Jotul 550 Rockland Comments

Jdowdle

New Member
Jan 9, 2019
47
Snow Camp, NC
Here's an update on my Jotul Rockland 550. If you're following this thread, I'm the guy who started it. Thanks for all of the comments and suggestions. I thought I'd offer some more thoughts. I'm now in my second season with my stove, and I'm happier with it, although I still have some reservations.

First, wood. As many folks mentioned, having properly dry, seasoned hardwood is essential for this stove. While the wood I burned last year would have worked well in my previous stove, the Jotul wants really dry wood. This year I'm burning wood I cut last winter, oak and hickory, split and stacked loosely, protected from rain, with good air flow and sun. We've had a drought summer and fall, and this wood is absolutely dry, and it burns well and hot.

I still have reservations about the overall amount of heat output. I know how hot this wood burns from previous experience with two previous freestanding stoves and a an insert, and how much heat it produces (when I open the door to put in more wood it's like opening a blast furnace!) And yet, I'm moderately disappointed with how much heat I actually get into the house. It is probably half the heat I got from my best freestanding stove based on the volume of wood burned. I understand that an insert will never be as efficient as a freestanding stove, but I can't help thinking I ought to be able to get more of that heat, or burn less wood to get the heat I do get.

The main culprit, as I see it, is the inadequate set of blowers. They just simply do not move a lot of air. They are small blowers set into a fairly large open space under the stove with no cowling to help direct airflow, and they are just not powerful enough. I'm guessing they move maybe 75 cfm each. I'm seriously considering replacing them with a pair of 135cfm blowers. I wonder if anyone has tried this or has a recommendation on this.

My other main reservation is the air control. First, why on earth is it just a tiny little metal post? I've burned my fingers on it many times, and it is just about impossible to make a small adjustment with it when the stove is hot. Why couldn't Jotul just put a little handle on it?

My other issue with the air control is the inability to restrict the airflow to the firebox as much as I would like. My chimney is 27' tall with a 6" SS liner. It gets a serious draft! As you may have seen, I installed a traditional flue damper just above the firebox outlet to help restrict the flow and reduce the draft, which helped a lot. However, even with the damper fully closed and the inlet airflow set to the far left, as little air as possible, I still get a rolling fire with lots of swirling, dancing flames. Pretty to look it, but inefficient for heat production and burn time. My stove burns up an entire load of dry oak and hickory in about four hours, burned down to coals. Not so great for overnight.

I would love to be able to further restrict the inlet airflow. Anyone have any thoughts on this? I think someone at one time mentioned an adjustment or modification that could be made to the inlet valve.

Anyway, my thoughts here in the second season are that this is a good stove, but not a great stove. I think the design has too much emphasis on style and attractiveness, including the look of the fire, and not enough emphasis on efficiency and heat production. If what you want is an attractive stove with a cheery fire in the evenings that will supplement your existing heat, this is a great stove for that. If what you want is a stove that will consistently, reliably, and efficiently heat your house as your primary heat source, day and night, you might want to look a little further.
 
Last edited:

jatoxico

Minister of Fire
Aug 8, 2011
4,334
Long Island NY
 

Ctwoodtick

Minister of Fire
Jun 5, 2015
1,467
Southeast CT
Regarding restricting your primary air, this was covered in a thread called” jotul Rockland tips thread” or something to that effect. It’s a huge thread, but you should find the info you need in the last several pages of the thread.
Fully agree that this insert is more about looks than functionality. About the primary air lever/ it’s is stupidly small and gets quite hot. I use the fireglove I use to add wood to stove to move the lever.
I’m curious what your temps are on stove top. I have a magnetic stove top therm on in where the warm air comes out (which is the stove top). I wonder what your top temps are and what you have for a temp 4 hours later ( when you say your burn time ends). My Rockland is pretty leaky ( I need to replace door gasket) but I would figure after 4 hours of full load of hardwood that my temp would be in the 400’s and at 8 hours, a bit over 200.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
86,434
South Puget Sound, WA
Flush inserts are challenging to heat with. They are very blower dependent. However, in this case, it sounds like a lot of heat may be heading up the flue due to the strong draft. Unfortunately, that is a challenge with an insert. A digital probe thermometer is about the only solution. One thing you can try is to shut down the air sooner. Try starting to close off the air as soon as the fire starts burning robustly. Turn it down until the flames get lazy, then wait for them to regain strength, then turn down again.
 

