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New guy - long post

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by sled_mack, Jan 15, 2008.

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  1. leaddog

    leaddog Minister of Fire

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    I used some foil/bubble/foil wrap on the top of the boiler and it dropped the surface temp something like 20f. That was mesurments taken with my ir meter. I've been planning to do some more expermenting when I get some more foil as it looks like it might help keep the boiler temp up. I've been pretty busy helping the inlaws so I haven't been able to get to all the things I'd like to. But things are starting to get back to normal.
    leaddog

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  2. sled_mack

    sled_mack New Member

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    Well, so far no real noticable difference in opening the secondary air screws in terms of smoke. This morning, my stack temp was up a bit, more like 225. Still not bad. Just opened them to 5 turns when I started the fire tonight. Tomorrow morning I'll go to 6 and see how that goes.

    I really don't want to have to replace the whole refractory. I thought there was some steel structural support in there? Does the full weight of the wood in the fire box rest solely on the lower refractory? Now I'm scared!!!!

    Eric,
    I hear what you are saying about modifying the gas path. But, I'm not sure that it is that dangerous of a thing to do. Basically, all I did was put higher sides on the U shaped pieces and block off the direct path to the rear. All of this at Zenon's recommendation. Having worked for OEMs in the past, I'm going to guess that they keep the refractory simple for manufacturing and maintenance reasons. Not because there isn't a better way.

    Same with the controls. We just did a job retrofitting the controls on an industrial wood boiler. The two primary control points are water temp and O2 in the stack. The O2 reading is the sole calculation for efficiency in their setup. And, the fan maintains the air pressure, but a damper controls the air flow. The instrumentation and actuators required to really do the controls right would cost half (or more) of what the boiler costs. (The O2 analyzer on that job cost more than my boiler, tank, pex, copper, and shed all together, and then some.) Knowing the theory, if I could get the parts cheap, I'd take a shot at it. But, for the little gain that is available by doing all of this, I really can't see it paying back.

    Barnartist,
    At first, I had pipe insulation only on the first 6 feet of pipe up to the pumps. Only the flanges were exposed. I left that in place, and wrapped 6 inch fiberglass insulation around the whole thing, up to the pumps. And that made a huge difference.
    My shed is insulated to at least R19, all sides and roof. The tank has R38 all the way around, and on top. This fall, I re-insulated the area over my kitchen in the house. Any insulation that was usable went into the boiler shed. Basically, I used it to stack on top of the boiler, along the front edge, and on each side out to the walls, to form a sort of wall. This way when I open the door, not all of the warm air around the tank is able to quickly escape. I also took some and just wrapped it around the pipes at the return manifold. Seems to have really helped.
    If you are going to insulate around the boiler, foam boards are probably better. Glass can hold moisture and dampness. Really, the ideal thing would be to take the covers off and have it sprayed. But, I'm sure you'd never get the covers back on. I'm sure you are losing some heat with that area not being insulated, but how much is the question?
    For reasons I don't fully understand, I use more wood when I lose secondary combustion. My only guess, is that the secondary cumbustion creates back pressure on the primary chamber from the rapid expansion of the gasses, and slows the primary air flow, which slows the burn rate. So cutting back too far, and losing that secondary burn later in the cycle, could end up hurting you. And it doesn't take long with the fan dampers open to get good secondary combustion. I had secondary burning in about 30 seconds tonight. Let it go for about 10 minutes (stack temps were already up to almost 300) and closed it down.

    Leaddog,
    That's a good indications that insulating the boiler is of some value. But, I'm not sure that foil/bubble/foil is the right stuff. After I used a bunch of this, and plain foil, in a few areas around my house, I read a lot of things that made me regret having used it. I know it's a lot cheaper than foam, and easier to work with, but I really think foam is better suited for this application.
  3. sled_mack

    sled_mack New Member

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    So, I'm stuck on this pump sizing issue.

    Let's say that tomorrow I turn off the heat in the house when I load the boiler. I check the tank temp when I load the boiler, and again when the timer stops the boiler. Now I can calculate BTUs delivered to the tank, and therefor, BTU/hr delivered to the tank.

