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Bad pellets or moisture?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by samdweezel05, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. samdweezel05

    samdweezel05 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2012
    Messages:
    87
    Loc:
    Upstate NY
    A bit of a story to begin with.

    I have been having some issues with my PS-35 this year and a bunch of you nice folks have gone out of your way to try and help me figure out what the troubles were. After many different suggestions and trying almost everything involving the mechanics and cleanliness of the stove I decided to look at the one thing I was trying to keep constant through the whole ordeal......the pellets. I installed this stove in December of 2011 and we have purchased our pellets from a local supplier until today. I went to Lowes this morning and picked up 10 bags of Green Supreme pellets. I really like dealing with my local small businesses but if the product they sell doesn't work for me then I have no choice but to go elsewhere. The ten bags should be enough to make it through a week and give me a much better idea of whats going on. My basic issue to begin with was having to close the feed gate all the way down to get the stove to function. With the gate open to it's normal position I would get a flame that would touch the top of the stove most of the time and was quite lazy. It was also very dirty and the ash needed to be taken out of the stove surrounding the pot every 3 days. The pot had to be emptied at least once a day due to a clump of ash that would build up and begin to block several of the air holes. I also had to clean the stove pipe every week on the horizontal run to keep it from closing up. I would take about 1.5" of ash from that pipe every week. Low air flow was suspected but I know how I clean this stove and I do it religiously every Sunday. I kind of like doing it. With the Green Supreme pellets I now have my feed gate open just a touch more than I would have originally and the stove is working better than it ever did. It lights quicker with way less smoke and the flame is more consistent.

    Now for the question,

    Are my pellets just a bad batch or did they take on some moisture? I bought 2 tons this fall (only use about 3.5-4 tons total to heat our 1500 SQ FT home in upstate New York) and we are now down to about 25 bags. We used these same brand pellets last year with out too many issues. I store them in a shed on pallets. There is ventilation in the shed but no way for them to come in direct contact with rain or snow. They seamed to work OK for the most part in the very beginning of the season but we quickly started having issues with the stove once we really started to use it full time. I notice the ash from the old pellets likes to "stick" to things inside the stove like the ceramic cover on the thermocouple. It's very black and course. If it's just bad pellets then I will suffer through the rest of them and buy the Green Supreme pellets from now on. If they took on moisture, how long will it take before they will dry out enough to be used? We keep a 10 bag rotation inside our house. We use 2 of the 10 bags and bring in 2 more. I like them to come up to room temp and stay that way for a week before we use the bag. I plan to build a garage but that won't happen until next year. Is there any way to moisture test the pellets? I though about taking a sample to a local fertilizer/grain/feed business that I deal with on a daily basis (I work on a farm) and see if they could test them with the grain moisture tester they we use to test our corn and soybeans. Not sure if it would work.

    Thanks again to all the great members on this forum that have helped me trouble shoot my pellet stove.

    Phil in NY

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  2. CT Pellet

    CT Pellet Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2012
    Messages:
    667
    Loc:
    Torrington, CT
    Good day Phil.
    This statement above is very telling for me. If there was a problem with moisture, you would be having issues with it regardless of how strong you were running the stove. The fact that these pellets were OK at the beginning of the season lends creedence to the fact that this is probably not a pellet issue. If your pellets had gotten wet, there would be no question, because they would no longer look like pellets, but more like saw dust or wet clumps. As for a bad batch?.......When you truly understand how pellets are milled, you will know that "bad batches" come in increments of tons and tons. It is almost impossible to have a bad batch somewhere in the middle of the pallet, or even more unlikely to be from bag to bag. It is very difficult to diagnose a stove problem without being there, but I highly doubt this is a pellet issue. What brand are you burning anyway?
    samdweezel05 likes this.
  3. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Green Supremes are not the best pellet out there, but run what works for you.

    Here is a link to a member with a Heatilator. Read the entire thread, it reads very similar to your thread about your PS-35, but then pay attention to Post #40.

    Heatilator CAB50 excessive ash buildup in pot

    Pellet quality plays a large role in proper function of your stove.
    samdweezel05 likes this.
  4. samdweezel05

    samdweezel05 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2012
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Upstate NY
    I wasn't implying they they had gotten wet. I have dropped some pellets in the snow and they inflate in a matter of minutes. I was wondering if they were above there intended moisture. Like 8%-9% instead of 3%-4%. These are the pellets that we used last year and so far this year.

    [​IMG]

    As of right now I have a functional pellet stove by doing nothing more than changing pellets and cleaning like normal.
  5. samdweezel05

    samdweezel05 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2012
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Upstate NY
    That is exactly what was happening to me. I will search for a higher quality pellet. I know of a couple of places locally that sell pellets but I am not sure what kind they sell. I will find out and report back with a name to see if it would even be worth trying.
    DexterDay likes this.
  6. samdweezel05

    samdweezel05 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2012
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    87
    Loc:
    Upstate NY
    Just found Cubex pellets 10 miles from my house. I didn't even know they were there. Guess I will pick up some this week and try them next week. Cubex seams to be the pellet to own in the pellet stove world.
    DexterDay likes this.
  7. Harmanizer

    Harmanizer Member

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    Loc:
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    Try a few bags first.
    samdweezel05 likes this.
  8. samdweezel05

    samdweezel05 Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Upstate NY
    10-4 that's the plan as I don't want to be stuck with a ton minus 4 bags of pellets that don't work for me. I like the 10 bag limit as it's enough to run a week and really see what is going on with the pellet.
  9. SXIPro

    SXIPro Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Northern MA
    Depends who you ask. Ask 10 people what the best pellet is and and I'd wager you'd get at least 8 different answers.
  10. samdweezel05

    samdweezel05 Member

    Joined:
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    Upstate NY
    Could very well be. I just see a lot of signatures on this forum that have Cubex pellets in them.
  11. samdweezel05

    samdweezel05 Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
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    24 hours later I still have a pellet stove that functions as it should. I would have never thought that there could be such a difference in pellets. I know that these Green Supreme pellets aren't the best pellets in the world but they are worlds above the Curran pellets I was using. Next week we will be trying Cubex pellets and the week after that we will be trying Logik-E pellets from yet another local business. The Cubex and the Logik-E are both from local small businesses so I am looking forward to being able to support one of them if they work out. Dealing with Lowes isn't really for me.

    By the way, I have 27 bags of Curran pellets for sale if any one is interested.....best pellets I have ever used.
  12. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Congrats.

    t didn't seem like the obvious choice when pellets are building up, thats why we went through every last little detail, but sometimes it comes down to the stove not liking a chitty pellet :)

    Enjoy the heat..
    samdweezel05 likes this.
  13. samdweezel05

    samdweezel05 Member

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    Loc:
    Upstate NY
    Believe it or not, I am not the one that will enjoy the heat. I am a cold weather kind of guy. My wife on the other hand would curl up in a ball on top of the pellet stove if she could. And I think we all know what can happen when the wife is warm and happy...........Thanks for all the help over the last couple of months. I really do look forward to getting back to burning wood next winter as that is what I know. The pellet stove will be on call when the wood stove goes out or we are both on 12 hour days at work. Wood also works better when the power goes out, lol.
    DexterDay likes this.

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