AHS S130 Hopper Condensation, Lid-Less Operation?

Stoker Coal Boilers automatically feed the coal and have controls and pumps just like any conventions boiler. They are intended to be used as a primary heat and often have domestic hot water coils as an added bonus. They can be set up independently or in dual sytem with your existing oil/gas boiler. They can accommodate both hot water base board or steam plumbing.
TimW
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Post Fri. Oct. 23, 2009 5:08 pm

I'm just finishing my first week of running my S130. I just pulled the lid off the hopper and it was heavy with condensation, as well as the upper walls. I'm using bagged pea coal for my first year and no doubt its wet. I can do some things to dry out the bagged coal now that I'm bringing into the basement a pallet at at time, but my primary question is can I run the S130 without the lid on while the coal in the hopper dries out a bit? Any suggestions?
Thanks, Tim

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Freddy
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Post Fri. Oct. 23, 2009 6:11 pm

I do believe the lid must be on. With it off you will draw air in through it and that air won't be going through the fire as it should.
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Fred

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Yanche
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Post Fri. Oct. 23, 2009 6:27 pm

I've not see any difference in the operation with the lid off, especially when the hopper is full. I would expect the restriction to air flow up through the grate is much less that that a through a full hopper. There is a safety hazard operating with the hopper lid off. If you have a hopper fire the combustion products have an easy path to your home. I would not operate it with the hopper lid off.
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TimW
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Post Fri. Oct. 23, 2009 7:32 pm

The potential hopper fire concern is real... I'm only keeping the lid off with hopes of drying out the coal in the hopper and the hopper itself. Future bags of coal will have some dry time in my basement before they get to the hopper. I am curious to know more about the operation of the boiler and how the gasketed lid impacts the burning, its efficiency and such.
As a new coal lover... its really a pleasure and major help to have this forum. I know you've heard it all before, but THANKS, nonetheless. :)

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Post Sat. Oct. 24, 2009 12:06 am

What is your draft? condenstaion in the hopper is not a good thing even if you put wet coal in there.... usually means too little draft to keep the flue gasses from escaping up through the coal and condensing on the hopper lid. I agreee that an open lid is a chance for a hopper fire to send flames up into the floor above.

If you get a chance check your draft and let us know what it is. :)
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Freddy
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Post Sat. Oct. 24, 2009 7:17 am

The newer AHS's have a heat sensor in the hopper. If you have a hopper fire, it shuts everything down. I do believe the lid being on is part of what makes it safe. Even if they system shut down, without the lid it might it be possible for the burn to continue through the whole hopper? That would be bad.
Orrington, Maine
Fred

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TimW
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Post Sat. Oct. 24, 2009 9:59 am

I'm agreed on keeping the lid on as much as possible, especially if unattended. Right now my 'office' is ten feet away from the boiler, so I am keeping close watch ;)

Also, I've seen a lot of commentary on "draft". So far, I haven't addressed it other than the initial installation. My exhaust piping comes from the thimble in the chimney straight out, horizontal w/ a few degrees of rise toward the chimney about 3 1/2 feet to a T. The horizontal leg terminates in a Type RC barometric draft control and the bottom leg of the T goes out toward the boiler about 45deg to a 45deg El and then straight into the top of the boiler (approx 18 in from the boiler to the horizontal leg). All in all its a pretty short run to the chimney. I have the Adj Weight on the Baro. mounted on the let side with the weight fixed at the 2/4 positon(pretty much as far as it will go). I haven't done anything further at this point.

Can you direct me to any posts that detail/explain how to check my draft. I don't currently have a manometer, but would get one readily. Any suggestions on a manufacturer and model?

As I come to the end of my first week of burning coal, my ash bins have a lot of unspent coal. This may be due to the fact that my boiler is rarely running due to the warm temps outside and of course the first ash bin was largely due to startup. But, the ashes I pulled out last night are full of unspent coal. So it doesn't seem I'm burning efficiently. I have the Thermo-ash monitoring control kit and I'm running the 5gpm domestic HW coil. I have yet to read up on the Thermo-Ash monitoring system... I don't know how to interpret the digital readout temps and what they mean or tell me.

I'll keep reading previous posts in order to learn... and any direction from you all is greatly appreciated!

