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Author Topic: Biomass boiler constant fails, engineer help or any recourse? East Lothian  (Read 2879 times)
marigoldmanor
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« on: March 29, 2018, 02:25:23 PM »

Iím posting out of desperation as we seem to be in a vicious circle with our biomass boiler which is a Klover PB 35.

Weíve had it for a few years now - we went for it as part of the Scottish RHI scheme. The company that installed it no longer exist and, despite being accredited by the Energy Saving Trust, turned out to be learning on the job when it came to biomass and it was not well installed and we have had numerous problems with it from the outset. That said, when it works, itís fantastic.

We have been using another engineer we found locally and we havenít exactly lost faith with him but wondered if perhaps we need a second opinion as he has come out time and time again, replaced parts and told us all is fine only for the boiler to fail almost immediately. Two weeks ago he was here and told us we wouldnít see him  until the next service - the flue caught fire two days later (despite having been very recently cleaned) and then on Monday he said the same and the boiler had stopped by Tuesday morning. I cleaned it restarted, stopped again in the afternoon. So I cleaned, restarted. Same again yesterday and then today the fan is so tarred up it will no longer move. Boiler kaput yet again.

The boiler is thick with soot and tar. We have cleaned it religiously, once a week since it was installed and have also had the flue swept. At some point about a year ago it started to soot and tar up no matter how often we cleaned it. The engineer diagnosed a warped fan and replaced it. It worked better for a while but this winter the same thing has happened and weíve had to replace the fan again (and now it looks at thought we'll need yet another). We take great care not to touch the fan when cleaning as we understand how delicate it is but the more it soots up, the slower the fan turns and so we canít get enough heat and  then it soots and tars up even more. I am finding myself having clean as best I can every day just to keep it limping on. We use Woodlets pellets so weíre not using poor or damp wood.

Also the pellets keep sticking before they fall into the crucible so the boiler keeps thinking itís out of pellets. The engineer said heíd fixed this yesterday but itís still happening. To be fair to him heís inherited this boiler from the original installers - weíre not blaming him, just wondering if heís run out of ideas.

It strikes me that we will be stuck in this cycle unless the whole thing gets completely cleaned, but we canít get it completely clean the normal way (high temps burning it off) as the fan doesnít turn fast enough to get a high enough temp. Would you think this a reasonable conclusion? Is there another way of removing the tar? Are the pellets sticking because that little funnel is tarred up too?

This boiler has been nothing but trouble since we had it installed in Feb 2015 (and donít get me started on the Supersilo suction system from the hopper!), we have a small holiday cottage attached to the house which is also heated by the boiler and we have lost hundreds of pounds having to offer discounts to guests without heating, and I wouldnít dare now to let it out at all. Over the past 8 weeks, through all the snow and cold weather the boiler has worked for just a few days, weíve been relying on an immersion heater and plug in oil heaters.

We are just so keen to get this boiler to work, we understand that itís a good product, apparently fit for purpose and we really believe in using renewables but we just donít know where we go from here. We're convinced there's no point replacing yet more parts unless the whole thing has a thorough clean, possibly reinstall or the underlying fault is identified and fixed - but who could do this? We doubt there's any recourse - does anyone know of some sort of renewables ombudsman? The trouble is the original company who installed it is no longer trading.
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offthegridandy
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« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2018, 05:40:29 PM »

Hi Marigold, welcome and sorry to hear your woes.

Have you approached the (Italian I think) manufacturers for assistance and or advice?  How long have you had the boiler and has it ever  performed correctly?  If it has never worked properly then perhaps the programming is wrong and needs resetting.

If the unit is constantly producing tar then I'd start by looking at 2 places.  Firstly are your pellets from a "good" brand and properly dry on delivery to you and kept dry. If your feeding the hopper with damp pellets then you'll get tar.
 
Secondly have you had all of the combustion area including the crucible cleaned. If the pellets are not getting a good hot burn again you'll get tarring up as described.

I'm sure you have read the manual supplied with the unit but here's a link to some advice on general maintenance.
Klover PB35 Operation and Maintenance - Firepower Heating UK

https://www.firepowerheating.co.uk/.../pb35/klover-pb35-operation-and-maintenance....

Klover PB35 Pellet Boiler - Operation and Maintenance
This information leaflet must be read in conjunction with your Operation and Installation Manual.
Your Klover PB35 pellet boiler should give you years of trouble free heating but there are certain things that you as the user need to do to keep the stove running cleanly and efficiently. Here we outline the basics and give some tips and tricks so that running your stove is simple and straightforward.
It is important that you read and understand the Operation Manual that comes with the stove, paying particular attention to pages 10-20. This will ensure that you are familiar with how the stove operates and what you need to do to make it perform exactly as you want it to.

Any help to you?

Andy
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chasfromnorfolk
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« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2018, 06:30:22 PM »

As per Andy really, my experience with a Grant is that all pellets arenít the same and anything - eg damp, an auger that munches too much - can make the best of them problematical.
Can you, as an experiment, feed from a bagged supply? Only Verdo and Balcas pellets suit the Grant, and they have to be fresh and dry - I buy a pallet at a time.
If yours would burn a ton of say Verdoís with no problem it might suggest hopper conditions or the Woodlet pellets are the cause of the poor burn. If you then feed a ton of fresh bagged Woodlets with no trouble, itís the hopper. If fresh bagged Woodlets donít burn clean, itís the pellets.

