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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. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    Is this a pallet of those sawmill blocks stacked nice and square and tight with nearly no air space between them? Did you fuel the latest fire with the blocks that were on the outside of the stack? Your problems may return as you get into the stack.

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  2. deerefanatic

    deerefanatic Minister of Fire

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    I agree with you piker... I don't believe I've EVER burned wood with less than 20% MC. In fact, 75% of my wood is probably 25% or more.. I know this. I simply CANT get ahead! And as far as buying wood, there is NO seasoned wood to be had up in this area. EVERYONE has an owb, and even the ads you see in the paper saying "dry seasoned wood for sale" has been stacked "since last January" or the like... Trust me, I was down this road last year.... :(

    Let's do some math:

    Going rate for cut & split wood to buy is $55-60 per face cord. Figure 2.7 face to the full cord (22 mill btus') That's $148.50

    Now, 1 ton of wood pellets from the local mill is $189 and figure an average energy content of 15.5 mill

    Now, with wet wood, we'll figure only 65% efficient burn so we get 14.3 mill btus for $148.5 = $10.38/mill
    Pellets, being dry, figure 85% so we get 13.175 mill btus for $189 = $14.34/mill
    We can throw anthracite coal into the mix at $345/ton for 28 mill @ 85% = $14.49/mill

    Therefore Pellets are 38% more expensive than wood, with coal only being slightly more.. Coal has the advantage in that the price is pretty stable.. Wood pellets it remains to be seen how stable it is.

    But, a whole lot less messing around than wood.. But, to be realistic, I will probably due to economics be forced to continue the wood fight. So that's where I'm at..

    The radiant in the shop will continue to stay on. I throttled my hot water supply being fed into my mixing setup. Boiler is happier, but the shop slab fell by a degree overnight. If that radiant setup proves to be unusable, I'd seriously consider ripping up the floor and re-laying the pex and concrete before I'd go to a hot air heater. I've been in shops with forced air.. Worked in one for almost 2 years. It sucks in plain english. The floor is always wet and slimy, never gets dry, etc, etc... Not to mention this stupid concrete is like all the other flatwork on this place, not level...... And flows AWAY from the floor drain.

    And Piker, your success story about that large system with the Solo 60... Heck, I load my boiler more than that when it's in the 20's out.
  3. deerefanatic

    deerefanatic Minister of Fire

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    As a side note also, I want to add that this isn't a new system!!! I ran this entire system LAST winter, in COLDER weather than I'm having now with NO storage at ALL and actually made out better than I have..

    I think that pallet of wood was mostly oak (I can't tell wood species to save my soul) and I was told by a friend that oak, even dry, won't sustain an appreciable coal bed.. So maybe that was the problem..
  4. deerefanatic

    deerefanatic Minister of Fire

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    Yep, that's the stuff. I do leave air gaps between all the wood though... row stacking this stuff isn't really feasible because of the vastly different sizes.. And hence unstable stacks.
  5. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    I'm a little anal about drying wood. Most on this forum think I go a little bit overboard. Probably inherited from my father. He also believed that wood had to freeze one winter and go through two summers before it was dry enough to use. I'm a firm believer that wood doesn't dry properly unless the larger pieces are split. The smaller stuff, which I refer to as nosplits, I run the tip of the chain down the length of the piece to produce an opening in the bark. It makes a big difference. On some woods the bark is more waterproof than others, like birch for example. Hey here's a novel idea: let's start making canoes out of birch bark. Cherry is another example. I never leave wood laying around on the ground. Get it split, stacked and undercover ASAP with good air flow.
  6. bigburner

    bigburner Feeling the Heat

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    FRED61 - I am the opposite of you. un split, seasoned 15 minutes, piled out side. I do get to burn stuff most of you guys, would leave in the woods. I like dry wood, it does work better, just have never got ahead far enough. Heating 13,000 sq ft takes a bunch of wood!
  7. mr.fixit

    mr.fixit Member

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    Matt,where are you at with your primary air? Several posters(including me) have mentioned that wetter wood needs more air. Its easy to do so I'd try it. Maybe a picture of this wood you're trying to burn would also help us understand better? Do you fill the fire box complety every time?
    I normally fill the firebox full, I think just the weight of the wood above helps keep the nozzle covered,kind of self-feeding.
    Your tubing in the sand slab -is is insulated under the tubing?
    And you mentioned the upper chamber having little or no fire, yes thats true- but you also need enough up there to generate enough wood gas.
    Anyway were all just trying to help you stay warm!
    (PS I like your house-new isnt aways better)
  8. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    It would take alot less if it was dry!
  9. henfruit

    henfruit Minister of Fire

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    How hot is your tank getting? How well is it insulated?
  10. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

