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I hat this @#$% EKO

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by deerefanatic, Jan 7, 2011.

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  1. NNYorker

    NNYorker Member

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    Is your stack temp. higher than normal? Easy check here--don't know how the EKO bypass damper in the top chamber closes but.....creosote or possible loose hardware (happened to me before on my ECO) will prevent the damper from closing completely. Can you close the damper while the top/loading door is open? If not closed completely it will allow your fan to blow everything out the top and you'll never get the full out gasser flame in the combustion chamber. You'll get the lazy flame in the bottom and it'll take forever to get up to temp. Open the loading door and close the bypass if you can to check it out.

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  2. deerefanatic

    deerefanatic Minister of Fire

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    OK......

    I didn't think of the fact that maybe I had too much draft. Never really occured to me. I do know that the one reason I never installed a barometric damper was because my EKO came with the electric draft inducer... Which is a joke. :( I've seen those inducers before where they just attach to the outside of a stovepipe... Would be an easy thing to try I suppose.

    It's still suffering along right now... Combustion about 1181 and stack at 455.

    Now, for the bypass damper... It "appears" to close tightly. I had the cover above the heat exchange tubes off and it looked like it was sealing up. Yes, I can close the damper when the loading door is open... Not that it tells me much. Just makes it smoke harder out the door. :)
  3. salecker

    salecker Feeling the Heat

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    Hi
    Just a quick hint on dry scraps of wood,the place i got the trusses for my house had a big bin full of the cut offs from the truss plant.They had it outside thier fence with a sign free wood.Might be worth a few calls.
    Good Luck
    Thomas
  4. deerefanatic

    deerefanatic Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the tip!

    Just got in from stuffing the boiler full. I'm now getting bright blue flames down below. The elevated water temps must be helping that. BUT, I'm still getting smoke from the stack... So something's still amiss. Right now combustion is around 1480 and stack at 490F..... So stack is plenty hi... Guess I'll have to look into a barometric damper...
  5. rkusek

    rkusek Minister of Fire

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    Is your boiler circ still set to come on at 160F? I noticed a big difference last year when I set the controller to come on at 165F with only a 5 degree band. Last year it seem like it would never go above 160 because the load would always drag it down. My wood was not seasoned that well last year compared to now too. It might help you keep that gasification going. I'm trying to picture your setup with the P/S, NCFS, and bang-bang all together. How about just a quick description in words?
  6. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    Sorry Matt about the frustrations. While I'm sure your wetter than desired wood is contributing, I doubt thats the main problem.

    I just don't get this obsession with low temp output. People claim its more efficient. I don't agree. Seems to me especially when you have storage. Get the output temps up around 190-200.

    After having let my fire die down too far this AM, I watched in pain when the inside loop came on with the wood boiler at 160. Drop like a stone. When the wood boiler is up to temp (180) there is very little fluctuation, just the swing of the aquastat.
  7. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Are you sure it's smoke? You're a good way north in WI, weather has been cold, perhaps it's mostly if not completely steam. My Tarm gassifies superbly. Roughly, at outside temps of +25 or so and higher, no visible "smoke" from the stack, but as temps drop, and especially now with temps of +10 and below, there nearly always is "smoke" from the stack. Yet, can't smell smoke, it quickly disperses, and it's very thin and quite wispy. This is steam, a natural product of combustion. 100% combustion might be considered only water and CO2.

    Yes, no and maybe. I think we all pretty much agree that in connection with HX efficiency, other things being equal, a greater delta-T is more efficient in transfer of heat. In connection with emitters, hotter water temps are needed for some emitters to perform to expectation and lower temps for other emitters. Case in point: baseboard -- most, especially older styles, need hot water input at about 180F or more; but pex in-floor radiant functions very well with hot water input of 100F. So with output temps, it all depends.

