Starting a Pellet Stove

UserJB

New Member
Jan 19, 2019
8
Ohio
I purchased a house two years ago with a Harman P-68 Pellet Stove. I've never used it. Today I'm trying (and failing) to get it started.

My first question: what is Starting Gel, and where do I get it?

Second, initially the burn pot was empty of pellets. I set the autofeed to 'Test" and that supposedly should run the auger for 60 seconds, but as far as I can tell, the auger didn't move. The burn pot still had no pellets. I can't tell for sure if the auger actually turned, but visually, it looks to be in the same exact position when I started. Does this mean the feed motor is not running?

I later filled the pot with pellets, and I did manually start the wood pellets with a bit of lighter fluid (I know I'm not supposed to do that now, but I did not read that warning until after I tried). The pellets seems to burn for 5-10 minutes. The flame later went out and when I opened the main door, it filled the room with smoke.

If I set the igniter switch to AUTO, how long should it take to light the pellets? I waited about a minute and nothing happened, so I figured the igniter was not working.

Any (constructive) ideas what I should do next?
 

bags

Minister of Fire
Oct 12, 2014
2,397
Kentucky
You can usually find starting gel where you buy pellets. Check out or Google starting pellets with hand sanitizer. When you start your stove you should see pellets getting pushed into the burn pot and things moving. Sometimes it takes way longer than a minute for the igniter to light the pellets. It can take a decent amount of time. Look to see if your lights are coming on by your controls. They should all light up.
 

Tonyray

Minister of Fire
don't think anyones stove lights in 1 minute....
takes my harman a good 5 minutes just to fill the burnpot....
I'm at least a good 10 minutes from pellets igniting even after a good cleaning..
 
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greg13

Minister of Fire
Jan 5, 2012
907
CNY
If I have to use manual start I just use a propane torch, get them started and close the door.
 
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bob bare

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2013
2,960
park county montana
Auger motor will not run if there is a vacuum problem,even in test mode.Does the combustion motor run?You can hear it if it works.If so,I would suspect possibly a plugged/restricted flue.
 

UserJB

New Member
Jan 19, 2019
8
Ohio
Thanks for all the replies. I put a handful of pellets in the burn pot and set AUTO igniter and after 30 minutes, it did not light the pellets. How does the igniter work? Does it simply heat the pellets to combustion temperature?

I purchased starter gel and lit the pellets manually. The pellets burn for about 5-10 minutes, then the flame goes out and the chamber fills with smoke. As far as I can tell, the autofeeder still hasn't moved.

So I guess it could be a plugged flue. The flue pipe is cold to the touch, even after the pellets and starter gel has been going for 5-10 minutes. Shouldn't the flue pipe be warm? Would the next step be to take apart the flue and ensure it isn't clogged?

Regarding the lights: here's what I see
Power: on
Status: on
Distribution blower: off
Combustion blower: on
Feed Motor: on
Igniter: on
 

bob bare

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2013
2,960
park county montana
You would have to post pictures of your flue system for a accurate answer.Many a flue has been plugged with birds nests,bats,squirrels.
 

UserJB

New Member
Jan 19, 2019
8
Ohio
Update: with the starter gel and hand-loaded wood pellets burning, I do see some smoke coming out of the flue exhaust outside the house. So, the flue can't be totally clogged (or at least not totally clogged). But on that same note, I also see smoke coming out the first elbow joint of the flue inside the house. So maybe it is partially clogged?

In the back of the stove, there are two vents. One vent is for the flue, Another vent is an air intake vent, I guess. That air vent has a flap valve: it's a sheet of metal that covers the port and if I push on it, it flaps open. It looks like this stove was installed unprofessionally. The air intake vent (if that's what it is) merely has a flexible hose manually inserted in there: it's not help in place by any fasteners. Maybe that isn't working properly?
 

bob bare

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2013
2,960
park county montana
You can unhook the fresh air hose from the back of the stove and see what happens.Yes even a partially clogged flue is bad news.Also,could have a weak combustion blower.I would take flue apart and clean.
 

