Help me optimize my coal burning.

Help me optimize my coal burning.

PostBy: Philippe23 On: Thu Dec 21, 2006 6:51 pm

I figured I'd appeal the knowledge/intelligence of the forum for help to optimize my coal burning.

For the life of me, I can't seem to get my stove to really put out heat. If it gets below 32 degrees outside, I seem to go through way too much coal (100 lbs./day) for not enough heat.

I have a newly constructed (2 years old) log home that's about 1,7000 sq. ft. I just moved in a few months ago, so I don't know how well insulated the place is. The stove is in the basement, to use the "heat rises" principal to it's fullest.

The stove is an Alaska Channing III top-vent w/ power-vent. Just enough pipe to get it to the top of my basement wall and out via the power-vent. (About 4' of stove and 4' of vert. pipe.)

Attached is a sketch of what my setup is.

For the life of me, I can't seem to get my stove to really put out heat. I've been worried that I'm sucking it out my stove pipe, but I'm so new to burning (anything besides a campfire), I don't really know if that's my problem.

Start asking questions if you have any, or start giving suggestions. I'll report back with answers/results.

Thanks!
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Philippe23
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Alaska Channing III
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska
Stove/Furnace Model: Channing III

PostBy: coaledsweat On: Thu Dec 21, 2006 7:15 pm

I'm going to assume you meant the house is 1,700', not 17,000' as you may need a bigger stove if that's the case. :)
I would make my first guess the power vent assuming you do have a good fire. It may be pulling a little to hard. Or it could be the Barometric being too close to the unit, I'm not sure how accurate the drawing is. But it looks to close to me. I would want it at the center or just a little above.
Also check the door gaskets, you don't want any air getting in over the top of the fire.
You need to regulate the draft properly or you can lose a lot of heat. You need a draft meter, Dwyer makes a nice one for about $20-30 bucks. I'm sure you can get one at Graingers or the like. It is an incline manometer and is very accurate, it will save you money and grief in the long run.
I recommend that anyone using a solid fuel appliance should own one and use it. You will know a lot more about whats going on when you tinker too.
You get a stack thermometer going and you'll be "Steamboat Willie" every night.
coaledsweat
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260M
Coal Size/Type: Pea

PostBy: Philippe23 On: Thu Dec 21, 2006 10:23 pm

coaledsweat wrote:I'm going to assume you meant the house is 1,700', not 17,000' as you may need a bigger stove if that's the case. :)

Um, yeah. Good catch. I'll fix that above. :oops:

coaledsweat wrote:I would make my first guess the power vent assuming you do have a good fire. It may be pulling a little to hard.

That's my first guess as well, it's also the thing that has the most variables. (Blower rheostat + % open)

coaledsweat wrote:Or it could be the Barometric being too close to the unit, I'm not sure how accurate the drawing is. But it looks to close to me. I would want it at the center or just a little above.

The drawing is rather accurate. The barometric damper is that low; I'm pretty sure that's where the dealer told me to put it, but I may have misheard him. I've been wondering the last few days if it should be up higher myself, and I was just down there thinking I should come ask that very question.

So which is better, 2'-pipe -> baro -> 1'-pipe -> elbow-to-horizontal or 3'-pipe -> baro -> elbow-to-horizontal? ie, about in the middle of my vertical run or near the top? (Going with one of those two options keeps me from having to buy or cut anymore pipe.)

I'll move it up this weekend.

coaledsweat wrote:Also check the door gaskets, you don't want any air getting in over the top of the fire.

I've never felt a draft near the door, so I'm pretty sure it's good.

coaledsweat wrote:You need to regulate the draft properly or you can lose a lot of heat. You need a draft meter, Dwyer makes a nice one for about $20-30 bucks. I'm sure you can get one at Graingers or the like. It is an incline manometer and is very accurate, it will save you money and grief in the long run.
I recommend that anyone using a solid fuel appliance should own one and use it. You will know a lot more about whats going on when you tinker too.

I've never heard of "Graingers". But based on your "$20-$30" range I came up with the DWYER MARK II 25 INCLINE MANOMETER VACUUM GAGE. Is that the one you're suggest? The brochure mentions "Maximum Working Temperature: 140°F. (60°C)." Is that correct? Is that a worry?

coaledsweat wrote:You get a stack thermometer going and you'll be "Steamboat Willie" every night.

Any suggestions on the stack thermometer? Would it be fine to get the same thing and put it on the stove itself?

