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How to tell if the combustor is working or not

Note: some stoves are equipped with a combustor view port, it should be noted that the combustor usually flows during the first 20 to 35% of the burn cycle when the catalyst is receiving the most smoke and burning at a high temperature. The combustor temperature can reach 540C (1,000F) and produce a glow. However, the combustor does not have to glow to be working. As les smoke is present to burn, the combustor temperature drops and the glow will cease- Therefore, we suggest visual checking not be a method of determining whether or not the combustor is working.
The best method is the use of thermo couplings and following the manufacturer’s instructions. This method will read the inlet and exhaust temperatures of the combustor.
A more simple method is to visually observe the exhaust coming out of the chimney. When the bypass is in the closed poison and the catalytic combustor is in good operating condition, there should be no dark smoke coming out of the chimney.
If the catalytic combustor is not working properly, the stove’s operator will notice an increase in fuel usage.
The stove’s operator will also notice an increase build-up of creosote in the system.


What to do when the combustor is not working properly

  • Check your fuel supply for moisture content. Fuel should be seasoned dried wood. Rain and snow are considered moisture and will produce damp smoke and steam. Both are harmful to your combustor, especially when refueling while the Firecat® is burning hot.
  • Check the flue and chimney: make sure the stove’s exhaust system is not blocked nor has it any obstructions.
  • Make sure the stove is getting the proper draft.
  • Check all movable stove parts to be sure they are working freely.
  • Make sure the combustor has not fallen out of its holding device.
  • Check the combustor for plugged cells.
  • Check if the combustor has been in the stove for more than six burning seasons, it might be time to replace it.
  • Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper firing. Different manufacturers and stove models require different procedures.
  • As a rule of thumb, the catalytic combustor needs a minimum of 260C (500F) temperature focused on it for a period of 20 to 30 minutes to achieve light-off.
  • This is done with the bypass in the open position.
  • Nothing but heat will be going to the combustor at this stage. The catalyst will receive the heat it need in this period of time.
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