New to the forum with some safety questions about coal.

New to the forum with some safety questions about coal.

PostBy: ecco123 On: Mon Jan 14, 2013 12:19 pm

Hi everyone.

My name is David and I live in Spain. I just replaced my old diesel boiler with a new dual-purpose that can burn either coal or wood.

This is the one: Image
Image

I've had it for two months and I'm quite happy at the moment: It's burning 24 hours a day with an average 40ºC /104ºF water temperature and I always find the house warm and nice. With the diesel boiler, I used to run it between 8 and 15 hours a day at 55ºC/130ºF. I was spending twice as much money and the house was always too cold in the morning or when I got home.


Safety is my only concern. When I use wood it's OK, but I started using coal as the wood doesn't last as long and most times I.have loaded it I feel dizzy, have headaches and nausea.

This happens even though the boiler rooms is very well ventilated (I installed bars in the windows so I can keep them opened all the time and I also installed a fan).

First thing I will do is to install a CO detector and then I will get a mask. Could you recommend me one? I saw 3M have a large range of masks, some are marked for "organic vapours" but I don't know if they will be good for the gases produced in coal combustion. (I found lots of mask that filter coal dust, but I think my problem comes from the gases and fumes) http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/e ... spirators/

If you have any other advice I'd be glad to read it!!

Thanks a lot in advance.
ecco123
 
Stove/Furnace Make: LASIAN
Stove/Furnace Model: SOLIMAX 50

Re: New to the forum with some safety questions about coal.

PostBy: LDPosse On: Mon Jan 14, 2013 12:56 pm

Sounds like you may have a venting issue. I don't think the small amounts of fly ash you would be exposed to would cause the symptoms you describe. I would highly recommend a CO detector that has a numerical readout on it.

I looked up your boiler online. I was trying to read up on it, but my Spanish is a little rusty :oops:
<removed dead link>

I can't tell from the pictures, does the firebox have shaker grates?
Last edited by Richard S. on Mon Nov 18, 2013 4:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: <removed dead link>
LDPosse
 
Stove/Furnace Make: DS Machine, Warm Morning
Stove/Furnace Model: DS1500, WM 400-A, 523

Re: New to the forum with some safety questions about coal.

PostBy: CoaLen On: Mon Jan 14, 2013 12:59 pm

David,
Welcome to NEPA Crossroads. The internet can be amazing!
I'll ask a couple of questions so we can better understand what you're doing.
What kind of coal are you burning, anthracite or bituminous?
How is your furnace vented? (Chimney, power vent, direct vent, etc.)
Do you know what your draft is? This is usually measured with a manometer and is an important tool for correct setup of a coal furnace.
You should not need a mask to operate a coal furnace, unless you have a specific allergy or medical condition. You are correct about installing CO detectors; another important item when using coal.
We'll wait to hear from you and again, welcome.
CoaLen
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Keystoker Koker
Coal Size/Type: rice

Visit Hitzer Stoves

Re: New to the forum with some safety questions about coal.

PostBy: SMITTY On: Mon Jan 14, 2013 1:30 pm

There isn't a mask made, to my knowledge anyway, that will prevent CO poisoning. DO NOT use a mask for that purpose. The only system that gives you o2 is a SCUBA system, for diving.

If there is a mask that does this, I suspect it would be on the same price level as a new boiler ...
SMITTY
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Patriot Coal - custom built by Jim Dorsey
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III (not currently in use)
Coal Size/Type: Rice / Blaschak anthracite
Other Heating: Oil fired Burnham boiler

Re: New to the forum with some safety questions about coal.

PostBy: rockwood On: Mon Jan 14, 2013 1:44 pm

This is a dangerous situation.

Please get CO detectors right now.

Here in the USA you can call the fire department and have them come check your home for carbon monoxide.
rockwood
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Stokermatic coal furnace
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Rockwood Stoveworks Circulator
Baseburners & Antiques: Malleable/Monarch Range
Coal Size/Type: Soft coal: Lump and stoker (slack coal)

Re: New to the forum with some safety questions about coal.

PostBy: franco b On: Mon Jan 14, 2013 1:58 pm

You say it is OK when burning wood. Wood burning will have higher stack temperature which will create higher draft. I suspect your chimney. Please give a good description of it. The very low temperature you are running the boiler at will also mean low draft. When the boiler is running at that very low temperature I would like to know how far open the air intake is.If it is open any more than a crack then draft is suspect. If it is opened wide then poor draft through the coal bed is certain. Are there dampers of any kind either built into the boiler or between the boiler and chimney? CO is caused by the coal not burning completely. When fully burned it forms CO2. To do that it needs adequate air and temperature throughout the coal bed. Please supply some pictures of the fire box and grates. Most combination units do not have a proper design for burning coal. For that matter most coal burners also do not have ideal design.

