Pellet Stove Cleaning Advice

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kilogulf59

Member
Dec 17, 2017
35
Juneau County WI
I have a Vacmaster Professional Wet/Dry Vac, 5 Gallon, Beast Series, 5.5 HP (VFB511B0201). It has a 1 7/8-inch dia. hose and attachments. Our stove is a Harman P43. My questions are 1) what attachments do you find most useful when cleaning your pellet stoves and 2) any non-vac related tools or supplies you find useful?

I always seem to have a hard time and make a huge mess when I clean it...and never get it clean enough IMO.
 
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bostonfan49

Minister of Fire
Nov 10, 2011
516
Essex Jct. Vermont
So this is my setup...a bit bulky but has Pros far outweigh the single con!
The only disadvantage is it’s twice the weight and requires carrying with both hands.
Advantages, 99.99% of the Ash goes in the metal can! My Rigid Vac paper bag is essentially empty and the blue filter looks like it cam out of the box. Both are 1/2 through their 3rd winter. Because of the Tornado effect of the suction, the ash that goes into the metal can is Not loose and fluffy, it gets thinly layered in and becomes rather hard. I vacuum my stove, every 7-10 days, in the spring the can is half full. I take it out back, give it a hard bang on the ground and it all comes out. You will see this setup in wood shops using a 10 gal plastic bucket. Live and learn...don’t use the plastic bucket, get a metal pan
Bill
 

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mtnbiker727

Burning Hunk
Mar 11, 2019
174
PA
I use a Shop Vac with a HEPA filter in it and a type H bag. I have a regular brush attachment for it.

These instructions are for a P68, but my understanding is the P43 is just a smaller version of the same stove.

This is what I do almost every week, it takes me about 15 minutes or so:

Step 1: Shut down the stove and wait for the combustion fan go off, so you're working with a cold stove.

Step 2: Open the glass door, then turn the feed rate dial down to "test." This turns the distribution fan on (it goes on and off) and the combustion fan (which stays on). If your door is open, the pellets will not feed in test mode. The combustion fan will blow the dust you create out the pipe, instead of it floating out into your room.

Step 2a: Put a magnetic LED light somewhere inside the stove so you can see what you're doing. I have one that looks like a pen that you can turn to shine at different angles.

Step 3: Take a soft bristled brush (I bought a cheap 2 inch brush at Harbor Freight) and wipe off all sides of the fire brick and take it out and put it in a small cardboard box.

Step 4: Brush off the ceramic burnpot cover (whatever it's called) and place it on top of the fire brick in the box.

Step 5: Brush and then scrape the heat exchanger fins with the scraper that came with the stove. There is also a lip above the door that catches a lot of ash, so I take my brush and clean that off too.

Step 6: Brush down the remainder of the inside of the stove starting at the top and work downward (otherwise you'll throw dust on what you've already cleaned).

Step 7: Scrape/Brush the burn pot, then use a nail or allen wrench (or custom make something) to poke each hole in the burn pot (careful not to damage your ingiter underneath!).

*Use your vacuum between any of these steps to suck up what has fallen out on the floor.*

Step 8: Put fire brick and burn pot cover back in stove (this is VERY important!!).

Step 9: Open ash door, put brush on vacuum and swipe off the inside of the ash door and clean up ash that spilled on the floor.

Step 10: Carefully remove ash pan and swipe ash off the pan with the vacuum brush, then place ash pan to the side. I only empty mine once a month or less (depends on how much ash you generate).

Step 11: Put magnet light inside bottom of stove. I always hang it from the door opening shining down/inward. Use vacuum brush to clean out all the ash from floor and sides and bottom of burn pot.

Step 12: Turn feed rate dial back to your favorite setting and close both doors until combustion fan turns off (otherwise you'll get a face full of ash, trust me).

Step 13: Open ash door back up and twist the wing nuts to open the igniter cover on the bottom of the burn pot. You don't have to unscrew them all the way, just enough to slide the cover up and off. Stick the nozzle of your vacuum into the opening and suck out all the ash. You can stick your fingers in there to feel when you get it cleaned out.

Step 14: Since the combustion fan is now off, open the combustion fan cover and clean it off with the vac and gently swipe the fins on the fan with your paint brush while you suck the ash with your vac. Be careful with this fan, it's a very important piece of your stove.

