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EKO 40 first burn

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by tuolumne, Mar 24, 2008.

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  1. tuolumne

    tuolumne New Member

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    Tomorrow I plan to fill my system and fire the boiler for the first time. Any words of wisdom? I do not have the buffer on line yet, just the primary loop. I have one radiant zone I can run with a total of 700' of 1/2" pex. Ambiant temps will be in the thirtys...is that enough tubing to dump the heat from this boiler? I can also make a temporay connection and run another radiant zone with about 600' of loops. I can also heat my 80 gallon DHW. I am committed to keeping any water I bring into the house from freezing from here on out...the insulation gets sprayed in on Wednesday. What are the common dos and don'ts for filling a hydronic system etc....Thanks.

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  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Start with a small fire (say, 1/4 of the firebox) and don't freak out if it goes into idle. It won't hurt anything. You'll notice that these things take awhile to get up to temp, but they really kick it out once they get there. Also, be aware that these boilers take a couple of months of use to fully break in. You may have a few nagging problems at first that disappear over time. Plus, you get better at running it.

    Good luck & have fun!
  3. smangold

    smangold Member

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    Good luck relative.May you convince uncle Greg that the CB isn't as good as it could be. Although it works for him. Scott
  4. tuolumne

    tuolumne New Member

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    I probably won't see any replies until tonight, but please leave them anyway. I've been burning for 16 hours now. I can't seem to get boiler temps much over 160, and am probably not getting good gasification. The wood is not ideal...ash that was cut into 12' lengths in July and bucked and split yesterday. It takes pretty good in a wood stove. Supply temps just before my radiant zone are around 145, then 130 after this zone, then 90 after the Modine unit heater. I'm not sure I have the controls deciphered yet. The boiler pump only cycles occasionally, and I can't determine what it's reasons are. The fan on the boiler only seems to run for the periodic purge cycle. I have max temp set at 185...shouldn't the fan be running to try to reach these temperatures? It seems content to idle around 155 degrees. Stack temperatures are very low, so my zones are definately pulling off some heat.
  5. bbb123

    bbb123 New Member

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    Bad wood it has to be dry, more so starting the fire. You can have a stack of what you think is the driest wood and you grab a soggy piece from the bottom it will not start. Get a good fire going then throw that soggy piece in you will have a chance once its up to temp. Sounds to me like you havn't even got it up to temp yet. I'm not familiar with the EKO controls. Mine from a cold start takes about 1-2 hours to get up to 180 in boiler. Ow and if your fan is shutting off that don't seem right either on mine it stays on till 180-190 in boiler there is a control on mine for fine tuning.
  6. leaddog

    leaddog Minister of Fire

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    Wet wood is causing alot of your problem as stated so you will have to get a coal bed started to get things going good. Start with small fires and build from there. Do you have any cold water protection? You need to get the boiler water up to at least 160*F to get gasification good, then you put the heat into the system. I'm not sure what controler you have but the older style has the pump coming on at 160* and the newer style you can set the temp you want it to come on. I would set it to 170*. I'm not sure what is going on with the fan as it sould be on untill you reach close to the temp set by the controller. What model controller do you have and maybe I can tell you how to set it.
    The secret to these boilers is to get them hot with coals in the bottem and then you can put the wood in and start heating. To get gasification you need heat, water vapor, cold wood, and cold air just cools the fire down so you don't get hot enough to get the secondary burn. If you don't get gasification it is burning like any OWB.
    Wood might look dry but I'm short of wood and burning some elm that has been dead so that the bark is gone and it is split all though. I don't have a meter but I'm sure it is atleast 30% in the center. I'm able to burn it after I get a good coal bed but I can sure see the difference in the amount of heat I get.
    Also it takes a few HOT burns to burn out the plastic tubes thatis in the refactory in the secondary burn nozzle so you will notice it getting better.
    Hope this helps.
    leaddog
  7. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Firewood cut in the spring and split and stacked immediately is generally not dry enough by the time the heating season rolls around to get the job done with a gasifier. If you cut in in July and didn't split it until recently, then it's definitely too wet.

    If you can, get your hands on some really dry wood and then fire your boiler up to see the difference. At least then you'll see the potential.

    As leaddog says, you might get away with establishing a good bed of coals with dry wood and then trying to burn some green/wet, but I wouldn't bet on it working a whole lot better.

    Wood moisture content makes a HUGE difference, in my experience.
  8. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    I'll vouch for the dry wood. Get a couple of pallets and cut them up. Start the fire with pallet wood, then add a mixture of your green wood and pallet wood once it's going. My EKO 25 gets from room temp to 180 in 40 minutes with less-than-ideal wood.

    You should hear a muted roar from the secondary nozzle. If you crack open the lower door, you should see incandescent heat and no smoke. Your chimney should have no visible smoke and virtually no odor at all.

    If this isn't your experience, then it's not gasifying. With dry enough wood, it's pretty quick and foolproof.

