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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. Wayne64SS

    Wayne64SS New Member

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    Scheduled to have John and Jeremy come back next friday. I had to call Mark and put him in the loop. They weren't returning my calls. So far Mark has been excellent to deal with. I would buy another stove from this guy any day of the week. +1 for Mark & Home Heating Headquarters.

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  2. wpessin

    wpessin New Member

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    Tom, I installed a PB105 last December. It's in series with my OB--pretty simple setup, nothing fancy. Out from PB goes in to the OB. Return from the system goes in to the PB. I lowered the OB aquastat to 120 deg. and turned the PB min-160 / max-175. I have 3 forced hot air heat exchange zones, 1 baseboard zone, and an 80 gallon DHW tank. When a thermostat initiates a call for heat, the appropriate existing circulator kicks on. Siince the PB is heating the water, it keeps the OB aquastat over its min so it doesn't fire. If we (my wife) forgets to reload pellets, the OB kicks in. I don't use the outside air sensor. I generally keep the feed around 3. I've found that as I go higher, the auger pushes in new pellets faster than the old ones can burn (as evidenced by partially burned pellets in the ashpan), so keeping the feed rate around 3 produces the most heat with the least pellets. My draft is perfect--checked it myself.

    On very cold days, I burn 4-5 bags (I have about 6500 sq ft of living space, and wife/kids in the house all day so generally keep it at 70 deg 24/7 on 3 levels, plus with 4 little kids we seem to have non-stop laundry and baths). On avg temp days we burn 2-4 bags. After long baths/showers, the boiler temp plummets, and takes a while to recover. The normal heating zones though don't have anywhere near the impact on the boiler temp as the DHW.

    I've gone back and forth on whether to keep it on manual or auto. Quite frankly, at the end of last winter beginning of Spring, I had set it to manual to avoid the "smoke" problem you mentioned--startup would billow so much smoke that I would just brace for the fire trucks to show up from a call from a neighbor (thankfully, has not happened!). Keeping it on manual avoided all the startups, and all the anxious moments regarding smoke. But, I routinely got the overheat shut down, especially when the weather was warmer--no calls for heat for long periods of time, eventually even the minimal amount of pellets burning would raise the water above the shut down trigger. A dump zone would prevent this--something I'm considering. I figure manual adds 1/2 to 1 bag extra per day.

    This fall, I switched it "auto" and tried to ignore all the smoke. As I burned through most of the remaining pellets I had from last year, I ordered from what turned out to be the only source I could find (I live in Mass)--and got 2 tons of softwood pellets (they just say "Wood Pellets" on the clear plastic bag they come in--can't be that good). BUT, I noticed that startup takes around 5 minutes (versus about 15 with quality hardwood), and doesn't "explode" with all the smoke--just a nice quick simple start and significantly less smoke. Hmm, softwood pellets start easier? I tested that theory with the hardwoods I had left (Barefoot)--tons of smoke. So here's my theory: The hardwoods must have a higher flashpoint, so they smolder longer creating more smoke. Try that yourself and see what happens.

    Hope this helps.

    -Bill
  3. taperk600

    taperk600 New Member

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    Bill, thanks for your sharing your experience. With lots of help on these forums, I'm starting to get a little better handle on what the PB is doing. One thing that has helped with my "smoke" was changing the DIP switches which are now down, up, down, down (1-4). Using Marth Hardwood premium. Start up is pretty quick, 3-4 mins I'd say without actually timing it. Smoke is minimal now and not getting any hard starts. I was getting the smoldering/exploding into flame scenario when I had The 1st 2 DIPs up. And this gave me more smoke than when all were down. But the current setting has seemed to work (so far)
  4. stephenmoore

    stephenmoore Member

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    Hey PB 105 ers,
    Any one getting a bump and or small crack in their burnpot ? Right above the igniter .
  5. stephenmoore

    stephenmoore Member

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    Re. Softwood pellets and less smoke. Ithink Bill is right, I have used softwood pellets for about 10 years and never had many smoke problems. None with the PB 105 for sure. How are your pellet supplies in your area ?
  6. wpessin

    wpessin New Member

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    Stephan--yes, I just noticed that the other day when I was cleaning the pot -- not a crack but a small roundish rise. Any ideas?
  7. stephenmoore

    stephenmoore Member

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    I'm guessing the swelling is from the heat of the igniter expanding the metal when it starts "cold". Have you had any igniter issues with your PB 105 ? My old burn pot on my Jamestown J-1000 was cracked for most of the time I owned it, and it's still running fine, 14 years later.
  8. wpessin

    wpessin New Member

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    No problems (other than the smoke). Trying the dip switch setting Tom suggested which I hope will reduce or eliminate the smoking all together. I'm frustrated though on finding a good reliable distributer for pellets. I'm paying well over $100.00 more per ton now than I did this time last year. Just picked up a ton at Lowes in Milford MA for $300 (Greene Team), and that is significantly cheaper than some of the other quotes I got ($365 from PelletsDirect). With oil/diesel/gas dropping, I'm hoping the pellet costs will also drop--otherwise my ROI will take much more time to realize.
  9. stephenmoore

