February 02, 2020

4 Electrical Outlet Problems that Can Cause Pellet Stove Failure & How to Fix Them

It can be a bad AC electrical outlet that causes your stoves motors, blowers, and control boards to fail prematurely.  Either it may be wired incorrectly or the voltage may be too high or too low. There are two ways it may not be wired correctly, not grounded or a phase reversal. Not grounded means you don't have a complete circuit back to the circuit box to the ground stake 5 ft in the ground.  To be grounded it also must be separate from the neutral wire. A phase reversal is when the black hot and white neutral wires are on the wrong connectors on the back of the outlet. Here's how to check for these issues and how to fix them. Make sure your stove is unplugged before proceeding.

1. Black outlet hot and white neutral wires are switched causing reverse phase.

    This can easily be detected with an electrical outlet tester. A light will appear right next to the words "phase reversal," then simply switch the wires. If the wires are left this way too long, it can cause a problem in the control board where it switches AC to turn on the motors in your stove. In one stove I serviced, after approximately 3 years of use, the triac that switches the AC power to turn on the exhaust blower failed and the exhaust blower did not turn on when the ON button was pressed. The wires in the outlet had to be fixed and the whole control board had to be replaced as well to fix the bad triac.

2. Bad ground or no ground.

    This happens more frequently in older 2 prong outlets in an older homes, but even newer 3 prong outlets may not have a ground. This problem can easily be detected with an electrical outlet tester. The light will appear next to "bad ground" or "no ground." You'll need an electrician to fix the outlet ground or wire in a new 3 prong outlet. This can also cause voltage fluctuations and if a surge occurs, even a surge protector cannot properly channel the excessive voltage to ground. It renders the surge protector ineffective. This can cause the control board to fail and not work properly and need replacement.

Picture below shows Hot / Neutral reversal, which causes damage to control panel over time.

3. Outlet voltage is too high.

    This is commonly known as a power surge. Testing requires continuously monitoring the outlet and using a data logger, so prevention is the best solution. Make sure you purchase a high quality surge protector for your stove. A good surge protector can help prevent many overload conditions but may not prevent damage from direct lightning strikes to the power lines or poles. During a lightning storm it is best to unplug your stove.  Too high a voltage can cause control board component failures such as blown capacitors and chips, which lose their program instructions. This can cause the control panel not to light up, buttons not to work, and stove motors not to work. If that happens, the control board will need to be replaced.

4. The outlet voltage is too low.

     Testing requires continuously monitoring the outlet and using a data logger, so prevention is the best solution. A line conditioner can be plugged in to help prevent low and high current. Low voltage can cause the exhaust blower or auger motor to fail prematurely. It does so by causing an overload condition in which the motors draw excessive current to run to make up for the low voltage from the outlet. This melts the lamination on the windings, causing them to short out. If this happens you may hear a humming sound and the blades won't turn when the AC power is applied and you'll need to replace the motor.

    On newer stoves it can be a good idea to install a A Ground Fault Circuit Interupter type outlet (GFI or GFCI) because if the igniter dies and shorts out, it may trip the the GFI circuit instead of blowing a fuse in the panel. If the stove does not have a separate igniter fuse, I recommend a 4 amp AGC fast blow fuse installed in an inline fuse holder on one of the igniter wires. GFI/GFCI may not work on a few older pellet stoves where the wiring is not up to the latest standards.

Checking these four issues will help diagnose pellet stove failures caused by a faulty outlet . Preventing these issues can be helpful and the fixes are simple.

August 10, 2016

"Pellet Stove Rear End Restore" for Longevity and Top Performance!


If you depend on an older pellet stove for your winter heating that uses a 6" exhaust blower, like many stoves, then this summer project may be for you.
In my case, this "Rear End Restore" did the trick, preventing the stove from shutting down unexpectedly on a cold winter's night. :-)
The stove I'll be discussing is a Quadrafire Classic Bay free standing. This older model CB1200 made in June 2000 worked fine for 16 years but needed some TLC to make it last longer.

