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New to the forum, questions on Empress pellet stove

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by st_pinetree, Mar 19, 2013.

  1. st_pinetree

    st_pinetree New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    Loc:
    Helena Montana
    Hi, I've already learned a lot about pellet stoves from this forum, but this is my first post. I bought a house last spring that had an Enviro Empress pellet stove in it. I primarily use it as a supplemental heat source. My stove seems a bit overly "quirky" to me. I will lay out some of the issues I've had, and see if folks have any suggestions.

    The stove seems to suffer from two issues, from prior reading, I think they are unrelated. First, the convection blower (I hope I have the terminology right, the one I'm referring to is the room air blower) frequently surges. It works fine, and blows a lot of air, but from time to time the fan speed will surge up and down. It seems to occur more frequesntly on lower fan speeds, and when the stove is shutting down, but does occasionally do it at higher fan speeds and when the stove is in operation. I was thinking (from prior forum research) that it might be tied to the stove being dirty. Anecdotally, it seems like it is slightly better after a thorough cleaning but that might be in my head. The surging is annoying, but doesn't seem to effect the performance of the stove. I think this is a control board issue, but it's expensive, and I'm not sure how to further isolate and troubleshoot. It is sporadic, so I would think if it was a control board issue it would occur all the time??

    The second issue is the stove frequently faults and shuts down. Usually it occurs when starting it up, only rarely will it shut down after coming up to speed. It sets off a trouble code light on the control panel, I believe its light number 3 which indicates a vacuum problem. Usually I can just hit the on/off button after it shuts off and it will start up and light. However, It seems to suffer from this whether its been recently cleaned or not, and the other night I made the observation that it wouldn't start at all due to pretty high winds outside. I would say that it occurs less frequently after a cleaning.

    The stove is vented up through the roof, with a pretty good size pipe. The stove is not vented in from the outside, and if I have both of the sheet metal access covers in place on the rear the trouble code is much more likely to occur. This leads me to think that I need to add the vent from the outside, but I doubt that is the only problem, as even with the back covers off and a close by outside door cracked, it still experiences the fault.

    Cleaning. Like I said, I only use it as supplemental heat when I am home. So maybe a total of an hour or two of run time in the evenings, and 10 or so on the weekends (total run time less than 20 hours a week). I find that I need to do a pretty thorough cleaning weekly. It it goes to two weeks, It faults much more frequently. This seems like an excessive requrement for cleanouts. If I was using it as my primary 24-7 heat source, I'd be cleaining it three times a week or more.

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

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  2. briansol

    briansol Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,906
    Loc:
    central ct
    It's possible what you are hearing is the 'air wash' feature. Basically it stops blowing in the room and blows on the glass and burn pot to keep them 'clean'. mine does it about once an hour.
    it could be a bad ground, or a bad solder on the board though too as you suggest if it is truely sporadic. without a vid of it doing it, it may be hard to pin point (at least for me)

    It sounds like you may have airflow issues. Not necessarily Intake air, but output air. Hav eyou cleaned the pipe? the flue pasages? These are often overlooked by new burners and are the leading cause of poor burn.

    does your flame look short, bright, tight and bouncy?
    or lazy, orangey, and tall?
  3. st_pinetree

    st_pinetree New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    Loc:
    Helena Montana
    Thanks, the burn is fine once it gets going. Good efficient flame. Using the slide damper will properly alter the flame. I didn't know how the air wash worked, I will see if I can find out more on that. I could shoot some video/audio of the surging and will try to post it here as well.
  4. smwilliamson

    smwilliamson Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2009
    Messages:
    4,008
    Loc:
    Southcoast, MA
    There is no air wash blower feature on your stove. Blinking number #2 is vacuum loss (dirty) and #3 is everything else except for an over heat issue, that's #3 and 4.

    The empress does not monitor exhaust temps at all except to know that the low or high limit threshold is crossed. That's 140 degrees and 225 degrees respectively. If your convection blower is going up and down then either the board is having issues or you have a bad common connection in the harness.
  5. st_pinetree

    st_pinetree New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    Loc:
    Helena Montana

    Good and very helpful info, thanks. The lights don't line up on the control board quite right with the sticker, so I'm nost sure if it is 2 or 3, I was assuming is was the vacuum loss, but perhaps its number 3. Could the number three light be related to a funky board issue? IE, perhaps they are tied together. The one wierd thing was the other night when we were having really high winds and the stove wouldn't run. That was sort of an epiphany, I'm now wondering if lessor winds are causing my occasional faults.

    I'm going to remove the stove from the house so I can really get in there and clean, blow out all the nooks and crannies this weekend. Sounds like either way I will need a new control board to deal with the surging fan issue.
  6. imacman

    imacman Guest

    Before you buy anything, do the deep cleaning and then try the stove again.....you'd be surprised how many members have been ready to throw parts at their stoves, only to find a real thorough cleaning fixes "problems".

    Make sure you get into EVERY little space you can.....since it will be outside, compressed air works well for blowing out little nooks & crannies. Make sure any and all ash trap doors are opened. Don't know if the Empress has a steel or cast back wall, but if it's steel, some banging on it with a mallet will help dislodge hidden stuck on crud.....if it's cast or you're not sure, don't hit it!!

    Remove & clean both blowers.....oil the conv. fan if it has lube ports. Replace any torn or loose gaskets. Do a dollar bill test on the front door gasket for leaks.

    Last thing would be to do a leaf blower treatment to get any last loose ash.
  7. PelletFiend

    PelletFiend Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2010
    Messages:
    31
    Loc:
    Eastern MA
    I have an Empress FPI. I had similar issues; my stove would have a really hard time getting going, and once it did, it was fine. The issue tracked back to the cross over and decision by the stove that it was at temperature and to start the convection blower. It was intermittent and hard to diagnose. Sometimes, it took four tries to get it to catch. I thought it was bad pellets, and the stove never got to temp, then shut down thinking that the fire didn't catch.

    Anyway, it was actually an electrical issue that the tech had to deal with. If these issues sound like yours, get a tech out and get the sensors checked out. It ended up being some faulty sensor or similar that caused a voltage drop, which in turn slowed the combustion motor, dropping the vacuum, and tripping the stove. I wish I could remember exactly what it was, but it took two trips from the technician to figure it out.

    Had it fixed and it works like a champ for a couple of years now. I've put over 12 tons through it and still love it. Good luck.

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