    Does that give me any useful information?

    I'm not weighing wood as I put it in, or checking moisture, or burning it to completion, so checking efficiency is out of the question. All I want to know is - would I transfer more heat with bigger pumps?

    All thoughts, comments, and ideas are welcome!

    Thanks.
  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Are you still getting smoke during operation? You might need to take the blower mounting plate off and open the primary air channels. There are 12 sheet metal screws, and it's no problem with a drill or electric screwdriver. You need to make sure that you tighten them all about the same, or you'll get smoke leaking out from under the gasket. You also need to open both upper and lower doors to get at the screws, assuming your boiler is similar to mine. I did that early on and it helped a lot; the secondary air adjustments finished the job. Same thing happened to leaddog with his 80.

    I'm sure the refractory is hanging on some sort of metal hangers. On mine, I can see what looks like a steel tab between the edge of the refractory and the lower chamber steel wall. Is your refractory mass coming apart or cracking?

    When you say "lose secondary combustion" are you talking about late in the cycle when you can't see any flames in the lower chamber coming through the nozzle? I call that "out of combustible material and living on hot, invisible gasses." If that's what you're describing, I'm not clear on how you know you're burning more wood, since when that happens to me, there's very little wood left in the firebox.

    If by losing secondary combustion you're talking about having nozzles that won't fire, then of course you'll burn more wood because most of your fuel will be going up the stack unburned.
  5. sled_mack

    sled_mack New Member

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    Eric,
    Still seeing smoke. I think I see how more secondary air is going to help reduce smoke. More air into the secondary fire should mean more combustion. But how would more primary air help?

    As I see it here, we are trying to balance flow between primary and secondary. Opening the primary should affect the balance the same as closing the secondary. At least that's my take on it. And hopefully, the fan damper adjustment doesn't affect the balance, just the flow to both evenly. That's how it seems like it should work to me.

    I've had a few pieces of refractory fall off around the bottom of the nozzles. And, maybe it is actually the bottom of the nozzle and replacable? I haven't cleaned it since this happened, so I'll have to clean it this weekend, and get a good look at it. And some pics while I'm in there too!

    When I say lose the secondary combustion, I mean blowing smoke out the bottom. Remember, I run for a fixed time, not till the fire goes out. That's why I'm suprised that it burns more wood in 4 hours if it loses secondary burn compared to 4 hours with secondary burn. And I agree - no flame out the bottom, but just a clear gas stream and glowing hot bricks is still good heat. That's right about where it's at when my timer cuts out.
  6. barnartist

    barnartist Minister of Fire

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    I also lose secondary combustion. Usually. I can have a good nozzil fire and later in the burn it is just a clear air type cumming from the bottom. It seems to me also it is hard to get back to gasifying if the boiler goes idle too. A simple movement of the wood in the upper chamber gets it going easy again, but who is there to do that all the time, and is it really nessesary. I know I can really extend the burn if I baby those air openings and such-but I dont wanna.
    I think I have the same eko as you Steve, and my primary air openings inside the panel were opened all the way. Like you, I really see no effect on the secondary air settings, unless run clear in. But when you look at it all while that panel is off, I cant even believe how simple it all is. By the way, some of my panel screws are stripped out and thus that panel really rattles noise. You guys have that? Also, last year when I took that panel off for the first time, I found that a layer of black paint had bubbled off so far it was choking my fans. And it wasn't creasote. If you havent been in there, might not hurt to look. I may have sent you pictures Steve.

    Steve I think you have the facts in front of you about your pump flow. You have the results from before and now. It be nice if you had a bigger pump you could trade and try out to know for sure. Does your current pump change speeds- and if not what could you do with that? Id like to know as well because I may be doing some new plumbing again when I add storage tanks in a few weeks. Ithink im around 7-10 GPM on my Laddomat, but when the valve opens and lets hot out what am I really getting then. Should I add another pump for added flow? Sounds like I should. And would that then lower the stack temp. If it does then there it is.
  7. sled_mack

    sled_mack New Member

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    6 turns out on the secondary screws this morning. We'll see how that holds up at the 2 hour mark. I suppose as long as I'm not losing secondary burn, I can keep going. True or false?

