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Montpelier vermont castings insert

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by allhandsworking, Oct 1, 2008.

  1. stevekstevek

    stevekstevek New Member

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    Long Island, NY
    Does anyone know where the combustion air inlet is on this unit?

    I'm wondering if I'm leaking air up the chimney (I know the installers sealed the top of the chimney, not sure if they put a blocking plate or insulation around the bottom). The surrounds (I forgot which kind I got, they're black cast iron) seem cool at the sides. For those of you who have these, you can see that the sides of the surrounds have a space behind them for most of their height. If I put a match next to the side of the surround, the flame gets drawn back behind the surround, towards the fireplace opening.

    It's not a very strong draft (enough to bend a cigarette lighter flame, but not put it out, but enough that even with a good fire burning, the edge of the surround isn't much warmer than room temp). If the unit is drawing combustion air behind the surround, that would probably explain it.

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  2. stevekstevek

    stevekstevek New Member

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    Are you sure you're starting a good hot fire? Depending on how quickly I can get a good, hot fire in there, the fans can come on anywhere from 20 mins (at fastest), but can take a while if I've done a poor job starting things up quickly (put in too much wood/ not enough kindling, etc). Also, the sensor is at the front, behind the andiron, so if you're burning towards the back, it might take a bit longer.

    I think the protrustion in the front is called the "ash lip", and people are talking about the horizontal surface behind/around the andirons. I haven't even cleaned out the ashes from the stove yet (just got to the point where I need to), but I think so much ash has gotten down into the holes where the andirons sit that I'm thinking after not too long I'll need to pull up some of the firebrick and vacuum when things are totally cool.
  3. 4darcy9

    4darcy9 New Member

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    Dec 21, 2008
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    Loc:
    se wisconsin
    I just started using my Montpelier medium insert.I am having trouble getting a fire started without getting A LOT of smoke in my home. I keep the door slightly cracked at 7 o'clock position. It takes a couple of hours before it really starts up and the fan finally starts up but keeps turning on and off. Can I use a duraflame log or firestarter to help so I do not have to give it constant attention for a couple of hours. Once it gets going the fan blows out the air it is really only a bit warm but not hot. It does not give off a lot of heat-only a little. What am I doing wrong or is this as good as it gets? thank you for any advice-I had it installed by a professional fireplace company.
  4. stevekstevek

    stevekstevek New Member

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    Loc:
    Long Island, NY
    It kinda sounds like you're not getting enough draft. If I keep the door cracked on mine, I never get any smoke in the house -- the only time that happens is if I open the door too quickly - cracking it open usually clears out any smoke, and if you open it slowly enough, you shouldn't get more than a little puff.

    I also get a good amount of heat out of the unit; yesterday, it wasn't that cold (about 30deg), but all the places the heat could get to from the unit were 74 degrees. When it's going good, you can't stand in front of the unit for too long.

    Tell us what you're doing to start things up, and what kind of wood you're using. Also, do you have a 1 story flue or 2, and is your chimney on the inside or outside of your house?

    Also, another hint: Keep the fans on low until the unit is nice and hot -- this way you're not sending heat out of the firebox until the firebox is good and hot -- this seems to help get things cooking faster.
  5. woody22

    woody22 New Member

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    Dec 10, 2008
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    10
    Loc:
    new york
    firestarter- it sounds like you are happy with your unit. we are also on long island but are not extremely pleased still, how far away from your unit do you actually feel heat and do you get it to burn all night? we are getter alot of heat up close but cant seem to really warm the room, we have played with the blower and with wood and air control things are still not what we really expected
  6. stevekstevek

    stevekstevek New Member

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    I think you're writing to me (firestarter isn't my handle -- all forum newbies get that, I think).

    It gets the room pretty warm, but it does take a while to do that -- I don't think my wood supply is seasoned well enough, so it can take a couple of hours before the unit gets really hot. Once it does, you get pretty uncomfortably hot sitting on the floor 4' back from the unit. It's in a living room that's maybe 16x20 or so, and that room, plus the upstairs 3 bedrooms, can stay in the mid 70s on a 20 degree day if you keep the unit cooking well.

