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Spoke too soon-Econoburn fan issue

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by b33p3r, Dec 10, 2010.

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  1. ewdudley

    ewdudley Minister of Fire

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    Don't you fret there Mr. & Mrs. Homeowner, all them neutrals is safe, Piker told me so!

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  2. Piker

    Piker Minister of Fire

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    Definitely did not say that!!... note that I said "or at least shouldn't" up above

    Always a chance that something has gone awry with someone's wiring somewhere and there is voltage in the neutral that shouldn't be.

    cheers
  3. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    Another factor-- if "switching the neutral" -- when the switch is open (not energized) the conductor from the load is going to be carrying live voltage that's looking for but can't get to the neutral. Only when the switch is closed (on) will that whole leg of the circuit be at zero voltage potential. If that isn't understood, someone may run into an unpleasant surprise.
  4. Piker

    Piker Minister of Fire

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    Well, I think I just got schooled. I obviously didn't follow through on my thought process with "switching the neutral"... but you pretty much just made it crystal clear... I will retire to the corner for the evening with my dunce cap. My apologies.

    cheers
  5. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    No shaming meant at all-- it's a very common misconception. It stands out in my memory because I experienced it first hand back during my mad scientist teenager years by receiving a 120 volt "bite" from such a situation.
  6. Piker

    Piker Minister of Fire

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    Despite having to eat some humble pie on the matter of overlooking the shock hazard when the switch is in the open position... I'm feeling pretty good about the prospect of a solution to this problem. I think I am going to try to head out Saturday morning to make the change on the first boiler. This is a unit that on occasion will not start the fan on low fire... but switch the main power off and then on and the fan gets the 2 second high voltage pulse and fires right up. I'll keep you all posted.

    My guess, trevor, given your mad scientist background, is that you have already made the change on your boiler? If so, feel free to share...

    cheers
  7. kabbott

    kabbott Member

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    Ahhhh... Humble pie is not bad, I try to get a helping or 2 every week myself... :red:
    Anyway that is why I asked, Not trying to be a smart A$$, But nothing worse than a false sense of safety.
    Does Econoburn have the schematics on there website, or do they only come with the boiler?

    Kris
  8. Piker

    Piker Minister of Fire

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    I do not believe you can get them from the website unless they have the manual as a downloadable. Haven't checked on that lately, but I know they never used to have the manuals available.
  9. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    Regret to say that I haven't actually tried it yet:

    1) right now I run my boiler in such a way that it never idles (all heat goes to house any time boiler is over 150) and I plan timing and size of fires [so I am not worried about the fan issue yet] [but will want to get it sorted out when I complete the controls to use my storage]; and

    2) In my old farmhouse basement with low ceilings, the main air return duct goes straight over the top middle/ front of my Econoburn, with only about 10" of clearance (the back area of the EBW is more clear, so that I can get in for cleanings, pull the turbs, etc.), so I am going to have to become a contortionist to open the top cover and work on the wiring in there.
  10. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    By the way, I think we all owe a virtual round of thankful applause to Piker for his willingness to be part of finding a solution for a product that he no longer represents. Too many people would just "fade away" in relation to such a situation.
  11. b33p3r

    b33p3r Feeling the Heat

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    You guys are amazing! I hope now that Dale from econoburn doesn't consider me a troublemaker.
  12. Piker

    Piker Minister of Fire

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    HA!! If Dale thinks anyone is a trouble maker it's gonna be me. %-P

    All in all, this is good for Dale as well... short term there are going to be a lot of questions and calls on the matter, but now he'll have an answer and a fix for at least part of the problem with the controls. That's if this solves the issue... Dale said yesterday that he wants to test this for a while before we throw a party. Understandable... but he does have the boiler at their shop wired up like this and apparently it's good so far.

    cheers
  13. killick

    killick Member

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    Thanks all this has been a great thread which I have been following with interest even if the technical stuff is over my head. My EB 150 has been up and running for a week now and everything seems to be going smoothly.The fan kicks in on high speed for a couple of seconds before ramping down to low. The biggest issue I have so far is unseasoned wood but I am very pleased with the unit and it really cranks the heat.