Step 14a: About once a month I will also add cleaning the pipe to the routine. You can buy a brush and rods from Lowe's, or wherever. With your combustion fan cover off gently push and pull the pipe brush through the back of the stove while using the vacuum to catch what falls out. The temperature sensor is inside this square channel, so be careful to not damage it! My 3 inch pipe brush gently swipes by it with no problem. With your flashlight you can see how clean you're getting things.

Step 15: Put everything back together and ash pan inside and close the ash door.

Step 15b: If you're cleaning your pipe this time: I have a cleanout T at the back, so I take the cleanout off and brush the pipe up to the 90, then go outside and brush in. I keep the vac running on the floor behind the stove to catch what comes out. Do whatever you need based on the configuration of your pipe.

Step 16: Clean your glass door. I use Rutland Conditioning Glass Cleaner. You need two paper towels, a damp one and a dry one. Put conditioner on the damp cloth and wipe down the glass on the inside of the door. Then I polish with the dry cloth. The more times you use the stuff, the easier it is to clean, because it leaves kind of a waxy coating.

I hope that helps!
 
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bostonfan49

Minister of Fire
Nov 10, 2011
516
Essex Jct. Vermont
Interesting. Did you make that?
No just go on YouTube and google Oneida Dust Deputy and watch a hundred videos. Aubuchon Hardware sells the whole set-up. You just need a metal can that the top can snugly fit on...mine doesn’t fit so tights, so I put a seal of duck tape around. I store mine in the basement so it’s a bit harder to Cary up an down the stairs 3-4 times a month but even though I’m an old fart, I don’t have a problem! If you have a nearby garage or storage room even better!
Bill
 
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bostonfan49

Minister of Fire
Nov 10, 2011
516
Essex Jct. Vermont
No just go on YouTube and google Oneida Dust Deputy and watch a hundred videos. Aubuchon Hardware sells the whole set-up. You just need a metal can that the top can snugly fit on...mine doesn’t fit so tights, so I put a seal of duck tape around. I store mine in the basement so it’s a bit harder to Cary up an down the stairs 3-4 times a month but even though I’m an old fart, I don’t have a problem! If you have a nearby garage or storage room even better!
Bill
Kudos to MountainBiker! Yeah, I run my Combustion while cleaning also, loose ash gets sucked out, not out on the interior of your house!
 

kilogulf59

Member
Dec 17, 2017
35
Juneau County WI
@mtnbiker727, that's about what I do but more like two times a winter. Takes me a lot longer than 15-minutes though. I'm not overly thrilled with the way my scraper cleans the exchanger. The fit isn't so good and it's clumsy.

@bostonfan49, thanks, I'll look into that. Even with a bag, my filter usually clogs up so this should help a lot.
 

SciGuy

Feeling the Heat
Aug 17, 2007
310
Constableville, NY
@mtnbiker727, that's about what I do but more like two times a winter. Takes me a lot longer than 15-minutes though. I'm not overly thrilled with the way my scraper cleans the exchanger. The fit isn't so good and it's clumsy.

@bostonfan49, thanks, I'll look into that. Even with a bag, my filter usually clogs up so this should help a lot.

One of the fellows that frequents the forum mentioned using one of those stainless steal scrubbers to clean the heat exchanger area. I've not tried it yet but think it would work very well.

Stainless scrubber.jpg
 

mtnbiker727

Burning Hunk
Mar 11, 2019
174
PA
@mtnbiker727, that's about what I do but more like two times a winter. Takes me a lot longer than 15-minutes though. I'm not overly thrilled with the way my scraper cleans the exchanger. The fit isn't so good and it's clumsy.

The ash that builds up insulates your stove, so you're losing efficiency by not cleaning it more often. Also the dirtier the stove is, the harder it is to clean....

As far as scraping the heat exchanger... It is awkward. I just scrape it and try to get a bunch of the stuff off. It's better than not doing it... I tried that once too.
 

tlc1976

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2012
889
Northwest Lower Michigan
Lots of good tips. I too run my exhaust blower when cleaning, damper wide open for the most airflow. I wired a bypass switch to accomplish it. As soon as the stove stops from shutdown, I turn on the blower and open the damper and it helps cool the stove a lot faster. By the time the glass is cool enough to touch, the burn pot and anything in it is ice cold. No worries of sucking up hot embers.

I also run the blower when cleaning the pipe. As I knock loose the ash in the horizontal section with the brush, the blower helps kick it out. Besides the lukewarm air feels good on my hands when it’s super cold outside.

I have a long thin flexible dryer lint brush that I use to get into the heat exchanger passages.