    If I load it pretty full, let the wood get charred, and then cut the damper down, I still have red coals in the morning. Actually, it seems that, if you have a good bed of ash, the coals will stay red for a long time. Ex: Last night, I had a good fire going, and maybe 3-4" of very hot coals in the box. Put in 4 decent size splits (which filled it up pretty good), let it run with full air for about 20 mins, and then closed the air about 3/4th of the way. That was around 9PM. At 7AM, I came down, and didn't see much red, but there was a pile of ash still shaped like a log. Poke around with the poker, and the ashed go to the bottom, and charcoal comes to the top, with a bunch of red stuff still in there. Let that sit for 15 minutes or so with the air open, and the coals start cooking. After that, I threw 2 "Splinters" (1" or so splits), on the bottom, and a couple of larger splits above that, and there was a fire in another 10 minutes. Left it like that and went to work. I expect I might still have some hot coals tonight at 8:30PM when I get home, but only because I have a weekends' worth of ash still in there.
  7. Fod01

    Fod01 Feeling the Heat

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    Nov 4, 2008
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    Loc:
    Long Island
    John - I was a little disappointed also until the past few weeks. Someone on this board (maybe this thread?) suggested that we're not letting the stove heat up enough before damping down the primary air. I started to let the stove cook until the firebox was full of flame...not pretty fireplace flame, but intense, 'lets make some horseshoes' flame for the width of the firebox. Its pretty cool to watch it reach that point. Only then will I close the primary 1/2 way, 3/4 5 minutes after that, then full close if the fire can maintain the secondary burn.... I get good heat, and the glass gets very little build up. My blower control is at 3 o'clock.

    I treat the overnight burns the same way, just pack the wood closer together. Still, you've got to let it get cranking first!

    Maybe I'll borrow my daughters camera and post a couple pics.

    Good luck.
  8. woody22

    woody22 New Member

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    new york
    yeah everything both of you say is about the same for us. Our room is also 16x20 with large openings to kitchen and to the dining room and front room of our house. Yes we also have coals in the morning and restarting a fire is never a problem but i feel as if i am starting all over at that point to get the room warm again. Forget the rest of the house that we never feel anything in. We keep playing with it and maybe just because we are new too this there is a large learning curve. I am trying to get the stove really hot first and really going before i also put it down I have also found 3/4 works best. I also have may blower anywhere between 1 to 3 o'clock. I will continue to try and get it really going. Right now my expectations of the heat i would be getting are not there. I really thought the hardest thing i would have to think about was how much wood i wanted to put in at a time.
  9. allhandsworking

    allhandsworking Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2008
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    369
    Loc:
    NYC
    Just for everyones info. I keep a thermostate on the arch of my door. My wood isnt the best seasoned. I avarage about 300 350 temp. air 3/4 closed. I removed the surround and placed the thermostate on the cast iron that is at the bass of the flue and the temp reading went up aout a 100 -150 degrees to about 450 500 degrees. so I estamte that at 300 you are really at aout 450-500 degrees.
  10. diodeduster

    diodeduster New Member

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    Dec 24, 2008
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    48
    Loc:
    warminster pa
    thanks for all the info as i really love my stove and getting the same kind of readings with the thermometer on the arch of the door without a blockoff plate installed.
  11. High Country

    High Country New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2009
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    Loc:
    Central Colorado
    Newbie here. Not to wood burning, but the forum itself. I'm glad I found it because we have been having some problems with our Montpelier since we had it installed about a month ago.

    I have not really used wood heat since I heated an entire house with a Vermont Castings Defiant many years ago. I was very happy with that stove so when we decided to put an insert in our fireplace VC was my first choice. The Montpelier seemed to have everything we wanted, a nice clean look, not plain but not frilly, good fit for our firebox, and a large window since my wife really likes to see the fire. Our fireplace has an arched opening so we had a simple custom surround made which really makes the installation look great.

    Our problems seem to be similar to some others I've read here. The door does scrape the tray just when it's about 4 inches from being closed. It did not do that at first so I think there may be some sag at the hinges or perhaps some distortion from the stove settling in. I can feel a small burr at the bottom of the door that might be from a mold joint that wasn't ground properly which could possibly be filed down and repainted.

    The blower is noisier than we would like, but I think we can live with it. After reading a previous post here I might try to adjust it to make it a bit quieter.