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Post Sun. Oct. 25, 2009 7:25 am

TimW wrote:I'm agreed on keeping the lid on as much as possible, especially if unattended. Right now my 'office' is ten feet away from the boiler, so I am keeping close watch ;)

Also, I've seen a lot of commentary on "draft". So far, I haven't addressed it other than the initial installation. My exhaust piping comes from the thimble in the chimney straight out, horizontal w/ a few degrees of rise toward the chimney about 3 1/2 feet to a T. The horizontal leg terminates in a Type RC barometric draft control and the bottom leg of the T goes out toward the boiler about 45deg to a 45deg El and then straight into the top of the boiler (approx 18 in from the boiler to the horizontal leg). All in all its a pretty short run to the chimney. I have the Adj Weight on the Baro. mounted on the let side with the weight fixed at the 2/4 positon(pretty much as far as it will go). I haven't done anything further at this point.

Can you direct me to any posts that detail/explain how to check my draft. I don't currently have a manometer, but would get one readily. Any suggestions on a manufacturer and model?

As I come to the end of my first week of burning coal, my ash bins have a lot of unspent coal. This may be due to the fact that my boiler is rarely running due to the warm temps outside and of course the first ash bin was largely due to startup. But, the ashes I pulled out last night are full of unspent coal. So it doesn't seem I'm burning efficiently. I have the Thermo-ash monitoring control kit and I'm running the 5gpm domestic HW coil. I have yet to read up on the Thermo-Ash monitoring system... I don't know how to interpret the digital readout temps and what they mean or tell me.

I'll keep reading previous posts in order to learn... and any direction from you all is greatly appreciated!
Important question is. Do you have at least 1 CO detector installed ? If not get a couple . Then there is a Manometer loaner program on this forum .
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Post Sun. Oct. 25, 2009 8:21 am

Is it just condensation from the wet coal that can't evaporate because of the lid or is it combustion backing up through the hopper? Burning some coal that is absolutely dry should give the answer. Once the draft is checked and set to the proper level there shouldn't be any issues.
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Freddy
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Post Sun. Oct. 25, 2009 11:20 am

Here's the manomometer you want....keep your eye on ebay, you can get them a bit cheaper than this sometimes.

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TimW
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Post Sun. Oct. 25, 2009 3:46 pm

Thanks much guys. I appreciate the comments and advice. My hopper (as of sunday afternoon, day 8 ) is almost empty and is full of condensation. I don't think its wet coal at this point, so I'm moving forward with addressing the draft issue.

I do have a CO2 alarm at the top of the basement stairs, but I'm going to look for a monitor/alarm so I can be warned... but also monitor varying levels of CO2 in the basement.

Noone seemed concerned on the exhaust piping I detailed, so I'm taking that to mean nothing obvious was done wrong. This warmer weather is likely part of my draft problem, but I will get a manometer and look into it.

Here's a newbie question... what should spent coal look like? I know what wood ashes look like, but my last coal ash bin is full of the same size pieces that went in to the hopper... they are just much lighter. Shouldn't ashes look like ashes? no form.. just powder?

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Freddy
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Post Sun. Oct. 25, 2009 5:08 pm

TimW wrote:what should spent coal look like?
Your ash sounds right. Some will be powdery, but a lot will be chunky, as you say, the same as it went in, just spent.
Orrington, Maine
Fred

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TimW
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Post Sun. Oct. 25, 2009 9:08 pm

Thanks Freddy. I started wondering the other day... what should coal ash look like? I've never been around coal and so I think along the lines of firewood. Spent firewood is ash powder.... otherwise if there's form to it, it can be burned some more. With the coal in my ash bins looking like it did, I was thinking that I am either not burning very well at all or my thermo-ash monitoring device isn't working. Your comments are reassuring. Is there an effective weight loss comparison to determine is your coal is properly spent? If its 1 pound going in... how much should it be coming out?

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Post Sun. Oct. 25, 2009 9:21 pm

It won't be dust, more like crunchy breakfast cereal. I'd say for every 100 lbs ingested, you will expel about 20 to the ash pan....unless you use some as "NEPA Grits". It is hard on the teeth, and requires more liquid.....drys the throat they say.

Your condensation issue would seem to be from wet coal, there is no other water source available to make the moisture.
....always strange things happening some of have never seen in 30 years! :idea: :shock: :roll:

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CoalHeat
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Post Sun. Oct. 25, 2009 9:25 pm

Noone seemed concerned on the exhaust piping I detailed, so I'm taking that to mean nothing obvious was done wrong.
I was going to ask for more detail on the smoke pipes but I figured I'd just wait to see it firsthand.
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