UserJB

New Member
Jan 19, 2019
8
Ohio
Another update: after the starter gel flame burns out, the stove fills with smoke, and it stays filled with smoke. Ten minutes later, when I open the front stove door, it's still filled with smoke.

So, if the flue is not clogged, and if the motor which pushes air out the flue (which motor is that?) is working, then all that smoke should have been blown out the flue already. Right? So, something must be wrong with either the flue or the motor that pushed air out of the combustion chamber in the stove. Does that make sense?
 

bob bare

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2013
2,960
park county montana
Another update: after the starter gel flame burns out, the stove fills with smoke, and it stays filled with smoke. Ten minutes later, when I open the front stove door, it's still filled with smoke.

So, if the flue is not clogged, and if the motor which pushes air out the flue (which motor is that?) is working, then all that smoke should have been blown out the flue already. Right? So, something must be wrong with either the flue or the motor that pushed air out of the combustion chamber in the stove. Does that make sense?
You are on the right track.
 

bogieb

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2014
2,792
South Central NH
Okay, I'm just going to throw this out there because it sounds like you have never worked with a pellet stove before. What temperature do you have your stove set at? You can put it on Auto all you want but if the temp is set at say 70, and the room temp is 72, the stove will not light because it doesn't need to. It also won't feed pellets just because you have started a fire in the burn pot. When it does try to light, it can take up to 20 minutes (that is long, but if you have crap pellets or other problems, it is a possibility).

If you put the stove in test mode, you should see pellets coming out of the auger. But, if you have any door open the augur won't run so you won't see pellets (the fans will run though).

Instead of opening the door, use a flashlight to look thru the glass to see if the auger is moving, if there is smoke still in the chamber etc.

Seal up those pipe leaks before you get that thing going! And, get a CO detector. There doesn't need to be plugging of the exhaust for the smoke to be leaking into the house. Smoke goes the route of least resistance - and usually by the shortest route. The shortest route is thru the seam, so it will be happy to use that.

The outside air pipe doesn't need to be bolted on. It doesn't "need" to be there at all (although many of us like to have one there). If the flopper moves when you poke at it, it should be okay.

Download the manual and clean what it says you should clean. Then clean the exhaust (and seal up those leaks)
 

UserJB

New Member
Jan 19, 2019
8
Ohio
Success!! I disassembled the flue pipe and it was full of soot. So I cleaned the pipe, reinstalled, and the wood stove is working the way it should.

I want to thank everyone here. I would not have figured this out on my own: the auto-feeder won't engage if the flue is clogged. Thanks!
 

bob bare

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2013
2,960
park county montana
Success!! I disassembled the flue pipe and it was full of soot. So I cleaned the pipe, reinstalled, and the wood stove is working the way it should.

I want to thank everyone here. I would not have figured this out on my own: the auto-feeder won't engage if the flue is clogged. Thanks!
Stay warm,new friend.
 

UserJB

New Member
Jan 19, 2019
8
Ohio
Okay, I'm just going to throw this out there because it sounds like you have never worked with a pellet stove before. What temperature do you have your stove set at? You can put it on Auto all you want but if the temp is set at say 70, and the room temp is 72, the stove will not light because it doesn't need to. It also won't feed pellets just because you have started a fire in the burn pot. When it does try to light, it can take up to 20 minutes (that is long, but if you have crap pellets or other problems, it is a possibility).

If you put the stove in test mode, you should see pellets coming out of the auger. But, if you have any door open the augur won't run so you won't see pellets (the fans will run though).

Instead of opening the door, use a flashlight to look thru the glass to see if the auger is moving, if there is smoke still in the chamber etc.

Seal up those pipe leaks before you get that thing going! And, get a CO detector. There doesn't need to be plugging of the exhaust for the smoke to be leaking into the house. Smoke goes the route of least resistance - and usually by the shortest route. The shortest route is thru the seam, so it will be happy to use that.

The outside air pipe doesn't need to be bolted on. It doesn't "need" to be there at all (although many of us like to have one there). If the flopper moves when you poke at it, it should be okay.

