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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. A2Woodburner

    A2Woodburner New Member

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    Here is the pic of the 3" gap on the right side of the insert. The left side is the same.

    Attached Files:

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  2. rkofler

    rkofler Burning Hunk

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    You are missing the bottom trim piece. See page 13 of the manual.
  3. A2Woodburner

    A2Woodburner New Member

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    I took the bottom trim piece off so that I could show where the 3" gap is, on both sides of the insert. The bottom trim piece would just lay on the hearth if I didn't put little blocks underneath it in order to make it flush up against the unit. This is yet another one of those installation things that added to the schlock job and handling of this unit by the recommended installer and local company that sold it to me.
  4. rkofler

    rkofler Burning Hunk

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    Looks like your hearth is not flush with the firebox? If so, you will have a gap below the trim. I believe that gap you are referring to is normal, trim piece covers it. There are 2 bolts that hold the trim piece in place, you should not have to use blocks.
  5. A2Woodburner

    A2Woodburner New Member

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    OK. Thanks! I'll look into it.
  6. jnorthway

    jnorthway New Member

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    My 2 cents on this... I have the same approximate 3" gap. It should not affect operation of the insert in any way. The insert is self contained. I will say that installer did a hack job if they just propped that lower trim piece up with blocks. There should be 2 cast pieces that make up the trim piece. They are held together by a 20"-24" piece of stamped metal. There are 2 slots\gates that line up with 2 studs with bolts on either side of the switch housing.

  7. A2Woodburner

    A2Woodburner New Member

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    The installer just left the lower trim piece off and laying underneath without even attempting to put it in the right way. I found the only way to get it up and to stay where it is supposed too is to prop it up with little wood blocks. I will try to set it up right when I get a chance later this week. Thanks for the info.
  8. A2Woodburner

    A2Woodburner New Member

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    If I could get my house up to 73 degrees, I would. It used to be that way with my old insert, consistently 72-78. Now with this one, I feel fortunate and do a dance when the house temp hits 69. It gets to 68 and stays right there. With the temps in the low 30s and at night in the mid 20s right now, the house is OK and I can live with the house temp in the upper 60s. But even with these warmer outside temps, and with the uber dry wood I am using (oak, ash, maple), the house temp still never get up there like I was told and assured and expected, based on the insert I got rid of and my last 5 years of experience with an insert.

    Some of the tips and suggestions I have received from this group have been very very helpful and made a difference in overall burn issues, but again, the main issue of this unit not heating my house as it should and keeping my house temps 5-10 degrees colder all the time than accustomed too is what makes this unit worthless.

    An email last Sunday to the original sales guy has produced no response, an email from one rep to another rep last Sunday has produced no response. I am waiting and hanging in there, but I would be surprised if there is any follow through customer service and care wise with Jotul. Thankfully I am not holding my breath. Maybe waiting a week is expecting too much?
  9. A2Woodburner

    A2Woodburner New Member

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    Now the latest...after searching all over for the stamped metal part that makes up part of the trim piece and is supposed to be attach to the lower trim piece in order for it to be able to hook it up to the insert as part of the surround, it is no where to be found. Back to the system where I prop it up with two little pieces of wood so that it "looks" relatively OK. :rolleyes:

    Have I said how much of a pile of junk this unit is?
  10. rkofler

    rkofler Burning Hunk

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    Your dealer should be taking care of this for you. If they don't, call Jotul directly. When was it installed? Did you pay with a credit card? Get them involved if your dealer refuses to help.
    This "pile of junk" has heated my 2K square foot home for the last 2 winters. Probably just about paid for itself, with heating oil prices where they are. I am not trying to minimize what you are going through, but it sounds like they are mostly dealer issues, not stove issues. There is a reason the 550 is an extremely popular unit.
  11. A2Woodburner

    A2Woodburner New Member

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    Thanks but this is a dealer and stove issue. As stated in an earlier post, it was installed in early December. When I couldn't get any initial assistance from the dealer, I contacted Jotul directly, as was put through to the area rep. Left a message on his VM. That person never got back with me, and then cancelled an appointment to come out to my house to check it out twice. Again, thanks for your help and input. I am glad you are getting great results from this unit. This just isn't warming up my 1100 SqFt open plan ranch style house adequately.
  12. A2Woodburner

