Hearthstone Homestead ash grate

Grady95

New Member
Mar 6, 2019
4
NY
Hi all,
New to this forum. We are in upstate NY, near Lake Ontario. It's very cold and snowy here! We rely on our wood stove to heat our 2,400 square foot geodesic dome. We also have solar electricity and geothermal, so we are heavily invested in green technology.
We are in our fourth season with our Hearthstone Homestead soapstone woodstove and for the most part, it has been a very reliable addition. We keep up on maintenance, changing rope seals, cleaning the chimney etc.This stove is "almost" perfect, sans one very glaring flaw that has caused us concern more than once. There is a removable ash box below the burn box floor. In the floor of the box is a sundial shaped ash grate which is supposed to facilitate cleaning the box out. The design appears more an afterthought than a well considered part of the stove. In fact, it is essentially useless. A steel pail and a shovel is how to remove ash and coals from this stove.
Not only does this feature serve no purpose, it has several times, caused us to take emergency measures to control run away burns. If that ash box is not REALLY well seated below the floor, the rush of air coming up causes this stove to run like a blacksmith's furnace. It's scary how hot it gets.
I have seen numerous references to similar problems on the internet. I joined this forum this morning to see if anyone here has encountered this and to ask how they have dealt with it. I have some ideas but would like to hear those of others first. Suggestions?
 

webby3650

Master of Fire
Sep 2, 2008
10,908
Indiana
You are correct, it’s a huge problem. Do you keep the dial closed when burning? Most people don’t pay attention to it being closed, but will add a second line of defense. In the closed position and plugged ash there shouldn’t be much air coming through it. Unless of course it’s already warped like most are. I would fill the pan with ash completely, leave the dial closed and let it fill over with ash.
These stoves are very prone to cracking, especially if they’ve been overfired like yours. Run your hands over all the stones and inspect it closely, I’d be shocked if there’s not a crack somewhere.
 

electrathon

Minister of Fire
Sep 17, 2015
545
Gresham, OR
I also have a hearthstone stove, but it is a different model than yours. The ash grate is awful in mine too. My best advise is to always use a shovel to clean out the stove and don't move the parts that are causing you grief. There is no reason to try to get all the ashes out, just dig out the majority and go.
 

ShawnLiNY

Member
Dec 13, 2018
223
Ny
Will the existing grate allow you to can lay a piece of 12”x12” 1/8” plate on floor of fire box this will block any leaking air and prevent warping of the grate . Plate is precut and available at any home improvement/ hardware store . I use plate in my coal stove when burning wood
 

Grady95

New Member
Mar 6, 2019
4
NY
So what I did was this. You can see in the photos the approach and the final result. Of 1/8" plate steel, we used a metal band saw (could have used the plasma cutter as well) to make a 9 1/4" steel replacement for the sundial. After thoroughly cleaning the inset in the base of the box, this plate laid perfectly. Did nothing more with the ash pan than to replace the rope seal and give it a couple raps with a piece of firewood to assure it was fully seated. First burn after was like heaven! Wife and I both feel it's like having a whole new wood stove. The burn is now fully controllable, the wood is being completely consumed to ash and a little coal, the temps of the stone range from the mid 300s to just below 500 depending on where you point the infrared sensor. It's absolutely amazing how much better this thing runs now.
If the moderators want to move this part, it's fine, but I feel very strongly that a modification like this will be of great benefit to others. I have the means to produce these and sell them. Not the original intent of this inquiry, but there does seem to be a significant number of owners suffering from this same problem. If there is enough interest, I'd be willing to tool up and make these. Not everyone has that ability. For those that do, I encourage you to give this solution a try. For those who can not fabricate them, let me know if you're interested. If there is enough interest, I'll make a batch and ship them out.
Anyway, here are some photos. (I hope!)
 

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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,470
South Puget Sound, WA
Glad it's working better for you, but the air leak at the ash pan door sounds like the real issue. I've had an ashpan on the last 3 stoves and ended up not using it on any of them. The fire burns better with a bed of ash under it and I have no issues with air leakage under the fire.

The grate warping is annoying but are you certain that the steel one won't also warp over time?
 

webby3650

Master of Fire
Sep 2, 2008
10,908
Indiana
Why not just let the ashpan fill up, then close the dial and let it cover over with ash? The wrecked homestead ash dials I’ve seen was because the pan leaked and the dial was full open, it’s intended be closed when not in use. Everyone of those stoves had cracked stones as well.
 

Grady95

New Member
Mar 6, 2019
4
NY
Glad it's working better for you, but the air leak at the ash pan door sounds like the real issue. I've had an ashpan on the last 3 stoves and ended up not using it on any of them. The fire burns better with a bed of ash under it and I have no issues with air leakage under the fire.

The grate warping is annoying but are you certain that the steel one won't also warp over time?
I'm not at all certain actually. It could warp but hey, no guts, no glory! The new plate is dead flat and it's going to be pretty easy to observe the effect the heat has on it over time. I'll keep you guys posted. Right now, the change is most welcome.
 

Grady95

New Member
Mar 6, 2019
4
NY
Why not just let the ashpan fill up, then close the dial and let it cover over with ash? The wrecked homestead ash dials I’ve seen was because the pan leaked and the dial was full open, it’s intended be closed when not in use. Everyone of those stoves had cracked stones as well.
I assure you, we did not make the obvious error of leaving the grate in an open position. What we clearly observed here is noteworthy. The first step I took was to replace the rope seal in the ash pan. That had maybe a nominal effect, noticeable perhaps but not dramatic. At least I was assured that this issue had been properly addressed.
Once the sundial grate was taken out of the equation and replaced with the solid steel plate, the burn was remarkably improved. Given these findings, I am left to conclude that the plate had a far greater impact in the performance of the stove than any other controllable variable. A question has been raised as to the longevity of the new plate, which is valid. It should be easy to determine how well the plate maintains it's shape over the next series of burns and I will certainly report back on that.
For now, all advice and commentary is welcome and appreciated! I hope this modification proves to be as beneficial as I believe it will be. If I can find one way a day to help someone, that has been a good day.
I will recheck the stones. I have not found any cracks so far. Thanks again for pointing that out.
 

webby3650

Master of Fire
Sep 2, 2008
10,908
Indiana
I assure you, we did not make the obvious error of leaving the grate in an open position. What we clearly observed here is noteworthy. The first step I took was to replace the rope seal in the ash pan. That had maybe a nominal effect, noticeable perhaps but not dramatic. At least I was assured that this issue had been properly addressed.
Once the sundial grate was taken out of the equation and replaced with the solid steel plate, the burn was remarkably improved. Given these findings, I am left to conclude that the plate had a far greater impact in the performance of the stove than any other controllable variable. A question has been raised as to the longevity of the new plate, which is valid. It should be easy to determine how well the plate maintains it's shape over the next series of burns and I will certainly report back on that.
For now, all advice and commentary is welcome and appreciated! I hope this modification proves to be as beneficial as I believe it will be. If I can find one way a day to help someone, that has been a good day.
I will recheck the stones. I have not found any cracks so far. Thanks again for pointing that out.
I like the fix you came up with and I don’t doubt one bit it’s making a difference. That ashpan design is terrible! My question is, did you fill the pan with ash and let the whole dial get buried in ash? Once that gets packed down from shoveling and use there’s usually no influence from the leaky ashpan. I’m not speaking out of the homestead necessarily, but others that have dealt with this issue.