Coal Heat

Coal Heat

PostBy: blueduck On: Sun Dec 03, 2006 8:19 pm

You have got to be kidding me.... I have been burning
wood for 10 years and the only thing I can say good
about coal is the Coal Guy. He does a lot of the work
for you. He puts the coal in the bin or uses a fork truck
to put the skids of bagged coal where you want it. You
can go pick it up but paying the Coal Guy is worth
every penny. After that it's just a 5 gallon bucket of
coal per day. OK so that's two things.
What I don't like about Coal:
1- Once you start a Coal Fire you don't want it to go out.
It's easy to keep going but what a pain in the A$$
it is if it goes out.

2- Ashes Ashes Ashes and more Ashes! Christ, I have
more ashes in 30 days than a season of burning wood.

3- During the Warm days and Cold nights when I come
home from work I can light a wood fire at will. With
Coal you don't want to do that, see
notes 1 and 2. When It gets cold all the time I can keep
a wood fire going 24/7.

4- Stink! Coal smells bad, real bad. The flue temps are
a lot lower with Coal so it lingers around the yard and
comes back in the house depending on the wind. I have
a new chimney and the draft is .04 to .08 when the stove
is running at 150 to 250 F (net temp) I have a
Bacharach kit from my oil days. I'm getting 66% to 70%
combustion efficiency. I've even tried running the stove
at 250 to 300F (net)

5- When I come home from work the house stinks, not
real strong but stink It does. I never had that burning
good dry wood.

6- If you are in a hurry trying to bring your coal fire back to
life and get a small poof back of smoke. Always have
Fans ready and take note of wind direction at all times
because it takes hours to get the stench out
of your home. Also if you are lighting off a fresh load of
coal you need to go slow because if you get the coal
volatiles burning to fast when you close the ash pan door
the fire will suck air in the secondary openings and flutter
the fire and you get fumes. (Harmon Mark I)

7. If I had children... no way would I expose them to coal
smoke and fly ash.
Kind of like watching a parent let their kid bum a smoke.

It's going to get colder soon so I guess I'll see if things
improve. You guys that have been burning coal. Do you
just live with it or does it get a lot better when winter
is in full swing? I was hoping this small cold snap would
be enough but as winter approaches I'm just not sure about
this coal thing. My Grandfather bought a new stoker
this year and sold his wood stove. He wishes he had his
stove and wants to sell the stoker. I kept my fisher stove
and may change back next winter if things don't improve.
I wish I had the extra money I'd buy a stoker boiler and
install it down wind of the house in a shed big enough to
hold the boiler and 2 years of coal. You could power vent it
into a 20 foot stand pipe if you wanted to.
That would be the thing to do....

PostBy: ktm rider On: Sun Dec 03, 2006 9:06 pm

If you are getting a coal smell in your house I would have to say that there is a problem somewhere... I have 2 coal burners, one is a boiler in my garage and the other is a Harman mark II in my basement. I don't have any kind of coal smell ( unless I open the door ) And I have a son with allergies so it would cause him to go haywire if I did..

No one here ever claimed that coal was as easy to burn as wood. But, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. I can get a burn time of 12-14 hours on very cold nights with coal in my boiler. With wood I would be lucky to get 8 hours of burn time. I get a much higher BTU rate also..

The smoke and smell you are experiencing in your yard is a result of poor coal quality. I burn bituminous coal and if I get a bad load I also see the yellowish smoke and it does smell bad. But, If I get a quality load I have no smoke of smell. I know anthracite burns even cleaner..

Coal burning is not for everyone, sorry to hear you are disappointed with it...
ktm rider
Stove/Furnace Make: AHS Multifuel
Stove/Furnace Model: CO 55 with oil backup

PostBy: bugize On: Sun Dec 03, 2006 9:28 pm

:shock: I have burnt wood most all my life,i have 2 camps and a garage I heat with wood,i started heating my home this season with coal and I like it very much...has taken me alittle to get used to it,not having to tend it all the figuring out my draft.i do think I bought a stove not quit big enough,i should have gone with the mark3 Harman instead of the TLC.but what I have found is I get about the same heat output 12-15 hrs later...with wood it is limited to about alot more work than coal.i will say is more time consuming to get a fire back up than with wood. I burn anthracite and have no dust or smell,maybe some when I put in a fresh load but very reminds me of my black powder gun which I love to shoot!i am even thinking on converting my big camp to coal.the more I learn on how to run my stove the more I like it. :shock:
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Mark3

PostBy: LsFarm On: Sun Dec 03, 2006 9:47 pm

Are you sure you are burning anthracite coal?? Like Bugize said, anthracite smells a bit like gunpowder. I find the smell pleasant.

Bituminous smells strongly of sulphur, has lots of smoke and ash.

