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Quest plus hopper fire

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by Neilt, Nov 29, 2013.

  1. Neilt

    Neilt New Member

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    Hey everyone, I came home this morning to something I never wanted to see. The co alarm was going off, and the hopper on my stove had caught fire, and burned itself out. Has anyone else had this happen? Is the stove still ok to be used after a good cleaning? It's a whitfield quest plus, I'm not sure how old it is. I've burned about 10 bags through it since purchasing the home it was installed in.

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  2. Neilt

    Neilt New Member

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    I can only upload one picture at a time.

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  3. Dgopetactical

    Dgopetactical Feeling the Heat

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    I would not use it again until I found out why and how fire worked it's way back to your hopper, I'm not familiar with you stove but it sounds like a auger took a dump. Did you loose power last night? Are u sure it was a hopper fire?

    Sorry I can't offer any other help. All I can say is after that there is no way I would just clean it and fire it up again.
  4. Neilt

    Neilt New Member

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    Well there was plenty of burnt pellets in the back of the hopper. There was no loss of power. The auger has been sounding a little different at times, but it sounds like its not feeding... It did its job and smothered itself out, I'm just trying to find out what I need to do now...
  5. john193

    john193 Minister of Fire

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    Is there a dealer around you that can make a service call? Personally without a pro looking at it, I'd take it to a scrap yard.

    My inclination is that the hopper lid could be leaking air. Was it perhaps left ajar?
  6. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    The normal cause of hooper fires in a top feed stove is lack of combustion air (all of the normal culprits apply beginning with a dirty stove system).

    It starts with pile up in the burn pot followed by the drop tube filling up and the fire smoldering back up the drop tube and into the hopper.
  7. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    You need to clean the stove up and check every motor for heat related damage including the auger bearings, then every gasket needs to be tested or just plain replaced.

    Your stove did its thing and the fact that the fire smothered itself indicates that the hopper lid was indeed closed.
    Madcodger and Bioburner like this.
  8. Bioburner

    Bioburner Minister of Fire

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    x2,get someone in well versed in pellet stove to check out.
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  9. Bioburner

    Bioburner Minister of Fire

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    Even if checked out and OK'd for use I would take out and run outside for 24 hours. Its hard to get out the smell of a fire in home. May be a pain, but another failure would be hard to justify the not going through the effort IMO.
    SmokeyTheBear likes this.
  10. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    What we mean by cleaning the stove is likely far more invasive then you may be used to. A lot of people think that cleaning a pellet stove is easy and only takes a few minutes.

    The cleaning is easy, but it takes more than a few minutes to do a proper job of it along with various air moving equipment, brushes, and other instruments of torture. In this case it will involve some liquid. So it will be best if the stove is removed and taken outside for the cleaning and once it is clean, do the repair work in a garage and the first re-fire should be done outside and treated as a burn in.
    IHATEPROPANE and zrtmatos like this.
  11. Neilt

    Neilt New Member

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    Smokey, I performed what I thought was a pretty good cleaning last month. Took the fans off etc, blew everything out and cleaned everything that I could. I had to have the damper closed, and the combustion air setting turned the whole way down, and it was still blowing some of the pellets out of the grate. I cant really see that's how it would have been a lack of combustion air... I'm not saying your wrong, it just doesn't make sense. And you were correct that the lid was closed.
    SmokeyTheBear likes this.
  12. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    i see you purchased the house and this unit was already in it, in order for this to happen usually the stove's exhaust pathways have to be badly plugged up.

    i'd suggest a deep cleaning in behind any access doors and panels leading from the firebox area back to the exhaust blower, had the auger motor died the feed would be cut and it would go out as if you turned it off. to build a "powder train" back to the hopper, for this to happen you would have to have had the fuel build up to the chute and fill it up. sounds like the stoves just not breathing well to me
    IHATEPROPANE and SmokeyTheBear like this.
  13. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    If the stove was pristine in the ash department then you are reduced to gaskets and the door latch as a second level cause, however you should not have had pellet pieces being ejected if this was the case.

    Third level would be combustion blower slowed down but you should have noticed the fact that pellet pieces were not being ejected or the flame color was wrong or the burn pot was building up.

    When the stove is properly adjusted you should be able to see the burn pot grate at all times, your flame will be very bright, and there will be blue flame just above your pellets. The pellets will wiggle in the burn pot.