I removed the back and took out all the components, wire wheeled the rust, then gave the inside some new Satin Black high temp paint.

It's nice to start the new winter season with a brand new 3,000 RPM pellet stove combustion blower.
To really soup it up, a 1.75 amp GA combustion blower would make your stove sizzle, but I replaced the stock Fasco 0.95 motor with a shiny, closed frame 1.05 Amp P-Tech motor.

I sprayed the mounting hub and the motor cooling blade with dry moly lubrication.

I also sprayed dry moly on a new 9 petal Quadrafire impeller blade with a stronger motor cooling cage and stuck it on.

You may view similar motors here:

Note: For older models you may need 2 additional female spade lugs to connect to the molex connectors on the wire harness.

Upgraded Gleason Avery Ball Bearing Exhaust Blower with 1.75 Amps to maintain speed even with ash buildup.

Aftermarket Blower that is an economical replacement.

Fasco or P-Tech blower with exhaust housing.
Note: The exhaust housing is a very tight fit. It can be grinded down or you can use the original exhaust housing if it is in good shape.

In this article the original exhaust housing was cleaned up, repainted, and re-installed with 2 new lytherm gaskets.

New Exhaust Housing Lytherm Gasket

New Exhaust Blower Lytherm Gasket.

To join the new blower with the 2 male spade lugs on the old Quadrafire wire harness, I cut the connector off the old blower and crimped on 2 insulated female spade lugs from Home Depot. Now the spade lugs can be easily disconnected to install a new blower in the future. It also provides a good test point for a line cord to check the blower's top end speed. 

Then I removed the exhaust blower housing, which was very dirty from use, and I chipped away the warn off black paint. To I jazz it up, I used high temp Flat Aluminum header paint and 3 coats of clear high temp engine paint on the outside of the stove. Only after a good wire brushing, I coated the inside with dry moly for a good, slick air surface. I used new high temp clear RTV on the flange seam and cleaned it with acetone to make it accept the paint.

It seems to work better and now I know it won't break down on a cold winter's day anytime soon. 
Also this fix up provides a deep, rich look and protection against oxidation that will keep the stove a top performer for many years to come.

December 14, 2015

Removing a very old and rusty impeller blade from a combustion blower motor

Pulling a fan blade can be as simple as unscrewing the set screw and pulling the blade off with your hand. However if the blower has seen alot of use, then removing the impeller blade can be almost impossible!

Here is a case of a little penetrating oil spray and just inserting a Torx bit in the set screw results in a broken bit! This fan blade is almost welded on from years of rust and heat!

So here is how the Pellet Stove Master removes a rusty blade that is almost infused to the shaft!

1. Prepare the hub and set screw by scrubing surface rust off with a wire wheel.

2. Spray on the rust penatrating oil and let it sit overnight.

3. Use harden torx bits to crack the set screw by hand with a 1/4 inch wrench

In this case we did not use a regular torx bit or even one that was 1x stronger!

No this one is the 30x stronger bit!!!

4. Spray the penitrating oil into the set screw hole.

5. spray the hub again with penitrating oil and tap the puller on with a hammer.

6. insert the long set screw and the hold down screw with the proper size allen wrenches

7. Slowly crank the top bolt on the puller tool to remove the blade from the motor shaft

8. remove the long set screw, hold down screw and top bolt, then remove puller body from impeller hub.


Shaft of motor is scraped but still good

Impeller blade has been removed with no damage! See below.

June 08, 2015

Cleaning & Replacing the Pellet Stove Exhaust Blower- When & How


The pellet stove exhaust blower pulls air into the burn pot for combustion. It then pulls the heated air across the heat exchanger and pushes the air and smoke up and out the flue venting. A  blower in top condition produces optimum combustion, completely burning your pellets and providing cozy heat.

