need a new source of heat!

need a new source of heat!

PostBy: dmaxmike On: Thu Feb 13, 2014 1:18 pm

hello all!

I have been reading on this site for a few days now and after last nights fuel bill I figured it was time to join. I can no longer justify paying close to a $1000 a month to heat my home and garage with fuel oil. I have lived in my home for 3 years now and if I would have went with any form of alternate heat back then it would be paid for by now, but the past is the past.

I have a 1300sf slab on grade home with no basement and a very tiny boiler room (3x6) and a 2300sf garage also slab on grade. it is all in floor radiant heated and built in the early eighties. it takes between 2500 and 4000 bucks in heating oil to keep the home at 70 and the garage at 50 all winter.

at first I was going to go outdoor wood burner but the amount of work involved scared me and the fact that they only last 7-10 years. then I was thinking of build a shed for an indoor more efficient wood burner but the work is still time consuming. also there is no way to get natural gas to my property, so that form of cheaper heat is out.

then I was looking at getting an outdoor wood burning with grates and just burning soft coal but again the units do not last a long time. so that led me to stumble onto this site and I feel I have my new heat source. but first I have some questions.

1. how many days can you go without removing the ash? I know its a broad question but if your hopper is big enough can you go away for the weekend without having to switch to oil?

2. where is the closest place to 15851 I can go to get hard coal? already have my own 1 ton truck and dump trailer plus a tractor for at home.

3. in the "shoulder" season does the boiler idle when there is little demand for heat or how does that work?

I am sure I have more but this should get me started. also if anyone knows of an experienced coal boiler dealer/installer near 15851 please let me know. I am surrounded by strip mines but its all soft and no one uses it anymore except to add heat to there wood burners and most who do that get it out of the hills themselves.

cool site by the way love all the history. I have a RAC permit and ride over that way a few times a summer. love all the old stuff.
dmaxmike
 
Other Heating: Oil

Re: need a new source of heat!

PostBy: ShawninNY On: Thu Feb 13, 2014 1:40 pm

Is it feasible to leave existing oil burner and add coal unit to the garage? Welcome to the forum !
ShawninNY
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Waterford/penn royal in garage
Stove/Furnace Model: 1994 Erin

Re: need a new source of heat!

PostBy: Carbon12 On: Thu Feb 13, 2014 1:45 pm

You're near Dubois PA? Getting hard coal shouldn't be a problem. Depending on what kind of stoker boiler you get, going away for a weekend shouldn't be a problem. When I go away, I fill the hopper with coal and remove the ash pan. The ashes just drop onto the floor of the fire box. No harm done. You just have to shovel them out when you get home. Most ash pans fill up before the hopper is empty. It depends on the boiler you get. We were spending 4,000.00-5,000 on oil previously. Going to make it through this winter in about $1500.00 worth of coal. Gotta LOVE that! :D Yes, a stoker boiler can be idled down. Many people burn them year round for domestic hot water. A very small fire can be maintained in summer.
Carbon12
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KA-6
Coal Size/Type: Rice/Anthracite
Other Heating: Heat Pump/Forced Hot Air Oil Furnace

Visit Lehigh Anthracite

Re: need a new source of heat!

PostBy: dmaxmike On: Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:45 pm

thanks for the replies!

yes I believe for insurance reasons I will need to keep the oil boiler in the house, have not looked into it but I believe that is the case. the plan is to build a small addition to the garage with no access to the garage to house the coal boiler and hopper. cant put it in the existing garage also do to insurance reasons from what I have been told.

I do live near Dubois but Google is not showing any dealers of "hard coal" near me but I might not be searching right. I figure if I take a trip to Trevorton once or twice in the summer to ride I could just bring the dump trailer along with my bike and kill two birds with one stone. but if there is a dealer close by I would look into that as well.
dmaxmike
 
Other Heating: Oil

Re: need a new source of heat!

PostBy: Carbon12 On: Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:59 pm

There is probably somewhere nearby to get coal. You are not too far from the breakers themselves and it sounds like you are set up to haul your own coal. Getting it at the breakers can save you tons! :lol: Like buy 4 tons and get the 5th ton free over having it delivered prices. I'm sure you can find a good used boiler for a couple grand. If you can install it yourself, you can do the whole job for well under $5000.00. Depending on what boiler you decide on. It could pay itself off in one or two seasons!

I know Williamsport has coal yards.
Carbon12
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KA-6
Coal Size/Type: Rice/Anthracite
Other Heating: Heat Pump/Forced Hot Air Oil Furnace

Re: need a new source of heat!

