help with best operating practices for eko? (new owner)

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mordor man

New Member
Oct 31, 2021
3
NC PA
New to Gasification OWB, Eko 40 model, previously used a Aqua therm. I have some questions on best operating practices I am sure some of you with more years under the belt can answer.

1) what is the best settings of fan time delay for keeping a coal bed between firing so I do not need to start a fire from scratch? With late fall milder weather i only need one firing per day, maybe less. (500G water storage) Am i expecting too much? I am used to the old smolder pot that had hot coals in the ash pile for days.

2) what is the best practice for minimizing creosote in the upper chamber other than a hot burn with the damper open ? sometimes creosote will "glue" the damper when closed and some persuassion is need (like a LFH; smaller brother to BFH) to open the damper. Using wood stored under roof 1.5 years.

3) I have been fighting leaks in the black iron piping between tank, mixing valve, air seperator, check valve, pump, ball valves, unions, etc in my outside installation. Cold pressure test was tight, but upon firing, leaks showed up. Tank is 3 ' away from stove so pipe runs are anywhere from 6" to 2.5 feet, both vertical and hoizontal. It seems like the expansion/contraction stresses a joint and a leak starts. I fix one leak and then another appears. I have used pro-grade dope (and sometimes tape as well) on threaded fittings and all are gorilla tight (about 3 threads exposed). finally thought i fixed them all and insulated pipes today only to find a ball valve leaking (ball valve joint- not threads). Leaks are very slow drips but a nuscense. have changed the length of some nipples thinking there was stress because lengths were a bit off, and this has helped but i am not done with them yet.

4) I sometimes have issues with fuel out when there is plenty in the fire box. Could this be because longer pieces do not drop down on the coal bed?

5) What are folks finding as the best balance between water storage temp versus heat loss on outdoor storage ? Obviously the heat loss is greater with a greater delta T between water and ambient. (Using a 500G Vertical LP tank with 4" of spray foam.) At this time of year i only need 140 F max temp for our radiant system (using mixing valve with outdoor reset), but run the boiler at 165-175 F . Using tank thermal stratification; boiler feeds mid tank, supply to house at top, returns at bottom. I hate heating the great outdoors. !
 

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,627
Northern Canada
#1 whats the big deal on starting a fire? My system has 1000 gal storage and i start anew fire every evening when it's time to top up the storage.My boiler is extremely easy to start a fire takes all of 5-10 minuets to get to the point where i turn off the bypass and it starts gasifying.
#2Never have that issue,different boiler
#3Leaks i can help with.Get some Hemp,take a hard pointy thing and score the threads at a 90 to the threads about every 1/4 " around the fitting wrap it with hemp till the threads are full cover lightly with pipe dope to hold the hemp,tighten and forget about the leak. When fluid gets to the hemp it swells so any slight leak will dissapear.It sounds like a pain in the ass but fixing leaks sucks worse.
The expert who designed my system taught me the hemp trick,i doubted it and did a comparison of different sealing techniques.Using hemp was the only way my tests didn't leak.200+ threads fittings in my system and i had zero leaks.
#4 That happens to my boiler as well.I try to visualize the fire burning the center out and build the stack so it will collapse.I try to reload after 2 hours.
#5 i have no outdoor reset,never heard of them till i was reading on here.
When it's cold out colder than -20C i will take my tanks to the max i can get 185 F.I have my outdoor boiler in a building with my storage tanks so i heat a building with the losses which is my 24/7 heated workshop.
Hope some of this helps with your questions.
 

mordor man

New Member
Oct 31, 2021
3
NC PA
#1 whats the big deal on starting a fire? My system has 1000 gal storage and i start anew fire every evening when it's time to top up the storage.My boiler is extremely easy to start a fire takes all of 5-10 minuets to get to the point where i turn off the bypass and it starts gasifying.
#2Never have that issue,different boiler
#3Leaks i can help with.Get some Hemp,take a hard pointy thing and score the threads at a 90 to the threads about every 1/4 " around the fitting wrap it with hemp till the threads are full cover lightly with pipe dope to hold the hemp,tighten and forget about the leak. When fluid gets to the hemp it swells so any slight leak will dissapear.It sounds like a pain in the ass but fixing leaks sucks worse.
The expert who designed my system taught me the hemp trick,i doubted it and did a comparison of different sealing techniques.Using hemp was the only way my tests didn't leak.200+ threads fittings in my system and i had zero leaks.
#4 That happens to my boiler as well.I try to visualize the fire burning the center out and build the stack so it will collapse.I try to reload after 2 hours.
#5 i have no outdoor reset,never heard of them till i was reading on here.
When it's cold out colder than -20C i will take my tanks to the max i can get 185 F.I have my outdoor boiler in a building with my storage tanks so i heat a building with the losses which is my 24/7 heated workshop.
Hope some of this helps with your questions.
thanks for the ideas salecker. i did try some of the quick start ideas on the forum and just got it rolling in less than 5 minutes with a few coals. would like to keep it simple so wife can run if i am away for a couple of days.

my leak now is the ball valve. may need to replace.

i hear the creosote issue in the upper fire box is just the way it is.

still would like to know the best way to adjust air to getthat nice blue flame that gives the best efficiency. mine is pretty yel/orn and roaring. maybe too much secondary air? or fan spped?
 