Jdowdle

New Member
Jan 9, 2019
47
Snow Camp, NC
Regarding restricting your primary air, this was covered in a thread called” jotul Rockland tips thread” or something to that effect. It’s a huge thread, but you should find the info you need in the last several pages of the thread.
Fully agree that this insert is more about looks than functionality. About the primary air lever/ it’s is stupidly small and gets quite hot. I use the fireglove I use to add wood to stove to move the lever.
I’m curious what your temps are on stove top. I have a magnetic stove top therm on in where the warm air comes out (which is the stove top). I wonder what your top temps are and what you have for a temp 4 hours later ( when you say your burn time ends). My Rockland is pretty leaky ( I need to replace door gasket) but I would figure after 4 hours of full load of hardwood that my temp would be in the 400’s and at 8 hours, a bit over 200.
I'll get a thermometer and get back to you. Thanks for the info.
 

Jdowdle

New Member
Jan 9, 2019
47
Snow Camp, NC
Flush inserts are challenging to heat with. They are very blower dependent. However, in this case, it sounds like a lot of heat may be heading up the flue due to the strong draft. Unfortunately, that is a challenge with an insert. A digital probe thermometer is about the only solution. One thing you can try is to shut down the air sooner. Try starting to close off the air as soon as the fire starts burning robustly. Turn it down until the flames get lazy, then wait for them to regain strength, then turn down again.
Thanks for the response. I never open the air inlet more than a crack unless I'm lighting a cold stove. Once it's going the vent stays "closed" all the time or I worry I'll overburn the stove. Even fully closed I have a very robust fire.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,402
Northern Maine
Once mine gets going from a cold start it's run mostly closed or fully closed. The only time it's wide open is when I'm reloading it.

I must be doing something right as the sweep reported that there was no creosote in the liner.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
23,459
central pa
Thanks for the response. I never open the air inlet more than a crack unless I'm lighting a cold stove. Once it's going the vent stays "closed" all the time or I worry I'll overburn the stove. Even fully closed I have a very robust fire.
Without temps and draft measurements we really can't help you much. I suspect you are still over the specified draft
 

JDCrae

New Member
Nov 21, 2019
7
Baltmore, MD
I have been pouring through all of the Rockland C550 threads and have not been able to find answers for my problem. Local dealer is beyond useless so I am hoping that someone here might have some insight.

We have had the Rockland for 3 years. This has worked like a champ for those 3 years. Have had it professionally cleaned by sweeps every year, burning extremely well seasoned red oak. All wood is split and dried for more than 2 years before burning in the insert. Moisture content is never above 14% on a fresh split on a larger piece, smaller pieces much less.

Chimney is 14 ft, to the top of the clay, 6 inch stainless liner, insulated, with a stainless rain cap on top. Have always had good draft on this unit.

Until recently.

Over the past week, burns are strange. Fully open burns are not acting like fully open burns. The air control lever is clearly moving something when you move it, but whereas before you could watch the fire change intensity almost instantly, suddenly now that is not the case. Somehow our unit is being starved of air, as if the air control lever has somehow gotten disconnected from the mechanism that actually opens and closes the primary air shutter.

Our professional sweep company also repairs wood stoves etc, and they came out as a courtesy, thinking it was somehow some kind of blockage in the liner. No blockage. No buildup in the liner. Verified very dry wood with their moisture meter. Measured the draft. Said it was a touch shy of optimal, but well within normal specs. We are getting a little smoke in the box, something that we do not remember getting beforehand.

