New to the Forum, Looking at Coal

New to the Forum, Looking at Coal

PostBy: brewmiesterbuck On: Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:20 pm

Hi All, new to the forum. I’m looking for general advice. So here’s some background:

I live on the southern edge of coal country, north of Harrisburg, PA. My wife’s family all burns coal and has for years, hand-fired and stokers. My dad has a Harman boiler.

I’m looking at a fire place insert and really like the Hitzer 503. I’ve spent many hours on this forum looking over other’s experience and think that the Hitzer would fit my needs well. I have hot water baseboard and the boiler also supplies DHW throughout the year. I’ve felt the pinch in recent years as the oil has risen and want to get out of it (for the most part). This is my first home and I have thought about a coal boiler but don’t know how long I’ll live in the home (I am planning for at least another 5-7 years though) and the pay-off on a boiler might not be there. As a result I’m looking at an insert.
Live in a small town. Houses are about 15 feet apart.

I have a house built in 1820 and it’s an offset 2 story 2400 sq. ft. with about 1400 on the first and 1000 on the second. The fireplace is centrally located in the first floor. There is a staircase leading upstairs at the front door which is in the room adjacent to the fireplace. Windows are about 8 years old, fairly new, 26 of them spread throughout the house. Little, if any, wall insulation in most of the house, 2/3, with exterior walls insulated in 1/3 of the house which is the new additions. 2/3 of the attic or ceilings are insulated.

My external, aluminum-sided, masonry chimney is about 28’ from the base to the top with about 15 feet, maybe a little more, of that above the smoke shelf. Chimney is lined with 8x12 clay tile with an internal dim of 6.75”x11.25”. It looks to be in good shape, best guess is built in the early 80’s. It looks like they burned wood a long time ago but there is a worthless, non-vented, gas log set in there now from the previous owners. There is another flue in the chimney that is a small and tile lined that’s connected to the oil boiler.

I’m building a coal bin at my parking pad that will be 10’x4’x4’ and hope to hold about 4 tons of nut coal.

I have been using the search function and have found some results also have called local “experts” that don’t seem to know Adam from Eve when it comes to coal. So, now that you have a life story I have some questions:


I am looking to replace about 70% of my oil costs and keep the house warmer, is that reasonable?

Do I need a SS liner? Hitzer recommends one. “Code” says I just need to use a liner to get to the smoke shelf. One installer says he wouldn’t go without it; the other is a sweep and says that he’d stay away if I can because of pin-holing. Hitzer says to go no more than 3 times the surface area of the stove flue size. The 503 is 6”. So its area is just over 28” and my flue is about 76”. Within, but not by much

Regardless, I’d like to insulate around the smoke shelf, what type of insulation should I use? Where might I get it?

Any ideas on air circulation or should I just let it naturally occur? I have ceiling fans in most rooms.

Does anyone have experience with the waste companies taking coal ash on a weekly basis?

I can install the stove myself, should I just do that? The only guy in my area that will do it wants nearly a $1000 (this has nothing to do with the liner because he won’t touch that) and I need to be there to help, maybe with some friends.

I can install the liner myself and save about $500-$600, is installation that difficult with some help and a puller?


I’m looking to pull the trigger and have gotten quotes on everything from the stove to the liner to getting the chimney swept/inspected (they are coming this coming Monday 8/6).

Thanks for the help in advance. And if it’s been said before and I missed it, any reference to other posts would be helpful (although I think I’ve read most of them).

BMB
brewmiesterbuck
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 503

Re: New to the Forum, Looking at Coal

PostBy: franco b On: Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:20 pm

If you can avoid an insert I would.The problem is access to the connecting pipes and chimney for cleaning.

If at all possible I would also avoid any liner. With an inside chimney it should draw pretty well without.
franco b
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: V ermont Castings 2310, Franco Belge 262
Baseburners & Antiques: Glenwood Modern Oak 114
Coal Size/Type: nut and pea

Re: New to the Forum, Looking at Coal

PostBy: brewmiesterbuck On: Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:32 pm

A boiler would make the most sense but payback is an issue (for the length of time I plan to be in the house) as well as basement access to get the unit in.

I like the stoker's and could power vent but location in the house is a problem. Plus, close neighbors and power venting is not ideal.

The chimney is an external, not an internal. I heard both sides on the liner. I'd like to stay away from it.
brewmiesterbuck
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 503

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Re: New to the Forum, Looking at Coal

PostBy: Rob R. On: Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:03 pm

Can you block off the fireplace and insert a thimble in the chimney above? Space permitting, a freestanding stove in front of the hearth would be easier to maintain.

brewmiesterbuck wrote:I’ve felt the pinch in recent years as the oil has risen and want to get out of it (for the most part). This is my first home and I have thought about a coal boiler but don’t know how long I’ll live in the home (I am planning for at least another 5-7 years though) and the pay-off on a boiler might not be there.


