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Messages - bjp

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It may be worth reaching out to Central Boiler support directly for an answer on the "should pulse time be counted as burn time" question. On my 750HD pulse time adds to the total burn time. But the HDX may be programmed differently - I can see that your graph looks different from mine in that mine displays reaction chamber temperatures, not percentages, so this may be an intentional change (see my attachment below).

I'm burning a mix of woods, some oak, birch, ash, cherry, maple, nothing consistent from burn to burn. Your issue with the actuators may be the root cause, I've never had mine get stuck or fail to open in any way. If those aren't opening it would explain what you are seeing. I wonder if you are getting some creosote buildup in the elbows at the cap preventing them from opening or if the linkage is just sticking somehow. Perhaps some kind of lubrication where the cap meets the elbow would keep them from getting stuck.

With how new your install is there should be warranty support available. I had my blower motor die the first year and it was replaced for free after going through CB support to my dealer. You shouldn't have to be messing with this thing in the middle of the night like you are and I think their support crew will get someone hands on to take a look.

I've been running a Classic Edge 750 (the year before the HDX) for 3 winters now. The first winter I had a few issues with the fire going out, which I blamed more on myself as operator error than anything else, but here are the things I would try in your situation.

When you say you are cleaning out the firebox once a month, how clean do you mean? I really don't clean out the firebox until the end of the season, running the pole through the coal bed to create air channels pushes enough ash and such down into the reaction chamber that I've found no need to clean (ash out) the firebox during the season. Do scrape the walls, any creosote buildup, and the loading door, but I think these things want more ash and coals in the firebox than I was comfortable leaving in there at first.

I use a 10 degree differential, 40 second idle pulse minimum timeout, 35 minute pulse interval, and a 300F pulse target temperature. Are you seeing temperatures drop well below your pulse target in between pulses?  If it isn't dropping much below your 310F pulse target, it will only pulse for the pulse minimum timeout which may not be enough to get the coals hot again.

Inside the firebox along the air channels at the bottom on the left and right, is there any chance the air holes are plugged? Or, are you loading wood densely enough that it is blocking those air holes? The low reaction chamber temps and fire going out make me think of an airflow issue. I'm not familiar with the fan on the 360HDX but I can sure hear and feel the air output on the 750. The air control box on the front might be worth taking a look at too, if it is not properly mounted to the boiler it could leave an air gap which will cause the fan to blow air out of the box instead of through the pipe elbows and into the system.

When I wasn't leaving enough coals at the bottom I rarely saw reaction chamber temps above 1000F, after leaving more in there and arranging logs with more empty space in the firebox I started to regularly see 1200-1700F temps. I feel like this is an airflow thing.

Central Boiler / Re: Selling my house
« on: March 11, 2021, 09:21:59 AM »
I'm very sorry to hear that, Roger, and wish you all the best going forward.  You've given me a lot of help here in the short time I've spent running a CB, and for that: thank you so much.

Central Boiler / Re: Crazy - magic heat?
« on: February 21, 2021, 07:49:57 AM »
Could there have been some strong wind gusts at the time that created a draw through the stack?

Central Boiler / Re: boiler not going into high?
« on: February 12, 2021, 06:08:05 AM »
Hi Bourbon,

With the additional info you gave there, I agree it has to be the wood moisture level. This is only my second season with the boiler, my first season I was only able to ready up 4 cords of lightly seasoned wood and another 8 of green; after my old (non-CB) boiler burned out in Feb 2019 I let my plow guy take my leftover wood in trade because he had some old widows who badly needed it and I had no use for it, as I wasn't sure if I would be replacing it. I ended up attempting to load mostly the dry wood with some green on top, but had pretty poor performance with it going out a few times. It gets a lot better next season when your wood is dry, a LOT better.

I've had the same thought about the way demand mode works and why doesn't it just try harder? I'm sure they have a good reason for it, but I haven't found it yet.

