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Whitfield Advantage Plus--Do I need a new fan?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by susb8383, Jan 4, 2013.

  1. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

    Joined:
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    Framingham MA
    Hi All,

    Sorry if I don't have the terminology right...

    I have a Whitfield Advantage Plus that is about 20 years old now.

    You know the way when you first start it, the room blower fan is really loud for about a second, and then it changes to the normal sound for its setting (one green light)?

    Well just a few weeks ago, this initial loud sound stopped happening. It would just be a quiet sound right from the start; no change after a second.

    Then today I noticed that it wasn't burning normally. I cleaned it out and tried again, but then discovered that the room fan didn't seem to be working at all. There was no sound at all with the highest setting.

    I turned it off and on again twice (by unplugging) and then it seemed to work normally.

    So here's my question: it is most likely that I need to replace the room blower fan? I don't have a lot of experience in troubleshooting, but I can probably replace the fan (I replaced the exhaust fan and auger motor in the past).

    Thanks in advance, Susie

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  2. stovelark

    stovelark Minister of Fire

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    Hi Susie, prob needs cleaning?? When was the last good cleaning?? If you can reach in (with stove off) and see if it will turn by hand, to see if its rough or hard to move?? If its original fan yeah may be time for a new one. But get someone to check it out first.

    Stovelark
    Enviro EF3 FS pellet
    Enviro Empress FPI AC pellet
    Enviro Kodiak 1700 wood FS
  3. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Sorry, I posted and then ran.

    I just cleaned it by blowing out dust with compressed air. Then I oiled it, which hadn't been done in years. But it still doesn't work. With the side door open, I can hear a hum coming from the fan.

    I've been reading that I should hook the fan up directly to an outlet to see whether it is the fan or not. Should I bother, or does the humming sound coming from it indicate that it's most likely a bad fan? If I need to do this, what is the easiest way to build a tester? I don't even know what those connectors are called (it is a single white connector as opposed to two separate wires).

    Oh, but one other thing. When I plugged the stove back in after cleaning/oiling the fan and pushed Start, at first the control board was totally dead. No lights at all. I unplugged/replugged it a couple of times before it worked normally (the control board, not the fan). Maybe this indicates the board is bad?
  4. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Ok, ignore my question about how to build a tester. I had already built one for the exhaust fan, and I just saw that I can buy a wire connector which should let me plug my exhaust fan tester into my room blower fan. Now I just have to wait for it to come.

    I'll wait to try it because it could be either problem. The fan humming makes me think it's the fan, but the control board not working when I plugged it back in makes me think it's the control board.

    Better be sure.

    --Susie
  5. Stovensen

    Stovensen Burning Hunk

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    Hi Susie, testing the room blower the way you suggest, is absolutely the best place to start troubleshooting.
    Stovelark also suggested to turn the blower by hand to see if it spins freely without any binding/roughness in the bearings... did you try that?

    The symptoms you describe, however, appear to be of a quite periodical nature, which points in the direction of a bad electrical connection or a faulty component on the controller pcb.
    Triacs are known to become faulty in several ways, but the worst case ( most destructive for the motor ) is when they only conduct in the half waves on one side of the zero line... this means that the motor is applied a chopped DC-voltage... in this situation it will NOT turn, but only produce a humming sound. This chopped DC-voltage is very bad for the motor. It gets hot and eventually the thermal protection will shut the motor down ( let's hope so ), but the windings might become a little tanned if this happens too often.

    Let us focus on diagnosing the voltage that is applied to the blower motor from the controller. Your Advantage Plus and my Quest PLus have many identical features and one VERY user friendly arrangement is that there is access to test the voltages of the auger motor and the two blower motors directly on the control panel... the test terminals are covered safely by nylon plugs that can be prised off with a knife for testing. See Photo.
    DSC00479'.jpg

    Diagnosing the health of the voltage from the triac is best done with an oscilloscope. Recently I bought a hand held scope ( it looks like an iphone, but only cost ca. $50 ). Found on eBay:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-ARM-NANO-DSO201-Oscilloscope-Mini-Storage-Digital-Pocket-Sized-Portable-Kit-/271168893889?_trksid=p2047675.m1851&_trkparms=aid=222002&algo=SIC.FIT&ao=1&asc=163&meid=6136465047793031221&pid=100005&prg=1088&rk=2&sd=221058938734&

    I made a video of it and put it on Youtube. Although the precision of the trigger and frequency counter is somewhat limited, we are still able to diagnose the health of the signal very precisely... symmetrical shape being the most important detail here.
    Note: The 10V/Div range must be multiplied by 10, since I'm using a 10:1 voltage divider probe in order to protect the scope input from overload. It can max. handle a 80 V peak-peak signal.

