Feedback on Attack gasification boilers

Patti

Member
Mar 4, 2013
57
One quick question...
You mention 110' ft run of underground pex.Is this pex that is installed already?And if it is could you describe it for everyone? The underground lines are a very crucial part of the system,and will determine if you have a healthy boiler system or one that you will be working twice as hard to get heat to your house.
Windows... we have Quad pane windows up here.At -40C/F we have absolutely no frost on them and you can stand next to them without getting cold.In the summer you can leave a chocolate bar on the dark stone windowsills and it will not melt in direct sunlight all day.
My pex tubing is 2- 1" pex tubes (supply & return) with foam insulation inside a 6" big- 'O' tile. We buried the line down 4-5'. It comes into a loop in the house and t's are there for the air handler, the in-floor heating, the indirect water heater, (not hooked up yet), and the heat exchanger for the hot tub (not hooked up yet). That's about all I know!
(Just a side note: Can I ask what window company makes quad panes? I've heard of triple, but never quad. I am going to be re-doing all the windows in my house soon, so I'm always searching for information, but I keep putting it off because I can't decide what will look right with the log exterior, and I can't decide on the interior either. Right now everything is trimmed in a warm butternut, so replacing it with white vinyl definitely isn't an option. I am leaning towards fibreglass, or maybe even Anderson wood windows (tha's what is in there now but they are almost 50 years old! Fantastic quality- they don't look nearly that old). I am intrigued by your 'dark stone windowsills'. Any chance of getting some pics? They sound interesting- & beautiful!)Thanks! Patti
 

Patti

Member
Mar 4, 2013
57
Good for you @Fred61. Care to share how you accomplished the no smoke opening?
Maybe different chimney heights/more draft? How high is your chimney? Are there any trees etc impeding the airflow around it? You two have the exact same model, so maybe you could compare things with Fred and it would allow you to determine the reason for your smoke. I know that seeing a comparison of the two would be helpful for me,(and I'm guessing many others), for trouble-shooting!
 

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
10,730
Nova Scotia
Is there a way to contact BoilerMan?

Click on his name, then 'start conversation'. I haven't seen him around here for a long time so not sure if you'll get a reply?
 

Fred61

Minister of Fire
Nov 26, 2008
2,444
Southeastern Vt.
Good for you @Fred61. Care to share how you accomplished the no smoke opening?
If I had a secret I would be more than willing to share it with you. I'm suspecting draft. When I installed the boiler I ran 8 inch black smoke pipe at an angle rather than going straight up and connecting to the stack with a 90. So what I have is 8 inch pipe up to within 1 foot of the 6 inch Simpson Metalbestos. Since I believe in "not stepping forward until I know where I'm at" I did not install the barometric damper at that time. The damper is still around here somewhere. Oh yea, the stack goes up in the interior of the house. About 20 feet of pipe and has a cap.
After my learning curve I was satisfied with the performance so I haven't made any modifications.

The stack exits near the ridge and there are no other buildings or trees higher within 200 feet. Trees are nice to have in your yard for the shade and cooling effect but for me the negatives out weigh the positive. With trees you get bugs, moldy shingles, mixed air currents, squirrels, etc.

I'm wondering if the 6 inch stack might be better because the gasses might be accelerating as opposed to an 8 inch. The reason I felt confident installing the 6 inch was that the eko's all have the same size flue outlet regardless of the size of the unit. My EKO 25 was 1/4 the size of their larger units.

EKO firebox 002 (760 x 507) resized.jpg
 

BoiledOver

Minister of Fire
Apr 14, 2013
620
43°58'55 N - 85°20' W
Fred, nice clear image of your fire. We both go without the blower cover. Our chimney setups are close to equal but you have a bit more height, we both went 6" right away. I too can achieve that performance, but not each and every time. Your front panel shows smoke stains same as mine and some owners much worse. I am ok with the Eko in the shop but would not expose the home of my family to this unit's smoke difficulties. I would not mind but others would be less agreeable.

For the op's benefit pertaining to number 1 of preferences, I felt full disclosure is needed. Gotta say though, Fred's has the cleanest front panel I have seen of a well used Eko.

