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Wood Stove ideas...


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#1 of 26 OFFLINE   Jay H

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Posted March 13 2006 - 01:32 AM

In liue of doing geothermal (I think the cost of it is too high for my blood and the lack of installers in my area), I am really considering putting in a wood stove to 1)Assist in heating my house 2)heat the basement (it's not heated right now) and 3)I've always wanted one. I'm looking at different methods and different locations of installation.

I have a stone fireplace and I've heard of folks using a wood stove inside with a heat-based fan to shoot some of the heat into the room, however, I still like to use the fireplace for decorative heat. I've also considered if it's possible to install a wood stove next to the fireplace and simply run the flue into the chimney. Is this legal, safe, and possible?

I've also considered what my friend does and this would solve my #2 reason, heat the basement. What I've seen my friend do in his house in the catskills of NY, is he has a wood stove in the unfinished basement with a venting tile to the kitchen area directly above the wood stove. Then if I was to vent another portion of he house, the hot air from the wood stove will heat my basement, dry out the basement, provice heat to my main floor via the vent. Then if I have an open vent somewhere else, the cold(er) air will drop into the basement and I'll get this convection. (and the wood stove will be hidden and wont take up living space too).

I think the basement idea is the way to go, but I'd like to weigh all my options. Opinions? If I was to put the stove in the basement, I'd simply run the flue through the upper foundation to the outside..

Jay
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#2 of 26 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted March 13 2006 - 02:19 AM

Assuming you have ready access for bringing in the wood, a stove in the basement is a good idea. Stoves do require regular maintenance, and the frequency will depend on the quality of the wood you want to burn, and the type of fires you build. Obviously, they need to be installed properly in order not to become a fire hazard. Make sure to buy a quality stove, or you'll be replacing it before you know it. You should also check with your insurance company, most are getting pretty touchy when it comes to stoves due to the frequency of fires caused by poor construction or installation. Don't be surprised if your premiums increase.

The ideal install will have a chimney that goes straight up - this is ideal for two reasons: first, in order for the stove to work, there needs to be draught, and the fewer bends in the chimney, the less resistance there is; second is for cleaning. The chimney will become clogged with creosote over time, which if left will cause a fire (this is more common than you might think). You need to regularly clean the chimney from the roof, and a straight pipe is easier to clean, and won't build up as much creosote. Depending on your usage, you may be cleaning anywhere from weekly to monthly during the season.

The exhaust should be several feet above the highest point of the roof to work most effectively, check with the manufacturer for proper installation. This site has some info on placement.

You can't share the flue with a conventional fireplace AFAIK.

Using open floor grates is a perfectly acceptable way to distribute heat. If the look of the stove isn't an issue, you might want to consider a wood furnace. These are a lot bigger, but don't require stoking as often, and can be somewhat regulated.

#3 of 26 OFFLINE   Greg_R

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Posted March 13 2006 - 12:32 PM

OK, are you looking for a wood furnace or a wood stove?

Furnace: A large stationary object that ties into your existing ductwork. Exhaust is run into an existing vent that meets code. A good furnace + good wood (oak, etc.) will keep you warm in VERY cold conditions. My parents only run their wood stove when it gets below freezing. At 10&degF or so they can really open it up (i.e. not damper it down). You may also want to investigate corn stoves if you are going this route (cheaper BTUs).

Stove: Decorative stove (good ones are enameled cast iron) that will heat a room or a portion of a house quite well. It will take while to get the stove hot but it will then stay hot for a long time. Many of these stoves come with an optional blower and can burn VERY cleanly. My dad went to clean his and the inside of the vent was spotless (after a lot of usage during the year.

If whole house wood-based heating is your goal then get a furnace. If you want to sit around a fire and have it warm the house then get a good fireplace (design / shape and construction greatly affect a fireplace's ability to heat a room) or woodstove.

#4 of 26 OFFLINE   Jay H

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Posted March 14 2006 - 01:04 AM

I'm leaning towards just a wood stove to accentuate natural gas hot water baseboard heat on a small 1100sf ranch with an unfinished and unheated basement that I'm working on and a decorate stone fireplace.

