Im new to wood boilers

ohsnapzitzmeng

New Member
Jan 30, 2019
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Michigan
Hello everyone, I recently just moved into a house that is strictly heated by a wood boiler. in my first couple weeks the wood boiler seemed to do fine (outside degrees in double digits mainly around 10-30 degrees). Just this past week I had to order another cord of wood and I am already almost done with the cord (outside single digit degrees), maybe a few days left of it. I noticed the boiler usually has large coals every time I am there for a refill. and the build up seems to be a lot more than usual to the point where I can't almost keep up with the ash deposits. what am i doing wrong here? My daily routine is loading in the morning around 9am. then reload around 10pm. I always load up until the boiler is really full.

Another quesstion:

I believe the wood boiler also heats up my hot water as optional since it is electric as well. I have these valves going in and out of the heat exchanger as well as who knows where. also have another valve connected to the pipes that are going through the heat exchanger. I was told by a guy who set up my internet that it should be the valves to allow the boiler to heat the hot water. So i wanted to eperiment because hey who doesnt like saving on electricity. So i kept them open during the week where I almost went through a full cord. I recently shut the valves off yesterday to see if this might be my culprit to the over usage of wood. the pipes going in and out of the heat exchanger were hot but cools off only inches away. The third valve connected to the pipes was always cold.

Last question:
How do you get rid of your ash? I am accumulating way too much and not sure what to do with it. Some research say that "little" of it can be mixed with soil only to an extent. Another source is to put it in your trash bags. But in my area i'm limited to 3 trash bags and max 35lbs weekly...
 

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TCaldwell

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2007
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Collectively many members try to help as much as possible, however most first time posters looking for help end up focusing on aspects that aren’t always part of the root problem. Pictures are great and often necessary when focusing on one area but do little for us to understand how your system as a whole operates. If possible, and I understand it might take 1/2 hr, draw and label a piping diagram that we can all wrap our heads around, believe me it will be much more productive and take less time in the end.
 

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
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First thing off the top is that if you are burning wood that you are just buying this winter, you are likely behind an 8 ball right there. It is very unlikely it is dry & ready to burn decently.

The rest - yes what TCaldwell said. Most of what you are asking is found by following all piping & seeing where all it goes and what is hot & what isn't. Hard to do over the Inet.

EDIT: those valves & pics you put up looks like to allow either heating DHW thru the flat plate, or bypassing it. No, that wouldn't increase wood usage. And it looks like it would only transfer heat to DHW when DHW is being used. On demand, sort of. If you get the valves set right to put DHW water thru the HX, and turn a hot water tap on, you should feel hot water being output to your DHW tank. If no DHW is being used, the DHW side piping will cool off since the flow got stopped, until a DHW tap is turned on again.
 
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ohsnapzitzmeng

New Member
Jan 30, 2019
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Michigan
the pictures i included pretty much starts from the wood boiler (not pictured), goes underground straight to the house and through a wall in my basement. hot water in and hot water out comes from the same hole in the wall. the red pipe going right goes through the heat exchanger, then into the vents with the fan that feeds the heat to throughout the house, then exits back through the wall to get reheated by the wood boiler. Also have another set of hoses going to my garage which I am not using to heat at the moment but same diagram just without the heat exchanger. also the boiler is only about 20-30ft from the basement
 

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ohsnapzitzmeng

New Member
Jan 30, 2019
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Michigan
as of now today i have not yet put any wood in the boiler. I will run it out unto all the coals turn into ash. i feel that removing those coals have been throwing money in the trash. so far the house has maintained good heat around 70 degrees. the water temp according to the boiler is now at 140 degrees checked just now as well as rotating the coal around. I will empty the ash out tonight and throw in more wood. overall, i have not used any wood today. last refill was last night around 10 pm
 

ohsnapzitzmeng

New Member
Jan 30, 2019
5
0
1
Michigan
well long story short, being new to buying wood, I have been ripped from the start. the guy I have been buying wood from has been selling me face cords for the price of full cords. Lesson learned, I didn't realize there were POS out there like this. so that is why it seemed outrageous that i was burning a full cord a week but in reality it was only a face cord a week....
 

Fred61

Minister of Fire
Nov 26, 2008
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Southeastern Vt.
Wow. I guess you are new at burning wood. Lesson #1: Even if your vendor is selling full cords (128 cubic feet) there's still a good chance you're getting screwed. I harvested much of my own but I also bought several cords over the years. If the vendor was delivering one cord at a time I would have the first cord stacked before he came back with the second cord. I also had a crib that measured 128 cubic feet that I would stack if I wasn't ready to stack it in the woodshed so I could show the vendor how short he was. I always confronted the vendor on the amount he delivered. I had very few loads delivered over the years that were actually a cord. Most had to come back with half a load or so to compensate for the shortage.