If it were mine I would take down the smoke pipe and inspect the chimney and exit from the boiler, and also make sure any clean out doors for the chimney are tight. Do get the CO detector (get two) and forget the mask since the problem must be found.
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 with some safety questions about coal.

PostBy: ecco123 On: Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:35 pm

Thanks everyone for the great welcome and helping posts.

LDPosse wrote:I can't tell from the pictures, does the firebox have shaker grates?


I'm not sure what a shaker grate is. Do you mean a grill in the base of the fire that can be shaken to drop the ashes into the ash tray? It doesn't have anything like that. The base of the firebox is a thick iron plate with lots of holes. Twice a day, I have to use a tool that comes with the boiler to clean those holes and help the ashes falling or they will end up blocking most of the air intake.


CoaLen wrote:David,

What kind of coal are you burning, anthracite or bituminous?
How is your furnace vented? (Chimney, power vent, direct vent, etc.)
Do you know what your draft is? This is usually measured with a manometer and is an important tool for correct setup of a coal furnace.


-I'm 95% sure it's anthracite.
-It's using the same chimney that the diesel boiler was using. The technician that installed the coal/wood boiler measured the diameter and cleaned it and he said it was more than enough.
-They didn't used a manometer to measure the draft.


franco b wrote:You say it is OK when burning wood. Wood burning will have higher stack temperature which will create higher draft. I suspect your chimney. Please give a good description of it. The very low temperature you are running the boiler at will also mean low draft. When the boiler is running at that very low temperature I would like to know how far open the air intake is.If it is open any more than a crack then draft is suspect. If it is opened wide then poor draft through the coal bed is certain. Are there dampers of any kind either built into the boiler or between the boiler and chimney? CO is caused by the coal not burning completely. When fully burned it forms CO2. To do that it needs adequate air and temperature throughout the coal bed. Please supply some pictures of the fire box and grates. Most combination units do not have a proper design for burning coal. For that matter most coal burners also do not have ideal design.

If it were mine I would take down the smoke pipe and inspect the chimney and exit from the boiler, and also make sure any clean out doors for the chimney are tight. Do get the CO detector (get two) and forget the mask since the problem must be found.



Well, when I say it's ok when burning wood I mean I don't get any headaches or dizziness when loading with wood, BUT the wood of course generates much much more amount of smoke and I have to be quickly load it and shut the door or I will get smoke coming out.

I want to clear out that I have the problem with the fumes coming out of the boiler only when I'm loading it. If I go back two hours after loading it when the coal has become embers and has a blue flame over it, then I can leave the door open for a while and have no problems.

By damper do yo mean something that partially blocks the smoke on its way out? If so, yes, it has an adjustable one fitted between the boiler and the chimney.

About temperatures, please notice that I'm talking about water temperature measured just after it leaves the boiler on it's way to the house heating circuit.

With wood: When I load it with a good amount of nice dry wood, it quickly raises to 65ºC/150ºF if I leave both air intake and draft open to the max. I usually regulate to keep it between 40 and 50 as it's not being a very cold winter here and it's enough with that, specially since it's burning 24 hrs. a day. The problem with wood is that a whole load only lasts between 2.5 and 5 hours so I have to keep an eye on it more often that I'd like.

With coal is a different story: I usually load it when water is around 40ºC/104ºF and there's still a good thickness of an ember bed. I open both draft and intake to the max and load it with as much coal as I can. Then in about half an hour the temperature drops to 30ºC/86ºF, then it starts to slowly rise and in about 3-4 hours it will reach the maximum, that with coal is about 55ºC/130ºF. This happens if I leave it all open and the grill in the base is well cleaned. At night I usually close intake and draft a bit to keep it under around 35ºC/95ºF as we don't need much heat at night and just by keeping the house mild is enough.

I just filmed a video of the thing working (was outputing 40ºC/104ºF when I did it) so you can see it working, how the draft is made, the coal and everyghing else):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWt4RYCz ... e=youtu.be
ecco123
 
Stove/Furnace Make: LASIAN
Stove/Furnace Model: SOLIMAX 50

Re: New to the forum with some safety questions about coal.

PostBy: dcrane On: Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:09 pm

wow... this poster proves to me that other countries are way ahead of us in computer use (this dude is great! makes us a full blown vid on moments notice and includes pretty much every concept we need to help). IM IMPRESSED!