Therefore, your exhaust blower should be cleaned and lubricated at least once per year. If the exhaust blower is faulty, replace it and you'll see a difference.

My video shows a bad blower with a seized bearing and a blower with a noisy case and demonstrates the best upgraded replacement.

To review, the number two light indicates there is not enough vacuum to hold the vacuum switch in or keep it engaged. This is a sign that the exhaust blower needs replacement. If the exhaust blower doesn't push enough air, there won't be enough vacuum. Performing a spin test is a simple way of determining what's wrong. As seen in my video the difference between a functioning blower and one with a jammed bearing is clear. It is also important to listen to the sounds the blower is making. It may indicate a rattling cage. Listen to the sound in my video. If you hear that, it's a strong indicator that your blower may need replacement. I highly recommend the "Low Drafter" exhaust blower. It's larger blades move more air at a lower heat level, hence it's name. This way the pellets burn more completely. It's also 1.75 amp versus the usual 1 amp. You could hear it whirring in my video and tell how powerful it is, but it's still quiet enough not to disturb you're household. You can also see the ball bearings for yourself. It is sturdily built! Click here to view that blower:


If your exhaust blower still runs well, you can clean it to keep it in top shape. All you need is some dry moly spray, light weight machine oil, a putty knife, a brush, and some wire wheel drill bits. See my pictures below. Using a putty knife and wide wire bristle brush frees up most of the caked on ash. The cylindrical brush is about as thick as a pipe cleaner, which is perfect for cleaning underneath the blade. The wire wheels are best for cleaning over the blades to remove finer dirt and residue. The cylindrical wire wheel is best for getting inside the corners, while the round wire wheel provides the most scrubbing power. Dry Moly helps stop the build up of ash and makes it easier to clean the blower next year. Just follow the steps below to remove and clean the blower:

1. To remove the exhaust blower, unclip 2 or 3 wires depending on how many your blower has.

2. Unbolt 6 nuts or bolts depending on which your stove has, then pull out the exhaust blower.

3. Scrape under blades with a putty knife. Remove the rest of the caked on ash with a wide wire brush like the one below.

4. Scrub under the blades and the motor shaft with a cylindrical wire brush.

5. Using the drill, scrub the tops of the blades with the wire wheel drill bits.

6. Oil the motor and motor shaft.

7. Spray Dry Moly on the impeller blades.

8. Install a new White Lytherm High Temperature Gasket.

9. Bolt in the blower and clip the wires back together.

This lube kit can be used to get the job done:


Here's a convenient little oil bottle for your 3-1 light weight machine oil. It has a narrow spout good for getting into small spaces.

August 26, 2014

Lytherm/Silicone Gasket Maintenance: Exhaust & Convection Blower, Ash Trap Cover/Trap, Burn Pot, Flanges, Auger Backing/End Plate


There are two basic types of gaskets used for pellet stove blowers. The first kind is the high temperature white lytherm gasket. These are more commonly used for exhaust blowers, but can be used for some convection blowers as well. Exhaust blower gaskets prevent smoke from going into the house. These gaskets withstand 1,000 degrees F and are used in the hottest stove areas. They usually fall apart when removed and are not reusable. These should always be replaced when doing the yearly blower cleaning. 6" round is standard for many exhaust blowers. Click here if you are looking for one.


White lytherm gaskets are also used on ash trap cleanout covers, burn pots, and exhaust flanges. Exhaust flanges are very important, just recently I worked on a Breckwell insert that did not have one. The smoke was leaking out and pushed into the room by the convection blower giviing the owner a headache! Ash trap cleanout cover gaskets seal the chambers behind the firebox. These covers are removed for cleaning and must be sealed for proper combustion. Usually, white lytherm gaskets are used, but sometimes they can be replaced with re-usable silicone gaskets. Burn pot or fire pot gaskets are usually white lytherm and prevent air leaks.

