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Harmon P61-A Distribution Blower not Turning on

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by mkmh, Sep 19, 2007.

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  1. mkmh

    mkmh New Member

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    So the temp finally dropped down to a point where I could feel good about running a full out test of my used Harman P61-A stove. First off, my set up is as follows



    Installed in semi-finished basement


    Vented to single flue masonry chimney


    Only "appliance" on that flue


    Vented using standard black chimney pipe as per dealer recommendation (3 foot rise then into the chimney)


    Before installing I thoroughly cleaned the stove in accordance with the manul and cleaning guide.


    Burning premium grade New England hardwood pellets



    Problems are as follows <sigh>


    1. Ignitor failed to start the stove after several tries. I got it to work on one brief test run 2 months agao, but it appeared to "struggle" and barely lit the stove. Not a huge deal, I figure i'll be replacing it for 60 bucks. Stove started fine manually with stove gel as per the guide.
    2. The stove has been running on feed rate 3, stove temp high mode, 80 degrees for aboyut an hour and it seems that the distribution blower has not yet come on. The stove is throwing good heat, but there must be an issue of some sort.
    A quick google search seemed to suggest that there might be an issue with the ESB probe?
    The light indicates that the blower is getting power.



    Any thoughts?
    My thought is that you should think twice about buying a pellet stove out of some guy's garage in July (with no way to really run a thorough test)

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  2. GVA

    GVA Minister of Fire

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    I left this for HB but it's been 24hours so here goes..

    problem #1
    Did the burnpot get warm to the touch?
    No?..... change the ignitor
    Yes?... Make sure the pot is free of clinkers and the holes are clear.. Clinkers will insulate the pellets from the heat of the ignitor.
    Was it a very smokey start the time it did startup?
    if so then you have a draft problem or weak combustion blower, blocked airflow etc...

    problem#2
    Could be the ESP.
    I checked mine a while ago and got 568K ohms at a room temp of 72*. But it should be noted that when I unplugged it from the board the Dist and comb blowers both started up followed by the feed motor.
    Anyway your ESP could have a kink in the exhaust pipe or chafed wire...
    Could be the blower can you verify it not turning or getting warm?
    Can you spin it by hand?
    It's 120vac shaded pole motor unplug it and plug her into an outlet it should run at full speed...
    if so do you have power from the board to the blower? Note the pot (room/stove temp) adjusts the voltage and or speed to the blower could have a worn wiper but this pot also turns the stove on....(try running it in room temp mode too)
    Could be the board too....
    many things to check
    simple fix.. if you are not comfortable with checking the motor out as above have a local dealer hook up the DDM to it.

    Also one thing to note if you are in stove temp and the auto manual switch is in manual the stove may not run the blower unless the ESP hits a certain temp, this is used when you want a fire (for show) without the heat...
    hope this gets you started..
  3. mkmh

    mkmh New Member

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    Thanks GVA!

    This gives me enough to get started with for sure. I called the dealer looking for some guidance today, but they were not able to get back to me. I'm all but convinced that the igniter is bad. I really did a good job cleaning out around it, but it just won't light the stove. I get a few sparks, but it never takes off.n There is almost no smoke on start-up, I think my draft is good, and the stove is getting plenty of air.

    I'll go through some of the tests on the Blower. I did inspect the esp probe before attaching all the venting and it looked ok. Not sure how much the visual inspection is good for. It should be easy enoyugh for me to take teh blow out and test that independently. I was able to get back there and turn it by hand in one direction, but not the other (I guessed that this is normal, but no exp with this type of thing).

    I'll report back more tomorrow.

    thanks again!!
  4. GVA

    GVA Minister of Fire

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    No this is not normal.
    Pull the blower out and look at it when you can.
    Good week for troubleshooting.... warm front is coming in later this week ;-)
  5. mkmh

    mkmh New Member

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    Thanks again for the direction with this issue. I took some time this morning to go through some of this, and here is where I am now.



    Completely removed the distribution blower. I had not done this previously simply because the screws were so difficult to get to. I rigged together a series of sockets and extenders and finally got it out of there. Upon getting the blower out I noticed that it sounded as if it had sand in in. I turned it over in my hands a few times and a bunch of tiny metals pieces spilled out. Almost looked like tiny ball bearings or something.
    I gave it a few more shakes and some other odds and ends fell out. At this point I was able to easily turn the fan both clockwise and counterclockwise. A good sign I thought.


    I had not disconnected the fan from the power cord yet so I figured I might just run a test with it still hooked up to the stove. So, I put the stove in test mode, which (according to the manula) runs all the fans and motors intermittently. Sure enough, the distribution blower turned on and started pushing air.


    Not sure i'm out of the woods yet, but it is clear that teh fan could not turn with all those obstructions. I am thinking there is a fair chance that this problem is solved.