They do not see Jotuls very often, and he said flat out they were slammed and did not have the time to pull the unit from the hearth and try to troubleshoot.

I am pretty mechanically inclined, and am happy to tackle it, but can't see in the diagrams exactly how the mechanism is designed to work. We have confirmed all other variables, it is definitely an air inlet issue.

Has anyone else experience an air inlet blockage? What all is involved in getting to the linkage? We need to get back to proper working condition as this is the primary heat source of our home.

Thanks all for the help

JD
USAF Veteran
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
86,434
South Puget Sound, WA
The symptoms described are very typical for poorly seasoned wood.
 

JDCrae

New Member
Nov 21, 2019
7
Baltmore, MD
I understand that. That's why I tested the wood prior to posting. The chimney sweep company also verified with their moisture meter just to double check. This wood is actually 3 years seasoned and extremely dry. Most splits are measuring less than 8% moisture content which is extremely dry by any firewood standard. I'm actually a professional woodworker so I have quite a few moisture meters, and very high quality ones as the cheap ones are less than useless, at least when it comes to woodworking. Can't make a piece of furniture and have the thing moving all over the place.

We also confirmed chimney draw, which was within tolerances as well. Draw has always been good on this chimney. It's an insulated liner with a block panel on an interior wall as well, centrally located in the house. Ideal from just about all angles.

The problem has been conclusively determined to be the primary airflow. The question is only whether the lever has somehow become disconnected thereby not actually moving the shutter, or I have some kind of buildup on the primary inlet. I'm leaning more toward disconnected as it acts like it is stuck half open. It doesn't respond to moving the air control lever as it always did.

I was hopeful someone might have had a similar issue and could offer some guidance on how the primary air system and lever mechanism worked so I don't tear it apart any more than necessary.

I did my best to analyze all other possibilities before posting. Wanted to rule out all the common issues before exploring the less common ones. If no one seems to know I'll just have to tear it out and figure it out. The dealer is worthless and Jotul won't even take a consumers phone call. Have left 3 messages over the last 3 weeks and still no response. We have been happy with the stove up to this point, but given the lack of support from both the dealer and manufacturer, I would certainly not buy another one. Overpriced for performance and the support is non existent. Plus, those blower motors have to be the loudest things I've heard since leaving the Air Force lol

Many thanks

JD
 

Ctwoodtick

Minister of Fire
Jun 5, 2015
1,467
Southeast CT
It is hard for me to get wood below 17 or 18 percent moisture content no matter how long stacked and top covered. I hear you saying that your wood was confirmed dry but 14% is quite low, much less getting would much drier than that, which seems close to impossible unless you using a solar kiln on your wood in your location .
 

JDCrae

New Member
Nov 21, 2019
7
Baltmore, MD
We are at the top of a plateau, so we get extremely strong winds here. Aids the drying process in a huge way. And I do use a solar kiln. I have it for drying my stock for woodworking and added a large addition to dry my stock for burning. Makes a world of difference. Was more for the woodworking but big bonus for drying our firewood.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
86,434
South Puget Sound, WA
Likewise, our wood settles in at about 16-18% and stays there, even if several years old under shelter, but let's accept that the wood is dry.

The air control linkage could get disconnected. Is there a plate, at the front and center of the firebox with a couple bolts holding it down? This is where the air box is on the freestanders. There is a slider valve inside under the cover. Not sure on the Rockland.

Has anything been done this year to the house to significantly tighten it up by sealing leaks?
 

JDCrae

New Member
Nov 21, 2019
7
Baltmore, MD
Unfortunately mine is a flush mount insert. The air control valve looks to slide something on the back of the unit based on the pictures. I can't tell though if it's a direct connection like bracket to bracket or a rod or what. Their exploded diagram blows.

We have not done anything to seal the house no. We did try adding air the room by opening the front door, which is 10 ft from the fireplace, as well as opening a huge window. Zero change in flame whatsoever. Only way I can get the firebox air is to open the door slightly. Otherwise it acts like the valve is half shut, despite being fully open as far as the lever position goes.
 

