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Thoughts on the Boiler Room

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Eric Johnson, Nov 1, 2007.

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  1. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Central NYS
    It's been a week or two since Webmaster Craig devoted this prominent corner of Hearth.com to issues dealing with alternative energy central heat, and I'm not only grateful to Craig for his generosity and foresight, but pleased to see the participation we've had so far. All the problems I had before trying to locate and keep track of the threads I really cared about have basically disappeared now that they're all in a manageable, dedicated space. I can only imagine how frustrating that would be moving forward, as traffic in the Hearth Room picks up with the start of the heating season. I think we would have lost some members (or at least their participation and interest) without our own clubhouse.

    And let's be honest here: Most hearth.com members are wood weirdos to one extent or another, but the boiler crowd is in a class all by itself.

    Personally, I'm fascinated by wood gasification, or, as I prefer to call it, forced secondary combustion. The lack of smoke and high output of these boilers just blows me away. And a lot of people are buying them; I just heard on the radio that the average price for home heating oil now is $2.95.

    So keep posting your questions, observations and ideas about all forms of wood- coal- and solar-based central heat. The more participation we get, the more fun it is and the more all of us will learn.

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  2. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I think it will be a great current and future resource, and the only reason it did not happen before is that it tool $75+ oil to really kick start the biomass central heat biz again.

    BTW, the new whole site google search works pretty incredibly - I doubt I will be using the Forum search very much. I needed to find some pictures of creosote - and I put in "creosote pictures" and came right up with a forum thread that contained them!

    So hopefully all these words will be saved for posterity also!
  3. Harley

    Harley Minister of Fire

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    Thoughts on the boiler room....
    great suggestion, and a good call to have it's own room. I still read and try to learn more from the boiler guys, but have little or nothing to add since I have no experience, and have a house that has absolutely no practical wany of installing one. That doesn't mean if or when I build or buy elsewhere - I wouldn't consider one. So it's all good reading.

    I guess I qualify as a "wood wierdo"
  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Don't you have a boiler, Harley? Seems to me you were having trouble with a zone valve at one time. We'll still let you play here if it's oil or gas.

    Heck, we'll make you the official Boiler Room Accountant. You can hunt down the tax breaks for alternative energy.

    As to admitting to wood weirdness--it's healthy to admit it.
  5. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    Agreed - this helps concentrate the vast majority of things that are relevant to me all in one place. Lower activity helps keep relevant threads on page 1 longer.
  6. North of 60

    North of 60 Minister of Fire

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    Im a wood weirdo @ home I think because its simple and soothes me from the work day of being in the mechanical contractor feild. Pipe trades for 21 years.
    Checked this part of the forums out last week though for the 1st time. You guys do very well and seem to know more than alot than some of the tradesman I have come across that wing it. Your aproaches are always reguarding saftey 1st. Maintaining the proper level the industry should be at. Good for you guys. I
    certanly promote that and for sure respect that. HATS OFF TO YA :coolsmile:
  7. Harley

    Harley Minister of Fire

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    Oh, yeah - I do have an oil burner for hot water/backup/heating some of the "out of the way" rooms, but didn't think it would qualify.... it seems woefully inadequate compared to the fancy wood burning units :red:
  8. Hbbyloggr

    Hbbyloggr New Member

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    NH
    Thoughts:
    Hats off to Craig and EAJohnson for a forum recognizing the need for heating systems other than the enameled glass faced beauties that grace our parlors.

    I'm more interested in utilizing all our waste generated from the firewood business ( fiber even lower than low grade wood ). Having a couple hundred yards of hardwood sawdust that screams for a good furnace, odd chunks of end trimmings and the worst of the knots that only a good fire claim, are the potential sources of heat for our operations. Currently we are using an 450k BTU OWB that heats our home, domestic hot water, shop , dry kiln and soon to be installed Hot Tub. This is for therapeutic purposes only and not to be linked with signs of profit,
    or enjoying a cool glass of moderately priced "Ripple".

    This new forum has the potential of becoming a great resource for facts and information with respect to larger central heating systems. So, with that being the focus and not being branded as simply an OWB polluter , ( by the way, we have added some very simple features to make our furnace more efficient and cleaner burning ) I think it's time to re-enter the circle.

