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Owning a Pellet stove.

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by Snowy Rivers, Jan 8, 2011.

  1. Snowy Rivers

    Snowy Rivers Minister of Fire

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    Now this is not meant to be an inflamatory thread of meant to insult.

    So here goes.

    Owning a pellet stove is not a "Spectator sport"

    A pellet stove is a full time "Operator Position"

    A pellet stove is by its nature an appliance that requires someone to fuel it, clean it and generally manage its operation.

    For anyone about to buy a pellet stove, they need to understand the functions of the stove fully and be prepared to follow the manufactures cleaning regimens as well as other logical steps to maintain the stove in working order.

    If the prospective buyer of a pellet stove has the notion that its a Plug it in and forget it sort of thing, then they need to fall back 30 and punt.

    Around our house the stove is an integral part of the daily household operation.

    6 am, get up, check and fill the hopper. Give the firepot a quick swish with the scraper to get rid of any clinker or ash accumulation in the firepot.

    Just before leaving for work, check the hopper and top it off.

    Get home and check the stove, check the hopper, fill up and give the pot a swish.

    Just before bedtime, do it again.

    The next morning its all the same.

    Sunday is the cleaning day.

    Shut down soon after I get up, allow the stove to cool for about an hour or so.

    Remove the firpot, ash baffles and such and do a good cleaning.

    Reinstall the parts, rekindle the fire and its off the rodeo again for another week.

    Monthly during the routine cleaning, I remove the vent cap and suck out the vent pipe.

    At the end of the season, the entire stove gets a cleaning, the mechanical cabinet gets vacuumed out and any other service work done (lube the exhaust fan bearings)

    The stove will then sit idle for the summer months.

    Come late fall, its time to get winter fuel stocked up and ready to go.

    Along about late sept/Oct the process begins anew and its back in the saddle again for another 6-8 months of stove season.

    Granted the shoulder season (late spring) will see the operation reduced to a more sporadic regimen rather than the full time 24/7 of winter.

    For those stoves that are connected to a tall chimney, the pipe needs to be brushed out to make certain that there is not an accumulation of nasty stuff that could cause issues.

    Direct vent stoves can be an attractive spot for such creatures as bees and birds to set up house keeping in. These need to be covered carefully after there is no danger of any live coals being in the stove.

    Come winter, remove the caps and rock and roll..


    Owning a Pellet stove is definately not a spectator sport.

    I have owned Pellet stoves for over 20 years, have installed every one I have owned myself and have performed all the needed maintenance and repairs over the years.

    Now I realize that not everyone has the needed tools to do all this stuff.

    The key factor is that the owner needs to fully understand the function and operation of the stove.
    The needed cleaning and such are not difficult to do, just requires a little time and patience.

    The joys of a warm fire will reward those who are willing to invest the time and effort to become an Operator.

    If being a spectator is more the style, then possibly an electric heater or an oil furnace with a Thermostat is the ticket.

    Todays generation seems to be too busy fooling with their blackberry texting than having any interest in what heats the house.

    I grew up a child of the 50's and 60's and have a great appreciation of all things mechanical.

    The wood stove, the fireplace and yessssss my mom used to cook on a wood fired range in the kitchen, bakeing pies and such, all using a wood stove.

    No touch pad controls on that old iron beast. Took a real hard case to make a pie come out perfectly and without either having it scorched or raw in the middle.

    Todays pellet stoves have become IMHO far to complicated with too much computer controls.

    Simplicity was what made the early pellet stove a joy to operate.

    Literally, it was a "plug and Play" to use a current term.

    They were very user friendly, IF you understood some very basics of fire.

    Just the right amount of fuel and air, then light it and all works sweet.

    Now I have to wonder about those who spend an enormous amount of $$$$$ to have a new pellet stove installed, just to use it "once in a while" to add some ambiance to the living room. ????????????????

    A Pellet stove is a way of life, well almost.

    Its a commitment to having a warm house and doing so at a minimal $$$$$ outlay every season.

