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EKO 40 owner can't get it up.......needs help to keep wife happy

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by 700renegade, Feb 1, 2013.

  1. 700renegade

    700renegade Member

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    OK get your minds out of the gutter - my problem is I cannot get the boiler temp up past 160* no matter what I try. After 2 weeks of my first fire I'm about to throw in the towel. hopefully someone here has an idea, as I'm about to go back to my old system and wife is running the oil furnace. Here's the run-down:

    I bought a used EKO 40. Prior owner used it for 2 seasons and removed, as he said he thought it used too much wood. I should have turned and run right there but figured I was smarter ( wrong ). He was not using return temp protection or storage, so I attributed his bad experience to that.

    After finishing all my piping and fixing it's controller ( bad cap ) I first fired it about 2 weeks ago. My system has a Taco mix valve on the return set at 140*, a grundfos 15-58 on the return line set to launch at 150*, 1.25" piping hooked to my in-floor system in my new shop. Flue ( 8" Metalbestos stainless dual wall ) goes immediately thru wall, and then up roughly 22'. The return mix valve is verified to be working as I'm seeing 140+ with my IR gun at the fittings down there. My 2000 gal of storage is not installed yet.

    Primary air is set at 9mm, secondary at 3.5 turns out, fan shutter usually about 1/2" to 3/4" open ( though I always fiddle with it trying to get something good to happen. I've verified the primary air passes into the wood box, and secondary comes out the 4 holes thru the side of the nozzle. Turbs go up and down with the lever, though the sides of the 6 tubes still look filthy after you cycle it ( the Polocks that make these must only feel the need to remove the big chunks? ).

    The boiler will only maintain gassification for about 1/2 hour to an hour max. It continually diminishes until it gets to the point there is only hot air carrying a few glowing embers thru the bottom of the nozzle. If I open up the top door and stir up the wood, and let it roar a bit ( it will carry flames thru the bypass and about 3' down my flue ) then close bypass and restart fan, it will gas good for a short bit, then peter out. I cannot get the boiler temp above 155 to save my soul. Even with no circs to my floor running ( just heating the boiler and roughly 50' of black pipe ). The hottest I can get it is running it with the bypass open, soon as I close the bypass and it's gassifying ( sort of ) the temps start to drop. I put a probe in the flue immediately behind the boiler and it reads 600+ in bypass, upper 400's on the rare occasion it's gassing ( but water temps only hold steady or drop ), and high 200's when smoldering thru the nozzle. lower chamber has black sooty deposits, upper is literally dripping with creosote.

    The wood I initially was running was admittedly too large, and was at an average of 20%. I've switched to a small stack of oak I had indoors at 5 - 8% split real small and not much improvement. Borrowed a wheelbarrow full of 10% maple and ash from neighbor and still no luck. I can keep it gassing, but would need to move a cot to the shed to babysit the thing.

    I'm wondering about deposits on the heat transfer surfaces, but that has no connection to it's inability to maintain gassing. I don't think I have a draft problem, but perhaps its too much - I can have the blower fan running, open the bypass, and open the top door and get very little smoke in the room - it all is being sucked out the back.

    Anyone run into problems like this and is there a solution short of scrapping it, calling it a $4k leaning experience and moving on?

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  2. hobbyheater

    hobbyheater Minister of Fire

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    The Taco mixing valve? Is the valve actually a BOILER PROTECTION VALVE or a ANTI SCALD VALVE?
    I have seen a anti-scald valve mistakenly used for boiler protection. Very similar scenario. As the boiler approached maximum mix temperature, the valve would cut the return water through the circulator to the boiler.
  3. taxidermist

    taxidermist Minister of Fire

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    I will be right over!!!!.....oh wait never mind...lol

    first open your fan to 100%
    You are starving it for air
    open your Prim to 10 mm

    Lets start there.

    Rob
    Gasifier likes this.
  4. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    Is your bypass damper closing properly?
  5. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    Is your slab up to temperature?
  6. 700renegade

    700renegade Member

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    My return protection is a boiler protection valve. Big 2" brass monster big enough to move a million BTU. If I was choking it for water, my problem would be excessive temp, not low temp? Bypass flap seems to be closing tight ( I've checked it from on top via the inspection cover ) It is plenty dirty from creosote however and will stick itself shut on occasion.

