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Older systems ... 8 or more years .....problems?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by headrc, Apr 30, 2008.

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  1. headrc

    headrc Member

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    Since receiving all the great information from everyone on this site ....and being on the verge of pulling the trigger for a system .....I find myself once again getting a case of cold feet. The reason being the complexities and expense of the system ....it just doesn't seem to end. Now I have to add in either an overheat loop or backup power supply for power outage problems ...that is not the focus of this thread though. What I would like to know is for those of you who have had systems for a while .....how old is your system and what if any kind of component problems have you had? Is there anyone out there who has had a system with heat storage and all the other components for more than 8 years and can speak to this question? This by the way is what my payback period is going to be using today's propane costs and what this system is now costing. As I have learned there are a lot of pieces/parts to these systems .....which with my history of other complex systems .....that means one thing ....more stuff to break down. If these systems require constant monitoring of every component ....and having to wear all you guys out with constant questions on this forum ....I would become a real pain in the #% to all of you and I really do not want that to happen :)! Thx for any response to this thread ....RH

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  2. headrc

    headrc Member

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    If noone out there has had a system in for 8 years or more .....how about 4 years or more? And problems experienced with the system etc. ...Thx, RH
  3. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    The closest I can come is my brother's experience. He had a normal commercial wood boiler. I don't remember the brand, but it was orange and smallish - maybe 30" x 40" footprint - Itasca, maybe? He bought it used, and operated it as an indoor open (nonpressurized) system for about 12 years before it rusted through. His burn pattern was short hot fires with no idling, but very cold return temperatures - around 90 degrees.

    I have three seasons on my EKO, with two problems:

    1) The curved firebrick baffle in the back of the secondary chamber cracked. Not a serious problem.
    2) The primary chamber door gasket needs to be soaked and softened.
  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I know there are a lot of Tarms still operating after 15 or 20 years. You never hear complaints about them. The 20-year warranty tells you something. None of the other brands of gasifiers have been available in this country for very long, except the Wood Gun, which had some problems early on. I think nofossil has one of the first EKOs sold in North America.

    Other than the nozzles wearing out (5 years) or the pressure vessel rotting out (who knows?) there's not a whole lot that can go wrong with a gasifier, from what I can see. Maybe the blowers will fail at some point, but there are no other moving parts other than the bypass damper and hx cleaner (on the newer EKOs).
  5. headrc

    headrc Member

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    What about all the other parts necessary for these systems .....circulating pumps, mix valves,heat exchangers, automag ??? Thx again, RH
  6. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    All pretty reliable, IME. In any event, no more trouble than a conventional heating system, since they're all the same parts.
  7. Vtgent49

    Vtgent49 New Member

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    I have a Simplex wood/coal/oil boiler, installed in '83. I've been here 4 years, and burn less than 4 cords, plus some oil. It's 2 zone baseboard, taco pumps, Honeywell controls for both wood and oil. It all works fine, with just a few dribble type leaks that come and go. I've added a side arm to heat DHW in winter, and 3 solar panels for Summer DHW. 4Br, about 2400 sq feet. Boiler and all wood are in the cellar.

    It is a bit more complex than a normal oil boiler, but it's really the oil side of things that adds to the complexity. I've tweaked the operation of the system to increase efficency (less wood) but 90% of the putzing I do is by choice. I could just put it back to fully automatic, and burn a bit more wood, and maybe another 75 gals of oil. As Eric says, all the plumbing and control components are made for conventional boilers, where 25 years of reliability is normal.
  8. headrc

    headrc Member

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    Thx for the response ...

    Is the Simplex a gasification unit? Also ....what manufacturuer/type of solar panels are you using ....I now find myslef interested in this aspect ....maybe even just do solar instead of a boiler.

    RH
  9. Vtgent49

    Vtgent49 New Member

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    Simplex was Made by Van Wert Mfg. In PA, a now defunct company. It was just a basic box, not a gasifier, any more than any stove is/was. It's rated 110,000 BTU, and has a seperate coil for DHW preheat, that holds 3-4 gals. It shares a firebox with the oil burner, which makes it less efficient as an oil burner, BUT the burner lights a pile of logs in 4-5 minutes, with no kindling etc. I have a burner switch at the top of the stairs, so we just fill the box with logs, and flick the burner on for a few.

    The solar is new to me, but used, maybe 10+ years old. 80 gal Vaughn (MA) solar tank, with coil, was 4 years old. 3 flat panels make tons of DHW in the Spring-Fall, even aimed and angled incorrectly (4/12 roof facing SE). The Boiler preheats DHW, then the tank has a sidearm in series with the downstairs baseboard heat, so no additional pumps needed for that.

    I own the woodlot, and cut a season ahead, stack outside for year 1, then in cellar (by May 1) and within 10 feet of the firedoor. Good wood makes everything easier, as far as creosote, ash, smoke etc, as well as easier lighting or damping down a fire.

    The Lady of the house loves this set-up, and tends it just as well as I do. We go South on Vacation in Feb, and the oil burner takes over. LP (for the kitchen stove) is now 4.07/gal.
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