    Earl
  14. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    I'll second that! Excellent opportunity for a person to become the ground path in that scenario. I run into that in a lot of older homes with oil furnaces in them. Throw the switch for the furnace, it quits running so I assume it's dead but then get zotted because the hot is still live. Keeps life interesting............and probably delivers a preemptive defib to my heart every now and again. Check them lines before you grab 'em people.
  15. b33p3r

    b33p3r Feeling the Heat

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    I work for an industrial plant as an electrical technician. Troubleshooting open neutrals are the hardest thing to teach someone new coming up through the ranks. Never mind the average homeowner trying to save a few bucks. Big sticker on front of boiler stating power "must" be turned off prior to removing covers should protect them from the blood sucking lawyers. White wire doesn't always mean safe to touch. I learned this dealing with 277 volt 3 phase common neutral lighting schemes in a 30 year old industrial plant where none of the feeds are marked or if they are, they are 30 years old and can't be trusted.
    "Never trust anyone when you are dealing with electricity". My grandfather taught me that lesson. You can't even trust your Grandfather(He did it on purpose to teach a lesson) God rest his soul. But I never forgot it!
  16. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    When I bought this house, the electrical system was an absolute nightmare- patchworked all over the place by incompetent people. Poorly bonded neutrals and grounds such that no conductor had the voltage, or absence of voltage, that it was supposed to- and even the main ground turned out to be mostly figurative- and it all fluctuated depending on what loads/ switches were. It didn't take me long to decide to stop trying to decipher the mess and just rewire it a circuit at a time.
  17. Huskurdu

    Huskurdu Member

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    I've just read through this entire string of discussions. My problem is that my fan has been acting up and I blew the 2amp fuse the other day (keep your jokes to yourself!) and had to replace it. Is there something I should do short-term to keep from ruining the Nimbus board (or whatever you call it)? Or is the board already toast at this point? I haven't had any other issues and the unit runs like it always has. I've got storage so I could limit my burning so that fan doesn't go into slow mode, but it will be a little difficult to manage all them time.
  18. b33p3r

    b33p3r Feeling the Heat

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    It's an ongoing issue with econoburn controls. Coordinate your digital temp with your aquastat so the fan always goes to high speed but doesn't hit 220* digital(over temp mode). I've been running mine at 205 digital and 180 aquastat(because the temp differential is 20-30* between the analog gauge and the digital thermocouple?). It supplies the heat I need with no over temp but lots of idle time which equates to a lot of creosote. It's not the efficient or clean way to run the boiler as advertised, but Econoburn is currently running a test to correct the fan issues. My friend has a heatmor and I joke with him that at this point I have an Economore!
    I think the problem will be resolved by the sound of things. I'm looking forward to the day the factory rep rewires my boiler the way it should be and it works as advertised. Gasifiers as advertised burn 1/2 the wood but the way I have to burn it now it's no better than a heatmor! The only difference is Heatmores let you get 12 hours sleep but you need to deal with creosote. Econoburn says 6-8 hours but a cleaner burn? I haven't seen the cleaner burn yet because of the fan issue. I own an economore!
    Once the fan fix is approved and rewired, I might have a different attitude. Until then I am holding econoburn to their expectations!
  19. Huskurdu

    Huskurdu Member

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    Thank you for your response.
    I wonder why, after two years, that they are just starting to act up??? As I do have storage, I am running mine full out and trying not to over load the boiler with wood so that it never goes into slow speed or idle. The downside is that on very cold days my baseboard needs 180* or better water temp coming to it and it's difficult to maintain only 500 gallons at or above 180*. I need more storage or reduce my demand by insulating the walls in my house.
    On these 20* or better days it's not a biggy, but it gets way below that this time of year. Well the good news is that I'm finally using my storage as designed, and my Economore :) is still keeping the house warm.
  20. Piker

    Piker Minister of Fire

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    Quick update:

    Thus far, rewiring the aquastat to the other side of the nimbus board for one of our customers with the humming/non starting draft fan has produced favorable results. The fan is now started with a 2 second full voltage pulse every time regardless of high or low fire, and has yet to fail to start. Remember this was a unit where the nimbus board hadn't failed completely, but was having issues with the fan not starting in low fire from time to time. So far so good. I think this was a great catch by Trevor on the possibilities of rewiring, and I am hopeful that no one will actually have to "break the buzzer."

