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Question on crumbling refractory cement on a Dutchwest 2479

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by LarryD, Oct 28, 2007.

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  1. LarryD

    LarryD Member

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    I was just cleaning the interior of my stove, (I know I should have cleaned it this spring) and was vacumning out the space to the rear of the refractory "ever burn system". There was a lot of soot and ash so I figured the best way to get it out was to use my shop vac. I noticed one corner was crumbling and was sort of inspecting the balance and my thumb went right through it. The stove is two years old we burn 24/7. The stove is in the basement of a 1,200 sqft cape, with 22' of SS pipe out through the cellar wall and straight up. The basement is uninsulated, to keep the house comfortable (and not burn oil!) we wind up runnig the stove pretty hot. The stove top temps average 550F, and occasionally to 700F. When the stove gets to 700F it is "shut" down and quickly retreats to the 500F range. Any thoughts as to how what I thought would be a pretty durable part of the stove is failing? I imagine it is from "overfiring". We thought we were firing the stove correctly. The manual leaves a lot to be desired. I've learned more about the stove on this website than from the supplied manual. Back to the questions. Is it fixable? Is it worth it? I would call the dealer, unfortunately they (I've learned since) are clueless. I won't go back.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Larry D

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  2. PA. Woodsman

    PA. Woodsman Minister of Fire

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    Is it something that you can repatch with pre-mixed refractory cement? I just did that yesterday on the "floor" of my 14-year-old Dovre Aurora, and it was very easy to work with Rutland's pre-mixed cement. I'm certainly no expert, and others here will help you out, but the temps. that you stated don't seem out of reality. What type of stove is it? I'm sure that it's fixable-good luck.
  3. LarryD

    LarryD Member

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    Patching it. I never thought of that. The rub is that the hole is the top of a "box". I think my preference would be to replace the part if at all possible. The stove is a Dutchwest large non cat. Thanks for your responce

    Larry D
  4. PA. Woodsman

    PA. Woodsman Minister of Fire

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    Good luck with your problem-like I said I'm sure that someone who has the proper experience with this will be along to help you out soon!
  5. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I can't lend anything but moral support but I sure can't see an occasional trip up to 700 as over-firing that stove. The temp inside that ever-burn chamber should be kicking over 1,000 after ever-burn kicks in. And after only two-years it darn sure shouldn't be crumbling.

    Don't go patching on that thing and killing any hope of warranty repairs. Parts are not going to be cheap.

    Edit: I just looked at the warranty for that stove. The only thing that precludes lifetime warranty on the refractory in the Ever-Burn unit is pounding it with wood by overloading the stove. VC owes you a repair.
  6. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Yeah, in general that soft stuff does not want to be patched - not like regular firebrick......so unless VC themselves have a patching compound....well, that's what warranties are for, start with your dealer and see what happens.
  7. Chrisg

    Chrisg Member

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    I 'am in the same boat with same stove and it is basically falling apart.Your original post sums up our specs and age of stove.Good luck getting warrantied you better have a good relationship with dealer cause that's who provides warranty.
    If I was you I would also look inside the stove with a flashlight at the area around the damper for cracks out of the corners.This peice is called the Inner top and I will be getting my third one replaced soon after fighting tooth and nail with dealer and multiple calls to vc support.
    All I keep hearing is overfired (I think that is just a cop out on their part) funny how even after they fixed it at end of last feb it didn't even last the rest of season without cracking.Yes I do have a temp gauge and yes I do watch it closely.
    Very disappointed with this stove's performance.We had a VC stove in our last house that was a 1977 model Vigalant and it never missed a beat.Kinda wish I still had that "old club" cause it worked so good.
    Good luck I would be interested to hear how you make out.
  8. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    It is extremely hard for a maker today to claim overfiring for this reasons - input air controls have been turned WAY down so as to allow stoves to pass the safety testing (and also maybe help with the EPA testing), which makes overfiring that much less likely. Certainly it is possible - and I have had customers burn particle board and have 40 foot chimneys, but in the average case you should simply be able to use your stove and not worry about it for many years up the road - and, those who use a little harder should expect at least parts replacement during the warranty period.

    Keep in mind that the stove is doing exactly what it was designed to do - burn the gases and wood HOT. It is an engineered product, and also VC has been working with this particular combustion system since 1988 (Acclaim). It is a very effective system, but being so effective it causes high temps, which then ......obviously can cause problems.

    This really soft refractory is probably similar to the space shuttle stuff - and to the stuff used in the combustion chambers of some oil burners. But one thing it does not like is physical assaults (touching).....

    Unfortunately, stoves do not go though destructive testing....like furniture, etc.....in other words, most stove manufacturers have no way (other than experience) of knowing how long stuff might really last in the field.