One thing that helped me last season (and I don't know if this would apply on the new 760HDX) was updating the firmware on the firestar controller. The firmware upgrade changed a few of the settings, but I think specifically it increased the default value for how far the primary air would open from I think 80% to 86%. Seems minor but it made a difference and I was down to mostly green wood by then. Your pulse time/duration settings sound exactly what I did to try to keep the fires from going out. I'd figure the 2020 models have the new firmware but it's still worth a check.

The one part that confuses me is this part from my controller manual -

When the system is calling for heat, if the temperature in the Reaction Chamber has been below 300˚F for 60 minutes and does not rise more than 5˚F, or after three hours even if the temperature is rising, the combustion fan will turn off and the primary air actuator will close. This alarm is reset by opening and closing the furnace door, or by turning the controller off and back on.

Maybe the 760HDX controller has some different programming, but the temps and durations you listed, I don't understand why the controller didn't decide the fire was out.

I'd also like to add that the 'account settings' link from your firestar page is VERY useful and can be used to set up email or text alerts when the boiler goes out, when the water temperature goes below some temp that you specify, and that works great for early notice of things like this.

Good luck, and it WILL get far easier with dry wood.

General Outdoor Furnace Discussion / My burned down Sequoyah Paradise
« on: February 11, 2021, 02:49:27 PM »
Just popped in to this forum instead of only reading the CB forum and noticed a few others shared stories and photos of their burned-out boilers, and wanted to share mine.

Back in 2019, president's day weekend, my Sequoyah Paradise E3400 caught on fire. I happened to wake up a few minutes after midnight and noticed an unusual red/orange flickering reflection in the window, turned around to look where it was coming from and saw flames shooting out the back out of the boiler, where the framing has (had) some vent slats. I went after it with a fire extinguisher, which was a complete failure. I dragged a hose out of the basement to hook up to a bib outside to try to spray it down, but my water softener was regenerating at the time so I had about 10psi of water pressure which made the 75' hose useless.  Needless to say we called out the volunteer fire department, based 1/4 mile away, and they put it down with foam and water and hacked the thing halfway down with axes.

This was already at the house when I bought the place, and the prior owner did not take very good care of it. They are (were, as they are now out of business) designed with fatal flaws in that there is no ability to get to the heat exchangers to clean and only a very minimal ash cleanout at the bottom. Not to mention the 10 or so (each!) Love Controllers and draft fans I went through in trying and failing to use the thing over 4 years before it burned down. If any of you have one of these, or know someone who does, please have it replaced.  Oh and if you buy a place where the idiot who installed it decided to use drain tile instead of thermopex, you're going to have to deal with that sooner or later and it will not be fun when you're wicking ground water draining through your basement walls to 5 gallon buckets you have to empty every 20 minutes 24/7.... and it's even worse after the FD dumps a few thousand gallons on top.

As far as what happened, I think there was either a short at the draft fan, or so much creosote simply built up in the insulation (just fiberglass stuffing wrapping the entire firebox) that it managed to get hot enough and catch fire. The good news was no damage other than the boiler itself, and homeowners insurance eventually did take care of me, after a long time spent trying to get them to do so. The FD did not have any good explanation and could not determine a cause.

Central Boiler / Re: boiler not going into high?
« on: February 11, 2021, 01:50:47 PM »
A couple possibilities, based on my 750HD: a reaction chamber very full of ash can definitely do that, but when that happened to me it seemed more like a slow degradation (temps peaking at 1400F for a while, then over several loads barely hitting 1200F, then barely breaking 1000F), not a sudden drop off from high temps to low.  But if your peak temps in the last few days before this morning weren't well over 1000F that may have been the root cause.

One clarification as I understand it, the fan does not have a low/medium/high setting, the fan just has one speed and the stepper motors control how much airflow from the fan gets into the firebox and reaction chamber, so when firestar shows 'low' that's an indicator of reaction chamber temperature, not fan speed or airflow. I don't believe the furnace goes to high mode until it sees temperatures in the reaction chamber that convince it there is enough burning going on to open up the steppers to allow more airflow in.

