage going to combustion motor terminals 3&5.
    You can send your circuit board out for rebuild for about $250, and if board is not the problem he will tell you I don't know if you have this here is a Integra manual this may help.
  11. jtgraup

    jtgraup New Member

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    Well, I tore it down and really dug in behind the convection tubes and found severe blockage of the holes to the smoke chamber. As in I never saw them before and they have been pretty well plugged up since I purchased the stove. Got them all the way open adn the thing is running awesome so far. We shall see over teh next few days.

    Thank you everyone for your assistance and ideas on figuring out the issues with the stove.
  12. andyc

    andyc Member

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    Loc:
    n.central ct
    Good Job, Integra is agreat stove.
    Andy

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