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How to prevent Englander Auger Jams?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by dac122, Feb 5, 2010.

  1. dac122

    dac122 Feeling the Heat

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    I recently installed an Englander 25-PDVC/Summersheat 55-SHP10, and I can't seem to prevent it from having auger jams. I can sometimes go a bag or two without an issue, or have several in the same bag.

    I have replaced the upper auger shaft and bearing, and check the new auger for true, and believe everything is working as is. I have even monkied with the hopper blocking plate to no avail. I have tried Stove Chow, Freedom Fuel, Nature's Heat and Green Team. The Freedom Fuel seemed to do the best, due to its slightly smaller diameter pellet, from what I can see.

    From the archives I see this is a recurring problem for many. After taking the upper and lower augers apart several times to fix this problem I see the upper-to-lower tunnel chute has a 90-degree elbow in it that could be problematic. So I am resigned to the belief this stove's design makes it susceptible to auger jams.

    It nows seems appropriate to ask the question, and amass our collective wisdom in one thread, on how best to manage this issue and minimize auger jams.

    Comments and ideas, please.

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  2. imacman

    imacman Guest

    Obviously the smaller diameter of the Freedom Fuel is helping, but IMO, that shouldn't be the "fix". I'd give Mike H. & the Tech guys at Englander a call and ask for their help.
  3. dac122

    dac122 Feeling the Heat

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    Forgot to mention I've already talked to Tech guys. That is where I received the new auger shaft and bearing, and to check a few things.

    I was thinking of contact Mike H as he is probably the closest thing to God.
  4. slvrblkk

    slvrblkk Minister of Fire

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    Do you screen or vacuum your pellets? You might have the fines getting jammed along with the pellets.
  5. dac122

    dac122 Feeling the Heat

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    No I do not and I have found significant dust whenever cleaning out hopper. It might be contributing to the problem.

    Though I must be honest, if I wanted to go to that effort I would have just gotten a wood stove ;)

    Are there some easy techniques for screen my pellets without a huge effort?
  6. slvrblkk

    slvrblkk Minister of Fire

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    I've never had auger jams until I ran Pennington's (we won't go there) two years ago and the Treecycles this year. Every time I cleaned the auger out it had packed dust and debris (small pellet bits) with pellets. I've just been screening with a collander to get buy until I go to Lowes and pick up the pvc needed to make a pellet vac.

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/23999/

    I agree about the wood stove but I still love my pellet stove!
  7. imacman

    imacman Guest

    I made one of the pellet vacs, and yes, it does add another step to running the stove, BUT, I have never had an issue with fines clogging my stoves.....ever.

    Attached Files:

  8. yknotcarpentry

    yknotcarpentry New Member

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    well, I must say I have run some of the same junk...... opps.... pellets you have mention through my stove, I have never had a jam at all, including the times I have let my stove run really low into the hopper and I then stir up all the fines (and sometime a lot ) with my hand to mix them with what little pellets are left... the stove just keeps on humming along for me????
  9. Panhandler

    Panhandler Minister of Fire

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    Same here, 5 yrs running and never had a jam.
  10. Topshelf

    Topshelf New Member

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    About every three to four bags I have to vacuum the hopper out. If I forget then its jam city. Thw way mine is designed there is a ledge that the fines accumulate at. so after 3-4 bags it creates a "log jam" of sorts. Poor design IMO.
  11. dac122

    dac122 Feeling the Heat

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    Yes, I have seen that "ledge" as you call it in my 25-PDVC. Seems like a natural place for pellets to hang up and jam up the whole system. Don't know why that passage isn't a 45-degree to prevent hang ups.

    Agreed - poor design! (sigh)
    twpman likes this.
  12. packerfan

    packerfan Feeling the Heat

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    I have been running my englander 3+ years, and have never had an auger jam. I have never screened my pellets either, and if I thought that I needed to, I would buy a different brand of pellets. That said, I have had the occasional pellet bridging in the hopper that has caused my stove to go out.
  13. summit

    summit Minister of Fire

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    prevent it by getting a harman...
  14. imacman

    imacman Guest

    Exactly, that way he'll have a whole bunch of OTHER problems, as evidenced by the numerous Harman problem posts on this forum. WAY overrated, IMO.
  15. dac122

    dac122 Feeling the Heat

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    Okay so the jams appear to be happening more often. I vacuumed the hopper, upper auger from the hopper side, lower auger from the burn area, and did a normal ash clean out. I closed the hopper plate as much as possible, have been screening my pellets, have been feeding the stove small amounts to keep an eye on things, and have been checking the upper auger by wiggling it.

    This morning I start it up and after 15 minutes I get coals. Top auger motor is so jammed I can barely turn it. As usual if I wiggle it I can eventually clear the jam.

    Very disappointing after doing such a thorough cleaning, and screening my pellets. I don't know if there is anything else I can do.

    This was a refurbished model from Andy. I wonder if that is the reason it was returned in the first place. Manufacturing defect?

