New Furnace Day: Drolet Heat Commander

woodey

Burning Hunk
Feb 8, 2018
176
ST. Lawrence Valley N.Y.
No need to shut the blower off with my Kuuma, I leave the door open during the loading process and can open it at any point during the burn cycle without any smoke being released into the basement,
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
5,823
NE Ohio
No need to shut the blower off with my Kuuma, I leave the door open during the loading process and can open it at any point during the burn cycle without any smoke being released into the basement,
Same here...seldom any smoke...if there is any, it is very light and dissipates almost immediately, and almost never can be smelled anywhere else in the house...not like back when I had the Yukon...it had a smaller door and a larger chimney, but when the HX needed cleaned it would spill smoke, and man did that reek sometimes!
 

FixedGearFlyer

Burning Hunk
Oct 8, 2010
165
Michigan's Upper Peninsula
The newest software download actually does this. For me it helps get the fire going better on a colder start. And it doesn't suck ash out the fire box. Eric actually let me know of this software update
I've been scratching my head about the "fan off = no ash or smoke spillage on reload" thing. The fan doesn't blow into the firebox, so I wasn't understanding why it being on or off makes any difference. On our HC, which is on the original firmware, we can reload with the blower on and don't have any smoke or ash spillage.

I think I understand, now. Do you guys have your blowers connected to a return duct system, or are you pulling your return air directly from the room the furnace is in? If you're pulling from the furnace room, the room would be at negative pressure with the fan on and I can see how spillage could happen.
 

trx250r87

Burning Hunk
Nov 30, 2012
118
NE Wisconsin
I've been scratching my head about the "fan off = no ash or smoke spillage on reload" thing. The fan doesn't blow into the firebox, so I wasn't understanding why it being on or off makes any difference. On our HC, which is on the original firmware, we can reload with the blower on and don't have any smoke or ash spillage.

I think I understand, now. Do you guys have your blowers connected to a return duct system, or are you pulling your return air directly from the room the furnace is in? If you're pulling from the furnace room, the room would be at negative pressure with the fan on and I can see how spillage could happen.
I do not have the cold air return hooked up to the air filter box of the HC. I'm pulling directly from the basement, air has to travel down the stairs back to the HC.

I think my issue was more related to the blower fan pushing air out the front of the furnace near the loading door. I get a lot of air blowing out the hole between the ash lip and main door. Your theory on negative pressure might be valid, however, I NEVER had an issue with the Tundra leaking smoke or ash.

Eric
 
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FixedGearFlyer

Burning Hunk
Oct 8, 2010
165
Michigan's Upper Peninsula
I do not have the cold air return hooked up to the air filter box of the HC. I'm pulling directly from the basement, air has to travel down the stairs back to the HC.

I think my issue was more related to the blower fan pushing air out the front of the furnace near the loading door. I get a lot of air blowing out the hole between the ash lip and main door. Your theory on negative pressure might be valid, however, I NEVER had an issue with the Tundra leaking smoke or ash.

Eric
Ah. That makes sense, too. That's one of the spots I sealed. The whole front of the air jacket was pretty drafty, especially that spot, around the ash pan door, and the bottom edge.
 

trx250r87

Burning Hunk
Nov 30, 2012
118
NE Wisconsin
Ah. That makes sense, too. That's one of the spots I sealed. The whole front of the air jacket was pretty drafty, especially that spot, around the ash pan door, and the bottom edge.
I sealed up everything EXCEPT that area around the doghouse air hole. It might take a couple layers of high temp silicone to fill due to the size of the gap.

Eric
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
5,823
NE Ohio
I sealed up everything EXCEPT that area around the doghouse air hole. It might take a couple layers of high temp silicone to fill due to the size of the gap.

Eric
Would folding/stuffing some gasket material like this in there work better?
 

trx250r87

Burning Hunk
Nov 30, 2012
118
NE Wisconsin
Would folding/stuffing some gasket material like this in there work better?
I don't think the gap is that large. Here is a photo before I calked. I just tried hight temp silicone and it looks like a 4 year old child's art project.

Eric
 

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brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
5,823
NE Ohio
I don't think the gap is that large. Here is a photo before I calked. I just tried hight temp silicone and it looks like a 4 year old child's art project.

Eric
I think that flat gasket material would work well on that...it is 1/8" thick x 1" or so wide, if it was folded over and stuffed in there, I think it would seal that up nicely...
1609351755229.png
 

FixedGearFlyer

Burning Hunk
Oct 8, 2010
165
Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Mid-Winter check-in:

We're still thrilled with the Heat Commander. Our burns are longer, we get more heat in the house for the same amount of wood in the box, and the plenum (and the duct work upgrade it enabled) is a huge step up from our T1. Plus, we load it and walk away while it micro manages the burn all day long.

Our wood consumption is hard to compare because the winter has been so mild. We're at about 50% of our normal use; my gut says that the HC accounts for 15 or 20% of that.

The big thing is comfort. The heat output is much more evenly spread through the burn and our house sits at 68 to 70 for the entire day with very little temp swing. No more sweating in the first 3 hours of a burn or bundling up while a huge coal bed burns down.

In fact, the coal bed isn't an issue at all. The HC's grill air does a great job of burning down the coals and producing meaningful heat in the last 20% of a burn. I haven't had to wait for the bed to thin out before reloading, at all.

Like the T1, it needs to have the heat exchangers cleaned every two or three weeks, but it's a nearly identical exchanger design, so that's not surprising.

We have noticed a little more creosote build up than with the T1 in the stove pipe and masonry chimney. It hasn't been an issue and isn't running or dripping anywhere - I can just see a light glaze when I inspect the chimney and pipe. A bit of creosote conversion powder and a monthly brushing seem to be all that's needed to keep things spic and span, but it's more than the twice-annual cleaning we did with the T1.

