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Installing a boiler in a shed?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by mtaccone, Jan 22, 2008.

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  1. mtaccone

    mtaccone New Member

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    I have heard that some install the HS tarm outside in a shed rather than in a basement. Is this possible? I have forced air gas now and am planning to put wood primary heat in this house over the summer.. I have seen the heat exchangers on Ebay for $200 or less. Without a good way to get the wood in this basement with out carring through the house and down the stairs outdoors is a good option that and if a fire occurs I burn down the shed and its contents rather than the house... If this is doable any ideas on costs? Probable do most of it myself with exception of heat exchanger. The Tarm is only 1 season used since 1978 in my parents basement so If I can get it out and use i here that saves a ton right there... Any thoughts?

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  2. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    I think it's a good approach. You have to think about freezing protection, though. If you're going to use it all the time, an insulated shed would probably work fine. Otherwise, you'd have to use antifreeze, which I think requires a little more maintenace.
  3. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    A shed works good. A couple of things to consider, in addition to nofossil's freeze protection warning: You're going to lose some efficiency in that the radiant heat off the boiler vessel and chimney are basically going to be wasted, unless your boiler room is big enough to store some wood. And you're going to need to put in underground lines to get the hot water from the shed into the house. That's an extra expense and possibly an engineering challenge.

    On the freeze thing, I've done it both ways. I'd strongly recommend spending what you would have spent on antifreeze on extra insulation and maybe a scheme for circulating a little bit of warm water through the wood boiler when you're out of town in the winter. If you already have a gas or oil boiler, it wouldn't be hard to crack a valve on the wood side run the pump while you're gone, in order to keep everything on the wood side above freezing. But a well insulated boiler in a well insulated shed should hold its heat for days after the fire goes out.

    Antifreeze makes everything a lot more complicated and expensive.
  4. mtaccone

    mtaccone New Member

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    I don't have a boiler now I have a hot air system so I think I better go with the antifreeze.. Installing and burying the lines I can do easily. The ground will be tore up for drainage lines also so thats would be good timing... Im thinking by what I have read and the location that this could be an easy DIY install. I would need a heating guy to install the exchanger though.. Have you got any material pricing? How expensive is anti freeze?
  5. wdc1160

    wdc1160 New Member

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    IMO if you have to introduce gycol then your doing it wrong. There are better ways-- pick one of those.


    Bill
  6. mikeyny

    mikeyny Feeling the Heat

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    My lines are still above ground. I originally planned on putting them underground but didn't have the time. When I finally got the time I couldn't be bothered. My pipes run along the fence line and in thru the foundation. They sit on 2 layers of 2 inch styrofoam and are wrapped with fiberglass insulation and plastic. Not the best way to go. It requires a little maintenance from time to time. I don't run antifreeze in mine. I just use it all winter, thats why I put it in in the first place. When I do have to leave for 2 days I just run a return pump 24-7 and it never froze yet.(knock on wood).
    Mike
  7. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    You want to keep an eye on your pex, Mike, to make sure the mice and squirrels don't gnaw through it. IME, they like to nest in the insulation, since it's nice and warm in there. I don't know if they'd chew on plastic, but I don't want to find out. I wrapped the runs through my barn ceiling in small-mesh wire in hopes of keeping them away from the goodies.

    Attached Files:

  8. mtaccone

    mtaccone New Member

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    I would have to run antifreeze to be safe as I do not have a boiler set up now I have hot air
  9. leaddog

    leaddog Minister of Fire

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    If you are going to run the boiler water into your furnace with a heat exchanger you don't need to use anti-freeze. Just make sure you keep your transfer pump running and it will transfer heat back to the boiler and keep things from freezing as long as you run your furnace when the boiler isn;t going.
    leaddog
  10. mtaccone

    mtaccone New Member

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    ahh I see now how about a water line from my house to fill this system? I am assuming that it must be hard plumbes how does that not freeze? Obvious this outside boil just came to me the other day hence all the ???'s
  11. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    You run plastic pipe with a lot of insulation around it underground. If you're really ambitious, you could put it below the frost line. You could also run a piece of heat tape within the insulation to warm things up if they start to cool off too much. All of this is cheaper in the long run than antifreeze, which is more than $5 per gallon.

