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Looking for a week in the life of a indoor wood boiler owner

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by pulse, Dec 28, 2010.

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  1. sweetheat

    sweetheat Member

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    My week with 2 floors new construction 2352 square feet radiant in floor haunched perimeter beam 2" insulated slab on grade. Spruce 2x6 T&G walls/roof with 3 inch Dow styrofoam insulation 1/2 dead air space 7/8 boarding boards, 3/8 butt cedar shingles 5 inches to the weather. This is a work shop during the day and the thermostat is kept at 64 degrees 1st floor. 2nd floor is cooler about 58 but no activity up there so, About 4:00 P.M. check the 806 gal storage tank temps and weather outlook for the next few days. If storage is less then 120 degrees and temps are below freezing outside grab a few sheets of newspaper, a few sticks of cedar kindling, 4 or 5 small splits, 5 or six larger splits and place it all in the Tarm solo plus 40, light the auto propane gasser lighter and stick it in the top or bottom either way light my fire. In about 5 minutes just crack the door to make sure the fire is roaring. close secondary lower door, close the bypass damper, hit the fan switch, sweep up turn out the lights and walk down to my house for dinner. It's now about 4:15. My total wood consumption 2 full cords of split very dry maple, beech, ash, hornbeam, oak. About 15 minutes a day in cold weather, and every other day in milder months. My first fire was December 4th my last fire April 16th. Once a week clean fire box and lower chamber. Once a year clean boiler tubes, turbulators, smoke pipe and chimney clean out. Every other year clean 6" stainless chimney flue. It doesn't get any easier. sweetheat

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  2. mr.fixit

    mr.fixit Member

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    I think there are so many variables when it comes to burning wood including;amount of insulation,house style,temp set point,wood type,where the boiler is located and I could go on and on and on.Boiler location is big .My boiler is in a unattached garage about 30ft from the house.(storage tank also)The garage is insulated.Just from the heat off of the chimney,the boiler,and the exposed piping it stays at 50*to60* in there.Last year before insulating everything well it stayed warmer yet!So I can see an advantage to having the boiler in the basement.
    So back to the original question.I fully load the boiler in the AM.Normally coals left from nite before so it gets going pretty fast.
    I reload in the evenings between 8 and ten.Very seldom do I start a fire from scratch,maybe once or twice a week.
    Colder weather takes a extra load sometime during the day.My boiler isnt oversized,so it seldom idles much.If you count the garage I am heating over 4000sq.ft,on about 9 or 10 full cord.
  3. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

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    Musclecarbob, there is something real wrong. I would get a heat loss test done to find out where your heat is going. I have a house that's very tight and as a result my house gets damp. Windows have moisture, doors get damp too. We get no static shocks in our house neither. I open all the doors and windows to get the moisture out every other day fro 5 min. My point is, if you have a poor insulated house it will be dry with all the wood you are burning and might tell you something. Many don't have the insulation they think they have. If it's damp it's tight. I'd look into heat loss from boiler to house, then jet setting on your boiler. Something is wrong. I also saved wood by keeping my boiler set at 160*, but it does make more creosote. In my 2200 sq ft. ranch I burned a bit over 3 cords last year at 70*
  4. sweetheat

    sweetheat Member

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    ihookem, if it's damp you need air circulation. your vapor barrier is preventing moisture from escaping causing moisture buildup on your windows and doors. not to hijack this thread but think of the amount of moisture produced in a house over the years, many gallons. A house needs to breath just like you do. I've seen the results of a tight house, mold, mildew, water condensing and running down the cold side of the vapor barrier and rotting the studs. pulse I'm not bashing your set up but that 10 cords is a lot of wood to handle it could be so much easier. my 2 cents. sweetheat
  5. pulse

    pulse Member

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    I don't know it seems like half of the responses guys are using similar amounts to me? Or are you thinking 10 cord in a standard owb=5 cord in a gasser?
  6. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    This thread seems to suggest that visiting a gasser two to three times a day is pretty standard. Every OWB user I know visits their boiler twice a day, every day. If you're going to suit-up to walk outside to service a gasser you're going to throw in half the amount of wood compared to the OWB. So you're still spending less time out there. There are lots of guys on this board with their downdraft gasser outside who would never think of having them in their basements...
  7. sweetheat

