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Help!-trouble with Tarm solo plus

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by kwiggins827, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. kwiggins827

    kwiggins827 New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2013
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    Loc:
    Downingtown, PA
    This is a new thread that started from a discussion here:

    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/service-provider-recommendations-se-pa.102963/

    I recently purchased a home that utilizes a Tarm Solo Plus for its main heat with geothermal and oil back-up. When I bought the house, the prior owner (who is out of the country and impossible to get a hold of) had the wood boiler running already....he explained to me how to start it up, and use it, and I took notes along the way. I wasn't living in the house when I first bought it, but I would stop by 2 times a day to load up with wood - all was well and it was working great. About a month ago, I had to go out of town and the unit cooled down and switched back to oil. That was fine for me because I didnt move in until a few weeks ago, and I kept the temperature way down. I followed the directions he gave me, and got a fire going. I closed the door to the unit and went on my way. The next morning I noticed it was still going but was just kind of stewing and the fire didn't burn off. When I would open the door, the fire would take off. I thought it was odd. That evening I checked again, same thing - same load. The next morning I found a copy of the user manual online (should have done that first!) and I realized that the prior owner neglected to tell me a step - which was to hit the reset button before starting the fire so that the fan would operate. I didn't notice that the fan was not going on and off when I started my own fire. I pulled all of the old logs and stuff out of the firebox and noticed a tar substance along the bottom of the unit. I cleaned up as much as I could but I know there is still a bit of a mess in there. I hit the reset button and started over. Well this time (after calling the manufacturer to walk me through again how it was all supposed to work) I let a nice kindling fire burn and let the flue temperature raise up to where it was supposed to go (I hadn't realized the importance of the flue temperature in the entire process and I think I opened the damper and loaded my heavier wood too early). Once the flue got up to temperature, I loaded the wood into the firebox and closed the door. Fan was running. Almost immediately the flue temperature crashed and the fire died down significantly. Once I would open the door, the fire would get going again and the flue temperature would rise. I'd close the door, and then the same thing would happen. After doing this a few times, the boiler eventually overheated and the thermostats would not call for the heat....this caused for pressure to build in the system and the relief valve to go off. The pressure eventually went back down, but it was a stressful night.

    Needless to say, my confidence in getting this running without somebody really checking out the unit is waning. I could really use some help. I have a feeling I mucked everything up when i let that fire stew inside the firebox, and that tar perhaps clogged up some of the vents that allow for drafting when the door is closed..but having zero experience, I dont even know where to begin!


    Any help appreciated!

    P.S. - No storage currently - but planning on it if I can get this thing running!

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  2. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    When did you check the chimney last? When was the last time you cleaned the boiler? I am not saying that is what is wrong. I just read your post quick. Is it possible your chimney or boiler need to be cleaned?
  3. KenLockett

    KenLockett Member

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    Loc:
    Eastern Upstate NY
    You really need to get someone out there, my suggestion would be a distributor rep, to walk you through how to use the boiler and how it is installed including how the protection circuits operate. Alternatively, sit down and read the owners/users manual repeatedly until you absolutely understand how this appliance is operated. You could risk fire and or damage to your home if you do not do so. If you feel that you don't have the correct manual let me know and I will send an electronic copy of mine to you via PM. And most importantly, you need to use dry cord wood.Not sure where you are located but if you were near albany, NY I would offer to have you come out and walk you through the ropes. Running the unit without storage involves alot of intuition and there is a learning curve in terms of loading the unit relative to the required heating load.

    Ken
  4. KenLockett

    KenLockett Member

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    Incidentally, I have never even come close to blowing my pressure relief safety. Do you have a dump zone plumbed into the system. My dump zone is plumbed into my upstairs heating zone and NC zone valves open on loss of power to gravity circulate to dump heat. In addition, your overtemp aquastat should have overridden your smaller heating zone to dissipate the heat. First thing you need to identify is if your system is installed according to the manufacturers recommendation. The manual will identify the correct and/or recommended installation strategies.
  5. Clarkbug

    Clarkbug Minister of Fire

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    Upstate NY
    The other thing to remember is that your boiler will not fire continuously if there isnt a call for heat in your house. It could be that when you saw the flue temps go up then crash when the door was closed that you had just satisfied the loads in the house.

    It could be that if there was enough creosote that you could have plugged up the actuator that allows air into the firebox, but Im not familliar enough with this unit to say so.

    My advice would be to stop trying to build a fire in it right now, read the manual on how to clean it, and then clean your boiler and have the chimney cleaned. Then you can work on operating the boiler correctly. What is your location to see if there is someone here on the forums that could help you out?
  6. kwiggins827

    kwiggins827 New Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Downingtown, PA
    I just moved in, so can't answer. Unit was working great until I started messing with it.

