Pellet stove question - stove turns off and back on

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New Member
Jan 2, 2017
Dallas, PA
Hi all, I have a Whitfield pellet stove that was included in the home I bought 2 years ago. It didn't come with a manual and we have been using it just fine the past 2 years, but I have a question and couldn't find anything when I tried to research the issue myself on Google.

Our unit appears to possibly be overheating? It has 5 auger speed settings. We use the stove to supplement out hot water baseboard heat. Usually we keep the stove on speed 2 or 3 (1 being low and 5 being high) I keep the damper all the way open and the blowe on high once the fire is stable.

Our stove seems to have this cycle where it'll be on for a couple hours using the settings I mentioned above, then all of a sudden, the blower that blows air into the room shuts off completely but there still appears to be air blowing on the flames on the inside and the pellets continue to dispense. Then the next step is the entire machine shuts down. The air on the inside ceases and the pellets stop dispensing. I can hear the stove ticking as it cools down. Then after 20 minutes or so, everything turns back on full force all at once and the fire lights back up again on its own. Then in another hour or two this cycle repeats. Sometimes we get a burning smell in the house during the stage where everything shuts down completely.

I guess what I want to know is 1) is this normal and 2) is this safe? Is my unit possibly overheating? I have no idea why it's happening for sure.

If anyone can shed some light on this I would appreciate it!!

Sounds like your room air fan is shutting down due to its overheating. Then the stove overheats and shuts down until it cools. Blow the windings of the room air motor out, bet you get a load of dust out that's blocking the cooling air to the motor itself. That should be part of the annual cleaning process.

If the stove is indeed overheating, it is dangerous.
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From what I've read, most commercial cleaners don't blow out the motor windings, so make sure your cleaner does.

Especially both the room air and combustion blower motors. Some dealers do a good job, others not so much. The dealer I bought my stove from (used) was very helpful, and very nice, but his workers, despite doing a pretty good cleaning and paint job, did not blow out the motors. When I did that the following spring, the amount of dust that came out was phenomenal! I was really glad I did it outside. I do it every spring now, and get a fair amount of dust out, but nothing like that first time.

It's not all that hard to do, and lots of help and advice are here on this forum - just ask, or do a search. It will also help you understand how the stove works.
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Thank you so much. I figure out what model I have and someone had posted a manual on this site and I did a pretty thorough cleaning on it. Motor was a little dusty but there was ash in places I didn't even know existed!! I've got a nice healthy looking bright flame now, testing to see if we still have the overheating issue but I'm thinking we might not. So glad I found this place! Thanks again for being so helpful.
Glad you're burning again! Enjoy the heat, and know that you're more self-reliant about your stove - a good feeling!
Unfortunately it overheated again but I was running it on 5 (highest auger setting) to push it a little. It also took longer before it shut down so I probably solved half of the problem at least. Much better than it was, and I'm up for solving the puzzle. I'm going to look a little deeper into the motor area tomorrow. I saw a large cylinder that looked like the back of an old blow drier and I vacuumed some dust off of there, but I'm sure it probably comes apart somehow.

I looked up my make and model, the thing is only 3 years younger than I am!! Oct 1992 it says it was manufactured. I didn't know the specs on it but didn't think it was that old. It's a Whitfield Advantage II. At least I got all the dirty work done today. Talk about covered in soot... Based on what was in there I'm going to guess the prev owners didn't know how to clean it either.
In my experience, vacuuming the motors out won't do. They need compressed air blowing through them. Preferably outdoors. No need to disassemble the motors, but removing them from the stove would be good.
Ahh okay. I don't have an air compressor... Would canned air like duster work or should I avoid chemicals? I can always call a service to do the rest of it if I don't have what I need. At least I know now how to tell them what I want done.
I think canned air would work, just don't let the liquid get into the motor - it might be too cold, I don't know. If you take the motors out, you can take them to a friend or shop who has compressed air. You don't need a ton of pressure, but maybe about 40-50 PSI would be enough. I use 100 PSI, but hold the gun about a foot away, since I don't want to force dirt into the bearings. It doesn't take a lot, and maybe the exhaust from a good shop vac would be strong enough through a crevice tool. I just may try that next spring, just to see how it works.

I'm remembering now, about two years ago, a co-worker complained about his pellet stove starting and stopping. I had him bring his room blower motor in to work, and I blew it out with air. I didn't get a whole lot of dust out, but I ran the motor a couple of hours okay, and he got it home and it worked fine. So, it doesn't always take a lot of dust to block the cooling air. The little fans the motors have don't have any power to speak of, they just sort of stir the air through the motors, and that's usually enough. Until the dust bunnies halt the air flow.