Castle Serenity - lots of ash

mrbeal Posted By mrbeal, Nov 12, 2016 at 12:52 PM

  1. mrbeal

    mrbeal
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    I've been using my Serenity for about 2 weeks now and am surprised at the amount of ash I'm getting. Granted it's not the most super deluxe high efficiency stove you can get but my ash collector was almost full after 2 bags of (hardwood) pellets. Friends of mine have used a pellet stove for years and never have that much ash. Should this be what I expect or do I need to make an adjustment somewhere?
     
  2. rich2500

    rich2500
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    Could be the pellets your burning, how does the flame look when the stove is burning
     
  3. mrbeal

    mrbeal
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    Low and yellow... I run mainly on the lowest setting since it's still a bit warm out.
     
  4. GT_Sharp

    GT_Sharp
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    Doesn't sound normal at all.
     
  5. rich2500

    rich2500
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    I would try a bag of different pellets first and see if they are better. Some pellets do produce a lot of ash. You should be able to go atleast 4 - 5 days before having to empty the ash pan with a decent pellet and a properly burning stove.
     
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  6. bags

    bags
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    Sounds like the pellets. Which pellets are you burning?
     
  7. mrbeal

    mrbeal
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    Premium hardwood pellets bought at Tractor Supply. I bought some Premium pellets at HD first, they weren't specific as to the wood type so I tried the Tractor Supply hardwood ones. I'm about halfway through my second bag since emptying the ash collector so I'll see how it looks tomorrow night perhaps. Pellet choice is pretty slim around here without having to drive 20 miles.
     
  8. bob bare

    bob bare
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    Being a serenity do not suspect a problem,,burning on low is a problem.Almost all pellet stoves burn much better on med or high.Period.Rea search it.A pellet stove burning on low will be innefficient and waste pellets,and create problems.
     
    bags likes this.
  9. Deezl Smoke

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    I just cleaned my serenitys a few days ago. I should have taken pics. Next time I will. But I can burn probably 10-12 bags before I clean the stove, and I clean it then mainly for the glass. The ash box is maybe 15-20% of capacity at most. I'd bet if I really needed to, I could burn a full ton before cleaning. I just like a clean glass as the flame acts as a night light for the whole house during the dark winters. And,...I burn on low settings exclusively.

    So IMO, you have either some bad pellets, or some bad settings. The flame should average about 6-10" from the bottom of the burn pot, and be bright, very light yellow with almost a white hot center.

    Once you have the serenity set right and use a good pellet, you might be surprised how efficient it actually is.

    How is your exhaust and combustion intake plumbed? Did you make note of where the "gate" on the intake is set. You can see it when the stove is OFF and you remove the burn pot. There is a round hole that will have a slide that partially closes off that hole. Start with it about 1/3 open or so. You can go into your electronic controller and make fan setting changes for both the combustion fan and the room fan. Even though I run my stoves on the lowest heat settings, I do run the combustion fan on 85 volts and sometimes in certain situations I will go to 90 volts if it's breezy outside.

    Another point to make is that the holes in the burn pot must be kept open. It is one of the poorer designs and the bottom holes will plug up. It may sound like a pita, but before each start up, take a flash light and a small stick or screwdriver, and just scrape across the bottom of the burn pot a few times to loosen the hardened ash that sticks to it and closes off the holes.

    Here's my burn pot after last nights burn, and the ash box after about 4-5 bags.
    DSC02584.jpg

    And here are the 3 items I keep handy by the stove. A free harbor freight led light, a harbor freight screw driver, and a good box cutter for opening bags. You can see a few of the holes in the bottom of the pot are pretty well plugged, and a few others are starting. The screw driver scraping across it a few times will take care of it. At random intervals I do take the pot out to the shop and use a drill bit the same size of the holses originally and run it thru all the holes to remove the small amount of hard carbon that builds up.
    DSC02583.jpg
     
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  10. mrbeal

    mrbeal
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    Wow, great information! I have read through the manual again and realized MEDIUM is the most efficient burn setting and, in the colder months, I'm sure that will be the most appropriate setting. Right now it just gets too hot to leave it on MEDIUM so I'll either turn it to LOW or just turn it off completely. I'll check the burn pot to see if the holes are clogged at all, last time I emptied the ash I took the burn pot out and tapped the ash out of it but didn't really pay attention to the holes.
    I'll also take another look at my intake. I opened it up some at first to see if it would make a difference, I'll [play with that and the fan speed next.
    I think the pellets are ok, they all look nice and shiny, no hint of moisture in them. I was starting to wonder if I had a defective stove since the burn seems to be so inconsistent but it could just be the settings I'm using. I don't believe I've gone in and looked at the combustion fan settings, I'll look at that too.

