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Heating concerns on St Croix York insert **updated w/ pics**

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by Neversink, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. Neversink

    Neversink New Member

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    Hi guys,

    I’m new to posting on the forum but have used it for quite awhile, great place for info. This is my first season with a pellet stove. We purchased a St Croix York insert. In short I’m less than pleased with the heat output we’re getting. The stove itself seems to be good qulaity, although the versa grate motor went in the first couple of weeks. Since it’s replacement the stove has worked great….except for the heat it’s putting out. I will try to give as much details as possible on the install, pellets etc. Please let me know what you think.
    Setup: installed in existing fireplace box, not brick or stone. Chimney is a longer run, about 20’. It was professionally installed using 4" flex pipe inside the exhisting run.
    Pellets: LG Granules, just finished the first ton last week.
    House: Built in 1985, VERY well insulated, well beyond code for the time it was built. The windows do need to be replaced, but not horrible. It’s 1200 square feet of livable space, however it does have 18’ cathedral ceilings. The stove is situated in the living room, right in the heart of the cathedral ceiling.
    Useage: The stove has 5 heating levels. We've been running the stove on level four 24/7. Today it was about 28 outside and the stove is keeping it at about 61 inside, that is to say in the livingroom. The back room is 54. Last night it went down to 15* outside, inside in the livingroom was 57 and the backroom was 51!!!! On colder days the house can be as cold as 55-60 in the living room and so we’re being forced to use electric heat.

    My hopes were to keep the house in the 70 degree range w/o the use of electric heat. Was this unrealistic? Should this stove be capable of what I’m expecting? I know of a few other people w/ larger homes than me that are heating almost entirely off of pellets..but they’re staying very WARM. I've also read of members on this board with the exact same unit that are heating larger homes w/ no problem. All in all so far a lot of spent money and not so much heat. At current pellet consumption it's looking like we'll go through 4 to 4 1/2 tons this winter. That seems like a lot for a 1200 square foot house. I probably wouldn't mind if we were warm...but we're spending more then we were on elctric last year w/o a considerable difference in heat. What's wrong??

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  2. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    A few questions, first please describe your flame? Second have you tried getting the air moving in the house with a fan on the floor pointed towards the stove on low?

    You say the house was well insulated for its year, could you tell me the wall thickness, and describe the windows in particular the area of your walls covered by the windows?

    Is this house a single floor over a full basement or is it on a slab?

    Can you verify that the convection (room) air intake area is free of any obstructions, and are you using an OAK (outside air kit)?
  3. Neversink

    Neversink New Member

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    The flame on level 4 is about 6-8" high. On level 5 it's probablt closer to 10" tall. The width seems to stay the same, about 5-6". I do have a floor fan on low pushing the cold air from the back room towards the stove. The back room doesn't have a cathedral ceiling and is about 30' from the stove. In the livingroom where the stove is has cathedral ceilings, but I do have a ceiling fan set on winter mode. The walls are 2x6. I have 4 windows downstairs and one upsatirs in the loft. 2 windows in the living room that are 3x5, 2 windows in the back room are 3x5 and 4x5. The window upstairs in the loft is a big bay window, roughly 5x5. The house is 2 stories although the upstairs is a loft that is open into the downstairs livingroom, where the stove is located. I'm on a poured foundation, not a finished basement, actually dirt floor. It is also insulated in the basement. I'm not sure on the air intake, I know it's taking inside air. Other than that I would have to ask the company that installed it for more specifics. I don't know if I have an OAK, I will ask though. Hope this helps, thanks for any suggestions!
  4. woodsman23

    woodsman23 Minister of Fire

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    Try to get a temp at the exchanger as the heat exits the stove and into the room. Maybe more air flow is needed also. My house is ~1200 and my st croix afton bay heats it with little problem. As for the other rooms well remember its a space heater not a furnace with duct work so other rooms will suffer some. I run my stove on the #3 setting using the thermostat and my area around the stove is near 80 all the time. any pics??
  5. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    On the flame description I wanted to find out if it was more like a blowtorch than anything else, it is possible to actually send a lot of the heat up the flue on a stove whose damper is set incorrectly.

    If you were to measure the sides of your house would it be something like a 30' x 40' or smaller?

    The high ceiling room with a loft area is frequently a lot larger than the "livable square footage" would indicate.