    My test is in progress this morning - boiler running with house heating system shut down. We'll see how much heat goes into the tank in 4 hours with no load on the tank. I'm still not sure what that will tell me, but it's doesn't cost anything to get a bit more information.

    But, in thinking about this, I've come to another startling realization - I may not have enough hx capacity to make use of bigger pumps. After 2 hours of burning last night, boiler outlet temp was 190 and inlet was 183.

    What that tells me (I think) is that the small pumps were not big enough to move enough heat to the tank, and the hx in the tank were not being used to capacity. But, with the big pumps I have on now, I can remove the heat from the boiler but the hx is not capable of transferring that heat to the tank.

    Scott,
    You have pressurized storage, so the hx issue doesn't exist for you. But, you really don't know what the Laddomat is putting out for flow without having a look at the pump curve. Did you get the one I sent you for my pumps? Head pressure has a huge impact on flow. If the Laddomat says 10 GPM max, you can be sure you are not getting that. I still think your system would work better with a big pump between the outlet of the boiler and the T to the Laddomat. That pump would feed the Laddomat when it needs hot water to boost the return temp and feed the top of the storage tank (or other loads) when the return temp is high enough. I've got to believe that the more heat you remove from the boiler, the lower the stack temp is going to be (given the same burning conditions) lower. Probably not a huge difference. But if the fire is making X BTU/hr and you are removing Y BTU/hr, then X - Y is all that is left for the stack.

    I think you did send me pics of the inside of you front cover. I've not opened mine yet. Probably not going to right now, either. The heads of 2 screws are stripped and 2 of the scews are not like the rest. I'm guessing when it comes off, there is going to be some (well lots) swearing, extracting broken screws, and retapping of holes. Seems like a better summer project. I'm curious, have you adjusted your primary air settings at all?

    Since I'm experimenting with the secondary air, maybe I'll just keep going till I either can't go any more or I start to see some difference. So far, no change to the burn (visible) and no change to the ash in the lower chamber after the burn.

    The other factor I haven't considered - with the secondary being opened more there is less resistance on the fan. Maybe I could be closing the fan damper some more, too. But, one thing at a time for now.

    Anyone know how many turns those secondary screws can be opened? Anything fall apart if I go too far?
  8. sled_mack

    sled_mack New Member

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    This hx issue has me thinking....

    How much resistance to flow does a Grundfoss UP26-64 give to a line when it is not running? I would think it is a lot. Not quite like a closed valve, but really close.

    The reason I ask - One of the pumps going to the tank has a T just after the outlet. Straight through the T goes into the tank hx. The stub to the side goes to a ball valve. If I open that valve, it Ts into the line that goes to the house right after the line comes out of the tank hx.

    So, if I open that hand valve and the pump in the house is not pulling water from the hx, will the pump off the boiler push through the hx coils normally used to supply heat the house? (There is another hand valve I can open so that the other end of the hx is open right to the return manifold for the boiler.) It seems like the 4 coils should be much less resistance than the 300 ft of PEX (round trip), the two flat plate hx in the basement, and the pump in the basement. This basically doubles my hx capacity in the tank.

    In the opposite condition, when the boiler is off and the pump in the basement is pulling from the tank, that pump will have two more coils to pull through also. Again, I'm hoping that 2 coils provide less resistance than the pump.

    The only other condition is where the boiler is on and the pump in the basement is on. No big deal there, some heat goes direct to the house without going through the tank. No harm there. I do that after being gone for a few days and the tank is cold anyway.

    I've had pumps like this apart before. It seems like without the impeller spinning you could only get a trickle of water through them. That trickle is less than ideal, but I don't think it will really hurt me here.