    Thanks for taking the time to do this write-up, I think it may help me out!
     
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  11. alternativeheat

    alternativeheat
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    We had a lady in here last year with I believe a Serenity, and it was throwing sparks out the vent. As I recall, she had the combustion blower set high and the damper inside the intake wide open. She had the opposite effect to our OP here. So I can imagine with too low a combustion setting and the damper shut, you would get tons of dirty burning going on. She was over firing the stove but all she needed to do was reset it and close down that damper flap.. FWIW, St Croix Stoves are known for this as well, in fact the damper is set to be open only about an 1/8" or so on some models of them.

    I have seen some crappy pellets though, the worst I ever burned caused me to have to clean my P61 in three days which is basically unheard of with even half decent pellets. And a P61 ash pan can go a month. If Tractor Supply has some blends there ( soft/hard combo pellets),maybe try those out or otherwise try and get some better pellets and make sure you set the stove up correctly.
     
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  12. bags

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    What are the two brands you have burned exactly? Even crappy pellets will say premium on the bags.....

    Yes, Alternative I remember the one with sparks flying out of the exhaust. I think Rich helped get them squared away.

    FWIW the Tractor Supply stores around here are notorious for selling sub par pellets. They all seem to get the junky pellets and try to sell them at the going rate. I have never bought or burned any brands they have carried. I can get some of the best pellets (hardwood) made even cheaper than what TSC wants for the junk. I am still thinking it is the pellets but could very well be that you need to tweak your stove a bit and find the sweat spot.

    The Serenity stoves have been good performing stoves so I can not see yours being the ash issue.
     
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  13. alternativeheat

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    I agree that TSC doesn't generally have the best pellets, now and then they do get something decent in. Of their brands though, I've found the blends to be about the best. Around here those would be made by Maine Woods.

    Incidentally, if you hang around pellet stoves long enough you will discover that the stigma of softwood that you hear of all the time in reference with wood stoves , generally is not the case with pellet stoves. The compression factor in making pellets and the efficient burn of pellets vs wood stoves kind of cancels that. In fact, often the superior pellets are softwood, typically less ash and at least equal if not more heat. It just depends on how much trash they compressed into them along with the wood but that is the case with both soft and hard wood pellets..
     
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  14. mrbeal

    mrbeal
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    Good info too... I'm from the fireplace school of thought. Oak and Maple are excellent for burning long and hot so I naturally assumed "hardwood" pellets would be best. Compression, in essence, makes all pellets "hardwood".
    I need to get this squared away for multiple reasons. I am heating exclusively with the stove so it's kind of a priority. I do have an issue with LOTS of sparks flying out the exhaust so NEED to tweak that too as a priority.

    alternativeheat - since you're pretty local to me, where do you find pellets? I'm just thinking about the obvious places I drive by and have seen pellets at, where should I be looking other than HD, Lowes and Tractor Supply that also will sell at a good price?
     
  15. alternativeheat

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    Price is the problem when you go shopping around here for higher end pellets ! But you could do worse than to pick up a few bags of LG at HiWay Concrete in Wareham Ma to get an idea how a little better pellet should burn. Tome these are upper middle road pellets. Actually right now I'm burning Fireside Ultra pellets from HD in Plymouth, they are OK but LG are better. If you like the LG, or your stove likes the LG, then you can assess if their ton price is worth while ( I don't know what they are charging this year).
     
  16. mrbeal

    mrbeal
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    I'm a good long drive from Wareham, like an hour... each way. I suppose I should do some Googling and see what's good and where I can get them. TS is about 2 miles away and I was hoping they would have what I needed because it's so easily accessible. Time, money, storage and transport are my obstacles... I was hoping to by a pallet but may just have to stick with getting a dozen bags every 2 weeks.
    Lots of great help and suggestions on here so far, I like it!
     
  17. rich2500

    rich2500
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    The more info I'm reading here the more it sounds like you need to make some adjustments to your stove.If your blowing sparks out your exhaust you are moving to much air through the stove and getting an incomplete burn which would also explain your high amount of ash.I would start with like Deezl said and check your air adjustment and close it down to 1/3 open and report back with your results.
     
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  18. mrbeal

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    Shutting down now and will close the damper a bit and see what happens. Wish it didn't take so long to cool down and then restart...
     
  19. rich2500

    rich2500
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    Several of us Serenity owners have added an adjustment rod on to the air gate that sticks out the side of the stove so you can make adjustments on the fly.
     