And thanks tons for the leads so far coaledsweat!
Last edited by Richard S. on Sat Dec 14, 2013 4:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Removed dead link
Philippe23
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Alaska Channing III
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska
Stove/Furnace Model: Channing III


Actual pictures.

PostBy: Philippe23 On: Thu Dec 21, 2006 10:36 pm

Since my art skills are reminiscent of a 3-year old's, here are some actual pictures. The lens is a little fish-eyed, so keep that in mind.

NOTE: The power-vent image below is right, it's 66% open. The text in my "sketch" in the original post is wrong (but close) when it said 60%.
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Philippe23
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Alaska Channing III
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska
Stove/Furnace Model: Channing III

PostBy: blueduck On: Thu Dec 21, 2006 11:16 pm

Philippe23
Is your house 1700sqft total or 3400 with the basement.

If you had that stove on the first floor and the 1st floor
is 1700 you would use 30 to 50 pounds a day. So that
may not be far off if you are heating 3400 sq ft.

The draft gauge is a must... lets you set the draft perfect.
Also when I talked to stoker dealers they told me to buy
bottom vent in leisure and alaska because the TOP vent flu pulls
from the middle of the stove unlike keystoker that pulls
off the bottom. They say the efficiency is very noticeable.
I know you can't change it but its something to keep in mind.

I'm curious.. Is that fly ash all over the top of the stove. If so
where is it coming from? The damper?
blueduck
 

PostBy: coaledsweat On: Thu Dec 21, 2006 11:32 pm

If the power vent has a rehostat I would turn it way down for starters and see how the fire/heat react. watch for smell/smoke. The baro should not be in an elbow from what I understand. I think 2', Baro 1' is a good choice. I think Field Control has a good website that has install info (manuals) on barometric dampers.

That's the manometer. Don't worry about the temp thing unless you leave it on the stove. You can mount it on the wall (level) behind it, as it has a long hose. At the end of the hose you put a metal tube (pitot?). That is what takes the heat.

The stove store or hardware, maybe lowes or home depot should have a magnetic thermometer. I have a hole in my stack and use a probe style. You can also put one right on top of the stove too. The more information you have from all these gadgets the more the beast will teach you what it likes and dislikes.

Now, don't you wish the significant other had a few gauges?
Last edited by coaledsweat on Fri Dec 22, 2006 6:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
coaledsweat
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260M
Coal Size/Type: Pea

PostBy: barley master On: Thu Dec 21, 2006 11:53 pm

not ever operating what you have i cant add anything that wasnt already mentioned. but with a 100lbs a day your doing a good job of keeping winter away. my pitot is about 6" plus half of the pipe dia. for the dwyer. i too like the insertion thermometer for accuarcy. with both items you can very easily solve your problem.

my dad has a unit like yours and he can really get it cranking out heat and his is in the basement and does the whole house with it.
barley master
 

PostBy: FedFire47 On: Fri Dec 22, 2006 2:35 am

The barometric should be as close to the chimney as possible.
FedFire47
 

PostBy: LsFarm On: Fri Dec 22, 2006 8:58 am

Hello Phillipe, you've recieved some good advice here.

It looks like there are several 'easy and quick' items to try:

Swap your flue pipe pieces around to move the baro up closer to the exhaust. Although I can't figure out WHY this is better, the guys here who have power venting systems say it 's the way to go.

Next turn your reostat way down to reduce excess draft, from the photo the baro is open alot, this is just pulling heated air to the outdoors.

You mentioned you can't feel any draft around the doors on the stove, a better test is to use a lit candle near the door edges, if there is a draft the candle flame will be pulled sideways toward the leak.

Check your other chimneys in the house, like a fireplace etc. Make sure the damper is closed and not drafting heated air out of the house.

What is the temperature in the room where the stove is, it should be very warm with you burning 100# a day. Do I see concrete walls behind the stove?? Maybe a few 4'x8' sheets of 1"-2" foamboard insulation on the walls so they won't be pulling so much heat from the room?? Every little bit helps.

Hopefully these ideas will fix your problems. Is your ash in the ashpan just ash?? or is there a lot of partially burnt coal??

Let us know how things work out.

Greg L

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

PostBy: Philippe23 On: Fri Dec 22, 2006 10:30 am

blueduck wrote:Is your house 1700sqft total or 3400 with the basement.

Ground floor is 24'x36', but 1/2 of it is a "great room" where the ceilings go to the roof, so the 2nd floor is only half that in square-footage technically. The basement is the same size as the ground floor.

If you're actually going with "footage" it's about 2160 sq. ft., but if you're going with "air space" it's probably about 2592. Both numbers including basement. (The original 1,700 number didn't include the basement.)

blueduck wrote:I'm curious.. Is that fly ash all over the top of the stove. If so where is it coming from? The damper?

