New house, new pellet stove. Lots of questions.

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coffeecup86

Member
Jan 8, 2022
58
Maine
My husband and I just bought a home 6 weeks ago, which came with a pellet stove as the secondary source of heat. The poor thing was pretty ill kept and very full of brown dust/soot? The fan and blower was caked with it. The first week we ran it everything was getting covered in this brown dust. We were also smelling the soot smell when it was not in operation.

So some back story on the set up of this thing. It is hooked into an old masonry chimney with about 3 ft 3 inch of pipe with 2 elbows. The pipe is 3 inch. When we investigated it for the smell issue, it had cold air coming in from around the wall cap/reducer. Please forgive me for my not knowing the proper terms.
We used heat resistant caulk and went to town on voids which helped a lot. But we still had the smell, which was coming from the inside of the stove being filthy.

We called out a chimney sweep to do the chimney for the pellet stove as well as our boiler. Well, he told us the liner for the pellet stove was far to big for the use for a pellet stove. Either change the liner which is 2K cost or get a new direct vent stove....both of which we cannot afford at the moment, after just buying a house and having other more important renovations to attend to. But we need to supplement our heating costs.

I've been researching online that we can do a damper set up, and also had a friend from our church contact me and tell me the same thing. The sweeper did not tell me the size of the liner that is in there currently. But I did look up the parts..only problem is, we have a 8 or 9 inch pipe coming out of the old masonry chimney, the only stove dampers I'm able to find are 6 inch. So we would need a reducer for the damper and a reducer to get down to the 3 inch. Which puts us way far away from the wall...our stove would fall off the hearth at that point...What do we do? What can we do?? There is a huge down draft coming in this old chimney, we can feel it. It was blasting into the basement and causing a lot of air loss. He sealed the clean out and we noticed our humidity level has evened out and our full out humidifier isn't constantly running! But if he sealed that, the air is still coming in, but is going to come in through the pellet stove now. Because it has nowhere else to go...right? It is slightly drafty in the living room near the stove but not awful. We def need some insight.
This is stressing me. My husband is pretty lax and will leave it alone until there is a problem. I need to fix this now before it causes an issue. I thank you all for your advice beforehand. I do appreciate it.

Before I forget, we have a Heatilator Eco PS50
 

Mt Bob

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2013
4,075
park county montana
So do you have a pellet stove liner inside the chimney already? Or are you speaking of the chimney liner itself? It is not real clear.
 

coffeecup86

Member
Jan 8, 2022
58
Maine
So do you have a pellet stove liner inside the chimney already? Or are you speaking of the chimney liner itself? It is not real clear.
I asked my husband, and he said that the chimney sweep said that its just a clay liner in there. I'm sorry I did not add that prior.
 

Mt Bob

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2013
4,075
park county montana
OK so your pellet flue just feeds the chimney. Which is OK,your stove is rated to do that. But,you can run into problems such as yours, the cold air "falling" into the chimney when stove is off,can even happen when stove is burning on low. One reason why a full liner is better. Also your stove should be feed with fresh air, you will have a less drafty house.This can be done several ways. A full length chimney liner can be sealed at the top, but would be better if it was sealed below, above where it comes out of the wall. If it was going into a fireplace there is plenty of room, but still can be done through the wall hole.And,yes, cold air falling into chimney can come out of stove,when it is off/ not running.
 

gfreek

Minister of Fire
Nov 5, 2010
1,588
WNYS
OK so your pellet flue just feeds the chimney. Which is OK,your stove is rated to do that. But,you can run into problems such as yours, the cold air "falling" into the chimney when stove is off,can even happen when stove is burning on low. One reason why a full liner is better. Also your stove should be feed with fresh air, you will have a less drafty house.This can be done several ways. A full length chimney liner can be sealed at the top, but would be better if it was sealed below, above where it comes out of the wall. If it was going into a fireplace there is plenty of room, but still can be done through the wall hole.And,yes, cold air falling into chimney can come out of stove,when it is off/ not running.
I apologize, I was incorrect about cold air coming from the "stove" itself when off...
 

whit

Member
Sep 15, 2009
207
Southern VT
Do other people here doubt the poster's chimney sweep is right about needing a new liner? Everything I've read says a pellet stove exhaust can be too constricted; nothing has said it can be too large. I might suspect the chimney sweep was looking to make the sale of the new liner.
 

