Englander 25-PDVC low heat output woes

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Ben in Maryland

New Member
Feb 3, 2021
44
Manchester, Maryland
Recently my Englander 25-PDVC isn't putting out enough heat to warm the approximately 600 square foot room it's in. The volume of air seems correct, it's just lukewarm at best. Previously the stove would put out so much heat on 1 I'd need to open a window after it had been on a couple hours.

It began after I'd run a few bags of Tractor Supply hardwood pellets through it, which is a brand I'd never tried. As I was burning them, I'd noted the smoke from the chimney was quite dark. The inside of the stove was getting more soot than I'm used to, and the soot was much darker as well. One day later, when turning the stove on from cold, it wouldn't fire up. No pellets at all on the burn plate.

Here's what I found when I started poking around:

-The silicone hose from the r/s (from the rear) pressure switch to the top of the combustion blower was melted at the blower end and unattached
-The upper auger motor was covered in grease, as was the auger bearing
-The inside of the stove was covered in dark, almost black soot. More soot than I'd ever seen.

First round of attempts to repair:
-Cut off the end of the silicone hose and reattached to the blower
-Replaced the upper auger motor and bearing
-Vacuumed/scraped the inside of the stove, removing the impingement plate and clearing out the heat exchanger as best as possible.
After the 1st round of repairs, the stove was pushing pellets into the burn plate. They'd fire as normal, but the heat output was low. The fire seemed a bit lazy, so I switched from the TSC pellets to another brand. Fire may have been slightly better, but still a very low heat output.

2nd round of attempts:
-powered upper auger motor directly, confirming it spins at approx 1RPM
-confirmed upper auger on/off cycle changes with heat range setting, ie it turns longer and stays off less time as the heat range increases and the opposite with lower heat range settings
-vacuumed out the combustion blower by attaching my shop vac to the output of the fan. did not remove silicone vacuum line, open the stove door, or have anyone bang on the inside of the stove with a rubber mallet while I vacuumed
-powered lower auger motor directly, confirming it spins at about 1RPM
-confirmed lower auger motor runs at all times when stove is in use
-confirmed stove was set to "D" heat range
-performed a factory reset to the stove

After the second round of repairs didn't change the heat output, I grabbed a couple bags of Stove Chow pellets from HD. I'd used them in the past, and they did give good heat. With those pellets, the fire looks great in the stove. A tall flame that went from side to side and front to back in the burn pot area. The heat output is slightly better, but nowhere near where it had been previous to the issue with the pellets not being loaded into the stove.

My plan moving forward:
-replace the upper auger motor bearing gasket. I didn't replace it when I replaced the bearing; the current one in the stove seems to be plastic, the replacement is a fiber gasket. When I cleaned the stove at the beginning of the season, I'd replaced the burn pot gasket and it was a fiber construction, so I'm assuming that's correct for the auger bearing gasket as well.
-vacuum the inside of the stove in the manner described in the leaf blower method described elsewhere on this forum, but with my shop vac instead. The ID of the convection blower outlet is the same as the OD of my shop vac hose.
-remove and reinstall the convection blower to make certain it's cleaned. I'll replace the gasket at that time

My question (finally, I know...) am I missing something obvious? Do I seem to be on the correct path moving forward?
 

Ssyko

Minister of Fire
Nov 6, 2017
4,204
Lorraine NY
The best way to clean the stove is with the leaf blower trick. Im serious you cant clean those stoves like they need to be without the LBT.
 

Ben in Maryland

New Member
Feb 3, 2021
44
Manchester, Maryland
The best way to clean the stove is with the leaf blower trick. Im serious you cant clean those stoves like they need to be without the LBT.
Man, I can see why! My knuckles look like I got in a fist fight last night. I don't have a leaf blower readily available to me, so I took the shop vac to the exhaust blower but sealed it well with duct tape. I could feel the build up of soot on the left and right side of the heat exchanger, the left side was built up to the top of the cavity. Beat the heck out of it with a rubber mallet, but still needed to poke and prod with a wire coat hanger to get it broken free. I'd imagine the leaf blower would have a lot more velocity going through.

Are there any diagrams or photos of the inside of the exchanger floating around anywhere?
 
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SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Yeah good source. It was from ESW guru/engineer Mike Holten. So Ben when are you getting your new leaf blower/vacuum Lol
Time to pay a visit to your local box store... Blowes or Home Despot and buy one. They will be on sale right now anyway.. Should be around 70 bucks or so (corded which is what you want anyway) and suck it out and make a mess outside..
 
