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I hat this @#$% EKO

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

  1. deerefanatic

    deerefanatic Minister of Fire

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    I'm not cutting into that slab.... Not happening.. I've got enough problems without asking for more... :O

    I wouldn't even venture a guess how the PO's installed this or what spacing the pex is at... They seemed to do everything half-cocked.

    Heck, look at all the houses in Levittown that were installed after WWII with no slab insulation of any kind... yah they weren't the most efficient, but they worked good too.. (Until the copper pipes broke in the concrete.. LOL)

    I guess it comes down to the fact that while the manual and marketing literature for this EKO say it can handle up to 35% MC, it's a deal of "yah, you can do it, but sucks to be you!"

    You can say that again that wood isn't for everyone... I nearly didn't go down this road and now I'm sorry I did.

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  2. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    I've really found this thread to be a great read. But I hate the title. Me thinks the EKO is doing everything it can to keep up under some "less than ideal" system conditions...

    If you ever decomission this thing put me first in line for your Nofossil controls setup! Aside from that - I still hope you can make it work. I like the idea above about ditching the radiant slab. Gotta stop the bleeding someplace and I bet that would be the quickest...
  3. barnartist

    barnartist Minister of Fire

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    Deer, you have to cut into your slab because you need to find out. There should be a safe place to drill. Maybe where the lines go into the floor you can see which way they go and find a good spot.
    You said the owners do things half, whats the chances they spent the extra $ on the proper insulation? Heck I did not do mine right because I though "shoot i'll just throw some extra wood on" mentality. I ditched mine, my cousin ditched his and he spent some real bucks on his 60 X 40.

    Can you measure the return temp compared to the supply on the floor? This will tell the story well.
  4. Donl

    Donl Feeling the Heat

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    Where did you read this in the EKO manual?

    This is what my EKO manual says:

    Wood Fuel Considerations
    Dry firewood wood is the recommended fuel source for the EKO boiler. The optimum moisture content
    of the wood used to fuel the boiler should be between 15% and 20%. Hardwoods such as beech,
    oak, maple, hickory, etc. are best. While it is possible to burn dry softwood such as pine, spruce, fir,
    hemlock, etc., they will burn faster and require more frequent loading of the boiler than hardwood.
    The best way to determine wood moisture content is with a moisture meter. As a general rule, hardwood
    cut, split and stacked for
    one year under cover is usually
    ready for burning in an EKO
    boiler. Wood properly stored for
    two years is best. The manufacturer
    and distributor cannot
    be responsible for problems
    related to using wood that is
    not adequately dry or dense.
    The length of the wood pieces
    should be at least two inches
    shorter than the depth of the
    firebox
  5. sdrobertson

    sdrobertson Minister of Fire

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    I'm wondering if you could run the slab temp lower and put in a air handler to make up that heat. If you turned down the slab temp to say 50ish, this would still be warm enough to get rid of any moisture on the floor, and it will not be cold and clammy but it would take allot less BTU's. If the slab is uninsulated, this would be less of a temp difference so it may help with that loss of heat. You may even be able to run the water through the air handler, and then through the slab so it wont be much additional piping.
  6. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    You've hit a crossroads . . .

    You need to know what's causing the problem. Seems many educated guesses are the slab may be a big part. The 'shutting off the slab' is not a corrective action. It's a test. If your decision is that you don't want to shut down the slab because you want it warm in there, then the crossroads is a deadend. Get your coal boiler and waste coal instead of wood :smirk:

    Once you determine that a big part of the problem is the slab, then we can look at options to get you heat in there without wasting your efforts.

    But if you want to go on thinking that the EKO doesn't perform - in the face of overwhelming proof from many users here that it actually DOES perform - then there's not much left to say.
  7. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    If you want to pursue that idea, I would suggest running the slab for a few hours then using an infrared "heat gun" to find the tubes. You should be able to pick out where they are with no problem. It's really not a bad idea to find out what's under that slab. Then you would have some guidance as to whether it should be abandoned as a heat source or continue using it.
  8. deerefanatic

    deerefanatic Minister of Fire

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    haha. The Nofossil control system isn't going anywhere.. Wether I burn wood, pellets, coal, corn, propane, or used tires (just kidding guys), it's staying! LOL That thing is worth it's weight in gold!

    Well, it's like this; that slab is barely keeping up as it is.. If I shut that slab off, within a day or two it's gonna be COLD in there (like, upper 30's). And I gotta work in there... I only heat that slab up to a max of 58 - 60 degrees as it is..