Ctwoodtick

Minister of Fire
Jun 5, 2015
1,467
Southeast CT
There have been some post on this forum about modifying the primary air control on the Rockland. Not that you should be modifying anything but that post may give you insight into the functionality of the air controls. Is search under Rockland air modification or something to that effect.
 

jatoxico

Minister of Fire
Aug 8, 2011
4,334
Long Island NY
Does it burn ok with door open? BTW the air knob on the 550 is directly connected to the slide. There's very little that I could imagine breaking or even disconnecting., just a series of fixed openings that are opened and closed with tabs on the slider.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
86,434
South Puget Sound, WA
Does it burn ok with door open? BTW the air knob on the 550 is directly connected to the slide. There's very little that I could imagine breaking or even disconnecting., just a series of fixed openings that are opened and closed with tabs on the slider.
Can one access the slider by pulling a doghouse cover like on the freestanding stoves?
 

jatoxico

Minister of Fire
Aug 8, 2011
4,334
Long Island NY
Can one access the slider by pulling a doghouse cover like on the freestanding stoves?
Not sure if we're talking about the same thing but the primary air and slide assembly are held on by 3-5 bolts (I forget) that are accessed from the inside of the stove above the door arch. Comes off easy enough.

I'd be more inclined to look for an obstruction above the baffles by removing the two Skamol bricks that sit in the cast iron baffles that support the burn tubes.

I can't think of a way to clog the primary air slider at all nevermind at all the air openings. I suppose the slide could crack in half and once closed it wouldn't return but I think you would feel that aside from the fact it's a super simple design made of heavy material.
 
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JDCrae

New Member
Nov 21, 2019
7
Baltmore, MD
Sorry for the delay in response. I did not get notifications of the new responses. The unit burns great with the door cracked. It burns fine once its going as well, when I would normally be reducing the airflow anyway also. It is the inital burn that is subpar compared to what it used to be. I took out the skamol bricks and did not find anything out of place up there. All the tubes looked fine also. I did bring my air compressor in from my shop and blew out the air inlet on the bottom between the andirons, as using a pipe cleaner that seemed to have a bunch of ash in it. My vac has great suction, but those openings are tiny and it wasn't drawing anything out. I didn't have anything small enough to get in there and suck it out.

As the draw was within tolerances but not at optimal, I am going to put a flue extender on the chimney, to increase the draw. The chimney guy said that might help get the draw up to optimal flow, though he did say it still was within the acceptable range. He just commented that he was not hearing a huge change in airflow when going from closed to open with the air control valve, and that seemed strange for him. I will try to get in there and look for the hardware that bolts it together. Our hearth is raised so laying our your back to look into this thing is quite brutal. If we can just get the inital burn to take off like it always did we will be fine. Feel like I am missing something simple here, but both me and the chimney/stove repair guy are both scratching our heads.
 

jatoxico

Minister of Fire
Aug 8, 2011
4,334
Long Island NY
I will try to get in there and look for the hardware that bolts it together.

I don't recall if its necessary, but If you or your chimney guy has never taken down the baffle system when cleaning, do that while accessing the slide assembly.

I do my own sweeping but it sounds like most sweeps do not remove the baffles when sweeping. Getting them in and out is a PITA and my hearth is raised as well so I feel your pain.

I was hoping there was something obvious that you would see by removing Skamol bricks, but the cast baffles can catch a lot of crap and there could still be built up ash/creo obstructing air flow to the flue exit.
 

rkofler

Burning Hunk
Nov 15, 2011
156
Long Island
I have been pouring through all of the Rockland C550 threads and have not been able to find answers for my problem. Local dealer is beyond useless so I am hoping that someone here might have some insight.

We have had the Rockland for 3 years. This has worked like a champ for those 3 years. Have had it professionally cleaned by sweeps every year, burning extremely well seasoned red oak. All wood is split and dried for more than 2 years before burning in the insert. Moisture content is never above 14% on a fresh split on a larger piece, smaller pieces much less.

