EFM520 - What problems to look for on a older model

EFM520 - What problems to look for on a older model

PostBy: Joe G On: Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:32 am

Gents,

I have an older EFM520 stoker that appears to be in excellent shape. My father had it running for years before he got a bit to old to be dragging ash cans and coal around so he switched to oil. He hated that oil heat until his last days on earth. I have been seriously considering putting this unit in my house. I have an attached garage and I can make room for this. Before I get into this to far, I was wondering if there are any particular things to look for on the unit. If you look at it, it looks like the day it was installed back in the 60's. This unit has the round fire door, according to EFM the installation instructions and operation of the unit are identical to the later models.

So my questions are should I be pulling the coils out to inspect them? Should I be checking anything specific on the blower? Does the basket (or whatever you call the thing where the coal sits when burning), maybe the burner ever need to be replaced?

As far as manuals, there are some basic manuals I can download on the EFM website, but haven't found anything on the real nitty gritty of hooking things up like the copper pipes, etc. Has anyone come across any links for stuff like that? I'm a very avid do it yourselfer and would be comfortable with "most" of the installation, however, would refer to a pro when it comes time to tie everything in to the house.

I'm currently using electric heat so I'm talking about adding baseboard and everything else. It's going to be a big job but doing much of the work myself and already having the EFM unit will save me some money' Living in the middle of anthracite coal country makes it easy to get coal and I know there are many homes still running EFM. It still is the best heat on earth

Positive comments welcome
Joe
Joe G
 
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: DF 520

Re: EFM520 - What problems to look for on a older model

PostBy: franpipeman On: Wed Oct 23, 2013 5:28 pm

Just to get you started as I sure more will jump in leakage around the domestic hot water coil flange , I as a steamfitter just welded up the erosion grooves and ground them down and then added the extension glanges that gets the potential leakage area outside the sheet metal jacket , so that leaks are visible. I think most folks will call the "basket ' where the coal burns a pot.
You will have a lot of work on your hands, and I even as a large system builder at this time of year we would be working on air conditioning and cooling . Good luck im burning mine now and it was built in 1953
franpipeman
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: efm 520 stoker fitzgibbons pressure vessel
Hand Fed Coal Stove: harman, russo
Coal Size/Type: rice

Re: EFM520 - What problems to look for on a older model

PostBy: Mark (PA) On: Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:44 pm

The best heat on earth... Yea. i'll go with that! I have Burnt Oil, Corn, Pellets, and yes. Hard Coal is #1 in my book...

I'm betting that 520 will knock a chunk out of that electric heating bill for the winter too...

Like Franpipeman said... My unit is also 1953 and it runs like a champ.

Things to check. The biggest issue that would require some work would be around the Hot water coil. If it is rotted out from leakage you need to do some welding. Again as mentioned they have a kit that actually extended the coil out from the boiler. easier to notice a leak.

If I were going to check things out. Air pressure test the Coil itself to make sure of no leaks. REPLACE THE GASKET the coil fits against the boiler plate with. No sense starting up with a worn out gasket....

Pressure test boiler itself.

in the Burn Pot, Check the Auger Brass bushing in the back of the pot for excessive wear. Check the Pot Grates for thin area's that could break or push thru and replace as needed. check the Rope Gasket in the pot mid section where the grates mate to the pot flange where the coal augers up. Replace and seal as needed.

Check your auger for excessively or uneven wear on the auger flights. Twists or bends that shouldn't be in the auger.

Replace the motor with a new one. Might as well start right???? Fill the oil res on the gear drive. Check the gear pawls and drive gear for the auger for wear etc.

Check lower boiler housing for thin metal etc. that may need repairs.

Check that unit has upper draft baffle, take it down and clean top area for exhaust flues. its no fun putting that back up there thru a round door as it is heavy and ackward but I do it once a year during cleaning myself... it can be done!

Clean exhaust flues from the bottom rear of unit with 3" or so flue brush.

