Friday, August 29, 2008

Mansfield To Allow Outside Wood Furnaces

Mansfield council to draft ordinance allowing outdoor wood burners


MANSFIELD - With only councilwoman Marianne Bozzo casting a "no" vote this week, the borough council voted to have its solicitor draw up an ordinance to allow outdoor woodburning furnaces within the borough limits.

After listening to a presentation on the appliances by Mark Wilber, owner of This Warm House outdoor woodburning furnaces, which is located in the borough on Route 6 West, council discussed the issue for about a half hour before voting.

With energy prices soaring and heating bills expected to increase substantially this winter, more people are likely to become interested in purchasing a wood burner than ever before, but other boroughs in the county have had problems with people burning things in them that should not be burned, such as garbage.

Bozzo said that was her biggest concern, that people will burn "anything" in them to save money on their heating bills, causing smoke and pollutants to fill the air and become offensive to neighbors.

Burning only seasoned cord wood is the key, and burning it at 2,000 degrees creates a secondary burn, he said, which Wilber said emits no smoke, only carbon dioxide and water vapor.

"But how are you going to control what people throw into these things?" Bozzo wanted to know, adding "I just can't see having them in our close proximity here."

Wilber said with his units, the warranty is voided if anything other than the proper fuel is used, which makes it self-enforcing.

Wilber said his units, priced between $7,500 and $13,000, pay for themselves in five years and burn at nearly 100 percent efficiency.

The furnaces Bozzo was talking about are not capable of burning at the high temperatures his units are.

"Right now there are probably 200 companies peddling these units. By 2010 there will probably be fewer than a dozen, but until then it is a grave problem," Wilber said.

And, he added, EPA standards that will become mandatory in 2010 are now only voluntary.

The EPA also is getting ready to establish efficiency standards possibly by the end of this year, Wilber said, which should help to educate the public even more.

Council also looked at a recently passed ordinance created by Wellsboro borough, which they will have their solicitor model Mansfield's on, according to the motion made by councilman Dr. Robert Strohecker.

"We could make the setback a little less stringent than 500 feet, I would think," he said.

"But we shouldn't keep people who might live on the outskirts of the borough from having one if they want one," he added.

Codes officer Shawn Forrest will have input into the language used in the ordinance.

"We can revisit this ordinance in 2010, and see if it needs updating then," council president Steve Gee said.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wellsboro Regulates Outdoor Furnaces

Outdoor wood-burning furnace ordinance adopted

By BRYAN G. ROBINSON Sun-Gazette Correspondent

WELLSBORO - Wellsboro Borough Council on Monday adopted an ordinance that regulates outdoor wood-burning furnaces.

The ordinance regulates new and existing furnaces that are used to heat interior spaces, and establishes setbacks of 500 feet of a neighbor's property line. It takes effect immediately.

Just like households with new furnaces, each owner of an existing furnace will be required to apply for a permit to operate furnaces within 30 days of the ordinance being enacted. However, the $25 fees for application and permit, which council also established by resolution Monday night, will be waived for owners of existing furnaces.

Other fees include $25 for an inspection fee, and $250 each for a variance and appeal.

"I know it's not what everybody wants, but it's a starting point and is something for us to work from," said Michael Wood, council president, before the vote was taken. "If it does pass tonight, I would like to see people who have woodstoves and those who don't on the appeals board."

Other key provisions include:

Outdoor furnace owners will be allowed to burn only fuels designed for the furnaces and which are approved by the manufacturer, with a restriction on 14 different materials that might not be burned, from garbage to tires to leaves.

All outdoor furnaces will be prohibited from operating between May 31 and Aug. 31 each year, to cut down on smoke in residential areas during the summer when more people are outdoors or have windows open in their homes for ventilation.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Outside Furnaces Good Option As Fuel Prices Soar

By James Jones

As natural gas prices continue to rise, and the price of fuel oil goes out of sight, more and more people will be looking for a safe and efficient way to heat their homes.

For many that choice will be wood. Wood stoves in the house have traditionally been a dangerous way to heat a home. Improper chimneys build up with creosote and explode in flames burning over 1600 degrees, often catching nearby combustible surfaces on fire.

To eliminate that problem, many homeowners are switching to outside furnaces that provide hot water which can be tied into existing hot water and forced air home heating systems, burning forest waste and turning it into heat.

Pole materials that would be chipped or left to lay on the forest floor can be used in kind of a recycling operation that lets material from the forest be used to provide heat.

