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PE Pacific Insert Not Bullet-Proof

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Hogwildz, Aug 18, 2009.

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  1. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Yes I have oil forced air furnace that used to be the primary, but once insert was installed, I put the oil on back up status, but always kept it runnable.
    Had to do a serious service on it last year to get it running again. Did it myself and saved a few hundred bucks.
    It works good, but stinks, and is too dry LOL. I miss the wood smell. And the heating of everything, rather than just heating the air.
    Haven't really needed heat yet. I might have to move the oil furnace to the Starting position, and put the Summit on injured reserve till I work this out with PE or not.
    Its all good, I have heat if needed. BUT WANT WOOD HEAT!!!!!!!! I'm on the road tomorrow, work this past couple weeks picked up. But I plan on taking Corie's number from PE and calling him while on the road.
    I am kinda glad I don't have to deal with a distributor, and the dealer was more than glad to pass it along to PE ASAP. ;)

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  2. greythorn3

    greythorn3 Minister of Fire

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    Keep your head up! you will once again heat with wood feral swine!

    Ray
  3. Sisu

    Sisu Feeling the Heat

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    Hi Everyone,

    I am new to the forum, but I have been lurking for a while. I have a PE Pacific Insert that I bought new in 2005. It has been operated for four winters now and is operated 24/7 for up to 6 months during the fall/winter/spring season, since I use it as the primary heat source in my house. I have been very happy with the stove.

    This year when I went to clean the chimney, I noticed that the baffle had a crack in it. I went to my local dealer with the baffle only to find out that they had recently closed. So I contacted the head office for the dealership, who said that they will replace the baffle but stated that the stove may have been over-fired. This baffle warped after the first winter and the local dealer at that time stated that that is common and nothing to worry about.

    However, after the baffle issue, I took the firebricks, side rails and insulation, and vacuumed the firebox. That is when I noticed that there were cracked welds in three locations of the firebox. The first is in the top left (facing the stove) rim that contacts the door gasket. The second is at the top left (facing the stove) just inside the stove opening. The third is at the right top (facing the stove) just inside the stove opening.

    I am now wondering what to do. Are these cracks a result of poor welds and/or over-firing. As I stated before, it does see a lot of use, but would that cause these cracks? I am not aware of over-firing the stove, but the baffle has glowed on occasion. Until now I have operated it without any temperature gauges, so I am not aware to the temperature ranges that it has been operated at. To remedy this, I have now bought two magnetic ones now, as per Hogwildz configuration, to go over the door frame.

    I am weary that if I were to go to the dealer and try to pursue the limited lifetime warranty for the firebox, that they would just say that it has been over-fired, and the warranty is null and void. Should I go to the dealer? Should I go directly to PE in regard to this? I can reweld the cracks myself, which would be probably be faster, but would cause any issues?

    I am just wondering if anyone else has had similar issues and/or opinions of what I should do. Do I have a leg to stand on in pursuing the warranty?

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  4. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Go to the dealer. If no satisfaction go directly to PE. If you don't you are left with a cracked stove. If they say no you are left with a cracked stove.

    Their overfire paragraph in the manual makes me crazy:

    "DO NOT OVERFIRE THIS HEATER: Attempts to
    achieve heat output rates that exceed heater design
    specifications can result in permanent damage to the
    heater and chimney."

    With no indication whatsoever what the design specification is.
  5. Sisu

    Sisu Feeling the Heat

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    That is true! There is no harm in trying. But maybe I should wait to get my new baffle first from the dealership head office first and then pursue it. Unfortunately, cold weather is on its way and this may be a long process.

    I love the stove, but I know what you mean by the PE manual instructions in regard to over-firing. It says don't do it, yet it doesn't provide any parameters that would allow you to gauge what constitutes over-firing. The local dealer wasn't too helpful either. I did ask in the past about the glowing baffle/warpage/possible overfiring etc. and they stated that everything should be fine. I wonder if the door rim cracked first, which might have contributed to it running hotter.