    Our door soots up pretty badly with every fire and so we have been cleaning it daily......real PITA. Sometimes it will wipe off with a damp paper towel and other times it really takes some elbow grease with a soft abrasive sponge.

    But the big problem we are having is with the draft. Our insert simply does not draw properly and I'm not sure what to do about it. I'm pretty certain it is in the flue configuration, but I can't be sure. When I open the door smoke doesn't just come into the room it BOILS into the room. When the fire is going good and the door is closed tightly the flames seem pretty lazy even with the damper wide open. I think the window soots up because the fire doesn't get hot enough.

    The smoke problem is unacceptable and the dealer is not getting paid for the installation until it is solved.

    My theory is the flue liner they squeezed down to get through the fireplace damper has actually been crimped in rather than just reformed which is restricting the airflow. I can feel two pretty good crimps in it, but the dealer/installer says he doesn't think thats the problem. I can't see how it can't be a problem.

    In addition, the flue liner does not exit the insert "straight" out. It exits at a lateral angle to the left as seen from the front of the insert, which doesn't seem right to me. I think that the flue liner should be eliminated as the problem before going any further and acting as if there is a problem with the insert itself, but I guess I'll see what the installer has to say.

    The installer has fiddled with a few times, unsuccessfully, most recently yesterday. He adjusted the plate above the perforated tubes at the top of the firebox and said he had been told that solved 95% of the problems such as we have experienced. WRONGO! It made things MUCH worse. So I'll be talking with them again as soon as they open again after the holiday.

    Do any of you have any thoughts?

    All in all, I think we're going to like the Montpelier once we get the bugs worked out. But I won't hesitate to have it removed if it keeps smoking up the house.
  12. Rudyjr

    Rudyjr Feeling the Heat

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    Nov 25, 2008
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    361
    Loc:
    Central Ohio
    Stevekstevek,Did your installation include a block off plate? These have eliminated many problems similar to what you have. Do search on block off plates, the results are hard to dispute.
  13. diodeduster

    diodeduster New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2008
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    48
    Loc:
    warminster pa
    i have a good draft on my insert which has a slight ebow connected to the 6" ss liner. i would say that your problem would definetly be the kinks in your liner from the installer not cutting out or knocking out your old damper plate.
  14. stevekstevek

    stevekstevek New Member

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    Loc:
    Long Island, NY
    I don't know actually -- I didn't ask, and was watching the guy on the roof, who did seal the liner in with mortar, not the guy connecting the stove to the pipe in the fireplace. I'm guessing that to find out now will be a pretty dirty endeavor involving pulling the stove out, and sticking half of my body into the firebox to disconnect/reconnect the stove pipe in order to get it out/in.

    That's why I was wondering whether the combustion air comes through there or not -- it would explain where that air is going.. it seems to make sense that it would come from there -- if it came from the top or bottom, the draft would change depending on how high you had the blower going..
  15. High Country

    High Country New Member

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    Loc:
    Central Colorado
    After making my initial post yesterday I did some adjusting on my own. The plate at the top of the stove that is what I believe the installer "adjusted" is actually quite loose. I took a candle and moved the plate slightly in different directions watching what the draft did in various places around it. I adjusted it so there was pretty good flow at the front of the stove just inside the door and later we fired up the stove. It burned very well and the door did not soot up much at all, only slightly toward the hinge side. There is still some smoke coming into the room when the door is open, so there is still some problem with the draft, but not nearly what it was previously. Here's a picture from a couple of hours burn time after my adjustment.

    Attached Files:

  16. Theo

    Theo New Member

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    Nov 4, 2008
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    Loc:
    MA
    Happy New Year, all - I hope you're keeping warm and comfortable!

    High Country - can you please help me find this plate, perhaps via the parts diagram in the manual? If there's anything else to adjust, I'd like to try - this Montpelier simply isn't working for me, and the dealer is no help at all.

    Re Stevekstevek's point about where combustion air comes from - I'm curious, too. Sometimes when I open the door, smoke comes out the hot-air vents on top. So the secondary (top tube) air presumably comes from there.

