P4000 fire in ash bin

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C6M20

New Member
Oct 4, 2021
8
NY
Hi all,

I’m on my second season with a breckwell p4000 (3rd for the stove, which was installed in 2019 before we bought the house). This forum has been extremely helpful in getting past a super bumpy first season (softwood pellets were used when hardwood is recommended, making the stove extremely dirty).

Took the whole damn thing apart at the end of august and cleaned it out. Got hardwood pellets, adjusted the fuel feed speed down to what is described in the manual as “normal” from high. The stove no longer made the house smell like smoke, and actually stayed on.

Things are not perfect though. I noticed that the burn pot still over fills even on the lowest setting (adjusted fuel feed down to low) and we deal with more klinkers than I would like. A lot of ash is produced. We have to keep the tamper open neatly 100% to keep the flame active at setting 1. Still, with a vacuum out every 3 days things seemed ok.

The stove is set up with a direct out “chimney” (on the list to add 8ft of vertical chimney, but technically this is to code), and as far as I can tell there is no specific outside air intake.

Which brings us to today. As we have the last 2 weeks, we ran the stove overnight. At 6AM we get a wake up call from the smoke detectors, and go out to discover that the pellets in the ash pan are on fire. The heat safety had flipped and the stove was trying to cool down, so that feature did work. However, I’m not sure what to make of the fact that we wound up in this situation to begin with. Today was going to be the day to clean the stove, but from everything I have read an every 3 day vacuum schedule where there is a lot of ash in the burn pot is not typical, so I think the problem is a little deeper than needing a vacuum.

Any thoughts on what I might be missing here?
 

C6M20

New Member
Oct 4, 2021
8
NY
27E2AAC2-E4A8-4FDC-AD98-F4104885E996.jpeg

Reply to add a photo of the hookup from inside. If I’ve read the manual correctly, the 2in protrusion on the left is where the outside air intake pipe could be connected, but the manual also states that it is not mandatory. I wonder if this is part of the problem?
 

Washed-Up

Minister of Fire
Nov 5, 2011
780
Kananaskis,Alberta, Canada
It’ll be night and day once you hook up an outside air kit. I’d just drill out the thimble below the exhaust pipe and run it outside that way
 

johneh

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
3,748
Eastern Ontario
Sounds to me that the air path is dirty (plugged )
or the damper door is closed all the way
The stove is starving for air
Try burning the stove with a window slightly open
I would also add an OAK but try above first
House air tight
 
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Reactions: C6M20 and Washed-Up

C6M20

New Member
Oct 4, 2021
8
NY
Sounds to me that the air path is dirty (plugged )
or the damper door is closed all the way
The stove is starving for air
Try burning the stove with a window slightly open
I would also add an OAK but try above first
House air tight
Thanks for this input! We have run the stove with the damper entirely open even on low to keep the flame going, so it sounds like there is probably a clog. Although I will say that for whatever it’s worth the damper doesn’t feel right, like the business end of it is not well connected to the handle, so I might see if I can’t find the access to it to take a look.

Funny thing is that the room this stove is in is very drafty. Crap windows that got worse as the house settled. Sounds like more air might be the trick.

One more question if you’d be so kind. Is there any way to possibly clear out a clog while we wait for someone to come add the OAK? I’ve stuck my vacuum in every hole I can find, and we’ve done the leaf blower trick. Maybe there’s another trick I’m missing?
 

johneh

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
3,748
Eastern Ontario
Have you cleaned the burn pot and area
Are all the holes in the pot clean and clear?
 

C6M20

New Member
Oct 4, 2021
8
NY
Have you cleaned the burn pot and area
Are all the holes in the pot clean and clear?
They are! Everything that can be removed (including all four ash doors inside the firebox) have been removed, vacuumed with the ash vac, and hit with the leaf blower. Then we did the leaf blower trick with the stove door opened and pulled a big cloud of ash out of the stove, and ran the leaf blower for about five minutes (ash stopped coming after about 2). We ran the pipe cleaner tool through the exhaust, hit the stove with a rubber mallet, did the leaf blower trick one more time, and then another pass with the ash vac.

I’m wondering if I should extend the long pvc tube attachment as far as I can up the outdoor air hole to see if there’s anything stuck there?
 

Ocelot

Member
Dec 27, 2010
87
Hudson Valley, NY
As others have said, those are classic symptoms of a stove starving for air at the burn pot. I'm not familiar with that particular stove, but my old Englander would act similar when it was getting dirty behind the visible or accessible passages or leaking air. Once I started using a leaf blower on vacuum attached to the chimney once every ton, it would clear up.

You should check the air intake tube to make sure it's clear all the way through to the pot. Especially since yours is wide open without a screen over it like what would be on an outside air kit. I knew someone with no outside air kit and an open tube into the room like yours is and a mouse had gotten in there off season and made a nest. He didn't realize it until he started the stove for the first time one fall and had a really lazy flame. He decided to vacuum out that tube and a ball of shredded paper and stuff from the nest came out.

Starving for air in the burn pot doesn't have to be just a dirty stove either, it could also be air leaks around the door gasket, hopper gasket, etc. Any air being sucked through the gaskets is air not going through the burn pot. Basically, you want every bit of air that gets sucked into the stove to be coming through that air intake tube only, which has it's path through the burn pot and a little through the glass air wash if you have one. You can do the dollar bill test on the door and hopper to see if it's snug all the way around. A badly leaking door gasket will create a lazy dirty burn regardless of an outside air kit. Another place for air leaks is around the burn pot if your stove is the type that the burn pot sits inside a cradle.

