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  1. kopeck

    kopeck Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    Messages:
    534
    Loc:
    Maine
    So I was cleaning the ash out of my Solo Innova last night and got to thinking, what does everyone else get for ash out of their boilers?

    I know that's a loaded question, the size of your boiler and how much wood you've burned will have a direct impact on the amount of ash it creates.

    I clean out the lower chamber on my unit once a week. I usually leave the upper chamber/firebox alone unless there's more build up then I want. I can fit the whole cleanings worth into the pan Tarm supplies. I would say it's around 2 gallons worth, maybe a bit less but that's not an exact measurement.

    No clinkers, just well burned ash.

    What I find interesting is I have racks that I bring my wood into my basement on. One rack will last me a little over a (normal) winter week. So pretty much that rack of wood gets converted into a small pile of ash, kind of puts it in perspective.

    K

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  2. Duetech

    Duetech Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2008
    Messages:
    1,436
    Loc:
    S/W MI
    The OWB I was using would easily account for a couple of buckets or a wheelbarrow per week. I have just recently switched to a Portage and Main Optimizer 250 and have only seen the barest amount of fly ash starting to collect. There are some small charcoal chunks that have blown through the nozzle into the secondary combustion chamber but those will get thrown back into the primary chamber and won't have to be carted away. It's great to have a gasifier again!
    flyingcow likes this.
  3. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    4,236
    Loc:
    Nova Scotia
    I did a more extensive cleaning yesterday with the mild day & a couple of free hours I suddenly found myself with.

    I started burning early October. Not sure how much wood I've burned all told - I had some in my basement from last year, then I topped up my pile again in early December. I'd guess maybe a couple of cords? Anyway, I clean my lower chamber usually before every burn. It's a small chamber. I could likely get by with every second burn though pretty easily. When I do that, I also push some ash out from the front of the upper chamber - otherwise I also don't do much cleaning of the upper chamber. Yesterday I decided to pop the cleanout cover off my smoke pipe T at the back of the boiler for the first time. I pulled a couple of gallons of ash out of the pipe and back of the boiler - there was more there than I was expecting. I store my ashes in 4 (5 gallon?) foundation coating buckets. I had to dump one to hold the ashes from the smoke pipe cleanout. So all told, since I started burning in October (around 3 months), I've cleaned 4.5 not-quite-full (3/4?) buckets of ash out of my boiler & smokepipe - or around 18 gallons (rough estimate). Clean ash, also no clinkers. Sounds like a lot, and is a bit more than I was expecting from a gasifier - but there is no creosote in my chimney, so I'm happy. And some of that ash ended up on my icey driveway this morning - so it is put to good use & actually is good to have on hand during the winter.

    EDIT: I think quite a bit of my ash comes from the wads of paper I use for fire starting. I'm working through a big box of 'personal' papers though from some house cleaning in the fall that my wife uncovered and we didn't want to go to the recycling place. If I get that stuff out of the way I'll likely be burning less paper.
  4. Clarkbug

    Clarkbug Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2010
    Messages:
    1,051
    Loc:
    Upstate NY
    I scrape out the lower chamber every morning into the ash pan, and dont touch the upper chamber at all. Once a week I clean out the upper chamber, which really just involves poking the ash bed to pick up the big "cakes" of ash that have formed. I push them through into the lower chamber and pull them out, and leave a good coating of ash on the refractory as a shield. Then I scrub the heat exchanger tubes out, scrape the bottom once more and Im good to go.

    I have put probably 2 cords of wood through the boiler so far this year, some of which was definitely less than high quality. (But dry, and it burned, so BTUs!) I have just about filled up a small (maybe 30 gallon?) garbage can. I do get a lot of fly/fine ash that is collecting in the cleanout of my masonry chimney, but I havent gotten to that yet, and may wait until the spring for it.

    Maple, I had the same issue last year when I started my fires with cardboard. Switched to SuperCedars this year and it seems like there is a lot less of the light fluffy ash to deal with.
  5. kopeck

    kopeck Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    Messages:
    534
    Loc:
    Maine
    Sounds like the Varmebaronen's need a bit more attention? Is the smaller secondary chamber due to their fan less setup?

