Troubleshooting Your Pellet Stove

Cooler weather is ahead and that means it’s time to take a look at your pellet stove and make sure things are working properly. No one wants to be without heat when the cold is upon us! Take a few minutes to fire up that Pellet Stove and should you be experiencing any problems, perhaps the following pellet stove trouble shooting guide will come in handy.

WARNING: Disconnect the electrical cord prior to opening the sides of your stove or opening the exhaust system for any inspection, cleaning, maintenance or service work.  NEVER perform any inspection, cleaning, maintenance or service on a HOT STOVE or when the cord is plugged in.

  • Step 1
    Operate the stove in user control mode or increase the set point temperature if the stove power is on but does not fire.
  • Step 2

    Check to see if the hopper is filled with pellets or if the burn pot is dirty. If one of these is not the issue, check to make sure there is a fuel feed or that the exhaust blower snap switch is working.

  • Step 3

    Use the set-up mode feature to reduce the feed rate of a stove that is overheating or starts and runs but then has unburned pellets in the burn pot.

  • Step 4

    Decrease the base feeding rate of the stove in setup mode once a stove is cool if the circulation blower seems to run on high often.

  • Step 5

    Turn off the stove if you smell smoke in the house. Check that the stove has a continuous supply of power since power loss can cause smoke in the home. Inspect the vent and clean if needed. Also check the vent system for leaks. Use high temperature sealant as recommended by the manufacturer to repair the leaks.

  • Step 6

    Increase the stove’s feed rate in the setup mode if the flame goes out at lower feed rates.

  • Step 7

    Contact the manufacturer for an air damper if you have short flame at high pellet feed rates if you have already checked that the feed rate is not too low and have high quality fuel.

  • Step 8

    Start checking the power source for the stove if there is no fuel feed. This is the simplest item to check so verify that the stove is plugged into an electrical outlet. Fill the hopper with pellets if there is still no fuel feed. If the lack of fuel feed problem persists, close the hopper lid if it is open and the burn chamber door.

  • Step 9

    Check the exhaust system and clean if you are unable to find the source of the no fuel feed problem. The exhaust blower may need lubrication and you should consult your stove’s manual on the instructions.

  • Step 10

    Test the auger motor, exhaust blower and vacuum switch for possible jams or failures. Replace these if you cannot find another reason for the fuel feed problem.

    CAUTION: The electrical, auger and digital control components of your stove are not owner serviceable. Call your Authorized Dealer for proper diagnosis of problems and service for those components.


Ash is a natural product of burning wood. As the amount of ash in the wood increases, the amount of ash left behind after burning high-ash wood pellets will increase. High quality pellets will produce less ash and fewer clinkers than lower quality pellets.

Clinkers are solid, glassy or porous accumulations of incombustible matter that may result from burning some types of wood pellets. Clinkers are formed at the bottom of the burn grate and, if left undisturbed, will build up and cut off combustion air.  As clinkers grow, the fire becomes orange/brown and ‘lazy’. Pellets may build up in the burn grate, the firebox & window may become sooty, and exhaust gases may become smoky.

Fines are pieces of sawdust that were not properly formed or are the result of pellets breaking down during handling, transporting and storage.   Fines adversely affect the operation and heat production of pellet appliances, and they greatly increase the requirements for general cleaning and maintenance.    Fines cause pellets to feed more slowly, thus reducing the amount of heat produced at any given heat setting.

NOTE: It is much easier to remove fines from pellets before they are placed in the stove than it is to service your stove for a plugged hopper, jammed auger or plugged exhaust system. Pellets with excessive sawdust may be screened to remove most of the fines.     Pellet screeners may be built or purchased from most pellet stove dealers.

8 thoughts on “Troubleshooting Your Pellet Stove

  1. thomas kolarik

    whitfield optima 3 pellet stove shuts off at random times and goes to fault mode push on switch and it comes back on

  2. kevin bruening

    stove burns clean for about an hour then burns dirty flame gets tall and orange,i have oiled both fans cleaned entire stove including area behind face brick of burn chamber,cleaned stovepipe, checkd door seal, i suspect exaust fan although it turns easy it does turn at slower rpm, iam using premium pellets

  3. steve sullivan

    Hi I have a whitfield advantage 11-t inc serial # 64136 pellet stove I cant see in the book were it would say how big the hearth pad should be one place said 6” front back and sides and next page said it can be 1” from the wall.. any help thank u steve sullivan

  4. Wayne Lynn

    Optima 3 insert- I need to adjust the pellet feed as there are unburned pellets in the grate after the shutdown cycle has completed. I opened the small ‘drop down’ cover but see the neutral, common, auger, conv. fan and comb. fan AND the button for ‘calibration’. What buttons do I push to adjust the pellet feed DOWN…to decrease the feed rate? thanks, Wayne

  5. Pellet Stove Guru

    Try Calling the factory tech.
    Lennox (Whitfield, Country, Earth Stove, Traditions) 800-655-2008