Empyre Elite boiler corrosion

Dec 22, 2013
13
Pa
I'm slowly getting to that point. I don't feel as a homeowner I should be the one drilling holes in steel duct work to clean it and making modifications to the thing that should be part of the manufacturers responsibility, especially after a $10k investment with installation.

I just can't figure out why there is a constant flow of creosote from the upper corner of the unit, down the channel by the door frame, and under the bricks in the secondary duct to the gasification chamber. Then why it rebuilds up after 10 days causing another cleaning needing to bust out the torch on a routine basis.
 

mustash29

Minister of Fire
Feb 6, 2012
675
SE CT
To check your wood moisture, you have to re-split, then insert the meter probes into the freshly split surface.

You said you were going to re-cut, and that tells me you are measuring the cut end of the wood. No good. You have to re-split.

The general consenus around here is that standing dead (oak) can still be quite wet. If you C/S/S and put it directly in a shed, how tightly is it packed in there? It may not be as dry as you think. Most feel that oak needs 2 years in the sun in single rows, then moved to the shed or "burn from here pile".
 

goosegunner

Minister of Fire
Oct 15, 2009
1,468
WI
I have measured standing dead oak with no bark on the trunk. It is not unusual to split it and have it be 35% or more on the moisture meter.

gg
 

logger6644

Member
Jan 30, 2013
58
Upstate New York
Guys thanks for all the great info. I've had an elite 100 and I'm on my second year. My serial number is 453 so I'm hoping I have some of the updates.

Here's my issues and I'm hoping someone can shed some light on this. It ran perfect year one. This year I couldn't get it up to temp and after multiple conversations with profab I finally got the "cleaning instructions" they never tell anyone about. I did the major cleaning and found the secondary duct was clogged with creosote and I cleaned both chambers out thoroughly. I drilled holes where indicated. Since then I've refired it twice. Both times it works for about 10 days then I start getting a lot of ash build up in the secondary chamber. Right away this tells me the gasification process isn't working right. Sure enough after lifting the bricks out the secondary duct work is full of goopy creosote again. The last two times I've had to get a torch to burn it out but I do get it clean after a few hours of work.

Here what I do know:

1. Burning a lot of oak. Tested moisture and its 3% at most.
2. I am burning it hot, loading it 2-3 times a day
3. When ducts are clean it'll go up to 180 no problem.
4. Temps outside have been relatively cold where I live. Highs around 32F lows in the teens.

How in the world do you get creosote from dripping into the lower ducts? It's driving me crazy.

Thanks again for the help.
Creosote dripping behind the firebricks ruined my first elite 100 serial number 223 purchased Dec. 2010. It corroded through the wall just above the secondary duct after slightly more than one seasons use due to the creosote behind the bricks and the air that blew on it from the cleanout slot. See earlier posts. After much debate, they finally honored the warranty and I received the replacement in Feb. 2013, serial number 629. One of the main issues was they modified the air gate in March of 2011 that controls the distribution of air between chambers. Without this modification, gasification was not correct and excessive creosote is formed. Never informed anyone. Your number falls in the middle so I would check with Empyre to see if it includes the new air gate. If not, it can be modified. I have put metal duct tape over the cleanout slot opening at the top of the air duct under the fire brick to prevent creosote dripping into it. I also sealed the gap at the top of the firebrick with wood stove gasket rope and high temp cement. I did check it after a couple of months and it appears to be keeping the creosote out. As you see in earlier posts they have modified the design to address these issues in the latest models. Creosote is always a problem when burning wood, you cannot eliminate it; you can only minimize it. To this end I believe the following things are vital:
1. Keep water temperature above 140F in boiler. Empyre will not honor warranty issues if you do not have one of their approved low water temp protection devices installed. I installed their thermostatic manifold in my new boiler.
2. Keep all air ducts and tubes clean. I clean all my heat transfer tubes at least once a week with a rotating drain cleaning tool and brushes.
3. Burn dry wood. You can only check moisture content in a fresh crosscut in the wood. 15 to 20% would be considered dry. Oak takes two years after split to air dry. I've taken down standing dead oak and it still drips water when split, especially red oak.
4. Try not to add wood until it has burnt down to a bed of coals.
5. Monitor burn after loading because it often bridges, especially if wood is not real dry, leaving a gap over the gasification ports in the bottom. If this happens knock down the bridge for best burn.

