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Newbie with Harmon PB105 questions

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by taperk600, Nov 8, 2008.

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  1. taperk600

    taperk600 New Member

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    Just had my PB105 installed on Tuesday. I'm having a few issues and have a few questions that I'm hoping some of you on here can answer.
    A couple easy ones (I hope) first:
    .... is it normal to have A LOT of smoke at start up ?? I mean so much that other's near the house actually think it's on fire ? Yes, seriously...they think it's burning !
    .... is there any way to adjust the air flowing into the boiler and quiet the whistle ??? Or is it just part of the package ??
    .... is everyone's combo gauge WAY off ? Mine reads 145/150 while the max temp is set at 180 (OB does read 180/190 most of the time)
    .... dip switches..my first 4 are all down (off) and the 5th is up (on). I can see the 4th & 5th behind the panel. What do these do ? Heard the first 2 control feed at start up. Could changing these help with my smoking problem?

    Now for some installation/use questions:
    .... installers plumbed mine in parallel but installed valves on the OB return and supply lines and told me to keep them shut. This is not what I expected as I thought they were supposed to run together with the PB being primary and the OB being secondary. Not the "either/or" set up they told me. I have read the owner's manual a bunch of times (what a worthless pile of papers that is) and so far have opened the valve on the OB return fully and opened the OB supply about 1/3. This has seemed to allow for some circulation from the PB into the OB and has (so far ) stopped the OB from firing at all unless I have a high demand for DHW (coil still in OB). I'm guessing that this satisfies the "balancing valves" that the owner's manual shows. No valve was installed on the supply off the PB. Should I put one in?
    .... installers also put a circulator in line between the tow boilers. I was told it has the check valve removed and is only activated IF the PB overheats and acts as a heat dump. Well, if I was to keep the valves on the OB closed, where does this overheated water go ? I don't believe they connected anything electrical to my zone controls, so wouldn't everything be closed off ? Guess I'm just lost on this one.
    .... How do you set the PB to run in what I've read/heard is called a "low idle" where it stays lit instead of going through the whole start up/ delay/ shut down, etc process? When is it recommend to run in this manner? Or isn't it recommended? Does running this way speed up recovery ? Help the PB run more efficiently ? Run cleaner ? Pros/Cons to either way ?
    .... installers did not install the outside air sensor. I was not even aware of it until I read the manual. Is this something worth installing? If it isn't used, am I reading the manual correctly in the fact that the min temp setting does nothing but act as the on/of switch and the temp in the boiler runs solely off the max temp control setting +/- 5 degrees ?
    .... feed control. Set at 4. Seems to run ok, but don't know if I'd know if it wasn't. How do you tell ? When do you know if you need a faster or slower feed rate ? I know it's probably a no-brainer for some, but this is all new to me.....

    Guess that's enough for now. Any replies are appreciated and look forward to any advise given !!
    Tom

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  2. AndrewChurchill

    AndrewChurchill Minister of Fire

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    Your installation certainly sounds suspect. My set up is also in parallel, but I don't need to open and close anything. If the PB goes out the OB instantly kicks in.

    I am using the outdoor air sensor and it will definitely save you fuel,

    The manual ignite mode is covered in the owners manual starting on page 26.
  3. taperk600

    taperk600 New Member

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    Ok, thanks Andrew.
    I skipped that section since my igniter is operational and didn't realize that setting to manual was how to get to this "low idle" mode. Do you know if this is more or less efficient ? Is there a time that it's better to run in this manner ?
    Thanks,
    Tom
  4. AndrewChurchill

    AndrewChurchill Minister of Fire

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    I plan on doing some testing when winter really comes. I suspect that the auto light feature will be more efficient but that the manual mode will be more responsive to heating demands.
  5. stephenmoore

    stephenmoore Member

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    My response is about the whistling. I think this is a feature of the "air wash" system for keeping your glass a little cleaner and easier to clean. (Draws room air in through a small gap between window and gasket)I'm going to try the manual setting on mine when the weather gets colder. I have heard a few people tell me it makes very litle diff in amount of pellets burned, and a lot in the response time. Let me know how you fare with igniters, that's my pet peeve.
  6. AndrewChurchill

    AndrewChurchill Minister of Fire

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    Steve, I'm assuming the response time will be much faster running in the manual mode. Also it would help to alleviate the dreaded 5 blink syndrome!

    I'm definitely going to try it once winter sets in and I get a good feeling about my average pellet usage.
  7. Wayne64SS

    Wayne64SS New Member

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    As a note to everyone here, his installer is, unfortunately, the same "professional" as my installer. I should've just done it myself. Hey Tom is it just me or did they not even check / set the draft on yours either?? I'm wondering if this is why I'm burning almost a bag a day with NO calls for heat. Thats right my thermostat is OFF and even better is the fact that my oiler isn't being brought up to temp by the PB.

