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Outdoor gassifier/shed placement

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by SE Iowa, Apr 10, 2008.

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  1. SE Iowa

    SE Iowa New Member

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    Just doing some longer term planning of when I get a gassifier (heavily leaning towards a Garn). I have 3 ideas on where to place the shed. Any ideas and comments appreciated.
    1. In the garage.
    I don't know if I have enough space in the garage for it (would 100sf for boiler and small amount of wood be enough?) but I do have a 8" concrete wall between the garage and main house. The house and garage are all ICF's so very well insulated. Garage is on the SOUTH side of house. Primary winds out of NW.
    The advantages of this setup; easiest to fire/load, easiest for wife, would give off heat to room, easiest to pipe into the house (no undergound pex).
    The disadvantages; would use VERY precious limited space in garage(esp in summer), would make wood mess in garage, Smoke stack would be vented near our
    HRVs (2) air intakes.

    2. In a shed on the NORTH end of house in the walk out area off the basement.
    Our house faces directly west with a slope to the north. This allows a small walkout on the north side of the house. We will have retaining walls on both sides to hold back the dirt. I could build a small concrete "shed" partially submerged into the earth on the NE side of the walkout to contain the boiler and wood.
    The advantages; Everything outside, close to walkout, easy pex piping to utility room on inside, would be well insulated being partially underground, and this would
    NOT obstruct anyview or be an eyesore in the back yard of our farm.
    The disadvantages; NE side placement prone to snow drifting, hardest to get wood to if need more/run out (not near driveway on south side), coldest place in winter
    to have to go out and load, hardest place to access to daily fire, smoke stack may be too low for good draft?

    3. In a shed in back yard on east side of house.
    Standard 2x6 stick built shed on concrete slab.
    The advantages; fairly easy to load wood into, fairly easy to fire on a daily basis, best placement for smokestack
    The disadvantages; eyesore to view to rest of farm, longest underground piping, cold/windy place to daily fire, not real easy to reload/supply, least insulated.

    Does anyone elst have similar issues? Would love to hear comments and suggestions and other trials and tribulations with your setups.

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  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    It's against Code to put a wood-fired boiler in an attached garage, so that decision may have already been made for you.

    As to chimney height, I'm not sure you need a stack with the Garn. I don't believe the guy in the old Garn video has one--I think he vents out the back wall of his (detached) garage.

    Somebody once suggested burying a 40-foot steel shipping container and then putting the boiler and wood supply in it.
  3. SE Iowa

    SE Iowa New Member

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    Interestingly enough, I just happen to own a 40 ft shiping container that I used to store building supplies as I built the house. It needs a better home out of site. It doesn't look very nice as a yard ornament. Thanks for the idea.

    By the way, I guess I don't understand how the gassifiers are allowed in the house (seen many pict on this site), yet they are not allowed in a garage with a concrete wall b/w it and the house?
  4. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Add siding and a roof, and it's just a rectangular shed :)

    NFPA code doesn't allow any solid-fuel appliance in a garage.

    If you don't want to use the room as a garage, then it can become a storage room with an overhead door for ease of access. Adding a pillar in the middle - thereby preventing a car from being able to enter - is often a simple way to make it obvious that this is a storage room, not a garage. Adding an 8" sill can do the same thing, but prevents you from using a pallet jack to move firewood in.

    Joe
  5. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Actually Joe, the Garn would be an interesting debate with an inspector as it is essentially a sealed combustion appliance with all intake air coming from outside. In addition the loading door is over 18" from the floor which is what code specifies for fuel fired units installed in a garage. I'll have to bring that up to the state guy next time I bump into him.
  6. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I think the reason for banning solid fuel appliances in attached garages is the supposed danger posed by gas leaking from the cars and being ignited by the flame in some way. I'm not clear on why a wood-fired boiler is that much different from an oil burner, except that you expose the room to open flame when you're loading it. If you can completely isolate the boiler from space accessible to cars, then I think you've got a safe setup. But still not a code-compliant one.