Lastly I have found Ben DeBrun to be the best source of good information at Empyre. His phone is 284-364-2211 as of last year.

I live in upstate NY with temperatures similar to yours and am glad to share experiences and tips on this forum.
 
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Woodfarmer1

Member
Nov 10, 2013
232
Bowmanville, On,Can
I have the early #150 boiler and last week my local dealer came to ensure the boiler was running and gasifying properly, which it was. He showed me where the cleaning places were and what to do. He said he has a couple of these early boilers in service and no problems as yet, it is the later models that were developing problems and even after the stainless liner was put in a few of them even corroded through. He himself had a unit that was sent back.

I have talked to profab at nausium and they are really not concerned with their supporting current boiler owners.
I told them they should be doing recalls and update for current owners just as a vehicle manufacturer would. I believe they should be supplying the optimizer and all updates at their expense as they know there is a flaw in the design of their boilers.

I asked another dealer if he would come and install the optimizer and he said "I am not interested".

At $7000-$8000 theses boilers are way overpriced for what is involved and for very little expense they could keep a fair number of their customers happy.
 
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logger6644

Member
Jan 30, 2013
58
Upstate New York
I have the early #150 boiler and last week my local dealer came to ensure the boiler was running and gasifying properly, which it was. He showed me where the cleaning places were and what to do. He said he has a couple of these early boilers in service and no problems as yet, it is the later models that were developing problems and even after the stainless liner was put in a few of them even corroded through. He himself had a unit that was sent back.

I have talked to profab at nausium and they are really not concerned with their supporting current boiler owners.
I told them they should be doing recalls and update for current owners just as a vehicle manufacturer would. I believe they should be supplying the optimizer and all updates at their expense as they know there is a flaw in the design of their boilers.

I asked another dealer if he would come and install the optimizer and he said "I am not interested".

At $7000-$8000 theses boilers are way overpriced for what is involved and for very little expense they could keep a fair number of their customers happy.
I agree,corporate Empyre is very unresponsive to any customer service issues. They could easily post procedures and updates on their website as I have suggested to them on multiple occasions....to no avail. In my opinion a very poor business model. They don't seem to take any responsibility post sale. They clearly have problems as their design changes indicate, but they don't tell you about the problems or the changes. These forums are probably our only recourse.
 

logger6644

Member
Jan 30, 2013
58
Upstate New York
I'm slowly getting to that point. I don't feel as a homeowner I should be the one drilling holes in steel duct work to clean it and making modifications to the thing that should be part of the manufacturers responsibility, especially after a $10k investment with installation.

I just can't figure out why there is a constant flow of creosote from the upper corner of the unit, down the channel by the door frame, and under the bricks in the secondary duct to the gasification chamber. Then why it rebuilds up after 10 days causing another cleaning needing to bust out the torch on a routine basis.
Creosote is a condensation product, so if there is a spot cooler from either air flow or water temperature reasons, that is where the creosote will accumulate. That is the reason they want water temperatures above 140 to minimize creosote formation. If combustion air is cold, and since it is routed through the front of the unit, that may account for why it forms there. That is why I took pains to seal the cleaning openings in the air duct feeding the gasification duct, both to prevent air from blowing out these openings and from creosote entering. It is also why I stuff gasketing and cement around the bricks to try to keep the creosote in the burn chamber so it burns off rather than get behind the bricks. Remember also that air increases the corrosive power of the creosote, that is why my tank wall corroded through just above the cleaning slot above the air duct. (See picture in earlier post)
 