Wood on the otherhand burns my nose and eyes. And aggravates my asthma.

I burnt wood for decades, and I have at least twenty full federal cords of standing dead oak, ash and elm on my property. I can't be bothered to do the work to cut, split, stack, age, clean, bring inside etc.

I agreee with KTM, you mujst have some bad gaskets on your stove's doors, the flue or ?? You shouldn't smell anything.

I'm sure your experience will improve with cold weather.

Greg L
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland


PostBy: blueduck On: Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:04 pm

Hi ktm and bugize,
I figure it's not the same, looking at coal in a picture but I'll
attach one of the coal and one of the ash.
I'm glad you mentioned coal quality ktm because I was
wondering about it but would not know the difference.
When I bought the stove I picked up a few bags of coal
from a stove store. The type that comes in a plastic bag
soaked with water but not enough to leak. That coal would
shake down into almost a fine power with a few chunks.
It was 50F and raining out so I burned it up and called the
local Coal Man. The coal I got from him is in the picture.
The coal is very dry and dusty but he said its treated with
oil. I can smell the difference just in the bucket? This coal
shakes down into a ground up sea shell like texture.
Does that mean anything to you guys?
The chunks are from me in both cases, I've learned that I
need to pass a certain amount of coal through the fire box
or the grate will plug up and starve the fire of air.
I can deal with taking the ashes out and taking my time with
the fire. Like you said ktm coal has advantages but I won't
make it past this heating season with the stink.

Thanks, Blue
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PostBy: ktm rider On: Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:15 pm

That coal kinda looks like anthracite to me but, I could be wrong. if you were to rub your finger acrossed the shiny part of the coal does your finger get dirty? I am by no means an anthracite expert, I don't burn it.. Maybe someone here that burns it can give some insight on how to tell if it is anthracite or not..

I agree with LsFarm, I think you have some bad gaskets somewhere on your stove if you are getting a bad smell. Your original load of coal could have very well been bituminous coal, and not a very good batch of it either..
I also agree with him about the work wood involves.. I had an outside wood furnace for a few years and I was VERY glad to get rid of it.. I still burn wood but 80% of what I burn is coal..
ktm rider
Stove/Furnace Make: AHS Multifuel
Stove/Furnace Model: CO 55 with oil backup

PostBy: bksaun On: Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:21 pm

Sorry you are having so much trouble , I am new to burning anthracite and could not be more pleased, there is no smell at all in or around my house ,I am running a stoker into a 35' masonry chimney.

I have burned wood,soft coal and wood pellets/corn in the past and hard coal is by far the best, more BTU's per pound than anything else.

Sounds like you need to make some changes in something, you can get a lot of help here.

BK :(
Stoker Coal Boiler: Hybrid, Gentleman Janitor GJ-6RSU/ EFM 700
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 503
Coal Size/Type: Pea Stoker/Bit, Pea or Nut Anthracite
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer/ EFM-Gentleman Janitor
Stove/Furnace Model: 503 Insert/ 700/GJ-62

PostBy: blueduck On: Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:47 pm

Hi LsFarm,
When I installed the stove I installed new gaskets and
tested up inside the "heat exchanger" with a CO analyzer
to make sure the stove was good. Every thing else is new,
I even ran a big bead of high temp silicone on the inside
of the flue pipe before sliding the crimped end in. Then
reached in and did the snap lock seam. The chimney exits
right next to the peak and is taller, not a full 2 feet but taller.
Maybe I'll add a 18" section tomorrow.
Like most of us know when it's cold outside a chimney
will work better but last night it was 24F outside and when I
went out the smell was awful. The same this morning out
in the driveway. The only time it has been good is when we
had the big wind storm on Friday night.
Maybe ktm is right and the coal is bad? How do you tell?
It burns with a nice blue flame, yellow only when I'm
giving it lots of air. Could it be the oil they treat it with?

I really appreciate all of you guys taking time to help. You
would have laughed watching me install everything, Sealing
up everything and testing the stove. I was really excited a month
ago but now I'm not so sure...

PostBy: bugize On: Sun Dec 03, 2006 11:05 pm

:shock: it looks like anthracite,but the ashes kinda look like you may not be getting a complete burn,what are your stacks temps?...what is the hight of your chimney? I have had ashes like that when I was trying to just keep it smoldering because of warm outside temps,as it has gotten colder I am getting a more complete burn and a finer ash.both my youngest daughter and I have asthma and I belive the coal heat helps,when I shake and deal with ashes I do where a dust mask,i find I have less dust in my house than with wood.what kind of stove do you have?...this coal burning is different than wood...for one,ya don't want to poke and play with it while it is burning.i have a thermometer on the stove pipe 12 inches up and I normally run 200 degrees,sometimes 150...sometimes 225,i have an 18' chimney with a s/s liner.i do have to run my stove draft alittle more open than some because of my shorter chimney,but like I said,since we are getting colder temps my burns are more complete.if your getting smell in the house you may have bad gaskets,bad draft....i don't know what you have for a stove but you do know coal needs bottom air right? stove has the option of burning wood so I have to keep my door draft closed for the most part and use the bottom draft knob...i hope we are being of some help for ya...... :shock:
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Mark3

