Becoming Discouraged With Coal...

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kickincoalinNY
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Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Keystoker
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite
Other Heating: Propane
Location: UpState NY ~ Dundee

Post Tue. Mar. 17, 2015 9:25 pm

I'm ending (hopefully soon) my second year burning rice coal in a Keystoker freestanding direct vent stove. When it's running good, everything is great.....My problem is I don't really know if it's running good! The hopper feeds the coal, It has a fire in it, It pushes ash off the end of the grate, I empty the ash pan, I keep it clean, etc. etc. Occasionally I have to shut it down because my damn co2 detector alerts me of co2. Always on the middle of the night of coarse. I'm not positive but I just don't feel like it's burning efficiently or maybe not even correctly. The problem is, I just don't know. I've never used coal before so I have nothing to compare it to. My hope is that there is somebody in upstate NY that is very experienced with coal stoves like mine that could give me guidance or maybe even come to my house and take a peek. Just let me know if all is OK or if there is something else I should be doing. I'm seriously considering selling the stove and replacing it with a much lower maintenance wall mount propane heater. I love the warmth and affordability of my coal but it's tempting to not have any "work" to do.
Judy


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coaledsweat
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Post Tue. Mar. 17, 2015 9:41 pm

Sounds like you have a draft issue to me. Do you have a manometer?

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freetown fred
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Post Tue. Mar. 17, 2015 10:14 pm

Judy, if you've already decided your looking for a "no work" concept, then by all means, propane is the answer. There's LOTS of experience on the FORUM here, but you got to show up & ask. If you're not in, ya can't win:) PS--plenty of keystoker users here:)

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kickincoalinNY
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Posts: 30
Joined: Wed. Nov. 05, 2014 9:12 am
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Keystoker
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite
Other Heating: Propane
Location: UpState NY ~ Dundee

Post Tue. Mar. 17, 2015 10:43 pm

I actually just asked in another thread where I could purchase a manometer and what ones were recommended. I suppose I could find that on my own but why waste all of your guys experience and knowledge!!?? :D
I don't want to give up, I honestly have never heated with anything better than coal and I have nearly converted a coworker to coal!! What other way could I heat my home for about $500 over a NY winter???

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kickincoalinNY
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Posts: 30
Joined: Wed. Nov. 05, 2014 9:12 am
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Keystoker
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite
Other Heating: Propane
Location: UpState NY ~ Dundee

Post Tue. Mar. 17, 2015 10:47 pm

I believe I do have a draft issue because it seems like the hotter I run the stove the better it works. For example, no smell in the house, no co2 alarms. I wonder if I'm just not able to keep it running even at just a maintenance flame when the outside temp is 40 degrees or higher. Is there a way to "force" a better draft?

franco b
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Location: Kent CT

Post Tue. Mar. 17, 2015 10:51 pm

You can find the Dwyer mark ll model 25 on amazon.

The CO detector going off is serious and must be corrected. It does seem like a draft issue.

Describe your chimney and maybe a picture or two. Several of the fire also.

franco b
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Post Tue. Mar. 17, 2015 11:00 pm

kickincoalinNY wrote:I believe I do have a draft issue because it seems like the hotter I run the stove the better it works. For example, no smell in the house, no co2 alarms. I wonder if I'm just not able to keep it running even at just a maintenance flame when the outside temp is 40 degrees or higher. Is there a way to "force" a better draft?
Because your unit uses forced combustion air it might be overwhelming the ability of the chimney to exhaust it and it backs up, probably through the hopper. That forced air also can blow a lot of fly ash into the pipes and restrict draft. They have to be inspected to be sure they are clean.

Possibly just lowering that combustion air would cure things, but with the manometer you can get a definite number to go on and others can help.

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titleist1
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Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Harman Mag Stoker (old style) one in basement, one in workshop
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III on standby for long power outages
Coal Size/Type: Rice/Anthracite; Nut/Anthracite
Location: Cecil County, MD

Post Tue. Mar. 17, 2015 11:11 pm

Welcome to the forum! Good job having a co detector!!

In your first post you mentioned free standing direct vent ... by that do you mean you are not connected to a chimney but have a fan pulling or pushing exhaust through the wall? Never mind I just saw the other thread that shows your chimney.