    As far as the igniter goes, I went and clened out that compartment again, just to make sure....then tried to start up the stove in auto mode. This morning I didn't even see any sparks or anything. After giving it a few minutes with no success, I opened teh door and felt the burnpot. Just barely warm to the touch. Seems like i'm going to need to replace teh igniter for sure.

    My next step is to remove the igniter, and bring it to the dealer. Perhaps they'll be able to test it, but if not, i'll assume it is bad and buy a new one. I'm still not 100% confident that the blower is fixed, but it is just too warm out today to run a full test on that I think. I'll deal with the igniter today and then will deal with the blower later (if necessary).



    New issue: This is probably going to sound stupid, but I just noticed today that the stove does not have firebrick. The prior owner must have lost it, broken it...or something, and I am just now noticing it is not there. I'm sure i'll be able to buy this at the dealer but was wondering if it was danngerous to run the stove without it?

    Thnaks again GVA! You have been a huge help
  6. mkmh

    mkmh New Member

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    Anyone know how to fully remove the igniter?
    I got the little plate off the front of the housing, and the igniter dropped out. However, the wires that connect to it run straight back through the burn pot. It is not clear to me whether the wires can be disconnected directly from the igniter, or if I have to take the burnpot off and trace them back into the stove to a disconnect point.

    Any help would be much appreciated.
    Thanks!
    Matt
  7. pelletheat

    pelletheat New Member

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    Check the line voltage at the outlet the stove is plugged into, minimum line voltage should be 116 volts. If the line voltage is on the low side, the igniter will not get hot enough to light the pellets. Something to check before you purchase a new igniter.

    The previous owner may have used the ceramic log set, if so the bricks are removed. Easy fix, logs or bricks.

    [/quote]
  8. mkmh

    mkmh New Member

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    Line voltage was ok, so I went ahead with buying a new igniter. Made lots of rookie mistakes getting the old one out...culminating with prying the inner igniter out of the housing rather than taking the entire housing out. It also took me a while to find the place where the igniter wires came in through the back of the stove to the burnpot area. I also took the whole burnpot off, but later discovered this was not necessary.
    Once I finally got it out, I headed down to the dealer and bought a new igniter, 3 fire bricks and a new gasket for behind the burnpot. Took me about 1.5 hours to finally get the igniter hooked up. the slowdown was another rookie mistake trying to thread the igniter wire through the burpot area to the back of the stove to make the connection. After 40 minutes of trying various ways to accomplish that I realized that I was taking the worng approach. I wound up following what I expect is the correct procedure and clipping a plastic wire tie to gire me some more slack in the wires behind the stove. Once I did that, I was able to thread those 2 wire through from the back of the stove through the burnpot. With this method I had just enough slack to make the connection to the igniter wires in the front <whew>.

    So, after I got everything back together I decided to run a full test. After a fair amount of smoke and sparks and about 120 seconds the igniter lit the pellets and the fire took off. Does taht seem right? About 2 minutes for start-up?
    Anyways, I was elated when the distribution blower kicked on after about 2 more minutes. It seems that those metals chips had been obstructing the blades all along. I mentioned the metal chips to the dealer and he speculated that it was from the manufacturer when they were sanding down the stove. Who knows...it works now.

    So, It took me a total of about 4 hours labor to get the distribution blower going and get the igniter replaced. About twice as long as I would have expected...but that seems to be pretty consistent with other jobs that I take on which are way out of my area of expertise.
    The best part of it all is that I learned a "pant-load" about the stove as I was fumbling around with these issues.




    Thanks again for all the help!!
  9. Corie

    Corie Minister of Fire

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    It sounds like Harman prepares their stoves for painting with a steel shot blasting just like we do. The shot has the WORST habit of finding its way into places like that and really messing things up.
  10. mkmh

    mkmh New Member

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    Yep, that was it. It looked like tiny tiny bird shot. Pretty alarming when it started spilling out. Probably the equivalent of 8-10 sugar packets worth of the stuff. No telling when the blower quit on the previous owner. He did not mention it as a problem when he sold it to me, but I have a hard time believing that it was operational at that time. Igniter problem was not mentioned either....though in fairness, I was able to get the stove to light one time in a summer test run.
    The stove was also sold to me in a dangerous state with no fire brick and no flame guide. Neither thing was immediately obvious to me until I really started digging in to the manuals and cleaning guides.
  11. Corie

    Corie Minister of Fire

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    In the short time I've been here, I've already found steel shot to be responsible for a few blowers locking up just like that. I'm actually (ironically) working on a solution right now.
  12. GVA

    GVA Minister of Fire

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    Put the blowers in after the shot blasting ;-)

    Naw I'm kidding Corie.... %-P
  13. GVA

    GVA Minister of Fire

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    MKMH good to hear all is good so far..
    Just make sure that the hot leads are the only wires inside the stove and the cold leads are behind the stove....
    (The hot leads are the fiberglass coated wires high temp probably TGGT wire.)
    Though I had suggested it here before to check a heater one can use the formula (assuming you know wattage) E2/P
    or 120 volts X 120 volts = 14400 volts divided by wattage i'll throw out a number....... 500 watts

