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Essex 1000 Multi-fuel backpuffs

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Rick Stanley, Jan 1, 2008.

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  1. Rick Stanley

    Rick Stanley Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Messages:
    391
    Loc:
    Southern ME
    Hello Everyone,

    I've searched around in here until I'm overwhelmed with the possibilities. Figured it's time to ask a question.
    The previous owner of my house had an Essex oil/wood boiler installed in the basement in 1993, but was never able to burn wood in it without violent backpuffing and backfiring. Control circuitry was added but the wood burning idea was abandoned. The oil mode works fine and provides heat and hot water for two families on 3000 sq. ft. of floor space(some well insulated, some not) through cast iron radiators and some radiant floor. If I don't use any of the three woodstoves,we burn around 1800 gallons a year.
    When I attended a talk on alternative energy at a conference last Fall, I inquired about heating greenhouses with wood, since I'm a farmer, have a small greenhouse and own a large woodlot. That was the first I'd heard about wood gasification, Harm, Garn, storage tanks, and the like. So I came home and did a little poking around and found you guys. Now I've read here, about what you guys are doing and I got very interested. Maybe I already have what I need to do what I want to do. There IS a 500 gallon steel tank sitting in the basement not 15 feet from the boiler. There must be SOME potential there.
    So, I'm sitting here, a real newbie, probably with questions I don't even know about yet. Being a farmer/logger/carpenter/equipment operator etc, I can sweat a joint, thread a pipe, cut a tree, do light welding, but hydronics and design stuff I haven't a clue.
    The first thing I'd like to know is if this boiler I have is hopeless or what. I haven't fired it and quite frankly I'm nervous about it. Does anyone here own one? Or does anyone know about them or similar types of boiler?

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  2. ericjeeper

    ericjeeper New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2007
    Messages:
    85
    Loc:
    central Indiana
    This would be a lot more fun with pics of that 500 gallon tank. That way we can see how well it is setup. Also photos of your near boiler piping would help too.
  3. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,725
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    Welcome to the Boiler Room, ricks. We're all here to learn. Read some of the threads and you'll get a better idea of what gasification is all about, but basically it amounts to spending more upfront to get a boiler that puts out a lot more heat for with a lot less fuel and virtually no smoke.

    I don't know if you boiler is hopeless or not. 1993 isn't that old. It does sound like you've got a draft and/or piping issue, though. You say the oil burner works fine? Is it piped into the same chimney as the wood side? Do you have a manual for the boiler?
  4. Rick Stanley

    Rick Stanley Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Messages:
    391
    Loc:
    Southern ME
    To clarify, the 500 gallon tank I mentioned isn't piped up to anything yet.

    The boiler has one common 6 inch flue outlet for either wood or oil that comes off of an external draft inducer that only comes on when running in wood mode(according to the manual). It is piped into a brick chimney that has had a 6 inch round masonry liner poured into it. I would say it's 25 ft. or so from thimble to the top of the chimney. Seems a little tight but I don't know. The fluepipe going from boiler to chimney is 6 inch pipe and about 4 ft. long and is at a sharp upward angle. Yes,the oil works fine.
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