Mt Bob

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2013
4,075
park county montana
Do other people here doubt the poster's chimney sweep is right about needing a new liner? Everything I've read says a pellet stove exhaust can be too constricted; nothing has said it can be too large. I might suspect the chimney sweep was looking to make the sale of the new liner.
Don't think so.Their biggest issue is cold air and soot coming in around the opening in the wall where stove goes into the chimney,when stove is off, if I read her right. If a liner was installed, the top cap could be sealed.Many newer stoves would require a liner,if you check around, although most older stoves had stronger blowers and were not necessary That is what I got from this..
 

kchace

New Member
Feb 20, 2021
55
Southern NH
There is usually no problem feeding a pellet stove into a masonry chimney, but the pellet stove pipe must be sealed to the inside of the chimney. the manuals usually illustrate this. it sounds like it is either not sealed or not sealed well. The picture below is for an insert but any stovepipe needs to be sealed in the same way.


32E7A2EF-AA8F-43A3-81B4-2A1A69CA2B37.png
 
Last edited:

coffeecup86

Member
Jan 8, 2022
58
Maine
Yes good cleaning. You should not get any cold air from the stove itself if installed correctly. Do you have the owners manual, if not here is a link. Start by reading this..
I did more cleaning on it today. There was SO much brown dust in the back behind the panels of this thing. It took a very long time but I got the most of it. We will see what the next couple of days brings as far as the dust in the air and on furniture.
 

coffeecup86

Member
Jan 8, 2022
58
Maine
OK so your pellet flue just feeds the chimney. Which is OK,your stove is rated to do that. But,you can run into problems such as yours, the cold air "falling" into the chimney when stove is off,can even happen when stove is burning on low. One reason why a full liner is better. Also your stove should be feed with fresh air, you will have a less drafty house.This can be done several ways. A full length chimney liner can be sealed at the top, but would be better if it was sealed below, above where it comes out of the wall. If it was going into a fireplace there is plenty of room, but still can be done through the wall hole.And,yes, cold air falling into chimney can come out of stove,when it is off/ not running.
Right. We have tried to look into a cap to block the direction of the wind. But our chimney is a square rectangle shape and all we can find are circular ones.
 

coffeecup86

Member
Jan 8, 2022
58
Maine
I did a more in depth cleaning today. The entire backside of the pellet stove was loaded with brown dust, mostly where the pellet feed is. That is where it was the worst, but it was all over the place. I'm not sure if there is a leak somewhere?
I just did the flashlight test, turn the lights off and check the pipe. There was some dust activity near the bottom elbow, and it gets sucked into the stove which is bizarre. I'm thinking the next step is going to be to remove the pipe and get that cleaned out. God only knows when that was cleaned last. Maybe it will help the flame we cannot maintain, its either a lazy flame or no flame...no matter what we try.
Learning the tricks of this thing has been daunting. I've never owned or operated one until we bought this house. I thank you all once more for the help.
 

Mt Bob

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2013
4,075
park county montana
Pellet stoves get dirty,Ash everywhere inside is normal,that is why they have the removable clean out panels. Be sure to clean in all of them.A dirty stove,poorly cleaned stove just keeps burning dirty, and one indication is poor "low" burn, or fire going out. Here is the manual,if you do not have. Also,you can find cleaning almost any stove on the net,especially youtube.
 

Mt Bob

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2013
4,075
park county montana
Ashes outside the stove should not happen,except when cleaning. However,if you do live in an area where wind coming in chimney,this can cause an issues. 1 as you saw is poor sealing where the pipe goes in the wall/chimney. @ when the stove is off,and wind is coming down chimney---- look around the back of your stove area.Get ashes there? (by the time being moved by air ,"ash" is usually very fine dust". If so,see a round opening,about 3" big? If ther is no hose hooked to this,then you are not using outside air to feed the stove(as recommended). Stove off, wind coming down chimney,can blow ash out that hole. You can watch and look for that. If so, there is a cheaper way to solve this than putting in a chimney liner.
 

coffeecup86

Member
Jan 8, 2022
58
Maine
Alright. Here are some photos of the set up.
The flame is what we get for a few minutes, then it goes into a lazy flame and eventually peters out to a smaller flame until it’s fed pellets, then it goes back to a lazy flame. That’s on medium. On low the flame hardly comes out of the fire box. High is to much.