    Kind regards,

    Weigle Tree Service aka : Hbbyloggr
  9. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    As I've said elsewhere, OWB users are welcome here, at least as far as I'm concerned. In addition to being potential future gasifier owners, we can all learn a lot from people who have OWBs. People like me, for example, who have their boilers in an outbuilding, can benefit from things like underground piping strategies, heat exchanger sizing and piping, water-to-air conversions, etc. And I bet the OWB people can pick up some useful information from those with other types of boilers and furnaces. Plus, I think that before long, we'll all be running roughly the same kind of equipment, as OWB manufacturers, out of necessity, move into alternative designs that burn cleaner and use less fuel, and gasifier manufacturers move to exploit the vast market potential of outdoor units. This merging of technologies and markets is already taking place, so why not get involved on the ground floor?

    And I think, right now, that there's a legitimate place for OWBs. It's not in heavily-populated areas, but there's something to be said for a simpler approach to heating the house with the resources at your disposal. Anyone burning wood instead of oil who's not creating a public nuisance, in my book, is doing a good thing. A friend of mine owns a sawmill and has a Garn for heating his house, pool and outbuildings. But he also has a Central Boiler OWB for burning things like green slabwood, bark, etc. Both serve an important role in his operation.

    So tell us about your modifications, Hbbyloggr.
  10. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I have to admit my mind was blown a bit when EPA showed that OWB's burn almost as clean as modern stove (per KG).....but at the same time, it makes sense. The people (and specifically the burning techniques) are a lot of the problem. So if some "re-education" here makes these folks stop burning the tires and dirt-encrusted stumps, I think it will fit the Hearth.com mission very well.

    I guess some education of the dealers is also in order....and I have heard that subject discussed between the makers and EPA and our trade group. So although things are not perfect, we could say they are headed in a direction which is better.

    Ah, politics.......
  11. Hbbyloggr

    Hbbyloggr New Member

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    We were promised the silver bullet ie: "These furnaces will burn anything... green, wet, wood, anything that will fit into the door" and that's where the trouble started.

    Over time if you did not adjust your fuel sources the local neighbors and town government reacted to the complaints. No one offered any remedial engineering or alternative approaches to reduce the smoke. Just shut them down.

    I for one did not like the smoke. I have found that seasoned 2"-8 " diameter wood works the best. Smaller quantities of wood per loading heat to kindling-point faster and reduce the moisture output. Remember burning piles of brush? A lot of smoke at first before the wood really got hot enough to burn all the gases and the smoke turned to waves of heat rising from the hot coals. The same is true for the OWB. The temptation is to overload the firebox with cold wood making an inefficient burn.
    Also, I reduced the 8" chimney to 6" at the top of the stack and gained 6 hours of time between loadings. Just as we always had a butterfly damper in our house wood stoves to keep the smoke mixed with the fire longer the same should be done with the OWB. The optimum adjustment can easily be reached to get the most out of the furnace. Certainly not rocket science, but using all the tools of the past work as well now as they did before.

    I agree with Eric that all will come together with the gasifiers. Oil supplies and prices will demand it ! I'm waiting to see which companies can survive the initiation period. Some of the companies that I though were on the right track are now gone. There needs to be a real demand from the public for good science, good education, and get the good word out . I'm thrilled to be out of the oil loop for home heating. Everything we look at regarding heat gets scrutinized for the application of wood as fuel. Our day is coming.

    Web: Thanks for keeping an opened mind. Remember, we're all in this together.

    Hbbyloggr
  12. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    I personally like the addition of the new room. Keeps you hot water guys in one spot (easier to keep an eye on ya that way :lol: ). I think it was a good call on Craig's part. Lots of info and professionalism in this room. Like said above, I don't have much to add in the way of info because I don't have a boiler, but you hot water guys sure are an interesting bunch to listen to. Lots of creativity, and I like that. Now if we could just get those pelletheads their own room.......... ;-)
  13. slowzuki

    slowzuki Feeling the Heat

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    I wanted to say I was skeptical about starting a boiler only forum but it has really taken off well! Kudos Eric and all for contributing and keeping it active.
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