We are always banging on about the importance of putting decent fuel through your boiler, and the same applies for any type of boiler, be it oil-fired or biomass. Try and burn rocks in either type and you are likely to run into problems.
I was called out to one of our Eta 200 Hack boilers yesterday. The boiler had made some horrible noises, the feed mechanism had jumped on its mountings and a whole list of fault codes came up on the screen.
“Sounds like something big went through it,” I said, “Maybe a big chunk of metal, gate hinge, or a big spike?”
The error log was pretty consecutive with its codes, starting with ‘Drop shaft cover raised’, through ‘Feed auger jammed’, to ‘Ampage too high on ash conveyor screw’. I put the boiler into De-ash mode, had a mug of tea and then checked the ash bin. Sure enough, after rooting around in there for a few seconds I found a few chunks of something about an inch and a half square. Then to my amazement I found a chunk the size of my hand, partially glazed by the heat of the fire. I initially thought it was a broken up brick, but on closer examination I found it was rock, probably scraped from the hardcore bordering the farmyard. It must have been left behind in the bucket of the loading shovel when the chips were picked up and dumped into the chip store on the side of the boilerhouse.
If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I wouldn’t have believed it would have gone through the boiler. Much less without causing damage to something on its way through.