For @Patti and anyone else, this link to an Eko smoke thread.
 

Fred61

Minister of Fire
Nov 26, 2008
2,444
Southeastern Vt.
Actually I do keep the fan cover on most of the time. I don't know why it was off when I took that picture. It was a few years back. To me, looking at the boiler without the cover is like looking at grandpa in his underwear.
 

dogwood

Minister of Fire
Mar 22, 2009
825
Western VA
"The R-value for wood ranges between 1.41 per inch (2.54 cm) for most softwoods and 0.71 for most hardwoods. Ignoring the benefits of the thermal mass, a 6-inch (15.24 cm) softwood log wall has a clear-wall (a wall without windows or doors) R-value of just over 8. Use the average width of your logs to figure out their overall R-value" I pulled this off the U.S. Dept. of Energy publication Energy Efficiency in Log Homes: https://energy.gov/energysaver/types-homes/energy-efficiency-log-homes. Add in your insulation R-value and you'd have the R-value of your walls to plug in your heat loss calculations. Being an older log cabin you might have issues with air infiltration (drafts) you'd need to consider, depending on how the walls were insulated.

Do more than one heat loss calculation and average your results. I did five or six of them and had one outlier that would have caused real problems if I'd used that calculation.

Some of the things I am looking for:
1) LITTLE TO NO SMOKE-
You should not get any smoke from a properly functioning gasifier, other than the first few minutes when you light it up before it starts gasifying in the lower chamber.

You can't smell any smoke outside from my Tarm Solo Innova while its running. I use 1000 gallons of storage so it burns full out as designed. It doesn't idle and produce smoke or creosote that way. No smoke inside either unless I get careless and leave the door open too long when lighting up a fire. Even then it sucks most of the smoke back in.

2) EASY TO CLEAN/MAINTAIN (I had the tubes with turbulators in them on my pellet boiler and I HATED cleaning them!!)
You have to get over that Patti. Turbulators are necessary to slow down the hot air that is heating your boiler water in the heat exchange tubes. Otherwise too much heat escapes up the flue too quickly rather than heats your home. Garns are designed differently so maybe they don't have them.

You can lay your turbulators on a big piece of cardboard and clean them with a broom. I remove the boiler's excess ashes once a week and scour the heat exchange tubes plus clean the turbulators every other week in peak burning season. An ash vacuum removes the remaining mess after most of the ashes are scraped out. A wire boiler brush on a rod turned by a right angle drill scours the heat exchange tubes in nothing flat. Honestly I don't like the job either, but what can you do. It's less annoying than paying the propane company every month.

3) LONGEST BURN TIMES POSSIBLE BETWEEN RELOADING (the fewer times I have to reload it the better! Right now, I have to stoke the Benjamin every 3 hours- not so nice when it is -30C at night lately.)
Roughly speaking I burn once a day when the outside temperature is in the 40F or above range and twice a day when its below freezing.The more storage you have the longer you can go between burns. Seeing as you're living way up there in Ontario you'd probably be in the two burn a day category with adequate storage for most of the winter. Its rarely below 0 degrees Farenheit in Virginia so I don't know at what temp you'd have to move up to three burns a day.

4) BEING ABLE TO BURN WHOLE LOGS OR LARGE SPLITS would be preferred to small splits like a Froling requires.
Maybe the Garn or Garn Jr. could pull this off. My splits have to be 6 inches (15 cm) or less. I burn mostly locust, oak, cherry, some softwood, pine and cedar, plus some unidentified species. I like some softwood right on top of the kindling to get a fire going. I vary the split sizes, but use more larger splits now than I did at first. I do mix in some smaller rounds, not worth the trouble of splitting, that have dried for a couple years. I burn about five cords annually to heat 3000 sq ft., but I'm in Virginia, not Canada,

If i were you, I wouldn't consider a brand where there wasn't easy parts availability and dealer support. I've called Tarm Biomass in New Hampshire several times and they've always been great in figuring out installation and operation issues. I'm sure there are other reputable dealers out there. I'd also make sure my boiler manufacturer has been around for a long while and hasn't outsourced their manufacturing to Asia. Making a big purchase like a boiler off Ebay would be buying a pig in a poke. If you have any issues at all you will be out of luck. The Attack line is manufactured in Slovakia in Europe which may make it difficult to get parts or help, if there are no well established North American dealers. Maybe they have dealers in Canada. I don't know.

A good boiler is going to cost you, but it should last and pay for itself many times over. You'll notice a number of individuals who've been on the Boiler Room a long time started out with less expensive units, have ended up upgrading, and taking a loss on the cost of their original less expensive boilers. Consider the boiler as part of your mortgage payment if that helps. Once its paid off, you're done with it. You just have to make payments for a while longer to get a quality boiler. You don't really want to kick yourself later and have to replace it in the long run after its paid off.

I am afraid you might have some problems with your long piping run being undersized at one inch. There are several threads where this issue has been addressed. After you do your heat loss calculation, you can size your boiler, and then size your piping and circulators. There are threads on how to do that too. Then you'll know if that one inch piping is adequate. Heaterman was a great help in explaining how to do that for me in one thread of mine he kindly answered. Good luck Patti,

Mike
 
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salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,363
Northern Canada
My pex tubing is 2- 1" pex tubes (supply & return) with foam insulation inside a 6" big- 'O' tile. We buried the line down 4-5'. It comes into a loop in the house and t's are there for the air handler, the in-floor heating, the indirect water heater, (not hooked up yet), and the heat exchanger for the hot tub (not hooked up yet). That's about all I know!
(Just a side note: Can I ask what window company makes quad panes? I've heard of triple, but never quad. I am going to be re-doing all the windows in my house soon, so I'm always searching for information, but I keep putting it off because I can't decide what will look right with the log exterior, and I can't decide on the interior either. Right now everything is trimmed in a warm butternut, so replacing it with white vinyl definitely isn't an option. I am leaning towards fibreglass, or maybe even Anderson wood windows (tha's what is in there now but they are almost 50 years old! Fantastic quality- they don't look nearly that old). I am intrigued by your 'dark stone windowsills'. Any chance of getting some pics? They sound interesting- & beautiful!)Thanks! Patti
Hi Patti
When i was planing my system i wanted domestic hot water and a hook up for a hot tub as well.My HVAC guy suggested that i didn't do the domestic hot water.The reasons were i am on a questionable septic system of my own in clay which i maintain,and a teenage daughter.The electric hot water heater is cheap and acts as a regulator on long showers.Once the water starts cooling off you know the shower is over.Less water in the field and less BTU's robbed from heating the home.Hot tub is the same,there are no free BTU's if you want to heat the tub you have to feed the boiler.
The window manufacture is a local company called Northerm windows 867-668-5088
Triple pane windows do alright,we have a couple that were custom windows that were sale priced that happened to fit our roof line and bedroom.They get some frost on them when the quads are clear.You should see the vinyl sliders in the basement when it's cold.They were free when we built the basement in 96,they are going to be replace with quads at some point.When we got the quads they had never been installed in a log home so ours is the first log home in the world with quad windows...a cool fact.At he time white vinyl was our only choice,i don't mind because of the awesome windows.I figured that they were the best window you could get for r value,so getting any-others was defeating the chance to have energy efficacy. I did trim them outside with weathered fence wood,it was Fir.The dark stone i used for window sills was cut scraps from the counter top place where they do custom cutting.If you PM me your email i will send a few pic's of my log house and the windows and boiler room if you like.
I am going to say it...too bad about your lines.I hope they work OK for you.I would get some gauges on them to watch their performance.We have Cast iron rads all i can say is ... Awesome.
Thomas
 

Karl_northwind

Minister of Fire
Feb 13, 2012
529
Central Wi.
Patti, you do have a good gassifier manufacturer to the west of you a bit. Unpressurized and can be installed in or outdoors. not the super budget pricing like the attack, but a solid machine. pretty forgiving on varying wood types, look into the Heatmaster G series as an option. I think they advertise here.