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Problem with Whitfield Advantage/Advice on replacement stoves

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by jarheadvet, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. jarheadvet

    jarheadvet New Member

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    Newbie here but I have been reading the posts for a while and find them very informative. I have a Whitfield Advantage pellet stove manufactured in 1993. It has worked well for us for 3 seasons (it came with the house we bought) but now has developed a problem with the burn pot filling with pellets after about an hour. I replaced the gasket in the door and have opened the damper all the way to try to get maximum air in since everything I've read about this points to a lack of combustion air. I have also considered a feed rate problem--is there a way to adjust it. Our control board is basic--one knob for heat output (1 to 5), one knob for the room air fan, a red button to begin the process (turn blowers on) and another switch for the auger to feed.

    I am cautious about sinking too much money into this thing since it is 17+ years old. It may have just reached the end of its life. Is there anything else I can do other than that which I have done (cleaned everything, opened damper, cleaned again, replaced gasket, cleaned again). The fans are working (seemingly fine) and the vent was cleaned as well.

    I'm considering a Bosca Spirit 500 found on ebay for a very decent price (under 2k with shipping) as a replacement. Are there any other stoves worth looking at that are less than $2200? FYI I have about 1500 sqft of house, rancher style. Thanks in advance to your replies and advice.

    Semper Fi

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  2. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Before hurrying off to spend some dollars, I'd spend a bit of quality time with brushes, shop vacuum, air compressor, leaf blower/vacuum, and other instruments of pellet stove torture first.

    Sounds like you might have a plugged stove.
  3. Pellet-King

    Pellet-King Minister of Fire

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  4. Snowy Rivers

    Snowy Rivers Minister of Fire

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    Remove the screws on either side of the firebrick and then slide out the retaining plates.

    Lift out the firebrick pieces. Behind these are two channels that will fill with ash, suck this out really well.

    Now, look closely, there are two more screws on either side that will allow the ash baffles to be slid out towards the center.

    Do this carefully, as they are like a Chinese puzzle to get out and back.

    Vacuum out the passages behind these.

    Reinstall the innards and the stove should work fine again.

    The primary ash traps fill up full of ash and the stove can't flow any air through it.

    The exhaust fan pulls the air up through the firepot and then up through the heat exchangers. from here it goes down the ash channel traps and then out through the exhaust.

    I have one of these stoves, and whe I got it, it was choked full of ash and did not work at all.

    Good luck and keep us posted.


    Snowy
  5. jarheadvet

    jarheadvet New Member

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    Thanks so much for all the information. I cleaned the stove (yet again) and plan to do a complete tear down this weekend to clean the harder to reach areas and the exhaust fan. But a funny thing has happened. Beginnning yesterday at about 8:30 am the stove began to work pretty well. It burned about 17 hours before the burn pot filled up.

    Anyway, while I was cleaning the ash pan, I noticed there seemd to be a metal plate blocking the air inlet pipe. I made some measurements to make sure I was looking at the same pipe from the front as I was from the back. Sure enough, it was the air inlet pipe. So I placed a broom handle through the pipe to make sure it wasn't an optical illusion and the broom handle hit an obstruction. (I shined a flashlight through the ashpan enclosure into the air inlet pipe when I saw the obstruction.)

    Now my question: Is there a baffle or anyting that is supposed to be in the air inlet pipe? Should I be able to see through the air inlet pipe when looking straight down the pipe? As far as I know, this stove has been installed snce around 1993 (we bought this house in March 2007).
  6. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Your stove has a damper somewhere in the air intake side.
  7. Snowy Rivers

    Snowy Rivers Minister of Fire

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    Standing in fron t of the stove, there should be a handle with a rod sticking out of the LH side panel of the stove.

    This is the draft control rod.

    It has a specific setting, but, try pulling this out to allow more air to flow through the stove.

    What you are seeing in the air port behind the ash pan is most likely a baffle to discourage any flame propagation back into the air inlet tube.

    The draft control is in the inlet side of the exhaust fan on these stoves.

    To set the draft control to the factory settings, do the following.

    Pull the draft control rod all the way out until it stops.

    Measure the distance from the side panel of the stove to the inside edge of the little set collar on the rod, this distance should be 2-1/4"

    If not, loosen the set screw and adjust the collar to make it so.

    Once this is done push the rod all the way in so the collar just touches the panel.

    This is the normal running spot with everything else being OK.

    Some pellets may require more air (pull the rod out)

    Here is a Piccy of our Advantage II
    You can see that the draft rod collar is out about 1/2" from the side of the stove. I run at this setting with the shells I burn.

    The biggy though is to get the initial setting done correctly. Rod all Rod all the way out, set the collar at 2-1/4 inches from the side panel.

    If the rod is allowed to go in too far the stove will not draft right.

