View Full Version : OT Pellet stove tune up

Forrest Addy
02-26-2008, 12:19 PM
I'm cross-posting this to reach a maximum number of people.

My pellet stove is 13 years old. I'm good about keeping it cleaned and I use good fuel in it. While it's given good service and cut my heating costs in half it's performance has declined. I have noticed it's producing some soot where it once produced a fine light brown ash.

Out of curiosity when I was cleaning the fire pot of caked residue, I ran a drill into the air holes. Brown scale sprinkled from the drill. Then I ran a taper pin reamer into the holes. Much brown scale. I estimate the air holes were about 30% occluded on the diameter with baked on combustion products so I reamed all the holes to just clean them up to bare metal. Problem solved. It burns clean as it did when new.

So here's the lesson. The air holes in the firepot are calibrated to provide the right amount of combustion air kinda like a carburator with the choke fully open. If the air holes scale up they allow less air and the fire produces more soot. It's like driving with the choke on. Check the firepot during annual pellet stove maintenence, the air holes may need cleaned out just to bare metal.

Probably most people already know this but it was a revelation to me. I thought the fan was pooping out.

02-26-2008, 02:36 PM
On my corn stove Pokeing the holes are a normal part of cleaning.

02-26-2008, 02:52 PM
I don't know just how big these holes are, but a tip that a guy who works for the local gas/electric utility gave me was to use an old bronze wound guitar string. It won't abraid steel burner tubes but does have enough ripple in the winding string to remove what needs removing. However, he was using it in natural gas burner tubes when they got called out on CO problems.

My guess is that these holes are larger since you mentioned the use of a taper pin reamer. Maybe an old wound piano string would do the job?


Forrest Addy
02-26-2008, 03:00 PM
These deposits were pretty hard. I don't think a wound string would shift them. They were crisp and strongly adherant like pie juice baked on on the bottom of the oven.

02-26-2008, 03:57 PM
like pie juice baked in the bottom of the oven eh?

Ewwww. Yuck. Gotta love that smell of reheated pie runoff.:D

Wonder what a guy who doesn't have a taper pin reamer is supposed to do to clean those? You and most of the guys here are creative enough to figure out a solution and careful enough not to enlarge the hole...which we now know is probably carefully sized. I wonder about the rest of the world. New pellet stove for them I guess :rolleyes:


Mad Scientist
02-26-2008, 05:16 PM
Havenít had a problem with holes clogging up yet but mine is only four years old. However the air damper will stick if I donít move it occasionally.

My biggest problem right now it the price of corn. I just bought more corn yesterday at $5.15 per bushel :eek: initially I was paying around $1.80 a bushel. This has gone from a very cost efficient auxiliary heat source to a luxury heat source. :(

02-26-2008, 05:21 PM
It blows me away how much doing something as simple as running the brush through the heat exchanger makes a NOTICABLE difference in the temperature output of my stove, so your discovery doesn't really surprise me.

But, maybe once I get the temp of my garage up, I'll cool the stove down and clean those out :)

Al Messer
02-26-2008, 07:31 PM
Try a Brass/Bronze gun barrrel brush.

Al Messer
02-26-2008, 07:33 PM
Just wait until the Bio-fuel industry gets going, and be prepared to pay a lot more for your Grits and Corn Pone!!