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wood boiler electric pump problems  RSS feed

 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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well go figure, we had our second boil over since we put the wood boiler in just a few months ago..loseing about 20 gallons of antifreeze/water mix...

first time we got smart and put in a boil over system to take over in case of a boil over..well that only works with power.

we didn't have a power outage in the house..but evidently an outside breaker tripped and our pump lost power..to the wood boiler..as i went out there cause the pipes inside were cold..and there was 225 degree boiliing water and antifreeze spewing all over the furnace, shed, wood, etc..for the second time in 2 months.

couldn't figure out the problem, as the fire was nearly out..sheesh..finally realized that there was no power out there (sun was out didn't turn on the light)..so we spent about 1/2 hour trying to find the power outage..it was way on the other side of the property in our garage..didn't even know a breaker tripped in the garage would do that ?? Well needless to say we'll have to get that rememdied, and get some kind of emergency system hooked up..as this is not good.

at $25 a gallon for the antifreeze and that mess all over..i was just glad we had 51 degrees and sunshine outside today..have 2 doors open to shed to aire it out..smells bad and wet..and have the pump running and enough water in it to get it going again but will have to drain off water and get more antifreeze in it when our son gets home from work and picks some up.

wish i had had some kind of a catch tank to catch all that boil over hot water..would have been nice to have it in a tank rather than all over the wood, stove, floor, etc..

ok all of you with wood boilers..advice is welcome
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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What the ....

Backup a sec.  Are you saying that you have a wood powered electrical generator?

 
Leah Sattler
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paul- it is just a wood burning furnace that is outside. not as messy and safer than a wood stove.

brenda that sounds like quite a mess! its always ironic when we need to modern technology (electricity) to use old fashioned energy sources! now you need a solar back up for your wood burner! the tangled web......
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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a back up solar eh? That might be as good idea. My son came home after work and worked until late and found ..hopefully.. the problem. He found a loose wire behind a ground fault interupter in the shed next to the shed that has the furnace in it..and they are connected electrically. He repaired it and hopefully that was the problem..and we won't have boil over # 3.

yes we have a Greenwood Technologies wood boiler heating 2 houses and a garage right now...we had a woodshed 8x16 that was up on a deck so we could get wood into our fireplace, so when we bought the boiler, we built a lean to on the ground level off of the roof of the above mentioned shed. Right now the shed we built is 16 x 16 which the boiler and steps down into it take up about 1/2 of it, and the other half is for wood storage. We didn't get everything finished as we got funding for the project in late October, and we live in Michigan, so it was hurry up and get as much done as we could before snowfall or thru the snowfall as it turned out. We had to bury the pex not only to our house but to our sons (115' away) and to his garage farther yet. The dealer cheated us and didn't install the stove ..walked with our money..so we had to do all the install ourselves, in snow.

being a quick hurry up to save on propane deal, we made a few mistakes (we are novices with the boiler thing but have heated with wood for nearly all of our married life, new house has propane and fireplace as well)

evidently the hurry up wasn't a good idea for the electricity as the wires weren't put on tightly..not good.

hopefully things are all better now. we still hope to add another 8x8 section off the north side of the new building (we never did get that north wall finished) and we hope to move our 6x8 little greenhouse to the se corner of the building, near the woodboiler, so that we can take advantage of the heat that the bioler puts off and warm the greenhouse, that will be novel, having a heated greenhouse in Michigan (our freestanding double corregated cheapo greenhouse hasn't been good for much in this cold temp being freestanding, but did grow some mighty tasty tomatos and peppers)
 
Leah Sattler
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thats a bummer that they walked with your money have you tried going after them? I would mad enough to do so. I'm glad you got the problem sorted out so you can get things back on line!
 
Brenda Groth
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sorry it took so long to answer this as i've been forgetting to come to this particular forum..gardening on the brain.

my husband and son wanted to sue..but we just have gone through too much mentally in the last 15 years that I wanted to let it all go.

Ron's drs have recently agreed that a lawsuit would have driven him over the edge..he is an emotional basket case with his head injury and anger issues..better to just cut your losses and go on ..i know it sounds funny..but i'd rather loose a 10 to 20 thousand $ than to face another law suit..i've just gotten over all the stress stuff for so long and can finally relax and have a quiet summer.
 