The second type of gasket used for pellet stove blowers is high temperature silicone gaskets. These are used for convection blowers to prevent noise and vibration. They are also used for ash traps and auger backing plates. These gaskets can handle 500 degrees F. They are used in areas of the stove that are not as hot. Silicone gaskets can be more easily reused. In some cases the auger backing plate silicone gasket can be reused. Check and see what kind of condition it is in. If it is too worn, just replace it when removing the auger for cleaning. This gasket prevents air from entering the hopper which also prevents hopper fires.

I always check the lytherm and silicone gaskets once a year during the annual cleaning to assure a safe and warm heating season.

July 26, 2014

Upgrading Pellet Stove Blowers, Impeller & Ash Pan: Burn Pellets Fully & Prevent Caked Ash & Overflow

 I work on a lot of different brand pellet stoves. Some burn efficiently for many years while others seem to produce less heat after only 3 or 4 years. I owned a stove that started to decline and like many others, I got rid of it. Afterwards, I bought a much older pellet stove that burns like new. After fixing many stoves, I noticed a connection between the stove performance and difference in design between different heat exchangers and exhaust chambers. 

There are many design differences but one difference stood out. Smaller impeller blades on combustion or exhaust blowers allow airflow to diminish as the stove ages! Over time, rust, calcium deposits, and soot clog the air passages, which reduces air flow and vacuum. Larger, deeper petals truly make a difference. My 15 year old Quadrafire stove has deep blades and works like new! I used after market blades. These fit many stoves. The deeper petals keep the pellet ash from building up under the impellers, thereby reducing draft and maintaining the stove's heating performance even when it gets a little dirty. 5" double blade impellers used in Harman stoves also fix this issue and fit a few other stoves as well.

 I used the deep blades when working on an older Enviro Mini (Not Mini-A), which prevented build up. To further upgrade the stove's performance, I used a Gleason-Avery Exhaust Blower with 1.75 amps of shear power for LOW draft performance. The higher current blower keeps the burn pot clean on Heat levels 1,2 and 3 during low draft and the pellets burned completely.

Another issue with the older Enviro Mini is that it doesn't have a latch on the ash pan. When you open the door and lie a dollar bill across the gasket and close the door, you can still pull the bill out. This indicates a poor seal. A poor seal can also cause a lazy flame and contribute to poor heat performance. The ash pan is hooked in on the bottom left and right corners, so it shuts using gravity. However, the ash pan gasket does not compress enough to make a tight seal without a latch. This causes overflowing pellets and caked ash in the burn pot.


The ash pan latch on newer Mini-A stoves seals the unit properly. The latch itself can be purchased and added to the older Mini. The is latch $43.00 and it's a solid one. You need to drill a hole in the ash pan to install it. The hole required is approximately 13/16" and most metal drill bit sets go up to 1/2". However, new Titanium Step Drill bits can easily solve the problem. I got some step bits from Harbor Freight. Just find the center of the pan and measure approximately 1-1/2" down from the top. An ash pan gasket and fire door gasket in good condition are also necessary for a proper seal. An impregnated graphite gasket is recommended because of its durability. With these changes, you won't see any more overflowing pellets in the burn pot from caked ash building up in the bottom. It also prevents black ash from collecting on the back of the firebox. What a difference! 

Enviro addressed many of these issues with quite a few upgrades to the Mini in the newer Mini-A. These upgrades include:
1. Newer Control Panel & Decal with plate - new combustion trim control to adjust the exhaust blower speeds for different heat level settings

2. Larger burnpot and burnpot liner - stop unburned pellets from bouncing out.



3. Ash Pan latch - to stop air leaking thereby reducing the draft needed for a lively fire.

Not addressed by Enviro but recommended by Harman for their own stoves.
4. Higher current combustion blower upgrade with larger impellers.

To see the old Enviro Mini now running on heat level 2 with old control board and old burn pot view my youtube video!

