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Please Help: New Installation of P61A and Experiencing a Lot of Smoke

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by pellet_neophyte, Jan 16, 2009.

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  1. pellet_neophyte

    pellet_neophyte New Member

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    Central Maine
    Hi,

    My husband and I just had a P61A professionally installed on Wednesday (1/14). Like many folks on this board, we have had incredibly cold temperatures this week. (It is currently something like -20 with wind chill.) Yesterday evening we had smoke for the first time when the unit auto restarted after having been idle for a bit*. Currently the stove seems to be smoking way more than it should be but perhaps it is the cold temps? Our pellets? There is definitely smoke in the house we can smell and a very light haze that I could see. Tho, the smokey smell and haze has gotten a bit better this morning as we opened a window for a bit and, per a bit of information I found here before making this post, I upped the feed rate to between 3-4. The stove is set on room temperature mode -- medium and the thermostat is on 5-ish. Do I even have that language right? I am NOT handy and I am wondering what did we get ourselves into given that we aren't handy. I'm very stressed out by the amount of smoke and am so worried that my family and home may be unsafe due to a problem with the stove. Any advice, guidance, words of wisdom will be SOOOO APPRECIATED. We will call our stove shop at 8am when someone will hopefully be there to address our concerns but I definitely want any feedback from y'all. THANK YOU.

    Here a few photos taken a few minutes ago:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    During the night, I don't know what happened with our stove as I was sleeping soundly. My husband reported this morning that he refilled the hopper with pellets around 2:30am and that he didn't notice any more smoke than when we went to bed.

    *We're still trying to figure out how to best heat our whole house -- 1912, three level. We are currently using the furnace quite a bit to heat the 2nd floor. Our children, 2 and 4, have up to this point been used to sleeping with the doors to the rooms closed. Thus, we have been struggling to figure out how to have the furnace address this while exploring how far the pellet stove heat will go throughout the 1st and 2nd floors of the house. We expect that we will try to work towards having them sleep with their doors open, tho, that opens up other issues for us. The bedroom doors closed issue aside, the cold has been so extreme that we really are unclear on how effective our pellet stove can be for our house. (At this time, there is no central heat to third floor. We have one small room that is used as an office which is currently being heated with a space heater. The other two rooms are essentially not lived in by humans (just boxes and stuff) at this time.)

    With much appreciation....

    Tammy

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  2. pellet_neophyte

    pellet_neophyte New Member

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    I did just read the current thread re: smoke ... I'm hoping what we're seeing is just normal, like folks are saying! We're so new to this that we really don't know anything.... thanks...
  3. chuckpp

    chuckpp Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Belmont NH
    I have the same stove when it starts up it will fill the inside of the stove with smoke.And when my stove was new i had to seal the inside pipe with tape made of steel or something and after it ran for a while it seal up...All i got when it started was a little smell and that went away..

    chuck
  4. bungalobob

    bungalobob Feeling the Heat

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    We had our Harman P68 installed back in the beginning of December, and the first week was the most concerning for us as well. We had all the same worries as you. The smoke smell in the beginning set off all our smoke detectors it was so bad. But after letting the stove heat up and burn off the new paint and other oils involved in the manufacturing, that went away. As for the stove smoking, if this is after lighting up this is normal. As long as all the pipe joints are properly sealed with high temp silicone the smell is probably just from running it. I originally ran ours in stove temp mode for the first few days, but found that to eat up more pellets because it just kept putting out the heat unless you continuously adjusted the temp knob as the outside temps changed. I am now in room temp mode set at 72 degrees, and I also flip the ignitor mode toggle to off after the stove is up and running. This allows the stove to run without shutting down the flame. It will go to a low fire until the temp calls for more heat, then the flames kick up. This may not be the most efficient way to operate the stove because it will always burn some pellets when heat is not needed, but it will save on the amount of time the ignitor is used to start new flame. Even though under warranty, I want it to last a while. My feed is set at 4.5, the fan set midway between low and high. Our home is just under 2000 square feet, two floors. The P68 heats the whole house no problem. We have a fan at top of stairs blowing down toward the stove. That's the best method, blow cold air to stove, so heated air fills the space where the cold air was. We also have had to adjust to leaving doors open. That is the cost of running a stove for heat. Our kids have adjusted, they close them for a while during day and before going to sleep, but open when they cold or go to bed. I don't think that you'll heat three floors with your unit, the P68 is the biggest unit Harman makes and is rated for about 2200 square feet. Yours is the smaller unit but should get heat up to the second floor. Read all the posts concerning moving heat, and also do a search of Harman on this site. There are alot of owners of Harmans who have shared their experiences and tips on here. This is a great site, helped me out with alot of concerns and questions. Don't be afraid to ask any questions, it will be answered by someone or they will direct you to a thread that may help you. There is alot of trial and error learning to do, but it is worth it. You'll love the heat and the stove once you get adjusted to it. And read your manual many many times. Good luck and happy burning.
  5. crausch

    crausch New Member

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    Nice stove. I was going to buy the P61A but the dealer was out of stock and I elected to get an Advance.

