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Lopi Pioneer Pellet Stove Problems (UPDATE: FIXED!)

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by magsters, Jan 17, 2010.

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  1. magsters

    magsters New Member

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    I purchased a Lopi Pioneer Pellet stove approx four years ago. Starting last winter, it would flame out, the blower went off, and of course, smoke filled the room. I had it serviced and they found nothing wrong. This winter, the same thing started happening again, only worse. I had it serviced again--they were going to change the exhaust blower motor, then blew out the vacuum tube, which seemed to solve the problem. The other issue was that the motor was rattling during start up, stopping once the convection fan turned on and blew heat. They couldn't seem to get the motor seated correctly on the fan housing, so it was turned around and attached that way. It still rattled a bit, but it was acceptable. Two weeks later, the rattling started again, and the stove has flamed out twice on high temp (smoke was not as bad and it recovered more easily). The rattling just gets worse each time it starts. So now they think the blower needs to be replaced, which they were going to do the first time. I have an appointment next week, but am a little irritated at having to pay another $85 service fee. I don't think he should have told me the problem was resolved, that possibly, the blower just needed to be replaced. I would have told him to go ahead and replace it so I wouldn't have to pay another $85 to have it serviced again. We live in a small town and no one else services pellet stoves, so I am kinda stuck with them. I want the stove working right, obviously, but just want a second opinion, if possible.

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  2. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Howdy magsters. I'm moving your thread out of the Hearth Room (mostly woodstove/insert discussions), over into the Pellet Mill & Corn Crib. More likely to find the folks with helpful feedback there. Here we go... Rick
  3. imacman

    imacman Guest

    This is a weird problem.....when the comb. blower was removed, was it cleaned completely (blades scraped or wire brushed and motor case scraped of all burned on soot)?

    Not sure what you mean that the motor wouldn't "seat" correctly.....the blower housing has a flat surface, and the motor flange has a flat surface. Put a gasket between them and that's it.

    "Flaming out" usually means too much air for the amount of pellets....what air control setting would you have if you had the stove running, say, at 2nd green heat setting? Is the auger sending pellets each time it runs?
  4. magsters

    magsters New Member

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    I had cleaned the fan blades before he came out at the suggestion of someone else who works with him. From what they told me, you aren't supposed to screw down the motor too tightly because it can interfere with the fan blades, so the screws holding the motor are mostly hand tightened. When it kept rattling, he put a screwdriver under one side and it would stop rattling, so that's when he turned it around and attached it. When the rattling got worse, I hand tightened the screws, but wasn't able to get them any tighter. As far as the air restrictor setting goes, I asked him about that and he told me to leave it about halfway in. He didn't seem to know what it was for, although he had shown my son how it worked last year! The auger seems to be just fine, although, occasionally the pellet cup overfills on low and the stove goes out. It's not an issue though. The other thing I just remembered, is that when he first came, he opened the fan housing, disconnected the wires, and plugged it into a "tester" of some kind. The fan was working fine, but I don't know if that means the motor would be okay. Once the stove is on, it works great as long as we don't turn it up too high. It's not too cold in Eastern Washington right now, so we're okay. Unfortunately I'm suspicious, because I don't have the funds to replace a part that doesn't need replacing or pay a service fee each time they come out. I'm going to ask him about putting a gasket under the motor, maybe it's something I can do, then I'll try to make it through this winter and have a complete servicing done in the spring. Thanks for your suggestions.
  5. imacman

    imacman Guest

    1. Whoever this person was that said to not have the nuts that hold the motor tight because it can "interfere" with the fan blades doesn't know what he's talking about......and it doesn't mean to do it with your fingers either. You have to use a small socket or nut driver the right size, and snug it down (NOT Superman tight, though).

    2. As for the gasket, does this ("I'm going to ask him about putting a gasket under the motor") mean there is NO gasket at all??? ...There HAS to be a gasket under the motor flange!!

    3. The air restrictor DOES have to be adjusted somewhat, depending on the type/brand of pellet, and the heat setting. If you have the heat setting on low, but the air is open too far, it will blow the fire out sometimes. Open the air just enough where the burning pellets are just starting to "dance" around the bottom of the burn pot a little. If you go from Med. heat to low heat, you have to close the air a little to compensate.

    Not sure what you mean "he opened the fan housing, disconnected the wires, and plugged it into a “tester” of some kind"...what fan housing? The combustion or convection blower?

