valentine92 wrote:Can you adjust the temperature of your home just like you do with oil?
Yes, they are no different than any large furnace or Boiler, if you already have hot water baseboard you'll find it no different.
How often do you need to add coal and how often to dump the ashes?
Weather dependent and the size of your house but generally it's dictated by how much ash it can hold. If its really cold we have to do it once a day however it could go two days if we let it. the coal itself will depend on the size of the container. Some have a hopper that will hold about two days worth or you could have a auger fed one that will go int large drum that can last longer than that. If you really wanted too and a really high basement you could build a your coal bin as a giant hopper and never have to touch the coal. you will need a lot of space for that and a auger fed boiler like the EFM's.
If the temperature rises outside can you shut off the heat and easily put it on again later when it is needed?
These use relatively little coal when it gets warm. Generally you would light it for the season. The larger boilers are insulated and really made to run year round. They have domestic hot water coil you can utilize a few different ways. If you live close to coal country it's certainly worth it. It will also add considerable life to the unit. e.g I'd estimate that in years if not a decade.
If we use it for hotwater how often do you need to add coal during the summer for hotwater only?
Again it comes down to the amount of ash it can hold but roughly once a week you'd have to empty the ashes out.
Is there any other maintenance involved that I did not mention?
You will need to shut it down at least once a year to clean the flue pipe, burning coal produces fly ash. this ash will eventually clog the flue if its not removed and cause gas to back up in the house. Not trying to scare you but thats the way it is. With the larger stokers you will have to do this once a year and with the smaller ones as much as once a month. There's also additional maintenance like oiling the pumps, making sure the gearbox has enough oil in it. Varies by furnace and stove but all told its a few hours each year.
Does anyone have a service contract with their boiler in case it breaks down?
Break downs are rare, these are very simple robust machines. In the event that it does break anyone mechanically inclined can fix just about anything on it that will break.