    For those not wanting to commit to careing for and tending a Pellet stove, the issue then becomes one of safety.

    These stove are very safe to use, however, a lack of maintenance can lead to poor performance, an unhappy owner, a very stressed out dealer and frustrated tech line folks.

    From this point it heads into the issue of safety.

    The other thing that is required of the owner is to maintain several good quality "working" smoke and Carbon monoxide detectors within the home.

    These are separate devices and come as battery operated or Wall plug in types with battery backup.

    Any time a fuel burning appliance is used to heat the home, these detectors need to be in place and working.

    One smoke alarm within the room that has the stove/s and one CO detector there, plus a CO detector in or close to each sleeping room.

    More of these is better.

    CO can kill easily and quietly without the victims having any forewarning, especially while sleeping.

    Heating ones home the old fashioned way is definately rewarding, but does not come without some dedication.

    Snowy

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  2. FordMastertech

    FordMastertech Feeling the Heat

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    :blank: Very well said. :gulp:
  3. Snowy Rivers

    Snowy Rivers Minister of Fire

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    Thankyou.

    If one of the mods wants or see fit to sticky this, It might be a good read for perspective pellet stove owners.

    I certainly dont want to scare anyone off, but I walk the walk and talk the talk.

    Its definately a crime when a new owner gets pumped full of a BS story by a sales person at a Big Box store.

    Snowy
  4. nosaudioil

    nosaudioil Member

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    Thank you, well done Snowy!
    I was telling a similar version of your dissertation to a starry eyed potential this morning. Suggested that they might do better with a Rinnai or other type.
  5. pauly2110

    pauly2110 Member

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    very true, great post on what to expect, a day in the life of a pellet stove owner.. :coolsmile:
  6. Snowy Rivers

    Snowy Rivers Minister of Fire

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    Just get me started on how I feel about such things as Antilock brakes, computer traction control and other over engineered things. :bug:

    With me its just as you said, "A day in the life of a pellet stove owner"

    I am a commercial truck driver by trade and don't mind getting my hands dirty, not one little bit.

    Having to screen every bucket full of nut shells and then pack them uptairs in the nasty weather just adds character is all.

    Now packing two 5 gallon pails up two flights of steps when they are slick, then falling on ones butt can tend to aggravate, but the lovely warm fire in the stove flickering away, gently soothes away even these anoyances.

    I guess I would have to say that the biggest incentive is the fact that I paid $115 for 8000 lbs of shells a month ago.

    Even with the cost of the electricity to run the stove/s the winter heating bill is very easy to deal with.

    Snowy
  7. Install fire 1

    Install fire 1 Member

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    Very well said!

    I am always tinkering with my pellet stove as well, cleaning, maintainance as well as trying new things such as a thermostat to save some pellet consumption.

    It's a sort of "marriage", that takes patience and comitment to be successful. You love it and it will love you back.


    AR
  8. save$

    save$ Minister of Fire

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    Well done. I think I may have come along just a few years before you. When I was a young kid, our home entertainment center was a floor model tube radios. Our heat was from an oil burner in the living room and one in the kitchen. But you know, I don't think it is the gadgets that have produced a disconnected society. My grandchildren will come over and are willing to get their hands dirty helping in the garden, or picking up after some of the pets. They have their blackberries, but also have chores and are held responsible for their actions and know they need to carry their weight at home if they want privileges.
    We used to burn with wood. Now burning pellets. I don't think I would have been as successful or safe for that matter had it not been for the additional information I have picked up on this forum. What I got from the dealer and installer was minimal, from the manual the information was good, from this forum, exceptional. Another plus is the chance to be connected to some really decent people who share a common interest.
    Once again, well said, and certainly a good read for anyone considering adding a pellet stove into their family.
  9. THE ROOSTER

    THE ROOSTER Feeling the Heat

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    Did I miss, " it beats cutting wood" ??? And with today's stoves's the phrase " set it and forget it" could be replaced with " set it and fill it"...
  10. twojrts

    twojrts Feeling the Heat

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    Just the other day, my neighbor commented on how much I have to do to have the heat. She is right, but if you want something good, you have to work for it.