I handed the tape measure to some and was surprised that they weren't able to do the math on a load of 18 inch wood. One guy got so pissed off and told me he would take less money but "don't ever call him again for wood" so I prorated the amount I owed him. Then there was the guy that delivered a cord in his pick up. I thought that was pretty much over the top until I had a guy deliver me 2 cords in his pickup. He had requested cash but after seeing what he was trying to pull off I told him I was late getting to the bank and wasn't able to draw out cash and I would have to write him a check. I stacked that (2 cord) load in my crib and it was about 40 cu/ft short of 1 cord. I stopped payment on the check because he became very threatening toward me when I confronted him.

Also, never believe them when they say the wood is dry.
 
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salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
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Where is the insulation in your basement?
Is the rest of the house as poorly insulated?
Your underground lines are ok
Your boiler is not a boiler,boilers are pressurized
So you have a little work ahead if you want to cut down wood consumption.
Personally i would start with insulating your house,calking leaks,changing windows ect.
Your state may have programs for energy conservation,if they do use them.
 

Fred61

Minister of Fire
Nov 26, 2008
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Southeastern Vt.
I'm not going to deal with this any longer. Im switching to propane next year
Well at least the propane meter is checked by the weights and measures department along with deli scales and gas pumps to protect you from being ripped off, unlike the uncontrolled wood business.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
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Looking at your post date it looks like you did the "sink or swim" approach to learning how to burn wood and you sank. There is a learning curve to anything and the learning curve for most wood burners is two to three seasons. Ideally you buy wood and let it dry properly for 2 years. Since you did not know what you were doing, you effectively put a big sign on your chest saying sucker and the sleazebags took advantage of you. Its highly likely that they were selling you green wood which has little or no net heating value.

You got a choice, switch to propane for a year or two and get your wood supply and the boiler figured out and then transition over the wood boiler in a couple of years when your wood is seasoned.
 

mike van

Feeling the Heat
Apr 24, 2013
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Kent Ct
Just a few thoughts = Can you find out who owned the house before you? They may have a lot of info on running that system you are trying to get by trial & error. Also, most OWB's have a huge appetite for wood, a cord in 2 weeks is not unusual. and they like big wood, not split to your average home stove size. , Ask around your area for a good reliable wood dealer. The scammers never get recommended by others.
 

E Yoder

Feeling the Heat
Jan 27, 2017
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Floyd, VA
My thoughts:
You're gonna need to either cut your own wood or get someone to deliver pulpwood in log length to cut up yourself.
My dad burned a Woodmaster like that one years ago and it was reliable and functional, but burned twice the wood of the new gassers we have available today.
You need firebox length wood and larger diameter than is typically delivered.
 

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
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I just re-read the first post.

The OWB is your only heat source? I would not recommend that to anyone, and I doubt not many insurance companies would be OK with that either. I would definitely get a second heat source in place, the sooner the better. And start on coming years wood now also - unless you really wanted to abandon the wood all together. If you start that now & get a year or two ahead, the following years will be a lot better than this one. Although, it is still going to burn a lot of wood relatively speaking.

OK, read back again before hitting submit. Looks like some kind of furnace in pic 3 of post 4?
 

leon

Minister of Fire
Sorry to hear that the wood guy screwed you over.

Since you already have the pad and the tubing buried in the ground I would like you to go to youtube and type AHS coal gun in the search box.

A member of the youtube nation has a nice set of videos that illustrate how he switched from an outdoor coal boiler to an AHS coal stoker boiler to make use of Wyoming Subituminous Coal for his heating needs; The short answer is he loves burning coal to heat this home and make all his domestic hot water.

He sold the forest eater he was using to heat the house and his hot water and put the S130 coal stoker on the pad where the forest eater was and then he built a shed to cover the coal gun boiler and then he was off to the winners circle heating his home with coal.

He added an addition to the boiler shed to have a covered coal storage bin that he stores his coal in.

The AHS coal gun uses Pea coal and buying it by the trailer load will save you a lot of money when heating and you should have no issues selling the forest eater.
 

Seasoned Oak

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
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Sorry to hear that the wood guy screwed you over.
Since you already have the pad and the tubing buried in the ground I would like you to go to youtube and type AHS coal gun in the search box.

.
That may be a good idea .Compare the coal cost per BTU to the propane. There may be a HUGE difference. Im heating a 3000SF Home with coal for $600 to $700 per season. Thats what my oil bill was for 1 month at times in the past. But if you dont mind the work(good exercise) wood is good.