April 09, 2020

What to Check When Your Pellet Stove Fire Door Gets Sooty Very Quickly


So you've recently cleaned your pellet stove thoroughly and your damper is set correctly, but your pellet stove's fire door is dirty and covered in soot. You have to verify that you have proper airflow through the stove. One of the first things you need to check is that the ash pan or ash door is shut properly. In one of the stoves I serviced, a Lennox Whitfield Optima 3, one of the latches on the ash pan was unlatched, which caused the problem. Next you should replace the stove's gaskets if you haven't recently. Door gaskets, exhaust blower gaskets, and pan ash pan/as door gaskets need to be replaced to ensure a proper seal and airflow. They should be replaced about every three years.

If that isn't the issue, then the problem lies with the exhaust blower or control panel. First check if the exhaust blower may be weak. If the exhaust blower fan isn't spinning fast enough, it won't provide enough air to keep the glass clean or ignite the pellets. If that is not the issue, then the control board could also need replacement. The issue may be that the control board does not send proper voltage to the exhaust blower for making the blower run at the proper speeds for each heat level.

Before testing whether the exhaust blower is weak or not receiving proper voltage, it is necessary to clean the blower itself. If the blower is dirty, it may not run properly. To clean and lubricate the blower thoroughly, follow these steps:

1. Clean the blades with a wire wheel and use a putty knife underneath the impeller blades. Optionally, you can use white aluminum oxide blasting to further clean the blades.

Dirty Exhaust Blower  Clean Blower with Wire Wheel  white aluminum oxide blasting   Cleaned Exhaust Blower

2. Lubricate the blades with dry moly.


3. Lubricate the motor shaft and bearings with Marvel Mystery oil or synthetic bearing oil.

Lubrication Hole on Exhaust Blower

Now you may test to see if the exhaust blower is weak:

Remove the exhaust blower to clean and lubricate and do the spin test. Without any voltage applied to the motor, spin the fan blades with your hands. If it slows down gradually, it passes the test, but it stops abruptly, the bearings in the motors are bad and the motor needs to replaced.
Click here to see video on exhaust blowing spin test

 f that is not the issue, then many stoves change the speed of the exhaust blower for each heat level. To test if the control board is sending the correct voltage to the exhaust blower for making the blower run at the proper speeds for each heat level, follow these steps:

1.  Start with a bench test.
121.9 VAC is the proper amount for the voltage coming out of the wall. Apply that voltage to the exhaust blower on the bench to assure the blower is working properly at full speed. After plugging the test cord into the wall, if the blades freeze and you hear a hum, that means the windings that form the magnet have broken down and the motor is bad and the exhaust blower needs to be replaced.

Bench testing

2. If that is not the issue, then perform a speed test inside the wood pellet stove. Using a Y style testing jumper, install the exhaust blower back into the stove,
then connect a digital voltage meter into the same plug so the voltages sent to the exhaust blower can be seen on the readout. The molex connectors should be removed and the wires should then be connected to the stove with spade clips for most stoves except Whitfield.

VAC meter with connectors

VAC meter with Connectors

Note: During the startup cycle, the exhaust blower voltage remains the same, so you may not start the test until the run cycle begins.

If the blower is weak, then it could result a in lack of proper airlflow and the igniter will not ignite the pellets.

3. Press the heat level buttons on the control panel and see if the voltage reads properly for each heat level. Consult your owners manual or service manual for the proper voltages.

By measuring the voltage of a good working stove of the same make and model as your own you can also come up with the correct voltages. If the voltages are not like the ones shown on a working stove or in the owners or service manual, then the control panel will have to be replaced.

There are three heat levels for newer Whitfield stoves. By testing a good stove, I retrieved these numbers. Here is a picture of the stove I tested.

Whitfield Optima 3 Pellet Stove under test

1. Low Heat Level - Blower Voltage from Control Panel = 96.1 VAC

Low Heat Level  Voltage from Control Panel
2. Medium Heat Level - Blower Voltage from Control Panel = 113.5 VAC

Medium Heat Level 
3. High Heat Level - Blower Voltage from Control Panel = 124.8 VAC

High Heat Level  High Heat Level

Summary of newer Whitfield exhaust blower voltages with 3 Heat levels.