    Honestly I probably should pull the ashes out twice a week but once a week seems to work. It takes me about 10 minutes, I pull most of it out with the supplied tool then suck up the rest with my shop vac.

    I have a metal 10 gallon bucket that I dump the ashes into. I would say it's about half full and a rough guess is I've burned a bit over a cord or wood. Those numbers are not precises in anyway but they should be in the ball park.

    Cleaning these gassers seems to be one of the down sides. It's not terrible but it's not the easiest thing either. Then again I forget all about it when the oil man can't even start the whistle on my tank!

    K
    711mhw likes this.
  6. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2007
    Messages:
    3,422
    Loc:
    Addison County, Vermont
    I have the old style Eko with the flat floor in the upper chamber. I've burned a bit less than two cords so far since October. My wood tends to have a lot of bark - smaller pieces, more rounds than most I think.

    I scrape out my lower chamber every two or three days - not much room there.

    I empty the ashes out of the upper chamber every week to two weeks. The ashes from the lower chamber are light and a bit fluffy except under the nozzle where they're fused together into a crumbly sheet. The upper chamber ashes are mostly really dense - surprisingly heavy, almost like fine sand.

    I probably average about two gallons of ashes a week - maybe a bit more.
  7. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 15, 2011
    Messages:
    1,238
    Loc:
    Central Maine
    I'm 5 cords in. I rake the coals around up top and cover up the nozzle before re-firing.. so that pretty much keeps the top clean.

    I rake out daily the area where the secondary flame is.. It's a simple squared off U shape.. so rakes out in seconds. About every other day I'll rake what's easy from the bottom of the boiler.

    About every 3 to 4 weeks. I'll clean the tubes, clean the upper and lower chambers completely, and vac all the ash out with a shop vac with a dust filter bag and fine filter.

    I bet the big cleaning takes me 20 minutes at most. The ash.. after 5 cords.. the pile I dump at the edge of the woods I bet wouldn't fill a 55 gal barrel. I plan to scoop it up with the tractor and mix in the loam patch for the lawn.

    JP
  8. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    4,236
    Loc:
    Nova Scotia
    Sounds like similar stories from various boilers.

    I don't think the Varms need any more attention really - I could likely go 2-3 days before cleaning out my secondary chamber but do it daily anyway. Most likely because it's so easy & just part of the routine. Mine is natural draft, Clarks has a fan, so not really attributed to natural draft. The tubes & turbs are also very easy to clean - I do mine every 2-3 weeks but could likely go longer there too. I don't see much higher stack temps when I do it, I just do it. It only takes 5 minutes to pull the turbs, brush the tubes, and put the turbs back in.
  9. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2012
    Messages:
    1,621
    Loc:
    Northern Maine
    It's funny, I skipped my weekly cleaning Sunday, and just did it this evening before the daily fireing. I have an old Love-Less-Ash vac that I remover the horribly loud motor from and use my old Electrolux for suction. The ash can is full at about 4 gallons in my estimate, and I've emptied it three times this season. I too removed the cleanout T on the smoke pipe for the first time and to my suprise it was empty, and just a light coating of fly ash in the chimney, no need to vacuum anything out. I'd say I've burned about 1-3/4 cord and that is exclusively Beech so far.

    Those who say they remove ash from the top chaimber, how much do you let it build up, and has there been any corrosion issues on the steel under it? I havn't touched it and it's about 5" high and seems to stay there, so if I pull that all out there would be another 4 gallons or so. Those who clean their firetubes, do you have to brush them, or are you talking about the turb handle? I "shake" the turb handle befote every loading, and vacuum out the chamber below the firetubes once a month and that may be too often as there is little in there. I think alot of the flyash ends up doing just that in my chimney setup............flying out into the atmosphere.

    No OIL This season, the best feeling.

    TS
  10. kopeck

    kopeck Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    Messages:
    534
    Loc:
    Maine
    I guess mine is about the same. I did the same thing last year and didn't see any wear on the nozzle. Have small hole that air circulate in the fire box, I keep the ash under those. Sunday was the first time I had to knock some ash down this season.

