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Greenwood boiler problem

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by joeski206, Nov 9, 2007.

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  1. rsnider

    rsnider New Member

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    I will have the same setup as you with basement, garage slab radiant, dhw and forced air all heated with a boiler that i don't have yet. i have a new home ranch with walk out basement. everthing is set up for boiler but didnt have the $$ for it this winter. i to don't want to use water storage and that's why i like the GW design. my brother in law has the same setup but with an owb and it does great but does smoke allot and did burn allot of wood. now that he insulated his basement walls it runs even less "in the off cycle" = more idle = more smoke. he lives next to me and it doesn't bother me but its not mine. i do not want all that smoke and wasted btu's. does your GW idle allot and when it does how does it smoke in that stage? i do understand that it has to smoke some but does it really hold the heat in the refractory enough to start up cleaner like advertised? the seton boiler website says something like no smoke or creosote is that true just in the time you have used yours even in idle. the GW and Seton are identical in almost every way and seton even says he showed Gw how to build it. GW seems to be a bigger company selling more units than adobe, seton and black bear (out of buss.). thank for all the good info.
    ryan

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  2. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    Well . . . if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't have spent all the money on about the most expensive inside boiler, then turned around and pay alot for the GW. The GW produces enough (and I should say, at 4,000 [] and the GW-100, I am pushing the limits with the small hydronic furnace). Of course, some of my Viessmann cost was the TekMar mixing valve, and that would have still been needed for the GW with pex radient. Putting the GW inside sounds great, but I am so glad I didn't do it. My house is new (read - white walls) and ANY smoke in the house is acceptable. Any manufacturer and/or sales person that tells you that you can open a feed door and NO smoke will enter the room is an idiot. . .or he thinks you are ;-)

    I'm a huge fan of keeping the fire, wood, and any smoke OUTSIDE . . .but I have 13 acres and all of my neighbors have either a woodstove or a fireplace. If your neighbors are close, I don't think wood makes sense, no matter who the manufacturer is.

    Now, you asked me to quatify the smoke . . .not an easy task.

    Under perfect conditions, I doubt anyone smokes less than I. But I burn any wood, and try to match the wood to the weather. Even oak will make white 'smoke' when it's been on the forest floor absorbing some water. Once you control the quality of the wood, the next most important thing is to

    Let the fire burn down to coals, then reload fully. Any water will blow out the stack for a while, but I simply refuse to think of white 'smoke' as smoke. . .it's mostly water condensing in the cool air as it leaves the stack. I have never seen the GW smoke from over fueling/under aspirating when using chunk wood. It WILL smoke if loaded with dimensional lumber.

    Now, about 'idling'. Once the box and all the wood in it is hot, the stack will barely wisp when the draft closes. When the draft opens after a long idle, I would still say very little smoke. The problem I had the first winter was that I was buring too much Bass (is there a WORSE wood to try to burn??) and freaking out when my oil burner came on. I ended up with the air inlets blocked, which will make the GW smoke when it comes off idle because it can't aspirate.

    Bu honestly . . . I live in a rural area, and many people have OWB's, especially Central Boiler. When these boilers are run with good wood and no garbage, they don't smoke that bad in my opinion. For the people that groan about the smoke from a wood stack versus an oil one . . . go look at an oil refinery . . . now THAT is smoke.

    Somewhere in all this, did I answer your question?

    Every burner has problems. The GW is no different.
    The problem IMHO with GW is the company, not the product.

    Jimbo
  3. rsnider

    rsnider New Member

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    Thanks for the info sounds like a solid unit. I have a heat pump now and it will be my backup after i get my boiler next year. wow cant wait to see my electric bill this winter. this summer the heat pump did well for ac. winter is another story. since im still in the market for a wood boiler im looking all over the place for info other than the companies themselves so thanks for all the help.
    ryan
  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    A couple of observations, r:

    You're going to need dry firewood for any gasifier. So if you don't have any wood stocked up, now is the time to start cutting/scrounging/stacking/whatever it takes. Wood cut in the spring probably ain't gonna cut it in a gasifier the following fall. More is always better, but I'd say 5 full cords as a bare minimum.

    There are other options. I know you want to stay away from hot water storage, but don't limit your research based on one factor. You might get into it and change your mind. Along those lines, I would suggest checking out New Horizon's website (newhorizoncorp.com) and looking into the Blue Forge. I believe the latter is based on the Seton/Greenwood design. And Garn is another good possibility, since it comes with its own hot water storage.
  5. antknee2

    antknee2 New Member

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    I agree about full loads for my medium size Seton boiler . It seems to run super clean and I don't touch it until my storage tanks run down to 120f .
  6. joeski206