Is there any chance you added some very wet wood or very large logs that weren't able to catch from the coal bed?

I had one, maybe two occasions last winter where I added wood and the fire went out, apparently due to low heat load from the house simply allowing the coals to cool.  I adjusted the pulse time in my settings to pulse a bit more frequently (20min, not 30min) and pulse to a higher temp (350, not 250) to keep that from happening again. It's a bit less efficient but it stopped that problem.

I would also suggest you pull the cover off the fan housing (with the controller turned off) so that you can inspect the elbows and steppers to make sure that they are actually opening as expected. If you're getting some creosote that stuck the lid to the elbow then the furnace can't provide enough airflow to get to high.  I'm kind of surprised that it sat in 'low' mode for 7 hours as my controller will report 'fire out' and shut down much sooner than that, I think somewhere around an hour or two of being unable to meet a call for heat.  It sounds to me like the fire just went out somehow, possibly from wet wood, or maybe leaving the bypass handle open (which would prevent high temps in the reaction chamber but still should have heated your water more than you're describing).

(Edit to add: I also had the stock fan die on me during the first winter, and the furnace looked like it was trying to run but could not get out of low since there was zero airflow.  But it should be very obvious to your or your wife's ears standing next to the boiler if the fan is simply not running.)

Central Boiler / How much water needed to send in a water sample?
« on: January 16, 2021, 11:29:21 AM »
Do any of you know offhand how many mL/oz of water CB needs sent to them for the yearly water sample? I've used up the sample bottles that came with my boiler, and I haven't been able to find anything on the support site describing just how much is needed.  I'm looking to order a batch of sample bottles online and not sure if 100mL will do or if I need to go for 250mL or even more.  All I have handy are 1L bottles that I know are too large and will cost more to ship than I'd like to pay.

Central Boiler / Re: Extra parts; handy
« on: January 14, 2021, 09:39:42 AM »
Yesterday afternoon I had to get something from the basement of my house.  For giggles I looked at the blower I removed to get a better idea of where the oil ports are on it.  It appears that the blower CB put on it at the factory doesn't have oil ports on it.  There is no way that I can oil it.  When I get a few minutes of free time I'll make a run to my dealer with it and ask him to show me where it is.  Plus, I want to get another spare.  I don't like not having one on hand.

My 750 HD came with a fan with no oil ports, and when the fan died the first winter (on inspection, the copper winding had managed to break) the replacement did not have oil ports either.  Take a look at the support doc on fan maintenance at https://centralboiler.com/support/articles/combustion-air-fan-maintenance/ - "NOTE: If the decal on the fan housing indicates to oil the bearings at the end of each heating season, use the following procedure. If there is no decal, the fan does not require oil."

That document also shows where the oil ports are for the ones that do require oil.

Central Boiler / Getting ready for second burn season
« on: November 19, 2020, 02:25:36 PM »
I haven't fired up the Classic Edge 750 HD yet, heating oil is just ridiculously cheap up here right now (still under $2/gal), but unlike last year I was able to secure enough seasoned wood, along with what I had left last year, that I should have a much better burn season without the need to mix in so much green.

About a month before the end of heating last year I started to get some smoke leaking out of the door, the big rectangular door gasket had started to go. Wow is that thing a beast to replace. Pry it out with a scraper, but so much sticks from the sealant they used at the factory it was about 3 hours just to scrape as much out of it out as I could to get the best possible seal on the replacement gasket.  Installing the new one took a whole 10 minutes or so once the channel was cleared.

I'll probably do a first burn in a couple weeks just to test out the gasket repair to see if I'll need to adjust the door, so that I'm not doing that for the first time in subzero temps when I switch over from the heating oil.

