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FPX Large Flush Insert Failing? Help!

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by The Man, Jan 15, 2013.

  1. The Man

    The Man New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2013
    Messages:
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    Hey all,

    3 months ago I purchased the fire place xtrodinaire Large Flush Hybrid-Fyre Insert for my 1900sqft home and have been wholly dissapointed. Ever since we got it the blower has been on the fritz and I've talked to the dealer about it multiple times(they are coming tomorrow to check it out). But that isn't really part of the question. This is the first time heating with wood for me, and we're attempting to heat with solely wood. I've been burning it as hot and heavy as i can, and it simply cannot keep up
    .
    I've read a lot in the forums trying to learn how to use it better and whatnot, so I know the first question is "is the wood dry?" I bought a pine/fir/cedar mix at the beginning of the season, and it is dry as a bone(I don't have a moisture sensor but a full split lights up like a matchstick). I also cut up a couple cords of oak that has been down on the tree(cut live) for 2-3 years. I cut it up and split it. The oak is wet, no doubt about it.
    I've been trying to use the oak when I can(on the days when its not so cold out and the house is already warm) to conserve the rest of my dryer wood, but when it gets really cold, I've been burning the dry stuff non-stop.

    I'll feed the fire all day long, leave it full at 12am sometimes 2am and wake up at 7am and load it again, but through all that I can't keep even the room the stove is in very warm. It takes me ALL day to gain up to 72* and when 8pm rolls around, the degrees start falling off the thermometer steadily. By the time I wake up, the house will be at 45* if I don't have the propane wall heaters set. The blower is on high, the coals in the stove are so hot, I can't load it without tongs and gloves. There is definetly very hot air coming out, but not near enough. These temperatures are in the same room(living room) as the stove, and my bedrooms upstairs are staying COLD.

    I bought the biggest firebox insert they had at my local fireplace store thinking, "i'll do my best to oversize the stove so I can have my house at 80* whenever I want it" but it just doesn't seem to be doing the trick. The stove claims 10-12 hour burn times(which it has achieved if you consider having a few red coals left) but it doesn't put out Much heat if I have it like that(staring with a hot fire, closing the air down 90%)...warm air, not hot.

    When the temps are in the 20's, I was maintaining no problem...if I pushed it hard all day I could be at 80* in the evening, but now the temps are in the singles, last night at -8* and if it weren't for the propane, we'd be freezing, in spite of me stoking and filling the fire at 1:00AM and my wife doing the same at 4:30. Let me re-iterate that this is burning our dry stack.

    The other issue I'm facing is that I'm getting so many unburned coals, I was having to shovel out the ashes every morning for a while. When it got cold and we started only using our dryer wood, it helped a little and now its every other day, but its still full of coals ranging from marble size to golf ball size, unburned. I try and stir them up and keep them hot and rake them forward and pile them up and etc. etc. etc...

    I can stand in front of the stove and get warm when its rolling hot, but when I open the glass to stoke it or load it, I can't hardly be within 4 feet of it, its that warm. Shouldn't I be getting more of that inferno heat in my house?

    Am I doing something wrong? Did we get a lemon of a stove? Our house is moderately insulated. It has insulation under the floors, in the walls, and in the attic, but the exterior walls are only 2x4, so its only r-11 or 13 or whatever. All of my friends that have wood stoves(don't have any friends with inserts) here have their houses at 80* as long as they are home and they aren't putting anywhere near the effort as I am.

    On a side note, the problem with the blower is that it keeps tripping on and off at weird times, but never when I'm keeping the stove super hot. I think the thermo-disc is bad from the factory.

    Any help/tips/advice etc.. would be amazing. Does anyone have specific experience with this stove?

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  2. PLAYS WITH FIRE

    PLAYS WITH FIRE Minister of Fire

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    What are the stove temps and have you been moving air around the house other than the insert blower?
  3. TradEddie

    TradEddie Minister of Fire

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    With a flush insert, you'll really need the blower working to get heat out, so even if its causing problems, keep it on. get it fixed, there is no excuse from the dealer. That air inlet should be mostly closed all the time except immediately reloads, not just when you want long burns, is that what you are doing? That unit has a bypass damper, are you sure it is closed?

