Problems with Fireplace Xtraordinaire

SierraLady Posted By SierraLady, Jan 14, 2016 at 9:31 PM

  1. SierraLady

    SierraLady
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    Jan 14, 2016
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    I have a new home into which the local dealer installed a 36 Elite (woodburning) Fireplace Xtraordinair. I've had this unit in a previous home with NO problems. (BTW, I'm at about the 4000-ft elevation.) The 1st issue was smoke infiltration...the installer came out & discovered a secondary problem: cold air infiltration through the blower vents. He was able to solve the smoke problem by increasing the height of the chimney vent pipe. However, that didn't solve the cold air leakage...it's bad enough that when I'm sitting 10 ft. away from the fire with a fire burning, my hands are freezing! (He said that ordinarily, these units burn so hot that a person would be unable to sit on the hearth in front of it...don't I wish!) The installer is supposedly contacting Travis about suggestions, but I wondered if anyone here has any thoughts. Also, the blower on my unit often turns on & off while a fire is going...the wood just isn't burning hot enough to keep it on, even tho the wood is 2 years seasoned and dry. Thoughts? Ideas?
     
  2. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover
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    Dec 25, 2010
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    If the wood was split and stacked two years it might be dry enough but there's no guarantee with Oak or other dense woods. The only way to eliminate the wood as the culprit is to re-split a bunch of it and test with a moisture meter on the freshly-exposed face.
    Smoke infiltration, as in smoke rolling out when you open the door of the insert? How tall is the chimney? Is there a block-off plate above the stove so that cold air can't come down? (Most likely not.) The altitude will also necessitate an increase in chimney height over the minimum required by the maker. At that altitude you may have to add 20%, not sure exactly. Is it warm there? That will decrease draft.
     
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  3. Core

    Core
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    Dec 15, 2015
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    Bridgewater,MA
    I can't comment as to elevation issues but have some advice on the insert. First, I need to preheat my flue constantly with a heat gun to start my initial draft to burn because if I light something the cold air just blows it out and fills my room with smoke. There is nothing to stop the cold air from draining down chimney liner and into insert and into room. This obviously reverses during the burn so I stuff a rag in my liner to block cold air when not in use and leave a big sign on it so you don't forget it. Second, as mentioned above test your woods moisture or eliminate it entirely by using other source of wood if possible. Third, my blower takes time to turn on about 15-20 minutes after initial loading. The fact that it shuts off during the burn is troubling. It may be a loose connection?? Last the block off plate works to keep the hot air in the living space so it greatly helps but when there no fire the liner is a cold air highway into the living space it's really sucky design.
     
  4. mminor

    mminor
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    Sep 11, 2015
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    Long Island NY
    I'm including a couple of clarifications:

    (1) The FireplaceX 36 Elite is a 'zero clearance fireplace', as opposed to an 'insert'. The two wood stove classifications are rather different, even though cosmetically they look the same.

    (2) Block-off plates are not used / available for use on zero clearance fireplaces.

    Matt
     
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  5. mminor

    mminor
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    Sep 11, 2015
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    Additionally - the 36 Elite is on my short list of zero clearance fireplaces to purchase, so everyone's experience with this unit and the 44 Elite is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!
     
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  6. mol1jb

    mol1jb
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    Jan 8, 2014
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    Having that cold air leakage with the unit is burning is quite puzzling. The only thing I could think is that it was installed poorly with regards to sealing all the entry points of the chimney and the framing around the unit itself. Unfortunately that is a hard thing to check with all the finish work has been completed. Posting some pictures would help.
     
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  7. FPX Dude

    FPX Dude
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    Oct 4, 2007
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    Sounds like an install and setup problem. Luckily you know how it should work from prior usage...
     
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  8. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover
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    Dec 25, 2010
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    I'm not sure how the ZC chimneys are set up but guess if it's some type of liner in a masonry chimney you could stuff some Roxul insulation around the liner at the top to stop cold air coming down around the outside of the liner?
     
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  9. Isaiah53

    Isaiah53
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    Jun 6, 2014
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    The FPX comes with an air cooled chimney pipe and it does not go through a masonry chimney. I have a 44 Elite. The fact that your thermostatic switch is turning on and off indicates your fireplace is not very hot and that is probably why it is not blowing out hot air. Something is seriously wrong. I agree with your installer. The hot air that comes from my grill is unbearably hot, even 2 feet away. These units put out a ton of heat. My thoughts are that it could either be due to wet wood, or a lack of air (poor draft). Have you actually tested the wood with a moisture meter? Since you say your wood is dry, how tall is your chimney from the top of the fireplace, even after it was extended? I assume you are running the air control lever fully open. These units should be able to produce a roaring fire with dry wood and full air. Does it perform any better or differently with catalyst bypassed? The face of the catalyst needs to be routinely vacuumed or it will plug and restrict air flow. I have to vacuum mine with a shop vac soft brush about every 4-5 days.
     
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  10. FoxTrotBoogie

    FoxTrotBoogie
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    Oct 8, 2015
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    There is a damper on the blower motor that prevents outside air from entering unless the blower motor is on. The damper could be hung open letting outside air in all the time.

    The blower cycling is a sign of not having a hot enough fire. The switch that activates the blower is located behind the second brick from the front on the right hand side. Unbolting the switch and wrapping it with fiberglass insulation, and putting it back in helps. I also like to build and start my fires on the right hand side to warm the switch up first. I also rake my coals to the right hand side which keeps the switch hotter thus keeping the blower going for longer periods and also helps prevent it from cycling on and off.
     
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  11. webby3650

    webby3650
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    Sep 2, 2008
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    I've installed a bunch of these units and I have a few thoughts.
    Do you know if the wall behind the unit is insulated? Is there a draft stop installed at ceiling height above the unit?(inside the chase) It's all too uncommon for a builder to overlook this area. We often end up doing it ourselves.

    The unit has 2 cooling vents that mount on the exterior wall above the unit. It's recommended in colder climates that an air trap is made in this flexible pipe that attaches to the unit. This prevents unwanted cold air infiltration when it's not being used. If the traps aren't installed it could be contributing to the issue, combined with a "cool" fire.
     
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  12. Core

    Core
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    Dec 15, 2015
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    Disregard my entire post thought it was insert.
     
  13. willoweep

    willoweep
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    Nov 22, 2008
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    Webby is right,the cooling air ducts need to have P traps to slow the flow of cold air. Another issue is where the blower is ducted to. The instructions show an area in black, that roughly corresponds with USDA zone 4, where the blower should be ducted inside the structure. I have seen a few of these where the blower is sucking cold outside air nonstop. A wind guard over the blower may help, but consider re routing it so the convection air is coming from the warm envelope of the home and not outside.
     

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