    sweetheat Member

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    pulse, with good insulation and storage a gasser should be using less then 4 cords a winter. Not a clue what an OWB would use, I know a lot. If I were living in my shop the season of burn would be longer so I'm guesstimating 4 cords usage. I used 2 cord last winter to keep it a toasty 64 degrees inside, excellent for working on timbers. IMHO the best place for a gasser is inside the home if it will fit. I have no smoke roll out issues because I load it and light it and leave it alone. Sweetheat
  8. Paso

    Paso Member

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    After reading this entire post, I would have really like to know what the average outside temperature is the area of the country that the boiler is working.

    In my early days of reading the boiler room I did things based on what other people said worked great for them, however what I didn't realize is the outside temperature in there area was not anywhere near what temp I was setting my boiler up to work in.

    We don't see 32 f very often after October 20th and we get weeks of -35 I think with the wind blowing in every crack most places cool down quick.

    Never mind filling boiler in bunny slippers I'd be wearing shorts filling my OWB if the temps were as balmy as some of you guys are filling :):)
  9. chuck172

    chuck172 Minister of Fire

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    What I'm having a hard time understanding is that unless everyone is just adding a few pc's of wood each time, how can anyone refill a gassifier with its 5cu. ft. or bigger firebox- 2 or three times a day, everyday during the heating season and still burn 4 or less cords/year.
  10. musclecar joe

    musclecar joe Member

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    I am with you. i fill mine 3 times a day to the top. if i only filled it half way i would only have heat for about 3-4 hours (no storage). all i can say is i cant see how its possible to heat a well insulated home in western Pa with 4-5 cords of wood with an indoor gasser. i see all of these posts from much colder parts of the country and it just perplexes me. I know there are a lot of variables that go in to wood consumption and I believe I have addressed all of them to improve my system. at this point I am not sure it was worth the money I spent. If I cant improve my wood consumption I may just sell my indoor gasser and replace it with an outdoor boiler that has a much larger firebox resulting in less work by no longer splitting and stacking, 12-14 hour burns still burning 10 cords a year. I sure hope someone here can help me get my wood usage down to 4-5 full cords.

    Musclecar Joe
  11. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    I guess someone should define "fill". ha. When I personally "fill" my firebox it is to the bottom of the loading door. I never fill it past this point. I suspect in reality this is 70-80% "full"?? I do this once per day. My other two "fillings" are well below half full.

    The bigger problem is this, I suspect: The advertised EKO upper chamber capacity is based on the dimensions of the inside of the box wall to wall. This is way off for me. I cut 80+% of my splits to 16 inches long. So anytime I "fill" my firebox 80% full vertically I still have 4" of unused capacity in the horizontal. This is another 20% unused. I also toss several pieces in diagonally during startup. Further wasted capacity.

    At the end of the day when I "fill" my firebox it is much closer to half full in reality. Doing the math with the amount of wood I know I'm burning I'm closer to 3 cubic feet of wood per day going in my boiler on an average winter day. 4 cubic feet per day when it's really cold outside (single digits or below zero). And all of this with a boiler with a stated upper chamber capacity of 6.5 cubic feet...
  12. chuck172

    chuck172 Minister of Fire

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    If I were to "half fill" my firebox twice a day in N.J, I'd be awful cold.
  13. musclecar joe

    musclecar joe Member

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    When i say fill, I mean I cant put another piece of wood in my firebox. I am filled to the very top of the box.
  14. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    Perhaps it would be helpful for people to start at the beginning, not the end.

