St. Croix Hastings: Ready to throw in the towel…

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JakeHalligan

New Member
Nov 29, 2021
9
Mass
At my wit’s end…

Purchased our home almost three years ago. Came with the Hastings in a sunken living room. Never had a pellet stove before, we thought it was the coolest thing. The previous owners had the Hastings installed in 2007 (have original paperwork). While the nicest people, they didn’t really know much about the stove and only did the bare minimum daily cleaning. They left a couple bags of Lowe’s Green Supreme and that was it.

I quickly realized there was much more to it.

After vacuuming out every trap and vent, I was able to get it started and went through those bags w/o any real issues.

Last year, I decided to try a different brand of pellet and bought a pallet of Northern Warmth, that the local feed store here on the south shore of Mass said was the best. I would agree: on level 1 (which I’ll discuss in a minute), the house (~2200 sq/ft) was toasty everywhere.

At some point in the fall, the starter went. I purchased a new one and things were good but I was never able to get it to go above level 2 w/o the pot overfilling, smoldering then the stove blinking 3 and going out. The manual states to run it periodically at the highest level (5) but, again, every time I tried, couldn’t go above 2.

I spoke with the previous owner and he explained that the outfit he bought the stove from 12 years ago went out of business. He had no suggestions.

There was no outside/cold air intake. So, I purchased a kit and installed that thinking the flow of outside air would supercharge it. At the same time, added a new exhaust duct (which was a waste of $200 since there was nothing wrong w/ the old one). What did I know?

The outside kit did nothing: still wasn’t able to go above 2 w/o pot overfilling.

Then I ordered a new control board from an outfit in NH. I hoped that the ability to change the feed level and combustion air would help.

It hasn’t.

I have also purchased a new pot, replaced the braided seal around the door and had to go through another starter.

This year, I purchased a pallet of Green Supreme. I didn’t want to waste the $$$ for the Northern Warmth if the stove finally quit.

Where I’m at now is I’ll start the stove, the pot will fill almost to overflow, the fire will smolder, I’ll correct the damper (I understand the pencil width thing but that never worked. I half to be halfway to fully open to get any kind of draw), then it will light. Immediately after lighting, right at the end of the startup cycle, the 3 light will blink even though there is a flame. I’ll turn off the stove then restart it. I will have to tend it for the next 15-20 minutes scraping out the pot from overflowing pellets (again I have adjusted the feed and combustion levels on the new board, tried all five levels of each and nothing improves) until I get a spikey flame and it will be fine for the whole day (as it was yesterday, ran it for 12 hours).

I hope this post is clear enough that someone might have some advice. From what I have found is that there is no one in the eastern Mass area that services St. Croix, so I’m trying this forum. My family loves the stove but I’m tempted to just get rid of it because of the frustration. We don’t have the $$$ for a replacement and would think we would have same issues. A buddy has one from Tractor Supply that isn’t as nice but seems to be rock solid. It’s thousands cheaper. Should I go that route? And to top it off, my wife is afraid to turn it on w/o me here and then we’re using oil unnecessarily.

Thanks in advance for reading and any help.
 

stovelark

Minister of Fire
Oct 10, 2009
1,572
SE CT
St.Croix stoves are very pretty, espec the Hastings, its design was beautiful. Having said that, they are difficult to really get clean-
Was the blowers (exh and convection) removed and cleaned? The vacuum line blown out, making sure not obstructed? (Don't blow forcefully into vac switch, blow toward the combustion chamber. ) This issue sounds like an air flow restriction, which means deep cleaning. They usually are well worth it though. Don't forget to lube the self cleaning mechanism too..
 

JakeHalligan

New Member
Nov 29, 2021
9
Mass
St.Croix stoves are very pretty, espec the Hastings, its design was beautiful. Having said that, they are difficult to really get clean-
Was the blowers (exh and convection) removed and cleaned? The vacuum line blown out, making sure not obstructed? (Don't blow forcefully into vac switch, blow toward the combustion chamber. ) This issue sounds like an air flow restriction, which means deep cleaning. They usually are well worth it though. Don't forget to lube the self cleaning mechanism too..
Thanks for getting back to me, lark. I’m actually in the middle of trying to start it now.

How do I go about blowing out the vacuum line? Sounds like a real possibility.

I did not clean the blowers except superficially with a shop vac.
 

JudgeSmails

New Member
Nov 29, 2021
9
01569
Thanks for getting back to me, lark. I’m actually in the middle of trying to start it now.

How do I go about blowing out the vacuum line? Sounds like a real possibility.

I did not clean the blowers except superficially with a shop vac.
I have a Hastings that I'm battling with this season, been 10 years without major issues. However, it's not similar to your issue.

The '3' flashing is the proof of fire switch, if your stove isn't lighting or timing out the start cycle with no flame it will shut down and give you that code.