    IMO, based on what you've said, this person doesn't know much about your stove......NOT GOOD for you, but real good for him ($$).
  6. magsters

    magsters New Member

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    I apologize for not explaining myself very well. A pellet stove expert, I'm not. So, right now I am looking at the manual. He removed the six screws holding the exhaust blower in place, pulled the motor out, and disconnected it from the stove. Then I think he connected it to some kind of electrical "tester" and the motor worked just fine without the rattling. He had his back to me and I could not see exactly what was going on, but I know the motor was out and disconnected from the stove and it turned on. By the way, there are rubber like gaskets under the motor flange at each screw connection. It doesn't seem to be the motor vibrating against the exhaust housing that is causing the rattling sound, so it must be coming from inside the motor. I don't understand why it stopped rattling by putting slight pressure on it with the screwdriver or when he pulled it out of the stove and "tested" it. I don't have much confidence in this guy right now, especially since he told me to leave the air restrictor alone. I asked him specifically about it because he had shown my son last year how changing it made the flame go up or down. He seemed to think it had nothing to do with the stove flaming out when I asked him. By the way, we tried changing the air flow while the stove was on low and it worked just fine.

    Yeah, I was thinking the same thing - he doesn't know much about my stove and is making money off me. Too bad you don't live in Eastern Washington! Thanks for the advice.
  7. smwilliamson

    smwilliamson Minister of Fire

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    I've found that the rattling often has to do with the black housing over the motor coils. It's attached by stamping little tabs around the circumference of the housing. With a screw driver and hammer try punching the tabs tighter. This sometimes helps. You should remove the motor by undoing the 6 hex nuts. Use a socket driver to tighten the nuts...hand tightening the nuts is NOT correct. Also, try flipping the motor into another position, perhaps opposite of where it is now. See if that helps.
  8. Swaybar

    Swaybar Member

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    My Lopi had a thick rubber band (it was round-not flat maybe 1/8" thick), around the motor housing, never knew why, maybe to stop rattling.
  9. smwilliamson

    smwilliamson Minister of Fire

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    It's a Fasco motor if it is stock, they do not put bands on them...so maybe it was Travis during assembly?
  10. magsters

    magsters New Member

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    It's difficult for me to explain what's going on or understand what some of you are suggesting. My son made a video of the stove starting up. I don't know if it will help, but here's the link if anyone has the time or inclination to watch it. If you can help or not with this problem, I appreciate your responses. My son says to watch in HQ for better quality. Thanks again.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mz7q8G9Hn8I
  11. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Looks like you had quite a little pellet dance going on.

    Nudge that damper closed a bit more and watch the dance they should wiggle and wobble but they should not exit the pot until they have burned almost to ash.

    That noise sounds like crud on one of the fins hitting the combustion blower cavity wall, a fin is hitting crud on the cavity wall, or a fin got bent etc ... . You just might not have gotten a small piece of crud off one of the fins or the wall.

    Likely you no longer notice it when the convection blower kicks in because the convection blower is louder.
  12. smwilliamson

    smwilliamson Minister of Fire

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    Have you removed the combustion blower from the housing? There should be 6 hex bolts to remove and check the impeller. My guess is that there is compacted fly ash around the inside perimeter of the housing. Perhaps the bearing of the motor is tire too. You may try oiling the motor with universal 3 and 1 oil. I do not think that the impeller is bent; removing it and inspecting will tell. Once it is removed you will want to brush down the impeller blades and possibly scrape under the impeller with a flat putty knife. Be careful not to disturb the fiberglass gasket unless you are replacing it as you will need to reuse it.

    That is a loud fan though.
  13. imacman

    imacman Guest

    IMO, having had a Travis stove that is very similar to his ( I even had the same control panel....used knobs w/ potentiometers before push button control panel came out in '07), the noise doesn't sound like fly ash is the problem.....that sounds like metal hitting metal. I'd clean it well, put a LITTLE oil on the bearings, and spin it as fast as you can by hand.....the fins should spin perfectly in line. if it wobbles, or one blade is bent, you'll see it. The fact that it goes away when the stove is hot means something is expanding and pulling the two parts away from each other.

    Once again, I'll ask the OP "magsters"...is there a white gasket between the fan mounting plate, and the stove fan shroud?

    Only other thing I can think of from the sound is that one of the bearings is borderline, and "loosens up" when heated.
  14. smwilliamson

    smwilliamson Minister of Fire

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    One last thing to check...any other screws which may have vibrated loose over time. Sometimes one of those self tapping sheet metal screws that is on or around the motor housing will strip loose and rattle. That too may expand when hot and stop making noise.

