Pellet Stove

Is there any way, aside from operating the stove, to determine the functionality of a pellet stove?

I have honestly never encountered one before and wasn’t sure what to do with it. I have not written anything about it, but I am curious to see if anyone else has any tips regarding them.

Never seen one Joe, but here is some information.

If they made something to burn Pellets producing Cool air it would work here…:smiley:

I had one last week, I had an easy out as it did not have a label on it and so it was, have it verified by an expert, no info label for clearances. Didn’t like the look of the chimney either. :slight_smile:


I know that you posted this several days ago, and it may no longer be relevant, but I thought that I’d go ahead and reply anyway.
In another life, (from about 1988 – 2003) among other things, I used to sell and install pellet stoves, occasionally serviced them, plus supervised the service techs that serviced them. So I know a little about them.

The link that Dale posted is fairly good for general info about pellet stoves.

As for dealing with them in conjunction with home inspections, essentially, my bottom line recommendation would be this: " In order to determine the safety and functionality of the pellet stove, recommend full evaluation by a qualified hearth professional with specific knowledge of pellet stoves". I worded it that way, because a typical HVAC tech, as well as a typical certified chimney sweep, will probably be clueless when it comes to pellet stoves. Pellet stoves are somewhat unique, and can be a little quirky. You’re essentially dealing with a stove that’s burning a bio-mass product, like a wood stove, but yet it depends on mechanical, (usually 3 motors, 2 fans) as well as electronic components (hi-limits, circuit boards, etc) in order to function.

You could, I suppose, try to light it, but some of them have to be lit by hand, much like a wood stove, usually with gel starter. I don’t believe too many of us light wood stoves in he course of a home inspection, or am I mistaken? Other stoves do light with electronic ignitions, but if the burn pot hasn’t been cleaned lately, it may not light properly or at all. If it had run out of pellets, even if the hopper had been refilled, but the stove hadn’t been “primed”, it won’t light. Regardless, you’ll still end up recommending evaluation by a specialist.

One of the nice things about pellet stoves, is that they are relatively safe. If anything at all goes wrong with any of the systems, the whole unit will shut down, sometimes gradually, sometimes immediately. In the latter case, some smoke may enter the house, but normally it is minimal. The clearances are relatively close. Most units only need 1-2" to combustibles on the rear of the stove. Usually 8" on the sides. The pellet pipe only needs 3" to combustibles and can go directly out, horizontally through an exterior wall and typically only needs to clear the house by 12".

If you had the manual to the specific model you were inspecting, and you wanted to take the time, you may be comfortable making a determination that at least it meets all of the required clearances. You would want to be certain, however, that a homeowner ( or other unknowledgeable installer) hasn’t installed an incorrect pipe, such as single wall, wood stove pipe, instead of true pellet pipe. I have seen this done, and if you don’t know what you’re looking for, or don’t look closely, it can be easily missed.

This got a little long winded, I see, but in answer to your question, no there really isn’t a way to truly determine functionality without lighting it. A knowledgeable tech could evaluate each of the individual components, to see if they are giving the correct readings, but eventually, it has to be lit. Refer it to a specialist.

I have a corn stove and like other fuel fire appliance they should be rated by Warnock Hersey, and/or ULC, and the clearances should be on the data plate.

I have found that corn is cleaner but less heat then wood pellet. While wood pellet tends to have more ash.

The venting is double wall P vent.

You will be seeing more of them. This year manufactures sold out in late October, and demand has outstripped supply, in most case sales in November 05 were slated for delivery in March 06. I have been told that the US government or States had been offering rebates for alternative fuel heating appliances.

No, Mark, it is not at all irrelevant and I think your expertise is excellent on this issue. You might even consider trying to fit it inot one or two paragraphs of general info about them and posting it for member use since (at least around here) they are not all that common (yet).

I know the info has helped me already! I disclaim anything I have to light, BTW.

Nice post Mark, thanks for sharing, just like a fire place check the venting and the suroundings for saftey issues and recomend a techy.


You’re welcome, Joe M. and Joe K., glad you found it useful. I’ll perhaps work on writing a condensed version for general sharing purposes. There are, in fact, a number of pellet stoves out there somewhere. I was selling maybe 50 - 60 per year at my little shoppe in northern MD, and the shoppe I brielfy worked at in Gettysburg, PA was and is selling a couple of hundred per year. Of course, that isn’t a huge number when you consider the total number of homes out there, and when some of the new developements alone create several hundred new homes at a time, but over time the numbers add up.

Can you give some explanation, because I am going to write article for residential wood pellets

one of the not-so-nice things is that without electricity to run the fan, they don’t work, so if the home is located in an area where they lose electricity occasionally during the winter, they’re not so hot.

I see a fair number of them and always diclaim them.