Monday, November 12, 2012

Filling the Freezer and Keeping Warm

The weather did a 180 degree turn yesterday compared to the previous week. We had rain and high winds and it got down to the mid 20s last night and today's high was about 48...Saturday, the opening day of deer season, it was 72. Speaking of deer season, where we are in rural Missouri deer season is a big deal and school is out for the week, the restaurants open early for the pre-hunt breakfasts, hunting sneaks into the Sunday sermons, and the first thing out of every ones mouths is "did you get a deer yet?". That my friends is pressure but its a fun time and about every vehicle has someone wearing blaze orange going by and we love it.

But knowing the weather was going to get cold we decided to do some maintenance and repair on the Outside Wood Boiler that we use to heat our house. Last year we developed a bit of a knock in the heater hoses that circulate water to the water jacket that keeps the door of the boiler cool so we decided to drain the boiler, clean out the scale, clean the fittings and replace the heater hoses.

These are the heater hoses I referred to above. The 90 degree fittings into the boiler were almost completely occluded with limestone scale so they needed to be cleaned out and the hoses themselves were ready to be replaced so we did. You can replace the hoses without draining the boiler but you can clean out the fittings so we drained it completely and then did the repairs.

The white PEX that goes from the upper left to the lower right is just a piece I cobbled together to fill the boiler and bleed the air out of the circulation lines. To fill it you close the feed line ball valve on the lower right and open the return line ball valve in the upper left and then fill it with filtered water from a hose attached to the white PEX.
You can see the lower right feed ball valve in this picture and the circulation pump (the red thing as Holly would say). The feed line is how the hot water heated in the boiler gets pumped to the heat exchanger in the furnace in our basement that then gets blown through the regular heating ducts and registers. Its all controlled by a thermostat inside and we enjoy the dry warm heat of wood without the mess, insects and fire risk of having a wood fire inside the house. 

The water needs to be filtered before it goes into the boiler so you don't get as much scale buildup and to reduce corrosion of the boiler. This in line filter has replaceable canisters and functions much like a household water purifier and its only used when we fill the boiler about once every two years; if water levels drop slightly in the interim we use gallon jugs of distilled water. We also add an anti-corrosion chemical to get the PH just right and since circulation pumps don't push air very well you need to bleed the system. To do that you open the feed line ball valve, remove the water filter from the PEX and then open the return line ball valve and let about 5 gallons of water drain from the PEX until it doesn't bubble anymore and it runs in a steady stream. Simple eh?
We also did a thorough cleaning of the fire box which included shoveling out ash and clinkers from the fire box through the fire box door and using the ash auger as I am doing here to remove the ash that falls through the grate. This is a monthly maintenance requirement or you get reduced air flow from the blowers and a lower efficiency burn.

Boo Boo was with us as we did this but he seemed totally uninterested and just slept on his back in the sun...probably had mice running right by him as he has gotten lazy in his old age.
So there you have it. It is hard to explain and it sounds complicated based on what I wrote but its not. Outside Wood Boilers are great if you live in the sticks and don't have neighbors that will be bugged by smoke or the wood burning smell (we don't luckily) and they are definitely a little more hands on that a regular furnace but we sure like it. If you live in an HOA neighborhood, don't have the ability or desire to cut wood, and would rather pay someone the $250.00 it would take to do what we just did in this blog entry then they probably aren't for you. Meanwhile, we have a 74 your old house that stays toasty warm all winter for a fraction of the cost of propane, electric or natural gas.

As to the previously mentioned pressure to fill your deer tags, we went out on Saturday which was opening day and had no luck morning or evening, Sunday was blowing 40 mph and rainy so we took a day off and then tonight we went out and I bagged this nice doe. It was cold but sunny and Holly and I were in a double tree stand about 20 feet up over looking a small stream backed by a small pasture and then a ridge of oak trees. Three hours in the stand and all we saw was an owl (awesome), 27 turkeys that came right under us and never saw us, and then right before dusk two does came into the next pasture over to our left. This doe was taken at about 180 yards (I zeroed the rifle to 100 yards) using a Savage 30-06 shooting Remington Core Lockt 180 grain rounds and the shot was down hill and through oak tree branches. I was aiming for mid shoulder and hit her in the spine just in back of her shoulders. I always feel kind of melancholy when I hunt because I very much enjoy seeing these creatures in the wild but they are over populated and need to be culled and we are meat hunters.
Its gutted and hanging in the rock garage for butchering tomorrow (lows of 24 tonight).

Not much to update on the sewer project as the contractors took a few days off for the holiday and deer season but this is inside the holding tank....I wanted a picture before it gets connected and used because once that happens I don't care if they find Elvis alive down there I'm not taking a picture.
And this stainless hatch and air vent will be all that is above grade. Holly still needs to fill her tag and we have a couple landowner tags we can fill but the pressure is off a bit and it was very cool to hunt with my best friend like that and we will try and get her a deer later this week.

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