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Problems with new Jotul C550

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Woodstocker, Nov 27, 2011.

  1. Woodstocker

    Woodstocker New Member

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    Hi All.

    I am new to this forum, and my username refers to where I live, not the type of stove that I have....just wanted to clarify that!

    We installed a new Jotul C550 Rockland insert, and I'm not sure whether it's working properly or if I just have unrealistic expectations. We have a 2700sf raised ranch and the insert is downstairs in the family room that has a regular-sized doorway leading to the upstairs staircase. We explained to the company we bought it from that we wanted to keep the oil furnace at around 50 and get the main heat in the house from the insert. They told us that this unit would heat the whole house. Long story short, in addition to burning oil, we are also burning wood and the electricity to power the blower, so I'm not sure we're ahead.

    Everyone on the previous thread has complained about the snapstat on the blower and I'm no different. Last night I loaded the stove, the temp was up around 550 and the blower didn't go on, set to auto. It did turn on later, though. The room gets to be about 80 degrees maximum, but I don't understand why the box temp would be so high, and that the room temp would be so modestly warm. I don't think an 80-degree basement would send the heat upstairs enough to make much of a difference. Earlier this week we had a 40-degree day. The oil thermostat was set at 60 and with a mature, raging fire we could only get the upstairs temp to about 67, so I am not confident about performance on a 10-degree day. I am sure that I am going to have to cut registers into my hardwood floors or open up the staircase wall to allow heat to pass upstairs, but before I radically change the house I need to know if I will be more successful in heating the upstairs.

    Despite having some really hot fires and the blower almost at full blast, we can't get that family room really hot.

    I have a friend with an old wood stove that gets incredibly hot on only 1 or 2 logs, and I'm burning up to 20 splits or more each day. He said that the other night his house was so hot they had to sleep without blankets. For full disclosure, he has a single-level house, but still....

    I've had this insert now for about 2 months and don't know if I should return it for a wood stove. The dealer has already replaced the snapstat but that didn't help and he is calling Jotul tech support tomorrow. My theory is that the radiating heat from a free-standing stove will be greater than the heat from an insert with blower and that the heat will rise through the house more rapidly and hotter as well.

    Thoughts and comments gratefully appreciated.

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  2. kingquad

    kingquad Minister of Fire

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    Post a floor plan. You'll get a lot more suggestions. 2700sqft is a stretch for any insert or freestanding stove unless you have a very open floor plan. If this stove is in the basement, then another stove on the main floor sounds like your best option. This is probably not what you want to hear though. Sorry

    Try using small fans on the floor blowing cool air toward the stove room. The vacating cooler air will be replaced with warmer air. Any registers cut into the floor should have fusible link dampers installed to comply with code and to keep your family safe.

    Is your basement insulated?
  3. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    Question #1:
    Did your installer block off the fire place chimney?
    If not, you may be losing heat thru that opening.

    Question 2:
    Have you tried adjusting the snap-disk so it's got good contact with the fire box?
    It may NOT be in contact, which will cause it to take longer to actuate...
  4. golfandwoodnut

    golfandwoodnut Minister of Fire

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    A couple of comments, I have the same insert. One is that the snap-disk does take 1/2 hour to engage and you should push the ash to the back of the stove before lighting. Alot of ash will delay the auto feature from working, but it will work. I originally thought I had the same problem.

    I guess you have not heard that wood stoves are space heaters, that is what they are. On a house your size I doubt it will heat the entire area. I have 3,200 square feet and it will definetly not heat the entire area. I do believe regular stoves (not inserts) do heat better because they put out radiant heat as well as a blower. The fans really do not draw much electric though.

    I would give alot of thought to cutting in registers as that is now considered a fire hazard. But I understand your desire. Pushing cold air down the stairs would be better as hot air rises naturally and cold air is easier to push.
  5. Woodstocker

    Woodstocker New Member

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    Thanks for the thoughtful replies.

    I maybe wrote the wrong thing. I don't expect the Jotul to heat my whole house, but it is not even heating the 500 sf room it is in. It has to be blazing to get heat from the blower, and you'd think that room would get pretty warm.