    Slab is not up to temp, but I'm able to keep it 50* in the 3600 sf shed so I don't freeze up. I can do the same temp with about 20,000 btu/hr of propane heat, so that's about what I'm accomplishing on average with 3 or 4 burns per day. In most cases I get a 'fuel' out message and the upper box is still half full of charcoal looking wood, so I'm not going thru full loads by any means. I can valve off and shut down my in-floor circs so there is zero btu flow out of the system (other than radiant losses from black pipe loop ) and still not get above 160.

    Strange thing is, I can be in bypass mode and get temp to say 155, shut bypass, verify that it is gassing ( aggressive yellow flames will come right out the lower door when opened ), and in the next 10 minutes the temp will drop below 150. Within 30 minutes or so typically it will stop gassing till I stir it up.

    My fan is set to 70% max on controller. I've run it at 100% and opened fan shutter to wide open and it will stop gassing and appears to be just blowing hot air and embers.
  7. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I think I've seen the same thing you are, sometimes, on a cold start. Confounded me when it did happen. I can't say for sure I'm right, but I came to the conclusion I needed more primary air (like, all I could feed it or it could draw), and less secondary (like, with my secondary inlet practically closed shut). Sometimes I'd let in even more air to the burn chamber by leaving the door open a crack for a half hour or so. I don't know why it would do that - but attributed it to getting some fire-starting wood that was a bit more damp than others. Once I had the secondary chamber & chimney hot, and some coals built up, I was off to the races.

    I think this is in line with taxi's suggestion - get more air to it (primary) & go from there.

    Also, I think with good gassification, you'll see flame that is more blueish orange than yellow. Mine sometimes has quite a bit of yellow until it gets warmed up.
  8. taxidermist

    taxidermist Minister of Fire

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    I am telling you you need more air... Your boiler settings should be as follows until you get great seasoned wood, a controlled draft, and a little time under your belt.


    Fan speed 100%
    Fan shutter open 100%
    10 to 11 mm on primary air
    4 turns on secondary air

    Your settings were for 15% wood
    chim draft or 0.04 wc


    this is not a really good spot to be unless you are trying to really fine tune your boiler and your not ready for that yet. Your color of your burn chamber,sec chamber and lack of burnt up wood tell me 1 thing lack of air. How are you measuring the moisture of your wood?

    I am not busting your chops I am just trying to help because we have all been there. Unless you have a great bed of coals you will not get a jet of blue flames for a long time, you need to gauge your burn by the lack of smoke coming out your chimney.

    Rob
  9. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Just another couple thoughts. Symptoms also point to possible unseasoned wood - but from what you said that sounds like it's not the case. And I'd also suspect (or verify/rule out) dirty tubes & turbs, and whatever other places your gasses pass through between the chamber & the chimney while bypass is closed (not familiar with Eko construction).
  10. 700renegade

    700renegade Member

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    taxidermist - I'll make the adjustments tonite and report back. too bad primary adjustment can't be done easily like secondary. I appreciate your help and experience. Not sure why my settings wouldn't work on the last few loads of wood which seem to be 10% or less, but I'll find out.

    FWIW I'm using a cheap handheld digital moisture meter compliments of China and ebay. No way to know if it's accurate, but it's what I have.....

    Anyone know the bore of the HX tubes in back? curious if a local fireplace dealer would have a brush that would fit. Pulling those turbs looks to be a royal PITA. At least I could eliminate one item that ISN'T the problem.
  11. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    My turb suggestion came from experience with my boiler - which doesn't share much with the EKO, so I might be off base. From what I read on here, must guys clean their turbs when flue temps go up. With mine, I mainly get sluggish draft with the bypass closed as the first sign, without noticeably higher flue temps. That boiler should definitely pump out the heat - hope you get it sorted.
  12. taxidermist

    taxidermist Minister of Fire

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    Dont worrk about cleaning your HX tubes yet Change the settings and try that... explain to me how your testing with your % with your meter.

    And dont worry we will get ya going just like the guys here did to me 4 years ago.


