Coal or wood... or both?

Coal or wood... or both?

PostBy: mudnut On: Thu Nov 08, 2012 7:01 pm

Greetings

We bought our house this past spring, currently our heating options are an older oil fired boiler, it's sitting idle as oil is 3+ a gallon :shock: . We also have a fireplace insert that will run you right out of the living room and does a great job of heating half of the house. We also have a Brunco 190 in the basement currently ducted to 3 registers (soon to be 4). This is the first time I've heated with wood by the way, no gas in our neck of the woods yet, it's on it's way but why spend the money on that when wood and coal are so much cheaper.

With the Brunco being a coal/wood furnace I'm curious about burning coal. I've got enough wood to last most of the winter but, as I understand it, coal will not only burn hotter but also longer. Most of the time the firebox is empty when I get home from work so a longer burning fire would be great when we get home later and as we get into the colder part of the winter I'm worried about getting home to a 20 degree house.

This furnace vents into a chimney originally built for a lease gas fired incinerator. I pulled the stack from the furnace out the other day to clean it and peered into the chimney with the mag-light, it looks to be brick inside not tile. Seems to work fine for wood but not sure how it would work with the additional heat from a coal fire.

Our house was built in '31 so I don't know what the building codes said for chimneys back then... Is burning coal an option for me or should I stick with wood with my current set up? I'm in North Central PA so Anthracite is available, I doubt that I would want to burn soft coal, I don't think I want that mess but from what I've ready about Anthracite I think I would like to try it if possible

Thoughts?
mudnut
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Brunco
Stove/Furnace Model: Brunco 150

Re: Coal or wood... or both?

PostBy: Dennis On: Thu Nov 08, 2012 7:35 pm

mudnut wrote: Most of the time the firebox is empty when I get home from work so a longer burning fire would be great when we get home later and as we get into the colder part of the winter I'm worried about getting home to a 20 degree house.

This is why we burn coal.Easier,cleaner,and less demanding on baby sitting the furnace.
mudnut wrote:I pulled the stack from the furnace out the other day to clean it and peered into the chimney with the mag-light, it looks to be brick inside not tile. Seems to work fine for wood but not sure how it would work with the additional heat from a coal fire.

The coal will easier on the unlined chimney and never worry about a chimney fire.
mudnut wrote:I'm in North Central PA so Anthracite is available,

Your in the heart of coal country and have many choices of coal suppliers avalible.
Post some pics. of your furnace and set up and we will be happy to help you staying warm and comfy this winter and welcome.
Dennis
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: AHS/WOC55-multi-fuel/wood,oil,coal
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite/stove size

Re: Coal or wood... or both?

PostBy: freetown fred On: Thu Nov 08, 2012 7:56 pm

I would not be all that concerned about the chimney not having clay tiles if it appears in decent shape inside--pointing the outside would be a good add on to the honey-do list. Is it on the outside of the house or up through the house? I'm not a big fan of multi-fuel--but it is what it is. Are grates working smoothly.? Gaskets should be replaced no matter what you are burning. If you get serious about the install/ coal useage, there is plenty if help/knowledge to be found here. It seems like a pretty straight fwd transistion to coal--Do you have an owners/operators manual?? I'd definetly track one down if not. Yes, anth. would be the proper choice.
freetown fred
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: HITZER 50-93
Coal Size/Type: BLASCHAK Nut/Stove mix


Re: Coal or wood... or both?

PostBy: japar On: Thu Nov 08, 2012 8:01 pm

I burn both wood and coal, but as I get older and wiser I burn more coal and less wood and I live no where near PA . I kinda use the wood early and late seasons but when it gets cold its coal 24/7
japar
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hearthmate
Stove/Furnace Make: Hearthmate
Stove/Furnace Model: combo

Re: Coal or wood... or both?

PostBy: NoSmoke On: Fri Nov 09, 2012 6:43 pm

To be honest with you, I would only burn only coal in a non-lined chimney because even experienced woodburners can let the fire get away from them and get a chimney fire started. As someone else said, you cannot have a chimney fire with coal because it has no creosote, so in my opinion coal is a lot, lot, lot more safe than wood. At the same time you are new at burning both, so rather then trying to learn two types of fuels, why not just start with coal and be ahead of the curve? People have a tougher time learning to burn coal, only because many of them (myself included) are just use to burning wood. I guess we can blame the Boy Scouts of America for that.

Try coal; safer, hotter, cheaper and readily available in your area.