How much oil do you typically burn in a winter? Don't cross a coal boiler off your list just yet...mine paid for itself in 1.5 years. If you are handy a used boiler can make the "math" look much better.
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Lehigh Rice
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: New to the Forum, Looking at Coal

PostBy: freetown fred On: Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:07 pm

hey bmb, welcome to the FORUM--I've never been impressed with what I've heard on here about inserts. My suggestion would be to look in the HITZER site for free standing & see if anything catch's your attention. You can always take the stove with you when you move. I would do nothing to your existing system except shut down what I could. I can't imagine Hitzer suggesting a liner, but, times change as do liability issues which we seem to go overboard with :( I heat 2400 sq in a 200 yr old farm house on top of a hill, burn 3 to 4 ton of nut per season with a Hitzer 50-93--I've never used a full 4 ton & normally stay at 3 ton. Do your homework & listen to the suggestions on here--these guys have REALLY--been there, done that. :)
freetown fred
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: HITZER 50-93
Coal Size/Type: BLASCHAK Nut/Stove mix

Re: New to the Forum, Looking at Coal

PostBy: brewmiesterbuck On: Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:18 pm

Rob R. wrote:Can you block off the fireplace and insert a thimble in the chimney above? Space permitting, a freestanding stove in front of the hearth would be easier to maintain.

I had read that the thimble needs to be installed above the smokeshelf. If thats the case its not possible due to the height of the room. If that doesn't matter I could.

brewmiesterbuck wrote:I’ve felt the pinch in recent years as the oil has risen and want to get out of it (for the most part). This is my first home and I have thought about a coal boiler but don’t know how long I’ll live in the home (I am planning for at least another 5-7 years though) and the pay-off on a boiler might not be there.


How much oil do you typically burn in a winter? Don't cross a coal boiler off your list just yet...mine paid for itself in 1.5 years. If you are handy a used boiler can make the "math" look much better.


I burn about 850 gallons. Just a guess is that 25% of that is DHW over the year. That is with 3 zones on programmable thermastats set at 70 when on and 55 when not. Most of the time its off.

Overall, I like the space savings of the insert vs a freestanding in the middle of my dining room. It would also block a bathroom door. Assessing options...
brewmiesterbuck
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 503

Re: New to the Forum, Looking at Coal

PostBy: freetown fred On: Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:11 pm

Not much to asses there, God knows we all need the bathroom :clap: toothy I'm not saying that the 503 is terrible, far from it. If it suits your needs space wise & assesment wise, by all means have at it. This is only as complicated as we make it. Sounds like you have the perfect space needs to take advantage of the 503. I'm sure some of the guys that have them will chime in here. Something I've learned over the years, if I'm wanting info on a particular stove, I surely want to hear from people that use that stove. ;)
freetown fred
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: HITZER 50-93
Coal Size/Type: BLASCHAK Nut/Stove mix

Re: New to the Forum, Looking at Coal

PostBy: SteveZee On: Mon Aug 13, 2012 7:15 pm

As other's have stated, a free standing stove is going to be easier to maintain and (because it is in the room) probably give you more radiant heat. In regards to a thimble above the smoke shelf that only means above the throat of your fireplace where it curves up (to avoid downdrafts). That should only be 18-24" above the throat.

Take a look at page 4 of My New Glenwood Modern Oak 116 and you'll see a pix of my install. That is the backside of a fireplace in the opposite room. You can see where I cut the thimble. It's about 2 feet or so above the fireplace opening in the opposing room. My "new" Glenwood Modern Oak 116
I am heating about 2500 sqft and only used about 40 gal of oil all last season and that was because I was traveling for a few days or so.

I would Not use a liner if you have a tile chimney. They are a pain and do not last very long. If you do use one, you could just pipe it right up the chimney and insulate around the liner to seal it at the bottom. That is how the insert would be piped (if using a liner). There are several guys who have that very insert on this site but unfortunately, many folks don't post much till heating season starts. So they might not be around? On the other hand those inserts have blowers (I would think) to push heat out in to the room.

Your circulation in the house will have to be a bit of see how it goes before you can make adjustments. The chimney sounds like it has plenty of height and should draw well enough for you if you warm it up first. It it works for the oil burner it should work for the stove. Let us know what you decide and welcome to the site.
Last edited by SteveZee on Tue Aug 14, 2012 7:20 am, edited 2 times in total.
SteveZee
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Glenwood Modern Oak 116 & Glenwood 208 C Range

Re: New to the Forum, Looking at Coal

PostBy: nortcan On: Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:52 pm

Welcome to the forum.
I think that you'r lucky to be in the Anthracite paradise and have so many peoples around you knowing that we can burn anthracite and love that :)
Maybe the Hitzer insert has some inconvenients (I never had one so?) but I like the look of it. The guys on the forum having them seem to like theirs stoves inserts. These stoves are more than solid and reliable.
Best of luck for your choice.
nortcan
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Stuart,Peterson/ Grander
Stove/Furnace Model: Sunnyside/ Golden Bride

Re: New to the Forum, Looking at Coal

PostBy: brewmiesterbuck On: Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:33 am

Thanks for the replies.

