Mt Vernon won't start/run

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KipL

Member
Nov 16, 2015
21
Massachusetts
Hi, we have a Mt. Vernon insert which has run well for many years but is now giving us trouble. On startup, no smoke nor flame appears and the unit goes into MIN FIREPOT TEMP error mode. A retry is unsuccessful. If I prime the firepot myself by dumping in a small scoop of pellets, they will smoke then ignite (so the heating element appears to be working). The stove will run strong from that point but will eventually go out on its own with the same error. The stove was previously giving the VACUUM SW ERROR - I found that the nipple for the vacuum hose on the pellet drop tube was completely clogged - I cleaned that out thoroughly and that error went away. Now we are having this problem. I have removed the auger and vacuumed out the feed tube as best I could. The auger itself looked clean. I don't seem to be able to reach the bottom of the hopper where the auger tube is attached. During startup, I can hear the auger running and *some* pellets drop into the firepot - but I'm not sure if enough pellets are being fed. The fact that the stove will startup fine if I add pellets manually seems to suggest that the pellets delivered by the auger aren't enough to start the fire, nor to maintain it (hence it dies out.) Is there a way to tell (other than the end effects) if the auger is delivering the amount of pellets it should be? Are auger motors typically variable speed? Thanks for any help/suggestions.
 

Bkins

Minister of Fire
Mar 16, 2009
623
Jersey Shore
Hi,

I'll try to help with some of your questions. You will need to get to the bottom of your hopper and get it cleaned or vacumned out. If your port on your sugar tube was clogged it most likely means there is a lot of fines in the base of your hopper. Find a way to get this area cleaned of the fines that are there. This area is where most of the fines will accumulate. Maybe put a old section of garden hose into the end of a shop vac and try that. Once the area is totally cleaned it will take many pushes of the heat button to get the augar totally primed again. Once it's primed you should be good to go. If your still having issues tell us what the stove is doing and we will try to help.

By the way if you have a lot of fines at the base of your hopper you may have to reclean out your port on the augar tube along with the rubber hose. After rereading your post you really need to totally empty out your hopper and clean the hopper bin, especially at the base, and the port. I believe fines are causing your issues.

It also helps if you put what stove you have in your particulars. Good luck.
 

KipL

Member
Nov 16, 2015
21
Massachusetts
Hi,

I'll try to help with some of your questions. You will need to get to the bottom of your hopper and get it cleaned or vacumned out. If your port on your sugar tube was clogged it most likely means there is a lot of fines in the base of your hopper. Find a way to get this area cleaned of the fines that are there. This area is where most of the fines will accumulate. Maybe put a old section of garden hose into the end of a shop vac and try that. Once the area is totally cleaned it will take many pushes of the heat button to get the augar totally primed again. Once it's primed you should be good to go. If your still having issues tell us what the stove is doing and we will try to help.

By the way if you have a lot of fines at the base of your hopper you may have to reclean out your port on the auger tube along with the rubber hose. After rereading your post you really need to totally empty out your hopper and clean the hopper bin, especially at the base, and the port. I believe fines are causing your issues.

It also helps if you put what stove you have in your particulars. Good luck.
Thank you for taking the time to try to help.

I did push a vacuum hose down the auger tube and it did seem to suck up quite a bit of material (mostly pellets by the sound of it) but the material that was blocking the vacuum hose nipple (which is located on that auger tube) was pretty brittle and hard (almost like a crusty cement) and I had to poke at it pretty forcefully to break it up and vacuum it out of there. If that same solidified crud (hardened fines) is at the bottom of that auger tube perhaps the auger isn't able to grab as many pellets as it normally would. I'll see if I can devise some way to get down there.

Thank you again, kind of you to help.
 

kappel15

Minister of Fire
Sep 14, 2014
2,451
Iowa
When your stove does the initial feed, it should feed for 90 seconds. You can time that and see how it does. And Bkins post on cleaning the bottom of your hopper, where the auger ends, is good too. I would also use a small mirror and flashlight and look at the bottom of your firepot. On the frontside, there is a slit that the heated air comes thru from your igniter. This can sometimes get plugged, and slow ignition up enough to prompt an error. Make sure it is clean. Also make sure all holes in pot walls and pot floor are clear. Also make sure pot floor is seated properly on bottom of pot. Stay in touch. kap
 

Bkins

Minister of Fire
Mar 16, 2009
623
Jersey Shore
Sounds like maybe some moisture got into or at the base of your augar tube if stuff is crusty. Only way to fix it is to get the crusties out of there. Could take a couple tries depending on how diligent you are.
 

KipL

Member
Nov 16, 2015
21
Massachusetts
Sounds like maybe some moisture got into or at the base of your augar tube if stuff is crusty. Only way to fix it is to get the crusties out of there. Could take a couple tries depending on how diligent you are.
When your stove does the initial feed, it should feed for 90 seconds. You can time that and see how it does. And Bkins post on cleaning the bottom of your hopper, where the auger ends, is good too. I would also use a small mirror and flashlight and look at the bottom of your firepot. On the frontside, there is a slit that the heated air comes thru from your igniter. This can sometimes get plugged, and slow ignition up enough to prompt an error. Make sure it is clean. Also make sure all holes in pot walls and pot floor are clear. Also make sure pot floor is seated properly on bottom of pot. Stay in touch. kap
Well, I did figure out the problem, and I'm sort of embarrassed to mention it here - but since you all were kind enough to try to help, I felt obligated.

During the cleaning of the bottom of the auger tube I reached a point where I needed to reinsert the auger, but there were still pellets down at the bottom that were in the way of doing that. I decided to vacuum them out, but before starting that, to empty what I could manage out of the hopper by hand. After about 20+ handfuls I began reaching down into the feed chute area of the hopper to pull pellets out. Suddenly I felt something odd...a loose, flat object among the pellets. It was my daughter's long-lost cellphone! Almost a perfect seal in that chute, but it did let a few pellets by, which confused me into believing there was no obstruction.

Yup, I know, I should've found that early on. Thanks for taking the time to help!
 

kappel15

Minister of Fire
Sep 14, 2014
2,451
Iowa
LOL You are not the first person to find a foreign object in their hopper that shouldn't be in there, and you won't be the last. Just glad it was a cheap and easy fix. Stay warm. kap
 

Harvey Schneider

Minister of Fire
Oct 9, 2012
1,321
Southbury, CT
Well, I did figure out the problem, and I'm sort of embarrassed to mention it here - but since you all were kind enough to try to help, I felt obligated.

During the cleaning of the bottom of the auger tube I reached a point where I needed to reinsert the auger, but there were still pellets down at the bottom that were in the way of doing that. I decided to vacuum them out, but before starting that, to empty what I could manage out of the hopper by hand. After about 20+ handfuls I began reaching down into the feed chute area of the hopper to pull pellets out. Suddenly I felt something odd...a loose, flat object among the pellets. It was my daughter's long-lost cellphone! Almost a perfect seal in that chute, but it did let a few pellets by, which confused me into believing there was no obstruction.

Yup, I know, I should've found that early on. Thanks for taking the time to help!
And I thought that a Mt Vernon would burn anything.
 

Bkins

Minister of Fire
Mar 16, 2009
623
Jersey Shore
It will burn just about anything, WOOD. Glad your back running without any major financial outlay. I know cell phones today have a find me mode but with a big mess of pellets all around they would be a great insulator.

Let the members know if you ever need any more help and keep checking in as there are always new ways to tweak stoves to make them run better.
 
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