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Smoking Pellet Insert and Dealer Runaround

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Grumpy, Dec 10, 2005.

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  1. Grumpy

    Grumpy Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2005
    Messages:
    10
    Loc:
    Puget Sound
    I decided to join the fuel burning crowd and had a Quadrafire 1200i installed this week. The installers were not very impressive, but they did get the insert installed and lighted, before they left. I was really impressed with the heat output and looks of the insert, but after a couple of hours we started to have eye irritation and eventually sore throats from the pellet insert fumes. The house smelled faintly of wood smoke. I turned the thermostat down and let the insert cool down. When I restarted the insert, the controls put a very large quantity of pellets into the pot. This resulted in a very large smoke cloud that extended from my chimney to the end of the block. I noted that there was smoke coming out of the stoves pipe outlet and leaking into my living room (once the insert ignited, I could not see visable smoke, but I am sure that this is a source of combustion gas leakage). Since Western Washington currently has a burning ban and the pellet insert was making everyone sick, I decided to shut it down and seek help from the dealer that sold and installed the Quadrafire 1200i.

    I called the dealer that had just installed the insert and they said the were so busy installing stoves, that they did not know when they could help me. The installation manager told me that some smoke in the house was normal and that I was just over-reacting to a need for a pellet feed adjustment. The manager of the local dealership will not be in until Monday and I was unable to find anyone that would even give me an estimate of when I can expect any help. I called Quadrafire, sat on hold for 25 minutes and finally left my number for a callback and never received a return call. I now have an expensive pellet insert that I can't use and no idea of when it can repaired or installed properly.

    I could use a reality check:
    1. Am I over-reacting to the problems?
    2. Am I expecting unreasonable service?
    3. Even though I like the insert, would I be better off telling the dealer to come and get their insert and take my business elsewhere? I did not get the side pieces to the insert during installation, so I have only paid about 1/3 of the total purchase/installation cost.
    4. Should I expect a full refund if they do an improper installation and are not responsive to fixing the problems.
    5. Any suggestions about how I might get this resolved?

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  2. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    2,859
    Loc:
    Eastern Nebraska
    I know new stoves have a break in time ( as per your owners manual ) The paint on new stoves have to be baked on so with my new stove i had to run med size fires for the first 3-4 runs . exhaust the house when doing this. you will get a strange smell and it will couse your eyes to burn and nose , ect .... I'm sure you stove will have a break in time as to bake on the new paint.
  3. DavidV

    DavidV New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Messages:
    792
    Loc:
    Richmond VA
    The drum of my gas dryer did the same thing years ago....many hot appliances will also.....but.... You saw smoke coming in thru the pipe. I have to say that doesn't sound normal. first, I would try some stovepipe cement to fill the gaps, I'd try a few "break in" fires and if it still continues, I'd raise hell. It has been my experience that if you have a legitimate concern that is not being addressed in a reasonable time, contacting the state corporation commission snatches folks by the short hairs. You might also call your inspector and have them come check it. They have power you don't have.
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    49,873
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    You are right to be concerned. There should be no smoke at all coming from the stove. The dealer may be overwhelmed, but that doesn't excuse bad service and a sloppy install. Two areas to check are the stove outlet connection. It must be sealed and tight and the stove door should be snug so that the gasket is properly sealing. A big poof of smoke on startup- entirely in the stove - is normal as the initial batch of pellets smoulders then ignites. But there should be a normal height flame once the stove is running.

    Do you have smoke or CO detectors? Are they firing off? There is a possible risk that one of the spring clamps that hold down the outlet is not properly snapped down. That could be bad. Or perhaps the installer didn't put RTV on the collar before the exhaust piping was connected. Whatever, tell the dealer to get back asap. The dealer needs to check and seal the exhaust correctly or worse case, remove the stove and reimburse you. But the fix is really pretty simple if it's just sealing the outlet connection.

    Where in WA are you? What stove dealer?
  5. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    You left out vital information: Is it a full liner installation? Read the manual and look for how the damper area is to be plated and blocked off. Not a good idea to run the stove without the surround and if the damper is not blocked off even worse. Symptons sound like poor draft or dilusion of room air into the chimney cavity then backing up when they reach the cap seal. Again could be poor pipe connections. Look in your maunal again and check for language concerning caulking the joints. Finally does your unit require a separate outside air feed again check the manual. After looking threw the manual please report you finding here maybe someone else has had the same problem and can advise. Right now you have to narrow down the possible problems
  6. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    I read your manual and cut and pasted important instructions

    Btw where are you located and the length of your chimney?

    All pipe must be sealed using welded seam pipe whenever possible. Seal pipe joints with high
    temperature silicone, 500°F (260°C) minimum rated only.


    For your first fire, it will be necessary to press the Reset Button approximately 2 minutes after start up and
    again at 4 minutes. This will fill the feed system and allow the insert to light. Continue pushing Reset Button
    until you detect that pellets are being delivered into the firepot.
    5. The insert will now continue to run as long as the Thermostat is calling for heat. Once the insert has ignited,
    let it burn for approximately 15 minutes, then set the Thermostat to the desired room temperature. Adjust
    the Heat Output Control Switch to the desired setting.

