Pellet stoves are unique in that you supply and manage the heat source independently. Instead of paying a service to supply electricity or gas, you purchase the pellets from a retailer and provide them to your stove. As you consider purchasing a pellet stove, some questions are bound to arise. For example, you might be wondering if pellet stoves have a flame. And if they do, how do you adjust it? We've done the research to answer this question.
Pellet stoves produce flames because they are actually burning a solid material or pellets. The ideal flame will be yellow and steady. While it will move a slight bit, it should not flicker or sway erratically. You can adjust the flame by adjusting the airflow in your stove.
A pellet stove will never have an artificial flame because the flame is a natural result of combustion. However, you can and should adjust the flame if it is not burning correctly. We will explain this process to you so you know what to do if you need to adjust the flame in your stove.
Adjusting Your Pellet Stove's Flame
Technically, it isn't the flame itself that you will adjust but the airflow. The appearance of the flame will help you determine if you need more or less air.
If You Have A Short Flame
A short flame indicates too much air. Follow these steps to reduce the airflow:
1. Locate The Damper Rod On Your Stove
The damper rod adjusts the airflow on your stove. Consult your stove's manual to find its location on your stove. Keep in mind that a newer model may have a dial instead of the rod that older stoves use.
2. Push The Rod In
The airflow will decrease when you push the rod in or away from you and toward the stove. Continue to slowly push the rod until the flame burns normally. When the stove has an ideal amount of airflow, the flame will reach the correct height.
If your stove uses a dial for airflow, turn the dial to reduce the air. Consult your manual if the dial isn't clearly labeled.
If You Have A Tall Flame
A tall flame indicates not enough air. Follow these steps to increase airflow:
1. Locate The Damper Rod On Your Stove
You will use the same damper rod to increase airflow as you did to decrease airflow. If you have a dial, you will use the same dial.
2. Pull The Rod Out
Instead of pushing the rod toward the stove to decrease air, you will need to pull it toward you and away from the stove to increase the airflow. Again, pull the rod slowly so you can see the flame change. Stop pulling when the flame reaches the ideal height. This means that the stove has enough air.
How High Should The Flame Be In My Pellet Stove?
Fireplace and stove retailer Enchanted Fireside explains that the flame should reach 4-6 inches above the firepot.
Take a look at this video, provided by retailer Friendly Fires to see what an ideal flame looks like:
Other Factors That Affect Flame Height
Adjusting the airflow should be your first step if you notice that the flame is not the ideal height. However, airflow isn't the only reason for an incorrect flame. If you've adjusted the airflow to no avail or the flame is burning erratically, consider these factors to determine why the flame is so high on your pellet stove.
Pellets come in different sizes and materials, and each pellet stove will require a different type. If you use incorrectly sized pellets, your stove won't operate as efficiently as it should. Pellets that are too small will burn too quickly and cause a short flame. Long pellets may not burn completely, or they could cause a jam.
Pellet retailer Woodpellets.com points out that pellets differ in color based on the type of wood used and the quality. If your stove manufacturer doesn't specify what type of pellet to use, opt for a high-quality pellet for best results.
Can You Overfill A Pellet Stove?
Yes. If you put too many pellets in your stove, air will not have enough room to circulate. This can result in a host of problems.
Damper Adjusted Too Quickly
While you adjust the damper to get the appropriate flame, you may notice the flame popcorning or acting erratically. Take your time and move the damper slowly so that you don't introduce a sudden and dramatic change in airflow.
If your stove hasn't been cleaned and has a lot of buildup or ash, adjusting the airflow won't be enough to fix the flame. If you are adjusting the damper and nothing is happening, turn off the stove and inspect for cleanliness.
Hearth.com forum user SmokeyTheBear warns that you should never operate a stove with buildup in the burn pot. Getting rid of any buildup in the stove will help the pellets burn efficiently and create the ideal flame.
How To Fix An Extinguished Flame
If you find that you have no flame at all, check the usual suspects. Make sure that the damper is producing airflow and your stove has a supply of pellets. Also, check for air leaks. If everything seems to be in good working order, something more serious may be happening.
If your pellet stove has more than enough pellets and there is no mechanical issue such as a short or blown fuse, there may be a blockage in your hopper. Check to make sure the chute that delivers your pellets isn't clogged. Also, check that the auger is working properly and delivering the pellets down to the burn pot.
If your stove has power but is not staying lit, this could indicate a bad ignitor. If you have an auto-light pellet stove, check the reading on your ignitor.
You can do this with an Ohm reader, and your ignitor should have a reading of 50 Ohms. You can also plug the ignitor directly into an outlet. If it does not glow red in a short amount of time, it needs to be replaced.
See this Ohm volt tester on Amazon.
Why Is My Pellet Stove Not Burning Pellets All The Way?
If the pellets aren't being burned all the way, there are a number of things that can be happening. Before calling for repair services, you may be able to find the problem on your own if you look in a few places.
An air leak typically occurs at your stove's door. Commonly, the door's seal has a small leak in it, not allowing the door to keep air in the stove like it needs to. In turn, your pellets won't burn evenly because there is not enough airflow for a clean burn.
Your stove's manufacturer should specify the type and size of the pellets you need for your stove. If you use larger pellets than your stove requires, they will not burn completely. This causes unnecessary buildup, perpetuating the problem of pellets not being burned completely.
Speaking of buildup, it can cause a number of problems outside of the pellets not being burned all the way. And, it can happen anywhere in your stove's system. Check the air vents, exhaust passages, and the burn spot frequently, as they are all common places for buildup to occur.
How Long Can You Continuously Run A Pellet Stove?
Pellet stove retailers and owners agree that pellet stoves can be run continuously on a 24/7 basis. If the stove runs out of pellets, it will no longer produce heat, so make sure that the stove always has a sufficient supply of pellets if you want it to run continuously. Also, keep up with cleaning and maintenance to keep the stove running efficiently.
While pellet stoves require maintenance, they are a beautiful and efficient source of heat. Learning the proper air-to-pellet ratio will take some trial and error, so be patient with yourself and your stove until you find your stove's sweet spot.
Be sure to follow any recommended maintenance schedules your stove's manufacturer provides, and keep your stop clean and free of buildup for the most efficient burn. If you take care of your stove as recommended, you will be able to enjoy it for years to come.
For more information on pellet stoves, take a look at the article below:
How Much Electricity Does A Pellet Stove Use?
Do Vented Gas Fireplaces Need A Chimney? [Or how else to vent them]