    You would run the water to a water-to-air heat exchanger in your basement, and your existing furnace takes care of distributing it into the house. It's pretty simple to set up, actually.

    You can hang a sidearm heat exchanger on your existing hot water heater and heat all your domestic hot water as well. You can put in a hot water storage tank if you like, infloor radiant, etc. etc.
  12. mtaccone

    mtaccone New Member

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    I have seen a couple side arms online not sure how they work... where do the circulators go basement? just need 2 loops I guess you call it 1 for hot water 1 for heat? costs of parts as I am doing it mostly myself?
  13. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    You need one loop from the boiler into the basement. One pump. You can run the sidearm in series, so that water coming from the boiler passes through the sidearm on its way to the heat exchanger. Or you can go the other way if you prefer. Doesn't matter, really.

    The sidearm works by gravity. When you pass the hot water through the outside tube, it heats up the domestic water in the inner tube, and it circulates into the water heater. The size of your underground pipe is determined by the size of your boiler. I'm guessing you can get by with 1" pex, but you might have to go up to 1 1/4 if it's a big Tarm. The pump size should be dictated by the length and pipe size in the loop. I'd allow $3.50 per foot for pipe and insulation, and $200 for a good pump. You can build your own sidearm for around $100 in materials if you're good with a soldering torch or buy one on Ebay for not a whole lot more. Another $200 for misc parts and fittings. Maybe a little more.
  14. mtaccone

    mtaccone New Member

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    Sounds like I could do all this under $1000 which is great being it will be outside. I was going to spend $3000 on a masonry chimney and add on furnace.
  15. daleeper

    daleeper Minister of Fire

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    "If you are going to run the boiler water into your furnace with a heat exchanger you don't need to use anti-freeze. Just make sure you keep your transfer pump running and it will transfer heat back to the boiler and keep things from freezing as long as you run your furnace when the boiler isn;t going."

    OK, you guys have said this several times in this thread. What if the power is out a week, and you have no generator, and it is below freezing? Are you telling me you don't need antifreeze then?
  16. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Then I would drain the system, since you can't use it under those conditions anyway.

    You can always come up with a worst-case scenario. What if a pipe breaks when you're at work, all the water drains out of your system and your pump seizes up and your boiler overheats? What do you do then? Try to design around the contingencies.

    In this application, glycol wouldn't be too bad, since you're talking about a loop to a water-to-air hx, anyway. But my position is that glycol is more trouble than it's worth, and I'm sticking to it!
  17. mtaccone

    mtaccone New Member

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    what is the trouble with glycol? Never used it in a boiler so fill me in if you will..
  18. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    It's expensive and hard to put back into the system if you need to drain it off for some reason (system maintenance, etc.). It can go acidic on you after a few years and eat up your components. And it hurts your heat transfer compared to water. I think somebody posted a link saying that it's up to 12 percent less effective at heat transfer than plain water. And it's slimy.

    I've used it in two different systems. Most recently, with another boiler in my current house, I used it because I was afraid of a freeze-up, but my house has cast iron radiators (hundreds of gallons of water), so I had to use a flat plate heat exchanger between the wood (glycol) side and the house (plain water) side. In my experience, the system is much more responsive if you can pipe the wood side directly into the house hydronic system compared to using a heat exchanger. And I suspect, it's much more efficient for reasons relating to the nature of heat exchangers (they only extract a fraction of the heat on any given pass).
  19. wdc1160

    wdc1160 New Member

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    I don't like it for all the reasons that Eric said and that is is expensive, more upkeep and preventable.
  20. sled_mack

    sled_mack New Member

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    I've got my boiler and storage tank in a shed, and I really like it. No mess or smell in the house.