    Like saves$, I too have learned an awful lot from this forum. I think Snowy's post should be stickied also. Folks that are considering getting a pellet stove need to be informed of how much work is involved and know that there is soooo much help available from the guys on this website. The best part, they are really sincere in wanting to help anyone!!

    Just my 2 cents.
  11. JoeS

    JoeS Feeling the Heat

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    It is actually cheaper for me to turn off the stove and heat with natural gas but there is something about the stove that just won't let me do that regardless of the work involved.

    Have to say that my dealer never led me down the road of set it and forget it.

    I actually enjoy playing with the darn thing!
  12. lessoil

    lessoil Minister of Fire

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    Again, Well Stated!!
    Love the stove/heat and the sound of the oil delivery truck driving by!
    Have reduced our oil consumption by 54%. Working on going lower!!
    Burning 24/7 here

    Thanks!!
  13. spirilis

    spirilis Feeling the Heat

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    Very good post, as someone who's never touched a pellet stove before (and loves mechanical gadgets) I was curious what the routine looked like.
    Think I'll keep my free woodstoves and use the compressed-sawdust bricks for now.
    Maybe in my next house...
  14. Bkins

    Bkins Feeling the Heat

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    Great thread. Thanks for posting it. The only thing that I would add is that one needs to be somewhat mechanicly inclined to maintain most of these stoves, even the older ones. My wife has mentioned a number of times that she couldn't own a pellet stove by herself as she just doesn't have the mechanical ability to fix our stoves when one decides to stop working. We live in a area that the local dealers will just rake someone over the coals for repair work, and parts. It is the same for a gas or oil burner although there is more competetion for that type of repair work and the costs are lower.

    With that being said we both really like our stoves. Wish we were in a area of the country where we could get corn/shells for a reasonable price.
  15. mike56

    mike56 Member

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    Great post, Love the heat and savings i get out of a pellet stove, today's generation knows nothing about getting there hands dirty, there whole life revolves around there cell phone.
  16. FordMastertech

    FordMastertech Feeling the Heat

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    The only time "todays generation" gets their hands dirty is when they drop the cell phone in the toilet and try to retrieve it.
  17. Stihl029

    Stihl029 Member

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    Great post, and good advice. If ones not willing to make this a labor of love, then your better off getting a gas stove. I burn pellets because its cheaper for me, but even more so because I can love a toasty warm home. Its like having a wood stove without having to cut wood and the mess that comes with it. But its by no means a plug and play operation...good advice!
  18. Turbo-Quad

    Turbo-Quad New Member

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    To me a pellet stove is just as much work as a wood burner. It's just cleaner and to a degree easier. It's not a furnace that you set and forget and it doesn't require PRO-PAIN! I love seeing that driver go by my house. I used to cringe everytime I'd opened the door and there was the dubious brown envelope hanging from the door knob. Haven't seen one of those in a while! The work is worth it, so is knowing that pro-pain guys isn't getting my money.
  19. Snowy Rivers

    Snowy Rivers Minister of Fire

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    Great additions troops.

    I will say this, not all of todays generation are incapable of or unwilling to work or get their hands dirty.
    Some of the young people would make my great grandfather proud.

    As far as the cell phones go, I love these little devices. To me, they are a tool, not a toy.

    I dont do hardly any texting as I find it anoying. I am in business and my clients must be able to reach me 24/7

    As far as the other things these toys can do, I could really care less about games or such stuff.

    Having the GPS on the new Phones is a nice perk.

    What drives me nuts is young fellows in their 30's that can't drive a car with a stick shift, totally out of touch with anything mechanical and sit and play computer games all day.

    My niece is married to a wonderful young man who is just finishing up with his residency at a local hospital (Becoming a doctor)

    This kid not only is a great doc, he loves wrenching on his Jeep CJ7 and doing other such stuff.

    Now I have another family member that is in his early 30's that plays video games and fools with such stuff almost constantly.