    Yesterday I ran my storage up to 190+ top to bottom, I have pex in-floor and mix supply to 100-105F, and with that much storage of btu's I will have at least 2, maybe 3 days, before I have to fire the boiler again (although -17F is tonight's forecast). But moving the tank from 180 to higher is a bit of finesse to avoid any boiler idling, mainly because HX transfer efficiency is reduced, and flow rates cannot be increased sufficiently to still handle the high boiler output with lower delta-T.

    To each her own, boiler performance and user expertise varies greatly, and the outcome is a wealth of info to help all of us do better, try different things, have fun, and be in heat more often.
  8. deerefanatic

    deerefanatic Minister of Fire

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    It may have been steam. BUT, it didn't dissipate very quickly. It was a bit breezy last night, but that "smoke" would be visible for 50 feet before it would dissipate. But, it may have been steam. i'll try and take a video today and get it on youtube.

    Yes, my pump still comes on at 160, but my return temp has to be 150 or higher, so my boiler right now is maintaining 170F or higher all the time.

    As of this morning, it's still not caught up. No heat in storage. Although the shop and house are running hard because of getting so far behind. :(

    We'll keep pluggin' with this thing and see if we can get ahead today.
  9. Rick Stanley

    Rick Stanley Feeling the Heat

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    I have a Garn that advertises as "smokeless efficient wood heating systems", BUT you gotta have good dry wood to be really smokeless. I get smoke at the beginning of a burn, regardless. After it gets going, it is smokeless if the wood is dry. If not so dry, I'll get smoke longer. Also, if I get a log hung-up on the edge of the firebrick it will lay up there and smolder after the main fire has burned out. If I burn really iffy wood, it will smoke some during the whole burn.
    Steam is a different thing. That will appear regardless of wood condition. It is more dependent on air conditions, like temp and humidity.
    What I'm calling smoke is gray or blue and hangs in the air, especially if there's no wind. Steam is very light gray, almost white, and dissipates very quickly. I think color is the key.
  10. bigburner

    bigburner Feeling the Heat

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    I have been following this Topic - I don't know anything about your model stove but it sounds to me like you can't prove what your heating load is. By measuring the GPM and knowing the temperature difference in inlet /outlet you can figure the output, in a low mass boiler it's almost BTU for BTU of the fuel output, then you could figure the wood used if you wanted too. My thoughts are that for what ever reason this thing can't achieve the velocity required for glassification or has to much velocity. "Working like an OWB" Steam isn't smoke, it's pretty clear - the steam won't travel more then 5 ft from the chimney before teat's invisible.
  11. djblech

    djblech Feeling the Heat

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    Deere,
    You said you were heating a radiant slab right? Are the radiant tubes in the concrete or in the sand under the slab? I had a problem with my front and back porches with tubes under the slab.(Which was the industry standard at the time I installed it) I couldn't put enough heat in those two zones, so my boiler was constantly trying to catch up. You may not want to hear this but I abandoned the radiant zones and installed 2 cast iron radiators, what a difference. I don't know if this has anything to do with your problem, but it seems like something is stealing all your heat. Maybe try shutting down some zones until the boiler comes up to temp and then open slowly.
    Doug
  12. dirttracker

    dirttracker Member

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    I've found that the "steam" in the exhaust can stick around fro quite a while especially if the air is cold and the wood is on the high end of MC. If you look at the chimney when there is not much wind there should be some clear space between the top of the chimney and the start of the steam. If the exhaust is white coming right out of the chimney then its smoke. I always get a little grey tinge to the exhaust early in the burn, it's only noticeable in direct sunlight. I get a considerable amount of steam early in the burn especially on cold days - probably a sign that my wood is not as low in MC as it could be. I suspect you will see steam anyway when the ambient is below 25 or so no matter what.

    If you got rid of 1/4 inch of crud on the boiler tubes you should be getting much better heat transfer in the boiler - cleaning them was not a waste of time! FWIW your stack temperatures look good to me. I get in the 400 - 500 range usually, higher if I need to clean the tubes.

    I don't have a combustion temp tc on mine, but if you're getting ~1200 F in the chamber you have to have at least a bit of secondary combustion going on.
  13. deerefanatic

    deerefanatic Minister of Fire

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    Yes, I think it is steam. I starts to appear an inch or two away from the chimney cap.. And it's white. Or pretty much white.

