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How much fines is to much?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by huntingbuck101, Oct 4, 2008.

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  1. huntingbuck101

    huntingbuck101 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2008
    Messages:
    35
    Loc:
    Northern MN
    Made a vacuum pellet cleaner, like the ones on ebay and ran a 40# bag threw it twice and got a total of 2.5 oz or 5 FL oz of fines.
    This is my first year with a pellet stove and would like to know if this excessive. I really rather not clean them If I don't need to.
    I should add, the fines are mostly dust very similar to the ash. No small chunks of pellets like you would get from screening.

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  2. mkmh

    mkmh New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2007
    Messages:
    407
    Loc:
    Southern, Maine
    The "rule of thumb" i've heard is that up to a teacup of fine per 40 ounce bag is normal. I guess a teacup is 4-6 ounces or so, so i'd say you are fine (no pun intended).
    I've been burning pellets for several years now (probably 15 + tons burned) and I have never once done anything to get rid of fines. They go through both of my stoves with no issues.
    Lots of threads on this, and many people agree that as long as you check (and clear) your auger once or twice per month you won't have any trouble with fines. One time I waited 6 weeks or so and about 4 or 5 tablespoons worth of fines had accumulated in the auger chute. However, even this amount did not seem to be interfering with the operation of the stove.
  3. JBlank912

    JBlank912 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2008
    Messages:
    132
    Loc:
    NW NJ
    I'm having the fines trouble on a new stove and it is annoying. I have a Lopi Yankee and Pennington from Home Depot (last time I do that). Some bags have many fines and some have few. What happens is I get the stove running OK and in the morning its shut down with diagnostic blinking #4 which points at augur issue or anything else that says no pellets to burn. I reset the error, open the door, stick a long thin screwdriver up the chute to clear it and manually feed the augur. I keep the pellets from the igniter s I can do it a while with it lighting. Last night I completely emptied teh pellet bin, vacuumed out a lot of fines at the bottom and cleaned everything completely. I even check the chute by removeing the augur cover. What I found was the fines were completely covering the lower 2-3 areas of the augur keeping the pellets from being driven properly. When I refilled the stove I found the first bag had fines again so I tried to manually keep them out and sifted half the bag. The second bag was very clean, only fines at the bottom last cup of the bag had fines mixed in. Filled the bin completely.

    This morning it had shut down again, I did the screw driver bit and sure enough alot of fines came falling out the chute. Now its burning OK. But this is a headache. I had hoped I would not have to do pellet cleaning but i think it might be a long winter if I don't. :coolsmirk:
  4. mkmh

    mkmh New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2007
    Messages:
    407
    Loc:
    Southern, Maine
    Thats a bummer JRB, and it sounds like poor quality pellets as you say. I've had mediocre luck with the limited quantities that I have bought from Wally and HD as well. Fortunately, most of my pellets have been purchased in bulk and have been higher quality. My guess is that if you Vac'd a bag of those pellets you'd probably find 20 ounces or so of fines, which the stove can't keep up with.
    I've read posts by other users who have had good luck just giving the pellet back a few good shakes to get the bulk of the fines to the bottom of the bag. Once thats done, they just take care to not dump the last pound or so of pellets in to the hopper.
    I suspect that the high fine content that you often get from the big box store pellets is partially a result of over handling or just improper handling.
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