New to Pellet stoves! Black pucks in ash catcher

Chip Hazard

New Member
Nov 21, 2020
3
Southern New Hampshire
Hello there, new to pellet stoves. This site has been helpful with any info I need. Just bought our first house and it came with a pellet stove. Had it serviced before we used it this season.

I have a heatilator ps35

I have noticed black hockey puck bits in the ash catcher underneath. Not sure how to describe them. Just checking to see if this is normal. Noticed them after cleaning after a few days use. Also on medium fan speed my flames range from 2 to 3 inches to 6 to 8 inches. I have tinkered with the feed speed and trying to get it down pat. Thanks!
 

Chip Hazard

New Member
Nov 21, 2020
3
Southern New Hampshire
Thanks for the info. I believe you're spot on. I'm using the pellets the previous owners left behind. From research they are low grade from lowes or home depot. I purchased new pellets to be delivered with a lower ash percentage. Maybe this will help?
 
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Nov 20, 2018
175
Connecticut
Brands do vary, so a better brand of pellet may help. There can also be variation within the same brand from year to year. I got a fair amount of clinkers from my pellets last year, but none at all the year before, and the pellets had the same brand name.

If you can figure out how to get more air into your stove (some stoves have a manual damper, others rely on the electronics to control the fan speed), you might see fewer clinkers, but then you'd probably have to readjust when you start using the new pellets. As long as you keep up with the cleanings recommended in the manual, clinker build up should not be a serious problem.
 
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minux

New Member
Nov 30, 2018
90
Baltimore, MD
Thanks for the info. I believe you're spot on. I'm using the pellets the previous owners left behind. From research they are low grade from lowes or home depot. I purchased new pellets to be delivered with a lower ash percentage. Maybe this will help?
I would not discredit the pellets provided by Lowe's. I always ordered from a Harman dealer or a pellet stove specialist. However, this year, I ordered from Lowe's. All pallets arrived in the following manner: stacked on wood, wrapped with plastic wrap, tarped, wraped again in shipping wrap, and tarpd again. For the pellets I got from Lowe's, my other dealers wanted $5.25 delivered. I got from Lowe's for $888 for four tons delivered.
 

Chip Hazard

New Member
Nov 21, 2020
3
Southern New Hampshire
Brands do vary, so a better brand of pellet may help. There can also be variation within the same brand from year to year. I got a fair amount of clinkers from my pellets last year, but none at all the year before, and the pellets had the same brand name.

If you can figure out how to get more air into your stove (some stoves have a manual damper, others rely on the electronics to control the fan speed), you might see fewer clinkers, but then you'd probably have to readjust when you start using the new pellets. As long as you keep up with the cleanings recommended in the manual, clinker build up should not be a serious problem.
Thank you, hoping the new pellets on the way help. The ask content is .22 compared to the .60 it is now
 
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I, too, had clinkers in the burn pot. I have a Breckwell Maverick. The manual suggests adjusting the damper but at first there was no change that I could see with the flame. I decided to remove the back panel and with my flashlight I found the location where the damper operates. There is a small hole, 1/2" in diameter, that, by pushing/pulling the damper rod, determines the air flow. Using a ruler on the outside of the stove I noted the distance needed for 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 3/4 and full open. With such a small range for adjusting I can see where my initial efforts were not successful. I now have NO clinkers in the burn pot, only ash. (optimal burn on my unit is at 1/4 open)
 
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SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Little tip on clinkers ( or pucks) (I like that term) in the burn pot from differing brands of pellets... Add some 'Chicken Scratch' mix to the pellets, not much, maybe a cupful per fill. Chicken Scratch is ground oyster shell available at TSC or Bains or Rural King farm stores by the sack. It mitigates them almost entirely.

One issue with pellets in general and that is, they cam vary in quality (ash content, clinkers and heat output) from year to year and even from bag to bag, depending on what feedstock the extruder is using. Try to buy pellets from an extruder that uses a stable Feedstock supply like, for example Somerset Pellets. or Lignetics. Somerset uses feedstock that is excess from the flooring mill, taken from wood procured from their owned forest lands. Lignetics uses wood waste from a major pallet-skid manufacturer. The rest, for the most part buy whatever they can get to extrude so the end product (extruded pellets) will constantly vary in quality, ash content and clinker formation. Not endorsing any manufacturer, just something I've learned over the last 25 years of roasting pellets and corn.

Finally, don't pay attention to the PFI Institute seal on the bags. I've found (from experience) that it means little to nothing about what is inside. I look at that as a group of extruders that get together for a coffee Klatch yearly, pay their dues to use the seal and not much else. Not like say AGA where they actually have a testing and certification lab and constantly test gas appliances for safety. I know about AGA, I worked there for a number of years as a technician., so I know the AGA seal stands for something. PFI, not so much.

Far as appliances are concerned, I do know that Warnock-Hershey has a testing and certification lab and constantly tests solid fuel appliances for quality of design and safety features (similar to AGA), but with fuel, not so much if anything.

Again, my 2 cents from 25+ years of experience.

Unlike most of you, I prefer corn for it's consistent burn quality but corn isn't readily available for most users, especially those in urban settings and many appliances today aren't designed to burn corn anyway.

The BTU output of dried (12% or less), shelled field corn is much higher per pound than any pellet. I only burn 10%RM or less field corn. The lower the RM, the hotter it burns, but, auto ignition stoves cannot ignite corn. Unlike pellets, corn requires a higher initial ignition temperature, produces more ash and makes clinkers) which require more frequent cleaning but per pound heat output, corn versus pellets, there is no comparison. Corn wins hands down every time.

Consequently, processed wood pellets are ideal for owners who aren't really into frequent cleanings and want as close to plug and play scenario as they can get. Not that any unit is totally plug and play, you still need to clean them of fly ash, just with corn, the cleaning interval is much more frequent.

I clean mine weekly inside and vacuum it out and that includes all the behind the burn pot baffles, combustion air path and outside clean out dump.

Corn has an undesirable by product. Nitric acid vapor, which necessitates a bit better end of season maintenance because nitric will corrode the steel stove parts as well as the stainless steel venting liners, so again. maintenance is key.
 
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