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Just had a long conversation with Fred Seton ...

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Pat53, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. Pat53

    Pat53 Minister of Fire

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    I called Fred Seton today, and asked his thoughts on why my boiler is kettling and he told me the problem is not what he would call kettling. he basically told me the problem was too much flow thru the HX ? he told me the excess flow was causing all the banging, thumping and boiling sounds, even tho as soon as the fire dies down the noise goes away? However, 5 minutes after I hung up, he called back and said he thought the problem was that the flow was too fast only thru the middle water tubes, and that water was not going thru the outside tubes and that was causing the kettling. LOL

    here are a few other things he said about the Seton boilers.

    1) Seton boilers are capable of reaching 200%+ efficiency on a long hot burn. According to Fred, the Seton 180 (180K btu) can reach up to 500K btu output ! Very impressive don't you think !
    2) Seton boilers are "made to idle"
    3) Seton boilers are more efficient the LONGER they idle
    4) Seton boilers reach firebox temps of almost 3K degrees (even tho the Kaowool on the inside is only rated for 2300 degrees)
    4) Seton boilers never develop any creosote on the water tubes, even with long periods of idling, because once the unit re-fires the super high combustion temps just burn up any creosote leaving the water tubes nice and clean

    Now, personally I disagree with every one of those claims.

    According to Fred, most of his boilers run either 1" or sometimes 3/4" line with average distances of 100' or more one way. the longer the distance, the bigger the pump he recommends, with a Taco 0011 about as big as he would use. for shorter runs he would use something like a Taco 008. Now according to Fred, even with a long run and a system head of 10-15 feet, a Taco 0011 should be pushing about 20 GPM thru the HX and he says the HX delta T would be about 15 degrees, 25 degrees maximum. So when I told him about my system, with way less than 10 feet of head, why am I getting a delta T of 25-30 degrees, with the circulator on high, and a lot of banging during the process, he said it was because the flow was too fast ! According to the pump curve for a Grundfos 26-99 on high speed, i should be pumping enough water to fill a 55 gallon barrel every 2 minutes ! Thats more water than my well pump will move, and in no way would result in a delta T of 30 degrees in the HX unless perhaps my flu temps were 1000 degrees or more ! he suggested I go with a smaller pump. I told him that would result in an even greater delta T and much more idling. he said thats good, the longer it idles the more efficient it is !! i kid you not, thats what he said.

    he said even if one or more of the water tubes in the HX were plugged up somewhat, it would not cause any kettling, even tho he did admit that too low of flow in the HX could in fact cause kettling.

    Well, I will humbly admit I have no clue what is causing the kettling, and I think its clear that Fred doesn't have a clue either. The one thing I do know is that I'm taking the HX out next spring to see if anything is plugged or corroded. That is the only way i can eliminate that as not being the problem. But for whatever reason, the problem as I see it is that the heat is not being removed from the HX fast enough.

    Pat

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  2. Akgasser

    Akgasser Member

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    I have a 130. Next time you talk to Fred let him know it sucks.
  3. Como

    Como Minister of Fire

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    Somebody else would need to do the calculation, but passing 500,000btu through a one inch line?, what GPM would you need?

    Perhaps he was having a bad day.
  4. Pat53

    Pat53 Minister of Fire

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    he said that boiler was one they were using to heat a workshop or something, not sure what size plumbing it was, but probably about 1000 GPM ... LOL
  5. 2.beans

    2.beans Minister of Fire

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    i thought you could only move 80k btu/hr or so thru inch pipe.
  6. bigburner

    bigburner Feeling the Heat

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    500MBH = 40 GPM with a 25 degree delta -t That gives you a 94.95 head per hundred feet of 1" iron pipe and a velocity of 14.85 feet per second. Looks like a muilti stage pump any running one yet. LOL
  7. roaring fire

    roaring fire New Member

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    Knowledgeable users of this forum know the multitude of variables that affect any boiler performance.
    I think it is unfair & in poor taste to try to discredit any boiler manufacturer when things go wrong,
    especially someone like Fred Seton who has invented a proven boiler whose ingeniously simple design
    led to several copycats in the industry.
    I didn't know about the Seton when I bought my unit & ended up buying a clone. The first season was a nightmare
    ( mostly my own fault). I discovered the Seton on this site & made contact with Fred himself. He talked me through
    several issues I was having at no financial benefit to him. I am now in my 4th season & the boiler purrs along
    with little intervention, just load & go.
    EP
    Take heed to an Newfoundland quote " Come down of the Cross somebody else needs the Wood"
    translation: stop complaining & start using some of the good advice you have already
    received on this site.
    best
    Dan
  8. Pat53