Chimney is 14 ft, to the top of the clay, 6 inch stainless liner, insulated, with a stainless rain cap on top. Have always had good draft on this unit.

Until recently.

Over the past week, burns are strange. Fully open burns are not acting like fully open burns. The air control lever is clearly moving something when you move it, but whereas before you could watch the fire change intensity almost instantly, suddenly now that is not the case. Somehow our unit is being starved of air, as if the air control lever has somehow gotten disconnected from the mechanism that actually opens and closes the primary air shutter.

Our professional sweep company also repairs wood stoves etc, and they came out as a courtesy, thinking it was somehow some kind of blockage in the liner. No blockage. No buildup in the liner. Verified very dry wood with their moisture meter. Measured the draft. Said it was a touch shy of optimal, but well within normal specs. We are getting a little smoke in the box, something that we do not remember getting beforehand.

They do not see Jotuls very often, and he said flat out they were slammed and did not have the time to pull the unit from the hearth and try to troubleshoot.

I am pretty mechanically inclined, and am happy to tackle it, but can't see in the diagrams exactly how the mechanism is designed to work. We have confirmed all other variables, it is definitely an air inlet issue.

Has anyone else experience an air inlet blockage? What all is involved in getting to the linkage? We need to get back to proper working condition as this is the primary heat source of our home.

Thanks all for the help

JD
USAF Veteran
Could be the weather. This unit will run much better when it is cold and dry out.
 

dtrykow

Member
Jan 11, 2010
26
Central CT
Rkofler: Definitely low pressure affect the way stoves run. Third season with this stove. I burn combo of splits and slabwood. Running mostly 550-600 degrees. All species. Narrower firebox definitely an “issue“ with the wide slabs. But I’ve learned to work with it. Yes the draft control is tiny. I use a wood file handle to slide it back and forth Or my glove. JDow is right . Heat output and warm air flow seem low. These fans are the same size as the Travis Independence I had, but by design or air leakages not getting the CFM equivalents. Was wondering if anyone wrapped the stove with insulation if that helps. I’ve also noticed the brick above my stove are hotter than when the independence was in there. Again is this from the fans not moving the hot air out efficiently/fast enough? Or did this installation crew do A better job blocking off the flue plate. ?? All and all a good stove. This firebox is smaller than the Travis so I knew(a little worried) about fully heating the house. And it doesn’t. Dave T.
 

JDCrae

New Member
Nov 21, 2019
7
Baltmore, MD
Well, did a crazy thorough cleaning of the stove yet again, removing the baffles and bricks just to make sure I didn't miss anything. Found no problems. No Ash or Creosote buildup anywhere. Linkage for the air control lever appears to run within a tube that runs from the front to the back of the unit. No access.

My wife has a very weak back from a major surgery so she is not able to help. There's no way I'm able to muscle a 500lb stove out of the hearth on my own so I'm waiting for a friend to have the time to help. I'm convinced at this point my air control valve is stuck in one position. I found that using a pipe cleaner, the air inlet at the bottom middle between the andirons had a good amount of Ash in it. Ended up blowing that out with compressed air.

Just wish I had a good dealer nearby. Jotul still hasn't returned any phone calls and just left us high and dry. We shouldn't be at the mercy of dealers. They aren't the ones that made the stove. Something isn't connected anymore on the air control side of the stove and that's not something we did. Zero excuse for their poor customer service.
 

jatoxico

Minister of Fire
Aug 8, 2011
4,334
Long Island NY
Linkage for the air control lever appears to run within a tube that runs from the front to the back of the unit. No access.
The primary air is the only adjustable air control and it is right in front. It introduces air along the arched valance just above the door. The little nub air control on the front is directly attached to the slide. no pins, linkages etc. The assembly is easily removed by unbolting it from inside the stove.

The doghouse air is not adjustable and have not heard of anyone having it clog but either way it sounds like you cleared it. I do wish the secondary air was more clearly marked in the manual.
 
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