    Hang in there - it's worth it.
  9. tuolumne

    tuolumne New Member

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    Again, I won't see replies until tomorrow night...still no gasification. The insulation guys blew the transformer so I was out power for a few hours. The boiler temps hit 202 and I rewired to a generator. I thought I would see gasification after this, but the boiler just slowly went back to 160 when started circulation to the zones. It's not the wood. I have a roaring fire in there, in fact it burped a fireball at me twice. I think the plastic nozzle thing may be the problem after speaking with the dealer this morning. I checked the primary air and they were open all the way. With the cover off (secondarys wide open) I began to see some "torch-like" flames entering the tubes. I'll be fiddling with the controls etc. throughout the night and all day tomorrow. Even so, I've kept the garage at 60 degrees with a unit heater and the upstairs radiant zone at 70 degrees so I'm still heating with wood! A fireplace and cookstove are taking care of the rest of the house for now. I havn't gone through much wood either, but made plenty of smoke.
  10. leaddog

    leaddog Minister of Fire

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    I have my primary open only about half way or maybe just alittle more than that. My secondary are open about 6 turns. My fan openings are usually about 1/2 to 3/4 in open. I have found that if my fan opening is open to much that I don't get a good burn and my stack temp goes up but the air isn't hot enough and cools down the primary. Hang in there you will get it going.
    leaddog
  11. barnartist

    barnartist Minister of Fire

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    just a thought while reading, sorry if this is not helpful info...
    If your not seeing a nice flame in your bottom chamber and you have a nice bed of coals up above, try this- if you can get to the nozzil with your poker tool, carefully dig out a hole through the coals with it. You can feel around through the coals and find your nozzil, simply create an opening for air passage. Again be gentle and not damage the nozzil. Also, im not sure what year your Eko is, but check your damper seal while in the closed position. (you will need to remove the rear opening to see this)If while closed you see any smoke leaking there, you may need to adjust it to seat better. I know for me this makes a big difference. Once I have a good seal I can have really green wood in there and still gasify for at least a short period- as long as I have an established coal bed.
    It sounds like you have some really short pieces of wood too. It is also important (especially with greener wood) to lay them in your chamber in an orderly way. Try your best to stack them in there in a tight fashion, and use your smallest split wood on the bottom and right on top of the nozzil. With short wood, its easy to make the mistake of having pieces laying diagonal, or what I mean is having one end of wood on top of another like if the wood was dumped in.Dont fill'er up all the way untill you get better at this, because if you load starts to "bridge" on you (see another thread on bridging) it will be harder to poke the pieces around and get them to lay right. If your wood bridges, this causes a space or gap away from the nozzle, and thus loss of gasification.
    If you have a stack temperature gauge (get one if not), check your temp-if it is really high and you dont have gasification, then you have a damper leak. High might mean 400 or so. 400 is ok if your gasifying though.
    Not to make this too long, but where is your water temp gauge? If your fan has quit running, it sounds like the computers probe might need to be relocated, but lets wait first and see if you get things going. if your water temp equals the computer temp, then its probably OK.
  12. bbb123

    bbb123 New Member

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    Just another point I accidently left my bypass damper open when I started mine and this morning. After one hour my boiler went from 120 to 160 with damper open. No gasifying just firebox. Ow and no fan I just crack lower door.
  13. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    A roaring fire in the main firebox doesn't tell you much. And fireballs coming out of the blower inlet tells you that something is out of whack. You shouldn't get that under normal conditions. The sure-fire way to tell if you're gasifying is if you have orange flames blowing down through the nozzles into the lower combustion chamber. If all you're getting is smoke, then the nozzles are not firing.

    This seems to be a common problem when you're first starting one of these boilers up. I think your wood is too wet, even if it does burn well in the main firebox. It won't gasify if there's too much moisture in with the wood gas. Like nofossil said, get some pallets or bite the bullet and buy or scrounge some guaranteed dry wood. Kiln dried lumber scraps would be a good place to start. Ray Colton (Colton Enterprises) sells kiln dried firewood in Randolph, I believe. You might get a bag of charcoal and toss some of that in.

    On the air supply, you might want to unscrew (12 sheet metal screws) the blower cover and make sure that the primary air inlets (upper right and left-hand corners) are not closed. I've heard of them being shipped that way. You should have at least a 1/2-inch opening through the baffle. I'd start with the slider on the blower at about 1" and the secondary controls at 4 or 5 complete turns out after you seat them down. Then fire off a nice dry load of wood and see if you can't get that flame I was talking about. It should take 10 or 15 minutes after the fire gets going in the firebox. Also be aware that you won't see maximum gasification until the boiler water temp hits around 70C. The hotter the refractory and nozzles get, the better it will work.

    As nofossil said, hang in there--we all went through the same process and it's just a matter of getting everything--including your brain--adjusted for conditions.