  20. mrbeal

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    I've seen that. At the moment I just have the side off of the stove.
    At the moment I have 2 "issues". VERY inconsistent flame and EVERY pellet that drops send sparks flying (and sparks out my flue). What adjustments fix each problem? My flame is yellow, anywhere from 1" to 14" above the burn pot and lots of sparks that have the neighbors threatening to report me to the fire department. I do have embers landing on the ground and taking several seconds to eventually burn out.
     
  21. Deezl Smoke

    Deezl Smoke
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    Sounds as though you are starting to narrow your issue down. The sparks out the exhaust are un-burned partials of pellets jumping out of the pot. This will also cause lots of ash as the pellets complete their burn in the ash pan. Bad pellets can add to a bad setup to make things even worse.

    Here's a site with a pretty good definition of hard wood vs. soft wood.
     
  22. mrbeal

    mrbeal
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    Looks like pellets keep coming up as a strong contributing factor. I have 3 bags left which will probably last the week and then I will have to search for another source of pellets. Who knew having a pellet stove was going to be such a hassle? Such is life.....
    FWIW, both images are the same setting on the stove just a minute or so apart. The flame is VERY inconsistent. I would think that, on medium for instance, the flame would stay pretty steady as pellets are fed.
    IMG_2260.JPG IMG_2261.JPG
     
  23. Deezl Smoke

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    They're really not a hassle. It's like most things in life, they just have a learning curve.

    The Serenity pellet auger sorta runs on demand. It does not just run 100% of the time and slow or speed up as needed, it runs for a second or two, then stops, then runs etc. to meet the temp demand. This does cause the inconsistent flame you are seeing. Mine acts the same way. If the pellets are are bit long, and in good shape, they can bridge just a bit at the auger opening. Usually not for more than a couple auger cycles. You'll notice this when the flame gets really low because that pocket of no pellets has reached the auger exit.
    Then the pellets start falling again, and maybe a bit many of them to make up for the lack of pellets. It will all average out and the house temp will be unchanged.

    Dont get discouraged. It just takes a bit of time and experimenting to find the right settings for the pellets you wish to burn.

    Think of it this way. If you play basketball or racket ball or the like and do so with the same people for some time, you get to know how each player acts and moves about the court. You get comfortable and can usually play a consistent game, each week the scores are pretty close for everyone. Then one guys leaves on vacation and a new guy you have never seen before steps in for a few games. Now what? You're lost. You have to make changes to even have a chance of score.
    Your pellet stove is the same. Once you find a pellet that you like, which the Serenity seems to be very tolerant of many qualities, you can find the settings to work with those pellets and get along fine. If you buy 10 bags of 20 different brands and grades of pellets however, you will have to reset something with each new pellet. But you must go thru the initial time consumption of finding the pellet that you think is a good fit. Maybe one that is easy to get locally, or one that even though you have to drive a bit for, has less fines in the bags or is more consistent from bag to bag. Then set the stove up for them and plan to buy that pellet as your main one. Sure, sometimes you may have to buy a few bags of something else if your brand runs out at the store or something, but by then you should have a good handle on the settings and what each setting will do to make a new pellet work for a while.

    FWIW, I too use pellet heat as my sole heat source. Right now it is quite mild here yet, and I only burn about 10 of the 24 hour day. That is on low settings, 900 sq/ft un-insulated house. The constant heat of a pellet stove or a block wood stove, uses your house as a mass heat storage. So once everything in your house is up to temp, and you turn the stove off, it takes quite a while to cool off as the mass of the house and it's contents are now releasing the heat they stored up.
     
  24. rich2500

    rich2500
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    totally normal for the flame to fluctuate like that, looks like a pretty good flame though,,where are you at with your adjustments. Hang in there we will help get you squared away it just takes a little time through a forum,to speed up the process you could always call tech support they are very good at Ardisam.
     
  25. alternativeheat

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    FWIW, I've never gotten pellets that were a blend from TSC, that were so bad I wouldn't consider using them again. And the ones packaged by Maine Woods are a little ashy but quite hot, I've burned many bags of those over the years. They have sold some straight hard woods I wouldn't bother with again. But one year they sold some pure white pines that I'd like to get my hands on a lifetime supply of, hot , hot pellets and almost 0 ash on the pot ! That said, if you have a Home Depot near by, check with them and see if they have some Fireside Ultra pellets in stock ( i know that Plymouth HD has them because I've been buying them there at $5.18 a bag), those should burn pretty well for you. Those are about my favorite mid range , hot, if a little dirty in a low burn BBS pellet. They are fine in the cold weather too. FSU are not a bad pellet at all. Maine Woods blends are not a bad pellet either but a little more ash.

    You just need to get your air set right in that stove, no way you should be throwing sparks out the vent regardless what brand pellets you are burning..
     

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