Best wishes..
NoSmoke
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: New Yoker WC90
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vogelzang Pot Bellied Stove
Coal Size/Type: Stove/Nut/Pea Anthracite
Other Heating: Munchkin LP Boiler (Back-up)

Re: Coal or wood... or both?

PostBy: Rob R. On: Fri Nov 09, 2012 6:50 pm

NoSmoke wrote:Try coal; safer, hotter, cheaper and readily available in your area.


Yes, the fire is hotter...but the stack and flue temperature will be lower and more consistent.
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: Coal or wood... or both?

PostBy: McGiever On: Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:01 pm

http://www.flickr.com/photos/20713185@N06/2050561386/

http://painesvillepellet.com/furnaces.html

Brunco units are built in Salem, Ohio, soft coal country, and are designed more so for the Bituminous coal.

Not saying it wouldn't work w/ Anthracite, just have to do it right. ;)

BTW: What size flue pipe comes off a Model 190?

Read here>>> brunco forced air furnace and anthacite

Read here>>> brunco 190

Read here>>> Brunco Hot Air Furnace
McGiever
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AXEMAN-ANDERSON 130 "1959"
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: HARMAN MAGNUM
Hand Fed Coal Stove: RADIANT HOME AIR BLAST
Baseburners & Antiques: OUR GLENWOOD 111 BASEBURNER "1908"
Coal Size/Type: PEA / ANTHRACITE, NUT-STOVE / ANTHRACITE
Other Heating: Ground Source Heat Pump
Stove/Furnace Make: Hydro Heat /Mega Tek

Re: Coal or wood... or both?

PostBy: mudnut On: Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:49 pm

Wow, so there are too many pluses here to ignore... I'll still have wood in the fireplace insert (different chimney) and will probably also burn wood early and late in the season but I think I'm going to have to try coal.

Let's see if I can cover all questions...

The grates are in good shape and, aside from needing a little lube of which I'm not sure what to use, they work great. This furnace shows to have been tested in '94 but has only been in use for a couple of years. The guy we bought our house from got it from his brother 2 years ago. His brother had used it for a year and decided to go with gas.

The unlined chimney was what really concerned me but it sounds like coal is a better choice for my type of chimney. It runs through the core of the house, the only part exposed to the elements is what comes out of the roof and that is cement over brick so I have no doubt that it is in as good shape as the exposed portion in the basement. It's pretty good sized, not sure if the interior dimensions but will try to measure this weekend as I want to clean the stove pipe again just to check to see how much creosote has built up in the 3 weeks since I had it apart. If I recall the chimney is 2 or 3 layers thick (of brick) and looks to be 4.5 bricks wide on each face with a half inch or so of mortar binding the bricks together. All of the brick joints are solid, no crumbling of the mortar so no need to point... happy about that.

I do have the manual to the furnace, soft copy anyway, the company is still in business (link below) and I downloaded the PDF. I'm including the link as I haven't gotten the pictures from my phone to my laptop to post them yet. And to the mods if posting the link breaks a rule please accept my apologies.
http://www.brunks.com/bruncofurnaces.html Standard front loader, ash door below with a stoker blower between the loading door and the ash door. I read on another forum the somebody with the same furnace adding a spinner vent on the ash door to add additional air under the coal bed. The loading door has one of these vents two but I think the issue was that the stoker blower didn't force enough air to completely burn the coal. Works fine with wood though.

I really would like to get away from burning so much wood, I burn slow over night and during the day and am amazed at the creosote just on the door of the firebox in 3 weeks. I've got about 3 cords in the basement now so I should be good for a few months but if I can mix and match, obviously not burning both at the same time, I would like to pick up some anth and give it a try. Poking around the site I understand that firing is a bit different so that'll be fun to master. I do like the comment about lower stack temps especially with some creosote that will build up if I burn both during the season.

The stack out the back is 8 inch necked down to 6 inch for the pipe into my chimney.
mudnut
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Brunco
Stove/Furnace Model: Brunco 150

Re: Coal or wood... or both?

PostBy: mudnut On: Fri Nov 09, 2012 10:27 pm

Thanks for the links McGiever, looks like I should have poked around on here a little more than I did... I'm going to have to check the data plate again as I just might have a 150 and not a 190 but with the big firebox it looks like I'll be going through a lot of coal, already burn way more wood than I expected but again this is my first year not heating with gas so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect.

I do like the idea of having the ability to burn either wood or coal but I think now maybe I need to think about upgrading. Either way I would end up saving money and effort. Apparently, while built like a tank, these things aren't very efficient. It's putting out great heat with wood...
mudnut
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Brunco
Stove/Furnace Model: Brunco 150

Re: Coal or wood... or both?