    14400/500= 28.8 ohms
    though this is really only good to see if it is good or bad (not weak)
    For that you would need a megger to test it under load......and most people don't have one.
    so the ignitor was cheap and solved the problem.
    How much smoke was inside the fire box? Could have a weak comb blower.... Hook it up and draft test her......... :)
  14. Kenny1

    Kenny1 Feeling the Heat

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    GVA, I measured my P61A last winter, came up with about 300W for the ignitor, so it should measure about 48 ohms. Not sure why you would need a megger to test it under load (I would have thought to put in an amp meter in series and look for a 2.5A draw, but that is just me).


    MKMH - glad to hear you got your unit working. Your start up time of 2 min should be OK. Mine takes about that long, and yes there is some smoke and sparks before the flame takes off (BTW - my draft was checked last year and was within spec). If the start up takes longer than 36 minutes, the unit will shut down and give you a 5 blink error on the status LED.
  15. GVA

    GVA Minister of Fire

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    The smoke in mine is really thick when it needs to be cleaned people driving by the house actually stop to see where all the smoke (coming from the house) is coming from... Usually means I am behind on my cleanings and the draft is low ;-)
  16. HarryBack

    HarryBack New Member

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    height of the pellet season, so, I dont have as much time as I'd like.....
    a couple things....

    1. everything GVA and pelletheat and Ken said was right on target.
    2. one thing not to discount is always to check the polarity of the socket first, as well as line voltage. this can cause all sorts of problems! Its usually the first thing we check.
    3. the steel slag.....yea, you find it in the weirdest places
    4. not at all thrilled with the "dealer reccommendation" of using standard pipe....IMO, should be using pellet pipe and adapt over at the thimble tile of the chimney. Standard stove pipe is used in negative pressure situations, whereas pellet pipe is sealed and designed for use in positive pressure situations, like the one you have. Elk might correct me on this, but since your installation isnt a reccommended installation in the owners' manual, technically, your installation isnt correct.
    5. There have been bad ignitors in the past as well. If your p61a is less than 3 years old, the ignitor should have been covered under warrantee.
    6. any and all motors in that unit can be powered independantly and checked....make a pigtail, plug em in, try em. Its often a good way to test things, as things such as circuitboards, probes, etc are too expensive to replace willy-nilly

    Sounds like you fixed the unit! Good job!
  17. mkmh

    mkmh New Member

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    Some more excellent points thank you. I will definitely double check the wires to make sure the fiberglass coated wires are the only ones getting exposed to the heat. I suspect I may still have some of the cold leads inside that chamber that leads to teh burnpot. I didn't have a ton of slack in those wires, so now i'm a little worried.


    As far as smoke on start-up, it doesn't seem like an excessive amount..but a bit more than in my hastings st croix (on start-up). the smkoe clears out very soon after ignition.



    HB, you've got me worried about the standrad stove pipe. I'm a little "PO'd" now because I originally stopped by the dealer looking for a few pieces of simpsons duravent and the "converter" piece to tap into the masonry chimney. Once I told them I was installing in a basement with no clearance issues they recommended the simple black stove pipe. I had never worked with it before, so that was a bit of a learning curve for me to climb fighting with that stuff. Sounds like the insulated pellet pipe would have been better all-around. I should mention that I did do a good job of sealing everything up with high temp silicone (even the seams of the black pipe).



    So my next question is..."What are the potential implications of sticking with what i've got?". The stove is 5 years old so i'm out of warranty on most stuff. The prior owner got the stove as a gift and did not even know where it was purchased. I could ahve pushed the issue a bit, but after reading the warranty figured it wasn't really worth it.



    Forgot to mention one other (hopefully) positive that came out of the igniter issue. When I mentioned to the dealer that I had teh burnpot off he said that I should take teh opportunity to drill a few holes in the burnpot, down fairly close to where the auger is. The idea was to improve efficiency and airflow. As I am writing this I realy wish that I had consulted the group here first, but I didn't. seemed sensible enough to me, so I drilled the holes as directed <fingers crossed>
  18. HarryBack

    HarryBack New Member

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    Well, Id say the biggest potential implication of sticking with what youve got is (putting on my devils advocate hat), the inspector might not (shouldnt, IMO) approve your installation. If you had a fire, the insurance company *could* opt out saying your installation was not in accordance with manufacturer's specs, and therefore, against code. Likely, no, but those are implications.

    Larger pipe will generally give you reduced draft, and could leak, but other than the fact that you didnt follow the manual, I cant really think of anything else wrong. Im assuming you have a positive connection from your pipe to your thimble as well.

    As for the holes. If you drilled them in the right place, it will help. You should see less carbon deposits in your burnpot, which is a good thing. Uncross your fingers! You did good on the holes!
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