Can you post a pic or two of the stove and exhaust pipe.

A Dwyer Mark II Model 25 or a magnehelic gauge are the two most used manometers. Your basic internet search will bring up a lot of sources. Do you have a barometric damper on your flue pipe?

Have you ever cleaned out the fly ash in any horizontal sections of your flue pipe?


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freetown fred
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Post Wed. Mar. 18, 2015 4:56 am

Judy, just remember, the only stupid questions on here are the one's we don't ask. :) We all love helpin out & sharing our coal burning experience. Hell, we all been exactly where you are right now.

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Richard S.
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Post Wed. Mar. 18, 2015 6:14 am

kickincoalinNY wrote: Occasionally I have to shut it down because my damn co2 detector alerts me of co2.


It's a CO detector. The problem with CO detectors is most of them give you very little information but I guess that is by design so people don't put themselves in harms way. Word of warning here, CO levels at a certain point can instantly incapacitate you. Exposure to low levels over time are equally as dangerous. It bonds to the hemoglobin in your blood and it can't carry oxygen, this can build up over time and it's not something that can easily be fixed even with immediate medical attention. You could literally be sitting in an emergency room and if you were exposed to enough CO you're going to die becsue there isn't anything they can do for you.

It's important to understand how CO detectors operate. They will go off if you exceed Xppm for 1 week, XXppm for one day, XXXppm for 1 hour or the get the hell out the house XXXXppm. If for example you have a gas stove in your house you may exceed the 24 hour limit for a very short time and it won't go off. That level is not dangerous for short period of time but is for longer period of time.

Get a CO detector that has readout so you know what is going on and you can monitor when it is rising, it should be zero.

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WNY
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Post Wed. Mar. 18, 2015 6:14 am

What type of chimney or direct vent do you have? was it setup with a draft gauge originally. has it been checked? sounds like a draft issue, if it's happening at a lower feed rate or idle. maybe turn your idle screw up one turn to increase the heat a bit and draft.

Everyone on here will help you out the best we can. Don't give up, it might be something simple. but the CO problem is definitely a concern. I've been running my Keystoker for 10+ years with no problems. it might be something simple in an adjustment, draft setting, blower setting. etc...

Maybe post a pic of your setup.

I see you're in Dundee, is that up by Keuka Lake? my sister has a summer home up off the lake in Pulteney, maybe when I come to check on the house or something, I could check your system if your still having problems.

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VigIIPeaBurner
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Post Wed. Mar. 18, 2015 7:10 am

There are a few pictures on her other thread: Coal stove maintenance where she talks about stuffing joints or gaps with insulation. It's not clear to me if its a double wall pipe and that gap is being filled or what?

waldo lemieux
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Post Wed. Mar. 18, 2015 7:39 am

Judy,

It looks to me as though you have B vent chimney running up the exterior of your home. First B vent is not a solid fuel chimney ( even though it may work) and even with gas it is not supposed to used without a chase. Im guessing that the pipe loses temp quickly , therefore some draft. Too, if the chimney isnt tall enough or otherwise not installed per manuf. directions , you may suffer draft problems because of it. Bottom line have your chimney inspected and don't wait :!:

waldo

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SWPaDon
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Post Wed. Mar. 18, 2015 7:41 am

It's double walled pipe, with an uncapped cleanout 'T' on the outside of the house. It has insulation stuffed in it currently, it would appear.

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kickincoalinNY
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Joined: Wed. Nov. 05, 2014 9:12 am
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Keystoker
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite
Other Heating: Propane
Location: UpState NY ~ Dundee

Post Wed. Mar. 18, 2015 7:49 am

Wow. So many helpers! It is appreciated GREATLY! Richard thank you for the CO (not2) details. I was really not aware of the immediate danger. I thought that; your alarm sounds, you shut down and all is good! Yikes. I will be investing in a better detector with a digital read out and keep the others for back up! Much appreciated!!
Below is a picture of my chimney from the outside and one from the inside. Yes, I have had all horizontal sections cleaned out but I did notice that the guy who did it left a few screws out. I wonder if that is part of the issue?
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