That's from when we were dumping the ash-pan into a garbage can in the basement. It's since been moved to outside because of the ash-cloud that would erupt from the dumping.

coaledsweat wrote:The if power vent has a rehostat I would turn it way down for starters and see how the fire/heat react. watch for smell/smoke.

Actually, the power-vent rheostat is almost as low as it goes. That's what I've been playing the most with over the last month or so. It's down at about 5%. I had it down at about 2%, but then we had a night where the CO2 started getting readings.

coaledsweat wrote:I think 2', Baro 1" is a good choice.

That's what I figured was going to be the answer. That's what I'll go with first.

barley master wrote:my pitot is about 6" plus half of the pipe dia. for the dwyer. i too like the insertion thermometer for accuarcy.

I assume you mean the length of your pitot, not diameter, right? Should that come with the Dwyer, or is that something I'll have to pick up extra? Although I'm sure the Dwyer's instructions will say, the pitot will go between the stove and the barometric damper, right?

barley master wrote:my dad has a unit like yours and he can really get it cranking out heat and his is in the basement and does the whole house with it.

It's quotes like that that make me feel like it must just be my setup, and that I can get better efficiency out of it.

LSFarm wrote:Swap your flue pipe pieces around to move the baro up closer to the exhaust. Although I can't figure out WHY this is better, the guys here who have power venting systems say it 's the way to go.

I think it's so that the air it's stealing from the room to level the flow isn't the nice super-toasty air, but cooler air. Where I have it right now is barely better than not having one.

LSFarm wrote:a better test is to use a lit candle near the door edges

Okay, I'll try that test.

LSFarm wrote:Check your other chimneys in the house, like a fireplace etc.

No other chimneys in the house, so I'm safe on that front. We've been draft hunting the last few months and we've gotten most everything we can reach. If there's any up in the great room's ceiling though, we have no idea how to get up there. :o

LSFarm wrote:What is the temperature in the room where the stove is, it should be very warm with you burning 100# a day. Do I see concrete walls behind the stove?? Maybe a few 4'x8' sheets of 1"-2" foamboard insulation on the walls so they won't be pulling so much heat from the room?? Every little bit helps.

The basement is about 75 (my guesstimate, I'll have to actually take a reading). Which is nothing compared to my father-in-law's wood heated basement, which tends to be around 90....

And I even think that the stove-pipe is hotter than the stove body to the touch (with work gloves on as I'm too much of a pansy to try to touch either with my bare hands).

I've got some extra foam-board I'll put up behind the stove. Any idea what the clearance it should have from the power-vent/stove-pipe? I don't want the foam to start melting or anything.... There also isn't any insulation around the top of the concrete wall -- that's on my to-do list.

LSFarm wrote:Is your ash in the ashpan just ash?? or is there a lot of partially burnt coal??

I'll post a picture tonight. It's not "just ash", but I wasn't sure if that was normal or not. I pulled "just ash" from the stack when I cleaned it the other day. The stuff I get is ash mixed with dark-gray, brittle, soft coal. Like I said, I'll post a picture.


Anybody have any brand-names/models I should be looking for or avoiding on the thermometer? I'll be making a trip to the various hardware stores I know of tonight to see what I can find. What I can't find I'll hunt the Internet for tonight/tomorrow.


Thanks for all the suggestions and help fellas! :lol:
Philippe23
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Alaska Channing III
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska
Stove/Furnace Model: Channing III

PostBy: mjwood0 On: Fri Dec 22, 2006 11:56 am

You've really got me thinking. I don't think I'm burning too much coal, but my baro looks like yours -- a little too far open. I've got the venter turned down as low as it will go and I still can't get it to close more.

Which brings me to the adjustment on the power vent unit. Does anyone know what this does? I read the instructions and it seems that if your baro damper is opening too much, this adjustment should be used to reduce the flow. Perhaps I'll try that tonight.

At any rate, when you get the damper where you want it in your stack, I would really look at how much air it's pulling from the room. The higher in the room you go (since hot air rises), the more warm air you'll be sucking out of the basement. Also, you may be creating a draft which is pulling warm air downstairs and out the damper... Just a thought.

Good luck! With all the knowledgeable people around here, I'm sure you'll get things working great!
mjwood0
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Leisure Line
Stove/Furnace Model: Econo

PostBy: Philippe23 On: Fri Dec 22, 2006 12:31 pm

mjwood0 wrote:You've really got me thinking. I don't think I'm burning too much coal, but my baro looks like yours -- a little too far open. I've got the venter turned down as low as it will go and I still can't get it to close more.