    A2Woodburner New Member

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    Just giving a big thank you to Jotulguy for getting the Jotul rep in my area to finally contact me and set up a time to come check the unit I am having such problems with.
    Ansky and jotulguy like this.
  13. A2Woodburner

    A2Woodburner New Member

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    Been a while but here is the update after meeting with the Jotul area rep this afternoon. I am losing too much heat up my chimney, even though at the top where the cap is, it is sealed off by a flat plate the last inches of the stove pipe run through and cap sits on. Plus, being an old outside chimney, the old ash clean out door needs to be sealed up, even though the ash dump door in the firebox has been sealed for years. When I started converting over to solely wood heat about 6 years ago, I had to cut out the damper/flue in the chimney to get the stove pipe through. With this unit, I have to shut all that excess space off so that the heat from this unit is not mixing so much with the cold air in the chimney and I am not wasting so much heat up the column of the chimney and more will be kept where it is supposed to be...heating my house. Sealing this opening off with Rock Wool or Stone Wool insulation should do the trick, and is what the Jotul rep recommended. Once I take care of those two items, all should be good to go since the unit itself is firing just fine and everything on it is working just fine. The wood I am using is more than seasoned, and moisture meter testing indicates 15% or less, and probably on average 9% of what we checked today. Why this couldn't have been solved earlier in the burn season, misunderstanding and miscommunication happen on the other end. The confidence is high that taking care of and making these adjustments will produce the expected results and all the issues will be gone. Why the meaurer/installer guy never caught any of this is beyond all three of our comprehension, but at least I know where to start from to get this thing right from now on.

    Thanks again everyone!...

    Stay tuned til next burning season, unless I can get things sealed up in the next week or so and do some decent burning. Winter is hanging on tough this month and maybe into the first week of April.
    Soundchasm likes this.
  14. RayMaine

    RayMaine New Member

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    I have the Jotul C550 and it has heated my home well. I have an outside chimney and I can heat a 1200 sq ft. area up to 80 degrees in no time. The one problem I have is the reostat does not last more than two years. Th blower just stopped this last time(3rd reostat), I changed it and still nothing. I have it set to manual since the auto has never worked. I can bring it up to 650 degrees and it will not click on. Any idea on what would cause the blower to stop? Remember, I just put in a new reostat.
  15. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Cold exterior fireplaces can really suck the heat of of an insert. I would put up a full damper-seal blockoff plate. It is not that much work and will do a better job of tightly sealing the flue liner and holding the Roxul in place.You might also consider lining the firebox with some kaowool blanket material.

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/wiki/Why_damper_seal_is_needed/
  16. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Check the thermostatic snap switch. Make sure it is firmly pressed in place against the stove body. Three rheostats is unusual. Check wiring for any shorts against the stove body, or between terminals. When were the blowers last cleaned?
  17. A2Woodburner

    A2Woodburner New Member

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    Thanks for this! I will look into it more and probably make one for my needs. I like what I see and read so far about this type of system!
  18. Ram 1500 with an axe...

    Ram 1500 with an axe... Minister of Fire

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    I really hope that this works, but in my opinion, I just think your expectations are more than the stove can handle. Please let me know your findings, I'm having the same issues as you are.
  19. A2Woodburner

    A2Woodburner New Member

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    I'll keep everyone posted. FYI...my expectations for this unit were what was pushed by the salesman, as well as now the factory rep. Rest assured that if this isn't the fix to the substandard quality of performance I am getting now, I will be letting everyone know. Actually, I will let everyone know one way or another. Sorry you are having the same troubles I am, and I hope you get it all straightened out.
  20. A2Woodburner

    A2Woodburner New Member

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    Happy Winter everyone! It has been a long while with several seasons in between and now we are back at it. Over the summer months, I have done EVERYTHING recommended by the Jotul rep, people who have chimed in on this site, and the company that looks after my chimney system, along with some house upgrades of my own.

