Not burning all the coal - any suggestions?

Not burning all the coal - any suggestions?

PostBy: LCN Girl On: Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:13 am

Well, I replaced the VanWert 1200 with an EFM 520. I solved the issue of breakdowns - I hope - but not of how the coal is burning. I was blaming the Van Wert, but it seems to be burning about the same.

The problem is that we are producing way too much ash. The ash also seems to not be all ash, some parts look like charred coal or rocks. More info that may or may not be relevant: The coal is undersized Buck, not Rice, but seems to burn about the same as in the Van Wert. The house temps are set around the mid-60's. We don't have programmable T-stats, so we adjust manually, occasionally. I don't know what the other stoker settings are, but we do have a damper.

The house is an old barn/carriage house. It is built into the side of the hill, so the basement is on one level on the mews and the main house is on the street level. The basement is stone, and the doors down there are very drafty. The windows on the house are old, single pane, and are somewhat loose. Most are covered by storm windows. There are three circulators, one to the basement (the temp is turned way down) and one to each side of the house, which used to be divided in two. The house is about 3500 sq. feet, including the basement, which is unfinished and uninsulated, other than the stone.

The house was originally clapboard, with aluminum siding on it when I grew up in it. I removed the old siding and put up cedar shakes over the clapboard. I tried to put put blueboard but the contractor ran into problems with the depth and the other trim. The walls have super old insulation - I think it's cellulose or something like that. I spoke to a contractor about trying to plug some of the leaks in the doors, basement windows, etc. Other than replacing the windows, I don't think major insulation is possible, and that's not on the list of things I can do right now.

The house is warm with the t-stats set at mid-to high 60's, unless it's in the single digits outside.

We just seem to be plowing throught coal. My bin takes about 7 tons or so, and it's going down fast. I was blaming the VanWert, but maybe unfairly. The ash, as I said, is not all coal ash. In short - please, from the experts - any suggestions on settings, tweaks, etc? I have been using coal all my life, but am fairly ignorant about stokers. Maybe it's the coal. It seems sinful to waste so much of it, but if it can't be burned, it can't.

We are going to try slowing down the feed, on the theory that it will have more time to burn. Any other thoughts (keep them on a "Coal Stokers for Dummies" level, if possible) would be greatly appreciated.
LCN Girl
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Van Wert
Stove/Furnace Model: VA-1200

Re: Not burning all the coal - any suggestions?

PostBy: Wood'nCoal On: Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:28 am

Before getting into the specifics of the boiler and it's settings, the first question I would like to ask is please describe the coal-where it came from, what the ash looks like, etc. I have found the most important influence on a coal fired appliance's performance is the quality of the coal. If you can post some photos of the ash that would be helpful.
STOKER ASH.jpg
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Ash from my stoker stove, showing unburnt "coal". Adjusting the stove made no difference. I sifted and reburnt it, still unburned pieces in the ash. Switching to different coal solved the problem.
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Last edited by Wood'nCoal on Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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: Not burning all the coal - any suggestions?

PostBy: e.alleg On: Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:31 am

take a picture of the fire, both when it's burning and about 5 minutes after the stoker has shut down. Our experts have been really helpful with EFM tweaking. Another thing to check is the stack (chimney) temperature, if the baro. damper isn't working properly a ton of heat will be wasted going up the chimney. Also let us know what the temperature gauge reads on the boiler, both when it's idling and when the circulators have been running for a while. As far as black rocks in the ash, take a picture of the ash pan also. Some rocks might just be shale, but it should be less than a handful per full ash bucket. Otherwise maybe the feed is too high or the air is too low. A good baseline is set the air at 4 to 4 1/2 and the feed at 4 teeth, if it can't keep up then it will need to adjusted higher. 7 tons should last you all year based on your house description.
e.alleg
 
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: 520

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Re: Not burning all the coal - any suggestions?

PostBy: 1975gt750 On: Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:40 am

wood'ncoal what king of coal are you burning?
1975gt750
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: keystoker kaa-2
Coal Size/Type: rice coal / blaschak
Other Heating: pensotti oil boiler with riello 40 burner
Stove/Furnace Make: keystoker
Stove/Furnace Model: kaa-2

Re: Not burning all the coal - any suggestions?

PostBy: gaw On: Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:46 am

Assuming the installer knew what he was doing and has the air & feed set right, and you are cleaning the fines daily by pulling the lever on the stoker it could be your coal. Bad coal does not burn well. If your coal supplier is mixing in reclaimed coal that could be the source of your aggravation. If you want to PM me your coal supplier I may be able to tell you if it could be your coal. Coalberner stays on top of that stuff also so he may be able to help. If all else fails to give a better burning of the coal try to get a couple hundred pounds from a different source and see what happens.
gaw
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KA-6
Coal Size/Type: Rice from Schuylkill County

Re: Not burning all the coal - any suggestions?

PostBy: LsFarm On: Mon Feb 18, 2008 11:29 am

I'll point two fingers:: poor coal and a barometric damper set to too high a draft.

My underfeed stoker boiler will burn the coal if it IS coal to a crunchy ash... if it is good coal I see zero black pieces.

Some of the 'not-so-good' coal I burnt last year left a significant amount of black shale, unburnable coal in the ash... but think about this, these pieces of coal have been pushed down the auger, shoved up through the burnpot and exposed to 1800-2300* temperatures, and still have NOT burned... it's just not good coal..

If the baro damper is set too strong, I think an EFM is supposed to be around .04" wc, the chimney will be pulling heat out of the boiler too fast, and the stoker will keep pumping in coal to make up for the cool water.

Since the Van wert acted similar, and the new EFM is doing similar, the common demoninator is the coal...

As suggested above try a few hundred # of a known good coal source...

Hope this helps..

Greg L

.
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

Re: Not burning all the coal - any suggestions?

PostBy: beatle78 On: Mon Feb 18, 2008 12:36 pm

Just remember ONLY change ONE variable at a time. I sometimes fell victim to changes a bunch of things at one and then I'm left wondering what really fixed it (not good).

Like Greg said. The easiest test to do is try to get some different coal and try that. Pick up a few bags of coal from a different supplier (~$20) and see if the stove runs better and the ash looks different. If it's the same then is times to start looking into the settings on the stoker and the draft... blah blah blah....

One thing I recently learned is that there are different mines that the coal comes from and NOT all coal is created equal.

Reading is one mine and Blaschak is another. I'm not sure about the others.
beatle78
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker KA-4

Re: Not burning all the coal - any suggestions?

PostBy: Wood'nCoal On: Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:58 pm

1975gt750 wrote:wood'ncoal what king of coal are you burning?


The coal ash in the photo was from coal I bought from a local dealer, I'm fairly certain that it was refuse coal. I'm currently burning deep-mined red ash coal from Superior. The difference is like night and day. Ends up costing about the same, why eat hamburger when you can have filet mignon?
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: Not burning all the coal - any suggestions?

PostBy: LCN Girl On: Mon Feb 18, 2008 9:29 pm

I hate to say it, but I think it's the coal as well. The installer is going to come tomorrow and I'll go over some of the settings with him - thanks for taking the time to answer. I know there is some bank material in the coal, so it's not shocking that thre's rock in there as well. It's shocking just how much, however.

7 tons for the year? What a dream! I can't imagine it. One reason I may be drawing too much coal is that one of the circulators was out, and the stoker was trying to satisfy the T-stat for that section. Just for kicks, I'll take some photos of the coal tonight.

Where is the best coal coming from these days?
LCN Girl
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Van Wert
Stove/Furnace Model: VA-1200

Re: Not burning all the coal - any suggestions?

PostBy: Matthaus On: Mon Feb 18, 2008 9:38 pm

LCN Girl wrote:Where is the best coal coming from these days?


I like UAE and Superior, a 50/50 mix is low ash and puts out plenty of heat. :)
Matthaus
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Leisure Line WL110 Dual Fuel
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Leisure Line Lil' Heater (rental house)
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Buckwheat Anthracite

Re: Not burning all the coal - any suggestions?

PostBy: coal berner On: Mon Feb 18, 2008 11:27 pm

LCN Girl wrote:I hate to say it, but I think it's the coal as well. The installer is going to come tomorrow and I'll go over some of the settings with him - thanks for taking the time to answer. I know there is some bank material in the coal, so it's not shocking that thre's rock in there as well. It's shocking just how much, however.

7 tons for the year? What a dream! I can't imagine it. One reason I may be drawing too much coal is that one of the circulators was out, and the stoker was trying to satisfy the T-stat for that section. Just for kicks, I'll take some photos of the coal tonight.

Where is the best coal coming from these days?
Hi LCN Girl I would suspect it is the coal you are getting If you are getting from where I think you are The Quality is much different then it was in the Past ;) If you PM Me I can Help you Get good Quality consistent coal And can give you a name of a coal delivery man that Buys from the the breaker all of the time that way you will always get the same Quality Consistent coal PM me I can also Help with the EFM tune up / setting :)
coal berner
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1986 Electric Furnace Man 520 DF
Stove/Furnace Make: Electric Furnace Man
Stove/Furnace Model: DF520

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