McKraut

Feeling the Heat
Sep 1, 2011
315
South Central PA
New to Gasification OWB, Eko 40 model, previously used a Aqua therm. I have some questions on best operating practices I am sure some of you with more years under the belt can answer.

1) what is the best settings of fan time delay for keeping a coal bed between firing so I do not need to start a fire from scratch? With late fall milder weather i only need one firing per day, maybe less. (500G water storage) Am i expecting too much? I am used to the old smolder pot that had hot coals in the ash pile for days.

2) what is the best practice for minimizing creosote in the upper chamber other than a hot burn with the damper open ? sometimes creosote will "glue" the damper when closed and some persuassion is need (like a LFH; smaller brother to BFH) to open the damper. Using wood stored under roof 1.5 years.

3) I have been fighting leaks in the black iron piping between tank, mixing valve, air seperator, check valve, pump, ball valves, unions, etc in my outside installation. Cold pressure test was tight, but upon firing, leaks showed up. Tank is 3 ' away from stove so pipe runs are anywhere from 6" to 2.5 feet, both vertical and hoizontal. It seems like the expansion/contraction stresses a joint and a leak starts. I fix one leak and then another appears. I have used pro-grade dope (and sometimes tape as well) on threaded fittings and all are gorilla tight (about 3 threads exposed). finally thought i fixed them all and insulated pipes today only to find a ball valve leaking (ball valve joint- not threads). Leaks are very slow drips but a nuscense. have changed the length of some nipples thinking there was stress because lengths were a bit off, and this has helped but i am not done with them yet.

4) I sometimes have issues with fuel out when there is plenty in the fire box. Could this be because longer pieces do not drop down on the coal bed?

5) What are folks finding as the best balance between water storage temp versus heat loss on outdoor storage ? Obviously the heat loss is greater with a greater delta T between water and ambient. (Using a 500G Vertical LP tank with 4" of spray foam.) At this time of year i only need 140 F max temp for our radiant system (using mixing valve with outdoor reset), but run the boiler at 165-175 F . Using tank thermal stratification; boiler feeds mid tank, supply to house at top, returns at bottom. I hate heating the great outdoors. !
I can answer/comment on a few of these for you from my experience:
1). I rarely ever had the boiler go out completely so there were always some coals that would start right up. One thing I would do is that when I was going to shut down the boiler to clean it, I would take the coals in the bottom and save them in a 5 gallon metal bucket with a lid. If I ever needed to start a fire, I'd pile them up on paper or cardboard and light it. In a minute or two it was glowing and I would throw the smaller pieces of wood on that pile, and then load the biggest pieces.
2). I ALWAYS had creosote in the top chamber. When the boiler wasn't running full burn it was always there. I used a garden hoe to pull my coals forward to the front of the fire box, and if the damper was stuck, I'd use the handle to punch the damper open from the inside of the fire box.
3). I can't help you with this one, I have no idea
4). I ran into this whenever I would burn wood that wasn't sufficiently dry. I learned that if you put the driest wood on the bottom and the wetter wood up top, that it will all burn. I assume that the bridging is caused when the fire is hot enough to dry out and burn the wood in the center, but isn't sufficient to burn/dry the wood around the perimeter.
5). Others here will have to help you out.

I've had the EKO for 9 years and I am getting rid of it now. I am putting in a new boiler because I did not like the EKO. Some folks here are happy with the EKO but I was not. I did not have storage and that was the source of most of my problems. If I can help you with any questions, let me know.

Bob
 

McKraut

Feeling the Heat
Sep 1, 2011
315
South Central PA
thanks for the ideas salecker. i did try some of the quick start ideas on the forum and just got it rolling in less than 5 minutes with a few coals. would like to keep it simple so wife can run if i am away for a couple of days.

my leak now is the ball valve. may need to replace.

i hear the creosote issue in the upper fire box is just the way it is.

still would like to know the best way to adjust air to getthat nice blue flame that gives the best efficiency. mine is pretty yel/orn and roaring. maybe too much secondary air? or fan spped?
One last thought. I don't know if Tennman is still around. He was a tremendous help when I first was installing my EKO. He began one of the "sticky threads" above. There are quite a few people that will be able to help you out. Have you read the two "sticky threads" yet?

Bob