August 26, 2014

Door, Ash Pan, Glass, Hopper Lid Rope Gasket Maintenance & Why I Recommend Graphite Gaskets


I have replaced many rope gaskets while servicing stoves. These gaskets are important for keeping a pellet stove air tight for a lively flame and maximum heat. From my experience, after 3 or 4 years, these rope gaskets become frayed or hard and brittle and need replacement. These rope gaskets are used on the Fire Door, Ash Pan, Window Glass, and Hopper Lid. Round rope gasket is used for fire box doors and some ash pan doors. Door rope gaskets come in different diameters from 3/8" on Harman pellet stoves to 7/8" on large Travis stoves. These gaskets prevent room air from being sucked into the fire box. If they are not doing their job, the flame becomes lazy and won't provide as much heat. Flat rope gasket is used for ash pans, ash doors, hopper lids, and window glass. I always recommend premium quality graphite impregnated rope gaskets for best results. Here's why.

 I installed a brand new pellet stove using my prior experiences. I even watched an installation DVD to make sure I knew all the requirements for that specific stove. However, after a few days my customer called because the fire door was jammed. I had not expected this. I went back to figure out what happened. Using my screw driver, I carefully pried the fire door open. I had to try different angles before it finally budged. I found the standard white rope gasket that comes already installed on the door may stick and cause a door jam. The pellet stove I installed was brand new and I had not altered the door gasket in any way. Graphite impregnated gaskets won't cause this problem. Graphite is slick, which keeps the door from sticking. Since the graphite gasket won't stick, it won't get frayed from sticking to the door as it is opened and closed over time. For this reason, graphite gaskets last longer and may not need to be replaced as often. I still recommend to check them as you perform regular maintenance of course. See below for instructions on how to replace the door gasket.

You can find a graphite gasket for your stove by clicking here

It is also important to replace hopper lid and ash pan gaskets regularly. Hopper lid gaskets take flat rope gaskets often called Tape Gaskets. Hopper lid gaskets prevent air from being sucked into the hopper that could feed a hopper fire in a burn back situation. This problem is not common, but it can happen so it is best to take the necessary safety precautions. Check your hopper gasket if you have one and make sure it is not frayed, worn, hard, or brittle. If so then replace them.

Ash pan gaskets also use flat tape or flat rope gaskets. Some ash pans are open to the fire box, so a good seal is necessary to ensure a lively flame. A dollar bill test can be employed to check the door and ash pan gaskets. Open the door and lie a dollar bill across the gasket and latch the door shut. If you can still pull the bill out, this indicates a poor seal. This test should be repeated for all 4 sides of the door. Sometimes, the latch can be adjusted so the door shuts tighter. If the test still fails then the gasket should be changed.

Some flat gaskets come with tape that peels off the back. These can be used for replacing the window glass gaskets. They don't need to be replaced quite as often, but they do get frayed so they should be checked occasionally to ensure the fire door window glass is tightly sealed. If the glass breaks, they should be replaced along with the glass.

The door gasket can be replaced with just a few simple steps:

1. Pull out the old gasket. You can pry it with a screw driver if stuck.
2. Remove all glue and residue remaining from the old gasket with a wire brush or a wire wheel on your Dremel or drill driver.
3. Apply RTV high temperature silicone to the channel where new gasket will be installed. I prefer the way clear silicone looks..
4. Start laying in the new gasket. I prefer starting from the bottom corner on the side since it cannot be seen easily. Some manufacturers say to start in the middle, but from my experience the corner works best.
5. Close the door and latch it until it dries so the silicone sets up properly. You may also close the door on newspaper to ensure the silicone will not glue the door shut! I prefer to close the door and latch it, then open the door and wipe any excess silicone. This ensures the door will not be glued shut and is more professional because excess silicone stuck to newspaper is messy and difficult to clean up.

Always check your rope gaskets once a year for an optimum flame and safer heating season.

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