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Calling In The Warranty On Woodstock Steel Cat

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Todd, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    I wish/hope it would be as simple as a gasket/fitting problem. It would be worse (and probably more likely) that these darn SS cats just don't work as well as Ceramic. It seems some folks are having better luck, but it's possible lots of people don't even know their cats are not working properly. I know how it's supposed to burn, and it ain't right.

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  2. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    You very well could be right.
    But bad gaskets won't help.
  3. ddddddden

    ddddddden Minister of Fire

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    Count me in.<sigh> Like everyone here, I suffer from wood guilt, so I blamed my wood, of course. I've been burning hotter to compensate. Hence my observation about how well the FV works as a secondary burner. Thought it was odd that my wood was dry enough to get such nice secondary flames, but not dry enough to tickle the cat's fancy all of the time. Definitely have a mechanical issue, probably the gasket., it sounds like a box of Tic-Tacs when I take it out for cleaning. It did do better after mid-season cleaning of ~ 1.5qts of creosote from the flue. Those who are into doing frequent cat cleanings to maintain performance may want to clean the flue more often too. I think it may work in a downward spiral: Cat function becomes spotty due to gasket or other defect. . .creosote deposits in the flue. . .draft is impaired. . .cat function worsens. . .more creosote deposits in the flue. . . Todd, were you running the SS cat on your SupaFlue that got all gunked up?
  4. ddddddden

    ddddddden Minister of Fire

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    It has been suggested before that the SS cats suck, and as proof, it was said that BK went back to ceramic after trying SS. BKVP addressed this when he was here fielding questions. He said that BK continues to use both types of cat. If SS was that bad, it doesn't seem likely that they would do that. . .unless there are hidden supply issues with ceramic cats, which might explain why they are using two types. . .maybe the Aliens won't let them talk. :p
  5. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    That was me. Todd found the thread. the gasket helped a lot and so has being sure that the screen and cat are clear of ash. My stove has been behaving like others have described here. It seems to take longer to get a nice cat burn and can be a little smokey at low burns. I have been running with the air at or even above 1 most of this winter. I switched to the SS in January last year. It was a HUGE improvement over the ceramic one that pretty much fell apart and stopped working in the middle of its second season. Temps were supper high with it. This season I have not had the same results. Is it the SS cat? The SS scoop? Maybe. I think that a big part of what we are talking about here are the consistent unusually warm temps this winter. The few times I have had actual winter like temps this year, teens and single digits, the stove has performed great. I am also burning about 98% Black Locust which is a very dense, very hard wood. It burns hot and long but is not quick to light up. In my case there are too many factors working against me to be sure that the SS cat and/or scoop are really a problem. My 7" flue doesn't help either, especially in the warmer temps. I think that I'm going to pay a little better attention to keeping the cat and screen clean and wait until we get some real winter weather before I make any judgement on the SS cat and screen.
  6. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Recieved an email from Tom at Woodstock. I'll be sending mine out to them for testing soon.

    Hi Todd, Tony, Dennis -

    I was just pointed to the recent thread on hearth.com about ss catalysts. I am not a registered hearth.com user, but here are a few comments.

    If any of you have combustors that you think are not performing, we would love to get them back.
    Sud Chemie is testing a couple now, and the NH Materials lab is looking at samples from two combustors. We would like to get a few more back, and thermocouple them up and test them in our lab. One good thing about Sud Chemie is that they have impressive lab facilities, and they take R&D and QC very seriously. They have been responsive to our technical questions, and provided accurate technical information. I was surprised that they did not respond to questions. I hope that the reason was that the message went to company voice-mail and never was delivered to a CSR.

    We haven’t experienced a “stalling†situation in our lab like some people described on the hearth thread. We need to recreate, here in West Lebanon, the situation that you are experiencing before we can really offer constructive and/or definitive advice, so we would really appreciate getting some underperforming parts back here. Contact me directly if you have an underperforming catalyst that you want to contribute to science, and I’ll send you a free replacement (you can send yours back in the same box). We’ll need some information on when you experienced the problem (temperature/wood/draft) so that we can try to recreate it. We’ll be happy to share any test results we get with returned catalysts. If we can recreate the situation that you describe, we’ll be way ahead of the game.

