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Hungry Daka Question

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by bearsfan4eva, Dec 15, 2009.

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  1. bearsfan4eva

    bearsfan4eva New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2009
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Northern IN
    I have a Daka 521 and am on my 4th year of use(age of home too). I have it piped to my furnace plenum with two 8" ducts and have the plenum dampered. I also have 2 8" ducts ran to the cold air return. I have the barometric regulator installed in the flue and the furnace uses the automatic spring and chain type for air intake. My flue is about 30' long from basement through attic.

    My problem is the massive amount of wood this thing eats without a ton of heat. It does heat the house but I only get 2-3hrs max burn times. I usually load it up full 3-4 times in 30-40 degree outside temps. I generally burn elm and cherry as this is all that is available to me for free. I hear everone else talking about 2 loadings a day and their house is 75 degrees with the furnace dialed back.. I have to load mine 3 times a night to get to 68 degrees. I have played with the automatic damper and barometric damper with no success.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on what else i can try to get more heat with less wood out of this thing? My next step is to get a stack thermometer to make sure I'm getting the right temps. On the new dakas I noticed they had a spinner on the door. I thought that was a great idea to add secondary air to make the fire hotter. From what i read on hear, secondary air is the way to go while cutting down the primary from the automatic damper. When I called Daka they said that spinner was for burning coal. I think I still want to buy that door to see if helps.

    What are your thoughts? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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  2. ikessky

    ikessky Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
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    Loc:
    Northern WI
    What is the condition of your firewood?

    How big is the house?

    Do you have a thermometer on the stove pipe before it hits the chimeny? I would like to see what temp it is running at.

    I am on my second year with a Daka. I am heating a typical ranch style with ~1000 on the main level and about the same in the basement. I end up with burn times of around 6-7 hours burning hard maple and white ash that was split no later than late spring/early summer.
  3. bearsfan4eva

    bearsfan4eva New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Northern IN
    My firewood is pretty much cherry and elm. Whatever I can find really. I dont have access to maple or oak for free.

    The house is 1450 sq ft ranch. The daka is in basement but is only duct to upstairs. I just got a stack thermometer to check that but it has been only running around 200 degrees. I cracked the ash door and I was able to get it to around 400 and closed it again. I got good heat but wood went fast.

    It may just be that I dont have a lot of hard woods to burn. I'd be surprised if it made that big of difference. Some is expected. May try buying some hardwood and see if that helps at all.
  4. lexybird

    lexybird Minister of Fire

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    510
    Loc:
    northwestern PA.
    cherry and elm are not terrible and produce plenty of BTUs .you should still be getting 350-450 stack temps ,sounds like a classic case of burning wood thats not properly seasoned .daka are pretty much considered the bottom of the barrel most feel they are lowest efficiency and highest consumption furnace on the market
  5. ikessky

    ikessky Minister of Fire

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    I guess I don't have much to compare it too, but I had good luck with the Daka so far. Yes, it's cheap and is still running off 1970's technology, but it serves it's purpose. I figure I'll run it for a couple more years and then switch over to something like a Mini Caddy or Big Jack.

    I will also second that your wood does not sound like it is properly seasoned. I use a cheap Rutland thermometer that is stuck on the outside of the single wall stove pipe about 18 inches from the outlet of the stove. With only the bimetal damper open, the thermometer will usually get up to 400-450. When the damper is fully closed, it usually reads 200-250 (which should equate to an inside temp of ~300-450). If I open the ash pan, the needle goes to 550 fairly quickly. I guess I've hit 600, but I usually close the ash pan once 500-550 is reached and then ease off the air from there.

    How long has the wood been cut and split?
  6. bearsfan4eva

    bearsfan4eva New Member

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    I pull the wood from the woods in the spring. Its always dead trees that have been there for a few years but not rotten. I cut the logs into lengths and let it sit all summer in full sun and then split it in the fall.

    My thermometer right now is 3-4 feet from furnace right before barometric draft regulator. I will try to move it closer to stove and see what reading I get then.

    I will go take a pic so you can get a visual of my setup.
  7. Lifted4x4Astro

    Lifted4x4Astro New Member

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    Your wood is not seasoned. That is why you are not getting good heat and burn times. You are probably running the stove harder (more air flow) to get minimal heat and therefore you are going through wood faster. You need to split and stack the wood early in the spring.
  8. ikessky

    ikessky Minister of Fire

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    Correct. Dead does not mean seasoned. Also, just because it doesn't appear wet and rotten doesn't mean it's not punky.

    How much wood are you putting in at one time? Are you just using a couple splits or are you filling it to the top of the firebrick?
  9. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Get a moisture meter, split some of your pieces and take readings off the freshly cut surfaces - willing to bet it's soggy, as your harvesting method sounds like a great way to make firewood that is marginally seasoned at best, especially when you have a wet and rainy spring and summer like we had in New England last year...

    1. Dead trees are NOT dry trees on a regular basis, often they can be as wet or wetter than live ones.
    2. Fire wood should be cut and split for AT LEAST one year, preferably top covered.

    Gooserider
  10. bearsfan4eva

    bearsfan4eva New Member

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    Looks like I will have to make due this winter and work double time in the spring. I just figured since it was dead and sat all summer before splitting it would be dry. Makes sense though. I did move my thermometer closer(18") from furnace and its much hotter 500 when damper opens and drops to 200 when it closes.

    When loading that thing do you just pack as much as you can in? I always stack it mostly in the front to the top. I would say 3/4 full.
  11. ikessky

    ikessky Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Northern WI
    Well, the manual says to only load it to the top of the firebricks, but I typically do like you and load it higher than the firebricks (overnight that is). I mostly have my wood cut so that it is as long as the firebox, front to back.
  12. jdew1920

    jdew1920 Member

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    Loc:
    Michigan
    I know this is a bit late but wanted to add that the Daka I installed last year has no problems heating my 1800 sf ranch. I have been burning mostly elm the last 2 years. This year I do have some wood that isn't fully seasoned (cherry) and when I burn it I can tell a huge difference in heat output. Also - another possibility is that you are not getting a good draft - are you sure your chimney is clean and free of obstructions?

    Yeah the Daka is low tech, but it's made in the USA, heats my house well, and I don't seem to eat through too much wood doing it - works for me. Some day I might move up to a nicer furance but I can't justify it right now.
  13. bearsfan4eva

    bearsfan4eva New Member

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    Loc:
    Northern IN
    I keep my chimney very clean. I have since resplit my wood(unseasoned) into 2-4" pieces and have stacked it instead of piling it. I also have a chord inside stacked to dry out some. It has helped a lot. Next year I will be ready with seasoned wood and can't wait to gauge the difference. I am still going through a lot of wood but my burn times have increased. It's keeping the house between 60-70 degrees. Temps are highs 20's and lows teens and I haven't turned the furnace on except when we were on vacation.
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