    Given that, I don't see what makes the Garn any different from any other wood-fired boiler. They both need to be opened up on occasion to be refueled. They both consume air for combustion.
  7. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    The difference is that all the combustion air for the Garn is directly drawn from outside the structure through a duct. It uses no air from the room in which it is placed. It can technically be referred to as a sealed combustion appliance.
  8. Tony H

    Tony H New Member

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    i would say the North side for the eyesore and short pipe run. Maybe add a snow fence and a walk path you could use to drive a wheelbarrow or small lawn tractor to reload wood.
  9. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    One of the reasons I dislike the "code" system - it relies on demanding that all installations be done the same, regardless of what's safe in one situation versus another.

    But, as Eric says, the loading door would be an issue. However, code would complain even if the front of the boiler was in a different room. And atmospheric gas appliances (with an open flame) are allowed in garages, as long as they meet the 18" rule. The codes for solid fuel appliances are a huge mess.

    Joe
  10. leaddog

    leaddog Minister of Fire

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    shipping containers make great boiler rooms. You can side them and make them look good they have room for storage, wood, and the boiler in a building that is wind,rain, vermine proof. Make sure you provide outside air. They can also be moved quite easily if for some reason you would want to do that. A 8x20 can be bought for under $1500 most large cities and can be hauled on a trailer. A 8x40 costs about $2000 but must be hauled in usually. They also make great trator garages as I have a semi trailer that I buried used for that. In our state they aren't taxable as they aren't permanent.
    leaddog
  11. SE Iowa

    SE Iowa New Member

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    I'm wondering what "code" you guys are referring to? This is defineatly going to sound backwoodish to you guys, but there is NO BUILDING CODES where I live except for the need of a sewer inspection before building. There is no electrical, plumbing, framing, etc. So, I probably could get away with it in the garage BUT wouldn't want to do anything stupid just because there isn't a code against it. Food for thought.
  12. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    It's the National Fire Protection Association code, which I believe applies to every part of the country.

    As a practical matter, you can do whatever you want on your property and nobody is going to bother you or ask questions. The risk you run is that if your garage/house/estate burns down and the insurance company decides it was caused by the illegal boiler installation, that may be grounds for denying your claim. Maybe. Also, if you decide to sell your house and your prospective buyer decides he's not going to assume that liability, you could find yourself in an awkward situation.

    Both seem unlikely in my experience, but you should know where you stand, regardless of what you ultimately decide to do.
  13. ericjeeper

    ericjeeper New Member

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    Have you ever been scooping ashes and dropped any on the floor? Then the chunk of charcoal burst into flames? Well there goes the 18 inch door/firebox height all to hell real quick. So you can surely see why there is a difference between a fuel oil or gas fired water heater or furnace located in the garage.
    Just locate it in a corner and build two walls. Now it is located in the boiler room just off of the garage.
  14. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Need to add an exterior door, as well, technically. If the room is only accessible from the garage, it is generally considered to be part of the garage.

    Joe
  15. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    I'm also trying to locate the better site for our future outdoor unit. One option is about 100' away from the house with minimal grade from boiler to the house. Other option is up a considerable grade to the boiler from the house...this is the preferred location to keep from being an eyesore but I wonder if the uphill location is a problem?
  16. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    As long as you're not talking anything silly-high above the house (60+ feet above the lowest point in the heating system's water piping), grade is not an issue. The water going up the pipe is balanced by the water coming down the other side, so the pump only has to work against the friction, not the weight of the water.

    Joe
  17. trailhound68

    trailhound68 New Member

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    JOHNSON HAS IT RIGHT. FUEL VAPORS WILL HOVER AT CERTAIN HEIGHT DEPENDING ON THE TEMP IN THE ROOM. SOMEONE DETERMINED THE HEIGHT TO BE SAY 18". YOU COULD LEGALY, IN SOME STATES, INSTALL A BOILER IN YOUR GARAGE. IF YOU HAD AN ENCLOSURE AROUND IT TO SAID HEIGHT, MAYBE PLUS. COMMON SENSE SAYS, NO COMBUSTABLES NEAR YOUR WOOD OR OIL BOILER, RIGHT?
    ANOTHER POST I BROUGHT THIS UP TO A FELLA WHO SHOWED PICS OF HIS INTALL IN A GARAGE. HE SAID HE REMOVED THE OVERHEAD DOORS FOR PASS DOORS.
    SOMETHING LEARNED FROM EXPERIENCE. JUST HOPE YOU DON'T EXPOSE YOURSELF TO ANY RESON FOR SOME INSURANCE CO. TO DENY SHOULD SOMETHING HAPPEN.
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