    The chimney is all sealed off and the heat shield plate is installed where the original fireplace damper once was. All the openings that were once to the outside are sealed off with fire proof foam board. Chimney was swept and vacuumed, and insulating blanket placed around the stack. I even made 5k worth of energy saving improvements to my house with insulation, sealing off window and door leaks, etc. etc. etc. Back in June, I brought in from the outside 2 full cord of 2 year seasoned wood for this winter and stacked it all up on pallets in the garage.

    I would say I have been burning steady for just over a month now. I rake the ashes into two piles on each side of the firebox and keep about a couple of inches away from the sides. This helps with rekindling the fire after a long day away at work, or in the morning. The unit overall is working fine and heating my house well, but not great, and certainly nothing close to the old unit that this one replaced. My fires are built up slowly from very small kindling to slowly larger and eventually larger pieces. I keep the door cracked open for about an hour as this tends to heat everything up completely and fully. Then I close the door but keep the damper open until everything gets super red hot. From there, I shut it down half way, and eventually just about all the way or to 3/4 the way. The fire does appear and tends to burn well. Temps of my barely 1100 sq ft ranch house, 68-70 on average and steady.

    Fan works fine and I have it blowing full bore. Temp sensor on fan is working just fine. With all the insulation and energy improvements I made over the summer, my house retains the heat much much longer, and even in the bitter cold temps we have been experiencing for the better part of the last month. Certainly, when the outside temps are closer to 30 and above, which we haven't seen for weeks, the temp in the house gets up to 74 max (what I have seen). I guess I should not complain having an average house temp of 68-70, and even 72. This is just not what I am used to in the past with the old unit over the years. A good caveat is the amount of wood I am burning up and using is way way less. And it doesn't take that much effort to rekindle my fire after being away for a long day at work, or in the early morning hours after an overnight's burn session.

    This unit takes a lot of micromanaging for the first 3 or so hours of a burn, but once shut down, tends to do, as I said above, well overall. It is finicky. So in the end, I am luke warm about this buy and if I could go back, I would NEVER had made this purchase and mistake. This unit is fine overall, I am just not that impressed or satisfied based on my years of experience with my old insert. I have to live with it though and make do. Maybe my expectations are/were too high, but being a realist, that is not the case based on past experience, information, and discussions had.

    Thanks everyone for listening and helping me through this whole process. Enjoy all of your wood burning experiences and remain toasty through this winter. There truly is no heat like wood heat!
    Soundchasm likes this.
  21. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Everything described points to less than ideally seasoned wood. There is no way one should need to run this insert with the door cracked open for an hour and then the air wide open for another hour. I'm pretty convinced the stove is not the issue here, it's the wood. Get next year's wood split, stacked and top-covered now.

    Question, are the basement walls insulated?
  22. A2Woodburner

    A2Woodburner New Member

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    The wood is more than seasoned well and is dry, and has been cared for in an ideal setting. It is NOT the wood. Even the factory rep who came out in the spring time gave the OK and was impressed with how the wood is cared for. I burn ash, oak and maple. It has been cut and split and stacked by me for 2 years before it is being burned. The ash is less time since it is dead stand anywhere from 3-7 years. I have and used a moisture meter and the readings indicate now that there is anywhere from 1%-7% moisture in any of the pieces I have and am burning, and I check it at various parts of the wood. When stacked outside for seasoning, it is covered. Plus, I have about a 3-4 year supply of wood already cut, split, stacked, covered and seasoning.

    The basement walls are not insulated completely, but I did have foam insulation sprayed around as much of the footing board(s) where the house sits on top of the basement foundation blocks.

    I understand you are only trying to help, but please, I am not a newbie at this by any means, and have taken the advice of others here and applied them too. Bottom line, I was told this unit would work as good if not better than the archaic one I had in there for seven years beforehand. It doesn't. But I will try and see if not having the door cracked for so long helps with the intial firing/heating up process when it is just down to coals.

    Thank you for responding.
  23. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Running the insert the way you are doing is not normal. The fact that the fire needs a lot more air points to the wood, though it could be weaker draft as well. Both should be rechecked. The stove is being run quite improperly so the question is why? I'll try to cover all conditions because I'm not on site looking at the fire.

