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Rising from the ashes

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by longboarder2, Nov 8, 2012.

  1. longboarder2

    longboarder2 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    Messages:
    83
    Loc:
    southern NJ
    back in feb. we had a chimney fire that made its way into the attic and part of the second floor---all back together after six weeks and some great contractor buddies of mine helping. got lots of great advice from members of the forum.

    so, here's where we are now: bought some two-year-old oak (and other species) from a friend--so i know it's that old (spilt next year's wood back in march). still running a harmon sf-160 add-on to my existing oil-fired system. upgraded the flu pipe to 7" inside diameter--6" coupling on stove, goes straight to 7" smokepipe on back of unit for about five feet, then 7" all-fuel to the roof.

    we've had some wintry weather here in sunny, scenic nj so ive had a few good days of burning to try my new strategy. i have been running the harmon with a high limit of 175, just so the dump zone will pop a little early in case of an overheat. set the high limit on the oil burner at 160 (it has only run twice in the last three days for not very long) we've only been burning early morning and at night when the temps are below 40---in an effort to reduce creosote (source of my fire) i have been burning with a "wood stove mentality" only burning while we are home/awake and leaving the air intake open regardless of demand----NO IDLING at all!--i have a pretty substantial dump zone, so i'm not sweating the potential of an overheat (also have a lot of radiant in tile floors to heat up)

    we seem to have great draft and the wood is burning completely. i am now burning much smaller fires than last year---3-4 logs max usually adding about one or two logs per hour. the harmon has been heating the house handily and the morning restarts have been easy.

    anyone have any other tips or advice to help me make sure i dont have another creosote problem and/or fire?

    btw: i plan on getting a chinmey sweep/inspection after about 30 days of burning this way just to make sure we are on the right track.

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  2. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    3,981
    Loc:
    Nova Scotia
    After living with my old boiler for 17 years, it sounds like you are doing things right re. limiting creosote.

    But you will still have some - so regular inspections & cleanings would be my priority.
  3. ikessky

    ikessky Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    862
    Loc:
    Northern WI
    I burn hot on every reload. My magnetic thermometer hits 500°-600° before I turn down the air. Every few days I also throw in some Creosote Destroyer. It's not a replacement for regular sweeps, but I think it helps to dry out any tar that you might get.
  4. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2008
    Messages:
    1,729
    Loc:
    Southeastern Vt.
    Don't know much about your heating appliance but if you had a gasser such as mine, I would suggest waiting another year before burning the oak.
  5. longboarder2

    longboarder2 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    Messages:
    83
    Loc:
    southern NJ
    so, "anti-creosote" logs are a good idea? i thought they would have too many chemicals that may damage my flue pipe. so, is creosote just a fact of life when using a boiler? is it because of the constant heating/cooloing inside the unit due to the water jacket or is it more of a function of the wood? i have friends that burn conventional woodstoves here in the neighborhood--most only let their wood sit for a year, some only six months. these guys get little or nothing out of their chimneys and have no flarfe-up issues.
  6. ikessky

    ikessky Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    862
    Loc:
    Northern WI
    This is the stuff I use: http://www.amazon.com/Meeco-Mfg-Powdered-Creosote-Destroyer/dp/B000LNXUYO
    It's a powder that you throw in every so often.

    Creosote is a fact of life when you don't have a way of burning the smoke/gasses (secondary burn or cat). Some wood is ready in a year, but species like oak typically take two years to properly season/dry. And that's split and stacked mind you. Wood left in rounds does not season properly. I'm burning wood this year that has been split and stacked for two summers. I'll still check the liner once a month and sweep as necessary.
  7. sloeffle

    sloeffle Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2012
    Messages:
    117
    Loc:
    Morrow County, Ohio
    I have a PSG Caddy wood burning furnace with a secondary burn and had a stove with a cat. I have always cleaned my chimney before heating season starts and once during the winter. I usually try to pick a day in late January when there is no snow on the roof to do my mid winter cleaning. Last year I got about 1 - 2 cups of creosote during my mid year cleaning.

