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Whitfield Advantage II--Half the Burn Pot Doesn't Burn

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by susb8383, Jan 20, 2011.

  1. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    We've had a lot of trouble over the past 2 years with our Whitfield Advantage II. Unfortunately we don't have a lot of skilled technicians. They clean it and then say that's about all they can do for it.

    The problem is that the burn pot fills up overnight for various reasons.

    What helped a lot this year was:
    1. We got better pellets
    2. We changed our stove pipe from a horizontal pipe to one that goes up to our roofline.

    We also replaced the auger motor, which had gone belly-up, although we suspect our new motor has a higher rpm.

    So here's the latest problem: the right half of the burn pot doesn't burn. For the past few years I noticed that the right half of the flame seems lazier than the left. Also the right half of the stove has blacker soot than the left. But it's really obvious now; when we start up the stove and let it burn for an hour, we get a big lazy flame everywhere and the burn pot fills up. But if I turn off the auger and then boost up the red dots (combustion blower?) the left side burns down but the right side doesn't. (Pic attached).

    [​IMG]

    Another thing--the door. When I latch it shut, it is really easy to do. I barely have to push it. I've done the test with a piece of paper to check the gasket. There's a little resistance, but not a lot. The gasket hasn't been changed in 15+ years. Also over time the door keeps popping its bottom hinge out and we keep pounding it back in. It still sticks out because we never could get it back totally.

    The flue pipe probably needs cleaning. We've removed the bottom of the clean out tee but we haven't yet tried to get a tool around the corner (I wanted a double clean out tee, but they don't make it in a 3-inch to 4-inch converter, which is what we needed).

    So, all you experts out there...my theory is that their weird thing with the right half of the burn pot acting differently than the left has to do with the door. Shouldn't it be harder to latch it? Is there a way to adjust something so that it is a tighter fit? Do I need to replace the gasket?

    Also our combustion fan blades are really caked with soot. Does that matter? Should I replace it or is there a way to clean it off?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks, Susie

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  2. Wi Thundercat

    Wi Thundercat Feeling the Heat

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    If the combustion fan blades are caked with soot it will not move the air that it should for a proper burn. Cleaning them would make a huge difference!
  3. imacman

    imacman Guest

    Susb8383,

    you have most likely named all the problems with your 15+ yr. old stove......it's VERY dirty, the door gasket is probably leaking & needs to be replaced, and your blowers are caked with soot and probably dust in the convection blower too.

    The "dollar bill test" you did told a lot....air is probably leaking in.

    Also, there's the problem with the hinge.

    The stove probably needs a MAJOR disassembly & cleaning, including the ENTIRE exhaust pipe.

    And yes, the combustion blower vanes (fan blades) can be cleaned with a wirebrush and a stiff putty knife.

    Don't forget to clean the room air blower fan blades too. There might be oiling holes on that fan (or both?) too.
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    You say they cleaned it....but are you 100% sure all the air intakes and heat exchangers are clean? If one side of the stove was clogged, this is what might happen...no air flow though that part.

    Have you ever taken it outside and done the leaf blower thingy with it?
  5. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Your stove is plugged on the right hand side(looking at the stove)

    Go looking for multilevel ash traps behind that "fire" brick on the right.

    When you find them clean them out, and while you are at it make certain the top right side above the "fire" brick on the back wall allows you to see a brush shoved up into the first level ash trap.
  6. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Such great info from everyone. Where to start???

    I removed the firebricks. Not a lot of ash behind them, but I cleaned out what I could see. My stove doesn't have any additional metal baffles behind them. I did find some ash underneath the cleaning damper (if that's what it's called). But nothing that looked different on the right side vs. the left.

    Tomorrow I plan to do a leaf blower cleaning using the vacuum feature from the outside. Maybe that will get rid of the mystery ash.

    How can I tell if either my exhaust fan or room blower fan needs replacing? Neither has been lubed since I've had the stove. Both motors work but how can I tell if they are working sufficiently?