    Now the issue will be whether or not Econoburn supports this change and whether or not they issue some sort of service bulletin if they do.

    cheers
  21. goosegunner

    goosegunner Minister of Fire

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    Ok, I just started burning my econoburn 200 yesterday. I may have an issue with the fan humming at times on restart. My controller appears to have a 5 degree differential. If I set the digital controller at 175 it usually will restart the fan at 170. I have seen it at 168-169 and it is either humming or turning very very slowly.


    There are a few things I don't understand in this post

    1. Do your econoburns have a switch on the side of the fan housing to turn off fan? Mine does but it sounds like some people are turning off the power to load wood.

    2.Does your fan shut down to off when idling? Mine does after a certain amount of time.

    3. The way I understand the manual it states the auqastat is used as a switch to stop fan in an over temp. Mine came preset at 215 degrees. I left it at that setting and the digital controller can be at whatever temp I use and the fan stops at the set point of the digital.

    gg
  22. Piker

    Piker Minister of Fire

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    Econoburn made changes to the settings of the plc controllers and mechanical aquastats after they figured out that starting the fan on low fire using the aquastat was burning out the nimbus boards. The original intent of the mechanical aquastat was to cut power to the fan BEFORE the boiler reached overtemp. This is how we marketed the boilers, and this is how they were shipped from the factory - with the mechanical aquastat set to 180, and the overtemp alarm on the control set to 220. The switch on the fan is a new feature that I have not seen.

    The fix described here by pybyr, from what I can tell, allows the boilers to use the original control settings (the settings that actually work) without worrying about premature failure of the nimbus.

    cheers
  23. goosegunner

    goosegunner Minister of Fire

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    [/quote]

    Econoburn made changes to the settings of the plc controllers and mechanical aquastats after they figured out that starting the fan on low fire using the aquastat was burning out the nimbus boards. The original intent of the mechanical aquastat was to cut power to the fan BEFORE the boiler reached overtemp. This is how we marketed the boilers, and this is how they were shipped from the factory - with the mechanical aquastat set to 180, and the overtemp alarm on the control set to 220. The switch on the fan is a new feature that I have not seen.

    The fix described here by pybyr, from what I can tell, allows the boilers to use the original control settings (the settings that actually work) without worrying about premature failure of the nimbus.

    cheers[/quote]

    Ok, then I guess my setup is completely different.

    My boiler came with a switch on the side of the fan housing. You can see it in the picture below, metal switch.

    The wiring connections on the back of the boiler had a yellow jumper between the Blue/white for aquastat connection. I was told it was to make the fan run if the aquastat is not used. I removed the jumper and connected the aquastat.

    I don't have storage hooked up yet so I have been idling the last few days. I can see that is not a good idea and my wood might not be dry enough. I will start a new thread with a picture of stack.

    gg

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  24. b33p3r

    b33p3r Feeling the Heat

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  25. b33p3r

    b33p3r Feeling the Heat

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    I've given the "Neutral" side switching a thought and I don't think it's the right way to go. With the aquastat on the neutral side, should the neutral short out to ground before the aquastat, it will allow the boiler to continue to run bypassing the aquastat. I know that's a long shot but insulation melting off a neutral and shorting to frame(ground) would just be taking a different path back to the neutral bus. And if it happened in the right(Actually wrong) place, that aquastat is no longer doing its job.
    On the otherhand, if the line side of the Nimbus were run through the aquastat and it shorted out, it would take out the fuse and shut the boiler down. Thoughts are welcome.
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