    You might want to take some temperature measurements close to the ceiling in your loft area and likewise under the loft.

    Can you locate the sizing information about your electric heating system? If you can find that I can convert that to BTUs/hr to see if that pellet stove even stands a chance.
  6. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

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    I'm thinking you need a ceiling fan in the cathedral ceiling. Force that heat back down to where you are.
  7. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Jay the OP said "In the livingroom where the stove is has cathedral ceilings, but I do have a ceiling fan set on winter mode."
  8. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

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    Ah missed the second post. Went from reading first post to posting my triffle! Oops
  9. relxn88

    relxn88 Member

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    The St. Croix insert uses minimal draft. The knob should be almost all the way to the right(off). This time of year keep the switch on manual and don't use the thermostat(takes to long for heat to come back up). When I used LG's, the draft knob was less than a 1/4" open. I now use OKANAGAN'S and I keep the draft knob completely closed. Stick a meat thermometer in the heat output opening in front. Set the draft knob at a position for a half hour and check the temp. then open 1/8" and do again until you find the highest temperature. For what it's worth, I heat a 2400ft colonial with a St. Croix insert. During the day the at night the bedrooms(all upstairs) are closed and heated with electric. I keep the house at 71degrees +/-1. The LG'S don't put out the same heat as okanagans, but above 15-20 degrees, you should be able to keep you house warm on setting 3 and the flame height would be between 4" and up to the metal plate above the firebricks on the back wall. Below 15 degrees would be setting 4 or more for sure.
  10. krooser

    krooser Minister of Fire

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    My first thought was the damper may be open too far... your flame on setting four should bee as high as the firebox...
  11. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Looks like the consensus is that your stove has too much draft and is likely sending a lot of the heat up the flue.

    The correction is to decrease the draft by closing the damper a bit and monitoring the fire. You need to let the fire settle between damper changes to allow the flame to stabilize. It may take several changes to get it really well tuned.
  12. Neversink

    Neversink New Member

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    Hey guys,

    Thanks for all the pointers. I was away for awhile so I will try to answer as many questions from the above posts.

    Looking at the size of the flame on level 4, I probably understated in the original post. It goes to pretty much to the top of the fire brick. I have my draft setting almost closed. On level 4-5 I have it open a little more than 1/8", on level 3 I run the draft just a hair from completely closed. My house is probably max hieght of 25' outside. I wonder myself if the cathedral ceiling is what's killing me. I know it's not livable space, but the stove needs to heat it nonetheless. Where would I find the sizing info for my electric heaters? Upstairs in the loft tends to run about 3-4* warmer than downstairs. The ceiling fan does a pretty good job of keeping it fairly close in temp.

    I used a meat thermometer on the top of the heat exchangers were the air blows out. On level 3 with the draft just about closed I get 178- 180*. Granted this is probably not the most accurate way to check the temp, but it's probably in the ballpark. Could I be loosing heat up the chimney somehow? Does 178- 180 sound consistent to what the stove should throw on level 3? I can't get an accurate temp om level 4 or 5. The thermometer only goes to 190 and level 4 is above that. Tomorrow I will try to post pics on the house and the flames on different levels. It's always easier to be able to see!!! Thanks for the help guys.
  13. krooser

    krooser Minister of Fire

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    I haven't changed my damper setting. In four years.
    Use a pencil as a gauge for the damper...close the damper on the pencil and that's it. If you have to open it any more than that your stove needs cleaning....this comes from the tech guys at the store I bought my St croix from...
  14. Wi Thundercat

    Wi Thundercat Feeling the Heat

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    Guess i don't understand why you have to change the draft setting on different heat settings. I have a st. croix free standing stove and never have to change the draft settings. From the factory there is a screw to stop the damper at a set spot and i tried kroosers method of shutting the draft down on a pencil and thats pretty close to where its at. Right now with the stove on setting 3 it is 370 degrees on the front of the stove with a magnetic thermometer just to the right of where the convection blower throws out the heat. Have never had to use a higher heat setting unless i need quick heat after a shut down for cleaning. House will maintain mid 70's even at -0 temps.
  15. Skinn

    Skinn Member

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    I guess I don't have anything to add but I just want to keep this going to see what the problem is. My stove heats around 1600 sq ft easily, it is set on a thermostat but when it calls for heat I have it set to 3. The only time it is ever any higher is if I am running it on 5 to clean it out a little. Where are you located? I am near New Paltz and I may be able to get you some help. Do you mind saying where you bought from? I am assuming from your username that you are somewhat close to me in NY.
  16. Neversink