14 cords stacked up, seasoned, and ready to burn, as soon as I pull the trigger.  I also stocked up on spare circulators because I noticed some impeller noise when I turned the main circ on to avoid overnight freezing.  Here's to a good season for us all!

Central Boiler / Re: Did your CB lose Firestar communication last night?
« on: February 04, 2020, 12:50:46 AM »
Stack temp seems like an obvious missing piece to me on the CB setup, for the price of just one more sensor and data channel to the controller, but I haven't sorely felt the lack of it.  Eyeballing the top of the stack has been good enough for me.

I find the alerts that it provides very handy.  Text/email if the loading door or bypass are left open, fire goes out, or if the water temperature drops below a user-defined minimum so that you can catch that before the fire is fully out.  Also same tet/email alerts for low water level, high water temp or high temp snap disc cutoffs.  I like the ability to remotely adjust my setpoint and differential from the couch on the rare occasions I want to.

Central Boiler / Re: Did your CB lose Firestar communication last night?
« on: February 01, 2020, 11:46:37 AM »
So from what it sounds like, all data is sent to a CB server first then you look the html page up?

HM is working on something similar, from a dealer standpoint it would be great to see the data before ever leaving for a service call.

Basically that.  Realtime display on the control panel for water temp + reaction chamber temp + current load burn duration, and reporting in to the server every 1-10 minutes (seems to report more when temps change rapidly).  Login to a page and see either a dashboard with last-reported values + current local temperature (from a web service, not a sensor on the unit) or a graph of the logged values over last 4/8/16/24 hours.  Tabular display of logged values with the ability to go back day by day in history on graph and data tables.  It's really nice, from the operator's POV.

There's an "Allow my dealer to see my data? Yes/No" option on the account settings page, not that I have seen the dealer side of things.

Central Boiler / Did your CB lose Firestar communication last night?
« on: January 31, 2020, 06:20:00 AM »
Just checking here to get an idea if it is my side, or theirs.  My boiler lost communication with Firestar around 6:15PM EST yesterday.  It briefly came back at 8:55PM, and has been down since then.  The website was also down on and off during the night, and I received some extra "your furnace has lost communication for an hour" alerts, but the website is back up now and my boiler still isn't reporting.

Anyone else?

EDIT: And it is back.  Offline from 11:42PM until 11:17AM.  Nevermind, I guess.

Central Boiler / Re: Replacing Sequoyah E3400 with CB Classic Edge 750 HD
« on: January 23, 2020, 05:43:31 AM »
Thank you both again so much!

Pointblank, your description sounds identical to mine, so I bet that'll work.  Roger, I've been doing exactly that with the poker/scraper at the low part of the channel too, after reading something on the support site about creosote drain holes in the channels, so hopefully that'll put me in a good place to get it done this spring.  I'll pick up a handful of replacement bolts/etc too.  These are extreme enough temperatures I'm sure I can count on more than a few sheared bolts going forward.

Central Boiler / Re: Replacing Sequoyah E3400 with CB Classic Edge 750 HD
« on: January 22, 2020, 04:12:56 PM »
I've used a large screwdriver to pry out the side channels. I start at the back of the stove and work it out toward the front. Might have to tap it in with a hammer to get it started. Just be careful not to bend or deform them. Once you get it started they come right out.
As far as the acorn nuts, if they give you trouble, try heating them up with a small torch. Snapped a few off myself at first. Creosote seems to work its way in them and a propane or map gas torch loosens them right up. Use some high temp anti-seize when you reassemble and they'll come out easier next time.

Thanks, Pointblank!  They're only really held in place by the washers and nuts, right?  So when prying them out, has it mattered whether you work from the top of the channel or the bottom, or just do both the whole way until it pops free?

I think the middle acorn nut was cross threaded on mine at delivery, it turned pretty easily about 3 rotations and then locked right up on me.  Next time I'll give it some heat if it starts to resist, and thanks for the tip on anti-seize, that makes perfect sense.

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