    I've got a smaller firebox, same size house, and my problem is keeping stove room below 80 when its in the 20s outside.

    Also, dry wood. Are you sure it is dry?

    TE
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Blower is on high. This sounds more like a matter of heat loss. We're all heating sieves, just some more than others. Have you had an energy audit done on the house?
  5. The Man

    The Man New Member

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    No I haven't...I've got double paned windows, but they are aluminum and transfer heat still. I only have three exits, one new sliding glass door vinyl(seems efficient), and two heavy wood doors with lots of weatherstripping and thresholding and whatnot, they don't seem to leak much air at all. My cieling on the lower level is R-19 and on the upper level its 1.5 ft of cluster fill. I spent the summertime caulking around the windows to try and help. The floor is insulated with R-13 as are the exterior walls. It just seems weird to me that when the fire is so hot I can hardly load it, that with the door closed I can't even feel the heat a few feet away. The stove claims 80% efficiency, but is all that heat simply going up the flue?
  6. hotjava66

    hotjava66 New Member

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    Michigan
    Have had mine a month and has been pretty good so far. Have not had any really cold weather, but it's in the low 20's today and the stove is keeping my 2000 sq ft house heated to 70. Granted it is 80 in the living room and 65 in the furthest bedroom but it will keep up. Wood choice seems to make a big difference in heat output, dry hardwood seems best. Did you do the install? Did you insulate or put a block off plate above the stove? Another thing to consider is these are real world rated at around 40000 btu if I remember correctly
  7. hotjava66

    hotjava66 New Member

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    Oh, and mine really doesn't like the air closed completely down, burns best in a touch
  8. jdp1152

    jdp1152 Minister of Fire

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    Not really what I was hoping to read when opening this one. Ceiling height, installation details please.
  9. The Man

    The Man New Member

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    the main room that the stove is in is ~900sqft with an 8'-12' vault. Installed in an old heatilator unit with a SS 6" liner up the central chimney for 20' *professionally installed
  10. TradEddie

    TradEddie Minister of Fire

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    Is that blower working, i.e. is it blowing air to the correct place, or just making noise? Can you feel air coming out the top and sides? Maybe it is seized, and cutting out because of thermal overload.
    Also, describe your burning pattern, when/how you operate dampers, how much open/closed?

    TE
  11. flyingpig

    flyingpig Member

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    Cary, NC
    I have the older version (two doors, no CAT) and it works wonderfully for 3 years now. Grant I'm in much milder climate but it doesn't sound right for the situation you described. Either you couldn't get the stove up to the operating temp, and/or a significant leakage of the home insulation somewhere.

    How is the stove temp when you burn? My normal operating temp is between 400*F - 600*F with magnetic thermometer on the front door. I may need to crack the door open about 15 min for cold start to get the fire going and start cutting down the primary air when the stove temp reaches 420*F. Earlier than that the secondary burn may not be that stable in my case.

    I did an energy audit and it works wonderfully addressing a lot of leakage. I also have a Black & Decker Thermal Leak Detector (TLD100) that is quite useful to find problem spot. It's only $30, and comes with a mini-guideline how to find the leak and fix them. You may want to give it a try.

    Cheers.......Som
  12. The Man

    The Man New Member

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    The blower is working as far as I know. It is blowing air out of the top(like its supposed to). Its on high and working, but I don't have a comparison to know how much air its really supposed to be pushing out. It could be operating at a slower speed than its supposed to. The stove people are coming any minute now to check the snap disc because I do have issues with the blower cutting out at lower temps, so maybe it isn't working right, but it does seem to be pushing out a fair amount of air.