One other thing, I seriously doubt the hardwood pellet thing. With few exceptions, soft wood burns hotter and more complete than hardwood and is considered premium by most. My glass and stove was always cleaner and hotter when I switched from hardwood or harwood blend to all soft wood.

Ray
 

C6M20

New Member
Oct 4, 2021
8
NY
As others have said, those are classic symptoms of a stove starving for air at the burn pot. I'm not familiar with that particular stove, but my old Englander would act similar when it was getting dirty behind the visible or accessible passages or leaking air. Once I started using a leaf blower on vacuum attached to the chimney once every ton, it would clear up.

You should check the air intake tube to make sure it's clear all the way through to the pot. Especially since yours is wide open without a screen over it like what would be on an outside air kit. I knew someone with no outside air kit and an open tube into the room like yours is and a mouse had gotten in there off season and made a nest. He didn't realize it until he started the stove for the first time one fall and had a really lazy flame. He decided to vacuum out that tube and a ball of shredded paper and stuff from the nest came out.

Starving for air in the burn pot doesn't have to be just a dirty stove either, it could also be air leaks around the door gasket, hopper gasket, etc. Any air being sucked through the gaskets is air not going through the burn pot. Basically, you want every bit of air that gets sucked into the stove to be coming through that air intake tube only, which has it's path through the burn pot and a little through the glass air wash if you have one. You can do the dollar bill test on the door and hopper to see if it's snug all the way around. A badly leaking door gasket will create a lazy dirty burn regardless of an outside air kit. Another place for air leaks is around the burn pot if your stove is the type that the burn pot sits inside a cradle.

One other thing, I seriously doubt the hardwood pellet thing. With few exceptions, soft wood burns hotter and more complete than hardwood and is considered premium by most. My glass and stove was always cleaner and hotter when I switched from hardwood or harwood blend to all soft wood.

Ray
Thank you SO much for this. Dollar bill test failed completely for the top of the door, so I know we’ve got a problem there. Getting a bit late here but tomorrow will try the ash pan (seems a bit bent and had to jiggle it into place when we cleaned it, so we might have another issue there).

Vacuumed out the air intake and got nothing worth noting, so I’m hoping we’re clear there.

Regarding the hopper seal, can you say more about what to expect there? There’s zero seal or locking mechanism for the hopper on our stove. It’s basically like a cabinet door. The manual says there’s a switch that’s activated when the hopper door is closed to activate the auger motor, and there’s no reason not to believe that, but there’s definitely nothing remotely approaching a seal there. I’m inclined to assume that there shouldn’t be a seal or gasket there, but would appreciate any input.

Also, good to know about the pellets! Too late to go back now, but will kept this in mind for next season.
 

Ocelot

Member
Dec 27, 2010
87
Hudson Valley, NY
Your stove may not have a hopper seal, I've never had one of those stoves. The door is definitely a problem though and yes, check the ash pan. You have to kind of think of the air flow like a shop vac. Basically, the exhaust is pulling air through the the burn pot via the intake tube and out the exhaust. All that air comes in through the intake pipe. Any opening for air other than the intake tube and burn pot is like poking holes in the side of the shop vac canister and reduces suction through the burn pot. The more cracks and openings, the less goes through the intake and burn pot which means less combustion air.
 

C6M20

New Member
Oct 4, 2021
8
NY
Your stove may not have a hopper seal, I've never had one of those stoves. The door is definitely a problem though and yes, check the ash pan. You have to kind of think of the air flow like a shop vac. Basically, the exhaust is pulling air through the the burn pot via the intake tube and out the exhaust. All that air comes in through the intake pipe. Any opening for air other than the intake tube and burn pot is like poking holes in the side of the shop vac canister and reduces suction through the burn pot. The more cracks and openings, the less goes through the intake and burn pot which means less combustion air.
Again, I can’t thank you enough. It appears that we definitely have an issue with the door seal and the ash pan seal. Dollar test was a joke for the ash pan. I crawled under to take a look at the ash pan and the only part that I can really see/is not In it’s own housing is the front, which appears to be bending forward a bit. Might give it a whack with a rubber mallet to see if I can’t push it back into place ( breckwell does not appear to sell a replacement ash pan for this model)

Thanks again!
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
Only thing I see is the cleanout Tee is horizontal and it should be vertical and preferrably on the outside of the house.
 

johneh

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
3,748
Eastern Ontario
Only thing I see is the cleanout Tee is horizontal and it should be vertical and preferrably on the outside of the house.
Dumb question
Why vertical
why outside of the house
The reason I ask is my cleanout T is at a 45 and inside the house
been that way 22 years without a problem
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
I'd never put a cleanout Tee inside because of the fly ash issue. I deal with enough dust in the house without having to deal with fly ash too and mine are always vertical. Makes cleaning them much easier.
 

johneh

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
3,748
Eastern Ontario
Here the cleanout has to be inside the stove is against an inside wall
and at a 45 so the pipe comes up the rear center of the stove

DSCF1044.JPG
 

C6M20

New Member
Oct 4, 2021
8
NY
Only thing I see is the cleanout Tee is horizontal and it should be vertical and preferrably on the outside of the house.
sadly, zero parts of the chimney for this stove are vertical. The chimney just goes straight out the thimble for a few feet. It’s not great but technically to code in our county. The stove was installed by the previous owners so we didn’t have much of a day. Adding a proper vertical chimney is on the list of things to do.