Is Burning COAL Right for You?

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Dallas
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Hand Fed Coal Stove: Modified Russo C-35
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Location: NE-PA

Post Wed. Jan. 23, 2008 7:58 pm

Let's talk about "burning" ... wood, coal, oil, etc., while keeping in mind, "The solution to every problem, creates another problem".

When I was growing up, the first home heat, which I can remember was a single kitchen coal stove. The doors to the rest of the house were kept closed, because the other rooms had no heat! The bathroom was right next to the kitchen. The other option, was to have more than one stove, e.g. several parlor stoves.

Next, we got a hand fired coal boiler and steam radiators. This was a big improvement, as now the whole house became useable. ... maybe a little chilly in one corner or the other. Plus, those drafty single thickness windows were now a problem. .. add storm windows. While we are at it, better get some insulation blown in to the 200 year old house. (I'm talking about 60 years ago. No TV, only a crank telephone and radio.) Sometimes the "bucket-a-day" was hooked up, sometimes not. :?:

We had to build a bigger coal bin, as well as haul coal or have it delivered. The hand fired coal boiler worked pretty good. It was a bit dusty ... well, maybe more than a "bit". We had to run down to the cellar to fix the fire and adjust the draft, etc.. ... and clean out the ashes. Later, it was fitted with a thermostat. Finally, it got an oil burner stuffed into the boiler.

When I took up house keeping, it was with an oil boiler and hot water baseboard. I cut a couple of pick-up loads of wood for the fireplace. Nice! Then oil got expensive! So, I would have a whole truck load of logs delivered, to cut up and split for the newly acquired Efel and old chunk stove. Enough of that! Wood boiler to add-on to the oil boiler. Get bigger loads of wood. Build a wood shed. New chain saw, etc.. Then, I got into the solar business and added a solar domestic water heating system.

Next, I move in here. Build an addition with fireplace and basement flue for wood burner. Now you can jump over to my other thread Really Temperamental Stove/Draft !! to read that story.

The bottom line is: You really have to take a look, at what is involved, with what your are proposing to do. Burning coal and wood, while possibly less expensive, are somewhat dirty, and take a fair amount of effort and can have other short comings. If you are planning on heating the whole house, get a unit designed for that, rather than trying to make a room stove heat the whole house, as I have attempted to do. Make sure that you can get the fuel you'll need and can get it to where you want it. Have a place to store it. Another thing, coal burning should be monitored on a regular basis. Are you up to it?


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WNY
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Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Keystoker 90K, Leisure Line Hyfire I
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Post Wed. Jan. 23, 2008 8:09 pm

Grew up cutting and splitting wood with my dad for winter time. Probaly 10-15+ cord(I think?) or so, heated the whole house pretty good, hauled it from the truck, in a wheel barrow, thru a narrow alley, to the backyard, and back again. THEN, up 2 flights of stairs to keep stocked...phew. I got a good workout every summer. It was a ritual, to get a truckload of logs, cut them all up, and then split, haul, wheelbarrow, haul, up, down....for quite a few years.

I really didn't want to do that anymore, A few years ago, my wife worked with the coal dealers wife and they kept talking about Coal. So, home come the Keystoker, installed it myself, fired it up, and been warm every since!!

The coal needs a lot less of a workout (other than throwing around 50# bags a few times.) Bulk now. With all the info I have learned on here, and being an engineer, the fine tuning, getting the most out of the stove, checking it, empting it, etc....is actually kinda fun and always looking to improve things and help others out. Coal is here to stay for a while, and kinda neat to live in an old victorian and heat with coal....freaks people out when I tell them.... :)

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coalkirk
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Stoker Coal Boiler: 1981 EFM DF520
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Coal Size/Type: Lehigh anthracite/rice coal
Location: Forest Hill MD

Post Wed. Jan. 23, 2008 8:12 pm

WNY wrote:Grew up cutting and splitting wood with my dad for winter time. Probaly 10-15+ cord(I think?) or so, heated the whole house pretty good, hauled it from the truck, in a wheel barrow, thru a narrow alley, to the backyard, and back again. THEN, up 2 flights of stairs to keep stocked...phew. I got a good workout every summer. It was a ritual, to get a truckload of logs, cut them all up, and then split, haul, wheelbarrow, haul, up, down....for quite a few years.
Yep! Heat with wood, get warm twice!

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Dallas
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Hand Fed Coal Stove: Modified Russo C-35
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Location: NE-PA

Post Wed. Jan. 23, 2008 10:58 pm

I was thinking back ... way back!

The kitchen stove would have to be my favorite of the "burners". :inlove:
It was the first place to head to in the morning, to be huddled around to get warm. Your cold feet could be stuck in the oven after being outside. Your frozen, wet socks could be hung over the oven door to dry. You could roast a hot dog over the hot coals or toast a marshmallow. You could pop popcorn on the surface. It was part of the "home"! Not quite the same as an oil furnace/boiler or even a coal stoker.