I purchased an Empyre Elite 100 wood gasification boiler in Dec. 2010. with use beginning in the 11/12 heating season. I developed a boiler leak in Jan. 2013 due to creosote corrosion. In the attached photo, the area that failed was near the front right just below the side row of firebrick. The cutout shows roughly the extent of the corrosion and clean appearance of the inside of the tank.(my water tests were perfect) View attachment 91550 I believe the corrosion was caused by creosote formed in the upper burn chamber flowing down the inside wall and accumulating behind the firebrick. Just below the damaged area is a duct directing air to the secondary burn chamber and you can see it has an opening at the top which allows air to escape behind the firebrick. I believe this oxygen source combined with the creosote is why the corrosion was so bad in this area. Has anyone else seen this problem? If you own one of these units, I would suggest you check under the firebrick in this area next time you shut down.
My name is Glen I also own an Elite 100 I went from telling people how great it works to swearing at I have the same problem this cannot be repaired because it will leak somewhere else I contacted Pro Fab there warranty dept. I could get an enhanced unit with 304 stainless steel I have to pay shipping or send mine in for the same enhancement but it would take 6 weeks we all need to stay together on this they must of known that was a very poor grade of metal and I do not believe that 10 gauge material breaks down that fast I purchased mine in 2010 also
 
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Vizsla

New Member
Dec 22, 2013
87
SE Michigan
I've been researching these Empyre's since I came across two for sale, one pretty close by and almost too good a price. I so far have found 3 confirmed leakers, the close one needs welding too. The Craigslist dealer said he has replaced a few of the new stainless models as well that required an update to prevent leaking. They look like decent units, but deeper research shows more stories like these. Is there a simple fix or is it just a patch on a bad design.??
 
I've been researching these Empyre's since I came across two for sale, one pretty close by and almost too good a price. I so far have found 3 confirmed leakers, the close one needs welding too. The Craigslist dealer said he has replaced a few of the new stainless models as well that required an update to prevent leaking. They look like decent units, but deeper research shows more stories like these. Is there a simple fix or is it just a patch on a bad design.??
I am just now going through the process now and I having mixed feelings on this 304 stainless I could have the same problems later on looking at other oppsitions
 

Vizsla

New Member
Dec 22, 2013
87
SE Michigan
Even if they did a swap, and you tried to sell the new unit. They don't seem to be selling. For what it is , it seems like a lot of money for a plain gasser. I agree that you do have to stay on top of it, since
pro fab won't update their own customers. Its a shame they have zero concern for customer base. I unfortunately haven't read a good warranty story yet with Empyre

Good luck
 

logger6644

Member
Jan 30, 2013
58
Upstate New York
I've been researching these Empyre's since I came across two for sale, one pretty close by and almost too good a price. I so far have found 3 confirmed leakers, the close one needs welding too. The Craigslist dealer said he has replaced a few of the new stainless models as well that required an update to prevent leaking. They look like decent units, but deeper research shows more stories like these. Is there a simple fix or is it just a patch on a bad design.??
I'm hoping for my sake that it a bad design and the fix is a matter of keeping the creosote from getting under and/or behind the bricks where it can sit and fester. Even stainless does not hold up to an acid attack that well. 316 is better than 304 but acid is nasty stuff. This is not a water corrosion problem, if it were the 304 would represent an improvement. This corrosion is coming from the fire side not the water side. If I can succeed in keeping creosote in the main chamber where it buns off, I'm hoping I can get a reasonable life out of my unit. Unfortunately like they say, in for a penny...in for a pound. If I could start over I would pay much closer attention to designs and how they address this creosote issue. I've outlined what I'm trying to do to prevent this is previous posts and will keep the forum updated as I check under the bricks at the end of this heating season. An expensive experiment as it turns out.
 

logger6644

Member
Jan 30, 2013
58
Upstate New York
My name is Glen I also own an Elite 100 I went from telling people how great it works to swearing at I have the same problem this cannot be repaired because it will leak somewhere else I contacted Pro Fab there warranty dept. I could get an enhanced unit with 304 stainless steel I have to pay shipping or send mine in for the same enhancement but it would take 6 weeks we all need to stay together on this they must of known that was a very poor grade of metal and I do not believe that 10 gauge material breaks down that fast I purchased mine in 2010 also
 

logger6644

Member
Jan 30, 2013
58
Upstate New York
Hi Glen, I sent you and email and hope you get a reasonable settlement from Pro-Fab. I also don't think the 304 adequately addresses the creasote corrosion issue, though I do think it and other updates such as the new door, latches and easier to reach clean outs are improvements and will get you a little ahead in the game if they replace your old unit with the latest design. I did not get that offer. However, I feel strongly that efforts to keep creosote from behind the bricks is crucial.
 

