Strategy for Operating 520

Seven
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Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
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Location: Worcester, PA

Post Mon. Dec. 09, 2013 9:55 pm

Background
I have a df520 with hydronic baseboards (2 zones 3/4" copper pipes) and a very inefficient house. It is 2600 sq ft of cinder block house on three sides and 1 side is 2x4 frame and 1965 insulation (r10 maybe). The attic is good with r30. The cinder block walls may have that old 3/4" thick sound board that may be r2. There are a lot of windows. am in PA 30 miles north of Philly. When temps are in the low 30's my plaster walls are easily measured at 50 degrees.

Questions/ strategy
How should the boiler be run? Do I let the house cool at night? I currently have TT set to 63 at night about 70 during the day. In the morning it can take 3-4 hours before the boiler shuts off when boiler is set to shut off at 200.

Does the boiler want to run like a diesel and be slow and steady and never break or like a sprinter and put a lot coal and air in to cycle on or off when hits the high setting?

I am looking for a balance of comfort and affordability. I installed the 520 because I burn a lot of coal before I get anywhere near the cost of windows and a major reno to add insulation to the walls. Wife and kid are at home all day so they need to be comfortable. At night we are all under blankets so we don't care too much. How is equipment intended to be run and how to others use successfully if those two things differ?

Thanks guys

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whistlenut
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Post Mon. Dec. 09, 2013 10:10 pm

Are you sure you have enough baseboard to heat that shell? 3-4 hours is unheard of to bring the temp up 6 or 7 degrees. How much coal are you burning? 50 lbs a day 60-70-80-100 lbs a day?
Something is not correct, because unless you only have 40 ' of baseboard, the boiler performance is not up to par. What settings are you using (air and #of teeth for feed). Personally, I would look at the boiler first, baseboard second, and if it really takes 3 to 4 hours to get to temp, the boiler is not adequate to make that happen. The bottom line is that we need more info and history to even evaluate what problems you have. Even a poorly insulted house would respond quickly unless there is a radiator or baseboard shortage. :idea:

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GoodProphets
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Post Mon. Dec. 09, 2013 11:31 pm

I am also wondering the best way to run.

I heard of accounts saying "the coldest day of the year it should run 24/7 but keep up"
But each time I mention this I am told that I need to increase air/feed.

I really want to hear if the option is there, or if one way is worse than the other.

Seven, sounds like you have way too much heat loss.
It will be very hard to update you home, but I guess it is possible.

What may be easier or more cost effective is better heat output.
The baseboards that you have may just not be up to the task.
If your boiler is only shutting off when it hits the high limit at 200F then the
bb are undersized.....are they dirty?
Have any additions been added to your home?

Do you have any duct work in your home?

I have a large home with basically no insulation and while I have witnessed hitting the high limit,
I believe it was only once, and I then of course increased the input... feed/air and things smoothed out.

Give us some more insight on your home and system
total bb length, feed/air settings, coal usage, what your ash looks like

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McGiever
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Post Tue. Dec. 10, 2013 12:28 am

Is air completely purged from those BB loops?

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Rob R.
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Post Tue. Dec. 10, 2013 5:20 am

The boiler should not struggle to reach the high limit when coming out of a deep setback. When you read about boiler sizing and see the mention of allowing 15-20% for "piping and pickup" load, this is it. Increase the feed rate on the stoker by one tooth, make sure the ash ring is not more than 2" wide, and see how it does. 5 teeth and 4.5 air is a very good setting for many installs.

Make sure the baseboards are clean and not obstructed by carpet, furniture, etc. I would also try reducing your setback to 5 degrees.

Dave 1234
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Post Wed. Dec. 11, 2013 6:26 pm

I really like a spring mounted pipe thermometer. If you put them on your returns you can tell a lot.
And like McGiver said, maybe some of the system is air bound.

Dave

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Rob R.
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Post Wed. Dec. 11, 2013 6:36 pm

If the system was air bound, it wouldn't load the boiler.

Dave 1234
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Post Wed. Dec. 11, 2013 6:54 pm

True !

I my mind I'm thinking, my house is older by a bunch, more load,( square footage ) and as warm as my daughter wants it to be on any given day. :o . And the 520 sits quiet a lot. At 170-180 deg.