Although many areas are regulating the outside furnaces, which usually produce excess smoke
when refilled in the morning, they are a great safe alternative in home heating.

Manufacturers have been working to cut down on the emissions from these stoves. Many are designed to burn at higher temperatures to cut down on smoke and unburned particles.

Municipalities should co-operate in redesigning these burners for efficiency as they are a great option for those who would otherwise have to pay high gas and oil bills.

Those with electric heat are expected to have to bite the bullet in the next few years as deregulation takes place in Pennsylvania.

Opposition to outdoor furnaces have led to bans in some areas of central Pennsylvania, and others have adopted regulations on new installations. Residents should not have to be smoked out by their neighbors, but care in placement will help prevailing winds from carrying smoke to neighbors homes most of the time.

While smoke in the Wintertime may not impact neighbors whose houses are closed up, users may have to find other means to heat residential hot water to lessen the impact in the late Spring, Summer, and early Fall when windows are open.

Modifications would allow a loop of plastic pipe laid out on or under a south facing roof to circulate sun heated water into the boiler to store heat for the night hours and help provide hot water for residential use.

Rather than banning these safe outdoor units, more thought should be given toward improving these systems for the betterment of all residents.

Legislation, if any should be directed on an individual basis toward those who use these furnaces to burn noxious material, irritating to their neighbors, while encouraging their use by those who do not cause problems for others.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Setting Up The Wood Boiler

This is a continuing story of how we designed our own wood heat system to warm our house and keep the mess outside. This old farm house was never warm. A staircase in the living room let all the heat go right up the stairs.

We used to heat with a wood stove in the kitchen but switched to gas when we found out the chimney was bad. Even with the gas heater, it still was not warm in the house.

The first $440.00 gas bill for the month set me in motion to heat the house with wood again but keep the mess and fire outside keeping the house clean and safe. I moved an old inside wood boiler that used to heat a chicken house that I had traded $200.00 in labor for, into place about 70 feet from the house.

This boiler had the pumps mounted on the boiler and was designed to be used in a pressure system.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Converting Wood BoilerTo Outside And Hooking Up

After mounting the boiler securely on some railroad ties embedded in gravel. I proceeded to convert it to outside use. The old pumps and plumbing was removed and the input and output located. I first hooked up to the top of the boiler to go to my pump because the water is the hottest there. That was a mistake!

Every time the boiler would get too hot and make steam, I would lose my prime on the circulating pump and circulation would stop.

It is essential to take the input off the bottom of the tank and feed it to your circulating pump.
That assures that you always have water in contact with the pump so no air will get in.

We are now working with what we call an open system. The vent on the top of the boiler that used to have a steam pressure blow off valve is now open to the atmosphere. When the boiler gets too hot and makes steam, it goes out that hole in the top of the boiler into the atmosphere, eliminating the danger of a steam buildup and explosion.

One inch pex pipe is used to make the connection to the distribution piping in the house. It takes one line in and one line out. The circulating pump is located in the house and the pump needs to circulate constantly in below freezing weather so things won't freeze up. The return line takes the return water from the house back into the top of the boiler.

In order to connect the pipes from the boiler to the house without freezing., I buried a 6 inch SD35 sewer pipe between the boiler and the house that I fished the smaller 1 inch pex pipes through. Then I covered the sewer pipe with sawdust to insulate it. There are pipes available for $10.00 a foot or so with insulation built in but sawdust is a whole lot less expensive.

It was necessary to go through my wife's chicken coop to get to the house, so we left the 6'' pipe exposed to let a little heat escape into the coop to keep the chickens warm.The boiler was insulated by placing 6 inch unfaced fiberglass batts over top of the boiler tank and covering them with a heavy duty vinyl tarp wired around the bottom of the tank to keep it in place.

Where the pex pipe came out of the sewer pipe, I added foam insulation pipe to the individual lines and enclosed them in flexible black drain line and sprayed polyurethane foam around the ends to keep rats and mice out of it.

Entering the house through the cellar wall meant breaking out one of the blocks and putting the 6 inch pipe through. Mortaring around the sewer pipe keeps the animals out. This is important as mice fine the warm sawdust attractive and you don't want them to have a way into the house.

The sewer pipe is buried where it goes through the chicken yard and covered with sawdust for insulation. Picture shows indentation where sawdust has settled.A great pile of wood---about 30 face cords---is ready to keep us warm this winter.

In our next post we will tell you how we hooked up on the inside to the pump and distribution system.