    Yes, the radiant slab was a poorly done tube-in-sand job.. Very, very slow to recover. :( It's risen the slab temp 2 degrees in the last 18 hrs. From 55 to 57 or so. That's with 145F water going into it. (mixing setup) But, up till this week, I was keeping up fine. Yes, the shop is way down on temp.. Because for the last 6 days it's been a fight to keep the house warm. So the shop gets colder and colder...

    Yes, I get "some" secondary combustion, but the flames are very tiny, barely extending out of the nozzles, and right now I'm only getting about 1150 F combustion. Way less than the 1600+ we're shooting for.

    I'm pretty much done with this thing I think.. My source of cheap wood appears to have dried up.. (the sawmill is now chipping everything on a woodchip contract) I just found this out today. I simply cant put up enough wood out of logs to keep up. And if I pay someone with a processor to process it, I'm at 100/cord for wood.. Consider the burn efficiency, and it's almost up there $$$ wise with coal. I'm either going to get a huge OWB that I can chuck whole hunks of log into, or a pelleted fuel boiler of some sort (wood, corn, or coal)

    I guess, keep your eyes peeled in the classifieds next spring as there could possibly be a 2 seasons old EKO 60 and a 1200 gallon stainless storage tank covered in Corbond for sale.
  14. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    Even though you've decided to give up, why don't you get out and scrounge a couple days of well seasoned wood and try it. I wish I was your neighbor. I bring over a few days of my dry wood, fire the beast up, and sit in front of it and watch what happens.
  15. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    . . . and shut off the shop slab, shut off the storage, and watch the relief on the collective faces as the he fire rip, delivering 190* water and the house is finally warm. Then go from there.
  16. EffectaBoilerUser (USA)

    EffectaBoilerUser (USA) Member

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    I can relate the struggles you are having as I had to deal with them when I had my EKO40 also.

    This is why I sold my EKO40 and recently installed an Effecta Lambda gasification boiler.

    This primary and secondary draft controls on my new effecta adjust constantly to maintain optimum efficicency and high quality burns (a Lambda sensor in the chimney exhaust continually reads the CO2% and via. the motherboard/control panel constantly adjusts the stepper motors). Thus, the quality of the wood is still very important but the Lambda system will correct automatically if the wood is of higher moisture content. I am able to mix geeen poplar (it fell down 2 months ago) with my 1 year old maple and I never have problems with smoke or other related issues.

    Please feel free to PM me as I can help you to get your EKO running better.

    Attached Files:

  17. henfruit

    henfruit Minister of Fire

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    Matt are you the guy that built his own gassifier boiler a couple of years ago ??? What happened to that.
  18. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

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    To the last poster, what is your boiler prices? Also, Deerefanatic, there is no way those insulators did a good job. Look in the attic, if ya don't have 16" of cellulose in the attic they cheated you. Should have put it in the walls too. Basement should be well insulated in between the joist too. One way to tell is % moisture in your house. A well insulated house should be static shock free and have water on the bottom of your windows. A new wood burner may not help if there are other problems. Also, I get moisture out my stack when it's cold and dry outside. If it's 30* and damp ya don't see it. I would go as far as call your dealer, something is very wrong. I know it's a late post but hope it helps. I noticed you don't post anymore.
  19. EffectaBoilerUser (USA)

    EffectaBoilerUser (USA) Member

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    I posted the photos of my new effecta boiler on the forum to share with others as I have not heard much about these boilers.

    I don't want to make this look like a sales pitch and thus cannot give you pricing.

    I would recommend that you go to www.effecta.us and look at these boilers and send me a PM if you have any questions.

    NWM
  20. deerefanatic

    deerefanatic Minister of Fire

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    I was the guy that tried to build my own. actually, it worked better than this eko at first..... But, it was not 100% water jacketed. Only the firetube exchanger was water jacketed. Because of this, the boiler warped horribly and basically fell apart. After that, I decided to not screw with it anymore and bought this EKO thinking that it'd be vastly better... It sorta is, but I guess I'm just sick of the battle...