That really all I can think of for now. other guys my chip in. Good luck. install the unit and you'll never regret it. Awesome heat and reliability.
Mark (PA)
 
Stove/Furnace Make: 1953 EFM SF-520 High Boy
Stove/Furnace Model: Fitzgibbon Boiler

Re: EFM520 - What problems to look for on a older model

PostBy: Rob R. On: Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:29 pm

You have already gotten a pretty good list...the tankless coil area is the #1 source of failure. As for the stoker, the motor is probably due to be replaced, fan & blower housing will need a good cleaning. Check condition of coupler between fan and gearbox...check gearbox for excessive play and smooth operation. Check condition of burner plates, auger, and pot bushing..r&r as needed. Check fines cleanout plate on the bottom of the pot for tight closure...many of them warp over time. Plan on replacing the aquastat and maybe the timer.

Have you given any thought to how many zones you would like to make the house?

If you do a lot of the work yourself, the entire job can be done very affordably. I know someone that did the same thing two years ago...removed electric baseboards and installed an EFM with hot water baseboards. We installed the boiler, and then installed the baseboards zone by zone...that way the electric heat was still working in other parts of the house.
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: EFM520 - What problems to look for on a older model

PostBy: Joe G On: Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:00 pm

Thanks guys. This is a great start and will keep me busy for a bit. My goal is to have this up and running for next year. I'll get by this season with my wood burner. Some other things I've been thinking of, I want to install this in my garage. It's an attached garage, but has no heat or insulation. Anyone care to share their opinion on that? I also have no block/brick chimney. I believe it's possible to use a stainless steel zero clearance. Anyone out there seen a setup like this?

The plan is to have 2 zones. Will need to look into baseboard types because downstairs might be hard to almost impossible to create a loop by going around the outside walls. I'm hoping some company out there manufacturing baseboard has a solution that will work for the returns.

Joe
Joe G
 
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: DF 520

Re: EFM520 - What problems to look for on a older model

PostBy: franpipeman On: Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:02 am

open flame devices and garages have strict codes due to the potential of gasoline vapors , from a leaking vehicle and the ignition source, I think in some gases if you had a natural gas hot water heater in the garage it may have to be elevated say 18-24 inches to get above the level where gasoline vapors would migrate and settle and be a potential fire.

he authority on determining what the requirements are for residential water heater installation and safety is the ICC (International Code Council). The following information is taken from the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC) section P2801.6 and P2803.6.1 commentary.

Water heaters having an ignition source shall be elevated so that the source of ignition is not less than 18” above the garage floor. An ignition source could be many things, including an open flame, electrical switch, open resistance heating coils, or an electrical igniter unit. Residential garages have a high potential for volatile liquids, such as gasoline and paint thinners that can spill or leak from their containers. Because the vapors from these liquids are heavier than air, they concentrate just above floor level, posing an explosion hazard in garages with a water heater.

Many electric water heater thermostats have enclosed contacts, but they are not sealed gas tight. Therefore, if an electric water heater with an ignition source located less than 18” from the bottom of the unit, it is required that the unit be elevated so the ignition source (thermostat) is at least 18” above the garage floor. Electric water heaters having all switching controls located above 18” from the bottom of the water heater are not required to be elevated.

Gas-fired appliances have to meet the elevation requirement for elevation above the garage floor, but have an exception to allow gas-fired appliances having flammable vapor ignition resistant (FVIR) design to be installed without elevating the unit.
franpipeman
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: efm 520 stoker fitzgibbons pressure vessel
Hand Fed Coal Stove: harman, russo
Coal Size/Type: rice

Re: EFM520 - What problems to look for on a older model

PostBy: stoker-man On: Thu Oct 24, 2013 5:39 pm

Use this thread for piping

Installation of a stoker boiler at efm

and use the rest of the stickys for tips on what to do. The pictorials show the parts.
stoker-man
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: 1981 efm wcb-24 in use 365 days a year
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite/Chestnut
Other Heating: Hearthstone wood stove

Re: EFM520 - What problems to look for on a older model

PostBy: cabinover On: Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:06 pm

See what you can find for cast iron radiators before shelling out the $$ for baseboard. I'd take them over baseboard any day.
cabinover
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Hybrid Axeman Anderson 130
Baseburners & Antiques: Sparkle #12
Coal Size/Type: Pea, Buckwheat, Nut
Other Heating: LP Hot air. WA TX for coal use.