Some stoves have bolted side ash traps and I clean these out when I do the firebox. When I clean the pipe, I remove the exhaust blower and clean in there.

Inside the firebox, I use a paint stir stick to scrape the walls, and push the ash from tight spots so I can vacuum it up. I suck out the air inlet, igniter, and vac switch holes. I scrape the burn pot with an old bbq grill scraper. I soak a wad of newspaper with water and squeeze it out, and wipe off the glass with that. The ash comes right off.

I use a Ridgid shop vac with drywall dust filter. Been using the same one for like 4 years. When it get full I dump it at the edge of the yard, and tap off the filter with one of the vacuum straight sections.
 
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Dataman

Minister of Fire
Sep 10, 2018
1,012
Newport, Wa
I just throw the Cat Into the Box. Amazing what all that fur does. Ah just kidding. Test Mode, Paint Brush in Heat Exchanger. Kill the Power and Vac the Fines Box out. Wipe down blades of Combustion Blower with Vac sucking over the brush. Fun to do with flashlight. 3rd Hand comes in Handy. I call it good. But yesterday I did the Leaf Blower (Elec) and blew the ash out of the tubing. Used 8" Brush on Chimney. Lower 1/3 had some ash on side. Had to replace my door gasket since one part was coming apart. (Harmon XXV). Spring I will clean the 3" pipe with brush and blow out the system with leaf blower again. By March we will be3 100% on Heat Pump. Today on HP since it's 40f. Strange Winter. 2.5 tons of pellets burned since Oct.

Important note. Do not run bush thru exhaust with probe in place. you can damage it. Take it out of the way. I clean mine yearly.

Vacuum is Cougar Ash Vac. Picked up off Ebay for 60 bucks. Had to put 40 in it to fix. Filter and Frame for Filter. I blow it out in Spring. Empty every cleaning. Ash pan holds about 1 ton of burned pellets ash
 
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mtnbiker727

Burning Hunk
Mar 11, 2019
174
PA
One tip I may offer is use a headlamp instead of a flashlight. These are so handy, I cannot recommend them enough.

I use headlamps for things too, and they are very useful.

A magnetic light sticks to the inside of the stove and illuminates the whole interior, which for me is better than having a light from outside shining into the stove.

Either way, some kind of light is beneficial, the user will have to determine which works best for him/her.
 

Dataman

Minister of Fire
Sep 10, 2018
1,012
Newport, Wa
One suggestion that I use. I vac out the fines out of the compartment where the Igniter is. But that still leaves a lot behind. I use turkey baster to flow out the rest in test mode Air compressor is too much.
 

SciGuy

Feeling the Heat
Aug 17, 2007
310
Constableville, NY
One suggestion that I use. I vac out the fines out of the compartment where the Igniter is. But that still leaves a lot behind. I use turkey baster to flow out the rest in test mode Air compressor is too much.

If you slide an 18" section of vinyl tubing into the end of your shop vac hose and seal it in there with your hand, duck tape or an adapter you can make an excellent "sucker" that can be snaked into the access opening and pull every bit of fine material out of the burn pot welment. You can even get at the stuff way in the back near where the igniter wires enter. In my experience, sucking beats blasting in terms of mess generated.
 

mtnbiker727

Burning Hunk
Mar 11, 2019
174
PA
It's nothing special, you should be able to find a similar one in your local hardware store. The clip is magnetic and swivels, so I stick it on the inside of the front of the stove on the right hand side and then turn it to light up the whole stove.
20210203_105047.jpg
 
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gfreek

Minister of Fire
Nov 5, 2010
1,421
Attica,,New York
5 gal shop vac with yellow drywall dust filter, round hepa filter cartridge, scraper, brushes, etc.

16124561548197131155736407869439.jpg
 

gfreek

Minister of Fire
Nov 5, 2010
1,421
Attica,,New York
gfreek,

Would you recommend the NEBO light?

Thanks
Yes, I have 3 of them. One always attached to my stove, 2nd in my shop, 3rd in my " man cave" music/hobby room..Be careful though the high beam is blinding !!
 
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lefty Ef3

Member
Nov 26, 2018
45
New Jersey 08079
I have a magnetic flash flash light that stays on the side of the stove. Best thing I bought for cleaning was a dryer cleaning attachment. Got it at Lowe’s just slip it over your ash vac and you now have 1 inche eshtube
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
I use one of those Harbor Freight rechargeable (USB) magnetic LED bendable trouble lights. Sticks to the stove in the winter and sticks on my car's fender in the summer.
 
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