    I plan to buy a door gasket kit and attempt to replace it.

    Here's another question, and I'm afraid of the answer. In attempting to clean the heat exchanger tubes, I removed the metal plate in front of them. Is that plate called the heat exchanger baffle? The reason I'm afraid to ask is:
    1. I can't find any stores online that has it for the model I need and
    2. My baffle is in pretty bad shape:

    [​IMG]

    Any suggestions?
  7. imacman

    imacman Guest

  8. drtnshtr

    drtnshtr New Member

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    there is also a place near dayton ohio called Stivers Pools that has a ton of older whitfield parts. I dont have their number but im sure a quick search will get ya there. They do ship parts.
  9. drtnshtr

    drtnshtr New Member

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    another thing about this stove is the ash tray sealing up. The ash tray on mine did not seal up very tight and when the stove was burning you could push the tray in and immediately see the flames jump. I adjusted it to work better.
  10. checkthisout

    checkthisout Feeling the Heat

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    You REALLY need a new stove.
  11. rbchimp

    rbchimp Member

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    I have the same model, when I burn I always leave the blower (green) at 5, and adjust the auger (red) between 2 & 5. It works for me. They can be temperamental beasts.

    I purchased new fire bricks from Wood Heat Stoves, quick delivery to Canada, should be even faster to you if you need parts.
  12. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Hi all,

    My ash tray is pretty tight; it doesn't move at all.

    I did try woodheatstoves.com first but they don't have it. I will try Stivers Pools; thanks for the tip.

    Checkthisout-- yeah....you're probably right. But I found another thread that someone with an Advantage II had started. He inherited a 17-year old stove from a house he bought and was asking what he should buy to replace it. It had a big, lazy flame. He had tried to clean it on his own but didn't have much luck. The people who posted all said that the Whitfield Advantages were really good stoves and not to give up on them. They walked him through how to do a more thorough job. When he was done he was thrilled with the bright, jumping flame.

    So...I'm not quite ready to plunk down $3000 until I've exhausted all the other options.

    Yesterday I bought a Sooteater from Amazon. The reports have been good about it. I'm amazed at the amount of ash I see in my flue when I remove the bottom from the cleanout-tee, considering this pipe has just been put in a few months ago.

    Just got back from HD with some hardware to use on my leaf blower. We'll see how it does.

    rbchimp, thanks for the tip. We usually put the green a dot or two higher than the red, but I'll try leaving it at 5.

    So I assume that 'heat exchanger baffle' is the name of that part? That really is the worst of my stove wear, although the heat exchanger tubes are pretty much the same color as that.

    --Susie
  13. Wood Heat Stoves

    Wood Heat Stoves Minister of Fire

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  14. arnash

    arnash New Member

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    I'd like to add the same advice I just posted in another thread which you might not have read yet. here it is:
    Hi all. I'm new to pellet stoves and this forum, but in investigating my new old-2nd-hand $50.00 Whitfield Advantage pellet stove (serial # about 7,000) I removed the top piece from over the burn chamber and could then see straight down into the space between the top of the door and the body. I saw that there was a gap between the gasket and the body, so I assumed that the problem was with the gasket having shrunk with age (even though it appeared to be in perfect condition).
    But a week or so later I discovered something that may apply to all old pellet stoves. I looked at the locking pin that the latch locks onto and saw that it was no longer round, but had a gouge worn into it from years of use. It's loss of metal was essentially the same thickness as the gap between the body and the door. To fix the pin I coiled a common piece of wire around it several times to fill in the area of the gouge. Now the door closes tighter and not as easily as before, when it was too easy, -just a bump and it would pop open.
    Bottom line is that the issue of checking the gasket tightness should probably begin with inspecting the pin if the stove has had lots of use. Hopes this saves someone from replacing a perfectly good gasket.