PostBy: Carbon12 On: Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:09 pm

A quick search shows they mine bituminous coal in your area. A bunch of forum member burn Bit coal. You can find Bit coal stoker boilers (used ones) in good condition. That might be an option for you. Bit can be much less expensive than anthracite and can be burnt well.
Carbon12
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KA-6
Coal Size/Type: Rice/Anthracite
Other Heating: Heat Pump/Forced Hot Air Oil Furnace

Re: need a new source of heat!

PostBy: Pa papa On: Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:29 pm

DuBois Feed (Curwensville Feed) sells rice, pea and nut anthracite. I've seen others listed in Pennswoods that sell it too. I too heated with fuel oil up until 4 years ago. The AHS 130 has cut my heating costs by more than half considering we keep the house 10* warmer now.
Pa papa
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS-130
Coal Size/Type: Pea; anthracite
Other Heating: oil fired boiler; LP insert

Re: need a new source of heat!

PostBy: blrman07 On: Thu Feb 13, 2014 4:26 pm

Let your fingers do the walking and make some calls. Pick 4 or 5 numbers that are close to you, give em a call and ask if they have hard or soft coal and what are the prices per ton bulk. You have the means to pick it up yourself and save a bunch!

Once you have it nailed down as to the type of coal you have available, then it's time to start looking for that stoker boiler.

http://www.yellowpages.com/reynoldsville-pa/coal-coke

Rev. Larry
New Beginning Church
Ashland Pa.
blrman07
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Bucket a Day
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vigilant Casting 2310
Baseburners & Antiques: rebuilding a 1906 March Brownback Double Heater, using a UMCO 1920's Pot Belly stove in the church
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Wood in the VC and anything that will fit in the Bucket a Day. It's not fussy.

Re: need a new source of heat!

PostBy: dmaxmike On: Thu Feb 13, 2014 4:53 pm

ok more questions.

1. how often do these feed augers get jammed up? like will I wake up some mornings and be cold because the auger got jammed in the middle of the night?

2. other then cleaning out the ash pan and a yearly/by-yearly sweep of the chimney is there really much else to go wrong? other then circulator pumps and other things that all boilers have.

3. still not clear on how these things idle when there is no demand for heat?

basically I want to know how much time I am going to have in this. I have free time but I like to spend it in other ways. I am not afraid to tackle some mechanical things myself but I don't want to become a professional boiler maintenance man just to get rid of the oil man.
dmaxmike
 
Other Heating: Oil

Re: need a new source of heat!

PostBy: Rob R. On: Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:03 pm

In the dead of winter you can plan on about 5-10 minutes per day...long enough to do a walk by and empty the ash tub if needed.

Auger jams depend on what you put in the bin. If the coal is from a good supplier, problems are rare. In 3 years I have not had a problem with mine. My dad's stoker sheared a pin once due to an oversize piece of coal.

Most units use a timer to run the stoker for a few minutes per hour to keep the fire burning.
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: need a new source of heat!

PostBy: Carbon12 On: Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:21 pm

When there is no call for heat for an extended period of time. A very small band of coal is kept burning. Just enough to keep a little bit of coal burning so when the next call for heat comes in, a roaring fire can be obtained in a few minutes. The units are no more or less likely to break down than an oil burner.
Carbon12
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KA-6
Coal Size/Type: Rice/Anthracite
Other Heating: Heat Pump/Forced Hot Air Oil Furnace

Re: need a new source of heat!

PostBy: Carbon12 On: Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:23 pm

If you pipe it correctly, you can have the oil burner fire automatically if the stoker should shut down for some reason.
Carbon12
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KA-6
Coal Size/Type: Rice/Anthracite
Other Heating: Heat Pump/Forced Hot Air Oil Furnace

Re: need a new source of heat!

PostBy: dmaxmike On: Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:29 pm

one last question.

1. is there such a thing as a coal boiler with oil back up? and would it be advisable to look for one of them to replace my oil boiler? I only ask because I feel the extra building is going to be hard on my wallet.

other then that thanks everyone for the info. I am going to call some local heating supply places and work with my contractor friend this weekend to get an idea of the building costs then I am sure I will be back with more questions!
dmaxmike
 
Other Heating: Oil

Re: need a new source of heat!

PostBy: Carbon12 On: Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:45 pm

They do make coal/oil combo units. The switch over is not automatic. It's not hard to switch between fuels but it's a hands on procedure.
Carbon12
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KA-6
Coal Size/Type: Rice/Anthracite
Other Heating: Heat Pump/Forced Hot Air Oil Furnace

Re: need a new source of heat!

PostBy: Carbon12 On: Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:48 pm

Also, it doesn't sound like your little boiler room would have the clearance necessary to install a coal burner.
Carbon12
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KA-6
Coal Size/Type: Rice/Anthracite
Other Heating: Heat Pump/Forced Hot Air Oil Furnace

Visit Lehigh Anthracite