    The fire itself only lasts a few hours, never overnight, even packed as much as possible. The dealer told us it would burn all night and heat the whole house. He has replaced the sensor but that hasn't made a difference. So we have a real problem. He offered to change it out for a woodstove, but at a cost of an extra $800 including new piping, labor and tax. We already have so much money into this, we really want it to work. Additionally, how often do you have to empty the ashes? It seems full of ashes every 2 days. Thanks for any input.
    FrankMA likes this.
  6. jotulguy

    jotulguy Feeling the Heat

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    Do you have an Ir gun or a magnetic thermometer? Where was the 550 degree reading taken from? The snap disk in that unit is not designed to make contact with the base of the insert. You will need it to reach a temp of 110 if memory serves me correctly. If you have an exterior chimney it could take up to an hour to reach that temp in the base of the insert. As far as your overnight burn...... you will never have flames after 8 hours but it should be able to rekindle the fire without the use of a match or a fire starter. What kind of wood are you using? How tall is your chimney?
  7. jatoxico

    jatoxico Minister of Fire

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    Hey Woodstocker. I also have the Jotul 550 and am pretty happy. You threw out quite a few questions there and there are also many variables starting with the quality of the wood and stove operation but I'll try and give you couple thoughts;

    1) No way around it, IMO free standing stoves are better heaters but inserts can be quite effective and you should be able to be more comfortable and still minimize you oil use.
    2) Sounds like you have a door leading to the upstairs, if so the door header will trap huge amounts of heat and will not let it readily pass upstairs. You stated the room the insert is in has gotten to 80, that's pretty hot no?
    3) As another poster suggested, place a box fan on lowest setting blowing cool air into the room with the insert.

    Questions for you. How are you measuring stove temp?

    What kind of wood?

    My guess is with some tweaking to your technique you will get closer to what you are looking for.

    Edit I do not have to clean ashes often at all, not burning 24/7 but not even close to once a week. The fact that you find you need to clean ash makes me wonder if your wood is not burning down completely which could indicate it is too wet.
  8. Woodstocker

    Woodstocker New Member

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    jotulguy, I'm using a Jotul magnetic thermometer that the dealer left me. It's at the front-left of the top port.

    We do have an exterior chimney that does not have an air intake. It's probably about 20-25 feet long. I'm not sure what kind of wood it is, and I can't be sure it's fully seasoned, but it's not green. We just got the house earlier this year so we have not had a chance to season it outside for very long. I would not expect this insert to keep the fire going for 8 hours, but I'd be happy with extracting some heat after 6. Right now I am able to get the fire going pretty easily with the residual coals.

    I'm willing to put in the time to learn how to make a good burn but can't figure out how to extract more heat from a 550-degree fire.
  9. Woodstocker

    Woodstocker New Member

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    I'm ready to open up that wall between the family room and the staircase, for aesthetics as well as to maximize the heat transfer. That would remove the header and allow a lot of heat upstairs. The wife is not fully ready for that yet, LOL.

    But I'll repeat what I said previously, I guess I don't understand how a 550-degree fire doesn't heat that room to 90 or above. One would think that the efficiency in that regard would be greater.
  10. jatoxico

    jatoxico Minister of Fire

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    Well there's 550 and there's 550. What I mean is, when I'm on a good run the stove will exceed 550 and get towards 650 then slowly drop and and cruise at 550-500 or so for a couple hours. Getting the stove fully hot puts out good heat (though I probably have not yet maxed out on heat output due to the warmer temps). I really have not found a need to run fan full out. If your max temp is 550 with the blower cranking I would say back off the blower and let the box get a little hotter. Can get the same heat from high temp low volume of as air as you can from high volume air at lower temp. The difference is the stove will run better and burn cleaner if it runs a bit hotter.

    At hotter temps you can be sure your secondaries are operating, maximizing available BTU's in your wood. You should also back the air down. I find that shutting down the air to at least 1/2 closed increases stove temps once the fire is rolling. When air is full open too much heat goes up the flue and the secondaries really don't have time to function. The caveat is you cannot shut air down too early, wait till you have things rolling.