    I have around 25 acres of wood so I usually try to burn dead stuff ( lots of ash due to emerald ash borer ;hm ) before I cut any live trees down. If the wood seasons for 6 months or more I usually do not have to many problems with it being to green to burn.

    edit: My chimney is 18' double wall stainless steel

    Scott
  8. longboarder2

    longboarder2 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    Messages:
    83
    Loc:
    southern NJ
    i was thinking the same thing: around early january for a mid-season cleaning. its been a little cold here this week (training from a midwest perspective) but it's going to the mid 60's by monday--once it hits 42, i dont even bother--just turn off a couple zones, tweak the thermostats, and pay to goddamn oil man. i expect to burn more consistently in december thru february or as far as my three cords will get me---trying to play by the rules on seasoning the wood. i split six cords of locust last march--its been stting in a pile (some covered) since. once this year's wood is gone, that will be stacked in the shed for next season. had to do with what i could for this year (twice shy about moisture contentafter the fire) but for the next two years i have way more than enoough wood--to the point that some may be three years old by the time it gets burned.

    i will try the creosote eating logs or chem.----anyone have a recommendation on how often to toss one in?
  9. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    Messages:
    3,137
    Loc:
    St. Lawrence River Valley, N.Y.
    Glad to hear you are back in business longboarder. I am assuming, which I have learned in the past that I should not do sometimes, that your harmon is in the basement. Is that correct? If so, as far as paying the oil man goes, I have this strategy. And I do not pay him one dime. I did this with my wood stove and do it with my boiler. And forgive me if this is something you do already. But I use my basement as a storage tank. I do not have as much storage as I would like. I have a 400 gallon "buffer" tank. So when temps are mild and I don't need to burn 24/7, I burn once in the morning and once again in the evening. While the boiler is running, and after it is up to 175 or so, I crank the thermostat in the basement to 80 or 82. I then wait until the basement is up to temp and the second floor I usually heat up to about 73 or so. I then turn the thermostat back down in the basement and first floor, very important ;lol, then shut the boiler down all together. This shutdown is done just before I leave for work in the morning and just before we go to bed at night. With the mild temps in the 40s it is no problem at all making it until I get home from work or get up in the morning. The heat in the basement slowly migrates up the stairs and into the first and second floor. I have burned a total of about 40-50 gallons, best estimate, in the last 13 1/2 months. Not bad. And I like the people I get my oil from. And giving them my business. I just don't like giving the big oil companies my money, or burning a non-renewable resource. Unfortunately I have to burn gas. ;hm When will they come up with a good wood gassification system for a truck?

    So, could you warm your house up, one way or another, with the boiler to the point where it would stay warm enough for 8 hours or so? I just thought of the fact that you may not have a heat zone in the basement. :confused:
  10. longboarder2

    longboarder2 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    Messages:
    83
    Loc:
    southern NJ
    thanks for the reply gasser:

    no, the harmon is out in the garage, but it is located just above the oil boiler which is in the basement---the wood burner was a "post construction" addition and design stuff prevents it from being down there---some day when i retire and move up north i will be a better planner. i have a heat zone in the basement--no thermostat because i use it as my dump zone on the wood boiler. i have 32 feet of slant fin down there and it seems to keep things in check when called upon. i have been heating the house in the evening and early morning, then letting it burn out during the "leave" period on the thermostats. usually betwen 11a and 5 p. everything drops only four degrees. the house is pretty new so not a whole lot of heat loss. when i am up late, i burn later so the morning warm up is not so tuff. when the temps actually do get cold, i kick up the thermostats and burn all day. no storage---just trying to do it on the fly. for this week, no wood burning as it is staying near 40 @ night and over 50 during the day. fighting a new problem with expansion lately---going to post separately about that.

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