    Plus I'd like to mention that cleaning out ash from behind the firebrick didn't make any discernible difference in the strength of my stove's flame, and both side chambers were full to the top! I removed over a half gallon of particle matter but it didn't seem to make any difference. (?) Is it assumed that it should?
    I wish I had some idea as to why half of your burn pot was cooler than the other, which is the heart of your situation. Common sense would say that something fairly close to that cooler side is blocking air flow, the only way to check is to pull out the burn pot and look into the pipe that feeds it air. Worst case scenario is that a dead and dessicated mouse in blocking one side. (I once had a refrigerator that quit chilling when a mouse, that was standing on the motor fan, got lodged there when the fan and motor kicked on, stopping the fan from turning. ) It's a far-out possibility, but then your particular problem is pretty strange and possibly unique. I hope you, or someone else, can discover the actual cause of the problem because we will all then know something that might affects us some day.
  15. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Well no wonder I had such a hard time finding the heat exchanger baffle. It turns out I don't have an Advantage IIT, I have an Advantage Plus! The stove shop that sold it to me has it.

    But that doesn't resolve my burn issue. Arnash--thanks for your advice. That's very logical because if it was the door gasket, it doesn't make sense to me why the burn pot would have such a nice neat line dividing where it burns properly from where it doesn't. I'll see if I can find a way to check that pipe. (I never really noticed there WAS a pipe there!)

    --Susie

    Oh, by the way, I'll also mention that the flame is a really odd orange color with blue. This is for all of the flame, not just the right side of the burn pot.
  16. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Well I'm ecstatic to report that the problem is solved!

    It helps when you search for info on the right model. Now that I know I have an Advantage Plus, I found this post from the Stove Doctor:

    Yup, there's a plug on each side of the fire box near the bottom, about the size of a quarter. I have never taken them out before. But that explains why I don't have any ash traps behind my firebricks. I'm guessing these plugs are entry points to the ash traps that you can no longer see, but it means that you can clean them out without removing the fire bricks.

    The last guy who cleaned the stove told my husband something about them (I wasn't home at the time) but it was lost on both of us.

    I pried them off with a screwdriver and found behind them was jammed with ash. I pulled loose ash out with a wire and then stuck a vacuum hose to the opening. On the right side, the vacuum protested for a second which makes me think it pulled out a big wad of ash. (I know I should get an ash vac...)

    Started up the stove and both sides of the burn pot work fine! Whoo Hoo!

    Kind of annoyed at Whitfield. I looked again at my owner's manual for the Advantage Plus. There is absolutely no mention of cleaning out the ash behind these plugs anywhere. Their routine cleaning section just says 1. to scrape out the burn pot, 2. to use the damper rod for cleaning off the heat exchanger tubes 3. to empty the ash pan.

    Good thing I have this forum!!

    But I am going to take all the other suggestions at some point...clean out and oil both fans, clean out the exhaust pipe, do a more thorough leaf-blower vacuum.

    Thanks everyone!!!

    --Susie
  17. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Wow, it works too well now! I had the red dots on 2, the green on 3, and it overheated.

    D'oh!

    Does that have something to do with the damper? Should it be pushed in more or less?
  18. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Maybe you are just pushing too many pellets through the stove for the convection air fan to dissipate the heat from.

    ETA: Speaking of the convection fan you did clean it right?

    And did you get that baffle reinstalled?
  19. Snowy Rivers

    Snowy Rivers Minister of Fire

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    The Whitfields have always been a great stove.

    I have two Whitfields, a tiny little Prodigy and an Advantage II and they are great stoves.

    These stoves do like to be clean to work well though.

    The Advantage gets all its combustion air pulled through the firepot by the exhaust fan.

    Glad you got the beastie all fixed.


    Snowy
  20. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Well I spoke too soon. Still not fixed, but better. Now it doesn't clog up immediately, but if we leave it running overnight, in the morning we have half the burn pot full. Still a lazy flame regardless of the damper setting. It also burns so hot that it overheats.

