Troubleshooting fire chief 1700(2017) - limited hot air output

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mckean1037

New Member
Dec 23, 2020
2
Pittsburgh
Purchased a fire chief 1700 off facebook marketplace. No success heating my home effeciently since it was purchased and installed. It was installed but a HVAC professional. My home is around 3200 sq ft. vaulted ceiling in 3 rooms(I understand its not ideal for heating). Furnace rated to heat 2500-5000 sq ft. That number varies based on website you are using. After intial install I struggled to heat my house to 70 degrees when 30-50 outside. I had poor air flow throughout the house and the blower would only run 5-7 mins at a time with a raging fire. I bought dry cord wood in case mine wasn't truly seasoned which didn't help. By the end of the season, I had local fire chief dealer evaluate the issue and make recommendations. He made 3 recommendations 1. Remove a portion of the baffle(approx half) to increase airflow around the firebox 2. Install larger plenum to further assist air flow. 3. tie into cold air return. This year, I made the first 2 modifications. I removed 50 of the baffle and had a 20x20 plenum installed(factory plenum was 2 eight inch rounds). Unfortunately, similar issues persist with slight improvement. I can heat the house to 70 degrees, occasionally I can get up to 72, but I am burning a ton of wood just to attempt to maintain that temp with outside temp in the 30-40s. When I wake up in the morning, the house is 65 degrees with a good amount of hot coals in the firebox.

I consulted a friend and have added thermometer in the flue and hot air supply, damper on the flue and a manometer. If my manometer is reading .4-.5and flue temp 300-400, then I get about 3-5 mins of 95-105 degree air. Then the blower is off for 5-10 mins. If the mano is at .4-.5 and the flue temp is 500-600 then I can get heat output closer to 10-15 mins(maybe longer) of 95-105 degree air. In talking to my friend, this seems pretty abnormal. If his flue temp is 300-400 his blower is running almost constantly pumping out 100 + degreee air. His setup is different but the numbers are starkly different to me. I am doubtful this adding the damper has solved the problem.

Looking for suggestons on possible solutions. Is it just furnace itself? Where is all of the hot air going/why does the blower shut off so quickly?

Other possibilities I have considered: 1. bad limit switch 2. need to connect to cold air return(the furnace is in the basement which is large and the door to the basement is wide open) There is no shortage of air for the furance. I appreciate any info to help make this unit function properly!! This has been very frustrating.
 

jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
5,283
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
If you search the forums (especially the furnace forum) for Fire Chief, you will quickly learn that the brand is not the most beloved one amongst wood burners. Not sure if a 2017 1700 is better or worse than their average.

You'll probably get lots of input once this gets moved to the right forum (@begreen ).
 

mckean1037

New Member
Dec 23, 2020
2
Pittsburgh
If you search the forums (especially the furnace forum) for Fire Chief, you will quickly learn that the brand is not the most beloved one amongst wood burners. Not sure if a 2017 1700 is better or worse than their average.

You'll probably get lots of input once this gets moved to the right forum (@begreen ).

Ok thanks. Which forum should it be put in?
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,398
NE Ohio
Is your draft -0.4, or -0.04"?
-.4 is way too high...anything over -0.06 is too high In my mind...but I think firechief allows a Max of -0.08"
The hvac guy you had out to look at it wiffed on 2 of the 3 recommendations...hooking up to the return is the only one worth considering in my opinion...screwing with the baffle is a terrible idea, put that back in if you haven't already...installing a full size plenum could work under different circumstances, but in your case it will just flow more air, but since you already can't keep the blower running very long, it will just make things worse.

I'm the guy that your buddy has been talking to...from the info that he has relayed to me, sorry to say it doesn't sound too likely for a happy life with this machine
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,398
NE Ohio
And again, from what he told me, it sounds like your blower control switch could be bad, but replacing that still doesn't solve why it won't make any heat...he may have already told you about temporarily restricting/limiting the blower/filter intake to see if the supply plenum temp will go up for more than just a few minutes at a time...
 

laynes69

Minister of Fire
Oct 2, 2006
2,599
Ashland OH
A home at 3500 square feet is a large home.....especially with a few vaulted ceilings. However at 50 degrees your heat load should be very little. At that temperature, even a poorly operating woodfurnace should take the house over 70 degrees. Does the 3500 square feet include the basement? I also agree, the only viable option is the return hookup, however I would assume the air is warmer in the basement? While I don't always recommend it and I wouldn't stuff the firebox, have you tried dimensional lumber to rule out unseasoned wood? A baffle helps to keep the heat in the firebox longer, I dont understand why they would tell you to reduce it......especially with a strong draft.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,398
NE Ohio
A baffle helps to keep the heat in the firebox longer, I dont understand why they would tell you to reduce it......especially with a strong draft.
Agreed...really poor advice!
The thing that is odd is how the thing can be almost red hot (maybe actually is...that seems to be a thing with these newer Firechief's :rolleyes:) and still not make enough heat to keep the blower on for more than a few seconds to minutes?! (even if operated manually, I'm told the supply plenum temp just drops like a rock)
 
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laynes69

Minister of Fire
Oct 2, 2006
2,599
Ashland OH
The company should know better. Was the top opened up for the plenum, or just a plenum over the 2 holes? If it were me, I would relocate the limit/control to a different area that accurately monitors heat. If adjustable, lower the off temp to around 90-100 and do not rotate the dial!