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    Nice farm dude! Nice pics. you are lucky to hunt deer out your back door. I run 486 mi. round trip to hunt west of Phillips. Out hunting all fall huh? Come winter your wood ain't dry. Been there, won't happen again. My wood honestly is dry as a can be. I have no problems. I can put small logs on ashes and it lights up. Makes for high stack temps and forgot to reduce air supply. It has to be dry and am sure it's 90 % of your problem. Also, If you run wide open there is no reason for storage. Shut it off and quit trying to heat it. There is heat loss in a 1000 gal. of storage too. Good hearing from ya Deerefanatic.
  11. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Matt, I've skimmed through this whole thread and I may not have caught some of the things you have tried but when I find myself in a pickle I have learned to go back to the basics. Some of these you may be able to do, like cleaning and basic air settings, and some you may have no control over at this point, like moisture content. But here's a few things to try.

    #1 thing I would do is pull the back cover and make absolutely sure the flue tubes are spotless. The stack temps I saw posted are way to high. They should be in the 350-450* range under normal conditions in a good gasifier. When you start getting much above 500* it simply means that your efficiency is going down the crapper and a lot of heat is wasted up the stack. If your flue tubes are dirty it doesn't matter if the wood moisture content is only 15%, it'll send a lot of heat outdoors. period. Clean 'em. Running unseasoned wood means you will.....and I do mean absolutely will, need to check/clean the flue tubes once a month at minimum.

    #2 would be to go back to the basic air settings as shown in the manual. Note that these vary a lot based on two things, chimney draft and moisture content. In your case I would probably advise using the settings for 35% MC unless you have a meter that you can actually check with. This would be 11mm on the primary, 4 turns on the secondary and about 3/4 of the way open on the main blower shutters. The blocks you are burning will be quite wet and don't provide a lot of surface area/pound of fuel so err on the "too much" air side of the equation. The chimney draft is critical in that it works in conjunction with the blower and settings to regulate air flow through the firebox and secondaries. You, and everyone else for that matter, must have a barometric draft damper/regulator installed in the breeching pipe to keep the chimneys "pull" on the firebox consistent. If you don't have a regulator get one and set it to regulate the flue draft at -.06w.c" if you can. If you have to call a heating guy to get a gauge just do it. Draft is critical.

    #3 Once that is done, I would bypass your storage if the piping design permits you to do so. Let the boiler work on just the loads present and see how it responds when you start with nothing drawing and then gradually add one load at a time to see what the boiler will maintain. Begin with the smallest load first ( maybe the milkhouse & dhw, the radiant slab, your house in that order. Raise the setpoint as high as you can (this will take some experimenting) maybe on at 180 and off at 200 if possible. The greener the fuel, the higher you want to run it.
    When it gets up to temp add the loads and adjust your load size and firing duration in such a way that you are able to always keep a bed of coals in it. If that means smaller loads and firing every 2-2-1/2 hours around the clock, that's just what you'll have to do. It's the price of burning green wood. Get a good fire established and then feed it small amounts often instead of trying to load every 6-8 hours. That will do more than anything to maintain enough combustion chamber heat to help things along.

    #4. Understand that the loads you have may represent more than the output of the EKO is capable of meeting given that the efficiency is drastically reduced due to the unseasoned wood. I'm guessing your house at around 90-100Kbtu, the shop at 60-70, the milkhouse at 15 plus your domestic water. Those will add up to somewhere around 160-180 depending on outdoor temps. We've been below zero the last two mornings and I'm sure you have too so your heating load has been high. If you figure the EKO in peak condition puts out 200K, then deduct 30% for poor wood and another 20% for dirty flue tubes you can see there is no way it is going to keep up let alone charge your storage. It's not going to get any down time and neither are you I'm afraid.

