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woodmaster 4400

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by btammo, Jan 4, 2008.

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  1. btammo

    btammo New Member

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    Hey everyone. I finally installed an Outside Woodboiler and research led me to a Woodmaster 4400. I fired it up the other day for the first time and have a couple of questions for those of you who may have one.

    I notice a decent amount of smoke coming out around the damper handle as well as the handle to open the loading door. This is mainly when the fan is on. It doesnt seem right to me, but I wanted to see if this was a problem any of you have seen. After only a few days of operation the front of furnace is covered with a nasty brown stain right around the opening.

    Also, there I noticed some creosote colored ice on my concrete pad immediately below the loading door. I am assuming this is moisture from inside the fire box that is coming out, but once again, not sure.

    Last question, before I load with wood, I pull the damper handle out and wait a bit to open door but still get a face full of smoke. i thought that was to allow some smoke out the chimney.

    Great site here. Hope it can answer some of my questions. Love the OWB so far.

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  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Welcome to the Boiler Room, btammo. We have one or two other Woodmaster users around here, I think. But most OWBs are similar in construction and operation, so you should get some answers to your questions.

    But offhand, it sounds like your doors aren't adjusted properly, letting smoke out and unwanted air into the firebox. The fiberglass rope should seal the door opening when it's closed. I'm sure there are bolts on the door hinges allowing you to adjust it. You can use a dollar bill (or a bigger denomination if you can afford it) to check the seal, i.e., you shouldn't be able to pull the bill out when you close the door on it.

    Also, what's the status of your wood supply? Is it really dry, kinda dry or green? You can burn kinda dry, wet or green wood in a typical OWB, but you get more smoke and creosote.

    Good luck; hopefully somebody who knows what they're talking about will jump in and give you some guidance.
  3. btammo

    btammo New Member

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    Thanks for the reply.

    My wood is relatively green at this point since it was a last minute installation. I filled up my oil tank and about crapped when it was over $700. In a weeks time poured my pad, bought the furnace, and hooked it up, so a great supply of seasoned wood is not possible at this point.

    Thanks for the tip on the door. i will have to check that and of course will use a dollar bill :)

    This is a great site for an OWB beginner. I will be around for awhile since I have found this site. Thanks

    P.S. COLD the last couple nights. Had -10 on Wed night......Boiler did great.
  4. wdc1160

    wdc1160 New Member

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    Allot of the the Indiana boys use OWB's and although I don't actually own one I have operated and installed them.
    They actually suite the sprawling population that central Indiana has, that combined with wood being nearly free makes OWB's a good choice for alot of Hoosiers.


    You have all 4 of the most important factors for inefficiency checked off.


    Ineffcient appliance
    New to the solid fuel space heating business
    Rushed install
    Green wood.

    In other words, you have a creasote generating machine, but it is cheap to run -- so who cares.
    On the bright side the OWB's are forgiving in that they will still provide alot of heat, even if your running them like a rookie.
    By next year you'll be so on top of the game that any advice you get this year won't be applicable for the next. Your setup,wood,maintence and operation will be different.

    That said the problems you have occuring are likely only going to apply to this year. Hang in for the next two months and message back if you find what causes the brown spots below the loading door.

    Smoke coming out around those various areas is in my expereince highly irregular. Can you elaborate about this more than you already have. What, when and why might this be happening.

    Any chance the polarity on the fan is backwards, or the fan has had its fins installed incorrectly or inverted?
  5. btammo

    btammo New Member

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    Well I can say that you are correct in many things you say. As far as the smoke, it only comes out when the fan is on. I didnt know if it was supposed to vent back out that area rather than up the chimney, or if it is improperly designed. I like the fan idea and it seems to recover from demand quickly. I just dont like the fact that the smoke is coming out. If you are familiar with the Woodmaster there is a damper handle (which runs through the water jacket) which you are supposed to pull out prior to opening the door to allow heat/smoke to dissapate. This doesnt actually work for me, but that is the handle where the smoke comes out. It also comes out a little around the handle that opens the loading door. Doesnt matter if wood is close to the door, middle or rear of the furnace. That is about the best I can explain it.

    Rookie you got that right.
    Thanks for the help.
  6. Bartman

    Bartman Member

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    It almost sounds like you have a blockage in the flue/flame tubes, when you crack that damper open to let fresh air in you shouldn't get a flame/smoke out the loading door. If I open my load door without allowing the fire to suck in some air from the door, I'll get flame out of the door. A couple of weeks ago, even when I cracked the door open, then opened fully, flames came out, almost seemed as if the firebox was pressurized. When I shut down the boiler and let cooled, I opened the top exposing the fire tubes and flue exit to brush clean and found a big dead squirrel, (black and crispy) stretched out across 1/3 of my fire tubes. After cleaning everything out and brushing the tubes, good as new.......er excuse me........old.
  7. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    You're going to get some smoke from any OWB. That's just a fact of life, regardless of what the guy who sold it to you said. They're just not designed to be smokeless, or very efficient, for that matter.