    At the end of the season I cleaned it all out, upper and lower and started over fresh in the fall.

    K
  11. Clarkbug

    Clarkbug Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2010
    Messages:
    1,051
    Loc:
    Upstate NY
    Not necessarily need more attention, I just do all of those steps cause its easy. The tubes clean from the front, so I brush them every week just because it only takes a few minutes. I could let the ash go in the upper chamber, as it would suck itself down into the lower chamber once it got high enough, but my wood is sorta marginal, and when I get rid of the ash I can fit a few more splits in there. I do need to rake out the combustion tunnel (its a little gutter piece of metal under my nozzle) once a day, but thats pretty easy too.
  12. Clarkbug

    Clarkbug Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2010
    Messages:
    1,051
    Loc:
    Upstate NY
    I let the ash in mine build up a few inches or so, could probably let it go more. I have the refractory underneath it, and I havent noticed anything on the steel on the sides. I have some crumbly creosote on the inside, and I havent inspected the steel really closely to see if there has been any corrosion at all. I wouldnt think there could be much moisture to cause a problem during the burning season, and in the spring I shop vac it all out.

    When I say clean the tubes, I pull out my turbulators and brush them. There is a door on the front that opens, I pull out the turbs, run in a brush, put the turbs back, close door, good to go.
  13. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2012
    Messages:
    1,621
    Loc:
    Northern Maine
    Yeah I hear ya there, in the spring I do a total cleaning of the entire burning system. Brush chimeny first, vacuum out entire boiler including all crevices. Scrape everything I can off every surface I can get to, remove refractory, clean, and after I'm satisfied with the cleanliness, I soak it with two cans of WD40 as the formeldahyde for summer..... It worked well with my old wood boiler, and I intend on keeping this investment for as long as possible.

    Ash and moisture are corrosive, and any left anywhere, even on SS components of the flue will pick up moisture and cause corrosion issues in my observations of other wood fired equiptment.

    TS
  14. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2008
    Messages:
    1,767
    Loc:
    Southeastern Vt.
    I usually shut off my boiler after my daily fire just before it has burned out all the coals. This leaves me with a bed of coals to start the following day's fire. Before the fire I stir the coals so the fine gray ash fall through the nozzle into the lower chamber. I don't want any build-up of ash in the upper chamber. I'm old enough to have learned how to make soap when I was in school. The first step in making soap is to leach out the lye in wood ashes with water. (lye = sodium hydroxide) The old drain cleaners were lye chrystals, ie. Drano. Back then the label didn't state "SAFE ON PIPES." Take a can of lye chrystals or powder, drop a couple drops of water in the can and let it set. You won't need to wait too long before it comes through the bottom of the can. With ash piled up against the steel walls and any moisture being created by combustion you are creating the perfect environment for corrosion.
    Separating the gray ash from the charcoal by stirring causes some charcoal to fall through the nozzle. I take my hoe that is ground to match the shape of my target blocks and rake the material into a seive sitting over a brownie pan and recycle the coals back to the upper chamber.
    I've burned close to 1.5 cords so far but don't have an accurate accounting of the amount of ash produced so far. I dump it into a old coal hod and periodically spread it on my garden.
  15. AroostookDave

    AroostookDave Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2011
    Messages:
    40
    Loc:
    Aroostook River Maine
    I have a Tarm Innova as well, second year. I always leave some ash on top of the nozzle area to protect the ceramic. Every 3 or 4 days I clean the bottom chamber, get about a gallon of ash. I try to get as much out of the back as I can (under the tubes). Here in northern Maine I run it every day.until late April, when I can start getting more than a day out of the storage. Every month I drop the turbulators an inch or two in place to knock the ash off. I scrape them against the sides while I am doing this, although the tubes don't appear coated. A couple times a year I remove them and use the cleaning brush. At these times also check the flue, never find more than a very fine coating at the bottom of the horizontal section. Same with the induction fan, check and clean, but very little ash inside. The tarm is used all year long and gives about a week between firings June through August for domestic hot water.

    This setup is so much better than the boiler I used for 30 some years - no storage, no gasification, plugged tubes, creosote in the flue, etc.

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