    My best guess...motor bearing. Get out your stethoscope!
  15. ChandlerR

    ChandlerR Minister of Fire

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    I agree. Sounds like loose bushings. By prying on the housing you're cocking the alignment and taking some of the play out. A little 3-in-1 oil may quiet it for a bit but if the bushings are worn it's only a temporary fix. It also seems like you may have a bit too much combustion airflow. I would drop it back a tad.

    Chan
  16. imacman

    imacman Guest

    Yep CWR, I forgot to mention that before. He does have it cranked up on High, but those flames are way too high. Needs to slide the air control in to about the #2 or #2 1/2 mark and check the pellet for a little movement.
  17. magsters

    magsters New Member

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    Okay, so first of all, I am a she. Second of all, I think it's time I make a decision about replacing the motor and move on. I will respond one more time because you guys have been very helpful.

    No, there is not a white gasket anywhere near the exhaust blower motor. There are rubber-like gaskets under the motor flange at each screw connection and there is a gasket (which was just replaced) between the plate the motor is attached to and the blower housing. The last time he was here, the service guy disconnected the exhaust motor blower from the stove, pulled it out, and apparently connected it to an electrical tester. The blower blades and motor did not make any noise whatsoever when he did this.

    My concern is, if it did not make any noise at this point, would there be anything wrong with it? The noise had started before he came out, but was worse when he re-installed the blower motor. After he flipped the motor and attached it in a different position, it was quieter, but two weeks later, it was worse than before he was here.

    My son made another video of the stove to show you what it looks like inside. I don't know why, but it sounds noisier in the video than it really was while he was filming it. Thanks again for all your suggestions. At least you attempted to answer my questions, which is more than I can expect from the guy who services my stove. I will contact someone else at the store to see what I can find out and ask if they will waive the service fee if they come out again for this problem. If I can wait, I will replace the motor and have the stove serviced in the spring.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jhw_CtF97SY
  18. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    1. You still need to back that draft off a bit.

    2. What the service guy in all likely hood did was attach it directly to house voltage and discovered that yup it sure did spin fast. This would be a standard rule out the motor being bad thing.

    3. The reason why the noise started before he came out was because in all likely hood it had a good layer of soot and/or ash, and some of it might even have been be baked on (it is hot back there). The mess on the fins and in the blower cavity can lead to a bad burn and various noises. This mess needs to be cleaned up (regularly, far more often than you might realize) and that sometimes involves using things that cause fins to be bent or the impeller to be canted on the motor spindle or even bent. If anything is bent or canted it is likely to wobble and can cause scrapping, clicking, ticking, or tapping noises. Even if cleaning the fan assembly doesn't result in any bending it is possible for any baked on crud that wasn't cleaned off to also cause the same kinds of noise. If the motor which has its own set of mount adjustments or the motor to cavity mounting plate is out of the normal rotation plane noises will result that can be the same as heard on the video. It is also possible that if the stove was "cleaned" that someone managed to snake a brush or vacuum hose into the exhaust blower possibly bending a blade.

    4. It is also possible that the bearings are going, however when that happens they squeal. Been there done that, didn't like it.
  19. imacman

    imacman Guest

    First, sorry for calling you a "he"....I had no way of knowing.

    It sounds like the gasket I was referring to is in place, so that's good. When the "tech" hooked the blower to the "tester", you said it "did not make any noise whatsoever". If it was connected to 120volts, you would have heard the fan make a "whoosing" air sound if you were anywhere close to it. He may just have been making an electrical check to make sure that something in the motor wasn't shorted out......but again, I'm just guessing.

    BTW, is this "tech" from the store that you bought the stove from? And since the tech never fixed the rattling noise in the first place, I can't see why they would charge you a service fee again. If you don't get any satisfaction from them, I'd try a different service person. Go onto the Travis Ind. website, and see if there are other Lopi dealers in your area: www.lopistoves.com/where_to_buy/

    If that doesn't work out, try this site and input your zip code in the "Installers" section....there are often people that install pellet stoves and also do service work.

    www.stovesdirect.com/installers.php

    Hope this helps. Keep us informed on what happens. Good luck!
  20. magsters

    magsters New Member

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    We did back off on the draft some more. The noise is definitely not a squealing noise. The rattling started early on this year; they told me how to open the blower motor and clean the blower blades. When I pulled the exhaust blower motor out, there was about 1/8" of soot under the blades. I know I was very careful when I cleaned it and I don't think I bent anything, but I can't be 100% sure. I had them clean it for me, but don't remember them pulling the blower motor out and cleaning the blades and housing.

