Nelson Products Company - Nelson Products Co. Magic Heat unit failure

Posted on Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 at 12:05am CST by bf34e278

Product: Magic Heat heat reclaimer, model 6R-MH

Company: Nelson Products Company

Location: 100 Front Street
Sioux Rapids, IA, 50585, US

Category: Other

I ordered my Magic Heat woodstove heat reclaimer through Northern Tool and Equipment. They were just the seller and not involved in the manufacture. Nelson Products Company made the device. Just now looking at Northern Tool and Equipment online catalog I see they show a picture of a Magic Heat unit with a solid ding in the right side leading edge.

The Magic Heat unit I ordered arrived in a timely fashion in late November 2009. I put the thing on my stove according to the instructions and it worked like a champ.

That was its first heating season here in the Great Pacific Northwest. The heating season runs from about October to March. About halfway through the second heating season [Feb. 2011] I started smelling smoke in the house, such as it is. After a few days I checked the stovepipe and discovered the Magic Heat unit lower pipe flange was rusting through. I wrapped some 8"-tall tin from a roll around the lower flange and fastened it on with two big radiator-hose clamps. All seemed well until a few days later when the heat reclaimer unit suddenly dropped. The bottom deck of the unit rotted out and the whole works fell, settling down only stopping when the lower stovepipe jammed into the horizontal heat-transfer tubes in the Magic Heat. But just before the collapse I was standing in front of the unit and to the left of the plastic knob that runs the tube cleaner plate I could see flames shining through a small hole developing on the face of the unit.

Whole damn thing had developed a cancer that was rusting it through. If I hadn't caught the problem in time it could have burned down the shack.

To be fair I know of two people hereabouts who have had good luck with Magic Heat reclaimers. One guy had four of them in various buildings on his claim, with only one of the units rotting out. Another guy has had the same unit for 30 years, so I hear from his son.

I don't buy the notion that I was just unlucky and got a rogue Magic Heat reclaimer. Or that I was a victim of my own operator error. Or that I was using green wood, not so, I have been a logger forever and I know about drying firewood properly. And there was a rain cap elevated over the stovepipe exit. No, I think the real cause is that the units are manufactured out of sheet steel that is not robust enough for the job. Such critical applications should use a good stainless steel for the main interior section through which the hot smoke passes. Yes, I know, it would cost a lot more to make. But they are expensive anyhow; mine was $169.99, then add shipping.

The Northern Tool and Equipment catalog I bought mine through lists on their lower page that the units are made in USA, although nowhere on the unit itself or in the accompanying literature could I spot the country of manufacturer. Also in this online catalog they offer a one-year extension on the normal one-year warranty for $15, excuse me, $14.99, every penny counts these days. So you would be well off to buy these warranty extensions if you want to use this Nelson Products Company device long term. This thing I had rotted through in about 10 months of use.

You can imagine I was mad about what happened. To say nothing of paying about $190, which included shipping. I took the contraption off the stovepipe, rejoined the sections of pipe then flung the thing into the shed. Where it lurks to this day.

Since then I have made my own, original design, heat exchanger unit using stainless steel for the parts actually exposed to the hot wood smoke. It works well. Tempted to go into business. Look out Chinese factory workers!

The device that failed for me had a one-year warranty. But because of the intervening non-heating season I had the thing for about 15 months before I took it off the stovepipe. Because it was over a year I didn't ask for a warranty replacement unit which I wouldn't have used anyway, although I should have asked for my money back.


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