  6. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Hi Stovensen,

    Thanks for your post. Before I troubleshoot further, I've got more info to report.

    As I mentioned, yesterday when I posted, the control board was not turning on at all. But now here's what it does: when I turn it on, all 10 lights go on (five red and five green), for about a second, but then everything goes blank again.

    Does that make a difference with your recommended diagnostics?

    Thanks, Susie
  7. Stovensen

    Stovensen Burning Hunk

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    In october 2011 forum member Coffeeman5 had an issue with his neighbours Whitfield stove that was much like the one you are having with your stove. Those touchpad control boards all seem to get worn in a similar way around the start button to micro switch action.
    Coffeeman5 fixed it in a simple and cheap way. Here's a quote of his successful fix of the problem:

    You can read the complete thread here:

    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/...-series-powers-on-then-off-please-help.73715/

    Good luck, Susie, and take care. Keep us posted:)
    Bo
  8. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Hi All,

    Sorry it took me so long to get back to this. Today I was able to build a tester for the fan and plug it directly into the outlet. Same problem, just a hum, no turning at all.

    So it seems that one problem is the fan itself.

    But I believe the control board is also faulty. On my last post, plugging in the stove caused all 10 lights to go on for a second, then totally off.

    But today when I turned it on, all 10 lights went on and stayed on. They never went down to the 3 red, 1 green. And trying to change the speeds had no effect; all 10 lights were just stuck on until I pulled the plug again.

    So I'm leaning towards replacing the fan and the control board.
  9. Phil Do's fire.

    Phil Do's fire. Minister of Fire

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    Hyde Park, NY
    yep, board sounds like it's toasted. Look on Ebay for a used one;)
  10. Stovensen

    Stovensen Burning Hunk

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    Susie, you may save a lot of money by sending your control board to David for repair. Here's David's e-mail:

    pcboardrepair@gmail.com

    Video from David about Whitfield control boards:



    You will have to buy a new convection blower, but do keep the old one. Does it spin easily when you turn it by hand, or is the rotation blocked?
    If it spins easily and the field coil doesn't seem to be burnt/melted it may be the thermal protection that has failed ( stuck in off position ). If you have an ohmmeter try to measure the resistance of the field coil. It should be around 15 to 20 Ohm. If it is much lower than that, say 5 Ohm, then the coil is burnt/melted and that will absolutely condemn it.
  11. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Wow, I didn't know someone repairs control boards! I will email him.

    I'll try spinning it by hand. Have to figure out how to do this first...
  12. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Well, problem finally fixed. It was both the board and the fan. I did send my board to Dave for repair. That worked out ok because we had warmer weather than usual this fall so I didn't really need the stove yet. I didn't realize Dave is in Canada, so it took a couple of weeks before I had my board back.

    I bought a new fan and just now swapped it. Boy, you'd think 4 nuts would be simple to remove. But I had to use 3 different tools based how hard each nut was to reach: a regular wrench, a socket wrench, and a nutdriver. Also if anyone is changing their convection fan on their Whitman Advantage, here's a tip: the instructions supplied by PelletStoveParts.com, which probably came with your new motor, are wrong. You don't need a 7/16" wrench, you need an 11mm.

    Anyway, once I had the old blower out, I could finally check if it turns by hand. It does not, it was totally seized up. After putting the new motor in, I turned on the stove and played with the blower speeds. It sounded like there was still a faint hum coming from somewhere, but maybe that's normal because the new fan seems to work fine.

    So...ready for the cold!

    Thanks for everyone's help.

    --Susie
  13. Stovensen

    Stovensen Burning Hunk

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    Glad to hear that your stove is working now. A new controlboard is about $375,- on ebay, so I hope that the repair was a lot less than that.

    As for the faint humming from the new blower... well, mine has always done that and it can't be avoided with electromagnetic appliances operating on 50 - 60 Hz ac... some of the action inside motors, transformers and so on, will always turn a bit acoustic.
    On my Quest Plus, however, I have a more serious noise problem: When the convection blower is cold it produces a rather annoying whining sound on setting 3/5. You can hear this whining clearly on my Youtube videoclip in post #5 in this thread. My blower is the original blower from 1998, so the whining may be caused by excessive wear in the bearings. I have always lubricated the blower twice a year and it rotates easily when I turn it by hand for cleaning ( I clean it twice a year ).

    Another thing that could cause the whining is the rather chopped signal from the triac ( a component on the pcb ). This chopped signal could contain some harmonics that turn acoustic in the field winding inside the motor. Hmm, if the whining is of electrical nature, then maybe Dave in Canada has some suggestions on components to add that could make the whining disappear. Think I'll e-mail him about my problem.

    Susie, once again, congrats on your working Advantage Plus. Now enjoy the heat:cool:
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2013

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