    As a side note, I've started a different pallet of wood and I seem to be getting a coal bed back. I don't know what was up with that junk, but it wouldn't burn for $h!t... Now, its at least keeping the house warm and slowly but surely starting to charge my storage.. So life is better now. Currently pusshing 1450 combustion and 525 stack (which I think is a bit hi, but whatever it takes)

    As a side note, I'm not willing to shut down the shop slab. I work in there, that's where I'm making my money, and that shop is half the reason I spent all this money on this system instead of putting a new chimney in the house and continuing with the wood furnace that was in the place. (Existing chimney was leaking into the inside of the house)

    Also, yes, I believe the attic is full enough. The house is such that only parts of it really have "attic" and none of the attic is accessible.. But, when we tore part of the roof off this fall, the small attic space was blown full clear to the peak. And as far as the walls, I watched em go around the house blowing it in.... And watched the stuff blow all over inside for us to clean up afterward.

    Here's a link to my website with pics of our place: http://icsrepair.com/farmtour.html Yes, the house is a pile.. You can say it. I already know. :(

    Personally, I didn't want to burn wood in the first place. I was nearly set on going with coal, but the folks here got me set on going with this wood gasification stuff... Now I'm so far in, and not happy at all. I was basically content, but not impressed and wouldn't have recommended one of these to any of my friends or neighbors; all of which watch me struggle and tell me I should have just done what they did and get an OWB and I'd have a no-fuss no-muss setup, like them.. The worst part, is I can't argue with them. :(

    You mention I don't post anymore... It's true. I guess I've lost faith in this whole deal and just don't get on here anymore.. I only check in when I've got probs.. I nearly didn't even now, but was desperate.

    Thanks for the help guys.
  21. willworkforwood

    willworkforwood Feeling the Heat

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    Did that happen this afternoon/evening? Weather data shows the wind speed for your town was quite low, especially in the last few hours prior to your post. That might just be a coincidence, but it may be worth your while to try reducing the draft by partially blocking the chimney - nothing complicated, just a quick experiment.
  22. Piker

    Piker Minister of Fire

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    I have been following this thread for a while now, just kind of waiting to see what you came up with. The first paragraph I quoted of yours is very telling. Very telling indeed. 99 times out of 100, when someone is having issues with output, it is solely related to wood quality and/or moisture content. In the past I have had a few customers call me quite regularly with issues of low stack temps, mediocre output, excessive wood consumption, visible smoke from the chimney, etc etc... and every time I stop out to see what's up, it's ALWAYS the wood. I take some of my own wood out or maybe a few biobricks just to show the customer what a difference a 10% (sometimes 15%) drop in moisture content makes (biobricks a different animal altogether at 5% mc). They generally "ooh" and "ahh" over the performance of the unit with the good dry fuel, but then immediately go right back to burning the garbage that is the very heart of their frustration... still wondering why this wood they are using that "seems ok" just doesn't work. I just don't understand it sometimes. We all know that gasifiers are very sensitive to wood quality, but if they are fed proper quality fuel, their performance really does outweigh any hassle or planning it takes to procure decent firewood to fuel them.

    The other telling issue is the 1/4" of crud that you got out of your heat exchanger. A gasifier with storage should have nothing in the heat exchanger but a thin coating of fly ash. Buildup like that is a sure sign that something is terribly wrong with the boiler mechanically, or your wood is complete junk... On top of that, if there was 1/4" of crud, which means a great portion of your heat is just flying right past the tubes, and your stack temps were only 400 or so... again... either something terribly wrong with the boiler mechanically, or your wood is total garbage. The fact that this new pallet of wood seems to be making coals, burning better, and getting things up to temp leads me to believe that your problems are solely related to wood quality, and that the boiler is working fine... just not being fed the proper diet.

