One of our regular readers, Ronan O’Reilly, has kindly written and submitted the following article to advise users on how to avoid an ignition failure in an auger fed wood pellet boiler. Thanks again Ronan.
As noted in a previous article it would seem that wood pellets are the cheapest fuel to heat your home, though the set up costs are high. A modern auger-fed wood pellet boiler with adjacent pellet store will need some yearly maintenance in order to avoid what is often referred to in wood pellet boiler manuals as an “ignition failure”. An ignition failure most often occurs because the weight of the pellets in the store is not sufficient to push enough pellets into the auger.
When it occurs the boiler does not get enough pellets to start a fire. This usually happens when the store is less than half-full and the remaining pellets are heaped up around the sides of the store and not over the auger in the center. One can solve this by opening the pellet store when the pellets are low and climbing in through the opening as shown below; take care to disconnect power to the boiler/ auger first.
Usually all the remaining pellets will be stacked against the sides. Standing in the pellet store one needs only to move the pellets into the middle of the store (as shown in the photo below) so that the weight of the pellets themselves allow them to enter the auger easily.
After closing up the pellet store securely, go around to the auger feed and tap the tube until the pellets in the tube fall back towards the pellet store.
The object of the exercise is to try to leave a large gap in the tube (you will now be able to see the auger easily).
Start the pellet boiler manually from the control box situated on or next to the boiler (and not from the timer, usually located in the house). During the ignition phase press the auger feed button so that the auger turns and brings the pellets up the auger tube. This may take a minute or two, so keep the button pushed until pellets fall into the fire box. Release your finger when this happens and the boiler should automatically feed more pellets and begin the normal sequence to start and heat the water in your home.
Though this work seems cumbersome, it really only takes about 30 minutes and will help keep the boiler working a few more months until you get a new supply of pellets. Remember this extra work once every 12 months or so will allow you to squeeze the maximum bulk delivery of 3 tonnes of pellets into your store to possibly last you through 2 winters (for a house of 100 sq metres) at a cost of approximately € 0.65/ hour.