Bench Test -  121.9 VAC - When plugged into a 120 VAC outlet
Heat Level 1 - 96.1 VAC - Low Heat
Heat Level 2 - 113.5 VAC - Medium Heat
Heat Level 3 - 124.8 VAC - High Heat


I also have the correct voltages for older Whitfield Wood Pellet Stoves with 5 Heat Levels:

Heat Level 1 - 70 VAC
Heat Level 2 - 76 VAC
Heat Level 3 - 79 VAC
Heat Level 4 - 85 VAC
Heat Level 5 - 107 VAC

May 06, 2017

Upgrading & Rebuilding your Breckwell Pellet Stove Convection/Room Blower


Recently, while rebuilding the Convection Blower in a Breckwell pellet stove, I discovered a more durable, higher torque motor. The Blower kit has a more durable 1.75 amp motor and is the same speed of 3,000 RPMs same as the original blower to and produces the same 120 CFM. This smoother ball bearing motor is built to last longer. I’ve put together a rebuild kit that comes with everything you need for upgrading to this motor.

Breckwell Convection Blower


The stove originally has an open frame motor attached to the black squirrel cage housing with three stud bolts. Closed frame motors, where the magnet and windings are concealed in a round black case, cannot be rebuilt in this manner. See picture of old open frame motor below.

Breckwell RoomBlower

To install this kit just do the following:

Remove the old blower from the stove by unclipping the motor power wires and removing the bolts that hold the blower flange and old flange gasket in the stove.

  1. 1.Remove 3 metal screws over squirrel cage impeller and remove ring.
    Spray old motor shaft with PB blaster. Remove squirrel cage set screw with Torqx T20 driver and remove squirrel cage applying even pressure under cage with a screw driver or small pry bar.
    3. Remove 3 motor nuts and remove old motor and shaft.
    4. Clean blower housing and install new parts from kit in reverse order.
    5. Use new high temperature silicone gasket when mounting blower assembly in pellet stove and plug in power wires. Connect green wire under stove bolt or nut for proper grounding.

Breckwell Convection Room Blower  Breckwell Room Convection Blower

The new motor and squirrel cage delivers warm room air while running quietly. It comes with a reusable silicone mounting gasket, which reduces vibration, making the motor even quieter.

Convection Room Blower Breckwell

May 06, 2017

Cleaning Your Breckwell Airwash Baffle Keeps the Fire Door Window Clean


Recently, I rebuilt an older Breckwell P22. It’s a super efficient unit that puts out a lot of heat for it's size. This stove is still being made and it’s known as the Maverick P22. The glass can get sooty pretty easily, so I removed the airwash baffle on the firedoor. The baffle directs the incoming fresh air so that it flows against the inside of the firedoor glass, pushing the internal smoky air away. This keeps the window cleaner. I found quite a bit of ash build up as you can see in the photos below. On the low heat levels there is less air,so the ash drops into the baffle, thus decreasing the amount of fresh air flow even more. To clean the baffle, I take a wire brush or a wire wheel on my drill driver and scrape it clean. To remove the remaining rust and residue you can use acetone on a rag. To prevent this, I recommend cleaning the baffle once or twice per year. I recommend using Rutland White-Off to clean the glass.

Pic 1 - P22 fire door

Fire Door Pellet Stove

Pic 2 - Fire Door inside

Fire Door Pellet Stove

Pic 3 - I removed the 2 nuts holding airwash baffle and removed the airwash baffle plate. You can see the ash build up.

Fire Door Pellet Stove

Pic 4 -  Closeup of ash build up.

Fire Door Pellet Stove

Pic 5 - Dirty marks on the glass caused by clogged air wash baffle.

Fire Door Pellet Stove

Pic 6 - Closeup shows that the there’s no gasket along the bottom of the glass, which allows air in from the outside in front of the glass, keeping it clean. The gasket should only be installed along the top and sides. Also, a washer in each bottom corner of the glass creates a gap between the baffle and the glass,allowing fresh air inside, thus keeping the inside of the firedoor glass clean, even while the stove is running. Keeping the airwash baffle clean, will help keep this gap open, providing proper airflow.

Fire Door Pellet Stove

Pic 7. - I used White-Off glass cleaner to clean the glass.

Fire Door Pellet Stove


Pic. 8- Tools to Clean Air Wash Baffle and Glass. Use the sockets to remove the air wash baffle. A scraper can be used to remove any remaining hardened ash. Silicone is used for for installing gaskets. The tape can be used to seal the caulking gun so it doesn't dry out.

Tools For Door Glass

Pic 9- Newly Installed Door and Glass Gasket. If the door gasket is old and worn, you won't have a good seal and it will lead to airflow problems and the airwash baffle will not work properly. It is recommended to replace it about every three years or so depending on how often you use the stove.

Installed Door and Glass Gasket Breckwell

Link to view and purchase silicone tube:


Link to view and purchase silicone cartridge:


 Link to view and purchase door gasket:


 Link to view and purchase glass gasket: