Sequoyah Paradise E3400 - What to do to refurbish it?

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BJP

New Member
Dec 11, 2018
5
NW Vermont
Hi there, first post but I've been reading for a while. Apologies for the length of this.

About 3.5 years ago I moved into a home in northwest Vermont with a Sequoyah Paradise E3400 OWB. For the first three heat seasons, I attempted to use it with nothing but repeated problems. The previous owner said he used it with no trouble but I very much doubt his word (and the number of Grainger receipts he left behind showing he bought replacement parts tend to indicate he had similar troubles). I've made a few very minor modifications, which I'll describe below, and now I'm in the middle of the first heating season where I've been able to use it continually for months, and I'm having a few issues that I'm hoping I can get advice on here and try to bring it back up to full service with an overhaul next summer.

My wood is dry and well-seasoned, I bought 12 cords a couple months after moving here and wasn't able to burn more than 3 the first few seasons. It was dry on purchase on stored in a covered woodshed.

First the problems I had that are resolved: my worst problem was the Love Controls TS2-010 temperature controller mounted to the upper right side of the shell. I went through about 8 of these controllers as they kept shorting out after anywhere from 2 hours of use to 2 weeks. I had all the wiring replaced so it didn't seem to be an electrical issue, but due to creosote/smoke and maybe moisture. These have been replaced with a remote mounted TSW-150 in a weatherproof enclosure that has withstood several months of use at this point, though the interior is still getting a bit gunky from smoke traveling through the electrical conduit. Nearly every time those shorted out I ended up having the copper pipes on the back burst from freezing, since repaired multiple times.

The next problem I've seen described here and elsewhere, the draft inducer fans fail, the damper flap gets creosote caked to the point it is difficult to operate, which shorts out the solenoid that opens and closes the damper. I'm treating the fans as consumable parts and simply disconnected the spring between the solenoid and the damper, leaving the damper open 24/7. My original damper got stuck closed and I got wildly lucky after contacting Royall and got someone at Ark Alloy to sell me the last old damper they had that fit this unit, so I at least have a functional air inlet now.

Now my various ongoing issues that I'm hoping to get some help with.

1) Very little ash is making it down into the ash cleanouts below the firebox. I suspect that the holes at the bottom of the firebox are plugged, partially or in full, so I have several inches of ash mixed in with the coals at the bottom of the firebox. The interior of the firebox is so filthy that even when empty I can't see where the ash falls through or even where the downdraft air pushes through into the heat exchange path. What can I do to clean out the base of the firebox to resolve this? I can't even tell if there is firebrick inside, for all I know the original owner never installed any. I think I need to climb inside next year and clear out the ash and air paths.

2) The exterior shell on the sides, which looks like some kind of corrugated steel, is breaking down or melting. It is soft and flexible to the touch, and when I touched it after noticing it I poked multiple holes through it with my fingers. Behind this shell is smoke, tons and tons of it that billows out now at almost all times. From reading about the unit it claims to have a sealed smoke path that prevents smoke from exiting anywhere except the stovepipe, and that's laughable given the giant cloud of smoke I see coming out of the front, back, and sides of mine. The smoke coming out of the sides is white and not particularly hot. This summer, what will be a good option to use to replace this siding? I don't even know if this is just excess smoke that needs to escape or if the holes in the side are causing it to lose smoke that would be participating in heat exchange. It may just be caked on creosote degassing and not combustion smoke, but I don't know. I've stuck some flex-seal tape on there to cover the holes I've created and I'm planning to stick some Nashua tape/flashing tape on there to try to cover up the rest soon. It doesn't billow out of these holes at all times, often in the mornings I'll look at it and see smoke only coming out the stovepipe, then a half hour later it is back to five smoke paths exiting the thing.

3) Unexpectedly low heat production. It heats the water inside, but the prior owner of the home claimed he ran on solely wood all winter and that's not possible here. My basement oil boiler backup is coming on frequently (my aquastat is set to disable the oil boiler when the Sequoyah is above 160F). I don't expect it to keep up when it is sub-zero outside, but it seems to have trouble servicing the entire home even at 20F. Maybe I just shouldn't believe the prior owner, but I rarely see it get up to the high limit on the temperature controller. It is providing a decent amount of heat, just not as much as I expected for a unit that's supposed to be able to handle a 8,000+sqft home.

4) Creosote and creosote and more creosote. Black tarry sludge all over the front of the unit, to the point I have to burn it hot and shovel/scrape away solid creosote just to get access to open the ash cleanout doors (which ends up a waste of time anyway as so little ash makes it down there - I try to clean it out and I get less than half a five gallon bucket worth after burning multiple cords). Creosote buildup in the damper. Thick tarry chunks of creosote inside the firebox that comes out in chunks if I hack at it and scoop it out during refills. Is there anything I can add to the burn, like lime, or a creosote sweeping log, to help try to break this tar up?

5) This one isn't the boiler's fault. The underground lines run from the boiler to enter my home through a penetration in the basement concrete wall. This is the pre-fab corrugated black plastic conduit line with closed-cell wrapped pex inside. The boiler is at a greater elevation than the basement. You can guess where this is going - when we get excessive rain or a huge snowmelt before the ground is frozen, like we did this November, I get water leaking into the basement through the conduit. I've just endured 20 days of it, with a flow rate that started at a gallon every ten minutes and just finally yesterday trailed off to zero. The water is cold; this is not water leaking out of the pex lines or the boiler itself, but surface water entering the conduit whether directly below the boiler or somewhere along the ~75' pex run. I have a water sensor placed on the basement floor to alert me when this happens, of course my basement was built with no drain so I have been swapping buckets for half a month.

6) Given the creosote all over the exterior of the unit and inside the firebox, I suspect my heat exchange path is similarly caked and probably the source of my low heat transfer issues. How can I access this area to clean it? And if I can get to it, how do I get all this crap off? I have not removed the side panels to inspect (they will fall off on their own soon anyway), but where is the access? The only openings I see besides the loading door, ash pans, and rear damper, is a large bolted on plate at the rear above the water outlets and damper/fan area. If I remove that once the unit is shut down, will that give me access to anything useful? The manuals that came with this unit have a diagram of the heat exchange area but none of the entire unit, so I'm not sure if there's anything that can be done.

I've heated with wood in fireplaces and indoor woodstoves most of my life, so I'm not unfamiliar with this stuff, but I've never seen anything get this caked or give me this many problems. It's my first wood boiler so perhaps they are fundamentally different enough I'm just out of my element, I don't know.

Are these things just fatally flawed? If I'm beating a dead horse here I don't want to spend more money replacing the siding or firebrick, or spend the time fully cleaning it up, if there's no hope for the unit. I'll just save the cash for heating oil and propane and consider selling it as a "you come pick it up" deal and replace with a more recent boiler that hopefully isn't trash or a pellet burner or something else.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions any of you can provide, or even if you just let me know this thing is doomed.
 

shawntitan

Member
Dec 7, 2007
74
NJ
I’m no wood boiler expert, but I’ve got a friend who’s running that black drain pipe for his underground lines, and his leaks water into the basement as well. It’s a HUGE heat sink. In the winter, he’s got a six foot wide, 300’ long path of melted snow, above his line running from the house to the boiler. Not sure how you’d fix the leak, or add more insulation, other than digging it up.
 

BJP

New Member
Dec 11, 2018
5
NW Vermont
I’m no wood boiler expert, but I’ve got a friend who’s running that black drain pipe for his underground lines, and his leaks water into the basement as well. It’s a HUGE heat sink. In the winter, he’s got a six foot wide, 300’ long path of melted snow, above his line running from the house to the boiler. Not sure how you’d fix the leak, or add more insulation, other than digging it up.
It definitely saps heat out of those lines, but seems deep enough I'm not seeing an obvious melted snow path like your friend. When it's not leaking I'm only seeing a couple degree drop between the temp gauge indoors and the probe in the boiler, but my run is far shorter than his. Oddly I had three years here with no leaks from it, since then three times in 12 months. The first was when the copper boiler supply line froze and cracked and drained several hundred gallons down straight through the drain pipe, which made sense. Then it stayed dry until we got extreme rains last month. I figure there's a crack in the pipe somewhere allowing groundwater in, probably caused when the boiler drained into it last winter, which means digging and probably replacement awaits. Thanks for letting me know I'm not the only one getting leaks in through this stuff.
 