    Rob
  13. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    If you are burning your bed of charcoal out from under the adjacent split and that split is just glowing, then your wood is too wet. On the other hand, if your wood is too dry, the whole load will turn into a deep bed of charcoal and you won't see that big bluish, red torch. In that state, it will produce heat albeit very slowly.

    Are you splitting your wood before testing the moisture or are you just testing it as it comes off the pile? You need to split your piece and test the newly split surface.

    Whether you are having combustion problems or not, you need to brush out the tubes.

    You made the statement that your bypass flap gets stuck from creosote. If you are making creosote and the boiler is running continuously (not idling) you are indicating your wood is not dry enough.
  14. hartkem

    hartkem Member

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    You need a 1 3/4" brush for the HX tubes
  15. mr.fixit

    mr.fixit Member

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    I'm with Taxi,try more primary air.
    I know everybody's system is different,but on mine, I run the primaries approx. 5/8" open with the fan shutter 100% open but then the fan speed at 50 or 60%.

    Love the title of your thread,gets a persons attention.
  16. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

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    "EKO 40 owner can't get it up ..... need help to keep wife happy. You're on your own buddy , sounds like a personal problem. SNICKER.
  17. taxidermist

    taxidermist Minister of Fire

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    ". too bad primary adjustment can't be done easily like secondary"

    ahh but it can......but lets get it running good then when your bored we can show you how to do that. I made them quick change but i havent touched them in 3 years

    Rob
  18. kod198707

    kod198707 New Member

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    My Biomass 60 did just what you explained . I needed to burn out the creosote from the primary ait tubes with a tourch.Runs much better after that.
  19. RobC

    RobC Minister of Fire

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    Have you double checked everything with you mixing valve ? Piping inlet - outlet. Internal element orientation. Is the circulator on the correct side pulling the water thru the valve in the boiler ?
    If it's the same set up as you bought it doesn't mean it's right.
    You might want to invest $20 and get an inexpensive inferred thermometer. If you use one spray paint your target areas you want to shoot flat black.
    Regards Rob
  20. 700renegade

    700renegade Member

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    Well I'm making progress thanks to all the comments here. More primary air is the key I guess.
    I've opened my primaries to 12mm+ and am running fan 100% and shutter wide open.
    My last two burns have gotten me beyond 180* -first time ever...... yea.

    The strange thing is ( and clue for others that run into this thread that may have the same problem ) with that much air, even with what seems to be a good coal bed up top, I actually do not gassify for about 15 or 30 minutes, and upon closing the bypass will drop from approx. 155* to less than 145*. Things look futile at this point. Now with the added air, at this point i get in the wood chamber and stir it. After that the gassing gets going like mad and temp goes back up, up, up.

    In the past, I always observed there was no decent flame initially and once I cut back the shutter to nearly closed it would take off ( although it was a somewhat lazy yellow blob ).

    I still need to resolve flue temps as last night i was running into the 500* range when it was really cooking. Time to start cleaning surfaces and tubes I guess.

    p.s. I'm checking moisture on faces about 1 week split, verifying surface temps with a $200 Raytek IR, and have a type K probe in the chimney ( need to get a display for it, just using my multimeter to read it now ).
  21. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    You're confusing me. (doesn't take much) Are you saying you're getting it to gas with the bypass open and then closing it? Please set me straight.
  22. goosegunner

    goosegunner Minister of Fire

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    What do you mean by this?

    I'm checking moisture on faces about 1 week split

    gg
  23. taxidermist

    taxidermist Minister of Fire

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    Ok now that we got that going....

    NEXT! split one and test inside of the split then tell us what % you have.

    Rob
  24. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like there is good potential for your turbs & that area to be in a big mess, from the time you spent burning with a non-gassing fire. Plus whatever unknown things the previous owner was doing - but you saying he ran without return protection is a red flag there. With some good hot gassing burns, that area might burn itself clean of the creosote, to some extent. But if I were you, I would pull that whole area apart and get it clean, no matter how dirty a job it will be. And while you have it apart, you can make some changes to make it easier to clean in the future - Fred61 had a good thread on doing just that here a couple months ago. It will be pretty hard to get your burn tuned good if your exhaust is restricted.
  25. rkusek

    rkusek Minister of Fire

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    I always thought you were supposed to split right before you test the wood to get an accurate reading.

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