    So tell me, did I just find some extra hx capacity for free?
  9. barnartist

    barnartist Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like you did Steve. Your smarter than me-I think your telling yourself through the writing as I sometimes do. I think Nofossil should think it over or heaterman.
    As far as runnung those screws out too far, it will just stop turning at some point, nothing should fall apart. If i remember too, those things are long, you can really have them out far. Id say after mant more full turns it really will not matter at all. The end of those screws is like a flat washer suspended in the free air inside that panel. Tour probably an inch away from the main pipe(s) that lets air go through the nozzils. Opening them more really wont matter the way I see it, and ive tried those things in different spots. Never could see a difference unless run almost completely in. Eric says he noticed a difference from 3.5 to 6. I could not tell, but he probably burns consistant fires better than me to read it better. Your right too about the screws and swearing. They are a poor fit and most of mine are stripped and the whole plate is noisy.
    If I tear this thing down (yet again) I will add a pump as you suggest. It would be great to be able to really crank that eko wide open if I were to get behind on a fire, and have the ability to recover quickly.
  10. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    The screws holding the fan plate in place are short self-tapping sheet metal screws, so I don't think you'll have to do any tapping and probably not a whole lot of cussing, to get them off of there.

    The secondary air screws can come out as far as you can move them. They won't fall off.

    I did adjust my primary air at first, when I was getting some smoke. I did it because leaddog, I think it was, said that his were closed when he received his boiler from the factory. So I checked mine out and opened them up a bit. When you think about it, all of the air going into the boiler goes through the nozzles one way or the other. If there's not enough primary combustion air, it seems to me that it would affect the performance of the burn in some way. In my experience, my boiler needs more air in all three inlets than the factory settings.

    I'm still confused by your (and barnartist's) complaint that you lose gasification at some point in your burn cycle. IME, once the thing torches off, it pretty much goes for the duration of the cycle. Sometimes the wood will not fall correctly in the firebox, resulting in incomplete gasification, but that's only when I try to build a small fire & there's not enough weight to keep the fuel centered and pushed into the nozzle opening. When you start with a full loaf of wood, by the time the amount of wood in the firebox has diminished to the point where the nozzles aren't covered anymore, you're into pure-gas mode anyway.

    If you generally fill your firebox full, then I'd say offhand that the smoke and inconsistent gasification have something to do with your air supply.
  11. sled_mack

    sled_mack New Member

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    Scott,
    I'll run another test tomorrow using all the hx coils to heat the tank with the house off and see what happens. Hopefully, I'll be pleasantly suprised.

    Eric,
    Obviously, I don't understand what is going on inside this thing. My thinking is that too much primary air would cause the wood to burn too fast, creating more gas (smoke) than the secondary air can burn, and smoke out the stack. I'm starting to get the feeling that I'm wrong on this?

    Maybe I need to try reducing the total air a bit more, and see what happens.

    When I first got this thing I would lose secondary combustion all the time. Too much air, not enough air, who knows? I had all kinds of problems. Now that I've got a system in place that works for me, I don't have that problem any more. Really, I think too much and too little total air can cause the problem. With the fans open too far, the upper chamber seems to burn without the wood turning to coal and making a nice bed of coals. With too little air, there isn't enough heat to sustain secondary combustion. Both cause dark residue in the lower chamber and heavy smoke out the stack. My experience only.
  12. barnartist

    barnartist Minister of Fire

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    Heck, ours are wide open I think Steve. Maybe actually closing them(primary) some would help the test more. Its just that there freakin inside that panel, and those scews are undersized. You have good results the way you are Steve, I dont blame you for not wanting to dig in there. But Eric seems to have a good flame (gasification) throughout his burn. Eric, how far open are those primary air plates on your right now? are they open all the way? You may have said where they were before, sorry if I forget. Are Leaddogs wide open? You might have something there Steve about too much primary. Al I want here is to be able to leave my Eko with those fans in a good spot for a nice long burn-SLOW. If I start too closed, even with a nice flame at the bottom, it can later smolder a bit, but too open and I will have a high stack temp and thus more heat loss.
  13. sled_mack

    sled_mack New Member

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    4 hour burn is done. Tank rose from 170 to 183. So, 2700 gal times 8.34 lb/gal is 22518 pounds of water. Times 13 for the 13 degree temp rise, and I get 292,734 BTU transferred to the tank in 4 hours, or about 73 kBTU/hr.

    What does that mean to me? I don't really know yet. But, tomorrow I'll do it using the other hx coils too and see what I get.