OK, lets be clear... this is a draft issue for sure 100%.

I will leave it to these experts to tell us the quality/type of your coal (I know french coal is more like bit. coal and french stoves are generally built for this inferior coal), but id love someone to tell us how your coal looks then maybe we can try to recommend what to look for in your coal or what coal might have an advantage in your specific unit.

a few things you can try are to open that rear damper (it appears you have a baffle inside the stove anyways), when first lighting the stove you can stuff some newspaper up behind the baffle and light it to try and create some draft just before attempting to light your stove, you can show us the outside of the house and chimney to see if their any evidence that can be gathered to determine if it should be higher or if theirs wind blowing off a gable peak or nearby mountain and then shooting down your chimney, etc. You can try to enable your grate to allow more air up through it (but this is pretty invasive and i would not suggest it if the stove is under warranty).

I do notice that when you open your bottom door you can clearly see the "side" of the hot coal bed, in other words your firepot is actually a big strainer (this is NOT good and a poor design for coal burning but a great design for wood burning which might make Bit coal better for this unit) as air is being allowed to come in the bottom door and run in many different directions including around the outside of the coal bed and over it and then back down the rear side (in other words it allows a poorly drafted stove to spin all that air around inside the unit and back out the bottom door instead of 100% of the air having to go up "through" the coal bed and then either circulated above the coal bed once then out the flue or simply directly out the flue).

Of course the professional installer did not use a manometer (freeeking idiot), and im sure he would not have clue about coal burning anyways.... not to worry, your in PA coal burning land here and these guys are the real pro's :P

I would like to see the exterior chimney situation as this may be what you have to deal with in the end after you try the simple things that some of us may suggest to you.

Thank you for your well written and well vid taped information for us... it sure takes alot of guess work out of the equation... we love people like you!!!
dcrane
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Crane 404

Re: New to the forum with some safety questions about coal.

PostBy: franco b On: Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:40 pm

When the technician said your chimney is more than enough he was probably meaning it is very big. Big chimneys are harder to heat and create good draft.

By lowering the height of your loading door opening it is much less likely to smoke with wood or fumes with coal. I see there is already a plate there. By drilling a few small holes in it you could suspend a piece of metal with small pieces of chain or wire, another 3 or 4 inches down.

Leave the damper at the exit of the boiler open.

Keep in mind that you have an automatic controller for the air intake. You should not have to adjust it except to get a little more or a little less heat.
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 with some safety questions about coal.

PostBy: rockwood On: Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:04 pm

ecco123 wrote:I want to clear out that I have the problem with the fumes coming out of the boiler only when I'm loading it.

Thanks for clarifying that. That's why I didn't give any other advise in my first post....a suspected CO issue must be verified first.

Give us more details about the chimney. How tall it is, the approx. size/diameter of it, and does it run up through the inside of the building or is it on an exterior wall...

I agree with the others who have suggested the chimney is not drafting well. One sign of this is that your boiler has a smoke curtain (the metal piece that keeps smoke from rolling out) and you still have smoke coming out when the door is opened.

In the video of the chimney pipe the appears to be a "T" with a section pointing down with some find of plastic or something on it? Could you explain what that is?

Not being able to effectively shake ashes down is another major. How big are the holes for the ashes to fall through? What does the tool look like that came with the boiler for dealing with ashes?
Your only option would be to have a tool that could be moved back and forth between the coal bed and plate until enough ash is removed to get adequate air to the live coals.

Also, coal burns more intensely than wood and the plate may warp etc. over time so you'll need to be careful to not let the coal fire get too hot.
rockwood
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Stokermatic coal furnace
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Rockwood Stoveworks Circulator
Baseburners & Antiques: Malleable/Monarch Range
Coal Size/Type: Soft coal: Lump and stoker (slack coal)

Re: New to the forum with some safety questions about coal.

PostBy: ecco123 On: Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:39 pm

dcrane wrote:wow... this poster proves to me that other countries are way ahead of us in computer use (this dude is great! makes us a full blown vid on moments notice and includes pretty much every concept we need to help). IM IMPRESSED!

OK, lets be clear... this is a draft issue for sure 100%.

I will leave it to these experts to tell us the quality/type of your coal (I know french coal is more like bit. coal and french stoves are generally built for this inferior coal), but id love someone to tell us how your coal looks then maybe we can try to recommend what to look for in your coal or what coal might have an advantage in your specific unit.

a few things you can try are to open that rear damper (it appears you have a baffle inside the stove anyways), when first lighting the stove you can stuff some newspaper up behind the baffle and light it to try and create some draft just before attempting to light your stove, you can show us the outside of the house and chimney to see if their any evidence that can be gathered to determine if it should be higher or if theirs wind blowing off a gable peak or nearby mountain and then shooting down your chimney, etc. You can try to enable your grate to allow more air up through it (but this is pretty invasive and i would not suggest it if the stove is under warranty).