    There are some good comments on the hearth thread, and some misconceptions too. • The catalyst doesn’t need to glow to be working. • The Progress combustor is deliberately NOT fit tightly (side to side), but is installed at an angle so that its upstream end seats against gasket. That’s the seal that counts. We wanted to make the catalyst easy to get out in this model – no bolts, castings, or interam gasket. It’s boxed in a stainless steel frame. • On the Keystone and Fireview, you should get better results with the stainless steel combustor and the new screen. The flow is much more even across the face of the catalyst with the screen than it was with the expanded metal.

    I called Blaze King this afternoon, and they said they don’t have any experience with “stalled combustors†- just fly ash and wet wood. So I’m anxious to get some parts back!

    Thanks,

    Tom Morrissey
    Woodstock Soapstone Company
  7. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    man that was a great e-mail!
  8. Treacherous

    Treacherous Minister of Fire

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    Now that is customer support I'd like to see more of everywhere!!!

    That's awesome!!!
  9. timusp40

    timusp40 Feeling the Heat

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    WOW! 80 posts to a thread that started less than a week ago. Feelings about the new PH and SS cats are all over the map. Good, lousy, happy, concerned, disapointed, on and on. I am getting ready to purchase a new stove and had all but sent a down payment to Woodstock. Until this SS cat thing reared its ugly head that is. Think I'll just keep reading and listening to all the comments that are coming in rapid fire, before a final decision. Just too many varied opinions out there for me at this time. Not knocking Woodstock. Their reputation and customer service speak for itself, but I don't think we have a bottom line yet! Do you have to babysit a SS cat? I'm too old to have to fiddle with something and still worry about it before I go to bed. If you read any one of the dozens of Woodstock Stove reviews on the Hearth, you don't find any complaints about the ceramics cats. What's happening here Woodstock?
    Tim
  10. mfglickman

    mfglickman Minister of Fire

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    Tim, see the email above from Woodstock.

    I <3 Woodstock ... and no I'm not affiliated. I've called 3 times, every time the person who answered the phone could answer my question. Contrast with other products out there where it's a struggle to find a phone number, let alone a real person to help. :)
  11. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    The cats have nothing to do with Woodstock or any other stove company. They are bought from a cat company and S/S cats are actually more expensive than the ceramic cats. The reason they have gone to S/S cats is because ceramic cats are sensitive to thermal shock and can crack or crumble which normally isn't a problem unless people are burning wet wood. Sud Chemie manufactures cats for companies such as Condar and has been making cats since the beginning so they are quite experienced and have set the standard for this product.

    Ray
  12. timusp40

    timusp40 Feeling the Heat

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    mfglickman,
    I read it and I totally agree about their CS. Hope they figure it out soon.
  13. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

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    Woodstock is really an impressive company. It still boggles my mind that they called Blaze King for more input.
    I like my Isle Royale, but you cannot beat the customer service of a company trying to make things right.
  14. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    I don't understand the Blaze King input thing..

    Ray
  15. HollowHill

    HollowHill Minister of Fire

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    UPDATE: it was not a chimney fire according to sweeps. Sweep thinks it might have been "chugging" caused by too much oxygen and gasses.

    I just experienced what I believe was a chimney fire this morning. Still pretty rattled by it. I have a Progress, which was installed 12/8. I had the chimney swept on 1/17. The chimney sweep said there was very little, light ash and that based on this, I should be good until summer for my next cleaning. So, I've been burning 24/7 since then, except for about a week when it was down for various reasons (door gasket, then appliance adapter install). So, I've only been burning about 3 weeks. During that time, I was experiencing what has been talked about on this thread - engaging the cat at anywhere from 250 - 350 and immediately lowering the draft to 1/8", only to see the temps fall after engaging and never coming back up unless I disengaged and re-engaged. Finally, I have revised my burning scheme so that I engage at higher temps (300 - 400) and leave the air at 50% for several minutes, and then 25% for several minutes. If the temp is good enough, I will further reduce to 1/8", if not, leave it at 25%. This new strategy has been working well as far as heating the house goes. This morning, on a reload, I didn't have the load as involved as I'd like (the bottom was barely going, the middle layer was not even charred and the top layer was burning at a pretty good clip). The secondaries were pretty intense, so I decided to engage the cat regardless of the other layers lagging behind. When I did so, I suddenly got a low bass LOUD rumble like an unbalanced washing machine on meth. I quickly disengaged the cat but that didn't stop it, so shut the air all the way down to 0 and that stopped the noise instantly.