    The pump on the aquastat is still running, and will be for a while, so the 292,734 number isn't the total for the burn. There is some time initially to get the boiler itself hot, and now it will keep transferring heat for a good long while to cool the boiler back down.
  14. sled_mack

    sled_mack New Member

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    Scott,

    I know you've plumbed you boiler a bunch of times. But, I think you need to come up with a good plan, with feedback from the guys here, and get that storage tank working. I've got mine to where I set it and leave it there. Heck, my wife even ran it last week while I was out on business. So I really do have it to where it doesn't need constant fussing. I think you can too. Until you get the storage working right, blocking one nozzle may be a big help. Otherwise, you need to choose between idling/high stack temps and losing secondary combustion by trying to keep the fire too low.

    I too hated this thing when I first got it, but I got over that after a few weeks. I feel bad for you, knowing the pain you are going through with this, and for how long you've been enduring it. I'm not the only one here that has one of these working the way I want. Once you get there, you'll be happy too. And your wife!
  15. barnartist

    barnartist Minister of Fire

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    Thats great to get all that water up like that in 4 hours, but yet what does 205K eko mean then? does your number divided by 4 hours kind of mean around 55k an hour? Im sure Im wrong on that. At the same time Im not sure I could raise 2700 gallons up that quickly-yet.
  16. sled_mack

    sled_mack New Member

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    73k an hour. You got the right idea, I think you just rounded the first number down too far.

    That's the thing. You'd have to know the test conditions they used to come up with the 205k number. My numbers would probably be higher if the tank was colder, for example. So, if they use a huge storage tank, with cold water in it, and a huge hx, they could get better numbers. And, they might be able to get 205k BTU/hr out of it, but might be doing it at only 50% efficiency from pushing the boiler so hard.
  17. barnartist

    barnartist Minister of Fire

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    How can that number be that low from 205k. Since you run a pretty good camp there, I'll use that number as a guide as to what to expect when I add more heat storage.
    I wonder what Nofossil thinks of that?
  18. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    Good analysis. Do that calculation every time, so that you can see what changes actually have an impact. Were you working with really wet wood? I think there's a point at which moisture really affects the secondary combustion.

    My EKO 25 seems to run at somewhere between 50,000 and 60,000 BTU/hr average. It's rated at 80,000 BTU/hr. I've hit that for brief periods, but it feels like running a car at redline.

    I expect that as you get secondary combustion dialed in, you'll see much higher numbers. You should get a pretty good roar out of it, with plenty of flame from both nozzles. I think that you'd only see the rated BTUs with a whacking big pump, pretty cool inlet water, burning kiln-dried hardwood.
  19. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    sled: I don't completely understand it myself, so maybe I shouldn't comment, but I believe it's safe to say that if you're getting smoke, it's probably due to a lack of air somewhere in the system. That's usually the cause of incomplete combustion. If you're producing more smoke in the firebox than the nozzles can handle, then my guess is that the secondary air flow needs to increase. I think that too much primary or secondary air will cause overheating and loss of efficiency up the stack, but not smoke. Maybe I'm wrong.

    One thing to check might be those secondary air tubes. Take a flashlight and look into each one to see if the air passages are blocked. They're little holes in the steel pipe, as I understand it. I suppose it's possible that they can get clogged with creosote and restrict their ability to deliver superheated air to the nozzles. Sometimes those tubes can break loose (they're only tack welded to the frame) and begin to back out. That will mess with your secondary air adjustment, too. I had that happen to mine and so did leaddog. Everything worked a lot better when I got it fixed.

    Finally, I'd consider your air supply to the boiler. Can it get enough fresh air. Try running it with a door or window open (or something) to see if it behaves any differently.

    barnartist: I didn't open them up very much, but I did slide them out 1/2-inch or so from the way they came from the factory. When you first look at those sliders, they look like they're completely closed. "Ah ha!" you say, before noticing that it's just the way they were designed. But they can be opened. All I can say is that it worked for me.
  20. barnartist

    barnartist Minister of Fire

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    im pretty sure mine are open as if not even there. Maybe I should close them down some.
    My nozzle tubes were as clean as can be, even as bad as ive burned in the past.
    Great analogy NoFo, I could run it and it sounds like a distant jet too.
  21. sled_mack

    sled_mack New Member

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    As I see it, I'm running at roughly 1/3 of "rated" capacity. What I need to figure out is this - Am I limited by the hx in the storage tank or the burn rate of the fire?