    I just feel disappointed that a four year old stove would be in this condition.
  6. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    I'm coming up on season 4 with my Summit Insert. Inspect it every year. The baffles all warp or sag to a degree. But no cracks here.
    It is covered under warranty so not a big issue. No cracks in the opening here. Without a thermo, how do you gauge or even get a feel for what the stove is running at or performing at?
    I don't use the temp markings so much for exact temps, as I use them for a general basis for knowing where she likes to run at, and if its constant and such. Just to have a feel if its doing its normal thing, or operating different than usual. There may be a chance you over fired, maybe you didn't. Ever see the steel body, top or outlet or liner glowing? Baffle glowing is not all that uncommon, but if the body did, that ain't good.
    Put the whole thin in for warranty, and see what happens. These things are workhorses & tanks, but contrary to popular they are not indestructible.
  7. Sisu

    Sisu Feeling the Heat

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    Thank you for your replies. I contacted the dealership headquarters today in regard to the cracks in the firebox. The person (who I have been dealing with since the baffle issue) said immediately that the cause is over-firing. He stated that PE has only ever received a total of 6 fireboxes returned, since the start of their operation. However, he had not yet seen the photos.

    The contact also told me that the crack in the baffle is not a crack. He stated his boss told him it is a seam?! When I bought the stove, the baffle did not have any lines in that area. He did however reaffirm that I will be getting a new baffle.

    In the end, he also asked me to email the photos and he will see what he can do but stated that it might be easier for me to contact the manufacturer directly. I am not sure what will happen, but I can only hope that things happen somewhat quickly as the cold weather is approaching.

    I have run the unit up until now without any temperature gauge. Past operation has been based upon visual observation, sound, and feel. Cold starts up involved getting a good fire going with the air control on High and then dialing it down Low. If the secondary burn died out quickly then the air control would be opened up again for a little while longer. Once things get going, the air control is usually just less than a quarter inch left of Low.

    I have heated with wood for my whole life. Mind you this is my first Pacific Energy stove and my first EPA rated stove. I just bought the temperature gauges a few weeks ago after reading your (Hogwildz) posts which sparked my curiousity of how hot my stove runs. However, since PE has not divulged any information on running temps, I think it is difficult gauging over-firing vs normal operating temps even with a thermometer. As you know, the stove can run pretty hot. That said, I still think you have a great idea. I just wish the instructions were more forthcoming with temperature numbers and more details.

    I believe the stove has been operated in accordance with the manufacturer's instruction. As I stated before, this stove will run 24/7 up to 6 months, so it hasn't been babied. During extended burn periods, the baffle has glowed and the side rails occasionally. Other glowing parts have not been observed, however the stove is in our basement and is not being constantly observed during overnight and daytime burns. The local dealership (that is now closed) stated that glowing baffles, side rails, and even a little cherry red on the top was fine.

    The manufacturer's instructions even states "When burning at a slow rate for extended periods, occasionally maintain a strong fire under supervision for a couple of hours to relieve firebox and chimney deposits as well as any of the deposits on the glass." which I have done occasionally, resulting in the glowing side rails. But, as BrotherBart stated, the instructions are frustrating in their lack of details. Neither "over-firing" nor "strong fire" (or what constitutes either) are defined to assist the operator.

    It is possible that the crack at the door rim happened first, allowing air in and causing it to burn hotter than normal. The other cracks are in the side support square stock steel welds and there are no external cracks in the firebox (other than the door rim). I have noticed since installation the air control set fully on Low does not kill the fire. I also asked the local dealership about that observation and they also stated that it was normal.

    Is there evidence (other than cracked welds) that would show overfiring? The side rails are in good shape and are not bent or warped. The rest of the stove seems to be in good shape. The door is fine and so is the door gasket. The insulation on the side rails show some wear, but that probably should be expected after being hot for almost the two years of burn time.