    The reason you're not getting to 90 (why you want to is another question) is of course you are spilling some hot air to the upstairs but is any part of the lower half of house below grade?
  11. OhioBurner©

    OhioBurner© Minister of Fire

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    I'm in a similar situation. I have the same size house, about 2700 if memory serves 2-story (not including basement). Was hoping the insert might heat most of the house, especially on warmer days, but thats a stretch. it struggles just to heat up that side of the house (its an addition). Its been in the 40's lately and burning good on the 550 solo will barely keep the house to temp. The room its in is a large great room and never gets much over 70. Upstairs mbr gets a few degrees warmer, low to mid 70s. The other side of the house about 10 less, or 60ish. Now thats pretty good for now, but again this is in the 40's out and running the stove between 500-700. The stove looks great but I think a freestanding one would have heated better. I'm still on the fence whether I want to buy a freestanding one to replace it, but no money now and we just put in a new stove on the other side of house so going to see how the combo works this year. I didnt want to have to rebuild the hearth, and the 550 was the biggest insert we could fit in the existing fireplace & hearth.

    A couple other things, more toward the center divider in the top slot is usually hottest. Ashes, well that depends alot on the wood, they do seem to pile up quick but if I dont clean it out after two days it seems like they burn down more or something and dont build up much higher. I'd say I typically clean out once a week maybe. Snapstat, well I dont bother using it much anymore just run the thing full on once its over 300 or so. Burn time? I can usually re-lite with small splits & some kindling after 8hrs. With a full firebox usable heat maybe to around 6hrs or so.

    Just my $0.02
  12. woodmiser

    woodmiser New Member

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    The other thing is spot heating and full time heating. Once you get into full time heating, the room objects, walls and floors will begin to warm. That will help alot. If you never get the mass warm, you will always be struggling to heat. Not sure if you're doing it yet but try keeping that thing burning 24/7 to get the room mass warmed. That will give the stove it's required extra help.
  13. stejus

    stejus Minister of Fire

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    +1... Cold is the absence of Heat. Cold objects in the room absorb heat leaving no warmth in the air. Once it levels out, now you're adding heat.

    Also, I didn't see a response to the block off/insulation where the liner passes the fireplace damper/smokeshelf. This makes a huge difference with inserts.

    I would also suggest running the blower on low vs high. When you are pushing the air over the stove on high, you will cool it down faster than it being set on low.
  14. EJL923

    EJL923 Feeling the Heat

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    As others have said, check out the bottom block off/insulation situation.

    I hate to tell you, but your dealer gave bad advice about the heating capacity of the stove. It is only rated for 1800 sq ft. And take Jotuls or any other mfr's ratings as a guide, because they usually rate them in open floor plans with perfect insulation. I have the same stove, and my house is a 2400 sq ft cape. It keeps the downstairs warm, but the upstairs about 63 in the dead of winter. The burn times are what they are. The rockland is more of a beauty than a solid heater. It is made for looks, with the flush face and ability to take 24" logs, but only e/w. The E/W loading of stoves, in particular, flush face inserts, limits the amount of wood that can be loaded. A n/s load can be stuffed more easily. I also load my stove every 3-4 hrs in peak heating season, but take into account how much wood you are putting in. My first season i had the worst buyers remorse because i thought i was going through tons of wood. at the end of the season, i burned 4.5 cords and 100 gallons of oil, a victory in my book when heating a 2400 sq ft house. Would i like a longer burning insert, yes, but i live with it and dont spend $3000 worth of oil
    wazzu likes this.
  15. golfandwoodnut

    golfandwoodnut Minister of Fire

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    A couple of other comments. When you said the thermostat is in the top left, do you mean inside the vent where the heat comes out? The best placement is inside the opening, laying down, in the center. You may be getting your stove really hot if not in that location and that would contribute to short burns. The wood does make a big difference. I find cherry, soft maple etc. burn really fast, like less than 4 hours. WIth Oak and Locust I can get extended burns (burns are coals too, don't expect to always see flames, I am learning to wait longer between reloads until the coals are burned down to about 300 degrees). Here is part of the secret, rake the coals to the front (many of us have built little rakes) and place a large split or round in the back with no coals under it. Put the other splits in the front and on top. The key is it takes longer for the back split to catch and you will get extended burn times.