E Yoder

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2017
594
Floyd, VA
Sounds like you have ash clogging the airflow/draft through the unit somewhere causing slower burning, creosote, poor heat output, etc.
Where to clean I have no idea, I've never seen that particular model. It's been out of production now for years so finding info might be difficult. I think the guys at Badger pipe might have had some connection to it?
The smoke leaking out almost sounds like something is rusted out under the siding allowing smoke to escape maybe?
Sounds like it needs to be shut down and cleaned out thoroughly. Inspect the airflow all the way through the unit from inlet to chimney.
Ultimately you might be better off with a new gasification wood boiler. Then you'd have dealer and factory support and a proven reliable design.
My thoughts anyway.
 

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
10,808
Nova Scotia
Does it hold water? Are you needing to keep adding?

Description above almost makes me think it is steam & not smoke coming out - which would mean leaks.

Everyone has their different levels of tolerance & patience etc., but I would get rid of both the boiler & underground & start all over from scratch. Maybe even with something that isn't a OWB?
 

BJP

New Member
Dec 11, 2018
5
NW Vermont
Yes, a dead horse. IMO. Both the boiler and the underground piping.

Sounds like you have ash clogging the airflow/draft through the unit somewhere causing slower burning, creosote, poor heat output, etc.
Where to clean I have no idea, I've never seen that particular model. It's been out of production now for years so finding info might be difficult. I think the guys at Badger pipe might have had some connection to it?
The smoke leaking out almost sounds like something is rusted out under the siding allowing smoke to escape maybe?
Sounds like it needs to be shut down and cleaned out thoroughly. Inspect the airflow all the way through the unit from inlet to chimney.
Ultimately you might be better off with a new gasification wood boiler. Then you'd have dealer and factory support and a proven reliable design.
My thoughts anyway.

I am carefully reading the threads about new boilers, that does sound like the best option. Once things warm up I'll at least tear the rest of this siding off and open up that bolted down panel in the rear to get a good look at as much of it is accessible as I can. Probably need to get a camera on a pole or a snake I can shove up under it to look for rust and down the stovepipe and so on. I do think there's something clogged somewhere.

Does it hold water? Are you needing to keep adding?

Description above almost makes me think it is steam & not smoke coming out - which would mean leaks.

Everyone has their different levels of tolerance & patience etc., but I would get rid of both the boiler & underground & start all over from scratch. Maybe even with something that isn't a OWB?

I was also thinking it could be steam. It does seem to hold water, I'm not needing to add any make-up (manually controlled ball valve, not an autofill). I get ice buildup on the outside of the shell when it is below zero outside, even on the inside of the two big front doors that have to be opened up to access the loading door, I've never been sure if that's just outside air condensing and freezing or wood moisture content freezing or a leak. It's "working" to the point where I am using far less heating oil than I would be otherwise, at least, but doesn't seem like it is anywhere near the expected capacity.

My hope at worst is to burn what's left of the wood I have so it doesn't rot away before I have a chance to get a new OWB, then shut it down and tear it up for inspection. If it weren't for the fact that I've had TWO cast iron oil boilers crack on me in three years here, I would just mothball the thing, tear the pipes out of my basement wall, seal it up, consider the Sequoyah it a smelly yard ornament until someone is willing to haul it away for a little cash.

The sad part is this is the first maintenance-free season with no parts replaced yet and it acts ready to give up the ghost. I've noticed other years that the speed with which it heats the water goes way up for a while after replacing the draft inducer fan, which usually has visible tar in the squirrel cage after a couple weeks of use.

I'm attached to this thing given what I've read about it using boiler plate instead of stainless steel. With the non-durability it has shown I question whether anything stainless will last long.

Thanks all!
 

emartell

New Member
Dec 16, 2019
2
Eastern CT
BJP, I have owned a house for about 5 years with the same exact boiler, and let me tell you about the fun i've had with it!! First I have a questions please tell me you have a manual for these things as there is ZERO info anywhere on them online. If you do is it possible you scan and send them to me!!!
Let me say that when this thing is cranking it heats my house crazy and keeps up on the coldest of nights... Sometimes i have to open windows in the house it gets hot! On the coldest nights it eats wood like crazy, but i only fill it once in the morning and once at night so not to bad... But... it is really temperamental... I have had many issues testing me through the 5 years of running it... The previous owner did have a clue about it nor any paperwork. Besides the back damper and firebox clean out tubes in the front I don't know of any other spots to open and clean. I haven't removed the side panels to really look though. I have gone through a fan, circulator pump, temp controller and 2 or 3 solenoids myself.
On warmer spells during the winter it only needs to be filled once but since the boiler is behind my pool house it needs 25' of pipe to get over the roof. By the time the smoke comes out of there it is cooling rapidly and eventually clogs. I had it clog bad enough that it would snuff the fire out and when I opened the door because it was almost cold and all the wood in there lit like a dry Christmas tree I thought oh just needed a boost. I closed the door and flames shot out of the hole where the fan was and melted all the wiring in the back and shorted everything out... When I rewired everything and ran the chimney sweep up the stove pipe i pulled out like 3ft maybe 1gal worth of sludge. So if you have any paperwork on these things please let me know. Also did you end up replacing yours or have you had any luck with it? Like i said this thing cranks when all is good and the house is nice and warm. My house is to big for just the big insert i have.
 