For a similar solution to the Breckwell vacuum problem -see my blog > http://www.eastcoasthearth.com/blogs/pellet-stove-parts-101/13615545-boost-your-breckwell-run-on-heat-level-1-without-re-adjusting-the-damper

To summarize, the more lively the flame, the better the heat transfer. Better fan petal blades, ash pans, gaskets, and blowers make a difference. Harman pellet stoves have one of the most intense flames and they really crank out the heat! The double fan blades in those stoves contribute to that power. These improvements reduce black smoke on the back fire box wall, caked ash in the burn pot, and pellet pile up in the burnpot. The pellets will burn completely.

May 12, 2014

Lubricating a Tangential Room Blower's Journal End Bearing for Quiet Performance

Tangential room blowers effectively blow warm air through the room, However, "Journal" type end bearings get noisy way too soon.
Our replacement tangential room blower for the following stoves has the same issue but unlike OEM blowers this replacement blower can be easily lubricated and kept working for a long time!
For these pellet stoves -- Lopi and Avalon Small Pellet stoves (Newport, Newport Bay, Pioneer and Pioneer Bay)
and most Avalon, Lopi and Fireplace Xtrordinair Gas inserts, Gas Fireplaces and Gas Stoves. 
Listen to the video below to hear the end bearing noise.
Travis and other brand small size pellet stove replacement tangential room blower Part 1 - Blower end bearing noise.
This improved replacement  tangential room blower has an easy to lube copper sleeve end bearing
If a noise like in part 1 occurs:
Just remove the end bearing and rubber support.
Lubricate the copper sleeve
replace the rubber and copper sleeve.
See video below on how to do this
Travis and other brand small size pellet stove replacement tangential room blower Part 2 - Blower end bearing lubrication and noise fix.
Before replacing the blower, check to make sure the support bracket screws are not loose and vibrating.
Also make sure the blades turn freely and do not rub the sides or hit any screws.
Use high temp RTV on any loose screws to hold them in securely so they will not vibrate.

April 13, 2014

Boost Your Breckwell- Run on Heat Level 1 without Re-adjusting the Damper

 Breckwell Pellet Stoves sometimes have trouble running on heat level 1, especially when they get older. Older stoves have a buildup of calcium, iron and carbon deposits on the inside walls of the internal ash chambers. This is exacerbated at 3 AM when the diurnal variation of pressure is at it's nightime low. The control board does have an auger trim to increase the fuel feed on heat level one which feeds more pellets to keep the fire going but does not vary the combustion blower speed during this period to help increase the air pressure requirements to keep the vacuum switch closed and the stove running. The vacuum switch is a necessary safety device that cuts power to the auger and shuts the stove down when the combustion blower quits or dies so the house does not fill up with smoke. When Hi/Low mode is selected on a thermostat connected to a Breckwell stove, the temperature drops from the selected high heat level to low when the desired thermostat temperature is reached. The control board does not increase and decrease the combustion (exhaust) blower speeds so a the damper may have to be re-adjusted for the low setting or the stove may die out. The air inlet damper can only be set for heat level 1 or 3, not both at the same time. If you wanted to run the stove on heat level 1 and then change it  back to 3 you would have to adjust the damper again. I know a few people who own this stove and none of their stoves run well on heat level 1, especially if the altitude of the installation makes it hard to set the damper. Different air pressures at different altitudes make it difficult.  However, since the combustion blower always runs on high speed,  there is a way to boost the combustion blower and make up for this discrepancy and keep the same damper setting!

Pic 1 shows the new Breckwell control panel with the red backgound behind the On/Off button and the Fuel Feed button. The older panels have a yellow background. Also, On the new panels the heat level auger trim button labeled "Low Feed Adjustment" is labeled "Reset Trim" on the old panel even though the functioning stayed the same.