Cheers, Chas.
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desperate
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« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2018, 08:37:19 PM »

The flue getting tarred up and the boiler full of soot surely is a symptom that something is running way too cool, is the heat demand too high for the boiler? is there some kind of blending valve fitted to keep the return temperature up? That sounds like some sort of fundamental design fault rather to me, but I ain't an expert you understand.

Desp
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Philip R
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« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2018, 11:04:15 PM »

Desp, think you have nailed it.
Does the stove have a loading valve like a laddomat, or is recirculation controlled by the electronic controller and motorised valve. So maybe incorrectlly set temperature parameter or a welded relay contact or stuck valve.
Philip R
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renewablejohn
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« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2018, 11:31:21 PM »

Are the woodlets pellets actually made for burning or have you had the cheap horse bedding pellets delivered instead.
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Artiglio
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« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2018, 12:07:48 PM »

Good day,

I look after a 40kw Trianco Greenflame ( basic rebadged polish built pellet boiler) installed in 2015 under rhi for my mum, fortunately company that did it had a bit of experience.
In your case as already posted , start with the fuel, clean the boiler out as best you can and do trials with fresh bagged pellets from a reliable source. In our boiler Land Energy or Sparkletts work well, Blazers are unreliable and burn with an acrid smoke.
A quick search suggests that your boiler is no longer in the Klover range, maybe there were known issues.
When installed our system was upgraded to a larger buffer/store on advice from installers to keep cycling down.
The boiler we have is effectively oversized for the heat load, it seems that different installers do deals with boiler suppliers to get good rates, the downside is that under the rhi rules you need to meet some design constraints, in our case we needed around 30kw, but only 25kw or 40kw available so weíve ended up with the larger, this may well be why the larger buffer was recomended.
Some of the more aggressive rhi installers went for bare bones systems, often direct connections to existing plumbing.
A bit more detail on yours would be helpful.
If trials with fresh bagged pellets donít solve your problem. You say when system works its fine, again clean it out, set all thermostats on heating and hot water to max, including rad valves, and force a max demand situation, so windows doors open , run off hot water anything to make boiler work hard for a reasonable period of time (2 hours plus.)
If boiler runs ok under these conditions, look at your buffer/ store size and consider increasing it.
In our system, the boiler is controlled solely by the buffer temp, boiler fires when it drops to 60 degrees stops at 80 degrees. This effectively negates the need for a ladomat style circuit as boiler pump kicks in when boiler is 3 degrees above buffer temp, so even allowing for additional temp drop as boiler ramps up return temps from buffer have never been below 55 degrees. Only time there is any hint of poor combustion is in summer when only demand is hot water for weeks on end and boiler only fires for 30-45 mins at a time to top up buffer. As a result in peak summer temps if there is little demand for hot water ( ie only mum at home) , she turns boiler off and uses immersion heater instead, this actually works out cheaper than pellets once system losses taken into account.

Good luck and keep the updates coming.
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Philip R
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« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2018, 02:28:17 PM »

I went and visited the Trianco works in Chapeltown, Sheffield about a year ago. Shown round by the MD.They were making the boilers there having just completed their last oil boiler. The controller is bought in from a Polish company. The device itself was being made in the works.

Philip R
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Artiglio
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« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2018, 03:31:18 PM »

The Trianco greenflame, I have is marked on the model label as manufactured in Poland and distributed by TR engineering in the UK. The boilers are from ekogren.pl. At least this was the position in 2015 when this boiler was installed, the installers also took me to another system which had a 25kw boiler from same manfacturer.

I was a bit annoyed when I found at ,as part of the decision to go with a trianco boiler was it being from a UK company. Thatís not to say things haveínt changed.

That aside, for a boiler built on pretty agricultural basis , maintenance is pretty straight forward ( if dirty and time consuming)  and whilst certainly not a switch on and forget machine,aside from fortnightly ash removal, it needs a basic clean every six weeks and a more extensive strip and clean twice yearly one of which is done by Trianco to satisfy RHI.

Trianco technical and service support have been very good, spares seem reasonably priced and i see no reason for it not to last the duration of its rhi period .
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chasfromnorfolk
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« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2018, 09:17:55 AM »

Apologies: just realised my assumption you were feeding from a bulk hopper may be wrong, in which case my earlier post makes little sense. Youíd need to empty the Ďdomesticí hopper of pellets and feed fresh via that.
Again, not knowing the boiler - but in case itís relevant - if the gravity drop into the boilerís anything like the Grant flexible tube, pellets are inclined to stick unless the right position is found hopper to boiler for a smooth drop.
And finally in my list of irrelevance, erratic firing was traced in mine to the ceramic igniter having repositioned itself slightly back in its tube - thereís no clip to hold it in place and repeated opening and closing of the burner door (like you do when experimenting) had shuffled it backwards to a point where it couldít reach the pellets.

Chas
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marigoldmanor
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« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2018, 09:53:53 AM »

Dear all,

Thank you so much for your kind replies and apologies for the delay - was away for a few days. We have managed to find someone with 13 years of biomass installation experience who came out and literally went through every possible option and consideration - many of which you have mentioned. The pellets are fine but the settings appeared to be wrong on the boiler and the actual installation was problematical. He spent almost 2 days working on it and found more than one problem but since then (touching wood very firmly), we appear to be back on track - it's burning much hotter and we're getting ash rather than tar.

He's coming back in a week to check and evaluate plus look at our supersilo which is also a tad iffy but I'm feeling hugely encouraged. I think in this instance, finding an experienced installer rather than a service engineer has done the trick - at a cost of course but definitely worth it for peace of mind.

Thank you all.
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Woodman
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« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2018, 06:10:52 PM »

Who was the guy who came out?  He seems to know what he is talking about.
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