    My theory is that it is clogged in the passage that attaches the ash trap chamber to??? I've tried to poke around with a wire but all I feel are the metal sides.

    I've asked Dave Gault if he has a service manual so we'll see where that takes me.

    I think the leaf blower fix would do it. But my problem is that I have a clean out tee outside the house that doesn't come off easily (the top of it was screwed to the next piece which was a variable length pipe and the side end is caulked.) I also don't have easy access to the roof because that's right where all our wires are.

    So when I put the leaf blower at the bottom of the tee, it was pulling from both the stove and the end cap on the roof. I'm trying to figure out a way to block off the vertical pipe by sticking something inside it so that all the suction will be directed to the stove. Maybe a 3-inch segment of PVC with a rubber 'hat' on the end to seal the tube a little. Hmm.... Would be a lot easier to do if we didn't have 3+ feet of snow on the ground! (And another foot due tonight).

    But I did replace the heat exchanger baffle. That felt good! The old one was sooo corroded that a big piece just broke off in my hand when I tried to take it off.

    --Susie
  21. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    You can also direct a stream of compressed air through those traps, however you need to make certain that your combustion blower is running and that you are careful not to get the mess coming back at you.

    Then clean the venting which is where the mess will be ;-).

    On the overheating, if the exhaust system is dirty the system can't move enough of the hot exhaust gases through the venting and heat will build up in the stove including the heat exchanger where that high limit system will say oops danger too hot.

    Also if the convection air system isn't pushing enough volume of air through the exchanger the temperature will build up to the point the high limit says no lady, ain't gonna run any more pellets through right now. So make certain that system is clean and that the blower is operating properly.
  22. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    How can I tell if the blower is operating properly?
  23. arnash

    arnash New Member

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    My Whitfield is ancient and it has a rotary knob to control the speed of the convection fan (the combustion fan runs at a constant speed and its air flow is controlled by the damper). It blows a lot of air when it's at maximum. If your heated air isn't coming out with a reasonable amount of force when it's on a high setting, then something is wrong with that aspect of the system. It occurs to me that the cause of a lazy flame, -weak combustion air movement, can be more than a clogged air intake tube, it can also be a clogged exhaust system, or cap. Perhaps snow is affecting the escape of air from the exhaust vent at the cap on the roof. I'd have a look at that cap.

    One other thing you could try is to connect a vacuum hose to the air intake pipe to possibly suck-out any obstruction within it (while it's not running of course). My Advantage I has a different type of burn pot than the II but I'd guess that the II can also be pulled out. My burn pot can be lifted out of a metal box that has a pipe in back that connects to the air intake pipe. Perhaps the Advantage II has a similar arrangement and removing the right part would give you a view of the intake pipe.
  24. Stovensen

    Stovensen Burning Hunk

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    Susie,

    The photo of your Advantage Plus shows that it has the same burn pot as my Quest Plus... the Ultra Grate burn pot.

    I have experienced exactly the same non-symmetrical burn-phenomena with mine. The remedy was quite simple in my case.

    It turned out that the culprit was the inlet-hole for the ignitor at the lower rear side of the burn pot... I noticed that a lot of false air entered the left side here making the pellets burn much faster in this side.

    I plugged this hole permanently with a small bolt ( head of bolt towards the flameside and nut on the other ).

    I also unplugged the ignitor permanently and now I light the stove manually with fire gel.

    There are several benefits with manual starting... I save quite a lot of electricity, the stove is lit much quicker ( 2 minutes ) and I don't have to buy a new ignitor every second year or so

    Hope this helps. Good luck and keep us posted :)
  25. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Hi,

    That's interesting. I never thought that might be the problem. But let me ask you, did the asymmetrical burn always occur or did it just pop up? My burn pot used to work fine. I was only in the past couple of years that the problem started happening, which made me think it was caused by ash clog.

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