Pellet stoves use a motorized screw auger to deliver the fuel from the hopper inside the stove to the fire in the combustion chamber.
Pellet stoves are electronic solid fuel heating appliances, and for efficiency purposes the delivery of the pellets using the auger is done automatically.
Augers can start to clog up through use for a number of reasons but there are ways to be able to fix a jammed pellet stove auger and unclog a pellet stove auger with greater ease.
To unclog a pellet stove auger first look to manually screw the auger to attempt to remove the blockage using a dedicated button, clean the pellets and dust out of the hopper using a vacuum and clean the pellet chute if reachable. Have a technician service the stove if the auger keeps jamming.
We’ve discussed in more detail below using our own pellet stove as an example:
- Why pellet stove augers can become jammed.
- How to fix a jammed auger on a pellet stove, showing how we unclog the auger on our own pellet stove.
- What you can do to help prevent pellet stove augers from clogging up.
Why Pellet Stove Augers Clog Up
We’ve discussed why pellet stove augers keep jamming in more detail in another article, but pellet stove augers can clog up as a result of:
- Build-up of dust within the auger.
- Using the wrong size pellets.
- Using poorer quality pellets.
- Worn auger motor.
- Blocked pellet chute.
- Through standard use of the stove.
How To Unclog A Pellet Stove Auger
To fix a jammed pellet stove auger by unclogging it:
- Use the manual auger feed functionality on the stove, if available, to help move any stuck pellets or dust through the auger.
- Clean out pellets and pellet dust from the bottom of the hopper that may be causing the pellet stove auger to jam.
- Clean out the pellet chute, if reachable.
- Clean out the auger, if possible.
- Check that the auger motor is functioning correctly or have a certified technician take a look, potentially as part of the annual or seasonal service of the stove.
1) Manually Feed The Auger
Many more modern versions of pellets stove offer the functionality of manually turning the auger screw.
To help unclog the auger on a pellet stove, in the first instance this button should be pressed (or held down depending on the model) to attempt to remove any blockages within the auger and free it up for use.
This manual feed button can be found on the main control panel, either as a dedicated button or an icon on a touch screen.
There is a manual feed icon available on the touch screen controls of our own pellet stove between fires. We can hold down this icon on the screen to manually turn the auger screw and manually feed pellets through the system.
This icon on our particular model of pellet stove is shown as a screw.
The manufacturer of our pellet stove explains:
‘Pressing the [manual feed] icon activates the feed screw and remains in this mode until the icon is released. It is only visible during “ready mode”. When the pellet stove is started, it will disappear.’Victoria-05
This means that we can’t manually operate the screw during fires and so manually feeding a pellet stove auger screw to help unclog the auger should always be done between fires.
2) Clean Out The Hopper
It may not always be possible to fix a jammed pellet stove auger simply by using the manual feed functionality on the stove, in which case the hopper should be cleaned out of pellets and dust.
As pellet stove augers take pellets from the bottom of the hopper, if there are any pellets within the hopper when the auger is manually fed the auger can’t be fully cleared because it’s continuously taking more pellets.
If dust has built up within the hopper of a pellet stove then this can be the cause, or one of the causes, of the auger getting jammed.
To help unclog a pellet stove auger, the hopper should be fully cleaned out of any pellets or dust.
Manufacturers of pellet stoves typically request that hoppers are cleaned out periodically to stay on top of dust build up.
When pouring in a new bag of pellets into the stove, look to keep any pellet dust located at the bottom of the bag out of the hopper, which can help to minimize cleaning requirements and help prevent jammed augers due to dust.
The manufacturer of our own stove requires us to:
‘Empty the pellet fuel hopper and clean with a vacuum cleaner if the pellet stove was not used for an extended period of time.’Victoria-05
By cleaning out the hopper on a pellet stove (ideally thoroughly with a vacuum) it can help to unclog the auger at the base of the hopper.
This may fix a jammed auger entirely but feeding the auger screw manually again with no pellets within the hopper will help to give the auger a full clean and remove all pellets.
3) Clean The Pellet Chute
The pellet chute in a pellet stove is the pathway in which pellets fall down into the combustion chamber from the top of the auger.
It may be possible for pellets to become stuck within this chute and prevent further pellets from being fed to the combustion chamber and in turn cause the auger to jam.
If possible, look up this chute from the combustion chamber to check whether there are any blockages. You may need a form of light source to order to see.
Rodding this chute may help to displace any stuck pellets, but if not it may require professional cleaning.
4) Clean Out The Auger
On certain models of pellet stove it may be possible to reach the auger itself by removing a back or side panel on the stove to gain access.
To reach a pellet stove auger for cleaning and unclogging:
- Unplug the stove from the electrical outlet.
- Remove the back or side panel to gain access to the auger.
- Remove any screws from the plate or bracket holding in the auger.
- Unattach the auger screw from the auger motor, if required.
- Clean out pellets and dust from the auger, using a vacuum is possible.
- Using fingers or a screwdriver or other tool to rotate the auger, if required.
- Replace all parts in the reverse order as removed.
We personally can’t remove and manually clean out the auger on our own pellet stove without professional help but we do have the ability manually feed the auger using a button on the control screen.
5) Have The Stove Serviced
If you’re unable to unclog a jammed pellet stove auger using the methods outlined above then it may require professional help.
If your stove hasn’t been serviced recently in line with when the manufacturer recommends then a clogged auger could be looked at as part of an annual or seasonal service.
A service may also highlight any worn parts that may need replacing that could be a cause of a pellet stove auger jamming, such as a failing auger motor.