I do notice that when you open your bottom door you can clearly see the "side" of the hot coal bed, in other words your firepot is actually a big strainer (this is NOT good and a poor design for coal burning but a great design for wood burning which might make Bit coal better for this unit) as air is being allowed to come in the bottom door and run in many different directions including around the outside of the coal bed and over it and then back down the rear side (in other words it allows a poorly drafted stove to spin all that air around inside the unit and back out the bottom door instead of 100% of the air having to go up "through" the coal bed and then either circulated above the coal bed once then out the flue or simply directly out the flue).

Of course the professional installer did not use a manometer (freeeking idiot), and im sure he would not have clue about coal burning anyways.... not to worry, your in PA coal burning land here and these guys are the real pro's :P

I would like to see the exterior chimney situation as this may be what you have to deal with in the end after you try the simple things that some of us may suggest to you.

Thank you for your well written and well vid taped information for us... it sure takes alot of guess work out of the equation... we love people like you!!!



Thank you for the compliments!!

Well, to be honest, at first I didn't even think I had a draft issue. I thought the water temperature with coal was a bit too low but I just thought maybe the boiler was a bit undersized for the house and being dual wood-coal maybe it wasn't just very powerful with coal.

That said, I opened this post mainly to get advice about CO detectors and masks, but people here made me think about the draft problem so I rang a plumber that seems to be a little more experienced with coal boiler (not much experienced anyway, as here 95% central heatings are either gas or diesel powered) and he said the smoke outlets (the 8 holes it has just behind that hanging plate I lift in the video) are very dirty and usually need cleaning every 5 days or so (I've never cleaned them in 2 months). He recommended to start buying a brush like this made completely of metal and clean those 8 holes to see if the thing improves.

Image

I will buy one tomorrow and see what happens but I checked those holes and, while they are dirty with ashes and so it doesn't look like the brush will make a dramatic difference.

When you say open the rear damper, do you mean removing it? Cause It's already most of the time opened. It moves a deflector inside and, if you leave it horizontal it allows most smoke out. Anyway, the plumber also suggested removing it completely and just adjust the amount of heat with the air intake lever in the front, but I'm not very convinced about that.

You are right about being able to see the side of the coal bed through the grill behind the lower door, but I think that grill is just there for shacking the ashes with a thin bar (at least that's what I use it for), cause when I close the door it's sealed and all the air is forced to go through the coal bed as you say.

But you got me thinking about that being great for wood burning. ¿Maybe I should leave the bottom door open when burning wood to allow air coming through that grill. Also, if you look at the upper door, there's a small grill with a knob to let you open it. In the leaflet of the boiler it's marked as "Manual adjustment of secondary air" as you can see here in the second page:
http://www.lasian.es/productos/documentos/comercial/domestica/SOLIMAX.pdf
This link is broken, either the page no longer exists or there is some other issue like a typo.


Maybe that "secondary air" is meant to be left opened when burning wood?
ecco123
 
Stove/Furnace Make: LASIAN
Stove/Furnace Model: SOLIMAX 50

Re: New to the forum with some safety questions about coal.

PostBy: ecco123 On: Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:45 pm

franco b wrote:When the technician said your chimney is more than enough he was probably meaning it is very big. Big chimneys are harder to heat and create good draft.

By lowering the height of your loading door opening it is much less likely to smoke with wood or fumes with coal. I see there is already a plate there. By drilling a few small holes in it you could suspend a piece of metal with small pieces of chain or wire, another 3 or 4 inches down.

Leave the damper at the exit of the boiler open.

Keep in mind that you have an automatic controller for the air intake. You should not have to adjust it except to get a little more or a little less heat.


I always thought the bigger the chimney the better! I think that, like other pointed, the man doesn't have a clue about coal boilers and I don't blame it as he works with gas and diesel units all the time.

I need the plate opened when I load as the thing is very deep and I couldn't load it properly with the plate down. Even to load it a bit with either coal or wood is clumsy with the plate down.
ecco123
 
Stove/Furnace Make: LASIAN
Stove/Furnace Model: SOLIMAX 50

Re: New to the forum with some safety questions about coal.

PostBy: ecco123 On: Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:03 am

rockwood wrote:
ecco123 wrote:I want to clear out that I have the problem with the fumes coming out of the boiler only when I'm loading it.

