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

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rickwai

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2011
1,276
ohio
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?
As long as door is open you are fine. Vac tube attaches in stove body. shop vac wont work. Dont run exhaust fan. It may over rev it? You can hook a piece of 3" flex dryer vent to the outlet of leaf blower if you need to direct the ash away from the house or porch. Then vac it out a couple times a winter to keep it breathing good. Only takes a few minutes. You will love the stove once you do this :) .
 
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rickwai

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2011
1,276
ohio

rickwai

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2011
1,276
ohio
I'm with rickwal, this is one of those stoves that slowly get plugged up with time, leaf blower if pssible and a rubber mallet can be your friend.
I use a wore out brush for a Harman Accentra insert to brush up the ash traps. The new brushes are to big and wont go all the way up. Also a refrigerator coil brush from Lowes works to.
 

JakeHalligan

New Member
Nov 29, 2021
9
Mass
So while waiting for the combustion fan, I went to Lowe’s a couple days ago and bought a $79 Craftsman blower/vac. Hooked it up to exhaust and let it rip. A solid 45 seconds of nothing but the blackest soot and buildup came out followed by another minute of debris before it was blowing clean. Just like the vids (I was glad I decided to add about 6’ of vent hose to the exhaust to control it and not have this giant cloud going to the neighbor’s!). Because of work, I wasn’t able to try it until yesterday morning but, no joke: it’s like a completely different stove. I fired it up and it lit in a couple minutes. At that point, I knew something magical had happened. Again, I had no frame of reference to what the flame should look like except from the St. Croix manual, but it was (and is) perfect: spikey, bright, and so far able to go up to level 3 w/o any degrading of flame, only more intense as I assume it should be.

While the fan is supposed to come today and I’ll still install it, the advice from here to try the leaf blower trick was invaluable. I couldn’t be more grateful to the members. If anyone is in same boat, do the trick. Game changer.

Thanks again to the members here for their suggestion!
 

Washed-Up

Minister of Fire
Nov 5, 2011
893
Kananaskis,Alberta, Canada
And it’s even more effective when you use an air compressor….take the nozzle and blast the inside of the stove while using the leaf blower…more comes out than you’d think. Glad it worked for you
 

rickwai

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2011
1,276
ohio
The leaf blower is the silver bullet for the St Croix stoves. I would put the new blower on the shelf until needed. If you use the leaf blower a few times a year there is no need to pull the fan to clean anything. Leaf blower does it all. Also I found a red silicone fan gasket on Mountain Hearth I think. It is a really nice upgrade from the white one that rips before you can even get it over the studs. I had not had my fan out for over 5 years until it went out. I do the leaf blower 3-4 times per season since it is so easy
 

JakeHalligan

New Member
Nov 29, 2021
9
Mass
Even though as you can see from the pics the fan is in a sorry state, don’t swap it out because the stove won’t run any better than it is now? In other words, the com fan doesn’t contribute as much as a clean stove does to performance?
 

rickwai

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2011
1,276
ohio
Yes. The fan looks dirty but that is not affecting its performance. The new one will look just like that after several months. You will know when that motor is going out. It could start to get loud, be slow to ramp up at start up, or refuse to start and just hum. Those are reason to replace the motor. With 90% of pellet stove issues a proper cleaning solves the issue. People want to start throwing parts at them thinking that has to be it. And it usually is not. Typically if the motor or component sounds good and appears to be working as it should, it probably is. Is lazy burn is caused by a blockage between the front door of the stove and the termination cap on the end of the pipe.
 
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maraakate

Member
Sep 27, 2021
180
Lancaster, PA
I finally got around to doing this. I bought the Toro Ultra 260MPH/340CFM model at Home Depot -- https://www.homedepot.com/p/Toro-Ul...-12-Amp-Blower-Vacuum-Mulcher-51619/205746070

I bought the 4 to 3 reducer but did not use it. Instead just hooked up the vac port to the exhaust and used a bit of duct around it to seal it. I cleaned the stove before hand as best I could, disconnected the stove at the outlet, disconnected the vacuum line from auger to vac switch, opened the doors and turned on the leaf blower. It blew out a fair amount of soot (not as extensive as shown in some of the videos), when I didn't see any more I rapped on the exhaust pipe a bit with a rubber mallet and some additional came out. I did that a few more times until nothing came out.

With the leaf blower still running I went back inside and used the rubber mallet carefully on the baffles to get any additional crud and have it suck out. Put the firebricks back in and the baffle plate.

Not really sure if it's made an efficiency difference in my particular case (it appears my stove was fairly clean already), but it does make it easier to clean out the pipe instead of having to disconnect it or use a clean-out T. It probably sucked up some crud in the exhaust fan mounting path that's practically impossible to get out yourself and saves you from having to remove that and applying a new gasket.
 
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Washed-Up

Minister of Fire
Nov 5, 2011
893
Kananaskis,Alberta, Canada
Glad you tried it, I have a small pancake compressor that I use, with an air nozzle on the inside, of the stove whole the leaf blower is running and it gets it even cleaner.
 

maraakate

Member
Sep 27, 2021
180
Lancaster, PA
Yeah, I'd like to try a compressor when the seasons over and can get the stove outside. There's also some stuff on top of the baffles that it looks like the hopper would need to come off in order to get access to it. Whenever I clean the baffles once a week I try to get in there as best I can.

Basically, I clean the pot, glass and ash about every 2-3 days. At the end of the week I get a bit more involved and use the shop vac and actually remove the fire bricks and baffle plate and really get in there. I guess that's been doing good for me considering I didn't see a huge black cloud of soot for 45 seconds straight, but rather some light soot shoot out for maybe 10-15 seconds.
 

maraakate

Member
Sep 27, 2021
180
Lancaster, PA
Update to this: there has been a difference! Wasn't immediately noticable, but at night I run the stove on low as it only ever really drops to 63F at night on low. The soot is now a health brown instead of being darker in colour which is nice. I've also been able to significantly reduce the feed rate. Still fine-tuning the feed rate, but I think I got it about as dialed in as it's gonna get. All around, was worth the effort now I'm saving money on pellets. It seems like the leaf blower should pay for itself pretty quickly.
 
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Mt Bob

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2013
3,689
park county montana
Update to this: there has been a difference! Wasn't immediately noticable, but at night I run the stove on low as it only ever really drops to 63F at night on low. The soot is now a health brown instead of being darker in colour which is nice. I've also been able to significantly reduce the feed rate. Still fine-tuning the feed rate, but I think I got it about as dialed in as it's gonna get. All around, was worth the effort now I'm saving money on pellets. It seems like the leaf blower should pay for itself pretty quickly.
Yep,Some St croix's and all Breckwells do well with a mallet,leaf blower or air pressure.