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New OWB owner - a couple of questions

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by cwmcobra, Dec 17, 2007.

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  1. cwmcobra

    cwmcobra New Member

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    Just bought a house with a Cozeburn 450 OWB installed. The house is two years old and the backup fuel system is LPG. I'm hoping to tap your experience with a couple of questions.

    First, the Cozeburn has an ash drawer for ease of removal, but the manual says to only empty it when the furnace is cold. That's no fun....any advice on how to manage ash hot? The only option I see is to shovel ash/coals into a container directly from the firebox. Also, I know that ash is a good insulator; how much ash/coals is too much? If it's not above the bottom of the door and I've got plenty of room to add wood it's OK?

    Second, I travel alot and my wife is not going to be stoking the OWB when I'm gone. Any tips on how to keep the water from freezing if the fire goes out while I'm away? Is the circulation pump that is constantly moving the water through the lines enough to prevent freezing, or do I need to find a local "paid helper" to stoke the furnace while I'm away?

    Appreciate your advice. I'm actually enjoying the wood burning routine, but still have alot to learn.

    Chuck

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  2. JimWalshin845

    JimWalshin845 New Member

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    I always wanted a burner that could heat my swimming pool! :)

    You may want to post this on the Boiler Room forum, you may get a better response there.

    Welcome aboard
  3. cwmcobra

    cwmcobra New Member

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    Thanks Jim,

    I see the thread has already been moved to the Boiler Room, so hopefully it will get more exposure here.

    Interesting that you mention heating a swimming pool. We plan to have an inground pool installed in the spring and I'm leaning toward using the OWB to heat it, as you have suggested. I figure by springtime I'll know for sure whether I want to continue stoking the OWB in the summer, or will want some "time off". So far, I'm really enjoying it!

    Chuck
  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    You can put hot ashes into any steel container with a tight lid. I use a small, galvanized garbage can. Be sure to keep the can full of hot ashes well away from any combustibles.

    I wouldn't worry about cleaning the ashes out while the stove is running. You're going to get more hot embers (and lose some potential heat in the process), but I don't see any reason not to do it. When to clean your ashes is something probably best left to experimentation. Some stoves run better with a layer of ashes on the grates while others work better clean. Try not to let the ash drawer, if your boiler has one, get too full, however. I'd shoot for somewhere in the 1/2- to 3/4-full range.

    Even when the fire is out, your boiler should hold enough heat for a couple of days to keep it from freezing. But I'd verify that myself if I were you before testing it under actual battlefield conditions. The water lines may be a different story.

    The circulating water will certainly help. If possible, why not crack a valve slightly to allow a bit of warm water from your gas- or oil-fired boiler to circulate through the wood system while you're gone? It's a bit of a waste, but not compared to freezing up your boiler. Or, consider using antifreeze and forgetting about it?
  5. cwmcobra

    cwmcobra New Member

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    Thanks Eric. I'll take a look a the ash drawer and see how much I have to deal with. I certainly don't want to remove it, then find it was overfull and dropping down behind the drawer when I open it.

    I've been thinking about this since I wrote the post this morning and I believe I have an easy solution to the fire burning down. I don't have a gas- or oil-fired boiler as an alternative heat source, it's a LPG forced air system. I think if the fire burns out, the LPG will kick in and it will heat the water in the heat exchanger, thus keeping it warm as long as the circulating pump stays on. I think I have no worries as long as the pump continues to work.

    Chuck
  6. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    That sounds reasonable to me. Most heat exchangers work both ways.
  7. pdboilermaker

    pdboilermaker New Member

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    I have a woodmaster, the rule is that you keep the ashes below the door opening. You will need to mix them up a little at least daily especially down in the corners to prevent rust.

    I pull them to the front, each time I add wood, this makes for a fine ash dust that has used every bit of heat. I take a shovel or 3 out of the fine ashes each time I add wood, not because I need to just because it gives me some extra time out of the house and doesnt put me in a "Have to clean out ashes" mode at a bad time due to cold, rain, high winds, etc..

