Seeking Out With The Old And in With The New Considerations

uncndl1 Posted By uncndl1, Dec 7, 2017 at 7:38 PM

  1. Tennman

    Tennman
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    Mar 4, 2009
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    Love, love, love our Winhager pellet boiler. It is an amazing piece of technology. It feeds 1000 gal of storage we have for our BioMass wood boiler. I now burn wood when I feel like it. Now load a few bags of pellets when needed. Sorry, don't have time to read all the posts. Just noticed that Winhager wasn't in your trade study.3rd season with Winhager and has worked essentially flawless! On a scale of 1-5 for satisfaction.... I'm a 6.
     
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  2. uncndl1

    uncndl1
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    Oct 2, 2015
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    Had a plumber come inspect our system. He agrees with some of the first suggestions above that the oil burner analysis is needed along with a good cleaning. He’s scheduling the work and will also do a firm quote for a new future oil burner if and when that will be needed. Heat loss calculations and energy audit are next on the to do list after talking to NYSERDA.


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  3. Potsdam

    Potsdam
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    Dec 19, 2017
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    If you refer to any material of John Siegenthaler, remember.... he is a very educated man and his train of thought is spend lots of money when the same thing can be achieved much simpler and cheaper. GREAT resource in theory though. I would lean toward Leons perspective on this problem solving quest as the winter is at our toes. Freshen the system up for the winter and give yourself more time to digest a resolve for the long term. 500 gallons of oil IMO is not bad considering what I was up against a few years ago refilling my tank once a month during the winter. New projects can easily cost $15k or more, while upgrades could be somewhat less.
     
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  4. Clarkbug

    Clarkbug
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    Dec 20, 2010
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    Im not too far away from where you are in Ballston Spa, so welcome to the site!

    I believe that NYSERDA is still running some incentives for residential biomass installations, but they involve a lot of extra steps. But its worth at least $10k, so maybe its worth it....

    https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/Renewable-Heat-NY

    I believe you cannot have bulk pellet storage inside your home for their incentives due to CO offgassing. They will want you to put a bin in an external shed or something similar...

    Its a little off your main topic, but you mentioned that you had an old electric domestic water heater that was going to need to be replaced. While you certainly can plumb that into storage, looking into a heat pump water heater (depending on where its located in your home) might also be a good energy/cost savings option for you.

    I would suggest getting any airsealing or additional installation done before any other heating system changes, just to help you purchase the smallest system that will meet your needs.

    NYSERDA also had John Siegenthaler teach a basics of biomass course over at the tech center in Malta last year, and they may offer it again at some point in the future.
     
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  5. uncndl1

    uncndl1
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    Oct 2, 2015
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    31e50de2a51ee82b3fd06a7bab7a55b6.jpg
    Thank you, that’s a great idea regarding heat pump water heater. I’ll have to research that project more.
    It’s in the basement next to the Tarm to the left.
    Still waiting on NYSERDA about an energy audit.
    Going top get things running as clean as possible and weather proof the house and save money for now.
    Shying away a new pellet boiler and going to get some use out of the beast.



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  6. peakbagger

    peakbagger
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    Sounds like you are heading in the right direction.
     
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  7. Clarkbug

    Clarkbug
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    Post back when you hear about an audit to share the results. But I think thats a good plan to tune the ol' girl up best you can. Your oil usage isnt terrible, and given the current fuel prices will be hard to make the justification from a payback perspective if your equipment is still going without issue.
     
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  8. leon

    leon
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    Your running your water temperature way, way, way, way too high.
    I ran my hand fed wood and coal boiler at summer temperatures which are where I operate my coal stoker boiler set at 160 high 140 low being summer operating temperatures.

    If your looking to replace the Tarm wait, do the repairs to upgrade the controls and wiring and safeguard the current system until you decide to change it or if you are forded to due to a weld failure as you will extend the life of the boiler for many more years by lowering the operating temperatures and cleaning the boiler completely by removing the top cover and brushing out the vertical tubes.

    When the time comes your going to find that after number crunching a coal stoker boiler will cost you less to own and operate and you can get all your hot water the year round.
     
  9. uncndl1

    uncndl1
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    Oct 2, 2015
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    Thank you for your thoughts.
    Not sure this old Tarm has vertical heat exchanger tubes to clean. Certainly not mentioned in the directions of owner manual. I can take the top cover off and have a look. Just had her cleaned and serviced for the 3rd season. Measured 78% efficiency as before.
    Appreciate your thoughts on Coal stoker. Friend has a Harmon Coal burner with a perfect spot to heat entire main living area. We do not have that luxury nor space to store 2 tons of coal like they do.
    Update on energy analysis:
    We need some insulation along sill plate in basement, a new door and windows to tighten up the leaky old house. It was a bad winter here and our oil usage was 800 gallons this season. Saving up for a new oil burning boiler when this one quits working.


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  10. leon

    leon
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    Feb 3, 2013
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    ============================================================================================



    I am almost positive that the dual fuels just like the wood/ coal units in that configuration as I went to look at an installation very near me as I was looking at buying a tarm before I settled on the switzer as I still had a dedicated oil boiler in good condition.