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Washed-Up

Minister of Fire
Nov 5, 2011
1,038
Kananaskis,Alberta, Canada
There needs to be a clean out “T” off the back of the stove, there could be a bunch of ash built up there impeding the exhaust…can’t see an outside air kit, that will also help, but not %100 necessary. A bit of work and I think it’ll work great.
 
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coffeecup86

Member
Jan 8, 2022
58
Maine
There needs to be a clean out “T” off the back of the stove, there could be a bunch of ash built up there impeding the exhaust…can’t see an outside air kit, that will also help, but not %100 necessary. A bit of work and I think it’ll work great.
Okay, I think we could get that going. I can work on researching that today. I thank you for that advice. I know there is a clean out in the basement, is the sufficient? Or should we have one directly behind the pellet stove?

How do we go about getting outside air into the pellet stove? I'm sorry I'm such a newbie!
 

Mt Bob

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2013
4,075
park county montana
A T makes it easier,but not required.What you have to remember is that section of pipe needs to be regularly cleaned inside,many stoves several times a heating season.Some take it off the stove, then slide from wall,take outside and run a flue brush through it. A T makes it so you do not have to mess with sealer at the stove or wall. All part of stove maintenance.
 

coffeecup86

Member
Jan 8, 2022
58
Maine
A T makes it easier,but not required.What you have to remember is that section of pipe needs to be regularly cleaned inside,many stoves several times a heating season.Some take it off the stove, then slide from wall,take outside and run a flue brush through it. A T makes it so you do not have to mess with sealer at the stove or wall. All part of stove maintenance.
So, judging from the lack of care from the previous owners, I'm betting this thing hasn't been cleaned in 4 years....I really hope they didn't use it much. I'm now scared that its almost clogged and is a fire hazard. I'm going to go pick up a tee joint today and try to get the pipe removed myself....
The previous owners were living with a propane stove leak and didn't know it....or just didn't care. As well as a rat in the basement and were "oblivious" shaking my head. Sigh. I'm ready to get this stove in good working order. I'll pick up some foil tape also. I'm on the depot website, is the premium foil heat tape most commonly used?
 
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Washed-Up

Minister of Fire
Nov 5, 2011
1,038
Kananaskis,Alberta, Canada
Yes the foil tape should work, some use a silicone tape too that’s also reusable and can be found at Home Depot as well…as Bob said the clean out “T” isn’t %100 necessary but it makes it easier to clean.
 

Mt Bob

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2013
4,075
park county montana
There are and were many different brands of stove pipe,just buying a part without knowing what brand would not be smart.
Also be aware, as not in your manual(stove manufacturers want you to use a certified stove repair/cleaner), is a few things, once a year,or more, remove the combustion blower,and clean it and inside the cavity.Clean the room blower. On your stove,remove the pot assembly,clean and lube.
As winter is here, My recommendation would be-read manual well. I would buy some silicone sealer,perhaps some foil tape. Defiantly buy a flue brush kit. Remove the pipe from the stove, and from the wall,take outside and clean well. Reinstall and seal,at stove and wall. Before doing this, take out all removable panels,clean stove.You will be able to reach inside where the flue pipe goes on. Wacking with a mallet is also fine,I prefer a rubber one. It can knock loose stuck on chunks. Then I would see how it runs. All this is only a little bit of work, and if you seal the pipe properly, you may not have to remove it till summer. Also doesn't hurt to have a dryer cleaning brush,to stick in places. Strong shop vac., brushes and sealer would be my purchases today. Tape if you think you need it.
That's my 2 cents. A little bit of proper work,and see if stove functions well/ok.