    As long as running at a lower capacity is not causing, or caused by, system inefficiency, I see no reason to worry about it. Assuming, of course, that I am able to heat my house at that capacity. Really, it's only the coldest of the cold snaps that have caused me to have to load 3 times a day. And even then, it's usually every other day that I have to do that.

    To be clear, with the timer shutting the boiler down, I always have at least 8 inches of coals left over the nozzles. So I'm not filling it as if the fire box were empty each time. That's how I get the fire started so easily each time.

    Nofossil,
    I agree with your assement of hitting rated capacity. Except maybe the sun and moon have to be lined up just perfect, too. And, I think you would take a hit on efficiency doing it. Your car will go 120 mph, too, but it will get better fuel economy at 70 mph. Same work achieved in going a fixed distancy, but one speed uses more fuel than the other.
    Tomorrows experiment will be using the other coils in the tank to see if that affect how much heat is transferred. I'm not here every day, and I can't have the heat turned off every day, so my test runs will be limited. Once I know more about the hx issue, I can decide on how to address the burning issue.

    Eric,
    Can you tell that I really don't want to take the cover off? If I do, do I need to take off the jam nuts for the secondary screws? Seems like I'd have to, or the whole thing would have to come off with the cover.
    One note of interest - this morning was the first time I noticed a reduction in smoke. So maybe a little more secondary air will do the trick for me? I'll open them a bit more for tonight's burn.
    Which brings me back to this - if I have to put in more air to optimize the burn to eliminate smoke, but my stack temps go up, and I can't capture the excess heat to the tank, have I really gained anything? I don't know the answer to that question either. Maybe I'll be able to figure it out?
  22. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Taking the cover off is no big deal. Nothing else comes off/out. The blowers and secondary draft adjustment screws stay attached to the blower plate. It's just the 12 sheet metal screws you have to keep track of. But don't do it until the fire burns way down or is out, because you'll get smoke in your face and you need to open both doors to get at the screws anyway.

    One of the main reasons I bought this boiler was to eliminate the smoke, since I live in a populated area. Really, for me, everything else is secondary. But having said that, it's a lot more efficient and powerful than the boiler it replaced.
  23. leaddog

    leaddog Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Hesperia, Michigan
    Ah the air thing again--------------- I'm not sure that anyone has got a handle on this. Just what is working best for them. My take on this on how it works in a eko. There is three adj. and they work together. I have my primary air ( the one under the cover) open about 3/4 way. The secondary open 6 turns. I run the fans open from 1/2in to 1in. By working together I mean like this. If you have the primary closed smaller it will cause a higher pressure to the secondary with the same fan opening. If you have the primary opening open all the way the secondary will get less as the path of least resisance is through the larger opening, With the fan opening the same. It seems to me that if you have to much air going into the primary chamber you tend to get more smoke as it is trying to burn there but you need enough to push the gasses down into the nozzel. It seems to be a balanceing act with type,size,moisture content and air temp all being part of the fix. That is why everyone has to kind of learn what works best. The end result is when you get the best gasifcation, stack temp, heat output, and low ash for your situation. I do wish that the air adj were easier to adj and that it would have more instruction in the manual so people didn't have to learn on there own so much. I think as there is more of these out there it will become better.
    leaddog
  24. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,745
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    My approach has been to follow your lead........'dog--and set my air like you do. And it worked really well.
  25. sled_mack

    sled_mack New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Messages:
    139
    Loc:
    Conklin, NY
    I agree - it's a balancing act. To make it worse, it's not a static balance. You can't put the primary and secondary adjustments in any give spot and say "the air will always be split 50/50." It might be where the fan damper is located now, but when you change that one setting, the balance is going to change too, based on which chamber gives more resistance to more or less air.

    I also agree that too much primary air will lead to smoke out the stack. Maybe I WILL have to get in there and see where that adjustment is at this weekend.....
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