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Ben in Maryland

New Member
Feb 3, 2021
44
Manchester, Maryland
I'm glad I looked for a Youtube video on how to hook up the leaf blower. I was envisioning hooking up the leaf blower directly to the outlet of the combustion blower. Was really not looking forward to lugging that pig of a stove outside so I could clean it properly...

I was looking at this leaf blower from HD: Toro Ultra
 
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SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
I'm glad I looked for a Youtube video on how to hook up the leaf blower. I was envisioning hooking up the leaf blower directly to the outlet of the combustion blower. Was really not looking forward to lugging that pig of a stove outside so I could clean it properly...

I was looking at this leaf blower from HD: Toro Ultra
Just ordered that one from Pellet Head actually. The Toro has a metal impeller, the one I have now don't. You want the metal impeller, the plastic impellers get chewed up after a while...like mine is (greenworks).
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
I'm glad I looked for a Youtube video on how to hook up the leaf blower. I was envisioning hooking up the leaf blower directly to the outlet of the combustion blower. Was really not looking forward to lugging that pig of a stove outside so I could clean it properly...

I was looking at this leaf blower from HD: Toro Ultra
You don't ever want to hook it up directly to the exhaust outlet of the stove anyway. The vacuum caused by the leaf blower's suction side will rupture the rubber disc inside the vacuum switch. In fact I recommend unhooking the vacuum host to the firebox anyway. No point in taking a chance of rupturing it. Just make sure you use the vacuum port on the blower (bottom side) not the blow port. The blow port will cause you a huge mess inside the house.
 

Washed-Up

Minister of Fire
Nov 5, 2011
660
Kananaskis,Alberta, Canada
Leaf lower truck is one of the best things about owning a pellet stove and cleaning it properly...I’ve gone as far as buying a 10’ length of vacuum hose so I can hook it up easier and put the leaf blower wherever I want to aim it.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
I just blow mine all over the deck and call it good. Spring rains wash it away anyway.... Sucking the venting out is something no stove manufacturer ever tells a buyer about, but then there are a lot of ownership aspects that manufacturers and retail sellers don't ever tell a customer about. In their view, owning a biomass stove is purely a 'plug and play' scenario. People buy into that because bottom line is, we live in a plug and play society but then, they start having issues and then find this site and start asking questions when, in fact, if builders and retailers actually were forthright about proper care and feeding of ANY biomass appliance, there would be a ton less questions posed.

Why I always say, have you cleaned it lately, have you bothered to read and follow the owners manual and lastly, have you performed proper and ongoing maintenance to the mechanical aspects of the appliance?

In reality, they are all mechanical devices that combust a biomass fuel, pellets, or corn or whatever, but they all require ongoing maintenance of the mechanical components.

There is nothing even remotely plug and play about any of them and that is where people get in trouble and then come on here for help, when in fact, if they treated them as mechainical devices and maintained them, 90% of the issues would never appear.

I always chuckle to myself when reading posts and think, You do change the oil in your car, you do change the air filter and check the tire pressure right? Biomass appliances are no different, despite what manufacturers and retails lead a customer to believe.
 

Ben in Maryland

New Member
Feb 3, 2021
44
Manchester, Maryland
I bought the leaf blower this morning, and used it to clean out the stove. I also replaced the upper auger motor gasket with a new fiber gasket. I had the burn pot out to clean it; got a bunch of stuff out of it by banging on it with a rubber mallet while vacuuming it. When I reinstalled the burn pot I used a new gasket as well. The stove fired at a couple minutes before 4 this afternoon, and I turned the heat range up to 9 at about 4:30. It's now 10:50pm, and the air from the blower is still just warm. To be comfortable in the ~600 square foot room you need a blanket, with an outside temperature of 32 degrees F. The sides of the stove are screaming hot, I can't hold my hand on the sides at all. The air coming from the blower vents is warm on the left side, and as you move to the right side gets cooler to the point it's barely above the room temperature.

What's left to do? This level of heat output is nowhere near what it was before I had the issue with the pellets loading into the stove.
 
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Ben in Maryland

New Member
Feb 3, 2021
44
Manchester, Maryland
Just ordered that one from Pellet Head actually. The Toro has a metal impeller, the one I have now don't. You want the metal impeller, the plastic impellers get chewed up after a while...like mine is (greenworks).
It's my first leaf blower, but it does seem to be well made. I like the fact it mulches the leaves when it's used as a vacuum, should help a great deal to expedite the composting process when I add leaves to my compost bins.
 