    To answer some of your questions - I was in the kitchen the other day and happened to look out the window and saw a TON of smoke coming out of the vent, to the point I ran down to the basement to make sure the thing wasn't on fire. Rediculous.

    They also told me the outside air temp wasn't needed.... but I will be switching to manual mode when I get home and I'll let you know how / if that works out.

    Yes my combo guage(i don't know if i'd call it that - my weatherman is more accurate) is also a piece of chit. They promised to bring another one.

    I don't understand how it is supposed to heat my OB if there is no circ running anywhere.... any ideas guys?
  8. AndrewChurchill

    AndrewChurchill Minister of Fire

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    Wayne, if I remember correctly you are running your boilers in series which means your pellet boiler is keeping the water hot in the oil boiler as well as the pellet boiler, that could explain your using 1 bag a day.

    In the summer when I left my PB running all day to heat the hot water it would use 1/2 a bag per day just to keep the boiler temp up so in your case I don't think 1 bag per day keeping two boilers warm is out of line.

    Currently I'm using a hair over 1 bag per day to heat my house and hot water.
  9. Wayne64SS

    Wayne64SS New Member

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    i'm in parallel.... supposed to be. but the valves for the OB are closed as per my "installer / professional"
  10. AndrewChurchill

    AndrewChurchill Minister of Fire

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    I don't understand why your installer is telling you to close the valves to the OB if you are truly set up in parallel. One of the main reasons for going parallel is to have an automatic back up in case your PB stops working for some reason.

    I know with the Harman I would definitely want a back up in case it decides to not auto ignite for some reason when I'm not home. I'd hate to come home to frozen pipes after a long day at work.
  11. Wayne64SS

    Wayne64SS New Member

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    I don't get it either... I don't think he paid attention in class. The PB needs a circ running inbetween the two to heat them both right? And if that is the case then how does the circ not push through the rest of the system? Zone control valve?
  12. AndrewChurchill

    AndrewChurchill Minister of Fire

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    I'm not a plumber but I think a series set up only uses one circulator to push the water through both boilers.

    In a parallel set up there is a circulator for each boiler and check valves so water doesn't back flow through the pipes. The check valves prevent one boiler from heating the other.

    If you take a look at the pictures of my set up you will see the circulators and check valves for each boiler and where they are placed.
  13. Wayne64SS

    Wayne64SS New Member

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    ohhhh maybe i'm misunderstanding the term "parallel". I thought it meant that the PB or Main boiler would bring the other up to temp if there was no call for heat... When a call for heat came it would pull the main boiler down first and if the main boiler can't recover the secondary or OB would come on and take over.
  14. AndrewChurchill

    AndrewChurchill Minister of Fire

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  15. Wayne64SS

    Wayne64SS New Member

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    any other links with a good explanation of how each way is supposed to work? I seem to have a mental block for this and i need to start at the basics and read everything. its pissing me off. IN a parallel installation do both boilers run to stay up to temp or does one heat the other?

    holy chit... i think i get it.... here is the thing i wasn't getting... it doesn't appear that the secondary boiler would stay up to temp in a parallel design(without running)... also in a parallel design you need 2 circs, one for each boiler, one being the main and the other being the backup. So one would not and could not heat the other. If the backup or OB needs to stay at 180 like the main or PB, then it would have to fire to stay at temp. Likewise both circs should have checks in them to prevent flow when they are not on... I picked all this up here: http://www.nofossil.org/background.html

    Now that leads to a question... if my OB doesn't stay at temp and only runs if the PB fails it would have to heat from say 50 - 60 f up to 180f. Is it better to let it fire to stay at 180 all the time or is it better to not have it run untill its needed?

    WOW. :)
  16. taperk600

    taperk600 New Member

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    Wayne, you are correct...didn't check any draft on any part of the system. And I just found my warranty papers that need to be sent in within 10 days of purchase (long past) and there is place for that information on that sheet. I should have done mine myself also, just didn't have the time to do the research and was "happy" to have it installed by people who I was told by selling dealer "have gone to the Harmon school and know how Harmon wants it set up".....yeah...right.... I agree... they were sleeping.
    At least they mentioned the outside air temp sensor to you...I never heard anything about it. I found out about it when I read the POS manual.

    So yours smokes to high he** too at restart huh ?? Didn't you say that some your DIP switches were on and some were off ? Wondering if adjusting them would make a difference or if it's just the nature of the beast ? Combo gauge is a joke too. Mine reads about 145 and my high temp is set at 180. On a good note, I've only burned about 4 bags in the 7 days it's been running....but still having the OB come on for DHW and lastnight, it (OB) actually kicked on during a draw for heat too. Took PB about 15 mins BEFORE it even started it's restart cycle (????) and by then the draw for heat was over.....that didn't make me a happy camper for sure !!!