    I understand that all stoves have limitations. I just wish that these limits were better defined and I hope that I am not up the creek with a cracked stove. Any information, tips, experiences with PE etc. is most appreciated. I will keep you posted on any future developments.
  8. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Worse case scenario, get the new baffle, and weld the cracks if PE balks. I agree with the lack of definitions, many stove manufacturers are reluctant to state in details what over firing is.
    Check the top of the stove itself for any warping. I usually take my surround & grilles off and use a flashlight to check the outer edges/corners of the stove.
    Baffle & rail glow is normal in my book, the top glowing is not. Not saying yours did, just saying the selling dealer might have stretched the truth a lil.
    If those welds are correctly ground out and rewelded, it should be fine. You won't totally kill the fire and that is normal. I know mine must have the air setting all the way to low once she is up to temp.
    Anything less makes her run hotter. I also had control issues when the door seal was not sealing due to door needing adjustment when I first bought it. I have since learned that the door is not adjusted at factory, and many need user adjustment after install. You may want to check the door with the dollar bill test just to rule that out. Keep us posted.

    BTW, that aint no seam, that baffle pc on mine looks like it wraps up from the bottom, across the front, bends over top and then stops.
    Might try for a new baffle myself next summer.
  9. Sisu

    Sisu Feeling the Heat

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    I have inspected all the accessible areas on the exterior by taking out the surround and grill, like you suggested. The top seems to be fine. No warpage or any other deformation. Same with the exterior sides of the firebox. The exterior welds all seem to be intact.

    Yes both dealerships seemed to have a mix of good and bad information. I agree that the baffle in that area is a single sheet of ss with 90 degree bends. I was pretty suprised when he told me that it was a seam. I don't know what they were thinking?! When I first approached him about the baffle, he didn't even know about the lifetime warranty and tried to tell me I probably didn't have the ss baffle. I don't have a lot of confidence in them anymore.

    I did do the dollar bill test. It actually was a $20, since the dollar bill doesn't exist anymore in Canada. Everything seems tight as a drum. I did have to reglue part of the gasket last year, as it was starting to come off the door. Which is what typically would expect as maintenance after four seasons. The cracked welds are not.

    Did you take any pictures from this season's maintenance? I would be curious to see the condition of your baffle, firebox, firebricks, insulation, etc. for comparison. It sounds like you have ran your stove almost as much as mine.
  10. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    I took some, don't think any of the areas your experiencing problems in.
    I did take lots of when I changed the blower motor. At some point, I might get my own lazy ass to make a wiki about it, for any others that come to that need.
    I'll post what I have. Some should show the brick etc.

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  11. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    So what happened with the blower Hog?
  12. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    More photos, Ill post ehat I find, then to hell with it, Ill take some of your problem areas.

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  13. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    It was operating, but one day it ran slow on fast dial, then it wouldn't get to speed. Then just hummed. The next day was fine from then on.
    It was dirty as hell cause I never cleaned it. Lack of maintenance on my part is what I'll attest it to this time.
    I think it may be ok after I clean it. But replaced the motor/fan assy anyways. It was much easier than I thought. Especially since I thought the insert would have to be pulled out to do the change.
    But I managed fairly easy with it left in place. I have read others only getting 3 or 4 years out of the motors. Might be due to lack of cleaning, or maybe they just suck and only last that long.
    They are not made by PE but rather by Fasco I think it is. No biggie, since now I know it is easier than expected to replace.
  14. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Yet more photos, gotta type stuff or it wont post.
    These are from last years cleaning.

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  15. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    More from last year's cleaning............
    Its known I run mine fairly hard. 24/7 in season. But I feel I don't go nuts.
    I know others have run theirs harder.

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  16. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Well glad I looked again to take some pics. Seems I have same problems. Se photos.
    Front upper inner door opening corners both cracked. And mine extended to the outer shell.
    Also looks like a few other cracks, some I cant tell if its the edge of the weld, but there is reason for concern now. Baffle isn't cracked but have your other problems.
    Guess I'll be calling my dealer also. Worse comes to worse, my neighbor is a welder for the steelworkers union. I'll have him repair if need be.
    My faith in PE just sank quite a bit. Now it will depend on how well they back their warranty.

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  17. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Oh well, more crap to post , uggg ugggg

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  18. Sisu

    Sisu Feeling the Heat

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    I am sorry to hear about that Hog! It gives you sort of a sick feeling in the pit of the stomach. It appears that the issues seem very similar. Similar cracks in the same general locations. If anyone else reading this runs a PE stove or insert I would encourage them to inspect these areas too. Let us know what you find.