PostBy: mudnut On: Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:41 pm

Ok all, I do have a 150 not a 190 so smaller firebox (should use less coal) and I've done some additional reading on burning anth in these, some people are having pretty good luck with it so I think I'm going to give it a try. I pulled the stovepipe this weekend and saw a lot of what looked like burned creosote, since I just cleaned it a few weeks ago the fact that what had collected looked like it had already been on fire bothered me :shock:

My chimney looks to be 12 inch square, I tried to run a homemade soot eater up it this weekend but there was a flaw in my design so it didn't work. I do need to get the chimney cleaned but I think I'll be good until I can get a pro out here to take a look at it.

I don't currently run a damper, manual or otherwise, I just use the slide plate on the fan to control the draw. I assume that I need to install one but automatic or manual, I guess that's the question.

I think I'm driving my wife a bit nuts with this as I am now looking at a Hitzer wood/coal insert for our fireplace. Nothing wrong with the insert that's already there except for the fact that it's wood only and I may be hooked on burning coal without even trying it yet :D
mudnut
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Brunco
Stove/Furnace Model: Brunco 150

Re: Coal or wood... or both?

PostBy: Northern Maine On: Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:20 pm

I currently don't burn coal, but did in my first home. It was a combination wood/coal hot air furnace. I only used wood in early season and late season with coal in between. I loved the coal heat in a forced hot air setting because we never had the hot and cold sensation like you do when you have an oil fired hot air unit. The coal furnace always was emitting heat and the registers were always warm. Currently, in my new home I burn wood in an out door boiler....but will be switching to coal! :idea: :) It's the way to go!
Northern Maine
 
Stove/Furnace Make: CENTRAL Boiler CL-5648
Stove/Furnace Model: CL-5648

Re: Coal or wood... or both?

PostBy: DennisH On: Tue Nov 13, 2012 12:28 pm

japar wrote:I burn both wood and coal, but as I get older and wiser I burn more coal and less wood and I live no where near PA . I kinda use the wood early and late seasons but when it gets cold its coal 24/7


Same here, in the U.P. of Michigan. I use both. Wood early on and at the end of the season, coal during the coldest days. For those days when it's just not cold enough to fire up the furnace, but is necessary to take the chill out at night, we use the propane furnace as backup. :D :D
DennisH
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Yukon-Eagle Klondike IV
Other Heating: Propane

Re: Coal or wood... or both?

PostBy: mudnut On: Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:04 pm

Yeah I'm stoked (yes pun intended) to try coal. Need to put a damper in I think and I'm pretty sure that I want a manual one as I will be burning wood off and on and I understand that the other type is a bad idea in the event of a chimney fire.

I can get 40 pound bags at a local supplier for 6 bucks each, don't want to drop a bunch of money on a supply until I find out if I'll have any luck with this burner. Figure 2 or 300 pounds would give me a good idea whether or not I'll like the switch from wood.
mudnut
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Brunco
Stove/Furnace Model: Brunco 150

Re: Coal or wood... or both?

PostBy: KLook On: Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:36 pm

Helped plumbing buddy install a Kerr wood boiler for my brother a couple years ago. We put in a baro and it is working great. Does the same thing, keeps the draft nice and consistent. Of course, he uses an 8 inch SS chimney so the creosote is not such a worry. He also burns year round for hot water and it does not burn hard all summer. Still not seeing problems with creosote. He uses a lot of softwood also. No, I couldn't talk him into coal, he cuts and sells firewood.

Kevin
KLook
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF 3000
Coal Size/Type: rice, bagged, Blaschak
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman (Back In Maine)
Stove/Furnace Model: VF 3000

Re: Coal or wood... or both?

PostBy: mudnut On: Tue Nov 13, 2012 4:41 pm

I own a 10 acre stand across the street from where we live so accessing wood is no problem. I bought this year because between moving in and getting married I didn't have the time or money for the equipment to harvest my own. Thinking about coal for the low maintenance of the fires and the equipment. Will probably burn both wood and coal but winters here suck for temps so if I can get a good long burn with coal during the really cold months all the better.

My stovepipe comes straight out about 2 feet or so, hits a 90 that takes it vertical for about 14 inches, then hits another 90 that takes it horizontal into the chimney... not sure if that's enough vertical space for a baro or not... The oil boiler across the room has a baro that sits on the horizontal pipe so that might be an option not sure.
mudnut
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Brunco
Stove/Furnace Model: Brunco 150


cron