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How-to: End of the Season Cleaning for Your Pellet Stove

How-to: End of the Season Cleaning for Your Pellet Stove

Here are some guidelines to follow when you’re shutting down your stove for the season.

Step 1: Shutdown Your Stove

Turn your stove off,  once it’s cool, unplug it from the wall. The stove will not need power again until you resume using it again in the fall. An unplugged stove will also prevent possible damage from a power surge during the summer months when lightning events are more common or during a brownout when cooling demand is at its peak during the hot summer months. Once the stove is cold, you can begin the cleaning process.

Step 2: Assemble Everything You Will Need

NOTE: Be sure that your cleaning solution does not contain ammonia or chlorine if you are using your own, household cleaners can damage the glass of your stove. Alternatively, you can try the wet and dry paper towel method using the ash from inside the stove as a cleaner. Watch a video of me doing this.

Step 3: The Cleaning Process

  • I like to always start by cleaning the glass. Especially if you are going to be using the ash. If you vacuum up all of the ash first, you’ll probably need a glass solvent cleaner.

  • Remove all of the wood pellets from the hopper. This task is easier if you run the pellet stove until the hopper is empty. Generally, pellets will store ok in the hopper, however, the venting for the stove is a natural conduit to the outside air. Pellets can sometimes absorb humidity that passes through the vent during the summer months and possibly creates a jam. This is especially true for pellet stoves that are installed in a basement.

  • Using your stove brush and vacuum, remove all of the ash from the firebox. Empty your ash bin (if you have one). Ashes from the stove are great for gardens or around plantings. If you can use some of your ashes around the property to help fertilize plants, maybe empty your ash bin outside.

  • If your stove has heat exchanger tubes, remove all of the ash from them using small brushes or other implements. If you have a rake on your heat exchanger, the tubes are clean when there is no visible ash and the rake should have a full range of movement. Sometimes ash can build up over time at the front and rear of the rake motion and become hard like a rock, often if this is the case, the ash will need to be chipped or chiseled out.

  • Sweep your vent with a vent brush. If you do not have cleanout access on your venting the vent may have to be removed from the stove. If your stove vents out through a wall, I find it handy to put your vacuum on one end of the vent and sweep with the brush toward the vacuum.

  • Remove the ash from your combustion blower housing and impeller fins. Some stoves have ways to access this area to visual inspect the impeller blades and sweep, other stoves do not. Most combustion blowers that do not have visual access will have an exhaust blower with a removable hub. If this is your scenario, remove the nuts or screws on the hub to remove the blower and make sure the area is free and clear of ashes.

  • If your stove has a low limit switch or thermocouples in-line with the exhaust gasses (hole cut out for mounting), make sure they are cleaned off.

  • Scrape your burn pot. Some burn pots are removable, others are not. Look in your owner’s manual and see what is involved in cleaning the burn pot of your stove model.

  • Inspect your room blower. Make sure all of the paddles in the wheel(s) of the blower(s) are free and clear of debris. Use a brush and your vacuum to make it clean.

  • Inspect your blower motors and auger motor for oil service ports. If it has them, apply 3 drops of SAE30 non-detergent oil to these areas.

  • Give your stove a general look over and a light brushing and vacuum all over. Take note of any cracks or warped areas within the firebox. Make plans to replace gaskets for doors, hopper, motors, etc… if they are in poor condition. A good test for checking a door gasket is to close a dollar bill in the door. When you pull it out, you should feel resistance. If it just slides out you may need to adjust your door hinges or replace the gasket.

Step 4: Considering New Parts for the Upcoming Season

  • Inspect your firebrick, flame guides, burn pot and other consumable items and replace them if they are not in satisfactory condition. Waiting until a part completely fails before you replace it can affect the overall life of the stove, cause the stove to burn less efficiently or cause a safety risk.

  • If one or more of your stoves motors or blowers are loud during normal operation, consider replacing it. Don’t assume just because the stove is 8+ years old and you haven’t had to replace any part a sign that your stove is in better shape than most. Parts do not have an indefinite lifetime. All blowers and motors should be replaced  5-8 years regardless of whether they are showing signs of wear.
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Mark Rodin - May 20, 2019

With all Harman stoves, before you brush out the flue pipe, make sure you remove the ESP probe. If you bend that probe, you might have to replace it- around $80!
When the probe is out, you are going to want to clean the ash off of it.

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