Download the manual and clean what it says you should clean. Then clean the exhaust (and seal up those leaks)
Yes, this is my first experience with a pellet stove, or any kind of wood stove. I have the stove set on Stove Mode, so it should ignore the room's temperature. After cleaning the flue, I put it in test mode, and with the door closed and a flashlight (as you suggested), I could now see the auger delivering wood pellets.

I do have a CO detector.

I don't plan to use it regularly. I'm in Southern Ohio and it's been raining all day and the temperatures are expected to drop to -10. I just want to have this option ready if the power goes out. I have a small 2000-watt generator which I'm hoping will power the pellet stove.
 

bogieb

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2014
2,792
South Central NH
Well it sounds like you are making progress with the auger delivering pellets.
 

Dataman

Minister of Fire
Sep 10, 2018
676
Newport, Wa
Yes, this is my first experience with a pellet stove, or any kind of wood stove. I have the stove set on Stove Mode, so it should ignore the room's temperature. After cleaning the flue, I put it in test mode, and with the door closed and a flashlight (as you suggested), I could now see the auger delivering wood pellets.

I do have a CO detector.

I don't plan to use it regularly. I'm in Southern Ohio and it's been raining all day and the temperatures are expected to drop to -10. I just want to have this option ready if the power goes out. I have a small 2000-watt generator which I'm hoping will power the pellet stove.

What Generator? Most require Pure Sine Wave Generator. It won't run the stove if it's Modified SW
 

rona

Minister of Fire
Apr 2, 2008
1,015
southwestern Minn
Thanks for all the replies. I put a handful of pellets in the burn pot and set AUTO igniter and after 30 minutes, it did not light the pellets. How does the igniter work? Does it simply heat the pellets to combustion temperature?

I purchased starter gel and lit the pellets manually. The pellets burn for about 5-10 minutes, then the flame goes out and the chamber fills with smoke. As far as I can tell, the autofeeder still hasn't moved.

So I guess it could be a plugged flue. The flue pipe is cold to the touch, even after the pellets and starter gel has been going for 5-10 minutes. Shouldn't the flue pipe be warm? Would the next step be to take apart the flue and ensure it isn't clogged?

Regarding the lights: here's what I see
Power: on
Status: on
Distribution blower: off
Combustion blower: on
Feed Motor: on
Igniter: on
First question is do you have a manual? If not they are on line and you should read it. Second is there is a test mode turn it to that and you should hear fans start and auger. I am not sure
Yes, this is my first experience with a pellet stove, or any kind of wood stove. I have the stove set on Stove Mode, so it should ignore the room's temperature. After cleaning the flue, I put it in test mode, and with the door closed and a flashlight (as you suggested), I could now see the auger delivering wood pellets.

I do have a CO detector.

I don't plan to use it regularly. I'm in Southern Ohio and it's been raining all day and the temperatures are expected to drop to -10. I just want to have this option ready if the power goes out. I have a small 2000-watt generator which I'm hoping will power the pellet stove.
 

bob bare

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2013
2,960
park county montana
First question is do you have a manual? If not they are on line and you should read it. Second is there is a test mode turn it to that and you should hear fans start and auger. I am not sure
He has it running,the flue was plugged.
 

rona

Minister of Fire
Apr 2, 2008
1,015
southwestern Minn
First question is do you have a manual? If not they are on line and you should read it. Second is there is a test mode turn it to that and you should hear fans start and auger. I am not sure
If your power goes out that stove won't be much good unless you plug it into a generator.
He has it running,the flue was plugged.
Yeah I didn't realize there was so many more posts and then didn't delete mine. Sorry about that.
 

UserJB

New Member
Jan 19, 2019
8
Ohio
What Generator? Most require Pure Sine Wave Generator. It won't run the stove if it's Modified SW
Can you expand on this remark? I have a portable Wen 2000 watt inverter/generator. Do you think it will be incompatible with the Harman wood pellet stove?
 

Dataman

Minister of Fire
Sep 10, 2018
676
Newport, Wa
The WEN 56200i is an excellent generator that replicates a pure sine wave and limits the harmonic distortion to less than 0.3% when there is no load and to less than 1.2% at full capacity

It should. Worse case is it causes the stove to go into shutdown. It does not says "Pure Sine Wave".