    joeski206 New Member

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    So far I dont need H/W storage for the greenwood. My oil furnace hi low is set at 120F and 140F and it never kicks on, the domestic hot water is PLENTY hot enough, HOWEVER i will probably add a 60 gal HW storage so i can set the hi/low up to 160F 180F. But he overall answer to Greenwood needing additional HW storage in my experience is NO it does not, at least so far at my 1840's built 2000sf home with 5-7 hot showers a day, 2 loads of laundry with hot/warm water. And i leave my thermostat at 72-74 depending on the cold. Its an old home and a little drafty.
  7. rsnider

    rsnider New Member

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    I do have a nice size pile of wood mostly locus about 4 cord. i do agree water storage is probably the way to set up a system. i am looking into the blue forge strongly also. the forge seems really well built but not insulated at all so an outside building I'm putting the boiler in has to have a heated area in it. I've been told that blue forge may come up with a more insulated model so all that heat does not escape out the walls of the unit. another option for me may be the aqua-therm omega it is the same design as the blue forge but totally insulated and can sit outside. question about the seton does it have an ash pan or ash door clean-out? it does sound like the GW or seton would work good for me but for now I'm still looking around. heat storage is not out of the question (wheels are a turn-in).
  8. antknee2

    antknee2 New Member

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    Sounds like your timing was perfect , considering home heating oil prices are going through the roof as we write. The storage tanks are great if your home has small random heat loads ,like my house has a separate zone for every room and bathroom . The seton boiler is happiest with full heat loads , which never seem to happen with this system . Anthony
  9. rsnider

    rsnider New Member

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    anthony how much storage do you have? I'm thinking of an old 250 or 300 gallon HW tank the electric company use to use around here. just plumb right into the system with not heat exchangers needed (pressurized system). this tank is already insulated and sealed with liner i believe glass.
  10. antknee2

    antknee2 New Member

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    Right now I only have 240 gallons , two 120 gallon Super Store stainless tanks with fined stainless heat exchanges hooked up kind of in series . In my spare time I'm trying to make space and hook up a third tank , they seem to be very well insulated from the factory and lifetime guaranteed .
  11. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    Supposedly the GW is a gasifier . . . and I know I will catch a bunch of crap for this, but. . .the whole term 'gasification' is somewhat suspect. I think to many people it means a second combustion chamber and forced induction. I'll let that whole argument rage without me. Anyway.

    I am getting a little reaffirmation on owning the GW now. I didn't buy TARM because of the dry/small wood issue. Yes, the GW works better and better the better the wood gets. But. I have found if you have punky wood, place that in a layer directly on the coals, then a layer of good stuff (in my case, red oak tops which were cut before 2002 and have been laying in the woods untouched since then) then lastly any wood that is 'wet'. Now by wet I mean from the outside in, not 'green'. As long as the wet wood is up off the fire, the GW will blow that moisture out. Yes, this creates white 'smoke'. Yes, this is less efficient, since some BTUs are being used to boil the water and turn it to steam.

    As Jim at TARM told me, "If yer woods not perfect, burn oil this year" What the heck good is THAT?!?!??

    Jimbo
  12. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I think forced secondary combustion is a more accurate description. But it doesn't have the sex appeal that "gasification" does.

    It shouldn't be too hard to insulate a Blue Forge, I wouldn't think. Doing it so that it looked good would be a challenge for a crappy carpenter like me, however.

    It's nice to have a boiler that will burn wet or green wood when necessary. I'll take the hit on efficiency if it means not buying any oil and cutting more wood. Nofossil says you can burn less-than-dry wood in an EKO once you get it going. I don't have any wet wood so I can't verify that, but if he says it, that's good enough for me.

    Another option for pressurized storage is an old propane tank. They say you should expect to pay a dollar a gallon. In retrospect, it probably would have been cheaper, easier and a lot less challenging for me to go that route. Well, maybe getting two 500 gallon propane tanks into my basement would have been a challenge. Can I park 'em out in the back yard if I paint smilies on them, honey? Or maybe outfit them to look like little submarines? We can start a minature golf course.
  13. rsnider

    rsnider New Member

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    I know i could make the blue forge look good but for the money you think it would have better insulation than foilbubble wrap they give to their customers.still the blue forge does look impressive to me and on my list. the garn is the same way with no insulation for the outside of the boiler and that salesman said you must insulate it or that room would be way to hot to be in to load wood. man i'm complaining alot for what i don't have yet. back to the GW im glad to hear that it does do well in operation.
  14. antknee2

    antknee2 New Member

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    I recall reading in the Greenwood operating instructions that it is very important to bring the boiler and it's 2000 pounds of refractory cement up to temperature slowly , when the boiler is stone cold. It is very easy to create thermal shock to casting or castings . They say build a small fire first , wait half an hour then go crazy and build your dream fire . One off the big drawbacks to a boiler with so much thermal mass . Also the good news is cracks in the refractory will not cause air leaks and excess wood usage ,the outer skin creates a airtight chamber . Good luck Anthony
  15. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I've noticed just with the relatively small amount of refractory mass in my boiler, that it's funny stuff. It takes its time getting up to temp but once it does, it seems to do magical things. I can imagine that working with a huge refractory mass would be quite a bit different than working with water. Under the right conditions, I bet it has some distinct advantages, though an intelligently-engineered combination of the two is probably the way to go.
  16. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    Hey Joe?!!