    Sounds like that handle is some kind of bypass damper, allowing you to temporarily override the baffle, which is designed to let the smoke linger in the firebox for some efficiency gain. With the bypass damper open, the smoke should go right up the stack. As a practical matter, in my experience, sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. The weather has something to do with it.
  8. wdc1160

    wdc1160 New Member

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    I didn't mean any offense by the rookie comment. Everyone is one at some point.

    I take exception to the brown stain below the loading door. And, yes, I do know your boiler specifically.
    A brown stain indicates alot of smoke. This is a heavy duty furnace. It should take green wood.

    Like Eric said some smoke is downright unavoidable. Don't expect no smoke.

    I would prefer to say keep the smoke above the stack.

    The draft control fan is necessary and helpful, however, you pay 5G's for a boiler and it shouldn't leak from the door, the loading handle, ash auger or the damper handle.

    When the fan kicks on it pressurizes the burn chamber, which should put smoke up the chimney- not out some gap.

    My comment about reverse polarity(maybe incorrect electrical) or backward fan blades was to see if it pulling smoke out of the stack and putting it where it doesn't belong.

    namely in the housing for the vessel, which could create a problem where you have smoke coming out funny places -- storing creosote inside housing, but outside the vessel.

    If this is the case you could ruin the boiler and create a hell of dangerous fire hazard, make sure you are not depressurising the chamber.

    Check this stuff out first, if it isn't depressurized.


    the last reason for smoke through other places.

    The answer is high pressure. Something working against the fan. Block 50-90% of the intake. It won't hurt the fan. It may have to run longer to get the desired fire up.
    hopefully no smoke leakage -- and no more staining.


    If you can't live with longer fireup...
    You easily could have an inverted/negative draft with an OWB.
    When the fan kicks on it pressurizes your chamber. Essentially the fan working against having a negative draft creates high pressure. There are several causes of negative chimney draft such as improper flue sizing, flue blockage, resistance from below, insufficient chimney height, and roasted squirrel. See below for more info

    If you don't have a squirrel you can remove
    then, you have to add to the stack or move the boiler, or move things that would effect the draft of the boiler- like trees, houses, and pieces of tall landscape.

    I would try this first.
    link
  9. btammo

    btammo New Member

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    No offense taken at all. I just have alot of questions about something that i am not very familiar with. I wish I was self sufficient on the situation. I will try to block some of the intake as soon as I figure out where it is. One thing I did notice was there is a decent amount of debris on the shaft to that damper handle. I dont know if it is just ash when the door is open and it is pulled all the way out or if it is getting it from inside somewhere. The boiler really puffs alot of smoke up into the air when the fan is on so it seems to be operating OK in that manner, but we will have to see. I was also thinking of adding a stack to the existing chimney since it isnt all that tall from the factory. I would think that smoke would leak out all of the time if I were getting a downdraft and not only when the fan is on. But I am a rookie and do not know. Thx for all the info. I appreciate it.
  10. btammo

    btammo New Member

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    Tried covering the intake but there was no change in the smoke leakage
  11. atlarge54

    atlarge54 New Member

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    Btammo, what are you trying to heat with your boiler? What was the rating on the heating unit your 4400 is replacing? I'm guessing that the 4400 is a 250k BTU unit. Do you ever require that much heat? When your blower is running your firebox is under positive pressure and any opening becomes a chimney. I'm running a modified Global Hydronics unit, I think the smoke diverter lever is like yours and when the blower runs smoke does leak out there. I never run the blower, watch the amount of heat going out the chimney when the blower runs. Doesn't your boiler have a a grate running from front to rear of fire box? This design seems like it would make operating w/o blower feasable. It might also help if some of the grate was blocked off to make a smaller burn zone. What is your wood situation? OWB's are wood hogs and that will not change. I use the rear of firebox to season green wood and rake it forward to burn the next day. I have tons of good dry wood to burn but have some green mulberry I just don't want to handle again.
  12. wdc1160

    wdc1160 New Member

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    You said when you turnt he fan on it leaks right. That is the only time??
  13. atlarge54

    atlarge54 New Member

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    The only time I hook up the fan is in the summer. After heating water and the boiler never calling for heat for several months I'll connect the blower to burn off creosote, maybe twice between May and Oct. I'd sure like to see an OWB owner that doesn't have a huge heat load try operating w/o blower.
  14. btammo

    btammo New Member

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    I have no other draft options other than the fan. I do not have the grated bottom with ash pan on my model. Wood is mainly green and semi seasoned. I dont have much of an option for this year since I was not prepared for this winter, my first winter with an OWB. Really like the last week with mild temps. 5 pcs last 24 hrs.
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