    As far as when you are gone, you dont need to do anything more then turn on the LP furnace, the water running through the coils will be warmed from the gas fire preventing any freezing.
  8. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    Actually, just post a pic of your wife . . . I might be willing to stop by when 'yer gone to feed the fire :lol:



    But seriously . . . to keep the WAF up there you need a system that is hands off when you leave. What type of heat exchanger are you using? What about siphoning just enough heat off the gas boiler to keep the OWB circulating with 50 deg water?

    Jimbo
  9. WILDSOURDOUGH

    WILDSOURDOUGH New Member

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    Welcome Chuck-

    I leave alot of ash in the pan- it's a nice bed for those logs and it doesn't hurt a thing, if you keep them stired up ( pulled to the front) each time you load it up- and as you don't really want to throw our those nice coals.
    My wife (thank the lord) doesn't mind (likes) feeding the fire- she's a great gal- a real trooper !
    Left my OWB for days (4-5) last winter- came back from PA, water still 60+ degrees. I think with the circulators (I have two- one on the OWB and one in the basement) running- it would never freeze... but that's just my opinion.

    Did you get a manual with it ?
    Best to You !
  10. cwmcobra

    cwmcobra New Member

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    Thanks for the advice. I have that nice bed of coals with some ash mixed in and it's heating fine. I think I've got a lot of room before the ash gets up to the bottom of the door. That will be my "measuring point".

    And, I'm now confident to leave the OWB for a week or so and not worry about the lines freezing. The forced air propane will heat the OWB coils when its burning and the circulating pumps will keep the temp above freezing. My comfort level with the OWB is growing rapidly.

    Now I've got all the tools for wood cutting and gathering, so I'll probably dive into that this weekend. Got a new Husqvarna 350 and a 35 ton Huskee splitter from TSC. About time to try them out. I have a good friend here that uses an inside WB in his shop, so he and I will be working together on the wood collection.

    Thanks again for the inputs. No better place to tap experience that on a forum like this.

    Chuck
  11. Hbbyloggr

    Hbbyloggr New Member

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    Dear Chuck,

    We have an Empyre 450 from Cozyburn that handles all our heating needs. The first couple of years we had to replace the air injection tubes inside the burn chamber. I think the company tried to lighten up on the steel and they burned through fairly quickly. We were told to keep the coal bed lower than the air tubes. Also the dealer replaced the air tubes with a much thicker version. It has been 2-1/2 yrs since then and all is well.
    The newer furnace versions have a blower mounted in the loading door. I would still keep the coal bed less than half the distance from the bottom of the chamber to the bottom of the door. I stir the coal bed each evening before loading to sift out the ash and dump the ash pan every other day. Just do it in the idle mode and not right after the blower has shut off. The gases will ignite with the introduction of fresh O2. This time of year I empty the pan on the snow then cover it with more snow to extinguish any live coals. In the spring I scoop up the ashes and spread them in the garden.

    Our furnace runs 365 24/7 , we have a dry kiln and domestic hot water that depend on the heat supply. A 30kw Onan generator backs up the electrical needs in the case of outages.

    I can not give you a definite answer on how long before it will freeze up without filling the fire box. I have had to shut down the system on occasion to replace the air tubes and it took a couple of days to cool down enough to work on it. Also, when your propane kicks in the heat exchanger should transfer heat to your 450 to keep it from freezing--The flat plate heat exchanger we have works both ways.

    I also found that dry wood and reducing the stack diameter from 8" to 4" has made a huge difference in performance and burn time. I have 2 sections of insulated SS pipe for the chimney and 2 reducers placed at the top ( perfect fit ) to achieve the reduction in diameter.

    Good to have you aboard,

    Hbbyloggr
  12. cwmcobra

    cwmcobra New Member

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    Thanks Hbbyloggr. Sounds like we have very similar setups. My OWB has the fan in the door and I'm told that the entire furnace was rebuilt before it was actually put into service because it was fired without water circulating in it. So, I suspect that if it had the old, thin heating tubes, there were replaced at that time. I hope so, at least. Looks like we might be running ours year round also, since I'm planning to heat a swimming pool with it.