    Water temps... I have a mixing setup for it. I've included a little piping diagram (made in MS Paint hahaha) The pump runs and circulates water around.. The gate valve is used as a throttle and is closed off partially to create a slight restriction. The zone valve pictured opens and closes to admit hot water into the flow to the slab. The zone valve is controlled by a PID control and attempts to hold the outgoing floor water temp at 145F. Now, the return will vary based on how long the heat's been on, etc and so forth, anywhere from 50's (when it first comes on) to low 100's.. It's got a 26-99 Grundfos on it, but it's pumping down 150 feet of 1" line both ways, so there's some flow loss there. Plus the gate valve for restriction purposes... So really, what flow I'm getting is a mystery to me, but probably at least 10 gpm... (I'm going on my memory of what my calculations in HVAC solutions told me... It's been awhile since I was in there working on this setup.)

    So, yes, fairly large load.. Especially when it first starts..

    I guess, I'm not so much displeased with the EKO as much as burning wood in general. It really blows. My fascination with coal comes from the fact that it's still MUCH cheaper than fuel oil, and alot less screwing around than this wood.. AND, when I buy it, it's ready to go! There is no way on earth I can't keep this up being self employed. I'm glad I had a slow week last week, because with all the messing with this wood system, I'd be way behind on my work otherwise.

    My frustration with the EKO was that it was supposed to SAVE me a bunch of work, and instead has cost me a bunch for my situation vs an OWB. Maybe it has.. Maybe it hasn't.. I have nothing to compare to other than the OWB that was on the shop and didn't work at all... (Old, homemade job, poor design... This thing had a reputation around the neighborhood)

    I suppose, I've got a a friend that's got a stash of cast iron radiators that he's gonna put in his house.. Maybe I can "borrow" them for the rest of this winter to see how the shop works with them, then make my decision..

    Attached Files:

  9. deerefanatic

    deerefanatic Minister of Fire

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    I've tried the infra red thermometer Idea.. Don't work. :( They're too far down under the slab... The heat just spreads out.
  10. Piker

    Piker Minister of Fire

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    This is a very good idea. I think your issues with hating to burn wood have to do mostly with the fact that you are burning way more than you need to because of the quality you are trying to use. I keep going back to that crud in the heat exchanger that you removed... with that kind of buildup,I would think that you could easily be burning twice the wood as necessary based on what I have seen in the field.

    cheers
  11. djblech

    djblech Feeling the Heat

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    The problem is the radiant tubing installation in the sand. It is trying to heat the ground not the slab. I had the same problem. I had to force myself to abandon my radiant floors and install 2 cast iron radiators. I could actually use 1 more in the front porch which is 14x22 but I now have heat and my boiler isn't running constantly trying to keep up. It would probably help if you had 2" of foam at least 2' down around the sides of the slab. I had 1 1/2" of horizontal foam down 6", the 2" of sand, then radiant tubes covered with sand and I still couldn't heat it up.
    Doug
  12. huffdawg

    huffdawg Minister of Fire

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    What about laying 2" of high density foam , then some steel mesh , a re pex job ,and a 2" concrete pour on top of the old slab. Would be a lot cheaper than another boiler. Might lose a little head room but a little less space to heat. :-/
  13. deerefanatic

    deerefanatic Minister of Fire

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    Yah, stacking wood inside might work... But right now it's going by mighty fast...

    Yah, foam underneath is doubtful... Foam around the side.... I have no idea how much or how deep.

    A re-pour is intriguing... IT would definitely be a lot of work.. But not as much as knocking out the existing concrete. But, I'd think if you put the foam under the re-pour on top of existing slab, the weight would compress it to nothing...

    Headroom is at a premium though.. It's only 12 foot ceilings and 11 foot door opening as it is... If I loose much more, it will severely limit to an even greater extent what I can work on in there....

