How to Install a Coal Boiler
LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to Ron in New York who has a question about a coal burner.
Ron, how can we help?
RON: Well, they’re raising natural gas prices. I’m going to – I’m finally ordering a Keystoker coal boiler.
TOM: Oh, isn’t that interesting? So you’re getting away from natural gas; obviously you’re getting away from oil and propane. You’re going back, so to speak, to what was used as the common fuel many, many years ago. You’re actually going back and installing a coal boiler.
TOM: Now can you get coal delivered in your neighborhood?
RON: Yes. I guess there is some really good anthracite coal in the area.
TOM: Wow. OK. Well, I believe this may be a Money Pit first. It’s the first coal boiler question I’ve ever received.
TOM: So let’s give it our best shot.
RON: OK. I’ve got some friends that have – I mean they’ve talked me into it. And my big – my main question is I want to install it in a way where I can hook a coal bin outdoors to feed through the foundation for automatic feed.
RON: Eliminate the need for dumping bags in the coal hopper.
LESLIE: So you don’t need to chain one of your children in the basement to shovel the coal in there. (Tom chuckles)
RON: Right. (Ron and Leslie chuckle) That’s right. But to do that, I’m going to be putting my vents away from the wall and I would have to run a direct vent much further than I want to and I’m not sure how far you can run a direct vent.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK. OK. Hmm. There are venting tables that determine that and they would be supplied by the manufacturer of the boiler itself. Now is this a high-efficiency unit?
RON: It is. I’m told it is pretty high efficiency. I think the direct vent is an option that became available more recently.
TOM: OK. The venting tables is what you’re going to have to look at. It would be the same question as if it was a gas boiler, frankly, or a wood boiler. It’s really determining how long – and the length is also going to be a function of the diameter of the pipe. The longer you go, the wider the pipe might have to be.
RON: OK, that makes sense.
TOM: And so you need to – you’re going to need to consult those tables to determine what the answer to that might be. And is it going to be direct vent then? That’s the way you’re going?
RON: Yeah, it seemed like a nice option. [I was going to …] (ph)
TOM: You also need to pay attention as to, obviously, where that vents through the wall because there are going to be minimum distances between that and grade so that you don’t have a chance of snow building up and covering the vent. There’s also going to be a minimum distance between that vent and any window or door opening so there’s no chance that any combustion gas could vent back into the house.
RON: Oh, those are good points. I hadn’t thought of those.
TOM: All of those things have to be considered before you decide where to actually locate that. So are you getting this in now so you’re going to have your first winter with it?
RON: Well, it won’t be until December. They’re backordered so we have to (inaudible).
LESLIE: A lot of people are doing it.
TOM: Well, that’s very interesting, Ron, and good luck with that. Thanks so much for calling and do call us back and let us know if you’ve experienced the savings and the convenience that you had hoped for.
RON: Well, thank you. I appreciate your help.
TOM: Alright. Thanks for calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT.