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Older Whitfield Quest / lazy flame

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by Ricks, Mar 12, 2012.

  1. Ricks

    Ricks Member

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    Western Maine
    Hi,

    I am a long time reader, but just joined and have a question / problem. Over this past winter my quest has gotten to the point the flame is very lazy. I have checked the exhaust pipe and cleaned it. I have readjusted the door to make sure the door closes tight. At this point the flame in the burn pot is worce than a candle burning in the room.

    At this point I have to run the stove with the pellet feed on low and the damper control wide open to get the stove to produce any flame.

    If I look under the burn pot there is a square hold that leads out the back of the stove. I cannot see anything that should block this hole. I don't understand the purpose of this hole.

    In the past I have replaced the exhaust blower, auger motor (twice) auger, bushing and plate. This have improved the running of the stove, but this lazy flame has me stumped.

    Can anyone help pinpoint my problem for me.

    I am located in Western Maine (Oxford Hills area) and if someone can point me to a good serviceman to stop by that would be a big help.

    thanks

    Rick..........

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  2. Defiant

    Defiant Vermont Castings Geek

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    Put up a photo, most likely you need to do a deeper internal cleaning, like behind the mainframe or internal baffle plates.
  3. Ricks

    Ricks Member

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    I can post a picture, but basically a candle produces more action than my flame.

    Can you explain what the mainframe and internal baffle plates are?

    I have cleaned around the heat exchange tubes. I use to remove the firebrick, but there is nothing behind them.

    I have another question, the stove has three motors; auger motor and two fan motors. One fan motor, I call it the exhaust, pushes the hot exhust air out the pipe. The other fan motor I belive provides a boost to the room air. What are the proper names for these fans and what do both of them do?

    thanks

    Rick......
  4. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    That hole your referring to, is the air inlet. There should be an inlet 2"-3" round air intake on the back of the stove. A pellet stove is a giant air pump. Air is pushed/forced out of the exhaust. So air must be pulled in from somewhere.

    It starts at the air inlet, travels up that tube/channel and the ends up in the burn pot receptacle, which forces the air through the burn pot holes. From there it travels through one or more channels (depends on stove) till it reaches the combustion blower. Once there, its forced out..

    Your stove is likely plugged up. When was the last time you cleaned the ash traps (exhaust passages to combustion blower)? Although the intake could be plugged (doubt you have an Outside Air Kit by the sound of your post), so I doubt its plugged. More than likely the exhaust channels.

    Does the motor for your combustion blower have oil ports? When was the last time the motor was removed and serviced (motor dust bunnies blown out and lubed, impeller cleaned of all ash crud)??
  5. Defiant

    Defiant Vermont Castings Geek

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    Thanks DD, behind the the fire brick are 2 panels that come off and I'll bet you they are full of ash that blocks the air flow.
  6. Ricks

    Ricks Member

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    DexterDay,

    You are correct I do not have an outside air kit on my stove.

    I agree with you the stove is very likely plugged up. I empty the ash bin under the stove several times a year and vacoom out the stove several times as well. Where are the exhaust channels and how do I clean them.

    When you state combustion motor, which motor is that as I look at the stove, the right or the left. Note the right side motor pushes the exhaust gases outside, if that helps. I replaced the exhaust motor a four or five years ago. I have taken compressed air (from a can) and blown out the motor itself, but not the blades of the motor. I do lube the motor once a year with lightweight oil.

    Rick.......
  7. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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  8. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Yes. Right side motor should be removed once a year to clean all the build up on the impeller and behind it. This can greatly reduce the overall flow. You will need a gasket beforehand. As they normally fall apart upon removal. I would oil the motor as well again. Also removing the leftside motor (room air) is suggested once a year to clean motor, oil, and clean the squirrel cage for the blower. It gets plugged with dust (and pet hair if you have any). Which cuts down on the airflow from the stove.

    There should be ash traps behind the firebrick. You may need a small hose to connect to your shop vac, or have you heard of the Leafblower trick?? Works well and cleans some hard to reach places. Do a search up top and you should get plenty of results.

    Here is Defiants last thread. Good info there.

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/92180/
  9. Ricks

    Ricks Member

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    DexterDay,

    I have heard of the leafblower trick, but have not tried it yet.

    I want to make sure I understand, that behind the firebrick are two panels that I can remove. I have removed the firebrick, but never the panels. That said, the last time I removed the firebrick I did not see any panels that could be removed.

    On my quest the back of the firebox is flat there are no angled sides. The firebricks runs completely across the back of the stove.

    I know I have a lot of questions, but I am learning; thanks

    Rick......
  10. Defiant

    Defiant Vermont Castings Geek

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  11. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Here is a link to the owners manual. If you dont have it.. Then again?? You said your Firebrick is flat? What model Quest do you have?

    http://www.pelletking.com/pellet-stove-manuals/Whitfield-Advantage-IIT-Pellet-Stove-Manual.pdf

    Here is a link on how to clean.

    http://www.ehow.com/how_6777368_clean-whitfield-pellet-stove.html

    Smokeys link is a good one. Its a sticky at the top of the page.

    Do you know where the exhaust goes after it leaves the firebox? You should try and find how the stove "Breathes". How do the gases go from pot to blower motor. Understanding where it goes and why, will show you the spots prone to plugging with fly ash. Almost all stoves have a problem area.
  12. Ricks

    Ricks Member

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    DexterDay,

    I have a Quest freestanding unit. The model number is WP42UEST.

    I do have the original manual for the stove but there is no mention of panels behind the firebrick or ash traps.

    And yes the Firebrick is flat, not angles or side pieces. The Firebrick basicly runs from one side of the door to the other. Note the door does have a flat front and two angled sides.

    I do not know where the exhaust goes after it leaves the firebox. Yes I know is goes through a blower and out the exhaust pipe, but I don't know how it gets to the blower.

    I have read through Smokeys link and understand the stove needs to be clean. What I am missing (and need to take a second look at the stove) is the removeable pannels behind the firebrick. I don't remember seeing them.

    My plan of attack is to remove the Firebrick and see if I can find any screws or bolts to remove to panels behind the firebrick.

    Rick........
  13. Defiant

    Defiant Vermont Castings Geek

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    Where it shows built up fly ash. Remove retention plates

    Attached Files:

  14. Stovensen

    Stovensen Burning Hunk

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    Definitely a safety feature. If for instance emptying the ash drawer is totally neglected, this square hole is the last resort for the stove to breathe. At this point the heat will spread to the back of the rectangular housing where the inlet high temp switch is placed. This will trip and the pellet feed stop. And eventually the stove shuts down, when the low limit switch is tripped. See photo of inlet high temp switch below.

    Cleaning the cavity behind the fire brick on the Quest stoves is a PITA. Probably one of the most difficult stoves to clean out there. The illustration that Defiant has posted is not a Quest. It looks like an Advantage of the later generations, since it has an Ultragrate fire pot, and these should be much easier to clean, since the baffle plates can be removed.

    Behind the fire brick on a Quest there is no access to the cavity between the heat exchanger and the combustion blower housing. In this cavity fly ash is accumulated little by little eventually obstructing the combustion air flow.
    I use a long and narrow bottle brush... this is thin and long enough to be inserted next to the heat exchanger tubes, one side at a time. Afterwards, with the combustion motor removed, this bottle brush can reach the cavity from the other side.
    A thin plastic hose fitted to the vac can then suck away all the crud. Banging with a soft hammer on the wall behind the fire brick may also loosen some of the crud.
    After this cleaning my Quest Plus allways burns like a brand new stove.
    I've attached a couple of pics showing the impeller on my combustion blower before and after cleaning. Also, the color of the outermost/latest layers clearly indicates that the combustion has become bad/lazy ( dark soot ), whereas the innermost layers are light grey, indicating correct combustion.

    If you're careful with the fiber gasket, when pulling the combustion blower from its housing, it may be reused a couple of seasons. At least I had to, since I cannot get any Whitfield parts where I live. Next time I consider using some of the silica paste for silencers on cars.

    Attached Files:

  15. wwert

    wwert Feeling the Heat

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    This stove also has openings on either side of the heat exchanger tubes inside top of the firebox that are prone to caked up fly ash. You have to scrape it out with a sharp object and the ash just keeps coming. Don't be afraid to whack the back wall with a rubber mallet. After you remove the fire brick of course.
  16. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    If you keep the heat exchanger and the area to either side of it brushed clean, you can use a leaf blower or a high sucking power shop vacuum with proper filters (not those little ones) to remove the crud via the exhaust venting or via the combustion blower cavity if you can get a decent seal to the path coming from the heat exchanger.

    If you have access to an air compressor with the proper precautions you can also use that to clear the area on either side, then you'll likely have to do a vent cleaning (Be careful with this way, because it is very easy to have the ash come back at you and into the room with the stove.).
  17. bbone

    bbone Member

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    the square hole under firebox leads out to the right to the
    exhaust blower area
  18. stellep

    stellep Member

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    I have this same stove. Mine has been trouble free since I got it new.
    +1 on what Stovensen says about cleaning with a bottle brush. It does not seem to me that much ash gets caught up in there, but no one has even seen inside of this sealed manifold so I do it anyway. Use a small long-stemmed bottle brush that you are absolutely, positively sure won't get stuck in there :bug: Run the vac while doing this from the hole where you took the motor out. Careful of the damper flap. Turn the damper control to move it where you want. You'll see it. Of course clean the exhaust motor/fan chamber too.

    On the WP4 the square hole is the air intake (don't know about the Plus). If you had an OAK, it would hook up somewhere around this hole. Where the tube is by the power plug. Doesn't look like Mr. Oak had gotten very far with his invention when these stoves were made. The high limit switch location is different from the Plus. It's on the firebox behind the damper control knob on the panel. I'm guessing just behind where you'll be using the bottle brush. Exhaust gets too hot, it trips.

    Don't go nuts oiling the motors. Too much oil can be as bad as none. I use one drop for each point in October, and again mid season. Initially I could not find the turbine oil that they recommend for this, so I use Mobil 1 10W-30 :roll:

    Also, check the exhaust past the comb motor closest to outside. And the cleanout tee can fill up as well. Too many nasty ash pellets would probably choke the stove exhibit the symptoms you are having.

    That's all I got. Good luck.
  19. Ricks

    Ricks Member

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    Stellep,

    The damper flap that you mention, where is that exactly. Is it before or after the blower? I am wondering if it got damaged in sme manner.

    thanks

    Rick.........
  20. stellep

    stellep Member

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    If you are looking inside the comb blower hole, it's to your left. So b4 the blower. The cable from the damper control on the board attaches to an arm on the top of the exhaust that controls the damper position. Move the damper control knob and you'll see it. If it doesn't move, it's broken(cable). It could be stuck shut. My stove runs great with the damper almost fully closed because of the clean exhaust system. Yours will run like new too.
  21. Ricks

    Ricks Member

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    Can the damper be damaged if I have been operating the stove with the control set to full but the damper is stuck closed?

    And if so how would I repair it?

    thanks

    Rick.........
  22. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Yes, if it was hit and deformed or if it is rusted or corroded.

    A rust penetrate (things like liquid wrench etc .... just remember most such things are flammable and stink) and elbow grease should free it up.
  23. Ricks

    Ricks Member

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    Okay, I spent some time with a shop vacuum, canned air, screw drivers and a flashlight. I vacuumed out the firebox and air exchange tubes. Next I removed the Firebrick and vacuumed behind there. Then I removed the exhaust motor and fan; lost the gasket in the process. I used the canned air to clean the fan and motor (yes that was done outside). Next I scrapped and vacuumed out the area where the exhaust fan sits. I did locate the air damper and it does move. Next I reversed the vacuum and blew air into the exhaust pipe. I did get some soot outside, but not much given I just cleaned the vent with a brush last week.

    I did not locate any panels behind the Firebrick. I used a flashlight to look for any screws or bolts; no luck. I did not two rectangle openings on either side of the air exchange tubes. I tried blowing the canned air into them but could not tell if it made any difference. Am I supposed to put a bottle brush into these two openings?

    Given I lost the gasket (broke into several pieces) would it be safe to operate the stove for a short period of time to determine if all of my work improved the stove. To be clear I am not suggesting I run the stove for several hours, but for 10 or fifteen minutes.

    Thanks

    Rick………….
  24. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Yes use a brush at the top of the wall going through to behind the wall.

    If you have a leaf blower that has vacuum capability attach the vacuum end to the vent of the stove, aim it away from anything you don't want covered in ash and start it up.

    Do not run that stove inside without a gasket on the exhaust blower. You could (not that likely but it can happen) dump carbon monoxide into your house and it is likely to leak other exhaust gases as well.
  25. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Yep.. That area is likely the area that is clogged. Gonna need some bottle brushes or some long thin dryer lint brushes and a rubber mallet as suggested (a few times).

    If you have access to an air compressor with a nozzle, it would work 1000% better than canned air, but something is better than nothing. Air compressor and a Leaf blower are my 2 favorite cleaning tools
    .

    The area behind that firebrick is the path the exhaust takes to get to the combustion blower. With it plugged, the stove cant blow air out, nor suck air in.

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