    I my first concern when reading your post was that you had smoke in your house. My first thought would be that you have a vent pipe leak somewhere. Some of these leaks can be very hard to see and find. I notice that there is no sealant of any kind around your exahust joints. I would seal those up with silicon or the metal tape mentioned. You can try to use a flashlight in the dark to spot escaping smoke. It will be easiest to see at startup.

    Once you have the exaust leak fixed then modify your burn settings to try and eliminate the smoke out the exahust. You may need to increase the Feed adjuster more so that your stove can get the maximum burn efficiency when needed. The light colored smoke may indicate that your fuel/air ratio is lean.

    Also, read through this thread to get a better understanding of how to set your feed rate. The manual tells what to do, but some of the posts in this thread explain why and how your stoves uses the settings.

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/225/
  6. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Be absolutely certain that you use high temperature silicon sealant. Do not use anything not properly rated for 500 degrees or more.
  7. pellet_neophyte

    pellet_neophyte New Member

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    Your replies are IMMENSELY appreciated. My stove shop had me put the stove on stove temp -- I'm now researching to try to get my head around the differences between room temp and stove temp, etc. -- I found a thread on here that is very helpful but am finding I have to reread this stuff several times before I begin to get my head around what might really be going on. I feel like I'm back in calculus class -- I can understand just enough to get by but know that there's so much more to it. ;) I digress... so my stove shop had me put the stove on stove temp. After having me check to make sure there wasn't any ice buildup on the outside pipe -- absolutely no sign of this. But I did determine that what is coming out of that pipe is a) quite toasty and b) smells considerably smokey. The stove shop expects to be out here first thing tomorrow morning and assure me he thought we'd be fine until then with the stove on stove temp. So... off to do more reading while my kids minds zone out in front of Elmo... ;)
  8. crausch

    crausch New Member

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    [Update to previous post]

    After reading another thread titled "10 degrees - Is this normal", it looks as though your smoke outside of the house may be normal. Although I do not see smoke out of mine and we are at 8 degrees this morning, most of the folks that do not normally see smoke are reporting it with these record temps. I guess you have to make your own judgement call as to whether it is moisture or smoke. IMO smoke will linger in the air much longer than moisture.

    Bungalobob mentions the oder and some smoke during break-in of a new stove. He is right in that is normal. I experienced it also. After the first couple burns the oder and fumes should diminish. I noticed with my stove that several days to a week later, I still thought I was smelling exhaust fumes. My smoke/co2 detectors did not go off though. But then I noticed my eyes starting to burn. I eventually uncovered a small exhaust leak in my pipe. Once I sealed it, everything has been just fine since...no smoke, vapors, smells, or eyes burning.

    Give your stove a couple days to break in. But I would be proactive and just double check for leaks. If the oder disappears then you should be good. If you continue to smell exhaust then you will need to get it fixed.
  9. pellet_neophyte

    pellet_neophyte New Member

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    Definitely have a burning feeling in my eyes. I do have a carbon monoxide detector plugged in but I am getting another to be sure. Its about -17 at this point and my house is pretty warm -- for this I am so thankful!
  10. Shortstuff

    Shortstuff Feeling the Heat

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    Loc:
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    I personally don't own that particular stove, but the first thing I noticed from your pictures is the "dryer vent hose" which I'm guessing is being used for your OAK (Outside Air Kit). I don't know if it is right or OK to use that dryier vent hose with your stove, but it is highly NOT recommended with any other stove that I've ever heard of. Most manuals say not to even use PVC or any type of solid plastic pipe either - it MUST be metal!

    There's obviously been an intallation error made. We never smell one tiny bit of wood-smoke in the house. After I installed our stove the last thing I did was take the 500° silicon and with my finger carefully sealed every single joint in my vent pipe. You don't need very much silcon sealant at all, just enough to seal every joint. As someone already mentioned, the best way to see exactly where the smoke is coming from is by using a flashlight in the dark. Turn all the lights off in that room, then using a flashlight carefully look around every joint by shining the light past (beside) each joint and you'll be able to see the smoke very easily. Also, one of the most vulnerable places for a leak would be where the very first vent pipe joins the solid stove pipe.

    As was also mentioned, there will always be smoke inside the stove when first igniting, then when the flames start the smoke disappears rather quickly. My stove smokes inside on startup for about 30 seconds and no more.

    Good Luck & Happy Heating!

    Steve
  11. pellet_neophyte

    pellet_neophyte New Member

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    Oh my goodness... the last poster -- Steve -- I went to check my pipe to check based on your concerns re: the material of that pipe -- it IS metal -- I hadn't noticed (I'm telling you I am soooo new at thinking about all this stuff) -- that is FROST on that pipe... I feel like a big ignoramous for not noticing that! I even took pictures! Jeepers.... now, what am I supposed to do about this.... sigh
  12. Shortstuff

    Shortstuff Feeling the Heat

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    Oh wow. Sorry about that. It honestly looked like that flexible dryer vent hose! I did not install any OAK myself and so far so good, my house is not super-tight.