    All theoretical, of course:

    Per the link below a cord of Black Cherry (which I burn almost exclusively) is good for 21,000,000 BTU's per cord.
    Based on real measurements I take from my storage tanks I know that my average heat load on an average winter day is 20,000 BTU/hr.
    My average daily heatload is 480,000 BTU.
    Based on 100% efficiency, no loss, no shenanigans, I should be able to heat for 43 days on 1 cord of black cherry. In reality we operate closer to 80% efficiency and some days my heat loads can approach 40,000BTU per hour. There are also days that I sip the heat at closer to 10,000BTU per hour thanks to solar gain and warmer temps.

    So in all....I try to heat a full four months every year on roughly 3-1/4 cord of cherry. Note that the type of wood you burn has a huge impact on how many cord it should take you. And I'm also not sure everyone really understands what their actual heat loss is. The term "loads per day" leaves a lot to be desired.

    http://chimneysweeponline.com/howood.htm

    EDIT: I see the black cherry is actually 19.5Mbtu. So my post is a bit off but you get the point. 41 days instead of 43 days mentioned above, in theory.
  15. chuck172

    chuck172 Minister of Fire

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    40 days on a cord is only 3 cu. ft. a day. WOW!, I wish I could do that.
    I would burn more than that in my Lopi endeavor woodstove. which only has a 2.2cu.ft firebox capacity.
  16. musclecar joe

    musclecar joe Member

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    I understand you are heating a shop and you wouldn't want it any higher for working comfort. I keep my home at a living comfort of 70d. if i were to set it for a "toasty 64" I wouldn't even bother with wood. I would consume very little oil at that point (64d)that it would not be worth the work involved in cutting and stacking. I think our time is worth something. is it worth $1000 ? i think so. and lets face it, isn't it our objective to use wood to heat our homes comfortably and economically and not have the thermostat set back. with that in mind even at 64, I cant see how its possible to only burn 2-4 cord a year without storage and radiant floor heating. I have radiant baseboards which require me to keep my water temp above 165 and storage really doesn't do me much good because of it. hence....10 cord of wood a year. please note i hope my response is taken constructively i am not trying to be an ass....without spending another $5000 i just cant see it being possible under my set up. and that is what i am trying to fix/improve.

    respectfully,

    musclecar joe
  17. pulse

    pulse Member

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    For a comparison I live in SW lower Michigan, close enogh to Lake Michigan we don't see the sun very often during the winter. Our outside temps are usually teens at night mid 20's during the day. My house is 2800 sq ft living space. My basement is not "heated" but stays around 62 with the radiant heat coming off the duct work, the hx from the furnace and the pex lines. I use a progamable thermost here are my settings, 1.weekends-7:00 am 73, 11:30 pm 70. 2.Monday-Friday 6:00 am 73, 9:00am 68, 4:30 pm 73, 11:30pm 70. My garage is 600 sq ft it stays 50ish unless I want to do something out there then I bump it to 65 (not that often). We are a family of three and the owb supplies all the dhw during the heating months which are November 1 thru mid April. Last season we used 8 cord, however last March was not cold.

    I would love to only burn 4 cord if that is possible, but I am not ready to change my owb setup neither mentaly, or finacialy. I am just curious what others are seeing in real world conditions, and comparing systems.
  18. charly

    charly Guest

    Joe, I had a OWB for 6 years, switched to a Paxo 60 gasification boiler , 1000 gallons of storage in my insulated shed with the boiler and another 600 gallons of storage in my basement. All radiant heat..house 2600 sq ft including basement, radiant heat in the basement slab too. Indirect hot water heater and radiant heated slab in 1500 sq ft garage, kept at 45 degrees. House kept at 70 degrees. I still burned an honest 10 cords plus of wood, which tested to 20% with a moisture meter. I would let my storage go down to 125 degrees from 180. Yippie no fire for 12 hours needed. But then it would take three fire boxes full of wood to get the refractory and storage all back up to 180 degrees. Fire box was 10 cu ft, and I filled that three times during the day.I think I wasted alot of wood burning the stove from a cold start again and trying to raise all that water up again. Had Logstor insulated pipe, only 70 feet to my house. It saved me about 2 cords over my OWB. The new guy who lives in my place now keeps the storage at a 10 degree differential, 180 degrees off and back on at 170. I think he'll use alot less wood. His first year with the boiler. The OWB was easier as to just toss in some wood and forget it. But not as clean burning . I split my wood for both units. Just my honest feed back. Go watch someone burn their gasification for a day and see for your self would be my recommendation, pick a cold day. It's a big investment.
  19. musclecar joe

