Pellet stoves use an auger to help deliver pellets to the fire in the combustion chamber from the hopper.
Pellet stove augers are motorized, meaning that there’ll be a motor at one end that drives the screw which in turn feeds pellets up the auger.
Auger motors can start to wear out over time through use and in many circumstances it may not be clear whether a pellet stove that isn’t working properly can be the result of a failed auger motor.
Ways in which to test the auger motor in a pellet stove include:
- Using the manual feed setting on the control panel, if available, to manually feed the auger. If the auger screw isn’t moving it could be a sign that the motor has a fault.
- Remove the auger motor from the stove and test power to the motor using a surge protector and power cord. Adapters may be required to connect the power cord. The output shaft should turn at a low RPM.
- Manually attempt to stop the motor from turning by using a pair of pliers or another tool. The torque on the motor should be too great to manually prevent the motor shaft from turning.
- Attempt to manually turn the motor output shaft when disconnected from the power. The shaft shouldn’t be able to move.
- A pellet stove auger motor shaft that can be rotated manually or can be stopped manually when operating can be a sign that the gears inside the motor are worn and the motor needs replacing.
- A pellet stove auger motor that won’t turn when receiving power can also be a sign that the motor needs replacing.
We’ve explained in more detail below the steps outlined above to help test an auger motor in a pellet stove, using the auger motor within our own pellet stove as an example.
How To Test An Auger Motor In A Pellet Stove
1) Use The Manual Feed Setting
Many more modern pellet stoves offer the ability to manually feed pellets through the auger; useful in instances such as where a build-up of pellets has caused a jam and needs unclogging.
This manual feed option is also a great way to test between fires whether the auger motor is functioning correctly.
If an auger screw isn’t turning when the manual feed button is used then it can be a sign that the motor is worn and needs replacing.
If you have a touch screen control panel on your pellet stove (like we do on ours) then you will probably be able to locate a screw icon, or something similar, that starts the manual feed. Be sure to check the instruction manual to confirm for your particular model of stove.
We simply need to hold down this screw icon (only visible on the screen between fires) for the auger screw to rotate for as long as we hold down the button.
If the auger screw doesn’t move then it can be a sign that the auger is jammed or there is an issue with the auger motor.
Not all pellet stoves will have an option to manually feed the auger screw.
If your pellet stove has no manual feed ability then it may be possible to access the auger from a back or side panel of the stove and manually remove the auger motor for further testing, which we discuss more about below.
2) Remove The Auger Motor And Test Power
If your pellet stove has the ability to be manually rotated using a function on the settings then it may not be possible to access the auger screw or motor inside the stove.
For example, we can use a setting to manually feed the auger but can’t access the auger motor if there’s a problem and would need to seek help from a technician.
If a pellet stove doesn’t have an option to manual feed the auger then it may be possible to access and remove the auger and/or motor through a panel on either the side or back of the stove.
The auger can be accessed for testing the motor, as well as fixing a jammed auger screw, as shown in the video below.
With the auger motor removed it can be tested using a separate power cable to determine whether there is an issue with the motor if it doesn’t turn even when supplied with electricity.
You may need adapters for the wires on the motor to connect it up to a power cord, which is explained in the video below.
When the auger motor is connected up to a power cord and surge protector, the output shaft on the auger motor should start to turn at a low RPM, as outlined in the video below.
If the auger motor turns then there may not be an issue with the power supply to the motor.
If the motor doesn’t work then the motor may need to be replaced.
3) Check the Motor Torque When Powered
A pellet stove motor is a high torque but low RPM electrical appliance.
Attempting to stop the motor output shaft from rotating can you help you to identify whether the gears inside the motor are worn.
A set of pliers or another similar tool will work fine.
- If you’re unable to forcefully stop the auger motor shaft when it’s turning then it’s a sign that the motor is functioning correctly.
- If you’re able to slow down or stop the motor from turning then it can be a sign that the gears inside the motor are worn and the motor should be replaced.
The video below explains this process in more detail.
4) Check The Motor Torque When Unplugged
As well as checking the motor while it’s operating, you can also check the torque of a pellet stove auger motor when it has no power.
Ensure to unplug the motor from the power supply and attempt the rotate the output shaft using hands with a set of pliers or another tool.
Again, you shouldn’t be able to turn the shaft but if you’re able to then it’s another sign the motor needs replacing.
The video below explains this further.