    Pat53 Minister of Fire

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    Dan, I'm not trying to blame Fred for the problem I'm having. However, I completely disagree with several of his "theories" on how to operate the boiler. I don't think you'll find anyone who would agree that long periods of idling are "efficient" ways to run a boiler. and I've seen plenty of pictures of Setons and their clones with HX's that look like they wouldn't transfer a single BTU because of the creosote build-up on them. And I seriously doubt that the fire chamber inside the Seton gets anywhere close to 3K degrees ! That might be just a tad "dangerous", wouldn't you think? And a Seton 180 putting out 500K BTU's? i don't think so.

    Last year, I did exactly what you do... load it up for the night and go to bed, no problems. now with storage, i'm having a problem. I'm confident I'll figure out what it is, until then its frustrating for sure, but I can still heat my house with it. But, would I buy another one if I had the choice? .... no way.

    Pat
  9. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    AFA some of those comments ........they need to be "flavored" with a grain or two of salt. Other than that, I have no further comments on a public forum.

    What you probably have going on is restricted flow in one of your heat exchanger tubes and water is flashing into steam. Commonly known as "perking" in this neck of the woods. I would take steps to investigate sooner rather than later as the next thing that happens to a tube with low or no flow is burn through.

    If you have ever heard an old gas fired water heater that has about 6" of calcium deposits built up on the bottom, you would recognize it as the same sound. Water saturates the debris on the bottom of the tank and when the burner runs it will boil a small amount of water that is "trapped" against the bottom of the tank and can't circulate to dissipate the heat being absorbed.
  10. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Yes indeed! Multistage with around 2 HP driving it.
  11. sdrobertson

    sdrobertson Minister of Fire

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    I've been wondering if you could get one of those fiber optic "snakes" that they advertise for auto repair of maybe even a local plumber might have one and let the boiler cool down, and then take a look on the inside of the heat exchanger.
  12. Singed Eyebrows

    Singed Eyebrows New Member

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    Pat, if it gets any more efficient you will need to take wood out as you are burning, lol, Randy
  13. bigburner

    bigburner Feeling the Heat

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    Fred Seton is right on with most of his comments. It's boils down to this. Ha Ha No really his design utilizes two forms of heat transfer and two states of wood burning. The one in question is the radiant transfer when in idle mode, at this point in the cycle the wood should be in a charcoal like state that requires almost no AIR [just like coal] it should not have any tars left to foul a heat exchanger and will load the refractory and heat exchanger with BTU's I have said here before with some negative comments back that running the water tube heat exchanger as hot as possible was the key to keeping the thing burning properly. my suggestion its to feed the return water threw a mix valve to the boiler to maintain 200+ degrees at the boiler. Tars are a form of condensation and things can't condensate if they are above the dew point. IE: keep it hotter, threw the whole burn cycle.

    Pat- if you were a customer of mine we would have already put in a boiler cleaning chemical and a circuit setter. water is like electricity it hard to look at and see how much is there, but both have real good ways to measure GPM =amps & pressure = volts. You know how much pressure[volts] you have, you don't how many amps you have [GPM] adding a know CV valve in the system lets you measure GPM, this is a tool help you know in the future where you are now and adding a cleaner has helped at all, also gives you the ability to set the GPM for a sweat spot. A bad thing about small diameter water tube heat exchangers, is that a little fouling inside, will exponentially get worse because of the small cross section.
  14. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    I've never met nor talked to the guy, but possiblly Fred Seton is getting sick of the calls and is giving out 'colorful' advice now? :zip:

    Anyway, as the pro-types here seem to have said, it seems like you have a flow restriction in at least one of the tubes, Pat. The mention of 'burn through' would have me worried a bit. If you are committed to this style hydronic - I think you said you wouldn't buy another one so forget this thought - maybe you should swap in a new HX. If that fixes the percolation, then take the old one apart and replace the tube thats blocked.

    Just an idea.

    Jimbo
  15. Pat53

    Pat53 Minister of Fire

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    Well, I agree, to a point, about the fouling effects of idling on the HX. If you fill up the firebox and you are NOT running with storage, you are going to get a relatively short burn before the system water is up to temp. And then the boiler goes into idle for perhaps 30 minutes or so, depending on the heat demand of course. So in this instance the wood still has a lot of moisture and while idling it is going to be producing tars. This would probably be occurring for at least the first 2-3 burn cycles before the wood gets to that "charcoal" state. By adding storage I wanted to avoid those early burn cycles that produced the junk, and so far I have done that. My HX is staying pretty clean so far, much cleaner than last year at this time.