    musclecar joe Member

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    thanks for the input.
  20. charly

    charly Guest

    No problem, glad to tell you what it was like for me.
  21. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    ...well, just as pointed out it really depends on what each of us calls a "refill". In my case when I refer to re-loading or re-filling I'm saying that I basically have no more than a good bed of coals and very little wood left just above my nozzle and I then put in what amounts to about 3 or 4 decent sized splits. This does not fill up the loading area(maybe just over 1/2) but it's about all I can put in with the smoke shield hanging down. So, I guess I burn about 10 to 12 splits per cold day of which are apprx. 16" to 18" long.
    Also as pointed out, it really depends on your outdoor temps, wind, solar gain etc. besides how well your heating area is sealed. Our typical winter day here is probably highs in the 20's to low 30's and most nights in the teens with frequent single digits. We live in a fairly windy location(up on a hill). We have a lot of windows of which many face south.There are so many variables!!
    I said we burn around 4.5 cords per year but I say that with only 1 season under our belt...but it was a fairly typical winter and much of the wood last year was somewhat less than desirable. I'm hoping for even better results this year or at least the same if we get colder than average temps. I feel for anybody that goes through 10+ cords per year....that's a lot of work. I doubt I would have started wood burning if somebody told me that's how much we would use.
  22. SnowTraveler

    SnowTraveler New Member

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    Hi folks, long time lurker here, been absent a while. To answer the OP's question, I burn three times a day, morning, late afternoon, and bedtime, full to half loads at full burn, weather dependent. I time my boiler to shut down so that it does not idle much, using a time delay relay, timer setting is dependent on outside air temperatures. I've pretty much got it down to a science. I am burning 8 cord a year, heating mid November to early April, this is my fourth season with my Econoburn 150 and 800G pressurized storage. I have a 3000 square foot home at 75 Deg F (wife is very cold blooded). I also heat my work shop and DHW. I ran the first season with the gasifier in the finished basement, but smoke issues forced me to build a boiler room on my garage, 200 feet away. Overall I am very happy with the system and wood consumption for the benefit returned is satisfactory. I do a thorough cleaning of the boiler once every 4 days. I burn mostly seasoned wood, but will mix in damp wood with dry on a full throttle burn with no significant creosote issues in the turbulators.

    Picture attached is my boiler room under construction, 500 gallon propane tank in the back, econoburn being positioned. I also have a 300 gallon tank in the house basement. I had major issues running without storage, storage made my life much, much better.

    Attached Files:

  23. chuck172

    chuck172 Minister of Fire

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    SnowTraveler, I'll bet when all is said and done you have a very typical burning routine.
  24. SnowTraveler

    SnowTraveler New Member

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    Yes, I would say very typical of a well installed gasifier with comparable storage and loads. I am sure that if I lowered my temperature setpoints to a more typical 70 Deg F for my zones, I might be able to save a cord a year, but my wood is "free" and the benefits of having a happy wife are numerous.
  25. b33p3r

    b33p3r Feeling the Heat

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    New econo user so might not be much help. 3200 heated space. 1400 radiant. 1800 hot water baseboard(for now). 12 year old ranch well insulated. Boiler in insulated outbuilding 70' from house. No storage. Been burning since 12/10 and used 1 cord of dry(untested) wood til today. Heating house 2-3 * warmer than usual. LOVE the heat. I work swing shift so loading schedule is not normal. But figure loading schedule out day by day with stay at home Mom and working teenager. Once we all get used to usage by temperature I'm sure things will get even better. But for now I'm happy with boiler. Clean ashes once a week and have been cleaning/inspecting flue every two weeks. Will probably extend flue inspection/cleaning since all is burning clean.
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