1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)

Stove Maintenance Requirements on Various Brands

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by CantAfford$5Oil, Jul 13, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. CantAfford$5Oil

    CantAfford$5Oil New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Messages:
    21
    Loc:
    CT
    cac4 asked in another thread about stove maintenance on the various brands...I also am curious if what I've been told matches experienced pellet stove users' actual findings on maintenance needs...

    I have been told by dealers who sell multiple brands that Harmans do not need to be cleaned nearly as often as other brands such as Quadrafire. I was told Harmans can burn about a ton or so and fill up the ash pan before needing a good cleaning, though you need to quickly clean the burn pot each day no matter which brand you get. They said Quadrafire and other brands need to be cleaned almost every bag you burn, which would be WAY too much for us to manage ... Is there really THAT much of a difference? It is one of the reasons we were willing to pay more for a Harman and endure the uncertain wait. They also said that since the Quads drop from the top the burn pot fills up and has to shut down every six hours to self clean, whereas the Harmans don't because as the pellets push up they automatically push the ash out of the burn pot. Hubby did not care for the auto shut down every six hours and felt it was more mechanical parts that could break as well, so he strongly favors the Harman.

    What has anyone's actual experience been with these varius scenarios?
    Thanks for sharing. We continue to wait for the stove, and wonder...!

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. Shortstuff

    Shortstuff Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2008
    Messages:
    461
    Loc:
    Southeastern MA
    Hmmm. I had done so much research months ago in anticipation of purchasing my first pellet stove. I've got my Quadra-Fire Castile installed and ready for final inspection, but I must honestly say that after so many hours upon hours of homework, I've never heard that comment before. There is nothing mentioned in my owners manual about my stove having to shut down every six hours to self-clean. I know that Harmans do "self-clean" in that they push the ash from burnt pellets out of the way and into the ash pan, but my Castile doesn't have any sort of "self-clean" feature.

    If you are currently waiting for your Harman, it will be well worth the wait and good luck with your new stove!

    :)

    Steve
  3. Xena

    Xena Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Messages:
    2,491
    Loc:
    South Shore MA
    I don't know much about Harman, but my st croix rocks.
    Giving the burn pot a quick 20 second scrape a few times
    a day, then once a month shutting it down for a full cleaning
    keeps my stove running A+ . I think many people exaggerate
    about the daily upkeep of a pellet stove. It's no big deal imo.
  4. gw2kpro

    gw2kpro New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2008
    Messages:
    188
    Loc:
    Central Maine
    I can't speak for Harman, but that is a dubious claim IMHO. My Breckwell has a large ash pan. I clean the burn pot about 3-4 times / week (10 minute job) and clean the whole stove out every ton or so.

    I don't care what brand you buy, the fan blades on the combustion and convection fans ARE going to collect dust / lint, fly ash IS going to build up in horizontal runs, etc. The laws of physics still apply in Harman stoves and all other brands.
  5. slls

    slls Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    1,457
    Loc:
    central maine Lat 45
    I read you are more likely to get a hopper fire in a bottom loader, none of the Harmon owners complain of hopper fires.
  6. rayttt

    rayttt Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2008
    Messages:
    352
    Loc:
    poconos pa
    I clean my harmon p38 once a week...unless I use crappy pellets then I have remove a little ash (via a quick scrap -push out)
    daily.
    But when I burned the engergex I got with it...once each saturday morning for about 5 mins...takes longer to cool off than to clean.
    the bottom feed makes a huge difference imho
  7. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    Messages:
    3,724
    Loc:
    Madison, WI
    You must have been looking at the Quad Mt Vernon AE. Yes it has much more mechanical parts that other pellet stoves. The other Quad units are more "traditional". One of the disadvantages of the gravity feed is the burn pot must be manually (or automatically by a motor) be empties of the ash. I believe the bottom feed units push the ash out with new fuel.

