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Burning with a bad catalytic?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by William Fissel, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. William Fissel

    William Fissel New Member

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    Recently moved & was happy to find a place with a nice Vermont Castings Encore 2550 Catalytic stove. I'm not a newbie to wood heat but my only past experience is with an ancient little L.Lange that was used to heat my garage.
    Anyway, we've burned about a half cord so far this year & it seemed ok, but a friend recently suggested I inspect the catalytic because as he put it "they fail all the freaking time".
    Herein lies my issue- I pulled the back plate to have a looksie & the catalytic was near totally eaten away.
    I'd really like to buy a new, non-catalytic stove; but having just moved the funds just aren't there for it until probably Spring. I don't really want to dump $300 for the catalytic plus another $275 for the refractory assembly which is also starting to crack.
    CAN I JUST RUN IT THIS WINTER? SAVE MY CASH FOR A NEW STOVE IN THE SPRING? IF IT'S LESS EFFICIENT I'M TOTALLY OK WITH THAT.
    Any help is much appreciated.
    Thanks

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  2. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    Sure, you can run it like it is. $300 sounds pretty high for the cat. Is the refractory assembly unusable? Or just cracked? I would check prices online and only replace the cat this year if it was me. It will work, but it's like driving a car with flat tires, it goes, but not very well.
  3. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    If you're burning hot and heavy the cat won't matter much.
    It will still kick out the heat I'm sure.
  4. William Fissel

    William Fissel New Member

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    Thanks for the replies. Should I just pull the cat? Leave it in there? Same question for the refractory assembly- Just leave it in there? Cat is like totally fried, falling apart & in pieces, looks melted. Nasty stuff.
    Also- I've since been shopping around & it looks like I'll be needing parts 9, 10 & 11 from here http://www.cozycabinstoveandfireplaceparts.com/cgi/display.cgi?item_num=2550. That totals over $650; though I can likely get it a little cheaper if I shop around.
  5. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    Monosperma and pen like this.
  6. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Is the stove yours to keep? If so, I might drop the money to fix it. But other stuff may need to be replaced, as well. There are some VC experts here, maybe they will chime in with stuff that you need to check.

    $530 at blackswanhome. Not sure where the cheapest place to get these parts is...
  7. William Fissel

    William Fissel New Member

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    The refractory assy is basically falling apart. What's supposed to hold the access panel to the refractory? It was just sorta sitting in there, partially on top of the cat. If you so much as touch it, it starts to crumble. I'm no expert but this really seems like a crap design; my old L.Lange is from the early 70's & I used it for years & never had to do any maintenance whatsoever. The idea of having to spend a couple hundred bucks every couple of years for a cat really bothers me.
    I just want to make sure it's safe & what the best method of running it without the cat/refractory is.
  8. William Fissel

    William Fissel New Member

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    And yes, we own the house & the stove. It's "ours to keep" but I think know I'd be happier with a non-cat stove & I'd really rather not dump $500+ on something that I plan to replace before next Winter.
    After all, that $500 will go a long way towards the purchase of a new stove; that's 1/4 the cost of the Hearthstone Shelburne, one of the models I'm considering to replace the Encore.
  9. clemsonfor

    clemsonfor Minister of Fire

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    man how are those stoves made? my cat stove has a 3/16b plate that holds dual cats that bolts to the top of the stove, only thing to replace is gasket and 2 cats for right at $200? If you have to replace the holder you got more problems than that!!! seems like a fragile fancy design?
  10. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    There is a difference between the assembly is "cracked" and "falling apart." If it is falling apart, then it needs to be replaced.

    That's great that the old stove served you well. But, this isn't that stove. And yes, the cat system in this stove is a poor design. Your options are to either put $500 into the stove and run it properly, or run it without the parts, waste wood (which is time and money), and potentially have a hazardous situation if the stove runs too hot, which it may without the parts. And in the end, that may cost you more than money.