    Both my chimney sweep and WS are puzzled by how I could have built up enough creosote in 3 weeks to cause a chimney fire, but I wonder if what Den is describing might be the reason. My wood is 2 years css and is a mix of maple, ash, birch, locust, elm.

    I just want to give people a heads up that they might want to check their chimneys more frequently until more is known about this issue...
  16. Stump_Branch

    Stump_Branch Minister of Fire

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    flatbed my mistake, should have known and looked it up first.

    nice email. i personally like mine, and i say that as someone who has yet to call them (i still need to order some parts) issue i run into is its a used stove used cat, couldnt ask them to foot a bill that could have been previous users fault. no id just assume buy one, feel better about the warranty then.


    then again dont really think i have a problem just noticed some of the above issues some time. figured it was me first year with a cat is all. very well could be that too.

    im warm though, good luck
  17. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    I don't think it's the warmer winter weather. My ceramic cat has done just fine in this weather and I always thought one of the advantages of cat stoves is the low slow clean cat burns in this type of weather.
  18. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like it could of been a chimney fire to me. I had a similar situation where I found a lot of creosote in my lower chimney and stove pipes. I swept the new supaflu chimney about 6 weeks prior and hardly anything. Maybe like you I was relying on lower light off temps and the chimney wasn't getting warm enough to maintain draft and help the cat light off and do its thing properly?

    My issues could be a combination of different things but after hearing everyone else's issues I'm leaning more towards a steel cat problem.
  19. scotsman

    scotsman Feeling the Heat

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    I read Tom's message (and all the rest, as well). I just put my cat back in from checking it. It was not plugged--in fact, pretty clean. Like Tom said, the cat has a gasket on the upstream side that it rests against on the down slope. Personally I'd like it better if it had some sort of retainer to snug it down like my FV had, but they didn't ask me during the design phase! :lol: So, it appears that my set up is consistent with Tom's description and the low temp issues describe my situation accurately. 'Spose I'll just hang out and monitor developments.
  20. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I'm not sure what happened here, but that doesn't sound quite like a chimney fire. Catalytic indigestion maybe?
  21. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I ain't gonna say it. I promise, I ain't gonna say it. :zip:
  22. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    :lol:
  23. Buck1200

    Buck1200 Member

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    I checked the cat tonight and found clear evidence that it was not seated squarely on the gasket- it rocked within the pocket, and the top half of the gasket is brown and sooty. I flipped the cat over (it fit tighter the other way) and jammed a little fiberglass rope under it to keep it snug. Now it's burning much better. I have a nice dark firebox, a top stone approaching 500, and a flue temp solidly at 400, both right where they should be prior to turning in for the night.

    Making 'progress'.
  24. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    Man..it looks like I might have been right for once..lol..at least in part.
    S.S. cats could still be suspect though..I have no idea on those.
    Still have to get a gasket for my cat...but it's doing pretty good.
    Had to tighten my door some..even though it passed the dollar test.
    I have a way to make it back puff when I want it too..seen the smoke come out the top of door even though the gasket looks brand new yet and it seemed like a tight seal.
  25. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    Now this is interesting. I remember the first time I removed and replaced the cat, it just did not seem like the mating surfaces (cat to stove) fit together snugly. I even mentioned this to WS when I called earlier this week about my stalling cat. It just does not feel like the cat "locks" into the mating flange, it just relies on gravity and it's at an angle so has a tendency to tilt away. It makes sense that your top gasket surface was brown. Fiberglass rope under the cat seems like an EXCELLENT idea, thanks for the post!!

    Second point: I tried engaging at a MUCH higher than my usual normal light off temperature, per suggestion by sir Ciccio. Resuts: Stove top temp TOOK OFF like a rocket! Normally I was engaging at 250F thinking this was more than good, since the claim is that SS cats can be engaged at 200F. 250F used to work just fine. But last night I engaged at 350F and the stovetop temp was definitely headed toward 500F before I went to bed. Hopefully my wife followed my request to get the final peak temp before she crashed. But even better news, in the morning the stovetop was above 300F, instead of down near 200F. So it's starting to look to me like the light off temp has increased. It's too early to say for sure, this was just one test and the new cat is arriving soon. I might want to play with this for a couple more days before sending this cat to WS.

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