    People have suggested getting the stove hot before turning on the blower. Unless the blower setting affects secondary air flow (and I don't see that in flame appearance), I don't get how that could affect firebox temperature. The box is surrounded by firebrick bottom, sides and top (via the floating baffle above the secondary air tubes). So firebox temp shouldn't be affected by cooling the iron plate above the top baffle. Or am I missing something? Hard to figure it all out from the tiny parts diagram.

    I had to run my insert for two months with the secondary air slider almost closed, since the insert was installed broken or defective and service was a challenge. I'm wondering if I can't get much heat because the top iron plate could be coated with a lot of creosote. Anybody see anything like that? Not much chance of getting the dealer to take it apart for a look, so I might have to try it myself.

    -Theo
  17. High Country

    High Country New Member

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    Loc:
    Central Colorado
    Theo,

    According to the exploded view in the owners manual, it's the Baffle, #16. I found that it apparently just sits on the Secondary Air Tubes, #14 & 15. I moved it back from the front approximately 1/2". Right now, before we start another fire for the evening, I'm going to move it another 1/4" or so and see if that improves or or is detrimental to what we had yesterday.

    Edit: Well, my theory is busted. I went up to fine tune the baffle and discovered that, since it was loose, it did not stay where I had initially placed it yesterday. It had moved toward the back of the the insert and left quite a bit larger gap toward the front than I had left. I have a fire going now and we'll see how it goes tonight.
  18. Theo

    Theo New Member

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    Nov 4, 2008
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    Loc:
    MA
    Thanks for the suggestion. Didn't realize that the baffle is just floating there. Mine was all the way back, which has to be wrong - surprised they didn't put some kind of stop someplace. I moved it forward so hot air washes the whole iron top, front and back, on the way to the flue. This ought to transfer heat more effectively. Unfortunately, it didn't help at all. Tried a few positions (and mine seems to stay put), but no real difference.

    So I took it all the way out. This requires removing the front two secondary air tubes, which in turn seems to require removing both set screws *and* cotter pins - sloppy design, really. One of the tubes is warped, which made it harder. Anyway, there was about 1/16" of creosote on the top plate, which I scraped off. Reassembled the whole thing, and no difference. I get more heat using the insert as a fireplace than with the door closed and fan on. Still something wrong; hope someone here finds the answer!

    I've gone through my two cords of really dry wood from having to run with the door cracked while awaiting service. Now burning wood 1-3 years old, but not so dry - stored under tarps; must have been some condensation. The old wood stove I replaced with the Montpelier (big mistake) could easily burn completely green hardwood, once a bed of coals was in place, with only slightly diminished heat output. (In fact, since it wasn't a tight-box design, I used to load it with wettish wood for a longer overnight burn.) The Montpelier can't seem to handle damp wood at all, at any secondary air setting, unless the door is opened slightly.

    Still can't get hot enough to burn more than the middle of the glass clean. Still hoping for more insight before mid-winter...

    Theo
  19. High Country

    High Country New Member

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    Jan 1, 2009
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    Loc:
    Central Colorado
    I went to bed last night thinking I'm taking the thing out! I had a huge amount of smoke boil into the room when I opened the Montpelier to add a final piece of wood for the evening. I woke up this morning a little less convinced, but I still don't know for certain what I'm going to do.

    Something has to change however. Either the smoking problem gets fixed or the Montpelier goes.
  20. Theo

    Theo New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2008
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    Loc:
    MA
    Not really making progress getting this Montpelier to heat the house, but noticing some things that might be helpful to someone else.

    1. Position of the top baffle doesn't seem to matter. I tried it in various positions from all the way back to all the way forward, and it didn't seem to affect blower air temperature at all. BTW, I wouldn't remove it - the iron "roof" might be damaged, and it would only make the stove less efficient by allowing hot air to reach the flue w/o moving over the top plate.

    2. Unlike a fireplace, my insert doesn't seem to be able to extract heat from a deep bed of furiously glowing coals, only actual flame. Have others done better with this?

    3. I assumed that the installers had left the insert in ready-to-use condition. As others here have found, the door needed to be re-hung and tightened. A week or so after I started using it, I did the dollar-bill test, and tightened to spec. I recently re-set the door latch to close as tightly as possible, and it improved things slightly. I suspect that my door seal was damaged by running loose (it's stained with creosote), and will have to be replaced if I don't dump the unit completely.