    I start the fire using my greenstart option with kindling and dry splits. It runs for 15 mins and then i'll add some bigger splits in and fill the box the best I can. I run it wide open for another 15 mins or so and then I close the bypass/cat lever. I usually let it burn until the wood looks crackly(technical term :) ) and then start closing the air supply down little by little. I don't have a thermometer, or a place to attach one anywhere on the insert itself. There isn't room on the door and the rest of the exposed metal isn't actually part of the stove, just the trim. I basically go buy how many secondaries I have burning to tell me whether I need more air or not. I'll let it burn like that until I can tell the stove isn't putting out as hot of air as it used to be(usually once everything has been coaling for a while) and then I open the air back up and re-pack, rinse, repeat. Overnight i'll get it as hot as I can before bed, then load it up and crack the door to get it good n hot and then close it all down to about 80% closed and let it burn. Some nights I have better luck than others about how much is left in the AM and how hot it still is and everything, but for example last night we had it running, it was only about 15* and the main room(where the stove is) still couldn't stay above 57* where the propane kicks on. I went to bed at 2, woke up at 7.

    We are in the middle of a remodel as well, so getting the energy audit this year is out of the budget(not to mention this stupid stove drained the bank). I'll look into the TLD100 though, thank you.
  13. PLAYS WITH FIRE

    PLAYS WITH FIRE Minister of Fire

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    I see the pix of this thing and it is perty.....but I would buy a laser thermo and find the hottest spot and try to put a magnetic thermo on it. Without knowing the burn temps it is easy to say you are not burning hot enough...
    jotulguy likes this.
  14. flyingpig

    flyingpig Member

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    I have a feeling it didn't burn hot enough. At least you can try putting thermo on the door rim just to get an idea. The hot air from blower should be very hot.....in my case I can't put my hand 6" in front of it for more than 20 - 30 sec. That level of heat does last about two hours from full load in my case and I'll get productive heat (not just lukewarm) from the blower at least 4-5 hours.

    One question on your installation. I assume that you install it in the existing fireplace. Did you install the block off plate to prevent external cold air from chimney to come down? Basically it a metal plate that should block all the chimney opening just above the insert except for the 6" pipe in the middle.

    Get the thermo...or better thermo gun. Also we'll know better if you can post the pict when you did the "full burn".
  15. glenncz

    glenncz New Member

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    I've had the same stove since October. It is possibly that you are burning pine/fir that is a problem? I don't know because I only burn black cherry, maple and birch? I would assume pine/fir throws less head and burns faster than hardwood. Were the ouside temps you gave above C or F?

    Our stove seems to be working fine, considering we have a big house and the stove is in our two story family room. We have to load it up about 4 times per day. I load it at 11pm and at 6:30am it is only coals(fan often off and not throwing much heat), but we put a few pieces of dry bark or small wood on it, crack the door and within 10 minutes it is lit and ready to load. Also, we also run it with the bottom air rod pulled fully out, I guess that is 100% closed. You say you can't stand in front of it with the door open it is so hot, I wouldn't really say the same about mine, and I always load it w/o gloves. But right now it's 28F outside and our family room is 71.8F, therm on mantle. We found that we have to run the family room fan on high or too much hot air rises and heats the upstairs instead of downstairs.

    Also, I only empty the ash out about every 5-6 days. One trick we've learned to burn the coals down is to let the fire burn down to a bed of coals, then turn and mix them with a small shovel and let them burn two hours before adding new wood. We've had problems with the glass getting dirty real quick, but I covered my wood better and after a few months it's drier and that seems to be less a problem.

    I assume the flush insert throws less heat than one protruding out over the lower mantle. But ours is only 18" and I'm glad we got the flush insert, because even though we have 3 feet of tile on the floor below, sparks/coals fly out sometimes when opened and hot ash spills out when tending the fire at times. Plus IMHO a flush insert looks better in our house than a black stove stick out.

    Right now our wood is nice and dry, and it really is making a huge difference in throwing heat and, making big coals and keeping the glass decently clean, at least a fair sized circle in the middle. The only aspect of this thing I don't like is cleaning that glass. Also, I pile a huge 3-4 day supply of wood to the side of the fireplace and that final total dry helps. If you are just splitting the wood now, even if the tree was down a year or two, I think you have to let it sit for at least a few months covered before it is really ready to burn dry.