    I'm runnning right now up to 200F before shutting down and I notice that even after a long 2-3 hr burn, when the boiler goes into idle I am still getting a good 20 degree delta T in the HX, so I'm still getting that good radiant transfer, and yes, the wood thats still in the firebox looks exactly like big chunks of charcoal. It doesn't smoke or smolder at all, so the unit seems to be well sealed. However, it would seem that a 20 degree delta T while in idle mode is still kind of high, considering that a 20 degree delta T is probably about the average when a boiler is fired? This would also seem to indicate that the flow thru the HX isn't what it should be?

    What is a "circuit setter" , never heard of that? Also, when you say a "CV" valve, are you talking about a flow meter or a rotameter?

    thx, Pat
  16. Pat53

    Pat53 Minister of Fire

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    Jim, I've talked to Fred several times in the last 2 years. I had several questions when we were building the boiler and he was very helpful. But I definitely disagree with him on several issues. Anyway, I'm going to just run the boiler this season and see what happens. If it burns thru somewhere I'll obviously have to shut down and take the HX out. I'm going to be taking it out in April regardless and cutting the end open so I can get a look down the tubes. Hopefully I'll find the problem. If the HX is shot I'll biuld another one, I can't afford another boiler now anyway.

    Pat
  17. bigburner

    bigburner Feeling the Heat

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    The Cv is the number of US gallons of water the valve will pass with a differential pressure of 1 psi. circuit setter is a valve with a machine port that gives it a rating of a number -1" might be an 8,[each valve has it's own rating] anyway install one, put on the gauges and use a wiz wheel and the pressure differential across the valve will tell GPM. I used B&G on my system, in the field I have used a lot of Lochinvar. I know that my taco 012 on the boiler has a two foot pressure drop that equals 20 GPM. I know that the push/pull 011's on the 300ft one way 1''pex has a 2 ft drop also [smaller valve] and that it is delivering 6 GPM. Now you can figure out the BTU's. On my 6 gpm leg with a 25 degree split I am getting 75 mbh. Temperature is only half the equation. Call mike at 9203242007 and ask for a strong cleaner and try that. while I am on a roll here, all u guys running pressurized systems that have not built a shot feeder put that on your list. simple to do. a 3/4 tee on both sides of your pump piped to an "air tank" or similar,[5 to 10 gallons] weld a 2inch coupling/w/plug on top. the two lines in the side high and low and a drain on bottom. you can add treatment in 2 minutes no mess, super simple. I got one works great. about 25 bucks for all the parts.
  18. Pat53

    Pat53 Minister of Fire

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    BB, where would I get this equipment/valves/ i've never heard of this stuff before? LOL

    Pat
  19. bigburner

    bigburner Feeling the Heat

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    I got the last couple off from ebay, any wholesale houses that sell plumbing/ boiler supplies can get them. Or the on line stores too.
  20. Pat53

    Pat53 Minister of Fire

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    So you put the circuit setter in-line and then put pressure gauges on both sides and then you can determine flow rate? Sorry, I've never heard of these things but they look like a neat way to verify flow rates . BTW, what is a "whiz wheel"? LOL

    One more thing, it looks like these things have much smaller ports than ball valves, would you recommend going with something like a 2" for use in 1 1/4" piping so that flow is not too restricted?

    thx, Pat
  21. bigburner

    bigburner Feeling the Heat

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    Wiz wheel, just a rotary slide rule that tells what the GPM would be for a specific valve & ft of drop. We use a special gauge set, it could be done with a single gauge and a couple of 1/4 ball valves. stick it in the inlet or outlet and measure away.
  22. Pat53

    Pat53 Minister of Fire

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  23. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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  24. bigburner

    bigburner Feeling the Heat

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    Pat that's the ticket. Heaterman don't have time to double check but I don't think that syzer does cirsetters, at lest mine doesn't. might have an old version.
  25. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    The link I was trying to post is one for ordering information for a B&G system syzer wheel. You can get one from that website someplace. It's a slick little tool for determining pipe size or finding flow rates in what you do have. And you're right, I was posting that at the end of a 14 hour day and didn't take the time to double check.
    Try this one. http://rcwapp.itt.com/askred/BG-Contact-Local-Rep.asp If you don't want to do it the on-line way you can simply call the phone # at the top of the page.

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