    Also, has anyone else noticed the water moving much slower through their baseboards? I used to be able to hear mine if I really listened, but now I don't and I'm wondering if the "over heat" circulator they installed is restricting the flow ? The heat just doesn't "seem" the same out of them...if you can understand what I'm trying to say...
  17. AndrewChurchill

    AndrewChurchill Minister of Fire

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    Wayne,

    In a parallel set up the secondary boiler is NOT running (Provided the back up boiler is a cold start boiler) and the only time it comes on is if the primary boiler stops functioning or can't keep up with the heating demand.

    In a series set up the two boilers are hooked together and share a common circulator and heated water is circulated through both boilers. My guess is that since your installer is suggesting you turn some valves off to the OB you have an in series set up and the reason they are asking you to turn off the valves is so you don't end up heating both boilers.

    To answer your OB question. If your OB is a newer cold start design then it does not need to maintain a minimum temperature. If it's an older boiler that needs to maintain a minimum boiler temp to prevent it from leaking or condensing then yes it will need to be turned on in a parallel set up.
  18. Wayne64SS

    Wayne64SS New Member

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    Tom,

    only reason they said anything about the temp sensor was cause i mentioned it... I've been known to do a little research here and there ;)

    last night i got pissed off at the amount of pellets im using and put the first two dips back to off (dunno if it will help or not lol). The installers set them to on. 3 and 4 are both off as well.

    my OB always fires when there is a call for heat. it pulls the oiler down at least 20 degrees long before it begins to pull the PB down. I really think its the way its plumbed... this happens with the OB being CLOSED off from the system.

    I think as long as the check is out of that circ you'll be ok.... but its also installed in the wrong place from what i read. When they come back I'm going to have them move it to the return side of the PB and have them rewire everything so the PB circ only runs during a call for heat unless the PB fails in which case it would switch over to the OB and OB circ. I'm pretty sure we should start doing this for ourselves Tom, we've already got a business plan. I know they've done at least 6 more besides ours, and those poor people don't seem to have the resource of the internets.... so we can make them our first customers :)
  19. Wayne64SS

    Wayne64SS New Member

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    yea my OB is ancient... seriously considering throwing the PB in the trash and just upgrading the OB. Unfortunately none of this is the PBs fault. Goes to show you how much of a difference a good installer can make.

    In my scenario the OB would have to fire and stay at temp cause its so old... i could probably keep the max temp lower ... say 160 with a min of 120... and prevent losses if i installed a circ with an integral check. I have an older style taco 007 before they started putting checks in em.
  20. Wayne64SS

    Wayne64SS New Member

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    excuse my post-whoring....

    I just had a stroke of genious.... i think...

    check it out: i could make a primary loop out of the two boiler... in which case the PB has its own circ to circ through both itself and the OB keeping the OB at temp... then on the heating zone it would have another circ with maybe a zone control, ... that way the PBs circ could run and keep both boilers at temp and not circ through the zone.... then when a call for heat came the zone would open, zone circ on, heat is awesome. only problem i can see with this is maybe pulling temp down in both boilers too quick and causing OB to fire... i dunno how fast the Pb can recover and get back to temp... or maybe with the use of an aquastat i can tell the OB not to fire unless temp drops below 100 or something.... chit i'm a genious. :)
  21. taperk600

    taperk600 New Member

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    Well, this whole thing is pissing me off too, but I'm not going to throw the PB out.....just might drive to J-town and complain A LOT about the poor install.....

    Anyway, since I'm home today, I went down stairs and FINALLY took a couple pics of how the install was done on mine


    aaahh...... I guess this forum doesn't auto size uploads, so I'll reduce the files and try again later....
  22. Wayne64SS

    Wayne64SS New Member

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    have you paid for yours yet? They have my deposit for the boiler, but I'm not paying in full till it does what it was promised to do.
  23. lecomte38

    lecomte38 Feeling the Heat

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    DQOTD - Do the pellet boilers have a variable feed rate like my pellet stove? I had envisioned the circulator constantly running with the temp of the water flowing thru the radiators varying with the demand. I think it would take a special thermostat to accomplish this.
  24. wil lanfear

    wil lanfear Feeling the Heat

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    I have my PB 105 piped in parallel (supply to supply, return to return) with my oil boiler with a circulator installed in the return piping to circulate water from the PB to the OB. This circulator running is controlled by an aquastat installed in the OB, no need to circulate water when water in the OB reaches the aquastat setting. I'm not a heating engineer, but it makes sense to me, if your returning water from a zone to the OB, sending hot water from the OB to supply the zone for heat when needed, a circulator has to be installed to circulate water between the boilers, this is what I did with the PB, the same way I piped it when I had the wood boiler. Using a circulator between the boilers also allows for use of the coil in the OB for the DHW usage if you choose.
  25. Wayne64SS

    Wayne64SS New Member

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    yea i'm good with that,, but what prevents the water from traveling through the zone instead of just circulating through the two boilers.
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