October 30, 2022 6:45 am


While there are a variety of pellet stove designs, they all essentially do the same thing once they’re turned on. Here, we’ll give you a high-level overview of the process, tell you what to look for for your pellet stove problems, and show you how to remedy the most typical problems that arise with pellet stoves.

pellet stove problems

How To Turn On A Pellet Stove

When troubleshooting a pellet stove, remember that they all have similar startup routines. An outline of these steps follows:

Turning On The Pellet Stove

Timing for the shutdown has begun. Depending on the model, a stove has a 15- to 30-minute heat detection window before it automatically shuts off. The combustion/exhaust blower draws exhaust air for burning this time. When air is flowing through the stove, a vacuum or pressure switch closes the feed motor and igniter circuit or opens it when back pressure is detected. The hopper lid safety switch turns off the stove when connected to the feed circuit.

Proper Fueling And Sparking

Pellets will enter the burn pot even if the feed circuit is closed (the pressure switch is closed). The igniter heats pellets till they burn. The pellets will catch fire once the byproducts of this reaction combine with oxygen from the air.

Burning Evidence

A “proof of fire” sensor is standard on every pellet stove. The sensor technology employed varies depending on who makes the product. Harman, Quadrafire, Lennox Whitfields, and most box store brands employ the thermal heat resistor, while everyone else uses the thermal snap disc. Its purpose, whatever it is, is to find a temperature high enough to turn off the shutdown timer. The pellet stove enters “run” mode once “evidence of fire” has been established. Following the validation phase, adjustments can be made and observed in real-time.

Until evidence of fire is accomplished, nearly every stove will run a timed startup sequence; you can make adjustments to the controller, but they won’t take effect until proof of fire is achieved. The stove will turn off after the shutdown timer runs out if it never reaches the “proof of fire” temperature. It will take the shutdown timer between 15 and 30 minutes to complete. The proof of fire sensor needs cleaning or replacing if your stove always turns off after 30 minutes with a fire still burning. Most digitally controlled stove fault codes display as a sequence of three blinks, flashing the number three. Stoves that don’t show problems need troubleshooting.

Common Pellet Stove Problems And Fixes

1. Not Able To Start Pellet Stove

We haven’t been able to get the stove going yet because there seems to be an electrical issue. Look for the following! Have you forgotten about the stove all summer? Maybe you’ve experienced a power spike but didn’t realize it. Check to determine if the stove’s manual reset high limit switch has tripped; if so, power to the stove or feed system may need to be restored by pressing the reset button. Although fuses are installed on the back of controllers to safeguard the circuitry, the primary fuse can still blow if the system experiences a power spike.

2. Startup Problems With A Pellet Stove

Here are some things to examine if your stove turns on but does not feed pellets during starting or if it does not go through the startup procedure at all.

Limited-Limit Sensors

Overheat control sensors, often known as manually reset “high-limit” sensors or switches, are typically at fault if the room blower is running at start-up (except Whitfield stoves and analog-controlled stoves). If your stove includes physical switches for these controls, you can reset the switch by finding it and pressing the button in the middle of the switch. Power to a Quadrafire stove can be cut off completely by setting the limit too high.

We must determine the cause of this issue if this was the case. The room blower’s blower wheel is likely dusty, preventing it from circulating air effectively. Get a new blower if the wheel is stuck. If you leave your stove plugged in during the off-season or since the last time you used it, these switches may roll out and need resetting. Most commonly, this causes an error with a code of 4, although it can also occur with a code of 4 and 5.

Safety Pressure Switch (Vacuum)

The stove’s vacuum pressure switch may not be closing its circuit if you turn it on and it immediately switches off 30 seconds after being powered up. This is typically the result of a clogged hose, obstructed vent, or unclean stove. Most stoves with error reporting will report a #2 error if they are experiencing this problem.

Stove vacuum switch errors occur when the exhaust fan stops working. Make sure the exhaust fan is on at all times. If you’re having difficulties with your stove, check to see if the hopper lid is closed. Many stoves have this switch in series with the feed or pressure control. If you’re having issues with a pressure switch, you should always unplug the hopper lid switch first.

Turnstile For The Hopper Cover

Stoves with hopper lid switches wire them in series with the pressure switch or feed system. Big-box and online stoves have unshielded hopper switches. Overfilling the hopper increases the pressure inside, which can cause pellets to shatter or detach a wire from the switch’s exposed wire connections. Do not use this switch, and cut its connections. You can “jump” them by linking two of the male or female ends of a separate tiny wire.

Locked Auger

Even if the pellet stove itself is in good shape, the auger could be clogged with foreign debris. Check for telltale signs that the feed motor is having trouble spinning.

3. The Burn Pot Has Unused Pellets After Power Loss.

If the feed was interrupted for a long time, or the fire consumed the pellets, there were not enough embers to reignite the fuel when fresh fuel was added to the firebox.

Irrelevant Objects

Remove anything that isn’t a wood pellet, including excess dust, from the hopper and feed chutes.

Pellets Bundling Up In The Hopper

You should not have too many pellets that are over 1 14 inches in length. Incorrect feeding can occur if pellets are too long and cannot fit through the hopper’s entrance.

Verify That Your Draft

Maximize your stove’s efficiency by adjusting the draft with damper rods or draft restrictors. The pellets can be used more efficiently by closing the vent slightly; instructions for doing so can usually be found in the user manual.

Limit Switches With An Automatic Reset

For added safety, some ranges incorporate high-limit safety detector switches that turn off the gas or electricity if the stove ever gets too hot. Unfortunately, the embers will be gone when the stove cools down and the feed cycle begins again. What you’re looking at is unburned fuel.

Windward-Facing Venting Ties

A puff in the stove caused by a gust of wind can extinguish a fire if the venting leads directly outside the house.

Final Thought

Pellet stoves are a great way to heat your home, but they can be susceptible to a few common problems. Luckily, most of these problems have easy fixes that you can do yourself. If you’re having trouble with your pellet stove, check the hopper lid switch, vacuum pressure switch, and auger for any problems. You should also make sure that the draft is set correctly and that no objects are blocking the hopper or feed chute. With a little bit of troubleshooting, you should be able to get your pellet stove up and running again in no time.

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