An added cost will be a chimney liner next summer. The HC would definitely benefit from a 6 inch liner in our 7 inch square masonry chimney. In cold weather, our Fields baro can't quite hold the draft to -.06 and we end up closer to -.08. I'd like to fix that and cut down on the amount of cold baro air in the flue, which should also cut down on the chimney creosote.
 

trx250r87

Burning Hunk
Nov 30, 2012
118
NE Wisconsin
Great write up! My experience has been exactly the same. The only difference for me is that I have a manual damper and not a baro. I noticed that even when the draft is high (closer to .1) the HC still handles the burn very well and does not let the fire get out of control.

The last few overnight burns have been perfect for me. Load at 9:30pm and at 6:30am the house is at 70-71 degrees and there is enough coals to light off without the need of kindling or a torch.

Eric
 

JRHAWK9

Minister of Fire
Jan 8, 2014
1,549
Wisconsin Dells, WI
We have noticed a little more creosote build up than with the T1 in the stove pipe and masonry chimney. It hasn't been an issue and isn't running or dripping anywhere - I can just see a light glaze when I inspect the chimney and pipe.
This would be a concern for me. Should not be seeing this on a 2020 EPA certified appliance. This means you are not burning all the gases and are wasting fuel, period.

A bit of creosote conversion powder and a monthly brushing seem to be all that's needed to keep things spic and span, but it's more than the twice-annual cleaning we did with the T1.
Should NOT be needed to keep a chimney clean on a wood burning appliance which is 2020 certified. ;lol


I'd like to fix that and cut down on the amount of cold baro air in the flue, which should also cut down on the chimney creosote.
I actually added an OAK to my BD (which uses ALL outside air to control my draft) therefore -increasing- the amount of frigid cold air entering my chimney by way of the BD. Have seen temps as low as 11° entering my BD from the outside. Still have ZERO creosote issues......just flyash.

Taken right before it enters my BD. I believe this was the time a couple years ago when we hit -27°F.

DSC00754.JPG

This is what a chimney of a properly burning 2020 certified furnace should look like. Taken after one full heating season. BTW, full disclosure, this was taken a handful of years ago before I put my OAK on my BD and Lamppa supplied baffles in my HX (which now come with all new ones). What I see now is pretty much the same stuff, but the flyash is brown/black and a little more "fuzzy" looking. Definitely nothing that needs to be cleaned monthly ( !!! ) ...or even yearly for that matter.

IMG_0562.JPG IMG_0563.JPG
 
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laynes69

Minister of Fire
Oct 2, 2006
2,542
Ashland OH
All units no matter what will smoke a little until up to temperature. If he has a masonry chimney, it will be cooler than without a liner, either insulated or not. I highly doubt it's a case of wasting fuel.
 
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JRHAWK9

Minister of Fire
Jan 8, 2014
1,549
Wisconsin Dells, WI
All units no matter what will smoke a little until up to temperature.
I agree. I have been starting at least one fire almost every day this heating season due to our milder winter this year so far and the fact I am working from home so I can micro-manage small loadings better. I fully expect to see what I always see when I clean my chimney next fall though.....flyash.

If he has a masonry chimney, it will be cooler than without a liner, either insulated or not.
I agree, however that is no excuse. You still need the proper gases (wasted fuel) present over time in order to develop it. Without prolonged exposure of those gasses being present, there will be no creosote. Creosote is a tell-tale sign and doesn't lie. Yes, you do need the proper (lower) chimney temps as well, but you need BOTH to create creosote. I'm mixing cold outside air up my chimney and don't have any issues. I do get accumulation of some really fluffy/flaky flyash around my BD where the cold air enters, but nothing that would require me to clean it every month.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,184
Downeast Maine
I agree. I have been starting at least one fire almost every day this heating season due to our milder winter this year so far and the fact I am working from home so I can micro-manage small loadings better. I fully expect to see what I always see when I clean my chimney next fall though.....flyash.



I agree, however that is no excuse. You still need the proper gases (wasted fuel) present over time in order to develop it. Without prolonged exposure of those gasses being present, there will be no creosote. Creosote is a tell-tale sign and doesn't lie. Yes, you do need the proper (lower) chimney temps as well, but you need BOTH to create creosote. I'm mixing cold outside air up my chimney and don't have any issues. I do get accumulation of some really fluffy/flaky flyash around my BD where the cold air enters, but nothing that would require me to clean it every month.
That's probably just from moisture condensing on the BD area and then the ash is sticking to it. I have yet to see anything other than dark dust in my cookstove and heat stove (inside the unit and flue), but I don't smolder either of them.
 

FixedGearFlyer

Burning Hunk
Oct 8, 2010
165
Michigan's Upper Peninsula
... I do get accumulation of some really fluffy/flaky flyash around my BD where the cold air enters, but nothing that would require me to clean it every month.
So, I should clairify. I don't NEED to clean it monthly. I chose to and really mean "spic and span." As in, clean pipe and flue walls. I'm a bit eager with our oversized masonry chimney that has a few issues at the crown, doubly so because this house (an old, 1890s rennovated one-room schoolhouse) actually lost the second floor in 2003 (7 years before we bought it) to a chimney fire. Putting in a liner next summer will be wonderful.

The creosote I'm seeing is very light glaze, nothing even remotely close to causing an issue, even over multiple seasons if I got lazy and let it go.

With 36 feet of oversized masonry and a metal roof that forces me to clean from the bottom clean out in the winter, I make sure we never get meaningful buildup. It takes 20 minutes to run the brush up to the top, scrub on the way down, and vacuum out the debris.

To your point, I agree that creosote means unburned fuel in the flue gas. It would be great if it was just fly ash, but I'm still very happy with the performance we're getting.