    Neversink New Member

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    I read a post by someone w/ a York that had insulation blocking the amount of air coming out of the stove straight from the factory. Maybe that could be a posibilty. I'm looking for input from actual York owners: Does the air flow increase as you increase the feed level? On level 5 you can't feel the air being blown out of the stove if you're farther than about 3' away. It seems to me that on the highest level the stove can go up to it should be melting you at that distance. Either there's something wrong w/ the stove or it's just incapable of heating 1200 sqaure feet, a far cry from 1800 that it's rated for. I have a call in to the company that installed it so hopefully I will find out soon.
  17. Neversink

    Neversink New Member

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    I had a chance to look at my freinds St Croix Afton Bay. From what I understand it’s basically the same stove as my York only in a freestanding version. It has the BTU rating and sq ft rating. His flames are MUCH bigger flame than mine and the blower is also more powerful. His level 1 flame is about as big as my 3-4, also a lot more heat. I read another post on this site where a York had very small flames, wound up being a defect. I tried attaching pics with the stove on all 5 heat levels. Far left is level 1, far right is level 5. Hopefully I'll do this right. Do these flames look consistent to other York owners? Thanks!

    Attached Files:

  18. krooser

    krooser Minister of Fire

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    Your flame should be huge on setting four or above....how is your damper set? Btw..all St croix pellet stoves are virtually identical ....
  19. Neversink

    Neversink New Member

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    The damper is set about a pencil's width from closed. I really think something is wrong w/ the stove after seeing my freinds. A lot of times on level 1 you don't even seem the flame get above the burn pot, it's just glowing. This could explain why this thing is incapable heating such a small house. Today was 34 outside, I had it on level 4 all day, when I got home from work it was 65 inside. The couple of people I know w/ these St Croix stoves would have their house at 80-85 if they were burning on level 4 all day.
  20. jaybyer

    jaybyer Member

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    I have had a York insert for three winters now and have questions on the heating capability as well. Not as bad as you describe. If the outside temp is 30 or above it does a decent job on the first floor, 20's outside and it heats about 70% of my first floor when set on #4 level, below 20 and it does the room it's in and part of the next room on #4. . My first floor is 40x24, the main heat thermostat is about 30' away from the insert, and if it's below 20 outside the temp on the thermostat is only what I have it set at, which is usually 64. If I set it to 60 then it's 60. My flame is never in a fan pattern, rather a "V" shape, varying from 2" - 6" tall. It flops from side to side as which is taller of the "V". All in all I am disappointed in the heat output as I was under the impression I could easily heat my first floor, and some heat would rise to the second floor. In my case I barely get the first floor, and nothing on the second. I did cut my oil usage from 1,100 gallons per year to around 650 gallons per year, so I am saving money. I hear others say they only use one or two tanks a year.

    This is my second stove, my first York was returned within a few weeks because the flame would only burn on one side, a "half V"!! This unit is better, but not the heat output I had expected. I wonder if it is related to the length of my flue, at least 30'. I clean it every other day, with a more intense cleaning about every two weeks. I do think if i could do it all over I would have gone with a free standing unit and just run the pipe up the chimney like the insert is.
  21. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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    I'll throw in my 2¢ worth - my Afton Bay heats 2400 square feet of house on level 4, even when the outside temps are in the mid-teens. The house is a Colonial with a first floor addition, originally had electric heat, so it's insulated pretty well. The central oil heat kicks on for the upstairs on rare occasion. The downstairs is kept around 75º so that the heat will travel around. The addition stays around 65º, but it's exposed on three sides, has lots of glass area, and is about 40' from the stove.
    If the insert is not heating 1200 square feet, I'd say something is wrong. That thing should roast you on level 4, given good insulation. I have the OAK, it didn't make sense to me to be sucking heating air out of the house for combustion.
    My flames look very similar to the pictures posted, BTW. I burn about 1 ½ bags of pellets in 24 hours.
    I have run it at level 5 twice now, and the heat output is impressive! Way too hot for my purposes!

    Added: the blower speeds both increase at higher levels of output. The service manual confirms that the controller changes the voltages to both motors - lower voltages/speeds for lower heat levels, climbing up with each increase of heat level.

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