'E-Codes' can show up in the windows of your pellet stove's Control Board, indicating that some error has occurred with your stove. Here's how to handle them.
E-1 (Vacuum Loss)
Pellet stoves require a clean "un-resisted" flow of combustion air to perform safely and efficiently. The E-1 code is for vacuum loss; it happens when the flow of exhaust is not sufficient to hold the “flue blockage” switch closed.
Common causes for E-1 codes
1. Exhaust blower not coming on when stove is turned on. If this is the case, check the blower itself and its wires.
2. Blocked flue pipe: check the flue pipe for obstruction and clean as necessary.
3. Cracked vacuum hose connection at the exhaust housing: this hose can crack if the stove has been run hot and/or has not been cleaned as often as recommended.
4. Loose wiring connection: Check connections on the switch and at the other ends, where they connect to the control board.
5. Issue after a recent component replacement: If any associated component such as the vacuum switch has been replaced, ensure that the replacement component has been wired correctly in the “normally open” position, and that the vacuum hose is connected to the “negative” port (the lower, off-white colored connector).
If everything mentioned above is as it should be the, Vacuum Switch itself is bad and should be replaced.
MORE Information Concerning E-1 Codes:
The exhaust setup should be done in such a way as to keep the horizontal length to a minimum. Too long a horizontal run will slow the air flow down to a point where vacuum loss can occur. This is caused by a lack of natural convective rise in the horizontal section, which means that the exhaust blower has to physically move this exhaust without the help of this natural rise. Two to three ft. of horizontal will generally work. As for the vertical portion of the installation: it is mandatory that the vertical must be at least 3' but it can be run higher. In this case, if the installation will require more than 15 ft. of total pipe for the exhaust run, the pipe diameter should be increased to a 4" diameter. See Installation Page
The unit is designed to handle a standard through the wall pipe kit which contains two 90 degree elbows. One elbow is a "clean out tee," which is placed at the bottom of the vertical stack to allow ease in cleaning of the flue pipe itself, and the other is generally placed at the top of the vertical (to turn the flow of exhaust away from the structure if the flue is not being run above the roofline), before attaching the horizontal cap. Additional 90 degree elbows to this system can add resistance, or back pressure, to the flow of exhaust, which could compromise the free flow of air needed for proper function. For "catty corner" installations, an additional elbow is used. This elbow would be a 45 degree, and would provide much less resistance; therefore, addition of this piece would generally not compromise airflow.
An Outside Intake Air Source is Mandatory with all freestanding England's Stove Works' pellet units! As stated above, the free flow of air through these units is extremely important to ensure proper function. Virtually any structure into which a pellet stove would be installed will not have enough draftiness built into it to allow for the amount of air to leak into the structure at the rate a pellet stove will remove it. The size of the structure is not a factor in this; therefore, a buildup of "negative pressure" will occur as air is removed from the structure. This buildup would then restrict the free flow of combustion air through the unit and will cause a loss of vacuum. Improper installation of the outside air intake can also cause vacuum loss; the unit is designed to be connected to a 2" intake pipe, which should be installed in as short and direct a manner as possible. This pipe would have to be less than 6 ft. in length and may not contain more than two 90 degree elbows. If these parameters cannot be met, the diameter of the intake must be increased to a 3" pipe for the entire length of the intake run. Basement installations would have to be done in this manner. (See Basement Installation Page)
The intake pipe should be equipped with a screen to keep any animals, bees or foreign material from getting into the intake, but the screen used should not be restrictive in its makeup, and should be installed above the snow drift line in areas where this could be a problem.
Vacuum loss can occur at higher elevations due to the air being thinner. Installations above 4,000 ft. above sea level should be done using a 4" pellet vent pipe rather than 3", and intake air hookup should also be done with 3" pipe in most cases.
Failure to properly clean and maintain the unit can cause loss of vacuum to occur. Proper airflow will not be attained if the unit is not cleaned out regularly.
Areas that must stay clear are:
The firepot itself, especially the area under the wear plate, must not be allowed to become blocked. This area should be cleaned out at a minimum every few days, or daily if the unit is being run on higher heat ranges.
The impingement plate (or baffle plate) should be removed weekly and all areas behind it should be thoroughly cleaned.
The heat exchangers, which can be accessed when baffle plate is removed, should also be thoroughly cleaned. (See Cleaning Page)
The flue itself (the pellet vent pipe) should be cleaned monthly or after every ton of pellets (whichever comes first).