Woodfarmer1

Member
Nov 10, 2013
232
Bowmanville, On,Can
I took out the first firebrick on the right hand side just in front of the door hinge, all I could see is a roxul type of fabric, temp is dropping quickly so this is not the time to take the unit apart.
 

treefrog359

Member
Aug 1, 2013
26
near wooster, oh
well I hate to tell you the updates on the xt 200 do not keep the creosote out from under the firebrick. I found some in under the brick while I was on a wild goose hunt looking for what is causing my problems. I am waiting an ben to come up with a solution. planning on calling Thursday when they get back from the holiday. I am getting really sick of this playing games.
 
well I hate to tell you the updates on the xt 200 do not keep the creosote out from under the firebrick. I found some in under the brick while I was on a wild goose hunt looking for what is causing my problems. I am waiting an ben to come up with a solution. planning on calling Thursday when they get back from the holiday. I am getting really sick of this playing games.
Hi Glen sending you a message does this xt unit 304 stainless steel then there should some sort of a flare welded above the top layer of brick to allow creosote to flow over the top of the brick I'll keep more attention for feed back I would like to talk to you also
 

mpraete

New Member
Dec 30, 2013
2
Hudson Valley, NY
I've been researching these Empyre's since I came across two for sale, one pretty close by and almost too good a price. I so far have found 3 confirmed leakers, the close one needs welding too. The Craigslist dealer said he has replaced a few of the new stainless models as well that required an update to prevent leaking. They look like decent units, but deeper research shows more stories like these. Is there a simple fix or is it just a patch on a bad design.??
I also have a 100. My question is how do you know you have a leak on the inside of the boiler?
 

Woodfarmer1

Member
Nov 10, 2013
232
Bowmanville, On,Can
if your waterlevel is dropping more than usual? I don't think I add more than a gallon every other week
 

mpraete

New Member
Dec 30, 2013
2
Hudson Valley, NY
if your waterlevel is dropping more than usual? I don't think I add more than a gallon every other week
A gallon every other week? Wow that sounds like a lot for a non leaking unit. Has it been like that from the start? It seems I have had to add more water lately so was concerned about a leak. I do not think it is evaporating out of the top water gauge. Previously I added only a very small amount of water, maybe a cup or two, every couple of weeks. Replacing 1/2 gallon a week must make it hard to keep up with the proper anti rust additive ratio? Aside from the cleaning issues the unit works great for my 2,800 s.f house. I just hope I do not now have a leak in my 2011 unit.
Another question, Does anyone have a 45 degree chimney pipe? I wanted to add a clean out and could only do it
by replacing the 90 degree with the 45. Any problems with this that anyone is aware of?
 

Fred61

Minister of Fire
Nov 26, 2008
2,442
Southeastern Vt.
I've had my make-up supply for my Eko shut off for well over a year with no change in water or pressure level.
 

Fred61

Minister of Fire
Nov 26, 2008
2,442
Southeastern Vt.
I wasn't paying attention. Saw the last post and assumed the worse without going back to remind myself which boiler was being discussed.
 

muleman51

Member
Feb 18, 2008
243
SE Minnesota
I was hopeing like all of you that these elite 100s were the answer. I get 3 to 4 hr burns now that it is below zero, cold boiler every morning and every night when I get home from work and I add a gallon to a gallon and a half of water a week. And you are right Pro Fab really doesn't care. I'm thinking offpeak electric and the heck with cutting all this wood. I just can't get ahead of my wood pile. That old Aqua therm that burnt anything in it sure looks good now. At least it kept my house warm. Just getting tired of the whole process. Jim
 

logger6644

Member
Jan 30, 2013
58
Upstate New York
if your waterlevel is dropping more than usual? I don't think I add more than a gallon every other week
Having to add any significant amount of water is a very bad sign. That is how I noticed my leak. A gallon is way too much. Also short burns like the 4 hours Muleman51 is getting is also a very bad sign. I suspect you both have leak problems and will have to deal will Pro-Fab once you verify. I am alarmed by the increasing number of blogs appearing on this site with apparently the same problem. It may be time to try to group together and try for some legal action. I think Pro-Fab is liable because of their masking of these design problems. If anyone is interested, please email me at michael.koelsch@gmail.com. If we get five or six, I will look into whether such a course is viable. I'm sure if there are 5 or 6 there are many more.