    As far as the ash, I push my ashes to the back (again with the rake) on a cold start. Even if I am burning 24/7 I can easily get a week before I have to dig out the ashes. I always like to leave some ashes as it helps the fire. On a relight, push ashes back and any unused coals forward, this helps kick in the auto fan start and helps getting the fire going. Remember it takes 1/2 hour before kicking on, longer on a slow start. If it comes on after you have the fan on and put it back to auto, that means it is working in my book, I had the same feelings as you that it was not working but it always comes on for me now that I am patient.

    I did not have a block off plate installed either. This year I bought Rock Wool and shoved it all around up in the damper area. It has already made a big difference (getting the surround off and on is the hardest part). I have also been leaving my fan on very low and it is much more enjoyable to watch TV. Not sure if I will turn it up in the winter. It will produce alot of heat, but as I said it is a space heater. 80 does sound pretty good in the basement and the heat has to be moving upstairs.
  16. SteveKG

    SteveKG Minister of Fire

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    Just curious, have you tried blocking off the doorway to the upstairs to see how much the stove will heat that downstairs room it's in? If not, you might try it as a starting point. Just to see what happens. If there's no door there, just an open doorway, even draping a blanket over it will work, as I've done that myself.
  17. Woodstocker

    Woodstocker New Member

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    Yes, the thermometer is inside the vent where the heat comes out, on the left side of that vent. And I checked with my dealer today and he said that they installed ceramic insulation to pack off the damper area around the liner after the pipe was secured at the top. I hope this was the right approach.
  18. Woodstocker

    Woodstocker New Member

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    Those are some great suggestions. The reason I want the room so hot is simply to be able to get more of that heat upstairs.

    Also, can someone please define what "secondaries" are?
  19. wkpoor

    wkpoor Minister of Fire

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    Burning 24/7 is a must if there be any hope at all of that insert adding heat to the house. And from my experience of heating from a basement it can take up to a week before things really get going. It takes alot of heat and time to warm the structure and possibly the ground around your house enough to at least slow the heat sink affect. I'm heating 2800sqft of space on 3 floors (open plan) pretty good on all but the coldest days. 40 degree day and I'm idling the stove or it would be too hot on the 3rd floor. So it can be done, not sure how well with an insert though. You should be able to at least make that room and more pretty darn comfortable. As for adding open registers or additional area for heat to rise don't waste your time unless it be a BIG hole. I've experimented for yrs and I'm convinced the convection currents won't move through small spaces. Under the most ideal condition expect 5-10 degrees difference from floor to floor unless maybe your really well insulated. I'm sure most people would say overheating one area to heat another isn't the best plan even though thats what many of us do in your situation.
    Secondary burn is the burning of the smoke gases coming off the fuel before it leaves the appliance. It looks like bluish clouds dancing around the top of the firebox or may look like fire jets coming from the holes in the secondary tubes. Good secondary burn is what makes for a smoke free chimney, make your wood last longer, and get more heat from the wood over a longer period of time.
  20. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Just a thought here but are you running your primary air wide open in an attempt to get the hottest fire possible? If so, try backing off to 1/2 or less. My Rangeley (Freestanding stove) will "stall" at about 400-500 (depends on the wood) on the stove top with the primary wide open. Backing it off to 1/2 produces a calmer fire with better secondary combustion and the stove top temp will immediately start rising again.

    Running the primary wide open also eats the wood a lot faster too but most of your heat goes up the chimney.
  21. cp20855

    cp20855 New Member

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    Hello,
    We also bought Jotul Rockland 550 in November 2011. After much frustration and many complaints about "automatic" blower, after 1 year and 3 days, the Jotul regional guy came out and after brief inspection told us that the blower was wired incorrectly at the factory.

    He rewired it, and the automatic blower did seem to work properly for a few days, but last night auto blower went off during a nice fire, so we switched back to manual (which did work).

    Now I have cleaned out the ashes and rebuilt a fire. Again, automatic does not come on, manual works fine.