    The run from the shed to the house is about 150 ft for me. My only advice is to insulate the pex really well. If you've got wet soil, or worse yet moving water, be sure to keep that ground water away from your pex and insulation. Some people say that ground is an insulator, or that it gets "charged" with heat then give heat back. Personally, I don't buy either argument. But I know for a fact that if your ground is wet, that water will carry away your heat very quickly.

    When I put mine in, Central Boiler sold this sleeve material, almost like a garbage bag 200 ft long and not quite big enough to go around a 5 gal bucket. I used that to go around my pex-insulation bundle. Then put all of that inside an 8 inch corregated pipe for extra protection.

    There are dozens of methods that will work. Check them all out, and do what you think will work best for you.

    If you are considering a storage tank, and you put that tank in the shed, it will help keep the shed/boiler warm if the boiler is out for an extended time. Mine can go a week no problem. You can also more easily put a bigger tank in a shed than you can in a basement. Plan that out carefully before you build your shed too small.

    Good luck and keep us posted with your plans.
  21. 55Razor

    55Razor Member

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    Hi, Everyone. I stumbled across this site, and after seeing the amount of information and knowledge relating to Gasification Boilers, had to join in!
    mtaccone, my setup is exactly as you have heard some people do. I have my boiler in a shed I built 100' from the house. I decided to do this for a couple of reasons. First, the mess and smell are outside, but secondly, with the surely upward trend of fuel prices, more people will be looking at wood heat as a solution. The problem with this is a lot of these will be of the variety that think all they have to do is be able to sign the check to buy a wood-heat device, and not really appreciate all that goes into it. I can see tragic consequences in some cases, and an Insurance Industry that may eventually say "if you have a wood-burning appliance inside your dwelling, we're not going to insure it"
    I want to comment on the concern with the supply and return pipes possibly freezing. I was worried about that, too, and here's what I did. I wired the circulator so that it could be run manually using the circulator rocker switch on the front panel of my boiler. My thought is that if I'm going to be away for an extended time, I could let the circulator run continuously to keep the water moving. One obstacle to that was the Termovar Valve; it is closed until the water reaches 160 F, preventing circulation. If the boiler's not running, no hot water! So I installed a 3/8 shunt valve around the Termovar that I can manually open when I need to, my thought being that the flow through this would be sufficient enough to keep the water moving so it wouldn't freeze. Fortunately I haven't had to test it!
  22. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Welcome to the Boiler Room, 55Razor. Sounds like a sweet system. I like having my boiler outside of my living space as well, for all the reasons you mentioned. And that's a good point about signing the check and expecting the thing to all come together. There's a lot more money and a lot more time and work involved in getting things the way you want them, but it's mostly fun and well worth every penny and every minute.
  23. 55Razor

    55Razor Member

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    Thanks, Eric. I'm always "tinkering" with my system, and I've already borrowed some ideas from here to try out. I can't get over the info. available!
    One more good reason for putting a Tarm or the like in an outside building that I can't say I thought of until after I did it; There's no better place in the world than sitting in my warm boiler shed at 6:00am enjoying the fresh wood and coffee smells!
  24. atlarge54

    atlarge54 New Member

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    My sidearm was a kit which was some pcs of pipe and fittings, two of the fittings needed filed inside so the internal pipe would slide through. Nice thing about the kit is it allows you to orient all the outlets for your particular application. I also vote to keep the glycol out.
  25. mtaccone

    mtaccone New Member

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    appreciate all the info I think the hardest part will getting the 1400lb 1978 hs tarm out of my parents basement. and worse yet getting it off my truck here. I wish I had thought of this this summer when we bought the house then I would be enjoying free heat. We are tearing down the car garage and building a decent storage shed behind it about 50 feet away from the house. but this is going to be a spring project and a good time since the yard was just dug up this fall for drainage. Yes i do have running water in the back yard.. anyone got any pictures of their setup? in basement and in shed?.. cant wait for spring to get started on this.... And then cutting more wood than I can burn as to sell it to pay for my install materials.... Maybe will burn half the garage too for heat! Also plan to get another door for the tarm as to insert an oil burner as I mentioned in another thread to burn off 500 gas of kerosene I have buried next to my house..
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