    You do not have to clean a Quad unit after every bag! That's absurd. I would say dump the ashes out once a day when it is off. Scrape the burn pot once a week at the least. You are supposed to take out the baffles and clean then out every TON of fuel, this give best performance. I have some customers who do it weekly, and some who didn't even know they come out and call us 3 years later when the stove stops working right. The AE model has a very simple baffle design and can be cleaned very quickly.
  8. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2006
    Messages:
    6,010
    Loc:
    madison hgts. va
    hopper fires and smoke spillage generally only occur when one or more of the following apply,

    1. hopper is not sealed: i once helped a lady over the phone stop a hopper fire in a harman , when the glass top in her hopper broke, used sheets of tin foil across the hopper opening to seal it long enough to get the unit shut down normally worked well in that instance (she wasnt having an actual blown out fire but it was smoking "a crap load" in her words, to credit the dealer , they came out the next morning and corrected the issue with a new glass piece, she had dropped the hopper lid down after filling accidentally and the glass broke. all was well after the incident and we still chat on occasion in a different forum, was worst case scenario, had just lit the stove , then decided to top the hopper , the pipes hadnt heated up yet so no convective draw, new owner first year with the stove.

    2. excessively dirty stove: ash will build in a stove that burns wood , and pellets are wood so they make ash. ash carries through the burn chamber into the "heat exchangers" to the flue the more that accumulates the more it restricts the flow of air. during a shutdown without letting the stove clear , such as a power failure or component failure the natural convective flow removes the smoke as the fire smothers out. if the unit is loaded with ash , that flow is restricted, keep in mind that during this time there is a bunch of heat building along with the smoke in the burn chamber. this creates pressure, the pressure is releaved by the easiest path availible , if the flue is clogged then it will expand radially until releaved. if there is not a hermetic or close to hermetic seal in the hoper , then that heat is pushed there by this pressure, htis causes the pellets there to cook and in some extreme cases to ember up , though ive never seen an actual flame i have seen embers (bear in mind that i do this for testing purposes so i create this scenario to learn from it) what i learned is , keep your stove and flue clean and this wont happen in literally any circumstance , the lady i mentioned above was caught in the worst possible case, and the unit had run for quite a while with her just dumping the ash pan and not paying atention to the rest of the stove.

    3. bad install: having a vent with no vertical can easily help bring this about as well. ive seen vertical DROPS! in vents , folks think , well the blower pushes it out so it is ok, NO it isnt! in a power outage this will ALWAYS cause a smoke incident. avoid long horizontal runs an multiple elbows which restrict flow , heat wants to go straight up, not sideways and around corners.

    4. negative pressure: when a pellet stove is running if it is pulling air from inside the structure it is likely reducing the ambient air pressure inside the structure in relation to the outdoor pressure. this is a "vacuum" effect which when the mechanical pull of the air from the blower is removed , the vacuum pulls against the flow stronger than the convective draft of the vent can fight , smoke is then pulled right out through the intake opening for combustion air (the hopper may not catch fire but the smoke can get pretty thick in a bad case).

    all this boils down to the same thing, manufacturers test their designes exhaustively (we spend a boatload of money constantly as im sure every other manufacturer does) , to reduce the possibility of this happening. but it does on occasion , virtually always due to one or more of the above criteria. to avoid this situation , read and follow VERY CAREFULLY the installations and operating instructions for whatever unit you buy and install. the odds of having an incident like this are astronomical if all is as it should be, the odds can become almost "betting odds" if the unit or its installation are ignored, neglected , or improperly done.