The entire stove and flue system should be fully cleaned and serviced annually. Failures due to neglect in cleaning or maintenance will not be covered under warranty!
It is recommended that an ash removal vacuum be utilized to perform cleaning on these units; contact your hearth retailer or England's Stove Works for info.
Using alternative fuels such as dried corn or cherry pits, which tend to feed faster, have different burning characteristics and BTU outputs. These fuels tend to burn hotter, and in the case of corn, the kernels burn slower than pellets do, so they can build up in the firepot and cause the fire to become hotter than it should be. NOTE: Our pellet stoves are designed for wood pellets only.
Other possible causes for E-1 would include: non-functional exhaust blower; a loose wire from the flue blockage vacuum switch to the control board (these wires connect to the control board near the bottom of the board); a loose hose connection from the flue blockage vacuum switch to the exhaust chamber; or a blocked connection where the hose connects to the exhaust chamber.
Also, an improperly positioned baffle plate, which would allow exhaust to bypass the top of the heat exchanger. For example, if the baffle plate is not positioned flat against the back wall of the firebox at the bottom, it allows the fire to get behind it (this would cause higher exhaust temperatures that could damage the vacuum hose or cause vacuum loss due to lack of air density, since the hotter air gets, the less dense it becomes, making it much harder to sustain vacuum pressure).
E-2 (Failure to Start)
Failure to start: Auto-ignition equipped stove models (units produced in 2004 and newer) monitor themselves during the "SU" sequence (Startup) when the stove is being put into use. If the unit does not reach its minimum operating temperature within the 20 minute startup period, it will shut down and display the "E-2" code. Should this occur, and the fire does not physically light, the fuel that fed through during the startup attempt should be removed from the burn pot, the burn pot area should be cleaned (if it was not cleaned prior to the attempted start), and another start should be attempted. If the unit does not start on the second attempt, the following should be checked:
Common causes for E-2 codes:
1. Igniter plugged with ash: To clear, vacuum out the burn pot, then insert a toothpick (or a straightened-out paperclip or similar item) into the igniter hole and “ream out” the airspace between the tip of the igniter rod and the backside of the hole. This will allow the heated air to pass through into the firepot, to more readily start the fire.
2. Igniter out of position: The igniter must have a standoff, which allows air to pass the tip to light the pellets. If the igniter rod is positioned too close to the hole into the pot, the air cannot get past the tip to light the pellets. Adjusting the igniter back to allow for a larger air gap should correct the problem.
3. If the unit fires but does not continue to run with ample heat to be able to make its proof of fire temp.: The likely issue is a disconnected heat sensor, or the “air on temp” setting being too high. To check the air on temp, push that button on the control board, and look in the blower speed readout for the setting. It must be set on 1; if set higher, reset to 1 and re-attempt to start the unit. If the stove still doesn’t make it out of startup (particularly if the room air blower does not come on), check the heat sensor for possible bad connection. If connected correctly, test the sensor in diagnostic; if the sensor reads a "9" in the heat range although it is connected properly, it’s bad and should be replaced.
MORE Information Concerning E-2 Codes:
- The cartridge heater itself, when energized, will start to glow within two to three minutes of the unit being turned on. If the cartridge heater does not glow, the cartridge heater itself and its connections to the control board would need to be checked.
- The burn area and the chamber beneath the wear plate should be completely clean. Ash that is left in the burn area from previous fires can retard airflow that is essential for a clean start.
Pay particular attention to the igniter opening to the right of the auger. Ignition is caused by the free flow of combustion air through the chamber which houses the cartridge heater; this air is then superheated as it passes through this chamber out into the burn pot. If this flow of air is restricted, the amount of heated air needed to light the pellets will not be present and the pellets will either not light at all or will take too long to ignite, and the unit will not have sufficient time to reach its operating temperature. To ensure that the airway is clear, it may be necessary to occasionally insert a toothpick or similar implement into the igniter hole and break up the ash that would be causing the obstruction.
This should only be performed when the stove is completely cold! After breaking up the obstruction, use an ash vacuum or shop vac to remove the loosened ash from the igniter hole and, after ensuring the unit is otherwise cleaned and ready for service, attempt another start.
- When starting the unit, there is no need to place any fuel into the burn pot before lighting; the unit will allow itself enough fuel to sufficiently start. If the unit does not feed any fuel into the burn pot, there will be no fire and an E-2 code should appear. Should this be the case, inspect the auger system itself to ensure that the augers are working correctly; if they are, also ensure that the fuel is not getting hung up in the hopper.