    If I were selling/installing these boilers, I think I'd include a face cord of dry firewood as part of the deal.
  14. bbb123

    bbb123 New Member

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    I thought that yesterday once you see it do its thing you understand.
  15. tuolumne

    tuolumne New Member

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    All set, thanks for the tips. It was a program issue, not physical. I have the new controller, which provides and option for using a room thermostat directly connected to the boiler. I plugged the room temperature sensor in here by mistake. When I put the factory jumper back in everything went fine. My fan was only coming on for the routine purge cycle for 5 seconds. When I put the jumper in, the fan kicked on and I had gasification right away. Getting up to 195 now is no problem at all. Insulation is done, so I drained the unit heater. Now my only load is a 400 sf radiant zone. Hopefully that keeps the boiler temps down through the night. Now I can play with the other adjustments to fine tune things. Right now my primary is about half open and the secondarys are 4 turns out. Things will be a lot more relaxing when I get the buffer on line.

    Solar guy, thanks for the PM...I don't have long distance service at the house, but I appreciate the helpful offer.
  16. tuolumne

    tuolumne New Member

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    I'm starting to grow attached to this boiler. I can't let it get too hot, as there is no one at the house to watch things. I also was worried that it would get too cold and go out. I went over this morning, 14 hours after filling it half way, and found the boiler at 150 with a nice bed of coals and two good chunks of wood. That's right where I left the temperature dialed in. The house was at 62 degrees, just from one radiant zone in the attic. That's warmer than the house we live in! I would still be more comfortable with a gravity overheat loop; I just need to get some lengths of fin tube and tie them in...I'll just do a manual valve at this point. I filled it up half way again and left it until this evening. I need to keep it going since single digit weather is forcasted for tomorrow night.
  17. Donl

    Donl Feeling the Heat

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    Congratulations on getting your boiler up and running! I have been following your progress for some time. I am encouraged by your results and looking forward to getting ours up and running this summer.

    Don
  18. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I'm so glad it worked out. I've grown really attached to mine over the past heating season as well. It's a really well-behaved boiler, at least in my current setup.
  19. tuolumne

    tuolumne New Member

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    What these past days have shown me is that the Eko would perform very well, even without a storage buffer. The only part of the situation that is awkward now is that we don't live at the property yet.
  20. barnartist

    barnartist Minister of Fire

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    My question is did your boiler run the whole 14 hours, or did it idle much of the time? Im not sure Iv'e ever gotten 14 hours on a FULL load of wood using my eko 60. But again, we keep our house around 70+ or it feels too cold for me. Yet again, you are way colder than we are here in Ohio...
  21. tuolumne

    tuolumne New Member

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    That would be idleing most of the time I'm sure, since there would be litte demand. I had closed cell foam put in, and that makes a mighty tight house. Tonight will be in the teens, so tomorrow we'll see how it did overnight. I couldn't fill it up, for fear of overheating. I went over this afternoon and tied 16' of fin tube into the supply and return with an automag zone valve. I just left this open, so anytime the boiler pump is running the water will run through that. If the radiant zone needs heat (I left the thermostat at 50) the main circ will pull water to it. Still, I only left the wood up to the bottom of the door. If the fire goes out that is better than a boil over.

    Question....my gravity overheat loop is higher than the rest of the system by a few inches, including my air separator. I put a drain coupling (little screw thingy) up there to purge out the air when I filled it, but there were still some bubbles in the system. Will this little loop tend to capture air? I plan to put the automag on a switch so I can use this overheat loop to heat my shop area in the basement, so it will get used from time to time. When the main circ runs I assume this air will get purged by the main separator. I didn't have time to stick around and find out.
  22. tuolumne

    tuolumne New Member

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    I need to let my boiler go out tonignt (Sunday morning) and won't be able to check it until Monday morning. If I have my zone controls off, they won't be calling endlessly for heat so I plan to let the boiler heat through the overheat loop all night to keep the house warm. What will the EKO do when the fire goes out? I assume that the blower gives up after a while and the pump stops? This must be a standard situation for a wood boiler to be in. Now I'm glad for that silly factory extension cord, because I can flip the breaker on the peripheral heating equipment and plug the boiler into a separate circuit.
  23. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    The fan shuts off if the water temp stays below a certain level for long enough. Usually that happens at the end of a cycle, but if you reload the stove without making sure that the fire takes, you can wind up with a firebox full of smoky wood and no draft. That happened to my wife once this season. I'm a little more anal about making sure that the thing is burning good before I walk away.
  24. EJM17

    EJM17 New Member

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    [quote author="tuolumne" date="1206804792"]

    Hey, hey Tuolumne,

    Did you ever get your EKO 60 running right? I'm aboutt to buy a 40 and needs info. Does your boiler smoke big time into the house if you open the door? BTW are from Sonora CA?

    Fred
  25. tuolumne

    tuolumne New Member

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    It's a 40 and I was very pleased with the burns after I figured out my controller wiring. No smoke with a few minutes of prep...I don't just throw the door open. I also have an interior masonry chimney, so probably get a better draft than many metalbestos versions. Not from CA, we're from Vermont.
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