    Also, you mentioned friends with stoves at 80F. I think a stove likely works much better than an insert.
    jdp1152 likes this.
  16. freddypd

    freddypd Burning Hunk

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Long Island NY
    I have the same stove and couldn't have said it any better than glenncz said it. Like the look of flush better than sticking out.

    Ranch house, about 2000 sq feet. Decently insulated with new windows. Would like to seal up my hi hats and get more insulation in the attic. Heat is OFF in the living area and is set to go on in the bedrooms only. Don't like listening to a fan all the time....next house wood stove centrally located.

    I can get the stove room to 80 and the hallway to the bedrooms to 71. Bedrooms stay about 65.
  17. freddypd

    freddypd Burning Hunk

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    Loc:
    Long Island NY
    Could that greenstart option have anything to do with the fan going on and off? From a cold start my fan could take 40-50 mins to come on, other than that it is always going. Of course in the morning it wont put out much heat at all.
  18. FPX Dude

    FPX Dude Member

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    Loc:
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    It sounds like you should be expecting more heat output...right? I put my hand at airflow above stove 6" away, and maybe 10 secs., before I have to pull it back, it's hot. Fan is on maybe 3/4 speed. IR zap of fire sez 650. The thermo switch to trigger the fan was located behind the bricks, so I kinda positioned them with about a 1/2" gap where it was located to help it kick-on faster. From cold startup it'll come on ~30mins. Also, I can barely hear the fan, as it's remotely located in my chase, and one of the primary reason's for FPX, no squirrel cages buzzing and no cords hanging around. Once you get it dialed in, then you can work on other home improvement options.
  19. glenncz

    glenncz New Member

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    The fan is noisy on high, but it's infinitely adjustable. So when we're not home or in the main room we let it on high, but when we are watching TV we turn it down 1/3rd to 1/2. So noisy fan should not be a problem with this insert.
  20. FPX Dude

    FPX Dude Member

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    Yo "The Man", so what did the dealer say? btw, it's now almost 11+ hrs. since my last load, the fan is in the on/off cycle as it's cool'n down, and I didn't up early enuf to reload under the cloak of darkness since it's a burn day, but the furnace is coming on and it's much louder than the fan. Hey, check this out for more noise stuff... http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/how-loud-is-your-blower-blower-noise.60272/
  21. The Man

    The Man New Member

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    Thanks all for the replies...I've been gone for a couple days on business. The dealer said that they can call a rep out from the manufacturer, but he knows what they will do which is shoot it with a heat gun and check the moisture content of the wood and if all the numbers are running in the right ranges, then they will place any other problems on the insulation. The temps i was talking about were F -8* for a few nights there and the days weren't getting above 15*, but now that cold snap has subsided and we've equalized out into the low singles overnight and ~30 during the day, its a lot easier to keep up with. I think the problems must be a combination of all of the different elements at smaller levels. Not *great* wood this year, the house needing a little more insulation and gap sealing etc, the extreme temps, the layout of the house making it hard for heat to transfer around etc...

    I talked extensively to the dealer and he said based on what I told him that it seem the stove is running pretty good(except for the wood factor) and that its most likely just heat loss through the windows and whatnot. I do have a lot of windows in the living room with the stove in it and they are aluminum framed double pane windows but we don't have any coverings for them because we are remodeling. He is going to bring out his thermo gun and moisture meter and check everything out for me after he's got the correct operating temps from the manufacturer and we'll have to see from there whats going on. They also checked out the snap disc while they were here thinking it was loose or something, but it was sitting tight and wired correctly, so he thinks that when it was on the fritz I just had the hot part of the fire over a different part of the firebox than the snap disc was in(the downfall of a huge firebox) and if I were just to stir up the coals and pack them on the disc area it would act normally again(although I disagree on this because there were times when it was on the fritz and i would poke on the the firebricks with my poker and I could turn the blower off and on with a little pressure) I'm thinking of wiring a separate bypass switch to be able to turn the fan on anytime I want, and still be able to use the snap disc for the overnight burns so it shuts itself off when it gets cool.