I'd confirm the igniter is completely installed and flush with the face plate.
I occasionally run into this issue because my igniter does not have a screw to secure in place. Over time and especially after a major cleaning using a rubber mallet on the back of the combustion chamber, the igniter vibrates loose and may only start a small smolder as you describe.
 

JakeHalligan

New Member
Nov 29, 2021
9
Mass
Thanks, Judge.

But, as I said, there is flame when the 3 flashes. That’s what I don’t understand. It’s as if the flame isn’t strong enough. I think it’s just not drawing adequate outside air
 

JakeHalligan

New Member
Nov 29, 2021
9
Mass
Here it is now, on Level 1. Flame big and all over the place. Inside you can see the buildup of pellets already. Been this way for an hour

30586ECE-BDF4-4837-B9EF-CFC519437CEA.jpeg 405AB2FC-EAE0-462C-A016-DB4182302381.jpeg
 

maraakate

Member
Sep 27, 2021
204
Lancaster, PA
I don't know this unit, but there is a "proof of fire switch" on these. Maybe someone can chime in on how to test it. But, if you know where it is might be worth reseating the two wires that go to it. Maybe it got bumped during your cleaning.
 

JudgeSmails

New Member
Nov 29, 2021
9
01569
Thanks, Judge.

But, as I said, there is flame when the 3 flashes. That’s what I don’t understand. It’s as if the flame isn’t strong enough. I think it’s just not drawing adequate outside air
Sounds like your putting a lot of effort in to get the flame going...may be too long for POF time out. The burn pot shouldn't be overflowing at startup. That's why I suggest confirming the igniter position.

You're on point regarding overflow, but usually it's too much at start up that can cause an issue.

1638218932767.png
 

kchace

New Member
Feb 20, 2021
55
Southern NH
I have a Hastings and I can tell immediately from your pictures that you don’t have nearly enough air moving through the stove. that flame is not good at all. The Hastings is a great stove, a real workhorse in my house, but it like any other stove has to be maintained properly.

With a flame as poor as the one in your picture it doesn’t surprise me that it is throwing a #3 code which means the stove has either timed out waiting for proof of fire during lighting or the heat from the flame is so reduced that the POF switch has flipped back to “undertemp”.

I would strongly suggest you stop throwing things at it and concentrate on the real problem which is airflow. There are only a few things that can affect this, intake, restrictions through the air path, and exhaust. You said you replaced the chimney? If you’re SURE that’s good now, all that’s left is the exhaust or “combustion “ blower and the air paths.

Considering what you’ve done already, I would go straight to the combustion blower. If you haven’t physically removed the combustion blower and cleaned out in there, then that is definitely a place that should be checked. When looking at the stove from the front its located at the left rear corner. Remove the 6 small nuts holding it and it lifts right out. If You haven’t been in there already, I’m betting the housing underneath is clogged and or the blower itself is clogged or failing.

Ken
 
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kchace

New Member
Feb 20, 2021
55
Southern NH
Also make SURE the Ash Shaker Rod is pushed back IN all the way. This is the rod directly above the ash pan door. if this isn’t pushed back in all the way then the air flow can go around the burn pot and you get a terrible flame.

Ken
 

JakeHalligan

New Member
Nov 29, 2021
9
Mass
Kchace, I’ll try it first thing in morning. That has to be it.

Judge, I’ll check the wiring also for POF switch.

Thanks to both of you
 

jzm2cc

Minister of Fire
Sep 25, 2014
660
Northern Michigan
Time for a leaf blower trick on exhaust to help clean out internal chambers within stove. You may have to run a cleaning device like a choke cable into two small cleanout holes besides burnpot. There are online videos of how to do all of this as the stove should have a lively and hit flame with the air damper open just a pencil width.
 
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rickwai

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2011
1,325
ohio
Time for a leaf blower trick on exhaust to help clean out internal chambers within stove. You may have to run a cleaning device like a choke cable into two small cleanout holes besides burnpot. There are online videos of how to do all of this as the stove should have a lively and hit flame with the air damper open just a pencil width.
Leaf blower trick fixes this problem on this stove almost every time. And only takes a few minutes. Just remember to leave the stove door open so vac switch dont get ruined
 
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JakeHalligan

New Member
Nov 29, 2021
9
Mass
So here are pics of combustion fan and housing along with still overflowing pellets and stove going into 3 after cleaning and reinstalling fan this morning. I also checked wiring for POF and vacuum and they have good connections.

The fan looks completely gunked up. I tried to remove set screw from blades to pull motor out of housing to clean but it was rusted shut.

Do I purchase a new combustion fan as a last resort considering the amount of time and money I have put in and see how that works?

Again, not sure where to go from here.

