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Thinking Wood Gun...any advice or experience?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by avc8130, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    I had to install my own clips and washers to keep the shield in place. I was trying to run w/o the shield and during our learning curve we were getting too much smoke out the door. Found the best way to avoid this was to reload when down to coals only but it takes awhile to know when it's at this stage. So, we reinstalled the shield for 2 seasons with my own fasteners. Just recently installed the smoke hood and thought that's the end of smoke, but when I was out of town last week the Mrs switched over to oil. She did remember to pull the smoke plug for the oil channel but when she decide to go back to burning wood she installed the plug in the wrong hole....lotsa smoke!

    The damper adjustment for us was to get the setting that best avoided the rumble that we semed to get when too much air was involved during a prolonged burn. Limiting the air intake not only resolved that for us but seemed to extend the time the load would last while still getting gasification. You'll figure all this out during your own learning curve.

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  2. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    Bob's explanation of the function of the damper is right on!
    When I removed the smoke shield or "singed eyebrow shield", I experienced more door gasket erosion so I re-installed it.
  3. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Good call with the washers. Any idea what ID they were? I could grab some at work.

    Reloading down at coals was wonderful this morning. I'm not sure I'll be able to time that perfectly each time.

    That is funny about the oil plug, well, in hindsight at least, right?

    I haven't experienced this "rumble", but a longer time between loading is always desirable.

    ac
  4. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    14-gallon expansion tank already en route from online supply, will be here tomorrow. Price shipped to my house: $107. Local plumbing supply price: $190. I guess they really don't like "cash" sales without account.

    ac
  5. I use online suppliers as well. Sure beats going to the local supply house and dealing with grumpy know it all counter guy. And overpaying for the privilege. Pex supply has prices equal to what my plumber friend gets with his discount. And he has to run a 100k through his account every year to get his discount.

    I just dealt with having to warranty two blower motors for some kick space heaters. Thought it was going it was going to be a hassle dealing with an online supplier. But they took care of it no problem.
  6. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    That's who I used. Order placed at 10AM. Ship notification at 1pm. Delivery shows tomorrow. I didn't even leave my couch.

    ac
  7. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    I don't recall the exact size, just went down to TSC and picked up some fender washers and longer clips. They were cheap so I grabbed a few of the sizes that looked best. It was rare that my timing to load at coals only ever worked....esp just before bedtime.
  8. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Mine only worked out this morning because the boiler was OUT of wood. Not exactly the best timed reload :).

    ac
  9. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    I came home from work, and checked the boiler of course. 6pm, last reload was ~6am.

    The boiler was at operating temp and not "running". I hit the purge and waited for the green light. Opened the door...hello smoke! LOL Still the remnants of ~4 splits plus a lot of coals in the chamber. Too soon to reload. I guess I put a bit too much wood in for the day's load.

    My wood chamber is officially covered in creosote. Is this "normal"? Good quality, sticky gooey tar. I could make fence posts to last an eternity with this stuff!

    My house also now smells like my basement a bit. Same ode du concrete cure/wood burn.

    ac
  10. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Yes, creosote is normal in the wood chamber. It should burn away in good fires. I find mine sometimes develops into brown flakes that fall off and/or burn up.
  11. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Excellent. Easy enough. I am sure it is from the on/off nature of the unit.

    ac
  12. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    I started inspecting possible causes of my odor. I started at the ash drawer in the cyclone and found 2 things:

    1. WATER! I spoke to Darren at AHS, apparently this is common on the first cold start of the system. Since the water is cold, and the fire is hot, A LOT of condensation occurs. I'll monitor this.

    2. ~2" of the gasket on the ash drawer had been leaking. I put a dab of silicone under it and stuck it back down.

    We shall see if that was the source of the odor.

    ac
  13. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    I believe the source of my smell is the water in the flue. For some reason my flue gasses have been condensing and that creosote water really stinks!

    I woke up to a cold boiler again...this time beyond restart capability. I thought I put in more wood than the night before, but she was EMPTY at 730 this morning. I reloaded at 9pm last night. I also turned the damper from full open to 45 degrees. I don't know why I did that, I just figured I would try. Could that have caused a FASTER burn?

    I think I am going to put a notebook down by the boiler and start monitoring #splits vs reported temperatures to get an idea.

    Since the boiler went cold, I am letting it stay cold to take the opportunity to add the larger expansion tank this evening.

    ac
  14. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    I had water in the ash pan too until I insulated all the near boiler piping. I esp had the water problem when burning oil but had some on wood too. Since then I insulated ALL my piping from boiler to chimney for a couple of reasons. The residual heat rising into the living room above kept the thermostat from calling for heat and the 2nd story of the house was getting a bit too cool while the living room was quite toasty. But the main reason was upon speaking with AHS about keeping the chimney temps a bit higher hoping this also would help to keep condensation down and at the same time minimize creosote in the chimney...seems to have done the trick for me.