    Thanks for all the tips. I'm sure they will come in handy. I tried out my new wood splitter tonight and it worked like a champ. Next learning experience will be running the chainsaw!

    Cheers!

    Chuck
  13. Hbbyloggr

    Hbbyloggr New Member

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    Chuck,

    If there is any one thing that 40 yrs of logging and tree work taught me was the religious use of personal safety gear, ie: Hardhat, Ear protection, Eye protection. Safety chaps, steel toe boots and gloves. Consider running a saw and splitting wood totally naked....... that is how you expose yourself when running a saw. Please use the gear every single time you run your saw.

    Be safe,

    Hbbyloggr
  14. cwmcobra

    cwmcobra New Member

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    Hbbyloggr,

    I appreciate that advice and agree with it. When I bought the saw, I also bought chaps, forestry helmet with eye and ear protection, three pair of gloves, etc. I'm now shopping for the steel toed boots; I think I need them just for working in the woodpile to feed the OWB, in addition to proper attire for cutting and splitting. I think my list is complete. Thanks for the concern and advice.

    Chuck
  15. deerhuntrer

    deerhuntrer New Member

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    Compared to the rest of you, I am also a new owner of a CB 6048. One of the flaws of it it does not have an ash drawer, rule of thumb with ashes, is when they get to the door, I empty them into a 55 gallon drum which I have found many around this 200 year old farmhouse. I believe I understand why CB doesnt have an ash pan is to increase the surface of the water jacket. Its not a huge problem and I deal with it easy enough. I empty the ashes once a month and have an "ash hole" that I put them into my 65 acre property
  16. atlarge54

    atlarge54 New Member

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    I've been spreading my wood ashes on my little alfalfa patch. Is this a good or bad idea? Should the topic af ash disposal be a new thread? I don't burn any thing with nails or construction scraps.
  17. cwmcobra

    cwmcobra New Member

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    I have successfully removed the ashes from the Cozeburn. I first shoveled what I could from the firebox into a small trash can. Filled and dumped it about 5 times. Then I removed the ash drawer and dumped it's contents. So, the firebox was essentially clean. I didn't realize that the floor of the firebox is convex with a "belly" in the middle. Seems to me that it doesn't get as hot now. Getting better as I'm building up a small bed of coals/ashes. Could be my imagination and more dependent on the wood I've been burning.

    I can also report that I recently left home for about a two day period. Before leaving, I filled the firebox with wood, then shut the damper off. Of course, I left the circulationg pump running. When I returned I opened the OWB and found the wood had not burned at all. When I switched the damper on, it registered 90 degree water temperature, so the heat loss in the water was not nearly as great as I anticipated. I relit the wood and got it back up to temp. and it's working fine. Makes me more comfortable to leave on Sunday for a week in Asia. I trust I will return to find the water temp. well above freezing. I'll report on the extended shutdown in a couple of weeks.

    Chuck
  18. sdrobertson

    sdrobertson Minister of Fire

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    I have a CB and I also find that it burns better before I have to clean out the ashes. I think this layer of ashes insulates the fire from the bottom which is surrounded by water so it burns a little bit hotter. I was thinking of trying to line the bottom and up the sides of the firebox with a thin layer of firebrick to try and increase the temp that the fire would burn at, but talking with the fine people here in this forum I decided that it probably wasn't worth the hassle. If it helped that much, the manufactures would have done it already.
  19. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    On the question of hardwood ashes, they sweeten the soil. So it depends on what you're trying to grow. Anything that likes a high ph should do well in soil amended with ashes, but like anything, you can overdo it. I like to garden, but I put mine out with the trash.

    I've had a bunch of different woodburning appliances over the years, and I'm always amazed at how much better you get at operating them after a year's experience. Wood consumption generally goes down, and comfort goes up. But those things don't happen overnight.
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