    I will check those links out and hopefully can find someone more trustworthy to service and maintain my stove. I do some of it, but may have to learn to do it all. Then if something goes wrong, I only have myself to blame! After reading through the manual again and these posts, I suspect the stove hasn't been maintained as well as it could have been. Thanks again and I'll let you know what happens.
  21. imacman

    imacman Guest

    BTW Magsters, I remember seeing that in the 1st video, the heat control was on the 2nd red light (High). Normally, it's not recommended to run the stove at that level for more than about an hour. I had an Avalon Astoria (a Travis industries "cousin" to your stove), and never had to run it any higher than med-high (1st red light) EVER.
  22. magsters

    magsters New Member

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    During the start-up sequence all of the lights are always on. We very rarely run the stove on high for longer than ten or fifteen minutes, especially since it started flaming out. When it's on high, it gets too hot in the house. I checked out those links and the closest dealer is about 40 minutes away.

    I am going to speak with the store owner before I have anyone come out. I think the problem with this particular person who always comes to my place is that he seems to dislike it when I ask questions, and I ask a lot of questions. When they installed it, it was like pulling teeth to get any information. As a matter of fact, when they first installed it, they didn't put in an outside air duct. I had the installation inspected and was told me I had to have it for safety reasons and to pass the inspection. I insisted they come back to install it and I refused to pay for the duct or the installation. I felt it was part of the installation service and they should have informed me it was needed. Now, looking through the manual again, I note that it suggests the air restrictor be set only by a qualified installer. Don't know what to think about that.

    Thanks again for all the ideas and suggestions posted here.
  23. imacman

    imacman Guest

    The air intake can be set by the homeowner. Once the stove is running in normal mode (not start-up), push the air control all the way in, and then slowly start pulling it back out while watching the burn pot. Pellets that are about 1/2 burned and glowing should just be "dancing" around the bottom of the burn pot. if their not moving at all, open air a little. If they pellets are getting ejected from the pot before their at least half burned, close the air a little. On my astoria, I never had to have the air control out farther than about # 2 or 2 1/2. If I had to open it more than that, I knew the stove was dirty and needed cleaning.

    It takes a little "tweaking", but this method (outlined in your owners manual) always worked well for me.
  24. magsters

    magsters New Member

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    Okay, so I'm back with my Lopi pellet stove with the rattling exhaust blower motor and flaming out problem. I spoke with the owner of the store where I purchased it and came to the conclusion that he is more concerned about money than our safety. He won't charge me a service call, but only if I let him replace the auger motor, burn pot, convection fan, blower motor and fan, and any other moving part that can be replaced. He didn't offer to give me the parts, so I told him he could forget it. I located another pellet stove dealership about 40 minutes from here. They come up here once a week to service stoves in the area, but are booked full until mid-February. I am looking forward to getting another opinion on the problem.

    I can't understand why the motor would not rattle when it was taken out, disconnected from the stove, and connected to the house outlet, so I still am not completely convinced it flames out because it needs a new motor. If the new guy thinks I should replace the motor, I guess I will give it a try and hope they have some integrity. I asked around and heard good things about them.

    Anyway, my son posted a video on YouTube of a "flame out" in process that occurred this morning. I thought I had put it on med-high, but apparently it was on high for about 15 minutes when it happened. I understand that no one can diagnose the problem by video, but your ideas and suggestions from before were very helpful. It helps to have an idea of what could be going on so I can ask the next guy some intelligent (hopefully) questions. Karen

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhIw10HylMU
  25. imacman

    imacman Guest

    Karen, sorry to hear that the rattling problem still exists. One thing I noticed that your son said was that the flames got tall & orange and the blower stopped...which blower? If the combustion blower (the rattling one on the left side of the stove) stopped, that's a big problem

    Also, I'm not sure what the "vacuum tube seal" is that he's trying to describe...maybe the vacuum switch tube?

    I think I might have mentioned this in a previous post, but the air control does NOT have to be pulled all the way out on the higher heat settings. When I had my Travis stove, I NEVER had the air control out farther than #3, and that was because the stove was starting to get dirty & needed to be cleaned. Normally, even on "1st High" heat setting, I would have it at #2 or maybe #2 1/2. The fire may nave "flamed out" due TOO much air...... like blowing a candle out.

    I don't know that this is going to help you before the new service person shows up, but my advice is to not tell him anything at first, except that the stove makes noise, and the fire goes out. Wait & see what he comes-up with first as the cause of the problem.
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