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Old 11-20-2010, 10:35 AM
 
6 posts, read 17,383 times
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We bought a lovely old farmhouse in extreme Northern Maine, and we've been here since July. Loving life in these parts.

As both my husband and myself like it a little on the chilly side, we haven't really felt a need to fire up the wood boiler (connected to hot water baseboards) until this week. We've got it working, but quite honestly, we don't really know what we're doing.

How often should we have to load wood into it? How big should the fire get? There's an "altitude" gauge on the front of it that we don't have a clue about. It keeps hitting the "Danger" zone and we have no idea what to do to stop it.

Everyone told us that if we survived our first winter, we'd be golden. Well, we're trying, and lucky for us, this house has incredible insulation.

Any advice you could provide to us "new Mainers" would be most welcome.
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Old 11-20-2010, 12:45 PM
 
Location: Northern Maine
10,264 posts, read 16,733,031 times
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It sounds like you have a Tarn boiler. When the boiler has cooled down you need to purge the air out of the hot water system. It is probably overheating due to air in the system.
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Old 11-20-2010, 10:01 PM
 
Location: Caribou, Me.
6,933 posts, read 5,076,304 times
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There should be a release valve to do what NMLM is suggesting....maybe close to the boiler.....
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Old 11-20-2010, 10:11 PM
 
Location: Vermont / NEK
5,786 posts, read 13,055,152 times
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They're both right. ^^

The altitude gauge is all about water and should have two needle pointers. The red one is set to the correct amount of water that should be in your system and won't have any variance. The black needle measures the actual water level. As long as the black one is fairly close to the red and doesn't exceed the red you're ok - provided that the gauge itself isn't out of whack, which can happen on an older unit.

If your black needle keeps going toward the danger zone you should have the system examined. Either the gauge itself or a check valve in the plumbing may be bad. If you're running hard water with a lot of minerals in it through the system they can build up and cause either of these problems. Old age could be another cause. But the good news is that both are pretty easy fixes. Good luck with it and enjoy that heat!
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Old 11-21-2010, 02:12 AM
 
Location: UP of Michigan
1,767 posts, read 2,252,931 times
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Making sure to have the proper amount of water and purging air in the system is important. You say the house is super insulated and you aren't sure how much to fire the boiler. I can assure you from experience, with kids(now grown), that if you over fire the boiler it most likely has an automatic damper that will close to try to cool the fire and may cause creosote. Continuing to over fire can over pressure and the "pop off" (safety valve) similar to what you see on a hot water heater will open and you will have a mess.
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Old 11-21-2010, 04:38 AM
 
Location: Ohio
2,176 posts, read 8,680,151 times
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For safety sake it would be better to have someone in the know come in and check out the system.
If it only needs the air bled out of it that shouldn't cost much. And they can show you how to do that in the future and maybe even give you some tips about the use of wood. If it's something more involved it would be better to have it taken care of now than taking a chance on doing damage to the system and maybe not having a safe system.
I have hot water radiator heat but with a gas boiler. I purge the system every year and have good heat.
You also might want to make sure all the valves are open on the pipes to the heaters.
Since you are unfamiliar with it I would strongly suggest having it looked at by a qualified service person. Better to be safe and warm now than sorry later. Just my opinion.
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Old 11-22-2010, 04:05 PM
 
Location: Northern Maine
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You might consider filling your hot water heat system with a mix of antifreeze and water, This will prevent corrosion in your system just as it does in your vehicle. Just make sure you have TWO check valves in line to prevent water from flowing backwards into your drinking water system.
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Old 11-22-2010, 04:36 PM
 
Location: Boonies
2,039 posts, read 3,102,475 times
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I agree with Robhu, you should have someone who is experienced in operating woodboilers and have them give you a one on one learning experience. I can tell you, we had bought a farmhouse that had one a few years ago and that is exactly what we did. We loved it once we knew what we were doing. The downside was in our situation, we had to put big pieces of wood in it every 3 or so hours. Good Luck.
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Old 11-22-2010, 04:38 PM
 
Location: Boonies
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Are the previous owners still somewheres nearby that you could ask them?
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Old 11-23-2010, 07:40 AM
 
Location: Maine
169 posts, read 260,322 times
Reputation: 166
Call up Revision Energy, they sell Tarns. I believe their number is still 1-800-enworks.

They might know what to do about it, or know somebody who can.

Here's a link to their site:

http://www.revisionenergy.com/index.php

Last edited by Revi; 11-23-2010 at 07:42 AM.. Reason: put in link to Revision Energy
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