I'd love to be able to use the fireplace or existing flue (from the gas water boiler/hot water heater) or at least the existing fireplace chimney in some fashion because the fireplace chimney is already to code and above the highest point in the house, wouldn't really want to install another chimney just for the wood stove.

Corn stoves probably wont work as this is NJ and I'm nowhere near the corn farms in south jersey or the midwest.

I've looked at pellet stoves and pellet stove inserts for fireplaces but I think going wood and buying wood is probably the most realistic for me. I can probably find a used wood stove around and especially now when winter is starting to fade. Plus, I think there is something romantic, homesteadish like with wood stove that you wont get with a pellet stove. I dunno... I know I've always wanted a wood stove for my little log-sided house.

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#5 of 26 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted March 14 2006 - 02:26 AM

Even if the existing fireplace chimney is to code for a fireplace, it probably won't be for a wood stove, at least it isn't in Canada. You'd likely need a liner, unless the fire codes where you are are more lenient.

Also, as I mentioned before, you should talk to your insurance company about their requirements, many here won't even insure a house with a wood stove anymore, and the ones that do insist on having an approved unit and the installation inspected. Even when sold new, a lot of the wood stoves sold around here will never be legal for insurance purposes. If buying used, make sure you know what to look for. I've got 600lbs of iron sitting on the deck that was removed from my fireplace and isn't worth anything but for scrap. Gets hot when you burn in it though.

Pellet stoves aren't bad for heat - I have one - but you are right, they aren't the same. For starters, they are somewhat noisy, with 2 blowers and an augur running all the time. Not the same as the crackling of a fire, although crackling isn't necessarily a good thing when it comes to creosote. I'm hoping to put in a wood insert before next winter, you can't beat the quality of the heat.

#6 of 26 OFFLINE   Jay H

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Posted March 14 2006 - 05:34 AM

I'm still learning a lot about my house and house issues,

I have a standard stone fireplace on the first floor, with a stone chimney to above the roof as per the code as much as I know about it. (The Chimney has to be taller than the tallest part of the house). Below the fireplace in the basement is my gas boiler for my heat and a gas hot water tank, they share the same flue which goes through the wall and I am guessing that it goes up through the chimney but next to the fireplace chimney cause I don't see any place inside the fireplace that it is connected. So either the two vents are parallel to each other and both go up to above the highpoint or they somehow merge together above the fireplace that I can't see.

If I was to install a wood stove in the basement:

1)Can I somehow use the same flue as the gas boiler/domestic hot water heater? I know I would have to replace the thin aluminum flue with a beefier iron one built to handle the heat of the wood stove, but would I be able to piggy back them?

2)If not, I know about lining the fireplace flue, but that would mean I wont be able to use the fireplace for decorative reasons too right?

I'm trying not to do a fireplace insert too...

Jay
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#7 of 26 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted March 14 2006 - 04:03 PM

Unless the codes are much different in NJ than they are here, you can't use the same flue for wood as you do for gas venting. Chances are you have them parallel right now, but separated by brick. Whether you could use the same chimney chase, I don't know, but I would doubt it. The pipe isn't iron, it is steel and in order to meet clearances should be double wall, since the pipe itself can cause a fire if it is too close to combustable materials, or if it fails (can burn through). Otherwise, you'll also need a lot of room around the stove to meet required clearances.

With a liner in the chimney, you wouldn't be able to use a regular fireplace, but you could get a wood insert that has a glass door on it, which is essentially a wood stove (it is a wood stove, it just adds a trim on the front) in the fireplace. It doesn't eat up any floor space, and you don't have to install all the protective materials you'll need on the wall and floor for a wood stove, or buy stove pipe, which is pretty expensive. I was looking at over $1300 in pipe alone for a simple install, with no attic or other roof flashing involved. A chimney liner kit is about $3-400 by comparison. You could always get a cheap non working pot belly or similar if you are after the look. I have an old caboose stove for decoration.

#8 of 26 OFFLINE   Robbie R

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Posted March 15 2006 - 07:20 AM

Make sure you call your insurance company and let them know you are planning on installing a wood burning stove to heat your basement. I am pretty sure they will want to know about it, and probably want to increase your rate for the added risk.