    #5 Decide right now if you are going to burn wood next year. If you are then begin the process of getting your wood lined up tomorrow rather than Tuesday. Make plans to get a good drying shed or room in the game and just do it. Right now you are in wood boiler h~ll and you don't want to repeat. The other option is to put the EKO up for sale and buy something like a Heatmor 600CSS or CB7260 then get ready to burn about 3 semi loads of wood each year. That's your options if you have to use unseasoned wood.
  12. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    I know I'm an anoying prick, but . . . it worked better without storage. Something isn't right with your storage.

    Seriosly, what kind of friend tells you oak doesn't coal. He wants your oak.
  13. Sting

    Sting Feeling the Heat

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    EXACTLY --- Ding Ding - We have a winner

    The appliance is now seriously outmatched by the (added) load -- ok some might say -- Well Sting, Storage is not load

    Hummmm --- so where then does the energy come from to charge the storage up to temp?

    Shop House loops + storage = a struggling boiler making almost a 20% Delta T and still not catching up.
  14. Piker

    Piker Minister of Fire

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    That depends on how the storage is piped and how well the water can stratify in the tanks. If the system only adds btu's to storage when there are excess btus available, then all should be well. Assuming there are excess btu's available, then the heating load itself really shouldn't have changed much from last year unless their are significant standby or transmission losses from the newly installed storage.

    Going back to the 1/4" of crud in the heat exchanger... something is wrong with the wood. That was the DING DING DING for me. Not saying there isn't possibly an issue with the storage, but in no way shape or form should there be crud in the heat exchanger on a boiler running with storage... especially if the boiler is undersized and can't keep up... should be running hot and clean all the time.

    cheers
  15. deerefanatic

    deerefanatic Minister of Fire

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    K, right now I've just come in from stocking her full.. 1589 combustion and 532 stack....

    The boiler seems to be keeping up better... At least it's now forming coal bed. I'm into a different pallet of wood now and it's burning much better. Odd part is this pallet was stacked on the same day, out of the same trailer-load of wood that the previous pallet full from he!!... As SOON as I finished up that pallet and started this one, my problems reversed.. Hmm....

    My storage is only heated by "excess" BTU's. Only will the storage pumps run if the primary loop temperature is above a set value (which only will be reached under low demand situations) And, I've got a variable speed pump controller that ramps heat exchanger pump speed up and down depending on boiler output temperature differential. So it's adaptive to boiler capacity and will not operate if there isn't excess heat available.

    As far as heat loss from my storage, I just got done spending $600 to have the tank sprayed with several inches of corbond in addition to the mediocre insulation it had.. (old milk tank) It can be 190 in there and it won't even feel warm on the outside. :D

    I have no idea if the under-slab in the shop is insulated. I wouldn't be surprised if it was or wasn't; either way.

    No, my friend wasn't trying to get my oak.... LOL. He's got a Central Boiler and likes loading it up with rounds of green stuff... "Lasts longer" he says. haha

    For the one who asked... Right now I'm at 5/8 inch on my primaries, 3.5 or 4 turns on the secondaries, 50% fan shutter, and 80% fan speed. Seems to be gasifying fairly vigorously right now...

    I'll look into a barometric damper tomorrow... I'll need it if I go to coal, so that's not wasted money either way.

    ihookem: No, didn't spend the fall hunting.. I don't hunt. LOL. Don't have the patience for sittin still that long. haha... If you like the place, I'll sell it to yah, EKO and all!!

    I don't think it's loads because my loads are staged.. My control system will jockey the loads to try and keep the boiler hot enough. With the house being top priority and storage being last.

    Heaterman, I'd love to be able to start lining up next years wood.. I just found out that the guy is NOT chipping everything, just the real small blocks and slabwood. So I can still get the bigger pieces from him.... But not this time of year... The demand is hi enough this time of year that the cost is fairly hi. ($45/pickup load) I do have 4 cords of wood that went through a processor thats in a pile.. Not ideal, but I know better than to try and stack when the ground is covered in snow... Makes for a lively time of cussing and restacking in spring. haha

    I'm leaning towards aquiring another boiler for coal and keeping the EKO if I can figure out how to swing it financially. This would allow me to use the wood and storage in the spring/fall and use the coal stoker for mid-December through February when its REALLY cold out.. That would cut down my wood consumption, allow me to get ahead on my stacking, and still not strap the budget as much as going all-coal (or pellets.. haven't totally ruled them out yet)...
  16. Hunderliggur

    Hunderliggur Minister of Fire

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    Matt - Can you spare some place in your shop to stack (on pallets) some of the wet wood? With the radiant floor at 55 - 60 and just a little air flow you may be able to dry it out some more. A "poor man's" kiln if you like. You may want to load in as much as you reasonably can and then use in NEXT winter. You could use some select pieces this year to get your fir started.
  17. barnartist

    barnartist Minister of Fire

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    Wait a minute. Did you say you are not sure if your slab is insulated? Is this the slab you put the radiant lines in? If your slab did not have 2" insulation and the outer edges were not also insulated, add to that the unnecessary dump into storage tanks, add to that green wood, add to that the house that is not very well insulated....