PostBy: bugize On: Sun Dec 03, 2006 11:10 pm

:shock: gee,while I was typing my last post a couple guys wrote the same thing....LOL...
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Mark3

PostBy: LsFarm On: Sun Dec 03, 2006 11:24 pm

BlueDuck, the only real simple way to tell if it is the coal would be to buy a few bags of a different brand of coal from a different source.

Then you can use the new coal for a few days and see if it is noticably different.

I have burnt coal from five different sources, and each was different. Sometimes only slight differences, sometime huge differences.

First when you first add new coal to a red-hot bed of coal, does the new coal flame iwth yellow flames and smoke?? Or does it just sit there and crackle and pop like a bowl of 'rice crispies' ?? If it flames yellow it probably Bituminous coal. If it crackles it is anthracite.

I would add the additional height to the chimney. But I'm confused about the smell hanging around outside the house, Do you live in a low spot, or depression where the air stands still or stagnate?? I went outside a few moments ago and stood downwind of my chimney and took a good sniff, and I really can't smell much, And I'm burning a mix of the stinky [at first light-off] Bituminous coal and Anthracite.

I hope you get it figured out, it certainly sounds like you went to extreem measures when you installed the stove.

Maybe this is a personal thing for your sense of smell?? I know I just about gag when I'm downwind of cigarette and cigar smoke, but can stand, even enjoy some pipe smoke?? And I have to use an inhaler after a good whiff of leaves or damp wood burning!! Is it possible you are really sensitive to sulphur smell?

Hey, I just though of something, Do you have any exhaust fans running or other exhausting air sources in your house?? These could be pulling fumes from the small air gaps at the top and bottom of the door glass in the MarkI. This could be the source of the smell!.

Do you have a really 'tight' house that maybe needs an outside air source for the coal stove??

Just a thought. Greg L
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

PostBy: blueduck On: Sun Dec 03, 2006 11:39 pm

Hi ktm,
I'm sure the coal is anthracite but like you said it could be bad. I washed
a piece and I'll attach a pic. When clean no black rubs off.

the first few bags of coal from the stove store did burn to a fine ash. But
the coal I have now shakes down into a ground sea shell like texture. I've
been keeping the flu gas temp at about 200 to 250 (net) Net is gross stack
temp minus combustion air temp. My chimney is 12 feet plus 6 feet of flu
pipe with (1) 90 at the back of the stove. The chimney has a good draft.
I can maintain a stack temp of 225 after 7 hours of burning with the
air damper at a 1/2 turn open and the draft in the breech is .06.

bksaum, thanks I hope it gets better...

This is a picture of a clean piece of coal, is it normal to have the green
and tan stuff in it?
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PostBy: bugize On: Mon Dec 04, 2006 1:03 am

:shock: there are some people on here with the mark1-3's,they mostly run a full turn...turn and a half open...have you done this and checked the temp on the pipe?...when you load up are you letting alot of air in to burn off gases faster? greg said,if you have a tight home this maybe some of the culprit...i have my stove in the basement and have begun to leave a cellar window cracked open a hair! I have gone outside alot while burning and never see smoke,very seldom smell anything,i usually smell a very slight smell inside while loading fresh stuff...and I actually don't mind may be bad coal...i hope this problem your having gets resolved soon.....kinda perplexing! :shock:
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Mark3

PostBy: Richard S. On: Mon Dec 04, 2006 3:48 am

Anthracite or not hard to tell by the picture but all that yellow is sulfur, it's common to see some but that appears to have an excessive amount of sulfur. I would suggest a very excessive amount.
Richard S.
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

PostBy: Berlin On: Mon Dec 04, 2006 5:00 am

the yellowish bands are not always sulfur, but are often iron and other minerals. I burn a very high vol bituminous, which under low burn produces prolific yellow smoke, I have NO smoke/smell in my house, and rarely smell it in the yard or surrounding areas. you have flue gas leaking into your home. btw, that coal is anthricite. people that visit my home do not know that I heat with coal unless they see the stove or I tell them. btw, some of my friends would refer to me as a bit of a "clean freak" I spend hours cleaning every sunday; although I like the smell of coal smoke I never have any ash, dust, soot, or smell in my home, I would not tolorate that, you have some serious issues with your setup.
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Will-Burt Combustioneer 77B
Coal Size/Type: Ohio BITUMINOUS pea stoker coal