    Most problems with smoke in the house are the result of a poor venting system or unsealed venting joints.
  7. Grumpy

    Grumpy Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2005
    Messages:
    10
    Loc:
    Puget Sound
    I have tried a few thinks suggested by posters and I have been able to improve the situation. The origanal installation was done by the dealer (Aqua Rec's Swimmin' Hole and Fireplace Shop). The installation was just a 3" pipe up my existing masonry fireplace chiminey. My original damper was not disturbed, or blocked off, they just passed the flexable pipe past the damper. The insert does not have an outside air pipe and looking at the manual this is prefered, but not essential. The joints were not sealed with silicone. I decided I had nothing to loose, so I got a tube of silicone sealer and sealed the area where the pipe joins the insert connection. This improved the situation significantly, but I still have a couple minor leaks that I am sure I can correct. It looks like the major cause of my problems were missing parts in the pellet feed system. My insert was missing the wing nut and clamp that controlled the pellet feed rate. I found this after emtying out the pellet hopper and finding the feed gate completly open and not adjustable. This caused the huge amount of pellets (and smoke) at startup and was the cause of a very high flame.

    I went to my local Aqua Rec's Swimmin' Hole and Fireplace Shop in Federal Way, WA and the Manager that was not due in until Monday was in the store. He was very responsive to my problem. He took the parts I needed out of one of their display inserts and provided me with some silicone calk to tide me over until he could get a serviceman to follow up. He fired off an E-mail to all of the department managers about their poor response and general stroked be until I felt better about the situation. I have replaced the missing parts, made adjustments and my insert is working pretty well. A little bit of smoke smell, but not too bad and I think a little more silicone in the right places and I will be OK. I am still concerned about long term service from the dealers organization and Quadrafire. Sales are booming here in the Seattle area and it look like stove dealers have a lot more salesmen than experienced installers or service people.

    I appreciate all the responses and suggestions provided thanks .... Grumpy
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    49,873
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Glad you are doing better. Yikes, I can just imagine how this was working without the auger feed clamped down. That should help a real lot. This is a good insert. I've had it running 5 years now. Good to hear that Aqua Recs mgr. was responsive. I've gotten a fan switch from them and they were helpful.

    What kind of pellets are you burning? How much per bag?
  9. Grumpy

    Grumpy Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2005
    Messages:
    10
    Loc:
    Puget Sound
    I am burning Cleanburn pellets from Manke limber in Tacoma. Ash <1/2 and BTU >8200 lb. $145 a ton for your 1st 2 tons when you buy a stove from Aqua Rec. Don't know the price after the first 2 tons, but it seems to be negotable. The good part, is you can pay for a ton or 2 and they give you a card. You just drop by the store and pick the number of bags you need. Less transportation and storage. They are just up the street from me. Pellets seem fine, but I have no experience and have only used a couple of bags.
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    49,873
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Cleanburn is new this year. I tried 5 bags of Manke pellets a couple weeks ago. They seem to burn fine. Note that Dell's has them as well for a little less, but $145 is a good price. That's great that they'll let you pick them up as you need them.
  11. wahsega

    wahsega New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Messages:
    33
    I bought a Quadrafire Mt. Vernon from Aqua Rec at the Puyallup Fair. The deal went fine and its been down hill ever since. It took them a month to deliver it after numerous calls to various people and managers. I did a self install and shortly after the stove started fluctuating in speed. More calls resulted in no return calls and people saying that the person we wanted to talk to was not there. More none returned calls. Then the stove died! All of the above same service. Email to Quadrafire and there response was give it time everyone is busy due to stoves selling loke mad.1 weeks pass before they get there 1 Tech out and says its the exhaust blower and it needs to be ordered. No return calls as to when the part will be in so i filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Part finally comes in and that isn't the problem the other head tech will have to come out. another week and he comes out and gets it fixed. The computer wasn't on the right setting. The stove now works for 1 week and is doing the job. I have Mikes cell phone number if you need it private email me and Ill get it to you. Here are alot of tech info that maybe of help. http://www.hearthandflue.com/Quadrafire/index.htm Look under the service manuals.
  12. seaken

    seaken Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2005
    Messages:
    580
    Loc:
    Shokan, NY
    Pellet stoves use positive pressure in the venting system. It is not like a wood stove that uses the natural draft of the chimney, which is negative pressure in the vent system. ALL JOINTS MUST BE SEALED in positive pressure vent systems. If all the jonts are properly sealed then the smoke smell is coming from some other cause, such as reverse flow in the chimney (smkoe will come back down the chimney around the liner if not properly blocked off at the top).

    There is no excuse for not installing the pellet stove with a sealed vent system. The dealer is responsable to assure that the stove is installed properly, even if he/she did not install it. Thismay require an after-hours service call from the dealer or whoever is his expert in pellet stoves. Sounds like this dealer sent out incompetent installers who do not understand the venting system. They may be okay at the physical work but someone needs to have the knowledge to do the job right. I have been forced to tell some of my waiting clients that I am overwhelmed with service requests and that I may have to do a two-step install. Step one will be to send out some warm-blooded installer who can do the physical work and step two being my follow-up to ensure that everything is installed correctly and fix it if needed. I do not have enough competence in my install and service crew yet to keep up. As long as my clients are willing to work with me under these conditions I will promise they will have a good and safe installation in as soon a turn-around as possible.

    Sean
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Loc:
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