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Trouble with a St. Croix Prescott EXL

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by Bruins4877, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. Bruins4877

    Bruins4877 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2012
    Messages:
    15
    Loc:
    Hampstead, NH
    Hello all...

    I've been lurking these pages for the past two days to hopefully figure out my problem that has just turned up with my Prescott EXL. I have gone through most of the issues that are here, but I haven't been successful getting my stove to come back to normal.

    So the main issue that I have noticed, if running on 3 or 4 the flames do not act like they used to. They are very tall (hitting the baffle) in the middle with the smokey tips as if the damper were not properly positioned. However on the right and left sides of the burn pot the flames appear to be normal. The burn pot eventually fills up and the flames appear to go up into the pellet shoot. For reasons you'll see below, I turn it down very quickly and it runs like it should. I've read everyone's responses about thorough cleanings and some I did not know. So let's start with some history on the stove.

    It was brand new in 2006 (not bought by me). Apparently the person who owned it thought you could just keep adding pellets and never clean it. They eventually had a hopper fire (hence the reason I turn the stove down when this phenomenon occurs, LOL). I'm not sure when the stove was traded in, but of course the former owner blamed it on the stove. The stove shop I have been going to for years with my wood stove had a tent sale and they refurbed the EXL. $1200 later I brought it home and replaced my wood stove. Got tired of making sure the wood was perfectly seasoned...blah blah blah. Plus an apartment I had a few years ago had a pellet stove as it's main heat and I liked it much better.

    The vent pipe is 4 inch going up approx 5 feet to a 45 degree into a 6 inch spacer into a 45 going in the opposite direction (had to do this because the old wood stove pipe was centered on the top of the stove where the exhaust on this stove is in the back...stove would have stuck way out in the room). That 45 is going into a 4 inch to 6 inch increaser. That is attached to the already existing 6 inch chimney from the wood stove. That goes straight up approx 12 feet give or take. I do not have the exact measurements right now.

    Last year I did not have this issue at all. It ran like a champ all season. Over the summer I made sure to clean the entire stove (however, I never used the rubber mallet technique until today, WOW). I have never tried the LBT as I had heard that it can damage the combustion fan. That was from the stove shop, so I have never tried it.

    I used 1 ton of New England Pellets last year, 3 tons of a cheaper version that I cannot remember the name (shame on me) and then one ton of "Comfy Cozy" that were a replacement for the stove shops normal Cubex.

    So this year I started burning in October overnight. I didn't learn my lesson and bought cheap pellets (shame on me again). They were Home Depot specials. Never again. The stove actually was running fine with those. I never went above setting 2 however because it didn't get super cold at night. Wasn't until last week that I noticed this happening when it started getting colder and I was using the higher settings at night. So I went to the stove shop, I was told it was my pellets. Cheap pellets, buy ours. So I bought 5 bags of Cubex from them to test their theory, then stopped at another place and bought 3 bags of Okanagan's since I saw the name on this site. Two nights, same results. Can't burn above 3 without having issues.

    So today, I got on the roof, checked the vent cap. It's clear. Cleaned the chimney (for a second time this year) to make sure I didn't miss anything. Tapped on the back wall of the stove, wow, craploads of ash came out. Thought this was going to do it. Pulled the combustion fan out, cleaned that hard to get to ash tube, I've done everything that I have read on here. Still have lazy flames at level 3 or higher. Damper can be open slightly (tried the pencil) to all the way open. Flames get better when it's all the way open, but never like they should. I do not have an OAK, forgot to mention that, but remember this stove worked like a champ all last year.

    Any suggestions? Sorry for the wall of text. Was trying to make sure I covered everything you guys would ask. Any questions, send em my way, I will answer them to the best of my ability.

    Thanks in advance. I do believe I will be frequenting this site from this day forward.

    Later....

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  2. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Standish, ME
    Well tell ya what. those St Croix have a very hard to reach area that is likely just full of crud, get yourself a combustion blower gasket and enter the stove through the combustion blower cavity (the gasket is in case you mess up the one under the quick change plate the motor is mounted to) and get a vacuum hose in there and go towards the firebox after reaming out things with a brush in that direction.

    Or you could do it the easy way and use the dreaded LBT. Your stove, your choice. I'm just a critter sitting here nice and warm and not worried about flames going where they shouldn't due to having crud in the works aka a dirty stove.
    heat seeker likes this.
  3. Bruins4877

    Bruins4877 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2012
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Hampstead, NH

    Hey Smokey,

    I've seen your posts on other St. Croix posters. I have taken that combustion blower out and cleaned in there with a bottle brush, but maybe I need to get in there with something better. I probably pushed more crud in there than what came out. I will have to come up with something to hook to my shopvac to be able to get into that small hard to reach area. I'll have to put my MacGyver cap on today or just attempt the LBT.