    stephenmoore Member

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    Yea we have a real supply shortage here. I bought three pallets last month thank god. Cost a little over $1000. We're paying about $5 a bag for local pellets. They were $3 when I started 14 years ago. Hope the diesel will go down soon and make trucking easier on us all.
  10. wil lanfear

    wil lanfear Feeling the Heat

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    About 6 weeks ago mine did this very same thing, this bump will get worst. Two weeks ago I replaced the burnpot under warranty. The replacement part number is 1-10-73403, different burnpot than what was in it in the first place (check the owners manual part#1-10-0721), this one has no holes in it on the bottom near the auger and IMO, less smoke on start up..
  11. stephenmoore

    stephenmoore Member

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    Thanks Wil, Did your boiler's fire change any as a result of the bump and crack ? How was Harman on replacing it?
  12. wil lanfear

    wil lanfear Feeling the Heat

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    The fire didn't change with the bump. Mine got worst, the bump got larger, stress cracks between the holes. I had my dealer come to take a look at it, he said he had never seen a burnpot do this in all the years he has sold Harmans. He asked me if I wanted him to replace it or if I wanted to do it. I told him I would like to do it myself if it was okay with him. He also gave me a new igniter, the one with the blue trace on the wire insulation, suppose to be better than the one that came with the boiler.
  13. stephenmoore

    stephenmoore Member

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    Thanks for the part # Wil, I called my dealer this morning, I'll let you know how I make out. Hopefully the crack won't get any larger in the meantime.
  14. stephenmoore

    stephenmoore Member

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    Anyone ever heard a loud crashing sound, almost like glass breaking coming from their 105 ? I heard it this morning and went to check. When I got to my boiler the room was smokey and there was a massive amount of un burnt pellets in the burn pot. I'm guessing the bang was the auger working a jam out. Any theories out there ?
  15. AndrewChurchill

    AndrewChurchill Minister of Fire

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    I haven't heard a sound like glass breaking but I have heard several large explosions. These happen when the burn pot has too many pellets in it. I'm guessing the pellets aren't getting enough O2 and just smolder until they move enough to get air flow and then BOOM!!!

    It's rather disconcerting to have it happen when you're sitting right beside the door when it happens!
  16. stephenmoore

    stephenmoore Member

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    Andrew, did you get a big blast of flyash expelled from your chimney at the same time as these explosions? I mean enough to cover cars in the driveway.
  17. AndrewChurchill

    AndrewChurchill Minister of Fire

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    Not that I recall, but I suppose that's possible.
  18. nmerrill

    nmerrill New Member

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    Hey! I have a bump in my burn pot too - first time i noticed I figured it must have always been there - never thought it might be growing.
    I better take a look for cracks.

    BTW, only once did I have an explosive ignition - happened to be standing next to it - scared the crap out of me! It was early on in my use of the unit, the system was all new and I was still a a little anxious anyway...

    It definitely was a result of an overloaded burn pot at ignition. I think I had been monkeying with the knobs and turned it off, and on a few times, filling the pot.
    Don't think it has ever done that since.
  19. AndrewChurchill

    AndrewChurchill Minister of Fire

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    Where is the bump located?

    I haven't noticed anything out of the ordinary in my burn pot but I'll be watching for it now.
  20. wil lanfear

    wil lanfear Feeling the Heat

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    The bump will start forming in the burnpot above the igniter, very small to start with but will grow to the point that stress cracks will appear between the holes. I've replaced mine, the replacement is a different pot, no holes in this one near the bottom where the auger feeds the pellets in.
  21. taperk600

    taperk600 New Member

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    Hey guys, that "boom", explosion, etc is what my dealer called "spontaneous combustion" ...and he says it is caused by too many pellets been fed too fast prior to flame..... mine was doing this when we were trying to adjust my feed rate at restart and set the 1st and 2nd Dip switches on. Too many pellets, smoldering then catching fire. Moved my DIP to another setting (1 off, 2 on, 3 off) and haven't had it since. First time mine did it, I could have sworn it blew out the glass in the door based on the sound and the amount of smoke I got in the basement !!!
  22. stephenmoore

    stephenmoore Member

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    Thanks for the info, I'll check my dip switrches, this has only happened once so I'm not worried too much, generally I get almost no smoke at start up. I'll keep you posted about the burn pot, and try to send some pics when I have it swapped out.
  23. stephenmoore

    stephenmoore Member

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    Hey Wil,
    Did your dealer tell you to stop using your 105 after the crack in the burnpot was discovered ?
  24. wil lanfear

    wil lanfear Feeling the Heat

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    No, but I was getting concerned prior to getting the new one, the stress cracks really opened up between the holes, I suppose its possible for hot ambers to fall through into where the igniters is located
  25. stephenmoore

    stephenmoore Member

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    I'm not sure why but now my igniter has stopped working so I am using my back up system until the new burn pot gets installed. I am getting very frustrated with the igniter scenario. This latest one has lasted just since heating season started in October. Maybe Harman will actually let me talk to some one about it, and my lemon boiler. Oh well the back up system is fairly painless.
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