    please keep in mind , i do not write this to scare anyone , i have worked in this field for 15 years, any stove can burn back into its hopper or release smoke into a dwelling if the right conditions exist. if they dont , they are as safe a heating appliance as you will find regardless of the fuel it burns. simple solution. do the install right , and do what the manufacturer asks in regards to maintaining your unit. and enjoy your stove.
  9. slls

    slls Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    1,457
    Loc:
    central maine Lat 45
    Thanks Mike, interesting information. I was at a HD and was told Englanders they sell come with a OAK, is that trying to avoid a hopper incident?
  10. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    Messages:
    3,724
    Loc:
    Madison, WI
    I think the Englanders require the OAK according to the install manual, which is why they come with it.
  11. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2006
    Messages:
    6,010
    Loc:
    madison hgts. va
    its one of several reasons, they are already mandatory for mobile home use, and in some sections of the country for any premanufactured home (sectionals, modulars , whatever you wanna call them) also , with as much new construction as was going on over the last several years it seemed like a good thing to make standard as new houses these days are tighter than a bugs butt. usually without an OAK a "hopper incident" as you put it isnt the most likely cause for aggrivation , as the pulling of smoke by negative pressure back out of the intake. see when hooked up to an OAK you are at neutral pressure , even if the house is negatively pressured (as most are all the time)which makes it all that much easier for the vent to do its job as the stove goes out. pellet vents generally do not produce much draft at all , exceptions maybe being liners for inserts and the like, but a little bit is there from the hot rise in the vent outside at least for a little while which is all it takes, so it doesnt take all that much negative pressure to backvent a pellet stove. to me it seems logical and i personally feel like it should be standard equipment for all direct vent pellet stoves (but thats just my humble opinion). (needless to say mine has one installed and ive never leaked a hint of smoke into the house from a power failure while running, nor have i had a "hopper incident" but then im pretty anal about how i care for my stoves, gaskets are one of the most important maintenance checks you can make with virtually any hearth product , they are all that stand in the way of poor performance , runaway woodstoves, leaking CO from gas units , and smoke releases or hopper incidents in pellet stoves. check em early and often , if they look suspect check them , if you are unsure how , no matter what type stove , ask me ,i'll help you none of it is rocket science, but it could save you some serious heartache and potentially quite a bit more money than a replacement gasket will cost.
  12. slls

    slls Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    1,457
    Loc:
    central maine Lat 45
    Thanks, I to believe all pellet stoves should have a OAK.
    The reason I said "incident" is you said you never really saw a hopper fire, smoke and smoldering.
  13. johnnywarm

    johnnywarm Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2007
    Messages:
    1,244
    Loc:
    Connecticut
    why would my stoves hopper catch on fire while sucking in room air??
  14. slls

    slls Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    1,457
    Loc:
    central maine Lat 45
    In what post did I say that, I just asked the question.
  15. johnnywarm

    johnnywarm Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2007
    Messages:
    1,244
    Loc:
    Connecticut

    Very sorry.I just get very worried about a hopper fire.
  16. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    Messages:
    3,724
    Loc:
    Madison, WI
    If you properly maintain your stove the chance of a hopper fire is VERY slim.
  17. johnnywarm

    johnnywarm Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2007
    Messages:
    1,244
    Loc:
    Connecticut

    I do maintain it very well.it can get warm in there time to time.
  18. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2006
    Messages:
    6,010
    Loc:
    madison hgts. va
    hoppers do tend to get warm , but one of the safety test criteria is to hot run the stove and measure the hopper temps, the hopper must not exceed a certain temp. this is a pass fail test which the stove you have obviously passed , or it wouldnt be on the market. a warm or hot hopper isnt what causes smoke in the hopper , it has to come from the fire and be pulled back, thats why negative pressure can have this effect in certain circumstances.
  19. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2006
    Messages:
    6,010
    Loc:
    madison hgts. va
    never seen actual flames , but ive made some pretty kool messes in hoppers playing "crash test" with stoves. hey , ya gotta know how it happens to know how to keep it from happening.
  20. johnnywarm

    johnnywarm Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2007
    Messages:
    1,244
    Loc:
    Connecticut





    I have had the power fail and smoke came from the pellets smoldering. i was told if i went "up" with my pipe not just sright out it would suck it up & out when the power go's out.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page