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Poor performance of boiler

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by maineDIY, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. maineDIY

    maineDIY New Member

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    This might be trivial to those of you that have done this for a while. Also I'm going on the idea that sometimes we can learn from others mistakes as much as from successes.

    My Vigas 60 has one season of use on it. It was shut down for the summer. When starting again recently its performance was less than stellar.

    Long story short. It needed cleaning out especially under the "tubes" When the tubes are cleaned thent the soot collects under the tubes and can eventually slow down airflow.
    Gregory

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  2. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    Usually I clean all the ashes out, then brush tubes. Pull the fine ash out from under the tubes. Just curious as how much i brushed out of tubes.
  3. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

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    I guess I wonder HOW you were cleaning it. I took a regular long handled boiler brush, and snipped off the loop handle. I mount that in a cordless drill and it goes easy as pie thru the tubes. I usually leave my ash vac running in the box just to catch the flying stuff.

    Then I use the rake tool to grab ash from the inside of fire brick, then start at the back of boiler as far as you can reach and pull it forward. I bet the whole job doesn't take 20 minutes. I occasionally will let my OCD kick in, and I snake the ash vac around in there and vacuum it out clean.

    Were you not cleaning the lower part at all?
  4. maineDIY

    maineDIY New Member

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    Well, as I said---trivial to the fire gods that are on here. I cleaned beside and in front of the refractory with the hoe but never slid the refractory all the way out to see what was way in the back. When I finally did what I saw was astounding. The ash that collected right directly below the tubes was so high that it nearly occluded the air flow. Now I guess common sense would tell most that would eventually happen if one didn't get way back there, but for me it was an important "new discovery!" You can collectively take away my boiler operating permit for a month or be banned from posting here (;-)
  5. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    Where did you think the ash that you were brushing from the tubes was going? I make the spring cleaning of my boiler into a "project". I brush or scrape every surface I can access even if it means disassembly. I want to be sure that there is nearly no thickness to any ash or tar that will hold moisture over the summer. Even a small pile of fly ash will be corrosive when damp.
    It's not the worst thing that could happen. You located the problem and fixed it. Most members on this forum have learned lessons through the "school of hard knocks" and have been rewarded with pleasurable operation of their heating units. Thats where I got my diploma!
  6. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

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    I'm beginning to ponder our next boiler and the Vigas or Froling would be candidates along with Garn. I looked at the Vigas Owners Manual on-line and was surprised how similar the Vigas is in design to my BioMass except for the lambda controls. Now that it's tuned up what do you think. Forget about your cleaning snafu. It took me 3 years to find out I had to clean that upper chamber where it exits to the fan. First 2-3 years are quite a learning curve apparently for most of us.
  7. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    I'm with Fred61. My OCD will not allow me let any flyash, or soot exist in or on the boiler, I used to spend a couple of hours cleaning the old NewYorker with a putty knife attached to some pine:confused: Who knows what I'll do now with so much fireside surface area exposed. LOL I've found over the years that a sacrificial can of WD40 sprayed on all clean surfaces inside the boiler will also protect from any moisture, if it works on guns, it works on boilers. And no there are no explosions or adverse effects in the fall first-fire.

    TS
  8. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

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    Fred.. as I read his reply.. I was just getting ready to type this exact sentence! Sometimes a good dose of skepticism and a flashlight go a LONG way on figuring out how to make stuff work.

    We've all made dumb mistakes. Glad your boiler's poor performance was so easily fixed. Kinda like you trying to run a marathon while someone is riding on your back strangling you! No air.. no performance!

    JP
  9. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    I got a chance to stick my head into a new Vigas on display. I like the design and ease of cleaning. Nice units for the $$$'s.
  10. nrcrash

    nrcrash Member

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    Very happy with mine after 3 weeks of light use!
  11. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    I also use WD-40 but I hesitate to disclose such things on this forum. We had a moderator that would have replied with a full page dissertation on how dangerous it would be. He seemed to think that we couldn't be trusted with a pack of matches. He scolded many who posted as if they were children.
  12. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    You're looking for a replacement already? Is this just going to be a 'trade-up-for-more-features' (lambda) kind of thing? I'm hoping to get way longer than that out of mine - and from all my researching I was considering the Biomass right up there vs. the others. I'd suspect you wouldn't have much problem finding a buyer for your Biomass at least.
  13. maineDIY

    maineDIY New Member

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    I like it very much now that it is working like new. I just couldn't figure out why my burns were not as good this season as last. I was getting some, or at times, more than some visable smoke out the chimney early in the burn and even sometimes later. I have even better seasoned/dryer wood this second season so was baffled. I had done what I thougnt was a thorough cleaning of the tubes, lambda sensor, refractory and front and sides of the refractory--- so felt it couldn't be related to that. Thought maybe I'd forgotten some of the settings on the electronic controller over the summer. On the vigas, the refractory bricks are placed inside a steel box that will completely slide out of the lower chamber. For some reason I wasn't aware of that. Once I figured that out, the rest was easy. Thanks again for all who share their experience on this forum. I'm truly grateful. My install was completely DIY with great advice and drawings from Mark at AHONA. I highly reccommend him and his company and also very happy with his regional dealer, Patrick M.The vigas owners manual on the other hand could use a good proof reading and re write for american customers in my opinion, but with good dealer/distributer support and this forum, it's not a real serious issue.
  14. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

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    Maple, No, I'm not at all displeased with the BioMass, quite the opposite. Having no experience heating with wood back in '09 when I chose the boiler it was based on picking the best value gasification boiler for the price. I was very concerned that after one season both my wife and I would decide it was too much a PITA or my schedule could not coexist with the demands of wood heating. Well... what do you know... we don't just put up with it but LIKE it. The BioMass turned out to be a great choice for where my experience was nearly 5 years ago. NOW... as I look at the floor space demands in my boiler barn to accomdate my BioMass boiler AND at least a double stacked 500 gal tank.... geez... that monster of a Garn's foot print ain't too bad, in fact it looks like it will take up less floor space! So if I DON'T spend $2k on storage and sell my BioMass for several $K... I'm maybe 5-6k from having the easy to live with Garn..... OR I just add the tanks and down the road several years step up to a Lambda boiler. Either way... knowing what I know now, well into my forth season I'm a much more experienced wood burner and trying to decide what to do for way into the future. Bottomline... Storage is in my future... is it with a Lambda boiler or a Garn for not much more money. Reading here the "satisfaction factor" seems to be very high for the Garn and Lambda folks with maybe the Garn folks having an edge. Yep... looks like I've become a wood burning geek.

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