    Now that would be a fun job......destroying stoves with excess fire! But I'd have to get my stoves free.......as I always told my customers, I could destroy just about any stove in a few weeks (I know how to do it).
  9. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for the post Craig. I find that amazing. One would expect that any manufacturer of a product in which safety is so critical would do limits testing as standard procedure. Can you imagine what flying or driving would be like without limit testing the product?
  10. Chrisg

    Chrisg Member

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    Would you say 4.5 to 5.5 cord of wood is a lot of wood to burn in this stove thru a season? The reason I ask is because when the dealer tech came out the first time I told him that amount he literally gasped and said that was a lot of wood for this stove in one season.I don't think it is as a matter of fact I think that is a pretty realistic amount given the claimed square footage of stove and we run it 24/7 when it's time to.
  11. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Maybe the guy just graduated from tech school. For nothern NE 4-5 cords sounds pretty normal, especially in an older home being heated 24/7 with wood. He needs to take out his btu calculator.
  12. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    The stove is advertised as a "large" and is the biggest model in that series. As such, it should be capable of being used 24/7. No doubt you are actually "using" the stove, and MOST customers do not do this, but I think we all can agree that it would be nice if stoves were built to actually use!

    An industry secret (no more) is that as a dealer...we LOVED the fact that a lot of our customers burned 1-2 cords of wood a year - that much less work (and service, warranty) for us. But that was in Southern NJ. It is implied that when a stove company in Vermont makes stoves, that they are designed for the hard winters.

    BG, it says right in that Omni report about how poorly some stoves did in the field - it says no destructive testing is done on stoves, and there is no impetus for manufacturers to spend the money to do so. In other words, the "free market" (we always come back to that one), says "If you sell 20,000 stoves and only 3,000 people use them heavily, and only 500 need warranty work, then you (as a maker) can afford it".

    The free market does not say "build that stoves as if 100% of the users were going to burn it hot!

    You are 100% correct about cars, etc....... just listened to a podcast from the dude who started Tesla motors, and this 100K car has to go through ALL the destructive testing. One test involves driving a heavy truck into the rear of the stopped car at 50 MPH.

    Early Vermont Castings, Jotuls, Uplands, etc were built of 100% cast iron and with no "afterburners" like today, so they did not have the higher temps to deal with.

    Different companies may have various modus operandi. We don't know the inside situation at VC (nor anywhere else)....
  13. jjbaer

    jjbaer New Member

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    Can't provide any, other than what has already been said except for this: one-piece molded refractory packages are, in my opinion, a disaster waiting to happen. I know they did it that way to get higher temperatures but there's a LOT of good to be said about having a stove with replaceable firebrick in it instead............cheap and easy for the user to replace....
  14. Chrisg

    Chrisg Member

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    Thanks for the answers and support for what I have thought right along about the situation with this product.
    As far as the inner workings of VC tech/customer support in my opinion it is nonexistent and seems to me the "sale has been made so what do we care" mentality is running rampent.Sorry to be so harsh but just can't seem to come to any other conclusion based on the after the sale experiences I have had with this stove. The dealer has washed his hands of the problem and could care less, so basically there goes the warranty.
    This next replacement part is coming directly from VC,that I have to replace myself, after I made a connection to the DSM via another very helpful dealer(for real they were).It would be nice if he would contact me personally so I could plead my case but that hasn't happened.Seems like this will be the last bit of help I get from them.To bad it's a small world up here and word of mouth goes along way.
  15. LarryD

    LarryD Member

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    The more I read the more I get depressed. We live in central Connecticut and we have burned about 4-5 cords per year. My wife is home withour two kids and loads it during the day. I give her a lot of credit, I didn't think she would.
    The dealer we bought the stove from is not very customer service orientated. In fact that would be an understatement. I am going to pay them a visit tommorow. My hopes of getting it warrantied are not high. Does anyone know the cost of what I am describing and what is involved in fixing it. Will the stove be the same? My guess is it will happen again. This is not cool to have this happen at the end of October. Any recomendations on a replacement stove in the same size range?

    Thanks for the reply's they have been a help. Though it is disturbing to think other people are going through the same thing.

    Larry D
  16. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    VC originally set the highest standards for customer service - they had to because they started out selling direct. Even when we were dealers (for the first 10 years or so), they were probably the best of our vendors...all in all, about helping. Every dealer had a rep at the factory who he/she was personally familiar with - I think I can still name mine! But when they were taken over by CFM (mid-90's?), the rep pretty much disappeared because the company told him to open new accounts and basically forget about old ones (they would buy anyway, was the reasoning). These days I think they sell through another level - distributors - so it can be even tougher to get someone who really cares.

    I won't say that is much different from other stove companies......especially in season. BUT, the dealer is the one who often makes the difference....any decent dealer (back me up, dealers) knows how to "work" the system to get things done. In a case like yours....if your dealer or VC or both figured that you are not going to be satisfied (the stove cannot hold up to your use), the dealer should...for instance, just take the stove back in trade for another unit which he knows will hold up. Then, he should make a deal with VC....for instance, they give him the parts and a couple hundred dollar credit, and he fixes up and sells the unit used. I'm just throwing that out there as a scenario which some dealers could finagle.

    I guess what annoys me is what the heck you are going to do - or supposed to do. Are you going to have to buy one or more of these packages per year?