    Did you install the draft fan yet? If so, comments??

    Seems to me (just call me Mr ControlFreak :bug: ) that the damper needs an override switch to force it open, and not allow the draft fan to run unless the damper is fully open.

    Jimbo
  17. antknee2

    antknee2 New Member

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    Hi Eric Some nights when I open the massive feed door to roll in a couple all-nighters , the heat will take your face off if you not prepared .I have to duct down below the door level and use heavy duty welders gloves . The things we do to heat our houses !! The refractory in your boiler must be extra heavy duty .
  18. PowerView

    PowerView New Member

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    I installed my GW 100 in October (15) and have just gotten my first crack that is about 1/8" wide running from the door, around the left hand side and 3/4 of the way back the ceramic box. Actually, I did not expect cracks at all, maybe I am just naive. I roll my logs in (east west).

    What I am gathering is that these cracks are normal AND that it is ok for them to be there. Would that be your assessment?

    Park
  19. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    I'm no pro at firebox engineering but, I know I'd be happier if my combustion chamber wasn't cracked the way it is. What would be naive would be to expect that ole Mr Barber would acknowledge the problem and ship either you or I a new box. Though I don't know the first thing abought thermal dynamics nor heat transfer, I think the ceramic could be encased in 3/16" steel.

    I find it curious that, though GW takes great pains to make sure we load these things east-west, it doesn't seem to be the back of the box that cracks.

    As far as I can discern, my GW works as designed despite the cracks. But the company still sucks in my book.

    Jimbo
  20. PowerView

    PowerView New Member

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    Well, Greenwood did exactly as you said. They are sending 'firebox mortar'. I can let the fire go out and cool, clean and mortar. They said that I could fire it back up again pretty much right away.

    I, like you, am concerned that this is not correct behavior for a ceramic fire box. However, they are not answering the telephone today for some reason.

    Thanks for your feedback.

    Park
  21. antknee2

    antknee2 New Member

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    I studied the Seton boiler which is basically the same design , the good news is cracks in the refractory will not effect the air tightness of your boiler . With or without cracks your Greenwood will last forever and produce tons of hot water , just keep on rolling in big un-split logs ,they burn at just the right rate and will not cause as much thermal shock to the refractory fire box . Try to limit the number of small splits , they have too much wood surface area and burn way to hot . I have a massive crack in the refractory right below the loading door , I used high temperature refractory cement in the Spring and it seems to be holding up . Anthony
  22. td182a

    td182a New Member

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    I sure wish I'd found this site when I was doing my due diligence on boilers. I just bought and installed a Greenwood, and since it's advertised as suitable for indoor installation, I put it downstairs till next summer when I intend to move it outdoors. Spent a day plumbing it in with a dhw heat exchanger, plumbed it in to an existing oil fired boiler. Lit the fire as they said (small one first), got it up to temp, and WOW, here comes the smoke!! Got pretty hazy in the house for a while! Pi--ed me right off. I have now learned what others in this post have said, don't listen to the advertising!! Wood fired boilers go outside! As others have mentioned, it seems to be ok if you wait till just coals left before opening the door, and use the biggest wood possible. After 24 hours operation, I'm feeling a tad better about it. So far I'd wonder about the 'gasification' part of the process, seems to smoke more than our fireplace insert, a Pacific Vista, which I can't say enough good things about.
  23. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    A draft inducer in the flue pipe, with a switch to turn it on before you open the door, should handle the smoke issue.

    Flip it on, wait ten seconds, then open the door. The draft inducer should be producing enough "suction" to keep the smoke flowing the right direction. Just remember to flip it back off before you leave, or it will be over-firing the wood (the damper will still regulate temp, but it will be opening and closing all the time, reducing efficiency).

    Joe Brown
    Brownian Heating Technology
    www.brownianheating.com
  24. henfruit

    henfruit Minister of Fire

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    i have put a hood over mine that helps a little.i also have a draft in ducer which helps quite a bit.big wood is the way to load it.i got a nine hour burn yesterday on 2 huge logs.my trouble is all the wood i have is cut and spilt to 20 inches that i did two years ago.i have ten cords left.split woods tends to continue to flash even with th damper closed it gets so hot in the fire box.i wish they had a temp gauge in the fire box to tell us how hot it is burning.it will take time to work out the quirks,if mine works out ok it will stay inside? if not joe you know what you will be doing this spring.hope every one in the northeast is enjoying the snow.
  25. td182a

    td182a New Member

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    Thanks for the info Joe, do you have any recommendations on draft inducers? type, size, brand etc?
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