Does pellet smoke always smell so bad?

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ecfinn

New Member
Dec 12, 2005
219
Ambler, PA
My neighbor, who we don't talk to, has what I believe to be a pellet stove in his back room. The last couple of weeks its been cold and they've been burning it, I think. It stinks up my whole half-acre yard and then some. It smells like he's burning plastic and its totally acrid. When we don't have a strong wind to carry it away I almost can't stand to be outside. I'm guessing its a pellet stove b/c he doesn't have any firewood sitting around and the smoke is pretty consistent in its amount for hours at a time.

So a couple questions.

Does pellet smoke always smell so bad?

If not, what could be wrong with it?

Lastly, how do I tactfully ask them about it and see if I can suggest a possible solution?

Your help is appreciated. As you can tell I know nothing about pellet stoves.

Thanks,
Eric
 

Kenny1

Feeling the Heat
Oct 20, 2006
305
Eastern ON
Hey Eric, sorry to hear about your problem.

I'm on my second season with a pellet stove and the smoke smells like, well, wood smoke.

The only time we get a wiff of it is when we are outside and the stove kicks on. Once running, not much seem to come out of the exhaust.

Maybe he is burning something other than pellets? Corn shouldn't smell too bad (used a corn stove in the 90's to heat an electronics shop). Again, only time we got a smell was when outside and the stove was starting up. Maybe someone else chould chime in with what other burnable products (e.g wheat, cherry pits, etc) smell like.

I *hope* he is not burning plastic (it would make a huge mess of the stove, and would not be very good for the environment).




Good luck, and let us know how things work out.
 

GVA

Minister of Fire
A. stove could be dirty and blowing a black nasty smoke out his pipe (is the smoke black?)
B. Hardwood pellets smell a bit worse that the softwoods, see what he's burning.
 

ecfinn

New Member
Dec 12, 2005
219
Ambler, PA
GVA said:
A. stove could be dirty and blowing a black nasty smoke out his pipe (is the smoke black?)
B. Hardwood pellets smell a bit worse that the softwoods, see what he's burning.
Smoke appears to be standard gray smoke, nothing that looks objectionable anyway.
If we actually talked to our neighbors I might be able to ask him, but they are a weird lot (of course I'm sure they think the same about us.) :)

Any other ideas?

Eric
 

GVA

Minister of Fire
Like Kenny said, other than startup not much smoke comes out the exhaust. but black smoke would be bad.
The hardwoods would smell funny when I was outside raking leaves The softwoods wood smell more like pine burning and a bit more pleasant.
But you said they are weird who knows what they are burning :sick:
 

stoveguy2esw

Minister of Fire
pellet smoke shouldnt smell any different from wood smoke (which it is) he may have a multifuel unit , and be burning gawd knows what , corn units tent to emit the scent of burnt popcorn , never did like that smell, some multi's burn grain , like wheat or barley , which have an odd odor, had a pellet stove come back once , the owner bought it and tried to burn straight dried soybeans in it, then returned it "said it didnt work right" the stove smelled so bad i wore a dust mask cleaning it , and took it out in the parking lot to burn it, eventually i cut the thing up and pitched it, gawd, it was nasty

notice that i said "pellet stove" interesting concept , wish folks would just burn pellets in them
 

Xena

Minister of Fire
Nov 30, 2005
2,494
South Shore MA
As stated by the others, our pellet stove gives off
zero smoke other than on start up. I can smell
something when I'm outside the house, but it smells like wood.
I have burned a 20/80 corn/pellet mix in our stove and that
corn smells nasty. But despite the stink there was no smoke.
 

restorer

New Member
Aug 16, 2006
831
Salt Lake City, Utah
Eric said:
GVA said:
A. stove could be dirty and blowing a black nasty smoke out his pipe (is the smoke black?)
B. Hardwood pellets smell a bit worse that the softwoods, see what he's burning.
Smoke appears to be standard gray smoke, nothing that looks objectionable anyway.
If we actually talked to our neighbors I might be able to ask him, but they are a weird lot (of course I'm sure they think the same about us.) :)

Any other ideas?