    Or, option C; don't burn wood this year.
  11. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    That's how they were designed.
  12. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    I'm just saying he can burn the thing and not be in danger.
    My old bk the fire went straight up to the flue..no nothing and it went 27 years without burning the house down.
    Sounds like he just wants to buy some time to think about his options..I would run it till he figures out what he wants to do.
    He has burned wood before..not like he is a newbie is all I'm saying.
  13. William Fissel

    William Fissel New Member

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    Thanks man. I'm a total newbie to these catalytic stoves & appreciate all the input.
    Thinking of ways to scrounge funds for a new stove sooner; As long as I can burn wood now & stay warm, that's a big plus.
  14. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    If you choose to operate the stove, despite getting advice from someone with experience using this stove in particular suggesting not doing so, I hope you are wise enough to keep the chimney brush handy, and use it often.

    pen
  15. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    If putting your money to the best use is key, and you aren't happy with buying parts for this stove, I would take the $500+ dollars and throw it into a stove like Englander, or Drolet, or US Stove and buy one of their steel stoves for about $800.

    Burn that this year or until you can get the stove you really want. It will give you the heat you need, the simplicity you are looking for, and give you the time to save up for the stove you really want and still be warm.
    Joful and Monosperma like this.
  16. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    You are gonna do it anyway. So just check that chimney at least once a month to see what is happening. You are burning a nicer looking barrel stove.
    Joful likes this.
  17. William Fissel

    William Fissel New Member

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    So what's the best method for doing this? Leave what's left of the cat? Remove it? What about the refractory?
    When I run it should I do so with the handle in the catalytic position to at least damper it down somewhat?
  18. Monosperma

    Monosperma Member

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    pen likes this.
  19. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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  20. ddddddden

    ddddddden Minister of Fire

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    A good cat stove is designed with the air flow through the cat as part of the formula.
    If the cat is "melted"/clogged it will not flow enough air. If the cat is crumbling/gone, it will flow too much air, basically like running with the cat bypass open. My stove drafts like crazy with the cat bypass open. Burns fast & hot. I wouldn't want to burn a full load like this. . .


    I would leave the cat in, and try running with the bypass closed. If the cat is clogged and reducing draft, I'd remove it rather than run with the bypass open. FWIW, a few members have said that they burn small loads with the cat bypass open during shoulder season, when they just want a quick fire to take the chill off and don't care about efficiency/losing heat up the flue.


    All that said, this is the best advice you have received, IMO:
    Note that almost all of the steel stoves are top-vented; that configuration has to work in your setup for you to go with this option without redoing your chimney. For example, if you are rear-venting the VC into a fireplace, it's going to be hard to substitute a steel stove into that setup.
  21. weatherguy

    weatherguy Minister of Fire

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    If you fixed it theres no reason why you's have to buy a cat every two years, it should last a lot longer than that if your burning seasoned wood and your door is tight, cats are priced decent here.
    http://www.firecatcombustors.com/category-s/1287.htm

    If the refractory is just cracked maybe you can get away just adding a cat, hard to say without seeing it. Can you post a pic?
    If you do run it without a cat, Id surely invest in a chimney brush and some rods and clean it out once a month, hope your wood is seasoned.
  22. William Fissel

    William Fissel New Member

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    Her's a pic. The front piece "refractory access panel" is in three pieces & will without a doubt needs replacing. Can I run the refractory like this? As you can see the Cat is a total goner.
    (also- sorry for the pic quality, the forum wouldn't let me upload the original size of the pic so I had to re-size way down)

    Attached Files:

  23. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    A cat stove can be a wonderful thing to have, in most cases superior to any non-cat, but as BAR (and other owners of this stove) have said, it's not the greatest design. Still, if nothing else fails, a new cat will get you 5-6 years of burning, not 2 years as you were told. I'd be spending $200 on a new cat to see how the old stove does, before I ran out to buy a new stove.
  24. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    Kind of hard to tell, but the assembly looks to be in decent shape.
  25. William Fissel

    William Fissel New Member

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    Alright..... I broke down & ordered the access panel & catalytic. I guess this will buy me two years or so, which should provide plenty of time to save up for a nice new NON-CATALYTIC stove. After much research, I found a catalytic for $190 shipped & the refractory access panel for $68 shipped (thanks to BrowningBAR) $258 isn't too bad I guess. Thanks again for all the help.
    pen likes this.

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