    Again it honestly sounds like there are just some leaks from the joints in the exhaust vent pipe. Every single joint (and I do mean EVERY) should be lightly sealed with just a thin coat of sealant. That would include every "rivet" you see if there are any, just a thin coat (like plastic food wrap). Next time the stove shuts down (or shut it down if you have to) and the vent pipe is cool enough to touch, just hit every joint with the sealant. You may find that this will be your solution to the whole problem.

    Happy Heating!

    Steve
  13. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    That "dryer vent hose" you are seeing Shortstuff isn't, it is flexible exhaust pipe that is used for OAKs and motorcycles and is perfectly fine. You are seeing frost on it.

    Other than what looks like the lack of interior vent seam sealing and the possibility of missing sealant on the outside portion of the vent and OAK system there is also door seals and where the OAK attaches to the stove that should be checked.
  14. crausch

    crausch New Member

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    Since that is frost on your OAK, you be prepared for a small puddle of water when the temps creep up.

    I agree with what Steve (aka shortstuff) said above. I had sealed all the joints where the vent pipe fit together, but I still knew I had a leak. Then I finally found it. The exhaust was escaping from a manufacturers joint (like where your "elbow" twists in your pics).

    Also, don't get too discouraged. Once you have a week or two of burning under your belt, you will be able to just sit back, stay warm, and enjoy.
  15. pellet_neophyte

    pellet_neophyte New Member

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    A close up view of our frosted pipe... I take from SmokeyTheBear that this is "normal" for our cold temps?

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
  16. crausch

    crausch New Member

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    pellet_neophyte:

    [IMPORTANT!]
    I just saw something in your pic...When the frost starts melting off your air intake pipe, it looks as though your electrical outlets (surge protecter) is sitting right underneath of it. I am concerned the water might start dripping right into your outlets.
  17. Raven20

    Raven20 New Member

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    I would move the surge protector away from the OAK hose....
  18. pellet_neophyte

    pellet_neophyte New Member

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    Ah, YES, of course! Just moved the power strip. THANK YOU!
  19. Raven20

    Raven20 New Member

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    Sorry Code,.....You beat me to it...
  20. crausch

    crausch New Member

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    No problem Ravens20...it seems like I have been cross-posting on this thread the whole time anyway.
  21. pellet_neophyte

    pellet_neophyte New Member

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    I don't know what I'd do without the internet and y'all with this... I'd be going insane, I think. Or, I would have unplugged the thing. I'm obsessed with learning about the stove so perhaps this will help me come to peace... The nearest outlet has the power cord of the stove coming underneath the vent and OAK piping. The surge protector is no longer underneath but the black electrical cord of the stove is. Blech.
  22. lessoil

    lessoil Minister of Fire

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    Congrats on the new P61!!
    We love ours.

    Smoke:
    Right after the install, we too had some smoke getting into the house.
    During the install, I asked about sealing the exhaust pipe but the installer
    said that he typically doesn't that the ash will fill them in.
    I stopped by the dealer and he gave me some tape to seal the joints.
    That took care of it. High temp silicon should work too.

    Mode:
    After having some issues with room temp mode, we ran it in stove temp.
    After putting the room temp sensor on the opposite wall, we switched back
    to room temp mode and works great. Holds the temp within 1 degree!!

    Adjustment:
    I have adjusted the combustion blower speed to max speed while burning Athens pellets.
    Also I adjusted the feed rate down to 3 to allow more burn time in the pot.

    Hope this helps.
    We have a 24' X 32' Cape with the stove installed in the living room.
    Currently we are heating the first and second floors.
    At -22F the living room is at 78F and the upstairs is 65-70.
    Love the heat!!
  23. pellet_neophyte

    pellet_neophyte New Member

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    We are running a humidifier. Man, you people are good. Should I turn them off?
  24. Heatstroke

    Heatstroke New Member

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    I also had a new Harman P61A installed a week ago today. The installer alerted me that when first started, and for the next day or so, that I would get an odor from the finish burning off the new stove. He was right, it lasted for about a day and a half, then disappeared completely. This is what you may have been smelling, just my opinion. Unless the smell persists for more than a couple of days, I wouldn't be concerned unless you detect actual smoke coming from your unit or any of the connections. A smoke detector in the room would probably set your mind at ease too, in addition to the carbon monoxide detector.

    Good luck with your new stove; my wife and I are very pleased, heats the whole house from our basement install.
  25. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    pellet_neophyte,

    codebum is correct on the vent seam sealing every single interior joint, even if the vent supplier says it is self sealing.

    There is always the possibility that those seals get pushed out of proper position when joining the pipe sections and won't work.
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