First pellet stove house fire for this season! Just a little burn back?

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Don2222

Minister of Fire
Feb 1, 2010
8,638
Salem NH
Hello

Looks like a little back burn. Some stoves are more prone to burn back. Does anyone know which ones?

http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20111014-NEWS-110140343

October 14, 2011 2:00 AM

EXETER — A small pellet stove fire was quickly extinguished at an Exeter River Landing mobile home on Wednesday afternoon.

Firefighters responded to 306 Friar Tuck Drive shortly before 3 p.m. on Oct. 12. Assistant Fire Chief Eric Wilking said the home was filled with smoke when crews arrived. He said it appears wood pellets caught fire in the stove's hopper.

Wilking said the fire was contained to the stove and the mobile home sustained minor smoke damage. The homeowner was home at the time. No one was injured.

Initially, mutual aid was requested from Kingston and Newfields because it was thought there was limited water supply, but the aid was quickly cancelled, Wilking said.

— Aaron Sanborn
 

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DexterDay

Guest
Too early for this????? No????

Don, I thought you were rebuiding stoves? How do you find the time?
 

jdempsey

Feeling the Heat
Aug 21, 2011
263
kentucky
Thank goodness it was nothing tragic.
 
Don2222 said:
Looks like a little back burn. Some stoves are more prone to burn back. Does anyone know which ones?
I'm guessing that I share the same thoughts of most pellet stove owners here that this sorta stuff scares the crap out of me!

I see something like this and the first thing I think is, "oh, probably a very dirty stove w/lazy owner". I seem to remember some discussion a while back in regard to back burn with bottom feeders as opposed to top feeders?

Yikes! who knows? You really don't hear about hopper fires much and I for one would also like to know exactly what conditions arise to create such a hazard.
 

save$

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2008
1,903
Chelsea Maine
I know it is late and my brain isn't what it should be, but what are some of the things that could be done to have prevented the hopper fire in that pellet stove?
I recently had a scare when my family room became very smoky. I rushed to the stove and saw a lot of smoke leaking our from the hopper lid. The inside of the the stove was full of dense smoke. The stove had shut down. I hit the on button and the smoke quickly cleared. In my case, what happened was the stove ran out of pellets. I was burning some of those dirty Energex pellets and a big clump of ash had formed in the burn pot. That clump was smoldering and the smoke was escaping up the pellet drop into the hopper. Never happens when I burn MWP or other pellets that leave no clumping to linger on smoldering when the stove shuts down.
I have a 3 foot vertical raise inside, and OAK.
 

SmokeyTheBear

Minister of Fire
Nov 10, 2008
13,363
Standish, ME
The conditions that lead to burn back on drop feeders (top feed, puffer stoves) is not checking the burn pot for build up (burning the wrong or sub par fuel) or having a burn pot air bypass (bad gaskets, door becoming slightly ajar or not latched shut) or improperly set damper or a dirty stove will make what might be a minor air flow issue into a major airflow issue and cause buildup which can lead to burn back.

Most but not all bottom feeders (pusher stoves) will push the crud out of the burn pot.

Bottom feeders have other ways of causing a backup and hooper fire to happen.

In addition a stuck overheat sensor that doesn't open can cause hoppers to get very warm and unless other safeties intervene could get a hooper burning.

Most hooper fires are smoke generators rather than raging infernos and the stove will contain it provided you don't open the hooper and give it more air.
 

Czech

Minister of Fire
Jan 20, 2006
1,076
Twin Cities, MN
Awareness is great, but for comparison reasons let's post every fire we can find for wood stoves, electric heaters, and candles to be fair.
 

save$

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2008
1,903
Chelsea Maine
I would like to sort out operator failure vs. stove failure, and if stove failure, then what would the average stove owner have done preventatively. ? maintenance recommendations beyond a comprehensive cleaning schedule.
 

stoveguy2esw

Minister of Fire
ive seen my share of hopper fires in the last 15 plus years and examined several units post fire (i do autopsies on these things on occasion) while manufacturer defects can bring this about its quite common in stoves ive examined that poor maintenance is the most common cause. stoves are designed with multi layered defenses against a hopper fire but it can still happen under the right circumstances in ANY pellet stove.

best defense? simple.

1.keep em clean folks, allow the stove the ability to draft itself clear in event of sudden shutdown or component failure

2. practice good gasket inspection and maintenance, anywhere there is a gasket in a stove bet the farm its there for a reason. to stop airflow. when gaskets become compremised, replace them. if latches are used, keep an eye on their adjustments , and adjust them accordingly over time, hopper gaskets tend to "flatten out" compress and this causes the latches to not pull as tight as when new, adjust them tighter as this happens to avoid air leakage through the hopper which can act as a chimney if too much air can flow through there.

3. proper installation, ive seen setups that were a smoke trap waiting to happen. follow manufacturers guidelines, avoid long horizontal runs and excessive elbows.
 

Don2222

Minister of Fire
Feb 1, 2010
8,638
Salem NH
save$ said:
I know it is late and my brain isn't what it should be, but what are some of the things that could be done to have prevented the hopper fire in that pellet stove?
I recently had a scare when my family room became very smoky. I rushed to the stove and saw a lot of smoke leaking our from the hopper lid. The inside of the the stove was full of dense smoke. The stove had shut down. I hit the on button and the smoke quickly cleared. In my case, what happened was the stove ran out of pellets. I was burning some of those dirty Energex pellets and a big clump of ash had formed in the burn pot. That clump was smoldering and the smoke was escaping up the pellet drop into the hopper. Never happens when I burn MWP or other pellets that leave no clumping to linger on smoldering when the stove shuts down.
I have a 3 foot vertical raise inside, and OAK.
Hello Save$

The Manufacturer of my stove offers a free weather strip kit to go around the lip of the hopper. This completely seals the hopper from any air coming in to feed back burn. So far I do not need it. The 115 lb hopper has so many pellets that not much air can get down in anyway!

However if you do not have a good seal on your hopper it is highly recommended!!
 

save$

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2008
1,903
Chelsea Maine
Hello Don,
The Napoleon stove, by design, does not have a seal on the hopper. No latch etc. Gravity holds the lib closed. Why, I don't know, but that is how this stove is set up.
 

kurthood

Member
Jan 27, 2011
24
southern NH
I get a little nervous about burn back through the screw when I turn the stove off. The last few pellets burn at the base of the burn pot and the screw will turn a few more times to push out whatever is still burning, but sometimes I worry that it could burn back through the feeder and into the hopper. I scrape the burn pot down before every time I burn so theres no residual ash built up from the last fire. Would there be anything else to prevent burn back besides providing a clean burnpot for the ash to push into and ultimately out of ?
 
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