    Odd that reducing fresh air intake would burn faster? Even on the coldest nights I can load up at 10pm and still have hot coals at 6:30am. Are you using the cycle timer?
  15. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    I do have a bunch of Roxul around. I could wrap the piping with some zip ties pretty easily. Maybe I'll try that if I keep having the problem. I let Darren at AHS know about it. He has been AWESOME.

    Yeah, head-scratcher here too. No cycle timer.

    I am having trouble relating "full". Most of the other WG owners here have E-100. That has a 6.5 cu ft firebox according to AHS. I have the E-180. It has a 14 cu ft firebox. I was figuring my 1/2 full ~ your full?

    ac
  16. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    If you do plan to insulate be sure the insulation will handle high temps or you'll get some smoldering and even worse smell...ask me how I know :)

    When using the smoke shield I could only get about 6 or 7 splits in the firebox. I have yet to load more than that this year(1st yr w/o the shield) but I would guess a full load(max capacity) would be 12+ splits. Since I'm guessing we can normally get about a 10 hour burn from 8 splits, that's probably as much as we'll load at a time. Our splits are usually about 16" to 18" long.
  17. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Roxul/rotten cotton insulation acceptable?

    Hmm...I think I burned right through ~12 splits last night. Of course, it IS not oak...

    ac
  18. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    Not sure what the Roxul you have is rated to. Give it a try, you'll know fairly soon if it will work or not. I got some blanket insulation that was rated to very high temp(1200+ degrees I think) and that is wrapped by a foil insulation. Even at full burn my wrapped single wall duct piping is cool to the touch.
    It was suggested that if your boiler is on cement to even insulate below the ash pan. I have not done that since I don't see a need any longer.
    Certainly what wood you are burning will have a lot to do with how long a load lasts. Currently e are burning a mixture of soft pine and cherry. Right now 10 splits are lasting 24 hours, of course that will change soon enough!
  19. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    My Roxul is rated to 2000f.

    I am amazed your single wall is cool to the touch. My double wall is warm!

    I am burning elm and ash right now.

    ac
  20. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    My cycle timer has arrived. Now to figure out how to wire this thing in...

    ac
  21. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Holy crap - you guys have some big boxes. I hadn't paid attention to it before, but just checked my manual & did some metric converting - mine is only 4 cu.ft.. Now I'm not feeling oh so bad about filling it full every 4 hours if necessary when it gets real cold. Right now I'm burning in the evenings only - a cold start with 3/4 to a full load, then a refill 4 hours or so later on the way to bed with a bit less, maybe 2/3-3/4. Sounds like about the same cu.ft./day as you guys overall.
  22. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    I got home and UPS was nice enough to drop off my new expansion tank!

    Here is a pic of the "setup" I have been using the past 2 days:

    [​IMG]

    You can see the boiler drain "plumbed" into the "holding tank" for rapid reduction of pressure. You can also see the over-pressure valve "plumbed" into the "holding tank" in the event the boiler needed to vent a bit when I wasn't paying attention.

    Here is the new PROPER solution:

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, it is plumbed in with an isolation valve w/ drain port facing the tank. Yeah, it hits that blue valve on my indirect loop. Oh well for now, I've done enough plumbing this month!

    I also found the MAJOR source of my smoke leak during startup: my clean door below the thimble. Fixed this pretty quick by opening the door and stuffing the area packed with Roxul 2000F insulation.

    I'm re-firing the boiler right now. I'm trying Darren's suggestion of using very small splits and burning them for 30 minutes before adding any new wood to the cold boiler. Then load to the bottom of the door. We shall see if this prevents condensation from a cold start.

    ac
  23. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    BTW avc, can I use the word "wonkey" ??? That is a great term to describe awkward plumbing and mechanical things in general!!! I love it!!

    TS
  24. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Of course! I've been referring to this plumbing as "wonky" all along!

    Fired back up again. Darren's suggestion worked quite well to keep the condensation down. Up to 180F...23psi. Success!

    Odor is reducing...but still present. So far I am enjoying all of this tinkering. The best part? I get to start tinkering all over again once I tackle installing/setting up the oil back up!
    ac
  25. infinitymike

    infinitymike Minister of Fire

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    Holy Moly! 10 splits in 24 hours. I must be doing something wrong or you are only heating your house to 65*. Or maybe my house is a leaky SOB. Either way I burn through about 20 or more splits a day.

    Now I know there are a bunch of variables. But heres my set up. 500 sq ft heated area of basement, 1200 sq ft 1st fl, 600 sq ft 2nd fl
    New Andersen windows and doors, New attic insulation over 2nd fl, new wall insulation in front half of 1st fl walls. T-stat set to come on at 5am and raise house from 66* to 70* where it will stay until 11pm. Last year I burned 5+ cord of very green locust, cherry and oak (20 splits per day on avg). This year I whipped through .75 cord of sugar maple. And am currently burning 15-20 pieces per day of ash and cherry that was split in july. My splits are 24" long

    Maybe I'm doing something wrong. o_O

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