Thanks for clarifying that. That's why I didn't give any other advise in my first post....a suspected CO issue must be verified first.

Give us more details about the chimney. How tall it is, the approx. size/diameter of it, and does it run up through the inside of the building or is it on an exterior wall...

I agree with the others who have suggested the chimney is not drafting well. One sign of this is that your boiler has a smoke curtain (the metal piece that keeps smoke from rolling out) and you still have smoke coming out when the door is opened.

In the video of the chimney pipe the appears to be a "T" with a section pointing down with some find of plastic or something on it? Could you explain what that is?

Not being able to effectively shake ashes down is another major. How big are the holes for the ashes to fall through? What does the tool look like that came with the boiler for dealing with ashes?
Your only option would be to have a tool that could be moved back and forth between the coal bed and plate until enough ash is removed to get adequate air to the live coals.

Also, coal burns more intensely than wood and the plate may warp etc. over time so you'll need to be careful to not let the coal fire get too hot.


The chimney is about 12 meters/39 feet tall. It runs up the inside of the house and I don't know the diameter as I can't see it, but for what I remember I would say around 12" diameter, but that's a very rough guess.

With smoke curtain you mean that plate it's hanging and lift to load the boiler?. When it's down I don't get much smoke (maybe a bit if I open within 10 minutes after loading it when the coal still has some dust over it that burns very fast and smokey). The big problem is just in the moment of loading, if I open the door 20 minutes after I get no smoke coming out (but I do get some smell I don't like much and still gives a bit of a headache but not nearly as much as what I get loading).

About that T section, I think it is to be able to clean the chimney but I'm not sure about the plastic. I guess it's to catch some dirt falling from the chimney but a plastic bag doesn't seem like the best idea as a reseroir. I have to ask the guy as I've never thought about it.

That tool to shake ashes is just a thin iron bar with some kind of hook at the end. I also use another straight bar to move back and forth as you suggest through the grill openings behind the lower door. Anyway neither of those systems seems to be an ideal ash removal system I have to work twice a day for a bit less than 10 minutes shaking ashes down to the tray. The holes for the ashes to fall are oval and I guess are roughly 1" X 1,6".
ecco123
 
Stove/Furnace Make: LASIAN
Stove/Furnace Model: SOLIMAX 50

Re: New to the forum with some safety questions about coal.

PostBy: Berlin On: Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:06 am

The height of the chimney needs to be appropriate to provide draft, it needs to be taller than the building that the boiler is in and at least 20' or so for most appliances. A stack provides draft based on height and the difference between the ambient outside temp and the flue gas temp at stack entrance. The diameter of the stack has little to do with it other than reducing velocity in stacks already designed improperly and lowering flue gas entrance temps to the point of draft failure.

Maximum flow at an available pressure difference is determined by the flue diameter. Size does matter and for the purposes of reloading hand-fired appliances, on a stack designed otherwise properly, a larger diameter will perform better during reloading and prevent smoke and fume emission from the appliance into the boiler room. Far too often appliances are sized with a flue size that allows the appliance manufacturer to sell more appliances because the flue is a smaller size (6" for example) and this size flue, under good conditions, will function appropriately for the appliance - when the loading doors are closed and the exhaust volume is small. This is why I often suggest going to a larger size connecting pipe than the one required by the appliance mfg'r if the stack diameter is larger - and not just on bit coal burning equipment; for example, if you have an 8" ID thimble and you have an appliance collar of 6", place a reducer at the collar and immediately switch to 8" pipe, this reduction of restriction does make a difference especially while reloading.

Having said all that, if you've been burning wood in that boiler, there is a significant chance that your problems are related to creosote buildup in the flue passages and the connection between the boiler and the stack.
Berlin
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Will-Burt Combustioneer 77B
Coal Size/Type: Ohio BITUMINOUS pea stoker coal

Re: New to the forum with some safety questions about coal.

PostBy: ecco123 On: Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:08 am

About CO detectors, this model is cheap and widely available in every country Ebay around the world, would you recommend it or shoud I spend a bit more?:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/LCD-CO-Carbon-Monoxide-Poisoning-Smoke-Gas-Sensor-Warning-Alarm-Detector-Tester-/160925828509?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2577ed459d
This link is broken, either the page no longer exists or there is some other issue like a typo.


Also saw these ones: http://www.homesafe.com/coalert/ A bit dearer for me as I have to pay shipping from the USA but maybe worth the extra?

Any other model recommended?
ecco123
 
Stove/Furnace Make: LASIAN
Stove/Furnace Model: SOLIMAX 50

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