    Maybe dig out some of the perimeter foam and see what I have... Maybe if I go down around the slab it would help things some? Or will it not even pay for the cost of the foam board to do it?
  14. deerefanatic

    deerefanatic Minister of Fire

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    So Piker, what are you thinking? Just green wood or???????? I've tested several pieces. Most of this wood was only 28% moisture tops when I brought it home.. I've cut some open and it's running still around 25% to 28% on the inside of the piece.. This is larger pieces. I haven't cut open any of the tiny pieces... (Some of the blocks are only 2x4x5 inches or so)

    As far as stacking, I can only spare room for maybe 2 or 3 pallets tops... Heck, I'm trying to get crap OUT of my shop right now... I can't be using it as a woodlot..
  15. huffdawg

    huffdawg Minister of Fire

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    My shop is 24x36 after I leveled all the pit run and sand it took me about 4 hours to lay all the styrofoam, mesh,and pex tubing.
    With the help of a friend . I poured roughly 4" to 6" on top of the stryrofoam.
  16. Hunderliggur

    Hunderliggur Minister of Fire

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    You shop issue seems to be it has amassive heat loss. No matter what you heat it with, it is going to take a lot of BTUs to get it done in its current situation. A different fuel just means you will be paying a different supplier. Based on what has been said on tis thread, your wood consumption would be about 1/2 if the wood was dry (20% MC). You could invest now in some split wood and stack it on the property for use in one to two years (2 years is better). Make sure it is covered and don't touch it. Do what you can in the interim to heat.

    To mitigate your heat loss you MUST have perimiter insulation around the shop. Given your situation, 2 inches of DRY insulation around the foundation is a must and it should go down at least to the frost line. If you do that, you could keep your shop slab at ground temperature (50 - 55F) in a steady state without much grief. I like the idea of keeping the shop floor at 55F and then using other sources (water-air HX) to provide point of use heat when you need. You may find you can go up a bit (65F) without too much problem. A decent compromise. My basement slab (2500 SF) has only bubble foil insulation underneath and no radiant, but does have ICF walls with a total of 4 inches of styrofoam insulation. I get very little heat loss though the walls. The basement stays a constant 65F with no added heat except that the first floor above is 70F. The topping slab over insulation is a great idea. Just make sure that you use the correct foam for the load.

    BTW - The price of coal is going up! The floods in Austrailia hit their coal areas affecting worldwide coal supply, and US political pessures is making coal harder and more expensive to produce, if it all. With less coal (or more expensive coal), petroleum wil go up, electricity will go up, etc. Trees are one of our renewable resources. I don't think you have enough sun or wind to heat the shop, let alone the house.
  17. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    Man, I have been SERIOUSLY undercharging for that thing ;-)

    Matt, I really hope that a series of fixes and tweaks can get this thing under control for you. Greener wood needs more surface area and more air. I finally have really dry wood and I'm running my primaries at 4mm. Back when I started they were wide open.
  18. bigburner

    bigburner Feeling the Heat

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    Ya lets spend a bunch more cash before we figure out the problem. The shop -- how many BTU 's are you sending to it ??? - measure the GPM and the split = BTU"s Now get out the J-Manual and see how many BTU 's you should be using -- then decide if are wasting heat or not.

    An uninsulated slab or tubes in the sand are not a huge deal unless the ground water in closer then 8 ft. A high water table will rob heat a low one has little effect. Doesn't much mater where the tubes are - 2nd law thermodynamics [speed of transfer slows a little in sand]
  19. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    Try to get some white ash if it's around your area. It's a low moisture wood and will dry to usable moisture fast.
  20. RobC

    RobC Minister of Fire

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  21. RobC

    RobC Minister of Fire

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    Isn't 1" copper good for 70,000BTU's how many BTU's can 1" pex (I assume) carry ?
    Try switching your zone valve mixing system to a radiant mixing valve to allow for an even flow of water into floor ?
  22. bigburner

    bigburner Feeling the Heat

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    BTU"S are based on GPM x spilt . Example - 6 GPM with a 25F spilt = 75MBH. The actual temp has no bearing on BTU's But for water heat a higher start temp with wider Delta-t is the most usable water temps, obliviously. Don't have the 26-99 curve in front of me, it might be a push to get 6 GPM out of that pump @ 300 ft Pex
  23. barnartist

    barnartist Minister of Fire

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    bigburner, I wish you were right about the no insulation is not a big deal. I have to respectfully disagree.
  24. bigburner

    bigburner Feeling the Heat

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    Didn't say it's not always a big deal, we use it where required. You got any computer software for sizing in floor. We have used Wirsbo, Kitec, and a couple others. There is always a provision for ground water table. We always use under slab insulation [usually Dow board] for damp soils, and never rely on bubble wrap a insulator. The meat & potatoes of that post was to get him to figure the load and a high water table can be a big part of that load, but if he sets on a sandy hill, not so much.
  25. Sawyer

    Sawyer Minister of Fire

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    Matt, my Garn (approximately 19,000#) sits on 60 sq/ft of 2" foamboard or 316# per sq/ft.

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