    Agreed - there lies the problem. There is NOBODY that services wood boilers in my area. I called the manufacturer as well - no luck.

    I have thoroughly read it at this point. I still think there is an issue. I found the correct one online - thank you for the offer! Cord wood is dry.

    Located in Downingtown, PA (about 20 miles from Philly).

    Yes, I believe it is. I'll take some pics. It was not a fun situation.

    I don't think so. Heat was way turned down in the house when I fired it up.

    This is kind of what i was thinking.

    This is exactly my plan. Could also use some help finding somebody in the general area that knows what they are doing to get me started again.

    Thanks to all for the help so far. You guys are great!
  7. huffdawg

    huffdawg Minister of Fire

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    If your heat was all turned down when you fired up there would be no demand for heat. Your boiler would have nowhere to send the heat to. So it would Go into idle mode as soon as it got hot enough. I would shut off power to back up boiler then turn your thermostats up. Then start a small fire and see what happens. Small meaning maybe a quarter firebox full. This is of course assuming that your chimney is clean and all pumps are operational.
  8. huffdawg

    huffdawg Minister of Fire

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    Also I think your overheat loop wouldn't be functional unless there was a loss of power to your over heat protection valve,.
  9. kwiggins827

    kwiggins827 New Member

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    I wasn't clear. The house was at 55 degrees when I started the fire. The thermostats were set at 70.
  10. huffdawg

    huffdawg Minister of Fire

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    There are good qualified boiler installers that are members on here and a lot of do it your selfers That have built their own systems And installed their own boilers .
    If you can't find someone in your area I'm sure if you supply us with a good diagram and info we, could prolly help you get going again.
  11. huffdawg

    huffdawg Minister of Fire

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    I own an EKO 40 and the fire box always has a lot of creosote or tar in it. this is normal . I know lots on here let their boilers idle for hours I don't believe that you letting your boiler idle for a few hours would of mucked anything up. But I cant speak for your tarm. Seems your problem has something to do with your oil backup as it was running fine till you left and it took over the heating demands .
  12. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    Now you got some responses. It's all in the title.

    I still think (wild guess?) that you have an issue with the controls. Once the unit went to oil, it won't revert back to the wood side? In my layout, there is a zone valve that opens and closes when it's either on wood or oil. But who knows if your controls are like mine.

    I'm going back to my original comment, call Bioheat in New Hampshire again. Chances are you will need to take a few pics of the system and email to Bioheat/Tarm. Just because they supply the schematics for the install, doesn't mean the installer followed them. Ask them what they want pictures of. You may have to take a day off from work to do this.

    Also, just because Tarm doesn't have a technician/installer on their list, doesn't mean there isn't one out there that knows these type of systems. Hopefully someone on this site will have one to recommend to you. It may take a bit of time for them to figure out the layout, they call Tarm and solve the problem fairly quickly.


    As I said before, I drive a truck for a living. Not install wood boilers. My TV antenna has turned around and I've lost all my reception(Thats a statement that sums up alot about me). Too scared to get up on the roof and fix it. So now in my free time I cruise Hearth and throw ides on the wall and see if anything sticks. Oh yeah, early evenings I like a beer or two. The BS can really fly then.
  13. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

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    I would recommend video if you can. WAY better than pictures. Move slowly and show all the pieces.

    Put some effort in.. and you WILL get someone here to solve your problem.

    JP
  14. hiker88

    hiker88 Burning Hunk

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    subbing thread.
  15. KenLockett

    KenLockett Member

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    Attached are the installation documents that I put together for my installation and that my installer used. They represent the recommended installation for a home with two heating zones. My wood boiler is plumbed in parallel with my oil fired boiler (as opposed to serial). The two boilers share a common hot water supply header. The use of check valves prevents flow from one boiler when the other running. The use of an interlock aquastat prevents the firing of the oil boiler when the wood boiler temperature is above the aquastat setpoint (in my case 160 DegF). I used a Termovar mixing valve as opposed to the Termovar loading unit. If you understand basic plumbing and electrical controls and understand the installation manual supplied with the boiler, then the attached diagrams should make sense. If not to you directly to a qualified plumber/electrician/HVAC installer. Before I started I new nothing. Through much study of the installation manual and with help from the members of this forum I was able to understand the particulars of operating a gassifying wood boiler and in particular the Tarm Solo Plus. Hope these provide some help. If you have any specific questions feel free to ask.

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