Re: EFM520 - What problems to look for on a older model

PostBy: Wood'nCoal On: Thu Oct 24, 2013 9:10 pm

I have a stockpile of radiators out in the barn and am in the middle of (finally) plumbing hydronic heat into the kitchen addition. At some point I will finally ditch forced hot air for nice cast iron radiators. :D
Wood'nCoal
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1959 EFM 350
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Magnafire Mark I
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Chestnut
Other Heating: Fisher Fireplace Insert

Re: EFM520 - What problems to look for on a older model

PostBy: Joe G On: Thu Oct 24, 2013 9:33 pm

stoker-man,

I saw your post the other day while browsing the forum. That's one of the best and most informative posts I've come across. Very nice work. I've already marked that one as a good reference

On the cast iron radiator's.....
I've actually given those some thought and was wondering if anyone has a modern version of a cast iron radiator. I was also researching PEX tubing for hot water baseboard, but need more info on that. Any of you have experience with PEX? I was actually surprised to see some people using it for baseboard.
Joe G
 
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: DF 520

Re: EFM520 - What problems to look for on a older model

PostBy: Wood'nCoal On: Thu Oct 24, 2013 9:45 pm

There's cast iron baseboard, but as far as radiators not much has changed for some time. Some people dislike radiators, to me they are quite interesting.
Wood'nCoal
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1959 EFM 350
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Magnafire Mark I
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Chestnut
Other Heating: Fisher Fireplace Insert

Re: EFM520 - What problems to look for on a older model

PostBy: Mark (PA) On: Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:26 pm

Joe G

I have about 700 SF of my home with PEX infloor radiant. Love it. this is my Kitchen and foyer/front room area. Some of this is in Concrete and some is under floor.

Have had no issues and it is a great product. Like anything you buy there are better manufacturers of PEX than others I am sure of that. Get what you pay for most times as they say.

I have not used Cast Radiators with PEX and I honestly think if I was building a Long term heating solution in my home I would be using Copper but... I'm not ruling out PEX couldn't be used reliably for a LONG time either. Might need to keep a closer watch on your temps possibly. Best advice I can give anyway.

GOOD LUCK!
Mark (PA)
 
Stove/Furnace Make: 1953 EFM SF-520 High Boy
Stove/Furnace Model: Fitzgibbon Boiler

Re: EFM520 - What problems to look for on a older model

PostBy: JeepinPete On: Sat Oct 26, 2013 1:06 pm

I installed cast iron baseboards in my stone farmhouse two years ago. Ran 1/2" Pex-Al-Pex throughout the house for the baseboard. I've since started replacing the old domestic water plumbing with plain jane pex. The PAP is mush easier to work with IMO. It handles much like soft copper. But it uses an oring compression fitting, which has been a pain in the arse. I've had leakage issues with a handful of fittings, and it is always damage to the oring in some fashion or another.

The pex has been perfect on the other hand, not a single leak at a fitting. The pex uses a barbed fitting with crimp clamps. It is a much simpler and ultimately cheaper setup. If I could find a similar style fitting for the PAP, I would go through the effort and replace the compression fittings.
JeepinPete
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: Highboy

Re: EFM520 - What problems to look for on a older model

PostBy: Joe G On: Sat Oct 26, 2013 7:14 pm

Yea I've heard a lot of good things about PEX. Thanks for the info. How old are the cast iron baseboard you're using? Did you or can you even by them new? I haven't had a chance to start looking but I really like the idea of cast iron. I'll bet they're not cheap but it makes sense to use cast iron.
Joe G
 
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: DF 520