    The wood is not being tested for moisture correctly with those very low readings. At 1% the wood would be dust. Perfectly dried oak flooring is 8-9%. Perfectly seasoned cord wood will be around twice that percent. Oak can take up to 3 yrs to season. The reading must be taken on a fresh face of the wood, never on the end grain. Take a thick split of oak and resplit it in half. Then quickly take a reading on the freshly split face of the wood. It should be in the 15-20% range if the meter is working correctly and the wood is fully seasoned.

    The uninsulated basement walls are where a good portion of the heat is going. They can account for a 25%-33% heat loss depending on the exposure.

    Chimney draft in basements can be tricky due to negative pressure. This can be exacerbated by upstairs windows being slightly open, attic doors or vents leaking, kitchen exhaust fans, dryers, etc.. One thing to try is to open a window close to the stove slightly and see if the fire responds briskly. If so, the insert needs more air.

    If the wood is dry then the more air you give it the cooler the fire is going to be and the more heat is going to go up the chimney rather than staying hot in the firebox where you want it.

    As a test, take some of your best wood and start a fire. Then close the door as soon as the fire is going well. This should be within 5-10 minutes at the most. Let the flame regain strength, then incrementally start closing down the air control every 5-10 minutes just to the point where the flames start getting lazy, but not sputtering or out. With dry wood, after 30-45 minutes the air control should be at least 3/4's closed and a strong secondary burn should be visible at the top of the firebox. This will be the hottest part of the burn cycle. Stove temp should be about 600-650F at this stage.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2013
    Ansky, rkofler and oconnor like this.
  24. A2Woodburner

    A2Woodburner New Member

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    OK. The last two paragraphs of your post are something that I will try and see what happens. I know running the insert like I am is not normal. If it were, I wouldn't be having these issues. Trust me, I have been trying everything. My basement is not the issue. My house just got over 5k worth of energy/insulation work done to it this summer as a whole house project. There is no exposure that hasn't been looked at and inspected for ways to improve. This house was built in 1963. Drafting in this house is not an issue. There is only so much I can do.

    Regarding the readings on my wood with the moisture meter... folks have been advising different methods and numbers. You have been adding to that mix and now confusion. You are more than welcome to come out here to Ann Arbor, MI and take a look at my wood pile and see for yourself. In fact, I invite you to come out and check this whole system out. I have done everything the local Jotul rep has advised and his observation has been that everything is fine.

    For example, we are having a winter storm right now getting 8" of snow. Outside temp is 19. Wind is 13 with gusts up to 20. Fire was started and has been going since about 9 this morning. Temp in the house 69. With the old insert, and barely any insulation in my house, the inside temp would have been around 74 steady no problem. And I DO understand and know that comparing the old with the new is like comparing a cassette tape with an iPod and beyond. It just is what it is with this. Pointing fingers at every single little thing as a contributor just doesn't fly. Last year's burning season, sure...yes, but not now. I have put almost 5k of hard earned money into making this right with the purchase and everything going into it of this unit. It is working well, just not up to par and standard as I was led to believe. And certainly not close to what once was. I just have to live with being a little disappointed.

    Thanks for your advice and tips. I will try some of them to see if there is a bit of improvement.
  25. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The main difference between the old and the new stove is how they are run and how they burn the fuel. If you gave the old insert more air it would get hotter. Less air brought it down to an idle and smolder. Modern EPA stoves work almost the opposite. An inrush of primary air keeps the fire raging, but most of the real potential is lost because most of the fire is heading up the chimney. If you had a thermometer on the flue liner I think you would be surprised how hot it is getting. Maybe even alarmed. When you cut back primary air in a modern secondary tube stove the vacuum of the draft starts pulling air through the secondary manifold and tubes. This causes turbulence in the top part of the firebox and significantly greater heat in the firebox instead of in the chimney. This is much more efficient and can raise the fire temperature a lot. Most folks that have good draft can close the primary air control 3/4s to all the way and still get a hot, long lasting burn in the C550. Because the heat is now contained in the stove the insert gets hotter and puts out more heat, with less primary air.

    PS: What was the old insert? What size firebox?
    rkofler and jotulguy like this.

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