    I do have a block off plate at the top and since I have the SS liner i'm thinking of punching a 6" hole in the cinder block chimney and installing a switched duct fan to blow that wasted heat into one of the bedrooms. When I really have the stove ripping, I can't hold my hand in front of the blown air for more than 10 or 20 seconds, so it seems like it is putting out the right amount of heat. I'm still disappointed in the output, but hopefully i'll have better wood next year and be able to get more out of the stove. When it was that cold, I would go from 57 in the am and burn hard all day to get to around 65-68 by 8 pm...and at 12 it was prolly only 60. Then I would keep burning hard till I went to bed, but after 8 when the outside temps dropped, the inside ones would drop of a degree at a time, regardless of the hot stove. I have lately been loading it ~8 am, and reloading about every 4 hours. I can't pull my damper all the way out, usually only to 60% or so, or else I will fairly well kill the fire(although not the coals) and the temps don't come out as hot. When I reload I have to leave the door cracked for about 10 minutes to really get the wood roaring before I can close the door and shut the damper down some, otherwise it takes forever for the wood to catch and I won't be able to touch the damper for an hour. If I leave the damper at 60% when I go to bed ~1 or 2, the fan is still blowing in the AM ~8 and i can easily get another fire going. There are usually just a few hot coals left, and a lot of unburned coals that i'll mix in. I've been emptying it out about every 2 or 3 days, and saving whatever bigger unburned coals that I can. I read a post about tossing a scoop of pellets on those kind of coals and letting it burn hot to burn them down. In the am its still been relying on the propane to keep it at 57, but the house is around 65 by 10 am and if I want I can burn hard and hit 75-80 by 8 pm. I guess I just need to keep experimenting and figuring out the best/most efficient ways to burn in this insert, but I'll keep everyone updated on what the dealer tells me when he brings his equipment. Next time I'll just buy a woodstove and leave the fireplace for ambience instead of going the insert route.
  22. FPX Dude

    FPX Dude Member

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    Loc:
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    FPX (or any stove) performance and heat output is one thing, house efficiencies and heat movement is another. Sounds like you need to get some "good wood" in there, and you will be able to resolve any damper and bypass issues, reload much less, and generally be Happy Happy Happy (as Phil would say!). As far as longer burn times it only comes down to one thing -> FUEL! The more you have, the longer you can burn, that's why these guys with BKK's etc., can go all day. You should be able to load that 44 "to the gills", I'm sure with some practice you'll be luv'n it...good luck! :)
  23. TradEddie

    TradEddie Minister of Fire

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    Please do not proceed with the plan to blow the space around the liner into a bedroom! One hole in that liner could kill your entire family.

    A proper block-off plate is located at the bottom of the chimney, (top of fireplace), and stops heat from going up the chimney in the first place. Personally, I think a block off plate is of limited value with a good quality insert, but in my case it significantly reduces the cold downdraft when the insert is not in use. For $50 of materials and about an hour's work, I know of no downside to using one.

    Back to the wood. Even if your wood is seasoned,those woods you listed contain only 50% to 75% of the BTUs that good hardwood does, so you are short-changing yourself there for a start. See link below for BTU content of typical woods. All wood has approximately the same BTU per pound, but there is a huge variation in the density of different woods. Compare the BTU/cord values on that page.

    http://www.chimneysweeponline.com/howood.htm

    TE
  24. 69911e

    69911e Member

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    Loc:
    CT
    I would try Biobricks/ecobricks or some equivalent and report results. Include your temps with a stove thermometer, if you can put one on (including location on the stove). Otherwise, you can buy an infrared thermometer and find the hottest spots ($20-$40).
  25. jdp1152

    jdp1152 Minister of Fire

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    Not getting off on the right foot with this insert. Installed today. Set up small kindling fire, cracked the windows, opened the bypass and air all the way and let it go. Fire was nice, small, could smell the paint curing. It's died down now. The wife came home and attempt to show her the operations of it compared to our other insert and the bypass is stuck. Not just tough to move, but completely stuck.

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