    4. I stuck a thermometer between the stove and the surround, into the space above the stove. If I've been running the insert for a while with the fan on low and turn it to high, the space above the stove heats up by about 20F in just a few seconds. Air leak someplace? I also note some warm spots on the chimney inside the house. The liner runs all the way up, so maybe they didn't put in a baffle plate or something.

    5. Wood quality issues: I unfortunately ran through two cords of great wood in two months having to run with the door cracked open because the dealer wouldn't fix the broken air valve. Except for a two-week emergency supply of best dry oak, I'm now mostly burning under-seasoned, slightly punky over-aged or seasoned but dampened wood. However... I just checked my neighbor's DutchWest insert (installed same time by same people); he's burning wood from a pile of the seasoned but damp oak that we bought together. With his air valve open and blower all the way on, I measured 225F with a thermocouple gauge. Turning the blower down a little drove the temperature past 250F immediately; I didn't finish the test because I couldn't stay that close to the stove!

    By comparison, the only time I could get mine to "run away" - keeping the blower down and the damper open for a couple of hours - some of the wood in there was so wet that it was dripping. (With blower at about 75%, it gave 240F for a few minutes, then dropped off.) So that's clearly not the issue. Just don't know why, even with my best wood, I can't get the thing to stay hot.

    6. Thermoswitch: they built it into the blower unit where it's easy to assemble, but not really in the right place for use. I floated my thermocouple in the middle of one of the ducts - a couple of inches back from the face, and halfway between top and bottom plates - and have seen the convecting air get up to 320F before the blower kicked on. And it often turns off while the stove is burning furiously. Something they might reconsider in the next design?

    Anyway, I appreciate this forum, and am still hoping for a fix. Otherwise, it's going to get very sticky with the dealer. Now burning at least 120 pounds of wood a day to keep an under-1500 s.f. house at about 55F, and it's just starting to get really cold out.

    Stay warm-

    Theo
  21. BluHil

    BluHil New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2008
    Messages:
    4
    Loc:
    Eastern MA
    We've been using our Montpelier since early October. We only burn evenings and we aren't around much on weekends. We have used about 1/2 cord of wood so far. The stove is at the end of a large (~1600 square feet) room that is open to the rest of the house as well. The fireplace and chimney are external to the house---not the optimum arrangement for maximum heating. Needless to say, it usually operates with the air handle wide open. It is difficult to address the questions about heat output as I never really expected the insert to heat the room---it's just too big (the room that is.) It will definitely scorch your butt if you stand within a few feet of it too long! After a few hours, it warms up the end of the family room quite well, but I don't think I'll know the true effects until spring arrives and I tally up the fuel oil usage. Luckily, we avoided any extended power outage in December's ice storm that devastated parts of the Northeast because I don't think this insert will put out much heat without the fans.

    I find that the insert is sensitive to draft, which may explain some of the problems people are experiencing. As I have described on this forum earlier, sometimes when starting from a cold condition, the smoke just flows out around the tightly latched door and out of the air intakes at the bottom. I can usually foretell that this will occur because I can feel a cold downdraft when I open the door. This seems to be a function of weather conditions as well. Once a positive draft is established, it goes great and as long as there is a little warmth in the stove or chimney, there are no starting problems. I do get a little smoke out the door when recharging if I'm not quick or if the fire isn't completely down to coals. Cracking the door for a few seconds and then opening it slowly are absolutely key to minimizing smoke in the room! Even with the door open, I don't think I could make this stove "run away" like my old Intrepid, which would glow orange if I left the damper open too much.

    I also discovered that small pieces of wood are far superior to large ones. I initially was stuffing about three large splits in at a time. This resulted in smokey, low heat fires. Now I resplit most of the wood before I bring it inside (a unexpected chore) and get five or six pieces in. This has greatly improved the output and I get that slow motion, low color, swirling flame that seems to indicate efficient combustion. I no longer have to operate with the door ajar, except for a few minutes when starting a fire. Even with the smaller pieces, if I load at 11 PM and go to bed, there are enough coals at 7 AM to restart the fire without paper---a little stirring and a few minutes with the door cracked and there is a glowing pile.