2F774300-6370-49F9-85F1-8B1694C4EE8D.jpeg 95DD2CB6-D181-435A-82F8-7CEF9B424757.jpeg 392ED74B-15D8-4A99-9C62-AD7098082FA0.jpeg 51CC3AF1-E32B-4D0A-AC04-439E7E6A6912.jpeg 2009C1E4-B3A1-42A0-9821-10D475AB5B86.jpeg 34277800-1C12-44B9-8A50-C65ED49F5711.jpeg E27B88BD-E864-4453-B2A9-B8C2B7C40E6C.jpeg
 

kchace

New Member
Feb 20, 2021
55
Southern NH
That’s pretty gunked up for sure. how did the fan blades look when you were done? Also, did you thoroughly clean the passages under the fan? It’s all got to be clean for good airflow. That fan motor does look pretty old and nasty inside. I would probably get a new fan. They’re not that much and a place like pellet stove parts in MA has pretty good prices and fast shipping.
 

JakeHalligan

New Member
Nov 29, 2021
9
Mass
I vacuumed and snaked out under the passages. I couldn’t really figure out where it terminates in the firebox. Behind the pellet ramp, between the ash traps are on the left and right was my best guess. But despite the oxidation, it is a clean as I could get it. I couldn’t get any of the carbon off the blades. And have since ordered a new one.

Thanks for all the help and I’ll post an update.
 
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maraakate

Member
Sep 27, 2021
204
Lancaster, PA
If you can't wait and want to try and get the broken fan working you can try spraying some brake parts cleaner on a rag and try to see if that will loosen the carbon. Dont spray it directly on the blades as it may warp the blades if they are some type of plastic as well as being a potential fire hazard. You can try using some pb blaster on the set screw, wait 30 minutes, then heat it with a mini torch to try and remove it.
 

rickwai

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2011
1,325
ohio
I vacuumed and snaked out under the passages. I couldn’t really figure out where it terminates in the firebox. Behind the pellet ramp, between the ash traps are on the left and right was my best guess. But despite the oxidation, it is a clean as I could get it. I couldn’t get any of the carbon off the blades. And have since ordered a new one.

Thanks for all the help and I’ll post an update.
Did you do the leaf blower yet? There are passages you cant get to as you can see. New comb blower will not fix your problem. 10 seconds with the leaf blower sucking on the exhaust will, 99% guaranteed. Item #2881522Model #WG518. this is what I have from Lowes. Then get a 4"x3" duct reducer for 3" vent or a 4"x5" reducer for 4" vent ( in heat duct department).
You can throw the current comb motor in as is and suck out the stove and it will take off and run like a champ.
I have been on calls that the stove is pulling less than .1 in/wc. I give it a routine cleaning including running a small long handle brush up the ash traps then brush vent and suck it out with leaf blower. Retest draft and it is back up to a .3 in/wc where it should be. Easiest stoves for me. I have not pulled my fan in 5 yrs or more.
This is why I can pick these stoves up for a few hundred bucks around here. give them a cleaning and paint job, suck uut with leaf blower, hook up draft meter and check/set draft and double my money :)
 

maraakate

Member
Sep 27, 2021
204
Lancaster, PA
Did you do the leaf blower yet? There are passages you cant get to as you can see. New comb blower will not fix your problem. 10 seconds with the leaf blower sucking on the exhaust will, 99% guaranteed. Item #2881522Model #WG518. this is what I have from Lowes. Then get a 4"x3" duct reducer for 3" vent or a 4"x5" reducer for 4" vent ( in heat duct department).
You can throw the current comb motor in as is and suck out the stove and it will take off and run like a champ.
I have been on calls that the stove is pulling less than .1 in/wc. I give it a routine cleaning including running a small long handle brush up the ash traps then brush vent and suck it out with leaf blower. Retest draft and it is back up to a .3 in/wc where it should be. Easiest stoves for me. I have not pulled my fan in 5 yrs or more.
This is why I can pick these stoves up for a few hundred bucks around here. give them a cleaning and paint job, suck uut with leaf blower, hook up draft meter and check/set draft and double my money :)
From what I understand, you simply open the door on the stove and then run the blower from the outside hooked up to the exhaust vent right? Does it help or hurt if the exhaust fan is running as well? I understand that you need the door open so you do not destroy the vacuum switch, but some people also disconnect the vacuum line to the switch anyways as an extra precaution.

I'm assuming a small 5 gallon off-brand shop vac will not be powerful enough for this?
 

johneh

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
4,355
Eastern Ontario
The shop vac. does not pull enough air.
yes open the stove door a leaf vac or blower
pulls a lot of air, fast witch sucks out the ash
I also disconnect the vac line just so the vac switch does not get destroyed
 

Washed-Up

Minister of Fire
Nov 5, 2011
1,032
Kananaskis,Alberta, Canada
Leaf blower trick should fix it