Erica Wisner
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Brenda Groth wrote:
sorry it took so long to answer this as i've been forgetting to come to this particular forum..gardening on the brain.

my husband and son wanted to sue..but we just have gone through too much mentally in the last 15 years that I wanted to let it all go.

Ron's drs have recently agreed that a lawsuit would have driven him over the edge..he is an emotional basket case with his head injury and anger issues..better to just cut your losses and go on ..i know it sounds funny..but i'd rather loose a 10 to 20 thousand $ than to face another law suit..i've just gotten over all the stress stuff for so long and can finally relax and have a quiet summer.


Wishing you luck with the garden and the quiet summer.  And hopefully a quiet winter to follow!
I get it about the lawsuit being more trouble than the money - we're living with the results of an auto injury, and we got told "sue them" by so many people it's not funny.  At a certain point, doing anything about it is more emotionally draining than just living with it.

FYI for others considering outdoor boilers:
It's very hard to get fire to burn clean (1000+ degrees) and water not to boil over (212 degrees) at the same time.  Wood boilers smoke.  Outdoor boilers smoke outdoors.  Smoke pollution is a problem (more so on East Coast) and it also means you're wasting wood.

While they can be attractive for heating a multi-building site like Brenda's, for most places they are not ideal nor efficient.  Leaving a fire burning in a shed unattended most of the time just seems to be a recipe for disaster (or at least, maintenance and smoke hassles).

Here's where I borrowed those opinions:
http://www.woodheat.org/technology/outboiler.htm

Hope that's useful if anyone else is considering it.
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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well after a few more years that furnace finally had to be replaced after we had a power outage that killed it..

our insurance co replaced it with a different brand of wood furnace..an Empyre Elite. It was a lemon. There were gobs and gobs of malfunctions, one a lever that had to be moved when you opened the door that shut off air to the fire..kept sticking and wouldn't move..the warning buzzer that said the lever was moved..broke and had to be replaced..and the secondary burn chamber door burned out 3 times and had to be replace..they finally made better ones..but then the furnace never worked properly after that and by then the 2012/2013 burn season was over (got it June 2012)

well Nov 2013 we tried to use it and after about a week we realized it had a water leak INTO the firebox and secondary burn chamber..it was under warranty so we called dealer to replace it..of course..he was out of state sellling Christmas trees and still hasn't replaced it..but the company said they sent an upgraded stainless steel model for us to the dealer and supposedly it will be put in this week or next.

we'll see how that works out for us..what a crazy several yaers..stress to the max !!
 
allen lumley
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Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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Brenda Groth : Thank you for sharing your continuing saga of The pleasures of outdoor wood Boiler systems, It is a good/bad example of a cautionary tale to share with our
annual crop of New Members who want to rush into rocket mass heater RMH/solid fuel Boilers!

Keep us updated, and we will pass along the word to those it will serve best ! For the Good of the Craft ! Big AL
 
David Williams
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This is just a thought for anyone who might see similar issues with similar set-ups, Using a TEG Generator that runs your pump wouldn't need any outside power , when you apply heat to one side(outgoing pipe from boiler) , and air or water cooled other side (incoming pipe to boiler for eg) the pump would engage automatically , so this would never be an issue due to being solid state electronics ....
Peace and Love Dave oxoxox
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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I have a love-hate relationship with outdoor boilers. As Brenda has found, most are not really designed well, if at all. There are a few sweet ones out there, but a lot more lemons. And they need power--it just seems wrong that your wood heat goes out when the power goes out.

My neighbor has one and LOVES it--no hauling the wood inside, firebox holds at least 8 hours even when running full bore, takes BIG wood so very little splitting needed. But he goes through a LOT more wood than I do with my Amish cookstove, which isn't designed for efficiency.

My other neighbor has ONE outdoor boiler that heats his house, the store they run, the shop, the horse barn, little greenhouse, and hot water for everything as well. I could see one as a really good idea for a small community if they have good source of waste stream firewood, like sawmill slabs.

The upside is they usually only take about 100 watts of 120v to run (a circulator pump or two and a damper control or fan). That is pretty easy to set up. http://www.battery1234.com has all the stuff you need, including the instructions. Steven Harris knows as much about power as Paul knows about permaculture.
 
permaculture is largely about replacing oil with people. And one tiny ad:
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https://permies.com/wiki/48625/digital-market/digital-market/Mike-Oehler-Cost-Underground-House
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