Wood fired boiler!

Nice fire in stove

Nice fire in stove

It works! I’m so pleased with the wood boiler system. This fall it was easy to start up. Just a few steps and it was all working as designed.
I recorded the steps I took to get the first fire for the season started.

Pump switch and system instructions

Pump switch and system instructions

Before firing up the stove it’s a good idea to check and empty any ashes from the ash drawer. I also cleaned the glass front of the stove.
Then I uncapped the boiler drain and hooked up a short hose to the spigot. Running water through the system with the end of the hose in a bucket will release air that may have entered the pipes. To get the water moving in the system the stove pump switch is turned on. I also checked that the automatic fill valve was open. There were very few air bubbles. Once the water stops bubbling in the bucket, the drain is closed and recapped.
After that initial step, each fire of the season is the same.

  • Turn on boiler pumps with switch in laundry room. Be sure the primary pump is running.
  • Check that all valves that control the flow to the boiler and heating system are open.
  • Plug heating system pump into the power strip. This separates it from the thermostat controller so it runs all the time.
  • Open all stove air intake valves. There are three. One in the ash drawer, one on the bottom right controls the outside air flow, and one on top controls the chimney damper.
  • Open a couple of zone valves. There is not enough heat to open them all and just a couple will warm the house.
  • Start fire.
  • Once fire is going close the ash drawer intake. Then manage the outside air and damper with the other intakes.

The water temperature and internal pressure can be monitored with the gauge at the top of the stove.

Pressure and temperature gauge

Pressure and temperature gauge

The red marker is set at approximately atmospheric pressure. If the water gets too hot the pressure release valve will open and relieve the pressure and send overheated water into a stainless steel milk can.

When the water gets to 90 degrees the second pump turns on. That sends the water to the heat exchanger. I check to be sure the secondary pump is running at this point. If not, the fire would need to be separated and stop burning so the stove would not overheat.

Heat exchanger

Heat exchanger

In the exchanger the warm water from the stove runs next to the water from the radiant system. The heat transfers from the stove to the system water which is pumping through the open zones.

Transferring the heat from the stove to water means that the stove does not get hot like a normal wood stove.

Stove is warm not hot

Stove is warm not hot

Having a fire in the evening is quite lovely on a snowy day. This is the first snow we’ve been home for. It snowed while we were out of town but it melted before we got home.

Late October snow

Late October snow

And inside the fire is so delightful.

Winter ambiance

Winter ambiance

When the fire dies down and it’s time to turn the heat back on, the system pump is plugged back into the thermostat controlled outlet and the switch to the wood boiler pumps is turned off. The house is cozy and the heat is unlikely to come back on before morning.

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