    Well, as you know, the customer has many other ways of getting satisfaction, both through the consumer agencies and the legal system. From afar we cannot make a judgment as to whether your stove has been over-fired, but it certainly sounds like you keep an eye on things. You just happen to live where it is actually cold.

    Keep us informed as the season progresses - maybe they improved the refractory, etc.
  17. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Larry and Chris - we actually have folks from VC who read the forum, but they have not (to my knowledge) posted here - but one of our members who is a building official has run "interference" for some other Forum members who had (smaller) problems with some VC products. Although I hate to push you in his direction without his OK, try a PM to Elk - that is my short name for him - you will see his posts and user name...something like Elkimmeg.

    We also may have dealers here who sell VC, and perhaps they will give some insight into those models.
  18. Chrisg

    Chrisg Member

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    Again LarryD your last post sums up my thoughts ie. buy something else or just run it.
    When the inner top pc cracked there would be a puff of smoke from the front top where the blower blows the heated air out from around the stove I would definitely check this area as I said before.The small puff turned into quite a bit over time.
    I also wanted to clarify that I am in a small business environment where I am employed and when people call with problems we run for them, adjust the schedule's, fit them in, make it happen and it really burns me when I don't get the same response from a small business that I purchased from.I waited almost 6 months before this dealer fixed the issue the first time last winter that was after constantly calling trying to find out what was going on.He said he was waiting on the parts from VC CFM.I even dropped by his shop 3 or 4 times and he had a stove right on the showroom floor that I wondered to myself why doesn't he just take the part out of this one and fix me up.
    Thanks for the offer Admin. I am to the piont where I am just really sick of dealing with it, ya know I could have just bought a stove out of the trading post(local for sale or trade paper) and been just as well off I still might just do that as it will probably be cheaper than buying the parts to fix it like it should be pretty sad. But hindsight is always 20/20.
  19. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Craig says I can't help you on the forum or be guilty of pimping for said company But I willing to bet one phone call and things would be moving in the direction of getting resolved

    First of all that soft refractory package Craig is mentioning is not the problem it is protected what I think is the issue is the EVerburn cast refractory cement called the Shoe which can be damaged by dropping large splits on it. Also I believe is covered by warranty which you dealer should be handling.

    Can you both post pictures of the damaged part so all can view just what part we are talking about.

    I like to help but I would be pimping Right Craig?
  20. LarryD

    LarryD Member

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    Chris, I am in the same boat. I manage an office for a large tree care company. We are in the service business. This makes me a demanding (realistic) consumer. If I ever ran my business this way, I would be homeless.

    I will take some pictures tomorrow and post here.

    Have a great night. I don't know what to do without baseball on TV and no woodstove to "fiddle" with.

    Larry D
  21. LarryD

    LarryD Member

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    I just stopped by my dealer. What a difference 2 years makes. I told the same sales person that I bought the stove from my situation. He basically re-iterated what has been discussed here about the actual use stove see. He also claimed that while this isn't a everyday occurence, that it is not unheard of. He said that the particular part "is" very delicate and will crumble. He called CFM and ordered the part under warrantee and I should have it this Friday. I'm amazed. I didn't expect this.

    I will still post pictures of damage tonight or tommorow.

    I am leaning towards up grading to a "better" stove. I don't want to go through this again. I'm thinking about a Quadra Fire Isle Royale.

    Thats all for now.

    Larry D
  22. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Wow, what a difference a sales person makes!
  23. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    For those that are having dealer response problems then why not call the Customer care rep

    Consumer Call Centre
    410 Admiral Blvd.
    Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
    L5T 2N6
    Telephone: 1-800-668-5323
    Facsimile: 1-877-565-2929
  24. Chrisg

    Chrisg Member

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    Been there done that a couple times.They say those model stoves warranty goes thru dealer and they do not want to deal with retail sale warranty issues directly and I could get no farther than joe phone answerer at CFM with his rehearsed answers.So I say ok can I go thru another dealer, sure they say and give me phone no of another. Call different dealer blah blah from him never calls back.Call different dealer they did not want to get involved but she did manage to contact DSM for me and thru him I am suppose to be receiving a new pc however I think there are other issues with this stove that need to be addressed and another replacement part is nothing more than a temporary fix.
    Oh and I looked a little closer at it last nite and I am pretty sure the same shoe pc is shot that Larry talked about.
    I wish the DSM would contact me personally so I could try and plead my case he apparently has my info according to the dealer that helped me out.
  25. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    The problem extends way beyond dutchwest. The same technology is used By Harman and Travis industries. If there is a design problem with the horizontal fire dome technology,
    then it needs to be addressed and fixed. It is showing up with this manufacturer because one they were first to market with it and they have a vollume and multi model stoves using it
    where the others are only employing it in one model and two or more years later. As explained to me that shoe is supposed to be almost indestructible. I'm sure the people I know at that manufacturer, would love to examine the failed part to see why it failed. I have seen actual testing in their labs of design corrections.
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