    The bottom line is... if you get good fuel, you will burn much less of it, and you probably won't be frustrated, or at least "as" frustrated. The problem folks tend to have is not wanting to spend much, if anything, for decent wood... for some reason, wood is supposed to be free or at least almost free. While it's true that perhaps sometimes the best things in life are free... this is apparently not true of firewood for most people. You either spend your dollars to have someone else supply it for you, or you spend your time to get it yourself. You can replace the boiler with an owb if you like, but it's probably pretty likely that if you keep burning what you are burning, you won't decrease your usage one bit, and you may still struggle with keeping things up to temperature.

    As far as losing faith in the whole wood gasification thing... I guess all I can say is that there are tons of people who are having terrific success with their systems. Right now we have a customer who is heating a decent sized farm house of around 2500 sq ft. plus a 3100 square foot pole building with 17' ceilings, and a "boiler shed" 24 x 24... all with a standalone system consisting of a solo plus 60 boiler and 1000 gallons of thermal storage. Lately he has been firing 3 times per day to supply his demand. That's a 6 cubic foot firebox 3 times instead of 2 firings with the 30 cubic foot firebox on his old outdoor wood boiler system. It's a real success story... but... he has fantastic firewood. His first couple of loads that he bought were great... around 18% on the inside. When he got the last load, he suspected something was up because it was like the boiler just got kind of lame. Sure enough, moisture content was up around 26 or 28%. I have actually come to the conclusion that I should start commissioning boilers with both a load of unseasoned wood and a load of dry wood in the hopes that the difference in performance will leave an impression on the customer that they won't forget. The difference truly is staggering. There are certainly going to be people who will claim that they are using wood with a higher moisture content than what is recommended and that they are having success with it. That may be true... I think in most cases their boiler is probably oversized for the application and they can get by with less than the greatest secondary combustion... but you can be sure that they are definitely burning more wood than they need to. You can also be sure that if your boiler is sized very closely to the demand, that you will have to have really excellent firewood to make things work well. It's just a fact of life.

    With that, I will now digress. My suggestion is that you sit back and kind of rethink things a bit before you make any big decisions or drastic changes. I still think there is hope that you can at some point be satisfied with a wood gasifier for your application. I hate to see folks struggling, especially after having invested so much time, effort, and funds...

    Cheers
  23. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    I'm still not convinced that something isn't prioritized correctly, and I'd still shut the shop tubes off (possibly put an w2a emitter of some sort in there if you need to work in there) as a test, but . . .

    I will concur with Pike. My first year with my GW I was daily wondering how I could have wasted my money on it. Now it looks like about 11 weeks and it will have paid for itself. While I would go a different route next time around, I'd estimate 90% of my first-season troubles came from burning sh_t that looked like wood. I guess I just thought since you'd been doing this awhile you probably were selecting better fuel than I did in year one. And, don't forget, my style unit is touted as allowing the use of less desirable wood.

    I know almost nothing about coal, but I've heard it's heat output can be termendous. Just be realistic that people also have problems with coal.

    Rock On!
  24. Piker

    Piker Minister of Fire

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    The only thing I will add to this, is that sometimes the customers who have the most "experience" with burning wood are the ones who struggle the most when they set up a new gasifier. Old habits are hard to break, and what worked for 30 years with whatever their other wood burning stove or boiler was, just may not work with a wood gasifier. You sometimes really have to start from scratch on a new learning curve, but once you get settled in, the rewards are pretty great.

    Keep your head up... and don't give up.

    cheers
  25. Piker

    Piker Minister of Fire

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    I have gotten to the point where I despise marketing attempts and slick sales attempts to sell a product based on it's ability to burn less than desirable wood. Even the lambda boilers (and I own one) have got to have dry seasoned wood in order to get good results. It's true that boilers like the Froling can adjust primary and secondary air to better accommodate different moisture contents, but we're not talking a 5% (kiln dried) to 50% (green) range here... we're talking about from 5% up to around 20%. Basically, the lambda boilers are intended to be able to adjust combustion parameters for wood that is within the range of moisture content for acceptable seasoned wood.



    cheers
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