I'm getting a Hitzer 503. It fits my needs best while I'm in this house.

I'm going to need to reline the chimney because of the sq. in. of the flue vs what the appliance can handle. It is for draft reasons vs anything else. I had the chimney inspected (and other than a wall that the masons built on the smokeshelf???) everything is great. I'll be installing the liner myself.

I'm in the process of building a coal bin. 2 days into it, 1 day left of the build. I'll post pics in the coal bin area when I'm done. It'll hold an easy 4 tons.

I've seen the Hitzer and am very familiar with Harman (I live about 3 miles from the factory). The Hitzer is a well designed, solid unit with more features than the Harman equivalent. My dealer has 2 in stock and I'll be picking mine up in about 2 weeks for installation. I'll do the stove installation myself as well (with the help of a few buddies and some Yuengling :) ).

I hope the little stove will do most of the house and I think it will. Their are gas logs in the fireplace now from the previous owner. They are 20k BTU with just natural convection. I performed a few tests last winter to see how the air flow and temps would work in my house. 75 in the living room, 72 upstairs and 68 in the far end of house (a sunroom with lots of windows). I'm happy with that and the Hitzer maxs at 80k BTU so it should be plenty. I think in the dead of winter I'll need to supplement the sunroom a little with oil heat but the boiler will be running anyway for DHW.

I'll keep everyone updated.
brewmiesterbuck
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 503

Re: New to the Forum, Looking at Coal

PostBy: carlherrnstein On: Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:52 am

I'm going to go out on a limb and say the liner is probably unnessary, the stove has a 6" outlet and the old flue is tile lined, right? you would probably be better off just adapting the tile to round 6".
carlherrnstein
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: combustioneer model 77B
Coal Size/Type: pea stoker/Ohio bituminous

Re: New to the Forum, Looking at Coal

PostBy: brewmiesterbuck On: Tue Aug 14, 2012 12:10 pm

Yes, the flue is clay tile lined. It's a close call. The area of the tile is almost exactly 3 times the area of a 6" outlet. That is the maximum that Hitzer allows for proper draft. My chimney is fairly tall but there are a lot of obstacles around because of living in town. I don't want to deal with draft issues that could have been easily dealt with.

Regardless, I still need some liner. About 7' worth to get to where the tiles start to attach the insert. The cost to just go the whole way up the chimney isn't that much greater ($220 for 10' of liner vs $389 for the insert kit including cap, pulling cone and liner to insert adapter) so why not just go the whole way? I'm going to have to replace the piece of liner anyhow at some point.
brewmiesterbuck
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 503

Re: New to the Forum, Looking at Coal

PostBy: SteveZee On: Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:51 pm

It's good that you decided to do the work yourself. You have allot better appreciation for the stove and how well it works because you will installed it and will know it was done right. You'll also save yourself a good $1500 too. I too happen to think you're better off without the liner but it's your call and I can understand the math of it.
When I was installing my Star Herald last season I bought a 30' liner kit with T. It was a rush to judgement for me and ended up not using it. My house is on the breezy coast of Maine though, on a hill, and pretty tall chimneys too. I have good draft pretty much all of the time I need too. The liner is still sitting in the box in my barn. Need to get that puppy back on Craigslist. ;)
SteveZee
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Glenwood Modern Oak 116 & Glenwood 208 C Range

Re: New to the Forum, Looking at Coal

PostBy: brewmiesterbuck On: Wed Aug 22, 2012 12:45 pm

Hi all,

Just a quick update on this thread.

I re-tiled my hearth.

My coal bin is finished. Pics are still on the camera but I'll post it in the coal bin forum.

The propane company is coming to pick up the tank this week (from the gas log set).

My liner arrived yesterday. It's Flex King brand and they were awesome to deal with. Pricing was the best I've found and it arrived the next day after ordering with standard shipping. I also got a cleaning kit to do that myself. It's made and sold in PA. I'd highly recommend that company, not sure if I can post a link so if you need it, PM me. I'm installing the liner tonight.

I called my coalman and he is bringing 4.5 tons of nut coal on Saturday. My family gets from him in a variety of sizes for different stoves, hand-fed and stoker, it burns well. His pricing was very good, I'll have to ask him where he gets it from. All of the major brands aren't far from my house.

My Hitzer 503 is sitting at the dealer with my name on it. I'm making the hour drive Saturday morning to pick it up.

Installation is on Saturday as well. Excited to be warm this season. :D
brewmiesterbuck
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 503

Re: New to the Forum, Looking at Coal

PostBy: SteveZee On: Wed Aug 22, 2012 2:41 pm

Well done! Looking forward to seeing the install. Congrates and keep them pix coming,
SteveZee
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Glenwood Modern Oak 116 & Glenwood 208 C Range

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