    Another thing to keep an eye on is to make sure that if the pot starts filling up, to check the exhaust fan. (LH side of the stove behind the side panel)

    If this fan motor quits, the fire will die out and quit, leaving a full pot of pellets.

    The exhaust fan motor needs to be oiled once yearly with 20 wt oil.

    There are two little rubber plugs on the top side of the motor, pull these out and place two drops of oil in each tube.

    To get the plugs back in. use a suitably sized round blunt item that will fit down into the little stopper and push them back in.

    The exhaust fan also has a thermal cutout built in. If the motor overheats due to too much dirt nad such, this can casue whats happening.

    This stove is an excellent unit and worth fixing for sure. Don't give up on the old girl, she just needs a little loving is all.



    Hope this helps

    Snowy

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  8. Wood Heat Stoves

    Wood Heat Stoves Minister of Fire

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    great stove. i wouldn't get rid of it..especially over svc issues

    if you'd like the svc manual pm me:
    make model, Serial Number, and your email address.
  9. chris288

    chris288 New Member

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    I concur, excellent stove, if its in good shape I would keep it, ours served us well for 14 years, high humidity rusted ours pretty badly so we replaced it with a more maintenace free, thermostatically controled one. I had the same problem and it was the combustion blower, located just inside the panel on the left hand side right next to the draft control rod, after 14 years it was tired and would periodically slow down causing a backup, ordered a new one had it replaced in about 15 minutes, it and it was fine.
  10. Snowy Rivers

    Snowy Rivers Minister of Fire

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    I agree, the blower can wear out, especially if the bearings have never been lubed.

    The bearings on these motors are a sintered Bronze (Oilite) and not a ball bearing type.

    If the bearings get dry, they start to drag and then the motor heats up more and more until the thermal cutout opens.

    This may or may not be the issue but certainly worth looking at.

    Snowy
  11. jarheadvet

    jarheadvet New Member

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    Again thanks so much for all the info. I am of the mind that it is the combustion blower slowing a bit. Our stove is working marvelously right now. We have a bright, active flame. Some off the pellets do "dance" in the burn pot. I am going to order new blowers for this unit as well as other parts and plan to do a complete refurb once the season is done. I intend to clean the combustion fan in the meantime. I love this stove when it works well and plan on making it work for another 17 years (hopefully).

    I'd appreciate input on what I should replace and what other parts I should have on-hand. Also a source for these things would be helpful as well. Thanks again for all your help. My wife and 5 children (7 years to 11 months) thank you as well since we won't be spending 3k for a new stove.

    Semper Fi!
  12. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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  13. imacman

    imacman Guest

  14. jarheadvet

    jarheadvet New Member

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    OK, final post...a thank-you for all the advice. I woke Sunday morning to a very full burn pot. Hmm, I guess the stove wasn't "fixed" after all. So I throw myself into the stove full-tilt. (Complicating this issue is that I pastor a church and I have just about 1.5 hours to tear down, clean, re-assemble, get cleaned up and drive to church.) I fgured this task would be interesting. So I remove the firebricks and clean behind them. Per the hints above, I remove the baffles and clean behind them as well. I also clean the pathway to the combustion fan. There was a lot of ash throughout these areas. I then re-assembled the stove, lubricated the combustion blower, cleaned out the exhaust vent and started the stove.

    WOW! I now have closed the damper to about 2" or just below to keep the pellets in the burn pot. We have a very bright, extraordinarily active flame. We have great heat output (we have about a 40 to 50 degree increase of temperature over the outdoor temperature. We went to church, came home about 6 hours later to find the stove working well and outputting heat. We left the stove on overnight. I rose at 1 am to go to work (I work full-time and pastor a church as well) and the stove was continue to operate marvelously! I still plan to replace theblowers and various heat limit switches or at least have replacements on-hand since the stove is 17 years old.

    Thanks to everyone for their information and sharing their knowledge with me. I just saved $3000.00 by not having to buy a new stove.

    Semper Fi!
  15. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Hi,

    Can I piggy back onto this thread? I also am trying to solve the full burn pot mystery of the Advantage (I have a II T).

    I keep reading about cleaning out the ash baffles, but I myself am baffled. After I removed the fire bricks and cleaned out the ash, I couldn't see any additional screws as described above. Here is what I see:

    [​IMG]

    It looks like the plate I see can be removed with some allen wrenches, but not screws. Is this what people are talking about?

    Thanks, Susie
  16. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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  17. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Thanks, Smokey, for the quick reply.

    Ok, so I'm thinking it's the difference between an Advantage II and an Advantage II T. My stove doesn't look anything like that. Once I remove the fire bricks, I don't have any additional metal baffles (don't know if you could tell by my picture).

    --Susie
  18. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Where are the Allen (wrench) screws located and exactly what are they holding on?

    Can you go from where the ash was (on each side) all the way to the combustion blower cavity?
  19. arnash

    arnash New Member

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    "I still plan to replace the blowers and various heat limit switches or at least have replacements on-hand since the stove is 17 years old."

    I'm new to pellet stoves, I've been using my Whitfield WP2 Advantage for about 6 weeks. I bought it from a neighbor in a mobile home park for $50. What I'd like to add to this topic is that my stove, while not very quite, heats like it's new, even though it must be about 26 years old. It's serial number is around 7,000 which makes me assume it was built in 1984 -the year that the pellet stove (in the form of this model) first hit the stores. It's the most basis model of all, all settings are controlled manually (fan & auger speed). If they continued to build later models as well as they built this one, the perhaps you need not be too concerned about yours being 17 years old, since mine is about a decade older and still going strong,...and saving me a lot of money by not having to use my heat pump which racks up high electricity bills.
    I'd like to add that I love the warm flame-heated air that pellet stoves visibly produce, central air can't compete when coming in from the cold outdoors to warm-up. And while Whitfield pellet stoves have only been around since 1984, they're more like an old fashioned heating device from 1884 than a sterile modern
    device with no personality and no flame.
  20. Bill Ludwig

    Bill Ludwig New Member

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    Hello all i have a Whitefield pro file 30 INS with almost the same problems .
    I have smoke coming to the house when it first starts and the confection fan is barely blowing out. I have shut the stove down to get the confection fan to blow out higher.
    I have cleaned the stove in every spot that should be cleaned / i have even replaced the combustion fan . And i still have smoke coming in to the house.

    help in pa.
  21. arnash

    arnash New Member

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    The combustion fan wouldn't have been a problem unless after a good cleaning the flame was still too lazy. A good flame is evidence that it's working properly. If the convection fan is barely blowing, it might need a few drops of oil, as is supposed to be an annual maintenance chore. During the 2nd or 3rd week of using my second-hand Whitfield advantage, the combustion fan didn't really operate immediately upon turning it on, but after adding a few oil drops to both motors, it has started running immediately every time. I assume it had probably not been lubricated in ages, if ever. How about yours?
    As for the smoke, it doesn't sound like a fan problem, it's probably a bad seal in the door or the vent pipes, unless you have some very strong wind blowing into the vent pipe. But when you use the word "smoke" are you speaking of visible smoke or invisible toxic exhaust gases? If the smoke is visible, then your flame is not getting enough air and that should be obvious by its appearance. If it's invisible, then you have one or both of the 2 conditions of a bad seal or some kind of restriction in the vent pipe resulting in higher pressure which forces exhaust out through areas that normally wouldn't leak exhaust. There's also the possibility that you have an opening like a window that is allowing exhausted fumes to blow back into your house. Others have reported that they found that their vent cap was congested and needed cleaning. I hope this helps. What ever the problem is, it's probably something simple.
  22. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Clean your vent.

    Check every single joint from the combustion blower through to the vent termination for leaks.

    Make certain that you got the combustion fan properly tightened on its gasket.

    Make certain that any Tee clean out caps have their gaskets intact and the cap is properly fastened onto the Tee.

    Make certain your door gasket is good, dollar bill test in two place on all sides.

    Stoves that have air washes and have smoke build up in the firebox prior to lighting due to restricted venting will vent smoke through their air wash system.

    ETA: Since this is an insert verify that you have a block off plate installed in the chimney and that it is properly sealed to the chimney and venting.
  23. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Well no wonder my ash baffles don't match what everyone says. It turns out I don't have an Advantage IIT after all; I have an Advantage Plus!

    No...when I remove the firebricks, I just have a big chamber with the allen-wrenched plate over the pellet shoot. I don't see any passage from that to the combustion cavity. Don't know if you can tell from my picture.
  24. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Hi,

    I always had issues with smoke coming into my house until I changed the flue pipe. Not quite the way you described; it was more when the stove ran out of pellets, but sometimes when it was starting up.

    The stove had been installed with a horizontal flue pipe going outside; no vertical at all. Our siding was covered in soot too. When we replaced the siding, I also changed the pipe to go into a clean out tee outside the house and then up a vertical pipe to above roof line. It means that the hot air rising up the pipe helps the venting. We also used a clean out tee that adapts a 3 inch pipe from the stove into a 4 inch vertical. Have never had a problem with smoke in the house since we did that. And the stove burned better.

    So, I don't know what your pipe looks like, but if is only horizontal, it's probably a big reason why you're getting smoke.
  25. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    I see in another thread you are also checking the incoming burn pot air on the right side.

    Have you taken a small mirror and inspected around and above all of those heat exchanger tubes? You should be looking for ash and also any holes that pierce the metal tubes. I saw from another thread that you mentioned sparks etc.. coming out of the front of the stove. If you have a corroded through or split heat exchanger you aren't likely going to be able to salvage the stove. But you should check it all over first and that includes the back of the stove where the convection air enters the exchanger.

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