    I also have been curious as to where the combustion air enters the stove. From what I can see, it looks like it enters through the perforated cutouts in the sheet metal wrapper on the sides near where the fan cord exits. This appears to be where the optional external combustion air kits attach. The exploded view in the manual seems to show an internal channel that feeds air up to the top of the stove. I have done a crude smoke test and can see that it draws air in around the surround. I guess this also proves that I have a good seal to the chimney, either at the damper plate, the cap or both!

    While I still curse the insert when the family room is filling with smoke on a "bad draft" day, I don't consider that a flaw with the stove and am still happy with the Montpelier and would purchase it again.
  22. Fod01

    Fod01 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2008
    Messages:
    306
    Loc:
    Long Island
    Hey BluHil.. thought I'd chime in with my mid-season report as well.

    Changed my fire-starting technique from top-down, to modified 'log cabin' style. I use oconnors method http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/31393/
    Just modified it to fit the firebox by using 2 splits in parallel instead of the inverted-V shape. Seems to heat up the firebox much faster.

    Was originally burning larger pieces of cordwood that I purchased this year. Now I also re-split most pieces at least once. Big difference in the heat output, and the smaller pieces make it easier to pack the small firebox.

    Finally bought a thermometer which I stick in the right-side hot air outlet. With the blower off, I find it hard to get the unit over 300 or so, but now I won't turn the blower on until it reaches that temp.
    I also run the blower slower in the 6 o'clock rather than 3 o'clock position. I'd be interested to hear if any of the other owners can report higher temps with the thermometer in that position.

    I'm definitely burning hotter, and am not a slave to glass cleaning anymore. We still get buildup down by the andirons, and a bit on the hinge side which is easily removed with the Rutland cleaner we use. Tried the 'incense test' to check for leaks, but did not find any. Perhaps the andirons just block some radiant heat from cleaning the bottom of the glass.

    We did not experience any defects with the unit, and are satisfied with its quality. I would have liked a unit with a larger firebox, but we were limited due to the size of the existing fireplace. Also, my wife did not want a unit that protruded out in to the room.

    Would we purchase again? Probably. It will be interesting to see what our oil useage looks like after the season is over.
  23. High Country

    High Country New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2009
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    Loc:
    Central Colorado
    Well, the fight starts tomorrow. We've decided we cannot tolerate the smoke situation with the Montpelier and are calling the company from which we purchased it to take it out and refund our money. It may be an uphill battle because we actually paid for the insert in August when we ordered it. I have not, however, paid for the installation which took place mid December.

    I am really sorry and upset that this is happening. I bought the Montpelier specifically because of my previous good experience (many years ago) with Vermont Castings. How much of my problem is due to poor design I really can't say, and the seller/installer has been less than stellar service wise. But at any rate the product is not performing as it should and we're going to have it removed.
  24. Rudyjr

    Rudyjr Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2008
    Messages:
    361
    Loc:
    Central Ohio
    There are very similar complaints (black glass, lack of heat etc) as these in the Jotul c450 thread that have been ongoing. Many of these issues have been resolved by people going back and installing a block off plate with their inserts. One member was ready to remove his insert and was fed up but installed a block off as a last resort. He is now satisfied with the performance of his stove. Most installers do not do this, too time consuming I suspect. I would not have done it because it is not listed in the Jotul manual unless you do a direct connect. I did it because of the many people on this forum who said it was a good idea to do so. I think this one very inexpensive item will resolve a host of problems.
  25. catslr

    catslr New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2009
    Messages:
    1
    Loc:
    CT
    Hey everyone. I ordered a Montpelier insert in October and it was finally installed two weeks ago. After reading through this thread it appears I am very lucky; I have no leaks and I am very warm. I never have any problems with smoke coming into the house which I think has to do with the fact that I have a 30 ft chimney. The only questions I have are: how much secondary burn should I see and how much wood are you all using? After seeing videos on youtube, I assumed that once a bed of coals was established, the air tubes on top would look like propane burners in a gas grill. At times I can tell that some of the holes are burning, but this is a rare occasion. Am I not letting the fire heat up enough before I choke it down?

    I have also almost gone through a 1/3 of a cord of seasoned red maple in 2 weeks. Is this about the burn rate you all are experiencing? Look forward to hearing from you all

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