Dave
Rob R. wrote:If the system was air bound, it wouldn't load the boiler.

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wilder11354
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Post Wed. Dec. 11, 2013 8:02 pm

I would leave the TT set to one temp for the most of winter, if you want 72* in house leave it there. Any settings I would do to make sure it holds 72* would be to boilers Min/max temp settings. I would raise them both if it runs continually for extended times to hold what TT is set at. The higher the stored BTU(water temp) going to baseboard the more heat BTU output they produce.

You would need to be sure sysytem has enough exspansion for higher temps, and dump setting is below boiler relif valve max temp so to keep it from going off. Bumping TT up and down is not energy efficient. Boiler works hard to reheat soak house again from resdual heat absorbed into walls and such that they loose while at lower temp. Steadt temp all winter is the best for controlling the boiler settings. In this teens temps right now, I run my handfed boiler at 190>195 high limit, dump stat at 230* for over fires. it drops to 175>180* or so when theres a zone circulating, and house temp will go up with in a few minuts of call for heat.

Seven
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Post Sat. Dec. 14, 2013 9:08 am

Thanks for all the replies guys.

I have tried a few things over the past few days settings on the boiler, TT, etc. When I first posted I was at 6-7 teeth and 6 air. Then I backed down to 3 teeth 4 air, then 4:4.5.

When it was backed down it runs for hours and hours. When it was turned way up, which I didn't not realize it was that high until I started counting, it would run for sometime but hit the limit and shut off.

Here is something I noticed. The coal in the bowl keep stacking higher and clumping as it cools to ash. This can rise to 3+" high and it does it at any of the above mentioned settings. I do not recall it doing this last year and I brought up some videos I took and they do not reflect this either.

I got coal from same supplier same size (rice claimed Blaschak). The only modification I made was change the lower auger tube and coupling so that now it is in better alignment and grinding less.

I think this is the symptom that needs diagnosing rather than the run times and temp. etc. Don't you guys? The ash clumps together and creates a dam and the fire just grows tall. I never get a dark circle in the middle...

Have you guys seen this?

I am going to try some other coal today from another supplier.

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Rob R.
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Post Sat. Dec. 14, 2013 9:18 am

You might be using too much combustion air. How much ash is around the fire? Have you shut down to make sure all of the air holes in the burn plates are clear?

Trying some different coal won't hurt, let us know how it goes.

Seven
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Post Mon. Dec. 16, 2013 9:10 pm

Well I have some more data from over the weekend:

I tried some new coal and had the same results in fire quality, ash, etc. when the settings were similar to the use of the previous coal.

I turned down the to 4:4.5 and that cut the amount of ash in half. The unit ran longer and did not cycle but I can't say the house was any less warm (cooler) than when it was turned up to 6 or 7. These settings also ended up burning about 75-80 pounds of coal burned per day.

As long as these units don't really have an issue with an extended duty cycle then the house can be warm and fuel usage minimized. I noticed the upper auger tube was getting warm but the highest temp was 120-130 measured with an digital point and shoot meter.

Any thoughts?

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Rob R.
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Post Mon. Dec. 16, 2013 9:42 pm

Your boiler isn't running as much as you think it is if it is only burning 80 lbs per day. At 4 teeth and 100% duty cycle it will burn about 240 lbs in 24 hours....5 teeth, 300 lbs. That is a full ash tub every 12 hours or so.

5 teeth and 4.5 air is a very good setting for many applications. I suggest you try it and make sure the ash ring is correct. If it keeps you warm at that setting, let it run.

I would like to know how many feet of baseboard are in your house. It takes quite a bit to hold a 520 back at 7 teeth. I think your cold block walls are acting like a big heat sink and sucking the heat right out of the baseboards.

It is -5 at my house and I can hear my 520 chewing through some coal.

Phil May
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Post Mon. Dec. 16, 2013 9:49 pm

Yea it 3 here I am on track for 400lb today.

JeepinPete
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Post Sat. Dec. 21, 2013 10:42 pm

My home is stone walled, no insulation. I tried setting back the thermostat, and had the same results. 3-4 hours to recover. The thermal mass of the masonry is to blame IMO. I just leave it set at 70*, 24/7. Even with the cold snap we just had, the EFM had no trouble keeping the temps in the house constant.

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