    Thanks for the response! I'll post back once I figure it all out.
  4. MSmith66

    MSmith66 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2008
    Messages:
    364
    Loc:
    Central NY
    Your stove maybe the newer model with a port located behind the ash pan, under the burn grate. If so you will need a 1/4 nut driver to remove. once removed you can clean "UP" the back of the burn area. If you do not have the port, I posted a diagram years ago for this area that I'm talking about. Every so often someone will repost it.
    SmokeyTheBear likes this.
  5. Bruins4877

    Bruins4877 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2012
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Hampstead, NH
    Thanks MSmith. Unfortunately my stove is not the newer version as I have looked for that ash pan port. I will try and search here for that diagram that you posted. I'm sure it will help now and in the future. Now that I'm aware of the "REAL" ways of cleaning this stove, once I get this situation squared away I will be mindful to do all this stuff in advance.
  6. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Standish, ME
    MSmith66,

    Back for another season I see, I trust things are going well.

    With the changes that take place to the stoves I tend to stick with the cure for the worst case setup.

    Too bad that after twenty years or so that things aren't a lot easier to clean.

    I'd also love to find a cure for the idiot manuals and people not reading them, but that would likely make this a lonely place to hang out.
  7. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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    Northern CT
    The LBT will not hurt the combustion blower. I have done mine both with the motor running (cold stove) and with it off. I prefer to do it with the motor running. I've done it for 3 seasons now. Give it a try, you'll like it! I don't have the third cleanout either, so the LBT cleans that area without removing the blower. I pull the blower each spring, and there isn't very much ash in there, just some stuck to the walls, not much. I have looked down behind the firebox with a mirror, and that's pretty clean, too, and I've never cleaned that area specifically. The ash traps behind the burn pot are clear, also, due in part to the LBT.

    When I do my routine cleaning, I run the blowers with a bypass switch on the POF snap switch. That keeps ash from getting into the room, and draws the flyash from the ash traps when I remove their covers. I can do a thorough cleaning of the burn pot, Versa Grate, heat exchanger, and ash traps, plus the windows in 10-15 minutes. I use a small paint brush and a small putty knife for tools. Gotta love the Afton Bay.
    SmokeyTheBear likes this.
  8. Bruins4877

    Bruins4877 Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Loc:
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    Gents...

    Success! After getting a smaller tube attached to my shop vac, I was able to dislodge the rest of the crud in the hidden ash tube. I also used my compressor to blow behind the firewall and still more crud came out. I will be gathering the materials to perform the LBT between now and the end of this ton of pellets. I'm not going through this again. Someone had posted the Service Manuals for all of the St. Croix stoves and I shall be memorizing both of them in the next few weeks. I knew my old Regency wood stove inside and out. I "THOUGHT" I knew this stove til I found this forum and the wealth of knowledge here. I now know I'm a novice at this, but willing to put the time in to make sure this never happens again.

    Thank you all for your posts. Everyone of them helped tremendously. Burning at full force with the Okie's I bought this weekend. I intend to go out and purchase a ton of them this week and be done with the cheap crap. Lesson learned.

    Now like you Smokey, going to sit back and roast. I don't think this stove has ever been this good even when I bought it "refurbed".

    I actually may eventually install an OAK. Can't hurt and looks like most of you use them. I shall follow those who know better....

    Thanks again guys!
    SmokeyTheBear likes this.
  9. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Anytime.

    Enjoy the heat.

    A clean stove is a happy, safe, and warm stove and so is its owner..
    Bruins4877 likes this.
  10. Bruins4877

    Bruins4877 Member

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    Agreed. Thanks again.
  11. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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    Glad to hear you're getting hot again! And I strongly suggest an OAK, I have one and like it.
  12. Ironhorse74

    Ironhorse74 Member

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    On the older Prescotts remove the fire brick lining, bypass the combustion blower switch, and then tap the back wall of the stove with a hammer. Tap not beat. When you stop hearing crud flying inside the baffle, remove the combustion blower and clean it all out.

    Peace

    Brad
    SmokeyTheBear likes this.
  13. MSmith66

    MSmith66 Feeling the Heat

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    ;)
  14. Bruins4877

    Bruins4877 Member

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    An update...after burning for one night, same issue came back. Lazy flame, low heat output. I went out and bought an electric leaf blower, climbed the roof and it was LBT time this afternoon. I also set up a temporary, makeshift OAK to get me through the winter (the family room is slated for renovation this spring/summer will add a permanent one then). I started the stove after the LBT, not a whole lot of ash came out, but there was some. I had not hooked up the OAK at this point. After the stove was going, I hooked the tube up to the air tube and BOOM, what a difference! I'm sure that the LBT had something to do with it as well, but allowing more air into the stove made things SO much better.

    LBT will now be performed in this house every 1 ton burned religiously. I will never listen to my "stove shop" sales guy again. I will come here, sit a spell, and learn how the real world keeps their stoves hot.

    Thanks again guys!
  15. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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    :) While I'm sure the LBT helped, my 2 cents says the OAK is what helped the most. Contgrats! :)

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