    The Gentleman I visited pulled the cover off and the steel plate and showed me the vertical tubes and how he cleaned them using a round stove brush to clear the tubes of creosote build up. I do not remember if it had four or six tubes but I believe it had six tubes as it was a wood coal unit.


    Which one of the items that I listed to you are something he disagrees with installing?????

    Can you please post more pictures of your system as soon as possible? I would like to know whether you have a steel compression tank or a bladder tank. A steel compression can be used with an existing air scoop on your system.

    You need a back flow preventor and a pressure regulator if you do not have one
    I would least remove the triple gauge from its tapping and soak the probe in a glass of hydrogen peroxide to clean it by just lowering it into a sturdy water glass.

    You should do this with both the high limit aquastat probe well and the horizontal triple aquastat probe well as well as they will have build up on them that will cause an incorrect temperature measurement for the triple gauge and incorrect sensing of the water temperature by the triple aquastat.

    If the triple aquastat has the conductive grease in the well you can just soak it in a short glass of hydrogen peroxide for a couple of days to clean all three items.


    The great thing about the automatic Low Water Cut Off is that it will shut the boilers electrical system down completely if it senses a low water condition and the oil fire will stop if you are burning oil.
    The LWCO is installed as the first control for a boiler to assure that the power supply is cut off completely in the event of a low water condition.
     
  11. uncndl1

    uncndl1
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    [QUOTE="leon, Can you please post more pictures of your system as soon as possible? I would like to know whether you have a steel compression tank or a bladder tank. A steel compression can be used with an existing air scoop on your system.
    .[/QUOTE]
    The compression tank is a huge beast in the floor joists above. I can post more pictures next week.
    Best regards, Kris



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  12. leon

    leon
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    Feb 3, 2013
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    Hello Kris,


    Thank you for going in to more detail for me.
    Please do not let anyone talk you in to removing the steel compression tank it will
    continue working silently for you for 50 more years if you stay in your current home.
    I have a 15 gallon steel compression tank and It works with no problems and I am
    able to run my single loop of 225+feet of baseboard at pressures of 4-12 PSI with no issues.


    I look forward to seeing more images of your system.
     
  13. maple1

    maple1
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    Maybe you meant, don't let anyone talk you into removing it?
     
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  14. leon

    leon
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    Feb 3, 2013
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    Yes that is what I ment Maple1 and I corrected my mistake. :^0
     
  15. JMihevic

    JMihevic
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    Feb 3, 2018
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    The Tarm OT (28, 30, 50 & 70) series were sold in the U.S. in the late ‘70’s until about 1980. They did not have a tube heat exchanger. It was just a big fire chamber surrounded by water which was heated by wood, oil or electric.

    In the early ‘80’s Tarm came out with the 500 series that improved on the OT series. This model had the fire tube heat exchanger tubes. The 500 series had separate fire tubes for the oil side and the wood side.

    The OT series had a common “wet wall” at the outlet to extract heat from the exit gases. If you are going to use the OT just for oil, I would really clean the creosote that formed from wood burning off the wall to get the most efficient operation for oil only operation.

    John M.
     
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  16. leon

    leon
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    Feb 3, 2013
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    Thanks for refreshing my memory john It was either a model 502 or 504 that I looked at and it was great simple design with the three separate aquastats that eliminated the need for a triple aquastat.

    The Tarm 202 and 303 coal boilers had a round coal grate that ground the clinkers to drop them through the round grate and keep the air supply going through the round grate.

    The Tarm 303 coal boiler had 5 vertical round heat exchanger tubes in the water chamber which also had a vertical water coil in the pressure vessel above the fire box.

    The Tarm 202 and 303 boiler could also burn wood if needed.

    Beautiful engineering!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Its a real shame they are no longer made.







    It would have been very easy to install a low water cut off in the 502 and 504 boilers too


    I had forgotten that they had 6 electric elements to heat the boiler water with 220 volt heating elements.

    The units had fusible plugs in the water jackets in the event of a boiler possibly overheating and boiling dry.

    The cost at the time for both the dual fuel and wood coal only unit was much more than what I could
    afford so I bought a Switzer WC100 wood coal boiler instead-looking back I should have bought a Van Wert A400 coal stoker even though it was 2 thousand dollars more installed but hindsight of course........................................
     
  17. JMihevic

    JMihevic
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    Feb 3, 2018
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    You can say that again. I have a Tarm MB55 Solo that I installed in 1980 and have used it every year for 38 years. It works flawlessly. I like the simplicity of the controls; a mechanical draft regulator and no electronics to fail. I have not replaced one single part on the boiler. I heated continuously through January and February of this year. I have read threads on this forum about problems with “back puffing”. My Tarm has never done that. Before reading the threads, I didn’t know what it was.

    John M.
     
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  18. uncndl1

    uncndl1
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  19. uncndl1

    uncndl1
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    Here are some more images:
     

    Attached Files:

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  20. uncndl1

    uncndl1
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    I uploaded some photos for you all (see above).
    Concerning the gigantic steel compression tank, are there any instructions on how to maintain them?
     
