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Newbie here, with pellet burn problem on a Harman P43 - help!

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by toshiyano, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. toshiyano

    toshiyano New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2012
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    Loc:
    Hudson Valley NY
    Hi everyone... been lurking here a while, but now I need some help. I installed a Harman P43 in late October. Bought two tons of O'Malley pellets. Stove worked fine - the pellets burned a little dirty - had to clean the glass a lot - but no real problems.

    When the ashcan filled, I cleaned the stove as per owner manual instructions.

    Where before the ash was gray and fine, now the ash is black and thick, and i have a lot of sparks flying around. The feed rate has always been set to three, room temp set to high, and thermostat between 70 and 73.

    What is going on? I keep my pellets in the garage - is it possible the pellets took on extra moisture? I've re-cleaned the stove, turned the feed rate down, turned the room temp to the middle but the ash is still thick and black.

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  2. PJPellet

    PJPellet Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Western NY
    Hi, I had this problem last Spring. I discovered that the screen outside on my exhaust pipe was full of ash and restricting the airflow. I now remove the screen during the heating months. This is just an idea. But the easiest to check first.

    EDIT: If your vent has a screen, anyway it sounds like an airflow issue. If you have an OAK check that too.
  3. toshiyano

    toshiyano New Member

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    Loc:
    Hudson Valley NY
    No OAK, and I didn't think I had a screen but I will check tomorrow... Any other suggestions?
  4. mepellet

    mepellet Minister of Fire

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    Central ME
    Is it common to remove the vent screen during the heating months? I noticed that mine builds up a good layer of ash after 25 bags or so.
  5. Lousyweather

    Lousyweather Guest

    yea, the screen is good and bad. its a spark arrestor, but has a tendency to plug up as well. I would say that if you have one, as required by local codes in some areas, you should probably clean the thing every week or two. As for leaving it in place during the "off" months, I DEFINITELY would. Without a cover of screen of some kind, all manner of critters find those black holes to be inviting possible locales of their next residence. Birds, bats, bees, etc. We even took a duck out of one once (thats right, a quack-quack kind of duck)!
  6. mepellet

    mepellet Minister of Fire

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    I'll be taking off my venting termination and putting a cap on it after i am done using the stove for the season. (See http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/80286/). I have never seen any sparks coming out of mine so I may just take it off.
  7. Lousyweather

    Lousyweather Guest


    good idea to cover it when done for the season, just dont forget its on there...otherwise an embarrassing issue next fall (who put the cover on and didnt take it off?! That will be $169.00 please)!.........and just because you havent seen sparks doesnt mean there arent any.......but, often these spark arresters are more problems than they are worth.....plugging issues and all.....
  8. toshiyano

    toshiyano New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Hudson Valley NY
    Well, I do have a screen - more like a grate than a screen actually - and it had a little buildup but nothing significant, nothing that would block the airflow. In fact, the buildup looked like the new ash - sticky, black stuff. I guess I'm stumped... I'm gonna clean everything again and cross my fingers. But if luck isn't on my side, then I'm going to go ahead and blame the pellets.
  9. mepellet

    mepellet Minister of Fire

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    Maybe try bringing the pellets inside for a few days before loading into the stove? Might not work, but might be worth a try... I keep mine in my basement.
  10. padfitz

    padfitz New Member

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    Loc:
    NEPA
    I have seen this also but, noticed it with the 2nd ton of pellets. I marked my bags per ton when I stored them. The first ton, the bags were sealed nice but the second were a bit loose. I noticed that they did not burn the best. Dirty glass, lots of big ash and off the burn pot, a long ash build up, like a cigarette off the corners. I clean the stove every week to include the flute. After 11 bags run through the stove, the ash pan was 90% filled with big black ash.

    The pellets I use are Allegheny and these are the only one that I have used to date. Later this week, I am going to try a local supplier and see how they perform.

    Dan
  11. rickwai

    rickwai Feeling the Heat

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    take the left rear guard off and see if the air damper is shuck shut. It is in a 2 inch approx hole on the left side you should be able tap it and it should swing freely. Have you cleaned the area under the burn pot where the igniter is housed? is the cover over the fan behind the ash box in right and the flip down lever down? just some suggestions
    Sounds like a lack of air to me
  12. Lousyweather

    Lousyweather Guest

    good advice.....also, if it has outside air, be sure to check the intake air path......sticky and black "stuff" is indicative of poor and/or incomplete combustion. Something isnt right there.....
  13. toshiyano

    toshiyano New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Hudson Valley NY
    I checked everything you guys recommended, cleaned everything again. The stove is burning a touch more powerfully, the flame is a bit higher, but the pellets are still sparking a lot and the ash is still blacker than it was. I think at this point it's the pellets. Maybe I should bring the bags inside for a while before I use them. I'll try that, but if that doesn't work i'm going to have to find some better pellets (next year - I still have 50 bags to get us through february and march, and if I run out I'll go buy them by the bag)...

    Thanks for your help everyone. Oh, and does anyone know what the wire hanging down from the middle of the accordian style heat exchangers is? I assume it's some kind of sensor but I didn't find anything in a cursory glance at my manual.
  14. mepellet

    mepellet Minister of Fire

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    The fireworks may be because of the increased airflow from the cleaning. I notice more sparks after cleaning.

    Could you post a picture of the wire you are talking about? I don't have one in mine.
  15. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    Loc:
    Averill Park, NY, on Burden Lake II...
    There is not supposed to be anything hanging down from
    your heat exchanger. There are no sensors in that area.

    Getting back to your original problem...Have you cleaned
    out the air flow holes in the burnpot? A piece of 12 gauge
    wire, stripped of the sheathing for about an inch & bent at
    a 90° angle works very well for this application...
  16. toshiyano

    toshiyano New Member

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    The wire is about 3/5 of the way back, hanging straight down, between the left and right "plates" of the accordion structure.

    I have definitely cleaned the air holes in the burnpot.

    Attached Files:

  17. toshiyano

    toshiyano New Member

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    sorry, they wouldn't let me post a bigger photo...
  18. Lousyweather

    Lousyweather Guest

    due to the reflection, I cant make heads nor tails out of your pics, no can I see the wire.............BUT, there isnt supposed to be a wire anywhere in your combustion chamber at all.......there is the probe in your exhaust tube, but you wouldnt see that without removing the cover plate off the cobustion fan. The only other wire in the combustion chamber is to the igniter, but again, it occurs nowhere near the accordian baffle in the top of the combustion chamber.....could it possibly be a stuck on welding rod? maybe a pic with the door open would help, since we wont have the reflection in the room?
  19. toshiyano

    toshiyano New Member

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    hopefully you can see it now? right in the middle of the pic, pointing down and toward the front?

    Attached Files:

  20. toshiyano

    toshiyano New Member

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    It's about 2" long, and sticks out from the approximately 3mm gap between the two "plates" of the accordion. Could be some kind of welding - I don't know. I just bought the stove this year, is it possible your model is different?
  21. Lousyweather

    Lousyweather Guest

    cant see it well, but, having sold several hundred harmans this year, I can tell you unequivicably that it ISNT supposed to be there! No Harman models have this. Although I can t tell, I concure its PROBABLY a welding rod. I'd call the dealer on this............
  22. PJPellet

    PJPellet Minister of Fire

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    x2 on calling the dealer, that's not supposed to be there.
  23. toshiyano

    toshiyano New Member

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    what should i ask the dealer to do?
  24. Lousyweather

    Lousyweather Guest

    you should ask him what that wire is for, hanging from the heat exchanger of your brand-new, still-under-warrantee Harman p43.....Im guessing his answer will be........"wire?.....what wire?......INSIDE the stove?.......from the heat exchanger?!.....aw, you must be mistaken....there's no wire in there........." or some reasonable facsimile thereof.
  25. toshiyano

    toshiyano New Member

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    haha will do!

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