Wood Furnace Repair: A Downeast Thunder Farm Dirty Job

I spent the afternoon inside an outdoor wood furnace.

The experience wasn’t on my list of things to do this morning, but there I found myself. What I won’t do to help Paul out of a tight situation (literally).

The fancy, super-efficient, Central Boiler outdoor wood furnace we were so excited about two years ago has caused more than a little anxiety this year. We use the wood furnace  to heat the water that flows through our radiant floor heating system. It has kept us toasty warm for two winters and has heated our potable water in the winter as well.

The problems started when Central Boiler started sending “fixes” to design problems they discovered with this newfangled furnace. If it was a car, these fixes would be “recalls.” Central Boiler sends you instructions for fixing your own $11,000+ furnace. This spring when Paul cleaned out the furnace, he found cracks in the steel around the air inlets. And, the steel-plate exhaust shutoff door fell right off the bracket that operates it.

I know Paul has been worrying over this all summer. Today he worked on welding the cracks around the air inlet. Next came welding the exhaust shutoff door back on to the bracket. The question was how to reach that spot way inside the boiler.

“Sweetie, do you have time?” he said.

Of course, I said, “I’ve got time for you!”

And look where that got me.

Wood Furnace Repair: A Downeast Thunder Farm Dirty Job

With any luck, this monster lemon furnace will get us through another winter without more repairs. I don’t relish climbing back in there anytime soon!

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4 Responses to Wood Furnace Repair: A Downeast Thunder Farm Dirty Job

  1. Kelly says:

    Hello-just wondered if you had an update on this lemon after more winters? …We have been considering buying an outdoor furnace (live in Canada) and they are so much money we postponed for another year trying to justify the expense even when we have our own wood to burn! I’m so surprised after 2 years that you were in this predicament…your experience will certainly help us to consider which brand to buy or not.

    • sjbennett says:

      Kelly, I’m going to let my husband respond to this one!

    • Ed Pentecost says:

      Saw your post about your Outdoor Boiler from Central. It looks like a E -Classic 2300 I have the same stove if you hear of a Class Action L:awsuite I would like to be part of this. Like you said if this was a car it would have gone back to the dealer. Too many problems they have had to list. Had my air inlets just cut out by Central had to pay for the labor but they gave the dealer the parts. Still does not work correctly. May other issues. Let me know if you hear anything from other. Go on Forestry Forum web site and bring up the stove. Thanks Ed

  2. Paul says:

    Kelly,

    Since that original post we have used our boiler through three more winters. The two biggest problems encountered were (1): This was a new design and the company rushed it to market before working out all the bugs and design flaws. (2): The dealer was impossible to deal with and would not respond to calls and was never available after he had our money.

    Fortunately, the company eventually came around and helped out with tech support and took away the dealership from the guy we bought the boiler from.

    We still have multiple problems and break downs requiring extensive repairs during and after every season though. We are still burning now but the same problem of the smoke deflection or damper plate coming off the bracket it is attached to has happened once again and we will weld it back on again over the summer.

    The ads tell you how you can heat your home for free and show pictures of everyone smiling and happy while warm and cozy in there home. What they don’t show or tell you is that you have to run a circulating pump 24/7 which adds to your electric bill. You still have to get wood and if you buy it, it’s almost the cost of heating with oil around here. Getting it yourself means diesel fuel for the truck and tractor for skidding out the trees and moving the firewood from the woods to the boiler area. Gas and oil has to be purchased for chainsaws along with new chains and or sharpening chains now and again. The wood has to be cut to length and stacked until used. But wait – your not done yet. Now you have to check and load your boiler each and every day during the winter, and you have to clean the boiler out every few days (very dirty and messy job that will give you “black lung” in order to keep it operating properly. Of course, the boiler always needs to be cleaned during a blizzard or pouring rain storm, so you clean it sooner than needed to avoid having to do it during the storm. Quite frankly, I’m not fond of cleaning the boiler, working on it, or loading it in sub zero temperatures. For just a few bucks more per month, I could have kept burning oil, free of all the extra work and aggravation. Once the burning season starts, you become a slave to the boiler – you just cant leave for a weekend to go skiing or something else. If you do, the wood will burn out the fire will go out, the temperature will rapidly drop, and everything will freeze solid.

    Knowing what I know now, I would never purchase another outdoor wood boiler nor would I purchase another product from the manufacturer of the one we have.

    A good alternative is to check out outdoor pellet boilers that use bulk pellets delivered by truck and loaded into a large enclosed storage bin. The bins typically hold enough pellets for a month or more of burning with automatic feed to the boiler so you don’t have to load it. No chopping, sawing, stacking, or loading. Plus pellets delivered in bulk are much less costly than buying pellets by the bag.

    That’s my 2 cents on the subject.

    – Paul B.

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