- Wet fuel can severely retard the ignition process. Pellet fuel should be stored in a dry, climate controlled area, as the fuel can soak up excessive moisture; therefore, pellet bags should not be opened until fuel is needed.
- The position of the cartridge heater in its chamber can effect lighting as well. If the cartridge heater is not properly centered on the hole in the burn pot, or if its depth back into that hole is not correct, it can have the effect of blocking the opening with its own tip, restricting airflow. Also, if it is not centered, airflow would not effectively surround it before reaching the fuel, causing inconsistent starting.
Other things that can cause a failure to start include:
Non functional exhaust blower: This would give an E-2, followed by an E-1 as stated above.
Top or bottom auger motor not running: No fuel flow would result in a fail to start.
A non functional or disconnected heat sensor: If the unit does not read sufficient heat within the startup sequence, it will assume that the unit did not start and give an E-2 code.
E-3 (Over Temperature Limit)
This unit has the ability to moderate itself should the unit attain too high a temperature. In some cases, the unit will display an E-3 and go into a cool down sequence, while in other cases the top auger will be interrupted until the unit has cooled enough that it deems itself safe to continue running.
Common causes for E-3 codes:
1. Dirty stove: As ash builds in the unit, it slows down the flow of air through it; this allows more heat to build in the unit before the exhaust leaves the stove.
2. Plugged or inoperable room fan: The room fan (or convection blower) has a dual purpose. One is to blow heat out into the room, the other is to help keep the stove cool internally, by blowing room temperature air through the unit, which scrubs heat out of the stove and pushes it out the front of the unit. Over time, these fans tend to attract “dust bunnies” and especially pet hair. This debris clogs the inlet screens on the larger blower units, and builds up on the blades of the smaller ones; in both cases it reduces the airflow through the stove, which allows the internal temperatures to rise slowly until the unit exceeds the high limit and errors out. A bad room air blowwer will rapidly allow the unit to reach overtemp and shut down, as well.
3. Running the blower speed below the heat range: If the blower does not move enough air for the heat that the fire is making, the unit will error out as well.
4. Burning the wrong fuel in the stove: Pellet stoves are not “multifuel” stoves; they are designed to only burn wood pellets. Burning corn, grains, cherry pits, switch grass, or other fuels can result in higher temperatures and can damage the stove, as well as cause error codes.
MORE Information Concerning E-3 Codes:
Smaller pellets can feed through the system faster than normal-sized ones (about 1" long on average is a normal size for pellets). This happens because the smaller the pellets are, the more of them will settle into the top auger at a time, which causes the unit to feed more fuel than normal in each feed setting.
Running heat range higher than blower speed: The room air blower not only blows the heat into the room, but as it is doing so it also provides a cooling function to the unit internally. As room air is blown through the unit, it removes heat from it, thereby cooling the unit down. If not enough room air is moved through the unit, the heat then builds up inside the unit until over temp limit is reached.
E-4 (Time and Temperature Fault Code)
This is a "time and temperature" fault code: This code is only found in certain models. Essentially, it is caused when the unit drops a certain amount of temperature in a short amount of time, and its purpose is to take away the possibility of feeding fuel into a smoldering condition after a gap in feeding.
Common causes for E-4 codes:
1. Pellets bridging in the hopper: In some cases, pellets can form a self-supporting dome or “bridge” over the feed auger in the bottom of the hopper. When this happens, the feed auger empties out beneath the bridge and a gap in feeding occurs. This bridge will normally collapse under its own weight (along with natural vibrations from the unit) and feeding will resume. If the gap in feeding is long enough, the resulting loss of fuel and the dying fire can cause an E-4 code. Longer pellets are usually more susceptible to this issue, and excessive pellet dust can also cause this situation.
2. Stove shutting down from lack of fuel in a cool environment: Stoves such as the utility furnace are often used in shop or basement applications. In these applications, the ambient temperatures may be lower than in a ground-floor house type of application, so in a shutdown from running out of fuel, the E-4 can occur, as the temperature drop is more rapid. This does not denote a “failure” in the unit, but is a common occurrence in cold room shutdowns.
3. Gaps in feeding due to “hot fueling” or “hot cleaning”: For pellet units which have hopper lid switches and active door switches - when either is opened, they will stop feeding, and if the gap in feeding is too great then the E-4 "time and temp." error can occur.