    I hope it will not take another year to get the regional guy back out here. Meanwhile, what do you forum folks think about the helpfulness of blower? The regional guy suggested we keep blower on low, said that the higher speed makes more noise so people think it is working better but really that doesn't help distribute heat.

    We are very disappointed with the amount of heat that we have been able to get from this product. All suggestions welcome!

    CP
  22. jotulguy

    jotulguy Feeling the Heat

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    Cp when you say "nice fire" what temp are you reading? Do you have a stove thermometer? Also where is your air control set? Are you burninga full firebox of wood or one or two pieces at a time?
  23. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Of these suggestions, definitely one I'd employ first would be to put a small fan at the top of the stairs pointing down into the basement, hopefully at an angle where it is directed at the door to the family room. After a few hours it should have pushed enough colder air down to displace enough warmer air up to have increased the temperature of your main floor by 4-5 degrees, If you can keep rotating upstairs cooler air down into the family room, and wamer air upstairs, you should be able to keep the first floor within 5-10 degrees of the family room fairly easily after 24 hours or so, especially if you can keep that family room in the high seventies. The moving air will gently take heat off the insert without significantly cooling it. A freestanding stove would definitely be more effective, and more appropriate for the heating you are trying to do. Among other things, a much larger surface area is available for the transfer of heat.
    You definitely don't want to set a goal of getting that family room to 90. You want the heat going out of that room and rising. You have a lot of cubic feet of air to heat. If you can keep the stove running 24./7 and keep the family room a comfortable 72-76, and move at least that 4 to 8 degrees of 80 degree heat you have in the basement upstairs, you'd be more comfortable everywhere in the home.

    And, before I took out the walls in the basement, I'd try putting a vent in over the door so air isn't trapped there. An overhead fan in the family room, pushing air down, would also help to keep the warm air at a level where is was available for circulation into the home.
    Be aware a fan may make things feel coler and less comfortable for the first few hours, but stick with it.
    For example, the other day I brought some wood in that had gotten wet on the surface in a blowing rain storm. Put the stand-type summer fan on low, blowing toward the wood. Happens to be in a location where it is in the closed end of the room away from my Woodstock Progress Hybrid. The wind was blowing on the wood and o n me, and incidentally past the front of the window where a lot of the stove's heat is radiated, and I was chilleed. Kept thinking I had to turn the fan off, but was too busy to do so. Suddenly realized, about two hours later when doing something else in the room, the air being blown on me was warm. Went upstairs to check the fridge thermometer I have on a bookcase at the top of the second floor landing, and found the floor was several degrees warmer than it had been with only a small fan pointing down the stairs. Anything you can do to actively move air SLOWLY will serve to distribute heat and even out your home temps. DO NOT AIM TO KEEP THE BASEMENT ROOM OVERLY WARM>
  24. cp20855

    cp20855 New Member

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    Hello over there jotulguy --

    For me, nice fire is when the room is about 70ish and I can see the flames. Yes, I have stove thermometer (one of those round ones; it is in the slot where the hot air comes out, just above the control). I also have IR thermometer.

    When the fire temp (IR) at the GLASS reads around 500, the temp (IR) at the blower switch is usually around 120. The temp on the round thermometer could be 300-500, but the IR temp reading in the same spot is more likely around 200.

    Starting this morning, I will keep track of temps and times we refill, etc.

    After the initial fire gets some coals, we push ashes back, rack coals to doghouse, then stuff the unit as full of wood as we can -- maybe 6-8 pieces of wood.

    Clearly getting this going properly is a learning curve. We think we are doing a lot better after the jotul tech visited (was it you?), fixed wiring, demo'd building fire. Now we have the fire going for about 6 hours before needing to refill.

    What do you think about the discrepancy between round thermometer and IR readings? Anything else we should do?

    Thanks for your interest and help!

    Cheers,
    CP
  25. cp20855

    cp20855 New Member

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    THANK YOU to Jotul tech and everyone else who has offered advice. Yesterday's fire and auto fan worked well. (We have let it go out since weather is warming up.)

    The only issue last night was that after all the other logs were embers, one intact log was smoldering away in the back of the fire box, needed to be moved to front of box. Wondering why -- too many ashes in back of box? Other ideas?

    Thanks again everyone,
    CP

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