    Arrgghh
  16. imacman

    imacman Guest

    I definitely would be calling & talking to Mike at Englander about this. Something just isn't right. It's under warranty, so if you can't get it fixed they should take it back, or make an offer to replace it, IMO.
  17. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    "After taking the upper and lower augers apart several times to fix this problem I see the upper-to-lower tunnel chute has a 90-degree elbow in it that could be problematic."

    dac122,

    Is it possible that there is a pellet caught (or something else for example metal burrs ) in this tube?
  18. imacman

    imacman Guest

  19. dac122

    dac122 Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks for all the support. Here is a quick update:

    I decided to disassemble the upper and lower augers and clean everything out. I actually found two small pellets stuck to the side of the upper-to-lower auger transit tunnel on the pimpled cast iron surface. Is that normal for the entire auger assembly to have such a rough pimpled surface, or did they forget to give this one a sand blasting bath? Seems like a perfect surface for pellets to stick to. I cleaned some carbon buildup off the end of the lower auger where it feeds the burn pot. Finally, took my drill and some metal sanding wheel bits and smoothed the surfaces I could reach, and smoothed unusually sharp new upper auger end. I figure smoother surfaces can't hurt.

    Macman, I agree. This should not be this difficult. Thanks for the link, I will follow it. How much scraping is normal?

    I will definitely call Mike and Englander tomorrow. Tried to get them on the phone Friday but "Snow-magedon" had them closed. Wonder if they will open tomorrow.

    One thing I am hopeful about is seeing the auger assembly can be replaced. It won't be easy but a sight better than buying beers for buddies to haul out of my basement and a pickup to ship this baby back. I'd rather be drinking some brews celebrating this stove is purring like a Swiss Watch.
  20. dac122

    dac122 Feeling the Heat

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    Quick update.

    I called Englander Tech Support yesterday, spoke to Justin. He was a bit baffled by my problems as well, added a few ideas and confirmed some things I've tried.

    He added when following the alignment procedure I could use a sharpie to coat the auger to see where it is rubbing. Ideally the auger should not even scrape, though a little is okay. Justin said when putting the locking collar on the end of the auger shaft, loosen the hex key screws, add the collar and push it against the bearing to have a tight fit.

    Justin was a bit confused about my auger block having a pimpled rough surface, but conceded they do not make that part, and there will be some imperfections. He did not think polishing the surface would hurt one bit and agreed it might even help. He did not have a problem sending me that part but cautioned it was not a simple replacement.

    He said the most common causes of upper auger jams are due to bad motors (upper or lower), bad upper auger bearing, and bad pellets. He said hard wood pellets should be the best to run and that Pennington Natures Heat should not be an issue for me.

    I have so far run about a half bag through the unit over the last few nights, and so far I have had no issues (fingers crossed, knock on wood).

    Again, thanks for everyone's help.
  21. imacman

    imacman Guest

    Glad to hear Dac....I have my fingers crossed for you too. Keep us updated.
  22. dac122

    dac122 Feeling the Heat

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    Final update:

    I have run 3-4 more bags through the unit since reporting last, and she's purring like a kitten! I have even stopped screening my pellets but are vigilant about the end of the bag.

    I had one scare that turned out to be a pellet tangle/clog at the hopper, which was quickly fixed with a hand stir of the pellets. It could be due to the hopper blocking plate closed so much. Now that I have some confidence I may begin opening the hopper blocking plate a little more.

    I'm gonna' declare victory on this one. Thanks for all the help!
  23. jjs777_fzr

    jjs777_fzr Feeling the Heat

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    I'm aware this thread is old but still a relevant topic about the auger jams especially given that its almost turkey time.
    I was up till 2:30am fiddling with my top auger of the 2006 25-PDVC jamming.
    Here's a brief history ...I bought the stove around 06/07 ...I think it was made in 2006.
    My first year I had a fair amount of auger jams - mostly self inflicted - I was building things and had lots of saw dust - I wont say anymore...except burn pellets in a pellet stove only:)
    Anyways the first year I had lots of jams in the bottom auger.
    I took the thing apart placed it back in and things worked. hooray.
    BUt it would constantly jam..so I figured a good strong screwdriver and a bit of prying would free the bottom auger...worked everytime it got stuck. It beat disassembly.
    Then I started just 'scraping' the soot from the bottom auger tube at the edge where I found the buildup of black stuff to occur..using only a screwdriver that worked well but annoying.
    After the first heating season...I have not had a bottom jam once knock on 'pellet'.
    Top auger jams were rare...until last night.
    I looked up the price of the motor and was like..okay I will get it working its gettn cold outside:)
    I first reviewed the englander tech support section and wisely checked for voltage by bypassing the vacuum cutout - current was flowing so on to the gears.
    I removed the motor/gear assembly took it a part...didnt see anything wrong put it all back together.
    I tried spinning the top auger and EVEN after vacuuming it I could barely turn it with my hand.
    Didnt try that first because I had thought I vacummed it all out.
    Obviously not.
    So after spinning the auger by hand and clearing junk out of the tube....and reconnecting the motor/gear unit I was heating again --- my wife and kids remained 'thawed'.
    Point here is take your time troubleshooting if you can afford the downtime and dont assume the motor is bad like I did.
    Consumption wise I go through about 2-3 tons of pellets per year and pellet make varies between the box store flavors and acp type.
    All things considered the ease of use compared to wood stoves need not be restated....so I can live with a few 'features' now and then.
    thx for a great forum
  24. Don2222

    Don2222 Minister of Fire

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