The strange thing is that in Power Vent Adjustment on Alaska Stove people were saying (and Alaska told me on the phone the same thing) that "you should have about one finger opening between the barometric vent damper and it's rim." The thing is, with the pivot on my damper being about 2/3 of the way up on the barometric damper's gate, an index finger is pretty full open. And I have pretty girly thin fingers. :oops:

On the other hand, when I first picked up the stove, the dealer told me that the barometric damper should be just barely moving when it's set up right. I think it's mostly supposed to be there to deal with gusts of wind and such that temporarily create more draft in your stack. An escape valve to a degree.

mjwood0 wrote:Which brings me to the adjustment on the power vent unit. Does anyone know what this does? I read the instructions and it seems that if your baro damper is opening too much, this adjustment should be used to reduce the flow. Perhaps I'll try that tonight.

It just regulates how open the 4" pipe is. There's a disc in the 4" pipe that can either be flat and blocking basically 0% of the air, or it can be completely perpendicular to the flow of air and block almost all of the air. (The disc is smaller in diameter than the 4" pipe, so it won't block all of the air.)

mjwood0 wrote:At any rate, when you get the damper where you want it in your stack, I would really look at how much air it's pulling from the room. The higher in the room you go (since hot air rises), the more warm air you'll be sucking out of the basement. Also, you may be creating a draft which is pulling warm air downstairs and out the damper... Just a thought.

I guess that's a reason not to put it as far up the stack as possible. I need to get it away from the immediately hot air that's being directly heated by the stove's body, but not so high as it pulls the hottest warm air from the top of the room. Sounds like a vote for the 2' --> baro --> 1' configuration.
Philippe23
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Alaska Channing III
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska
Stove/Furnace Model: Channing III

PostBy: mjwood0 On: Fri Dec 22, 2006 3:32 pm

Philippe23 wrote:The strange thing is that in http://nepacrossroads.com/about999.html people were saying (and Alaska told me on the phone the same thing) that "you should have about one finger opening between the barometric vent damper and it's rim." The thing is, with the pivot on my damper being about 2/3 of the way up on the barometric damper's gate, an index finger is pretty full open. And I have pretty girly thin fingers. :oops:

On the other hand, when I first picked up the stove, the dealer told me that the barometric damper should be just barely moving when it's set up right. I think it's mostly supposed to be there to deal with gusts of wind and such that temporarily create more draft in your stack. An escape valve to a degree.


From my understanding, the one finger means that the whole baro damper plate should move about 1/4 - 1/2 inch measured from the base of the swinging plate. I don't think that they mean that it should be open so one finger can slide under the plate -- is this making any sense?

I'm going to try to close my damper on the power venter a little and see if that helps. Since I have a rear vent stove on my first floor, I literally have the baro damper directly connected to the stove and then directly connected to the power venter. No stove pipe at all. I think this means that I'm getting too much draft with the power venter set in it's default damper position and turned down as low as possible.
mjwood0
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Leisure Line
Stove/Furnace Model: Econo

PostBy: Jerry & Karen On: Fri Dec 22, 2006 6:28 pm

MJ,
If you have a power vent from Leisure Line, then it doesn't have a damper in the venter. That has been removed. It's only to be use for oil or gas. You will find that the damper is a trap for fly ash. The barometric is a very simple device, with a power vented LLS the baro should be set on 3 or 4 and the venter rheostat turn up or down enough to hold the baro open about 3/4" to 1 1/2 (at the bottom of the gate). I don't know what Alaska calls for, but it would be best to talk to them. Also, Phil23, I'm not sure of Alaska stove clearances on the smoke pipe, but national code calls for 18" of air space from the top of the smoke pipe to a combustable, just a word of advice because of insurance.
Jerry
Jerry & Karen
 

PostBy: stokerstove On: Fri Dec 22, 2006 7:03 pm

Phil23,
I don't have the same type of setup as you but if the rest of your basement is uninsulated, as mine WAS, you are losing lots of heat thru the walls. Concrete is a very poor insulator. I insulated mine to R-13 and still melt the snow about a foot away from the foundation wall. It appears from your pics that there is no insulation in the first floor joists, which is good.
Unless I missed it, are you doing anything to get the warm air upstairs quicker, such as registers, fans, etc.? If you do have some means to get the warm air up, remember that you need a way for the cool air to return.
Bob
stokerstove
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Alaska Kodiak Stokerstove 1