    I have sent my photos to the dealership and they have apparently sent them to PE, so now I am just waiting to hear back. I agree with you, my loyalty to the company is now dependant on how they respond.

    Like you said Hog, I too run mine fairly hard. 24/7 for almost all of the fall/winter/spring seasons. But there should be a difference between running hard and overfiring. It is a wood stove insert. It is not for decoration (even though it looks nice) and is meant to have a fire in it and produce heat.

    Are you going to still run yours as is or shut it down for now? The cracks along the upper door openings are the biggest concerns, since they are allowing air to pass into the firebox and could allow for hotter fires. I am not running mine now and took the baffle, bricks etc out. It is going to be +3 degrees Celsius (37.4 Fahrenheit) tonight. :(
  19. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    When you talk to these guys about warranty and they claim that any cracking is from overfiring remember to ask them just what the heck else would be a defect that would be covered in that lifetime warranty on the firebox but cracks?
  20. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Did you get the fan motor from Grainger? I have found that I can extend the life of these motors by carefully drilling a hole into the felt wicks on the shaft bearings. Cleaning helps, but after a couple/few years the bearings start running dry. If you can get oil to the felt and saturate it before the bearings start to dry out, the motor will work last much longer.
  21. madrone

    madrone Minister of Fire

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    I'm not a certified weld inspector, but I've been welding for years and those look like they could be bad welds to me. The baffle crack looks like a classic case of poor weld penetration. When the weld is ground down, it may appear to be fine, but any stress just pops it apart. I'm having a hard time seeing exactly what's going on with the others, but it appears that there are cracks right next to the other welds, which are examples of stress in the heat affected zone. Once again, I'm not an expert, but I'd be inclined to say those are not from overfiring.
  22. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    No, I got it online, and it was pretty reasonable. I bopught the whole assembly housing & all, but just changed the motor. They sell just the motor also, but don't think it comes with the brackets on it.
    I kep the olf one, will clean it up and see if I can drill that hole and oil the felt. I'm keeping it as back up.
  23. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    BB & Madrone. I agree. I did some welding when I worked for Budd trailers. I am no pro, nor certified. But the guys that were teaching me were.
    I was always taught, a proper weld was much stronger than thew steel surrounding it. And if the weld broke or cracked, it was a bad weld. If the metal adjacent to it tore or broke, the weld was good, and that particular failure, would also prove a good weld. The insert never glowed, not even close. The baffle did on occasion & the baffle rails, but never the face, top, sides outlet, liner etc. I ain't a pro but can tell the face cracks are extensions from the inner door opening corner cracks. Bad enough now face welding is going to make it look like crap, guess they can be ground flat after properly welded. Then I'll have to repaint at least the front of the insert. Hmmmmmm maybe Honey brown????? ;) Trying to keep my head, but the knot in my stomach, thew creeping in cold weather & the worry is just driving me nuts.

    Worst case scenario, I have 2 options if PE shafts me:
    1. Neighbor is a Ironworkers Union welder. I'll pay, barter, beg him to come clean & reweld properly. Hoping he has portable set up and can do it right where it sits.
    2. Pull the Summit, and slide in the Summers Heat. HOLD YOUR TONGUE BART!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But yes the option is being contemplated.
    All I know is one or the other will be heating this place this winter.
    I don't even care if they give me a new insert or not, I will be just as happy for them to foot the tab of the welding & maybe a can of paint, oh and maybe a new baffle too. ;) Saggy baffle
  24. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    at a glance it looks like the hull of the stove has cracked probably due to displacement from the busted welds (doesnt look like enough penetration there) in the doorframe corner. im no PE expert but i know stoves, if the weld in the doorframe had held the cracks outside the doorframe on the face of the stove(in last set of photos) would not be there.
  25. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    And the front of the stove is the coolest part with the primary intake and airwash. I would be trying to clean off some of the crud in the crevices where the top plate meets the stove body and looking for a dye penetrate kit. Maybe Hogs welder neighbor has access to one.

    When I busted the Sierra of the same gauge steel and construction a weld popped in the top back of the firebox and the front of the stove body never showed a sign. 900 to 1,000 degrees burns killed it.

    Rest Mike. The 30 has never seen over 700 and that was just once. I learned my lesson.
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