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BJP

New Member
Dec 11, 2018
5
NW Vermont
BJP, I have owned a house for about 5 years with the same exact boiler, and let me tell you about the fun i've had with it!! First I have a questions please tell me you have a manual for these things as there is ZERO info anywhere on them online. If you do is it possible you scan and send them to me!!!
Let me say that when this thing is cranking it heats my house crazy and keeps up on the coldest of nights... Sometimes i have to open windows in the house it gets hot! On the coldest nights it eats wood like crazy, but i only fill it once in the morning and once at night so not to bad... But... it is really temperamental... I have had many issues testing me through the 5 years of running it... The previous owner did have a clue about it nor any paperwork. Besides the back damper and firebox clean out tubes in the front I don't know of any other spots to open and clean. I haven't removed the side panels to really look though. I have gone through a fan, circulator pump, temp controller and 2 or 3 solenoids myself.
On warmer spells during the winter it only needs to be filled once but since the boiler is behind my pool house it needs 25' of pipe to get over the roof. By the time the smoke comes out of there it is cooling rapidly and eventually clogs. I had it clog bad enough that it would snuff the fire out and when I opened the door because it was almost cold and all the wood in there lit like a dry Christmas tree I thought oh just needed a boost. I closed the door and flames shot out of the hole where the fan was and melted all the wiring in the back and shorted everything out... When I rewired everything and ran the chimney sweep up the stove pipe i pulled out like 3ft maybe 1gal worth of sludge. So if you have any paperwork on these things please let me know. Also did you end up replacing yours or have you had any luck with it? Like i said this thing cranks when all is good and the house is nice and warm. My house is to big for just the big insert i have.
Hi EMartell,

Nice to hear from you, I have good news and bad news.

The good news is I do have a copy of the manual, dated September 12th 2007. I am not sure if we both have enough posts here that I can send you a direct message, but I will try to send you my email address and I can get you scans of the manual. It is not amazingly helpful, in my opinion, but it is better than nothing. It's about 12 pages, single-sided.

The bad news is about two months after I made this post last December, my E3400 basically burned itself down. I am not sure what caused it, but I looked outside at midnight the Monday of Presidents Day weekend and I saw flames shooting out of the vent slats at the rear of the boiler above the firebox. By the time I saw it, it seems like creosote caked into the insulation wrapped around the whole thing had managed to catch on fire. I had to call out the local fire department to put it down, they sprayed water and foam and hacked it up with axes and to make the long story short I no longer have a Sequoyah as the remnants of it were hauled away for scrap.
 

emartell

New Member
Dec 16, 2019
2
Eastern CT
OH CRAP, im sorry to hear bout that! At least it didnt catch anything else... Did you replace it with anything? try to salvage the lines going to your house? I got your PM and reply'd thank you.
 

BJP

New Member
Dec 11, 2018
5
NW Vermont
OH CRAP, im sorry to hear bout that! At least it didnt catch anything else... Did you replace it with anything? try to salvage the lines going to your house? I got your PM and reply'd thank you.
Thankfully no other damage to anything! It is now replaced with a Central Boiler Classic Edge 750 Titanium HD which has been running great for about a month and a half. I did end up tearing out the underground lines since the lines installed with the Sequoyah had started leaking ground water into the basement (insulation-wrapped pex contained in perforated black drain tile), those are replaced with fully sealed ThermoPex now. Expensive, but they aren't sending 5 gallons of groundwater every 20 minutes into my basement anymore.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,780
Northern Maine
Holy crap. What a story.

I would not be spending one red cent on that cluster *^%#.
 
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