As I mentioned earlier in the season, we had a St. Croix Prescott EXL pellet stove installed in the basement.
Before the Winter season really began, I had my doubts on whether or not the pellet stove would heat the entire house. I was worried that it’s location would hinder the airflow to all the rooms upstairs. Well, I am happy to inform you that the stove does heat the entire house. I mean, if we keep the master bedroom door shut, it does. The master bedroom is over the garage and the furthest room from the stove. It’s also the coldest room, which is why we keep the door shut. When the time hits 10:30PM, the new digital thermostat cranks the heat in that room up to 65 degrees. That’s good enough for me.
We have had some nights already where the temperature has been in the 20s. I think that’s Winter and enough to tell me that the heating situation is going to be okay. I did try burning a fire in the regular fireplace a few times while running the pellet stove. The fireplace actually made things worse. It sucked so much air out of the house, all the rooms dropped a few degrees. Fireplaces are remarkably inefficient and really shouldn’t be used, in my humble opinion. If you want to run something in your fireplace, run a free standing wood stove or a wood stove insert. Even burning a fireplace for aesthetics on a cold day will freeze out the rest of your house. Nuff said.
Okay, we are having a little issue with the pellet stove.
A few nights ago, I tried to start it up. The start up procedure really isn’t very difficult on the Prescott. It basically consists of pushing the “on” button. Once the “on” button is pushed, the room blower turns on for about 10 seconds and the auger turns until the burn pot is approximately half way full of pellets. As the auger is turning, the ignitor kicks on and the pellets light up. It’s fun to watch and I sit there almost every time I light the stove doing just that. I smile when I see that flame dancing around inside that pellet stove.
Back to a few nights ago…when I tried to light the stove this particular time, I pushed the button. The fan turned on for about 10 seconds and then the stove just shut off. I am not sure if the auger ever turned to drop pellets into the burn pot.
I tried to light the stove a few more times when I noticed the #2 light blinking on the control board. I thought this was a little strange, since I had never seen that light blink before. I pulled out the owner’s manual and looked up that error code. Apparently, a lack of negative pressure causes the stove not to light and the #2 light to blink.
What can cause a lack of negative pressure? Well, a really windy day can do it, an open pellet stove door, a fireplace burning upstairs perhaps, a clogged air feed pipe or a clogged exhaust vent pipe. I am sure there are others, but these are the ones I remember.
Since I had a fire already going upstairs in the fireplace, I chalked the whole thing up to that. I got the pellet stove going in this instance by pulling the rubber tube off the vacuum switch and lightly sucking on it. When I heard a little “click,” I pushed the on button again. From here, things were fine. I held the crimped hose for a few minutes and then I hooked it back up the proper way.
Well, I tried to light the stove again the next night. The same thing happened. Since we had no fire going in the fireplace, I thought perhaps there was a clogged area in the stove somewhere that is causing the lack of vacuum, or negative pressure.
Let’s make a really long and boring story a bit shorter and to the point.
I cleaned out the entire stove about 10 times and nothing has changed. Every night, I suck on that hose to get the stove up and running. I have been reading the owner’s manual as well as some websites that deal with this kind of situation, but nothing has helped. One website said that a clogged exhaust vent is the sure-fire problem. I got excited and took off the clean-out cap. A little pile of ashed dropped out, but nothing changed.
This afternoon, I called the pellet stove dealer. I told them that I had pretty much narrowed the problem down to a faulty pellet stove vacuum switch and that I would need the tech to come out and take a look. Before we swap out the switch, I want him to hook up a vacuum gauge to see if there is proper negative pressure. If there is, we can replace the switch…if not, we have to do a bit more digging.
I keep going downstairs to investigate this issue. It is in my blood that I try to diagnose this problem myself. The only things I don’t have are a vacuum gauge or a new vacuum switch. I guess I need those things to solve the problem.
If you have ever experienced something like this with your pellet stove, please let me know. I am racing against time here. I want to beat the repair guy and figure this out myself.