    Maybe I did not read clearly the whole thread. At this point maybe the title of the thread is a bit off. I dont know how to help-who helped you plan the install?
  18. deerefanatic

    deerefanatic Minister of Fire

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    Yes, I probably could stack a few pallets in the shop... But they'd only be in there for about 5 days at my current consumption. :(

    Barnartist, I DID NOT DO THE RADIANT SLAB INSTALL!!!!!

    It was there from the previous owner... They had an OWB hooked to it when we bought the place, but they had been heating it with Propane up until that winter. (It was a really old, homemade OWB that didn't burn for crap, wouldn't stay lit)

    It has 2" of insulation in the form of door cutouts from the local door factory all the way around the outside. As far as underneath, I only know what I was told and that was that the pex is in a 4" sand-bed under the concrete. That's all I know. Oh, and I also know that the 40x48 slab has 4 runs of 250' each of 3/4" pex-al-pex for radiant tube in it...

    The rest of the system was designed, fitted and installed by me. I'll see if I can get my files out of HVAC Solutions (Software I used to design the system) printed out and posted so you can see my piping diagram.
  19. barnartist

    barnartist Minister of Fire

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    Your install interests me because it sounds so much like my cousin who ended up selling his 60 for an OWB, Central boiler. His radiant floor was taking so much energy he could never keep up. ended up putting an air exchanger in and ditch the radiant floor sadly. He still uses tons of wood, but it fits him better because he was never going to get ahead enough on seasoned wood.
    I went through hell myself for my first 2.5 seasons, mostly my ignorance and having no help other than the seller of my eko.

    Maybe if you could run your floor on propane long enough to get a reading on how many btu's its using, it may have been suggested here already.

    If yo u werent so far i'd come and check it out to try and help. If the under part of the slab is only sand and no insulation you will have to find a different way to heat it. Sorry if this is so.
  20. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Ditto on the slab install. If it's uninsulated you're screwed and you might as well get a Modine type overhead fan forced coil or find some radiators to install around the perimeter.


    As the original installer probably found out, and as my dad used to say, "Ignorance is bliss until it bites you in the a$$" :)
  21. Sting

    Sting Feeling the Heat

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    If your serious about burning that lignite coal - in the quantity that you will need to burn

    If you can find ( at least) a 300 gallon multiple pass fire tube boiler to set over it

    If your tinkering days have not been used up and your interested

    I have a million BTU input Iron Fireman under feed stoker with a bin feed in dry storage - the old boiler it used to fire is land locked in a basement boiler room so forget that.

    But its operation will not be for the faint of heart - and I could not sell it to anyone who doesn't want to tinker - Iron Fireman has been out of Business for 40 years but Wilbert still has some parts - others can be made if you need em.

    On the other hand -- It will carry this load with far less physical daily work

    This summer we should chat -- I am only 3 hours south of you but lots to consider ???.
  22. deerefanatic

    deerefanatic Minister of Fire

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    Yah, like I said, no idea what's down under that slab... I could possibly contact the previous owners and see if they remember... They've kinda disappeared.. LOL.

    Sting, I'm gonna pm you my phone number.. I wouldn't mind chatting some evening....
  23. musclecar joe

    musclecar joe Member

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    easy enough to check what's underneath. just cut a 1 square ft hole and look. you might have 1 hour in it. take your time and just be careful not to damage pex lines. I would bet there is no insulation.

    musclecar joe
  24. huffdawg

    huffdawg Minister of Fire

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    Drill into the slab along the perimeter and find out. Usually the pex wont be closer than 9" inches. If you drill down next to the foundation you shouldnt have a problem.
  25. mr.fixit

    mr.fixit Member

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    I think the original title should of said "I hate burning@#$% green wood and I'm going to try burning coal"
    Heating with wood is not for everyone.
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