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Service Provider Recommendations SE PA?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by kwiggins827, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. kwiggins827

    kwiggins827 New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2013
    Messages:
    6
    Loc:
    Downingtown, PA
    Newbie here - I bought a home recently that uses a TARM Solo Plus wood boiler. The system worked great for a few weeks and has recently been giving me trouble. I have almost no experience with this type of unit and my oil bills are killing me. Having a heck of a time finding somebody in SE PA that will service a wood boiler system. Called the manufacturer and they do not have any dealers in the area. Does anybody have any recommendations??

    Thanks in advance for any help!

    Kevin

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  2. wrightk20

    wrightk20 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2012
    Messages:
    63
    What is it doing or what is it not doing properly? Lots of people hear willing to help. Just need to know whats going on. Kevin
  3. Floydian

    Floydian Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2008
    Messages:
    417
    Loc:
    Southwestern VA
    Hi Kevin and Welcome!

    Can you confirm you are burning dry wood? This is Rule # 1 in gasifier operation. 15-20% moister content should do well. See if you can get a moister meter, resplit some pieces and measure in the center of the newly split face.

    You have a great boiler that will definitely allow you to get away from burning oil. Is the boiler set up with thermal storage?

    Maybe post some pics of your set up.

    Hang in there, the folks here can help.

    Noah
  4. kwiggins827

    kwiggins827 New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2013
    Messages:
    6
    Loc:
    Downingtown, PA
    Thanks guys for the welcome! Looking forward to learning alot about the system - seems pretty unusual for my area of the country.

    I believe the wood is seasoned...I know its been sitting here for AT LEAST a year and the prior owner didn't have any problem with the unit - he has moved and is very hard to get a hold of and I'm basically starting from scratch. When I bought the house, he had the wood boiler running already....he explained to me how to start it up, and use it, and I took notes along the way. I wasn't living in the house when I first bought it, but I would stop by 2 times a day to load up with wood - all was well and it was working great. About a month ago, I had to go out of town and the unit cooled down and switched back to oil. That was fine for me because I didnt move in until a few weeks ago, and I kept the temperature way down. I followed the directions he gave me, and got a fire going. I closed the door to the unit and went on my way. The next morning I noticed it was still going but was just kind of stewing and the fire didn't burn off. When I would open the door, the fire would take off. I thought it was odd. That evening I checked again, same thing - same load. The next morning I found a copy of the user manual online (should have done that first!) and I realized that the prior owner neglected to tell me a step - which was to hit the reset button before starting the fire so that the fan would operate. I didn't notice that the fan was not going on and off when I started my own fire. I pulled all of the old logs and stuff out of the firebox and noticed a tar substance along the bottom of the unit. I cleaned up as much as I could but I know there is still a bit of a mess in there. I hit the reset button and started over. Well this time (after calling the manufacturer to walk me through again how it was all supposed to work) I let a nice kindling fire burn and let the flue temperature raise up to where it was supposed to go (I hadn;t realized the importance of the flue temperature in the entire process and I think I opened the damper and loaded my heavier wood too early). Once the flue got up to temperature, I loaded the wood into the firebox and closed the door. Fan was running. Almost immediately the flue temperature crashed and the fire died down signficantly. Once I would open the door, the fire would get going again and the flue temperature would rise. I'd close the door, and then the same thing would happen. After doing this a few times, the boiler eventually overheated and the thermostats would not call for the heat....this caused for pressure to build in the system and the relief valve to go off. The pressure eventually went back down, but it was a stressful night.

    Needless to say, my confidence in getting this running without somebody really checking out the unit is waning. I could really use some help. I have a feeling I mucked everything up when i let that fire stew inside the firebox, and that tar perhaps clogged up some of the vents that allow for drafting when the door is closed..but having zero experience, I dont even know where to begin!


    Any help appreciated!

    P.S. - No storage currently - but planning on it if I can get this thing running!
  5. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2008
    Messages:
    2,319
    Loc:
    northern-half of maine
    I'm wondering if the controls still have it on oil? Or a zone valve hasn't opened up to let the wood side put heat to the house? If the boiler can't circulate to the house, in about 45 minutes that wood boiler will heat itself up enough to shut down, and possibly overheat. Wood firers can't shut off completely until wood is gone.

    Once the flue got up to temperature, I loaded the wood into the firebox and closed the door. Fan was running. Almost immediately the flue temperature crashed and the fire died down signficantly. Once I would open the door, the fire would get going again and the flue temperature would rise. I'd close the door, and then the same thing would happen. After you closed the door, would the fan still be running? And if the fan was running, would smoke spill out of boiler door when open?


    Spend more time with bioheat. Ask them where to take pics of the layout and email the pics to them.

    FWIW- i drive a truck for a living and got limited knowledge in this stuff, just enough to really send someone off on a wild goose chase.:)
  6. Floydian

    Floydian Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2008
    Messages:
    417
    Loc:
    Southwestern VA
    Kevin, I think the title of your post is causing it to get overlooked. There are lots of Tarm solo plus owners on this site, just a matter of getting them to see your situation.

    Maybe a thread title along the lines of "Help!-trouble with Tarm solo plus" or some such.

    I think you are on the right track here. I just can't offer specifics on what to look for as I am not familiar with your boiler.

    Are things mucked up in the lower chamber?(secondary combustion chamber). If so, your heat exchange tubes may also be fouled up. Something you are going to need to check at some point. This could greatly reduce the boilers ability to transfer heat to water but should NOT be the cause of your troubles, but a product of them.

    I believe your boiler has a bypass damper, correct? I think this should be open when starting a fire, allowing all smoke to go directly to your chimney. Once you have enough of a fire established, the bypass damper should be closed and now you should be gasifying. All hydrocarbons are forced down thru the nozzle where secondary air allows for complete combustion(torch like flame). From here it is all about heat transfer thru the HX tubes, then up the chimney. Over simplified for sure, and like I said I don't know your boiler, but hopefully this makes some sense.


    Good luck Kevin,

    Noah
  7. kwiggins827

    kwiggins827 New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2013
    Messages:
    6
    Loc:
    Downingtown, PA
    Thanks guys....good idea on the title change - I tried to edit, but no luck - is it possible?

    The thermostat on the oil burner is turned down well below that of the wood boiler (or at least it was when I had it turned on). I don't recall if whether the fan was still running when I closed the door, but there was no smoke. The lower chamber looks pretty good, I cleaned the exchange tubes recently and not a big mess in there. I do have a bypass damper, and as you said, I operated it exactly as you said. However, once the damper was closed, everything died off (flue temperature crashed).

    Perhaps I will make a second post with a different title. Thank you.

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