    Ahhhhhhh well.


    I love the computer, but to me its a way to contact the outside world on a large basis.

    A tool to locate materials and information that I need for many other things.

    Just an example, this wonderful forum, where we can communicate across the entire planet is a couple seconds time.

    When I was in High School, we barely saw the hand held calculators and then were not allowed to use them.

    We had to do it all by hand or use a slide rule.

    Where we have come in such a short time.

    My issue is that one must not lose the basic skills that will always work when things get tough.

    The Pellet stove does require some mechanical ability, but what it does are not tough to master.


    The big issue is that the owner/operator needs to have a desire to do these things.

    Here in Northwest Oregon, we do have a good supply of natural gas, but the cost is not cheap any more.

    My kids heat their house with gas but they pay far more a month for gas to heat a much smaller house than I pay to run 2-3 pellet stoves for almost the entire season.

    Everyones situation due to geographical locations varies a lot.

    Heating with petroleum, propane or electricity (heat elements) is by far the most expensive.

    Heating with yearly renewable biomass products makes great sense and in so many cases is dirt cheap.

    The shells that I use are not available year round, they must be stored in containers to keep them dry and free of rodents.

    One must have a way to pick them up from the processing plant and to transport them home.

    The crop varies from year to year, but is an item that will return next season.

    This same scenario happens with waste straw, cherry pits, olive pits and many other Bio products.

    The best part of this is that the product is a waste item that must be disposed of as the process of harvest progresses.

    Here in the Northwest, we have literally hundres of thousands of acres of forests that are clogged with dead fall that creates a huge fire hazard during the summer and that could be cleaned up and used to make pellets.

    Sadly, we have draconian enviro laws that protect all this and stop any salvage from taking place.

    So now when we get the summer lightning storms, the forests burn up and the loss is terrific.

    In the process of trying to save all the forests the grand wisdom has condemed them to die.

    Great ideas eh ??

    Getting a tad off track here.

    Snowy
  20. Cozy Old Coot

    Cozy Old Coot Member

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    Great post, everyone wanting to began heating with pellets should read this before getting a stove.
  21. Wi Thundercat

    Wi Thundercat Feeling the Heat

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    Great posts Snowy!!!! :)
  22. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    Excellent post about owning a pellet stove and basically all true and those contemplating one and all beginners need to face up to theses realities.
    However, to the uninitiated I felt it also gives the impression that it`s more complicated and time consuming than it really is.
    Yeah, wood stoves are pretty simple to operate but the amount of time and work involved and the dirt, bugs, mess , not to forget the increased danger of personal injury and fire and having to baby sit that fire from scratch and reloading 3 + times a day makes owning, operating, and maintaining a pellet stove seem like childs play.
  23. Snowy Rivers

    Snowy Rivers Minister of Fire

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    Be careful now.

    To many folks, what we consider "TOOOOOOO EASY" can be a daunting task.

    Taken one step at a time it is easy, but for some, they tend to view the entire scenario in one huge chunk and it can overwhelm them.

    Certainly, this is not tough, its just manual things that many people have never done before.

    I loved the wood stove and the wood fire. I did not like the mess, especially the nest of ants that always seem to warm up at the wrong time and then crawl all over the place :bug:

    I learned quickly that any firewood stayed outside until it was going into the fire, especially if it had bark on it that could hide little creatures.

    After being a member of this forum, it quickly became aparent that a lot of people simply have no idea of whats involved in this stuff.

    Maybe this will help some..

    Snowy
  24. FordMastertech

    FordMastertech Feeling the Heat

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    I would hope so but in my finding on things over the years is that a lot of people just don't have any common sense about anything, no less anything full of electronics and mechanical things.
  25. 2fas4u

    2fas4u New Member

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    I have enjoyed being a pellet stove owner for the last 10 years now and I enjoy the warmth it provides and actually doing the maintenance on it myself. Really isnt bad once you know what to do and expect out of the stove. They really run flawlessly for all of the hours we have racked up on them!

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