Help Me With This Home Heating Fuel Question...

Help me with this home heating fuel question....

PostBy: Gary in Pennsylvania On: Fri Jan 26, 2007 1:14 pm folks living in the north east know that we had some bone-chilling frigid temps this morning. And as I drove into work this morning, I was observing all of the chimneys on the houses as I passed. I was thinking to myself, "Wow! Looks like everyone must be getting nice and toasty on this cold morning!"

I thought that cuz a majority of the chimneys I saw had columns of white smoke coming out of them......some smoke columns were lazy while others were billowing out at a hasty rate.
Then I thought more.
My chimney NEVER has any smoke whatsoever coming from it. Never.
In fact, my wife was busting my chops recently cuz I was out on the front lawn a few weeks back when we had temps in the 20’s trying my hardest to detect ANYTHING coming from the chimney. I was even standing very still trying to detect that “heat induced mirage anomaly” that we’re accustomed to seeing coming from hot summer blacktop or what you see when you try to look through the space about a foot or so off the grilling surface of a hot Weber charcoal grill. My chimney gives no clue to the power of warming contraption attached at the base.

So. What is causing the white smoke? Fresh wood? Oil heat? Is it smoke or steam? Do coal chimneys typically do this? And if so, how come mine doesn’t?
Gary in Pennsylvania

PostBy: coaledsweat On: Fri Jan 26, 2007 1:25 pm

I have never seen any smoke from mine on anthracite no matter how cold. I have seen the heat waves, but rarely. The waves are probably only obvious when the blower runs maybe?
Wood can give off quite a variety of colors but I would think the whiter it is the more water vapor you are seeing.
You can't see steam, it is invisable like air. If you see it, it is water vapor.
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260M
Coal Size/Type: Pea

PostBy: bugize On: Fri Jan 26, 2007 2:13 pm

:shock: actually,i see smoke from my chimney for the first time this year yesterday morning for a few was 5 below zero,no wind....i didnt look this morning because it was colder plus with a wind...i thought...gee,i never seen that...maybe the bag of coal had a little moisture in it?
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Mark3

PostBy: WNY On: Fri Jan 26, 2007 2:24 pm

Yes, we were -5 this morning too! The Stove was cranking last night. I think it ran full bore all night, I don't think the thermostat ever was statisfied, burnt up 30-40#'s+ easily!

Proabably natural gas furnances, they produce alot of moisture in the exhaust. Combustion always produces water vapor. Some may be natural draft and other may be a power vent type situation, therefore, differences in the exhaust out the chimney.

I have never seen smoke or moisture from my coal stove either.
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Keystoker 90K, Leisure Line Hyfire I
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker, LL & CoalTrol
Stove/Furnace Model: 90K, Hyfire I, VF3000 Soon

PostBy: BinghamtonNY On: Fri Jan 26, 2007 2:58 pm

We were -3 this morning. My old magnum stoker was running full blast lastnight but my furnace still had to kick on... It hurts , but I've only burned about 1/4 tank of fuel oil this winter. Not Bad!! I can live with it.
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman Magnum Stoker

PostBy: Berlin On: Fri Jan 26, 2007 2:59 pm

could be anything from wood stoves/furnaces to oil/gas heating. what you see when it's that cold is water vapor condensing. anthricite has almost no water content, so unless you get it wet, it will not produce enough %water in the exhaust so the cloud of condensing water vapor will be dense enough to see with the eye.

same with diesel engines, diesel fuel burned simply produces less water per BTU than gasoline when burned, and because diesels run so lean (even the "smoke limit" is still lean of stoch) the little water vapor produced is very diluted thus hard to see untill it is very cold. below 5º F you will begain to see it on diesels.
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Will-Burt Combustioneer 77B
Coal Size/Type: Ohio BITUMINOUS pea stoker coal

PostBy: rouxzy On: Fri Jan 26, 2007 5:35 pm

Berlin hit it right. Normally you won't see any white smoke with an oil burner unless it gets really cold then you would think it is wood burning. Normally with a wood fire you will see white smoke all the time.
Driving by all the power plants on a cold morning you can see alot of white smoke and condensation from the cooling towers. On the seacoast here we have a gas plant right next to an oil plant right next to a coal plant right next to a wood chip plant. With all 4 plants going at once it just about creates its own weather system. But if you drive by the nuke that I work at it looks like its not even running yet it puts out more power than all the other 4 combined.
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III
Coal Size/Type: Stove, Nut / Anthracite

PostBy: Yanche On: Fri Jan 26, 2007 5:57 pm

rouxzy wrote:.... Snip.. But if you drive by the nuke that I work at it looks like its not even running yet it puts out more power than all the other 4 combined.

Tom, are spent fuel rods still hot enought to make hot water? I often thought a solution for the storage problem of spent fuel rods would be to find another use. Would some small number of spent fuel rods make enough how water for a community based central heating system? Yes, I know there would be many safety issues to solve.

Stoker Coal Boiler: Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea