What is a pellet stove?

Pellet stoves work by automatically dispensing wood pellets from a hopper into a firepot or burn box. Wood pellets are carried from the hopper into the firepot on an auger system that is driven by an electric motor. The auger system slowly turns around carrying the pellets from the hopper and depositing them at a steady rate onto the hot fire. A jet of hot air blown across the fire by a fan allows the pellet stove to maintain high temperatures and enables the pellets to burn evenly and efficiently. A second fan on the pellet stove blows hot air, warmed by passage through heat exchanger pipes that run through the interior of the stove, long lasting, low-maintenance heat.

 

How do I start the fire in my pellet stove?

Pellet stoves are equipped with either manual or automatic ignition. For manual ignitions, use the special gel or solid starter material that’s recommended for pellet stove use to light the pellets, and then monitor the progress of the burn. For automatic ignitions, simply add the pellets and push the start button.

 

What kind of pellet stoves are available?

Pellet stoves are available as freestanding or insert types, which may be either bottom-fed or top-fed.

 

What’s so great about wood pellet stoves?

The wooden pellets used as fuel in pellet stoves are eco-friendly, made of recycled wood that would normally be wasted. In addition, pellet stoves are a cheaper heat source for your home than gas, and they add character to your home.


What are my choices for floor protection?
The floor must be protected according to the pellet stove manufacturer's instructions. The minimum size of the noncombustible floor protector is clearly specified in installation instructions. The choice of suitable material usually requires professional assistance, unless a suitable hearth is not already available in the home. Built-in appliances may require additional layer of protection, such as an air space between the appliance and the floor protector.

 

VENTING

What are the purposes of venting systems?
Proper venting is essential for proper appliance performance, dwelling safety, maintenance frequency and indoor environment. Pellet stoves produce little or no visible smoke after startup, but exhaust gases, fine ash and water vapor must be moved safely from the appliance to the outdoors without leaking into the house. The purpose of all vents is to remove combustion by-products produced during normal operation. For most designs, the exhaust is mechanical: a fan blows the combustion by-products out and pulls air needed for combustion into the fire. A few stoves operate without a combustion air fan and instead use natural draft both for exhaust and combustion air intake. Some heat also moves through the vent, making protection of nearby combustibles essential. The minimum clearance between the vent and combustibles, as specified in the vent installation instructions, must be met or exceeded to assure safety.

 

What are signs of performance problems?

Properly operated and maintained pellet stoves experience few, if any, problems. Most of pellet stove operation is automatic, but sometimes combustion air adjustment is needed. A lazy, orange, sooty flame or dark smoke coming out of the vent (after startup and before shutdown) may indicate the need for more air. An overactive, "blow torch" flame calls for less air. Performance problems are more likely to be caused by neglected maintenance than by regular operation. Lazy flame, dark smoke, unusual sooting of glass, unexplained smoke spillage and reduced heat output all point to the need for maintenance of appliance components and/or the venting system, or for remedies for house depressurization. Problems related to mechanical failure usually results in safety switches shutting the appliance down. Appliance shutdowns may, however, indicate nothing more than owner forgetfulness (empty hopper) or hurry (improper startup), or intermittent power failure. Unexplained, repeated appliance shutdowns call for professional advice and service.

 

What are the routine things that I do to keep my stove working right?

Routine maintenance tasks are essential to peak stove performance:

• Burn pot: Checked daily and cleaned periodically to keep air inlets open. Frequency of cleaning depends on fuel type, grade, and content.
• Ash drawer: Emptying recommended before starting new fires and occasionally during stove operation. Frequency depends on fuel and stove design. Typically once or twice a week, but monthly in some new designs.
• Heat exchanger: On some stoves, simply a matter of moving a rod that scrapes the tubes inside the stove. May require professional service on others.
• Ash traps: Chambers located behind the fire chamber which prevent excess fly ash in the exhaust from exiting the stove. Easily accessed for ash removal by owners in some designs; on others, professional service is required.
• Glass: Cleaned with glass cleaner, when the glass is completely cool, on stoves with effective air wash systems. May require more vigorous methods on others. Should the alignment be this way (over to the right)
• Hopper: Checked for accumulated sawdust materials (fines). Fuel in the hopper and auger tube should be emptied occasionally to prevent auger blockage by fines.

First and foremost, check the fundamentals. Make sure there is power to the pellet stove and there are pellets in the hopper. The power to the pellet stove can be checked by plugging in another appliance to the outlet such as a lamp to make sure that it works.

Another problem that would prevent your pellet stove from starting is if the wood pellets bridge over the hopper and prevent themselves from dropping into the auger. This can be caused by over-sized wood pellets or friction with the hopper sides. To check your pellet stove for this problem, disconnect the power supply and empty the hopper gently until you get to the bottom. If you can't get the pellets to slide, lightly spray a silicone lubricant over the inside of the hopper. With the hopper empty, you should be able to see the auger. Plug your pellet stove back in and see whether or not the auger is turning. If only a slight movement can be seen, it might be jammed with pellet dust. Listen to your auger motor and make sure that it is working.

Your pellet stove igniter could also be faulty if you are having trouble getting the stove to start. During normal operation, igniters will usually glow red on start up. If the igniter is faulty, you can start your pellet stove by throwing a handful of wood pellets into the burn pot and starting them with starter gel however, the thermostat on/off operation will not be possible until you get a new igniter.

Look in your pellet stove owner's manual and find out where the pellet stove's internal fuses are. Take the fuses out and check them using a continuity checker to see if bad fuses are a the reason behind your pellet stove not starting.