    If your stove is vented into the wind you can have burn issues normally these burn issues are the result of reduced fuel flow due to the vacuum switch not always being closed interrupting some of the fuel flow. This would rarely lead to the issue you encountered.

    The quest has internal ash traps and can be a pain to really get cleaned, maybe one of the Whitfield burners will show up. I can't remember if Snowy Rivers has had a Quest in her list of stoves she has heated with or not, but she understands Whitfields. You might send her a private conversation request.
  14. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Nielt,

    Before you used the stove in your new house did you verify that all of the safeties were connected and operational?

    In the past we have seen stoves purchased used that had one of more of their safeties bypassed (likely due to problem chasing and the chaser got discouraged or was lax).

    There is currently a fireman, a stove tech, and a pain in the hind end when it comes to keeping stoves clean (me) in the thread trying to provide some help.

    None of us like to hear of fires other than what should be in any stove.
    IHATEPROPANE and Stovensen like this.
  15. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    could have been a "starve/smother" when you have too much combustion air you could lose the fire down to coals this would result in the stove having to relight off the coals, if it takes too long to do so the resulting drop in temp could take the stove below the "low limit" and have it go to shutdown, now during this time the coals are starting the pellets up slowly and the result is the fuel piled up finally lights off and burns its way up the chute afetr the unit has shut down. this could take a pretty long time to work its way back due to the smouldering effect. looking at the pictures i see the burn pot is loaded all teh way up with ash. this is way too much ash to be present in the burn pot and supports the loading of the chute theory, notivce the color of the ash is white as well, i see this color ash in unplanned shutdowns during power loss situations as well as a sytarve smother when the stove shuts off before the fire is out.
  16. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Well the OP ruled out power outages.

    Was the stove running off of a t-stat?
    stoveguy2esw likes this.
  17. Neilt

    Neilt New Member

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    The stove was installed in the house I just purchased. I posited a thread before to find how to clean the stove. I cleaned everything I could, pulled the stove outside and cleaned the small 2 feet of flue attached. I then blew the rest of the ash out with a leaf blower. I also removed the exhaust fan and cleaned all of the blades on it. I then put it back together and replaced the gaskets on the door. Since then I have burned around ten bags.

    It looks to me as if the fire went up the chute to the auger, at the same time it choked itself out for lack of oxygen. The heat buildup also caused the top of the pellet hopper to begin to light. At this point it burned all of the oxygen as it burned out. That's my opinion
  18. Neilt

    Neilt New Member

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    It was running on a t stat... That is the only modification I made to the stove. Could that of caused this?

    Also the rest of the flue is mask art from an old wood stove. I also ran a brush through that, it is clean.
  19. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Running on a t-stat should be fine, we are just trying to figure out what would cause the stove to do a restart if the temperature in the system went below the low limit.

    Which t-stat did you install? T-stats for pellet stoves need some kind of swing setting. Solid fuel isn't an on/off amenable fuel.
  20. Neilt

    Neilt New Member

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    It's a Honeywell, I do not have the model number, there is no swing on the t stat. I found on this forum how to connect the stove to the t stat. They sell it at the local lowes. Also this is an older stove with no automatic igniter. So it stays on low until the t stat calls for heat. The stove should of the. Went to setting 3 of five.
  21. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Now if you didn't open up the ash traps on that unit (some whits have multiple levels) and do some small brush work (and even use a small maul on the steel firebox walls) it is possible that there is ash still in the traps up high and that it will only take a small amount of burning to fill the ash traps back up in short order. Even a leaf blower may not get the ash that is packed up above whereever a brush got to (or a small maul or hammer wasn't used).

    I've seen pictures on here when burning a relatively high ash pellet showing ash traps filled after two or three bags.

    The thing about ash is that as the fire degrades what ash is produced falls out earlier in the vent system that starts just above the burn pot.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2013
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  22. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    It would help to have the model of that t-stat. As long as there is some kind of dead zone that t-stat should be fine.
  23. Neilt

    Neilt New Member

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    The ash traps are not accessible. You can barely touch it with a brush. So I really can't clean it any other way... I'm really debating a new one rather the. Replacing all of the gaskets, bushing etc... I might have someone look at it and give me their opinion.
  24. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    shouldnt have done it due to the stat if it was designed to operate using one. unless it balked starting but if that were the case it shouldnt have fed enough fuel to build up in the chute. im still thinking starve smother
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  25. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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