In the midst of rebuilding a Breckwell Big E, I found way of running the stove on heat level 1 especially in Hi/Low mode as well as all the other heat levels with the same damper setting. The stove I worked on needed a new exhaust blower and housing. I have a lot experience installing exhaust blowers for many stove brands. I found that Magnum Baby Countryside stoves using their upgraded exhaust blowers with large impellers burn wood pellets better. The original Baby Countryside stoves using blowers with small blades were installed for the stoves to burn corn . Quadrafire pellet stoves and small Travis stoves use large blades as well. With that in mind, I installed a combustion blower with large petal blades in the Breckwell Big E. I discovered when the stove started that it defaulted to heat level 1 and remained on after the initial damper setting! The real test is Hi/Lo mode. The next morning was cold 32 Degs outside. The workshop was 53 Degs F inside so I started the stove in Hi/Lo mode and set the T-Stat for 65 Degs. The stove started and the Hi setting was set to 3. The workshop slowly warmed up and when the T-Stat hit 67 Degs (It has a 2 Degree swing) I heard the click and the T-Stat contacts opened up. I saw the pellet feed slow and the height of the fire die down to the level 1 setting. The control panel light does not change, it still had the 3 heat level lit but I could hear the convection fan speed drop to the heat level 1 speed. The was still one catch. I did this test twice, the 1st time with the default auger trim setting at medium which is the middle of the 3 choices, the stove died out from not having enough pellets. Before the second test I set the stove to manual, heat level 1 and set the auger trim to show lights 1 & 4 which is the high setting. Finally on this second test, when the T-Stat was satisfied and the heat level dropped to heat level 1, the stove kept running fine! Therefore, adjusting the heat level was no longer an issue. No need to adjust the damper. I also observed that the stove lighted up more quickly after installing the new blower with larger impeller blades compared to the smaller impellers. The pellets also seemed to burn more completely. There were no unburnt pellets in the ash pan. See below for a comparison of impeller petal size. Left: Small. Right: Large

To gather some more data, I used my friend's stove as a baseline. To test his stove, I connected the manometer to the nipple on the back left side of the firewall and connected an AC cord to the original exhaust blower. I got -0.43 WC. WC measures Air pressure in Water Column, which is what is used to measure draft level. I went back to my shop and made the same measurement with the large petal impellers and got -0.72 WC. This is an increase of 0.29 WC. Usually, the controller sets the draft fan to operate on high during start up and when the stove is set to the highest heat level, but the Breckwell always runs the combustion blower on high. The AC test cord provides full draft (120 vac) voltage to the exhaust blower so my tests are the same as if the stove is running. A hotter fire on higher heat levels creates more air pressure. Therefore when the stove is on heat level 1 with lower air pressure, the large petal impellers maintain a higher air pressure. Thus, the vacuum switch will remain closed and the stove will keep running. Testing this stove shows it running all day on heat level 1 (approximately 200 Degrees F out of the heat exchangers).The higher heat levels put out effective heat as well. 

Left - WC measured with small impellers. Middle - WC measured with large petal impellers. Right - Heat output on heat level 1.

In summary, the large petal fan blades make the stove run well on heat level 1 as well as increase the overall performance. Please take note that the housing that comes with the stove I worked on is 1-1/2 inches deep, so the large petal blades fit. This may not be true for all models so larger housing may be needed. In that case, a new housing can be bolted on and the large impellers can be installed. Sometimes, you can transfer the original snap disc to the new housing. Occasionally, you may need a replacement depending on the size and condition. If the blower housing has a 3/4" hole, then a 3/4" F-120 snap disc with airstream mount will work fine. Also, a surface mount F-120 snap disc will work regardless of whether there is a hole or what size the hole is. If there is a hole, it will cover it. Most large impeller blowers come with a motor that has more current capability. I have seen motors from 1.35 amps up to 1.75 amps. Check your motor tag.


Here is an exhaust blower with the large petal blades that will fit the Breckwell:


F-120 Snap Disc for exhaust blower above
http://www.eastcoasthearth.com/collections/universal-pellet-stove-parts/products/low-limit-snap-discs-diameter-air-stream - for 3/4" hole

Updated Control Panel