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Richard S.
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Post Wed. Jan. 23, 2008 11:18 pm

Dallas wrote: Burning coal and wood, while possibly less expensive, are somewhat dirty, and take a fair amount of effort and can have other short comings.
Can't speak for the wood but under the right conditions and, proper planning and/or setting it properly to begin with (read installing it to make it easy instead of the easiest install) you can eliminate all the problems associated with coal except the ashes and few hours maintenance each year. That's assuming an auger stoker or some other stoker that can feed itself.

What Would Be the "Perfect" Hot Water System?

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e.alleg
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Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2008 9:37 am

I've found that burning coal is not nearly as dirty as I thought it would be. As long as I go slow when filling the hopper and I don't "play" with the ashes or stir up the hopper looking for gems there is basically no dust or dirt using bagged coal. Yes it's more work, emptying the ashes every day is a chore that some people might find too much. I live on a farm so I'm used to doing mandatory chores every day, emptying the ashes is no worse than feeding and watering the animals when it's 0 degrees out. I think the more someone likes saving money the more they will like coal.

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Devil505
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Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2008 12:08 pm

I would say that burning coal is right for anyone who doesn''t mind a little work & wants to really save some money. It definetly is right for anyone burning wood, unless they get their wood for free. After burning both, coal is much less work!
Where you live is also a big consideration. (The colder the winter, the more you'll like coal)
Type of heat too.......We have forced warm air which, although it comes up fast, doesn't stay & always feels drafty. (our house feels much warmer (with coal) even at a lower thermometer temp.

ken
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Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2008 1:26 pm

i enjoy it :D I put a 40# bag at night and change the ash bin. it gives me something to do. :D plus I have learned so much here. funny thing , when I did the house heating system , I went with hot water baseboard. forced air duct work would been nightmare and tons of $. all the duct work and would of needed 2 furnace's. I did everything new except the boiler. I found a used one for $200 and went with that , thinking in the future I will replace it. well 6 or 7 years pass , got some xtra cash and bought a new Dunkirk unit with a Beckett burner. I also got some info from Keystoker at the time about one of there boilers. read it all couple times and figuired that wasn't for me. lol oil was under a buck then. so here I sit with a newer $1,400 boiler in the basement , never used it yet , collecting dust , running my Keystoker. who would of figured. lol Dallas I bet your a great guy. from your post I figure your getting up there. God Bless ya.


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Dallas
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Hand Fed Coal Stove: Modified Russo C-35
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Stove/Furnace Model: Modified C-35
Location: NE-PA

Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2008 1:50 pm

ken wrote: Dallas I bet your a great guy. from your post I figure your getting up there. God Bless ya.
I don't like to think "I'm getting up there", but when I start to think back, ... "There's been a lot of water over the dam!" 1st of Feb., I'll be eligible for Medicare! Life is good!

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billw
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Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2008 2:31 pm

One of my first chores growing up was filling the hopper and emptying the ashes. My dad had a steam system in his house. When I got my driverss license a couple of friends and I set up an ash route in wilkes-barre. We borrowed my dad's 48 dodge pickup, hauled ashes every saturday and found a guy looking for clean fill so we didn't have to pay to get rid of the ashes. 40 years later and I'm going back to heating with coal. Once the weather breaks it'll be time to put up a new chimney and run a coal boiler in series with my existing oil unit. Dam, I can't wait. I'm getting jealous of all of those nice hot fires I'm seeing pictures of. :)

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coalkirk
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Coal Size/Type: Lehigh anthracite/rice coal
Location: Forest Hill MD

Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2008 2:38 pm

IMG_1466.jpg
Sorry, couldn't resist! :lol: It's great you are planning so far ahead. I think too many folks rush out and buy a coal burner without considering all they want to do with it and what the unit they bought will reasonably do. Kudos.

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billw
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Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2008 2:42 pm

:D :D :D :D
Thanks, just what I needed.
My problem is I sometimes overthink projects. I just can't wait for spring so I can get started.

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Dallas
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Hand Fed Coal Stove: Modified Russo C-35
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Stove/Furnace Model: Modified C-35
Location: NE-PA

Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2008 3:42 pm

One of the things, which I think occurs quite often. ... somebody gets a stove to heat a room or basement .. whatever. It does a pretty good job, but they see it also has more potential, so they start to get creative. At that point, it usually gets out of control. .... fans, pipes, holes, blowers, vents, etc.

In my case, I wanted the fireplace in the addition, so the basement flue was kind of a freebie. I thought, I could use it for a little heat, if the power went off or I wanted a "little atmosphere" in that room. Then when I couldn't get it to burn correctly, it became a challenge!

The increase in fuel prices, is certainly another driving factor.
Last edited by Dallas on Thu. Jan. 24, 2008 4:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bksaun
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Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2008 3:53 pm

You Think so!
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Dallas
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Posts: 743
Joined: Mon. Nov. 12, 2007 12:14 pm
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Modified Russo C-35
Other Heating: Oil Hot Air
Stove/Furnace Make: Russo
Stove/Furnace Model: Modified C-35
Location: NE-PA

Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2008 3:56 pm

It came right out of the crate like that .... didn't it :?:


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