Eric
Smoke???? If your stove is burning right, there should be none. Smell. most pellets are made from high grade wood products, if the stove is burning right, there should only be a light "smoke" odor. Mine have a light pine smell, much better than the bath cleaners, even better than Murphy's Oil Soap.

If you have a stink it's your pellets or a poor burn on the stove.
 

MrWinkey

New Member
Dec 25, 2006
146
Eastern Washington
Ok I would venture to say they are not burning a pellet stove but burning trash in a wood stove?????

My pellet stove does not even produce smoke. There is a slight wood sent (like a campfire?) but no other smoke.

We have people in my rural area that burn their trash and that is what it smells like...very foul smelling plastic burning smell.
 

pelletstovenewbie

New Member
Dec 7, 2007
5
midwest
Not to be overly suspiusous but if the smell is that acrid and horrible could it be a meth lab? The local police could tell you the signs of something like that.
 
pelletstovenewbie said:
Not to be overly suspiusous but if the smell is that acrid and horrible could it be a meth lab? The local police could tell you the signs of something like that.
Very good point. I would make an inquiry of your health department and have them check it out. If they are burning anything other than wood, pellets or coal, they may be out of compliance.

BTW, if they are pellets and they do smell bad, it may be rabbit or deer. :cheese:
 

pegdot

New Member
Nov 16, 2007
415
Upstate, SC
The neighbors who live across some woods behind us were running a lab out of their house and yes, it was the smell that tipped me off to it. To me, it smelled sort of like ammonia or fertilizer....a chemical smell that was pretty distintive but I think that these guys have gotten wise to the fact that the smell often gives them away so Eric's neighbors could be burning something else, while they are cooking the meth, to try to cover up the smell.

Long story short, the local police couldn't to anything based on a smell so some other neighbors and I took turns video taping the house until we caught them unloading 55 gallon drums into the house. The cops finally acted then and arrested the whole bunch. There were little kids in the house. What morons!
 

webbie

Seasoned Moderator
Nov 17, 2005
12,183
Western Mass.
Wow! That would be funny if it wasn't so close to home!
The meth thing is everywhere, but the news says it is bigger in the HeartLand...and in inland California also. I guess the old profit motive, added to the fact that once you snort some of that stuff you truly think you can do ANYTHING. After all, sleep and food become mere "problems" to be dealt with, and in all those wasted hours you can set up a lab to MAKE MORE.
 

Shane

Minister of Fire
Nov 21, 2005
1,831
Casper Wyoming
Meth is a horrible drug. I grew up with it, I've watched my family ruined by it. One of my childhood friends was cooking that crap by age nine. It's amazing how it changes good people. Talk about night of the living dead. I have a neighbor from Jersey, said he dealt with crack and smack heads his whole life and would take 20 of those addicts over one meth addict. That's a wonderful thing you did pegdot, you probably saved some lives.
 

Sagesmom

New Member
Dec 2, 2007
24
Eastern PA
I wouldn't think that someone in Ambler is burning trash.... unless there is a rural part. I think of Ambler as more upscale than having people burning their trash.
 
Two points. the problems with meth is everywhere. Down in Utah they just raided a house with a half million in cash, fifty pounds of meth and diamond encrusted cars, some registered to a 15 year old without a license. All in a nice suburban neighborhood. Near here a ranch was raided and a huge lab was found. They brought in chemicals by the semi load. Although most is now coming from Mexico.

Second point, the DEA and your health department will investigate smells, if motivated. If enough people call and complain about harsh chemical smells, they will pay them a visit at least. Don't forget that there are snooper sniffers that can be used to detect trace chemicals in the air, iodine is easily detected and always present. Responsible neighbors can make a difference.
 

wilbilt

New Member
Oct 13, 2007
243
Nor Cal
If you call your local air quality management district, they should be more than happy to investigate noxious odors.
 
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