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  21. peakbagger

    peakbagger
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    I am not sure what a compression tank is. Usually there is an expansion tank in most systems. The old style tanks mounted up under floor joists and were just a big air bubble in the system to absorb the extra volume from the water when it heated up. They worked but eventually the bubble disappeared as the air got absorbed into the water. Some folks blame this style for premature corrosion in the boiler and piping. The new style have a flexible membrane inside, the water expands and contracts while the membrane keep the transfer of air down to minimum. Most new systems have these.

    The maintenance on the old style expansion tanks is every year or so is drain the tank down when the system is cold and let it fill with air. There is usually a drain with a hose connection at the base of the tank where the piping is attached to. All you normally do is isolate the expansion piping, open the drain and drain the tank out, close the drain valve then make sure you open the isolation valve on the expansion loop. if the tank is waterlogged, you will start seeing leaks at the weakest part of the system.

    Those photos of the exterior corrosion of the boiler are pretty scary. One of the units I have seen with a dome seal leak looked better than yours.
     
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  22. uncndl1

    uncndl1
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    Expansion tank it is. I was using the term compression tank that Leon talked about in a previous post.
    This system is 38 years old now, which is why I started the thread. All of the comments are appreciated.
    I've learned alot from you all as well as the reading.
    Best regards
     
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  23. leon

    leon
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    Feb 3, 2013
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    Many of the old steel compression tanks were installed without airtrol valves and the system also had been saddled with automatic fill valves in a later repair and that is why they become waterlogged in 99% of cases. Automatic fill valves are a no no unless they are valved off and shut off after the boiler is filled and bled of excess water.

    I have my system valved off and the water shut off and I have no issues with a water logged tank as I have an airtrol valve in the base of the 15 gallon steel compression tank.

    If you have an airtrol valve in the base of the steel tank you do not have to do anything with it once the 1/3 air 2/3 water volume is set after draining the excess water from the steel compression tank with the water drain valve in the airtrol valve.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    If you have a bladder expansion tank it will benefit you to change it out with a new one of the same or greater capacity as the rubber bladders will leak and let in water on the air side over time and after 38 years I am sure it is ready to go to the happy hunting ground.


    If you want to do the work yourself you need to remove the boiler skin after you remove the plumbing from the tappings and remove all the rust and spray paint the boiler shell with high temperature paint to overcome the rust issues.

    Its not that hard to do as long as you have good tools and the right size pipe or chain wrenches to remove the old pipe and install the new pipe and fittings, pipe taps, and pipe dope-NO TAPE and a few other items and you will be well on your way.

    It may be time to retire the burner and replace it with a new small Riello or Beckett burner as the system should be running at a much higher efficiency with oil.

    The boiler needs work and would benefit from a gallon or two boiler treatment and draining the water supply to remove any rust and debris as long as your going to remove the probe wells and clean them and install the new controls and low water cut off. The flue pipe needs to be replaced too and it needs flue joint tape as well.

    You need a new blow off valve too as it looks like it has been leaking on the steam chest .
    (you should have a spare blow off valve, circulator and triple aquastat for piece of mind too.
    All I need to do is buy a stoker motor, fan motor and timer motor to finish filling my spare parts box as I have a spare circulator and new triple aquastat.

    A bit of improved plumbing and installing a new header pipe for the circulators and 2 sets of isolation flanges with dual gauge ports for the vacuum and pressure gauges to keep track of the circulators operating condition and you will be ready for the next heating season.

    When you get further along after the plumbing is removed you should plug all the tappings and fill the boiler with water to 60 pounds for 24 hours check for water leaks and call HSTARM and ask about the gasket for the heat exchanger and whether it should be changed and ask about cleaning or replacing the hot water coil as long as you have it stripped down this far.


    You need to replace the close to the boiler copper and globe valves. as its corroding at the joints and replace it with schedule 40 black steel pipe as you will have a faster time reassembling it with unions and it will go back together much faster.
    The 2 B+G spring check valves will have gathered a considerable amount of rust on the closing/mating surfaces and the stem packings leak-mine did and I got rid of them as the replacement plumbing eliminated the need for them
    Once you have the right size header pipe coming off the top of the steam chest or side tapping you will not need them.




    Once you have a circulator module made up in your pipe vice the installation will go very very fast and you can use unions on the domestic hot water lines when you install the replacement ball valves too.

    I AM NOT trying to spend your money I had to deal with a really bad plumber and his mistakes and bad triple aquastats that were never ment for solid fuel boilers after the fact.
     
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  24. uncndl1

    uncndl1
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    Great suggestions.
    She’s still working but don’t think I’ll be refurbishing the boiler and burner assembly.
    I’m saving up for a new oil burning boiler and will be getting quotes.
    I’m open to recommendations on types and styles as there are more than one type available.
    I’d also like new circulatory on the outlet of boiler with a purge setup which I don’t have now.
    Thanks.
     
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  25. peakbagger

    peakbagger
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    Take good look at a System 2000 boiler. Hard to beat as its low mass cold start unit so no standby loss.
     
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