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Washed-Up

Minister of Fire
Nov 5, 2011
660
Kananaskis,Alberta, Canada
This thread may help I hope
 
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Pete Zahria

Minister of Fire
Jan 6, 2014
1,192
New Hampster
mcmanusfuels.com
First time doing the leaf blower cleaning method...

Dan


dust_storm.jpg
 

Ben in Maryland

New Member
Feb 3, 2021
44
Manchester, Maryland
Left the stove on overnight, before I went to bed I filled the hopper and reduced the heat and blower settings from 9/9 to 1/1. Woke up about 6 hours later and checked on the stove, it was off. Doesn't look like any pellets were used after I filled it, there wasn't any power outage last night, and there were no error codes on the control panel.
 

Ssyko

Minister of Fire
Nov 6, 2017
4,204
Lorraine NY
room blower moving as much air as it always has? Withe the stove off, pull the impingement plate and run a bottle brush in the heat exchanger. Has the stove been on low most of its life? May be coated with creosote.
 

Ben in Maryland

New Member
Feb 3, 2021
44
Manchester, Maryland
room blower moving as much air as it always has? Withe the stove off, pull the impingement plate and run a bottle brush in the heat exchanger. Has the stove been on low most of its life? May be coated with creosote.
The blower output seems to be correct. I haven't taken the room blower apart to clean it, I'm still waiting on that gasket to arrive before I remove it. The squirrel cage does not have any noticeable build up in it, though. There's nothing soot-wise on the heat exchanger that I can see with my mirror. When I cleaned the stove with the leaf blower yesterday I had the blower running on high for about 5 minutes after soot stopped blowing out. While the blower was still running I banged all around inside the stove with a rubber mallet and ran my wire coat hanger scraper in the exchanger to dislodge any stubborn caked up soot.

I honestly don't know the entire answer to how the stove's been run during it's life. The stove was made in 2014, and was sitting in the basement of the house when we bought it in '18. It wasn't installed at that time, and I've not found anywhere in the house where it looks to have been installed. I installed it in February of 2020. When the stove was working properly I'd start it between 6 and 7 and after the room warmed up I'd knock it back to a lower heat and blower setting.

Creosote build up does concern me. I bought Rutland spray creosote remover yesterday, this morning I sprayed the inside of the stove with it. Took out the impingement plate and sprayed inside the heat exchanger as best as possible. I'm hoping that helps, as I'm starting to get dismayed...
 

Ben in Maryland

New Member
Feb 3, 2021
44
Manchester, Maryland
The blower fan operation did do something different for the first time this morning. I'd had the stove running for about two hours, went out to check on it and the blower fan was no longer running. It had come on after the stove was fired for about 20 minutes, and was running when I left the room after I first started the stove. Sat and watched it for a bit and the blower came on. Is the blower fan operation tied into a temperature sensor of some kind?
 

heat seeker

Minister of Fire
Feb 25, 2011
3,214
Northern CT
Have you cleaned out the windings on the motor itself? If it's full of dust, the motor will overheat and shut down until it cools. That sounds like what is happening. Blowing out the windings is a much overlooked part of the cleaning process.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Actually, there are no windings in a shaded pole motor other than the heavy gauge windings on the field laminations. The armature is a solid segmented part with no windings on it at all. I'd say the bearings are dry. Shaded pole motors have very little starting torque and depend on the centrifugal force of the spinning armature to provide movement. If the bearings are dry, the motor won't reliably start. Certainly don't hurt to blow them out however. Every component inside collects dust and debris no matter what. They all live in an adverse enviroment.
 

Ben in Maryland

New Member
Feb 3, 2021
44
Manchester, Maryland
Actually, there are no windings in a shaded pole motor other than the heavy gauge windings on the field laminations. The armature is a solid segmented part with no windings on it at all. I'd say the bearings are dry. Shaded pole motors have very little starting torque and depend on the centrifugal force of the spinning armature to provide movement. If the bearings are dry, the motor won't reliably start. Certainly don't hurt to blow them out however. Every component inside collects dust and debris no matter what. They all live in an adverse enviroment.
Before I replaced the upper auger bearing, there would be a delay of one to two seconds between the time the upper motor powered on and the auger turning. Since I replaced the upper bearing, there is no delay between motor power on and the auger turning. The upper auger motor is new as well. The lower motor and bearing have not been replaced, but I've measured it as taking about 59 seconds to complete a revolution.

In Illustration #4 of the manual, which shows the control board wiring diagram, there is a thermal sensor that attaches to the control board. The diagram shows the thermal sensor at the back of the fire box. What does that thermal sensor do?