#9 of 26 OFFLINE   Jay H

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Posted March 15 2006 - 07:37 AM

Robbie: yes, that's been mentioned before.

I'm thinking now that I'd really have to install a new chimney just for the wood stove if I was to go that route so I'm somewhat now leaning at doing the wood burning insert thing. Any recommendations on brands, I've seen the Quadrafire, Harmen, Vermont Castings. I'm in a very small 1100sf ranch with a stone fireplace on the main floor with a converted loft upstairs into 2 bedrooms.

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#10 of 26 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted March 15 2006 - 08:57 AM

Enviro (enviro-fire.com) seems to be popular in the better quality/reasonable cost range around here. I like the look of some of Vermont's inserts.

A couple of things to consider with an insert are whether it will fit in your fireplace (obvious, but easy to overlook, especially when trying to manhandle a 3-800 hundred pounds of steel), what sized firebox it has (determines how big a log you can use) and whether it is catalytic or not.

When I was looking at stoves, one thing I found was that many have a ridiculously small firebox/opening. Unless you enjoy splitting and plan on making piles of kindling to burn, a bigger box is better. See what the average burn times are if ou expect to be using the stove for heat - it should burn overnight so you aren't having to constantly build fires.

Catalytic units are great for efficiency, but require higher grade wood to last and work their best. They have small tubes in the top that recirculate the air for a hotter burn, but will foul if you are using less than optimal fuel, ie not fully seasoned or lesser species. Like everything else, the fancier the product, the more maintenance is involved, and the more likely it is to have problems. You might want to look into what kinds and grades of wood are locally available, and at what cost.

#11 of 26 OFFLINE   Jay H

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Posted March 15 2006 - 11:15 PM

Thanks Jeff. I contacted a local installer and since I'm not in any hurry and they do give a free estimate, I scheduled one for early may. I can see if other companies can give me an estimate. The guy simply said on the phone that a QuadraFire 3100 to install would be about $3300, including the liner, circulating fan, insert and installation.

I can look at the wood sources between now and then and I am going to see if I can get other estimates. I know I'll probably have to extend my floor piece out a bit. Right now i have a 19" floorpiece made of stone, however, talking to the company yesterday, they say the stove extends roughly 8" or so out of the hearth and the fireproofing needs to be extended, so perhaps before they install it, that is something I might be able to do myself.

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#12 of 26 OFFLINE   Lucia Duran

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Posted March 16 2006 - 01:18 AM

We use a wood stove to heat out house in the winter and I love it! Good thing we have 1.58 acres with lots of wood.
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#13 of 26 OFFLINE   Hugh Jackes

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Posted March 16 2006 - 07:20 AM

When I lived in Vermont, I had a wood furnace in the basement. I cut, split, and burned 7 cords of wood a winter.

Our house stayed generally pretty warm, but occasionally we needed a little extra heat when the tmperature really plummeted. We used a kerosene space heater in the room we were in on those nights, but the bloom is really off that rose now.

We also had electric baseboard heaters, but the only time I used them was once a month when I let the fire go out, wire brushed the exposed in-house flue work, and went up on the roof and rattled the chains in the chimney.

I found that by damping it down, I could load it up with wood in the morning, go to work for 10 hours and still have a 60-degree house and a bed of coals when I got home. Stoke it and load it as soon as I walked in the door, every couple of hours through the evening (because it wasn't damped down so completely, for more heat, it burned more quickly), before going to bed, and again in the morning.
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#14 of 26 OFFLINE   Jay H

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Posted March 16 2006 - 07:26 AM

I'm looking forward to some kind of wood firing thing as a backup to when the power goes out and/or when somebody blows up the oil supply...At least I'll be warm.

I don't know if wood stove mfgrs change the models a lot,I suspect they do not but perhaps I can get some end of season discount too by installing this in the spring/summer.

Kind of looking at a Quadrafire 3100i or a Harman Exception. The exception is bigger cf, accepts larger logs but I haven't yet figured out the price. The one local company near me is a QF dealer/installer so they are coming out in May to do an estimate.

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#15 of 26 OFFLINE   Jay H

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Posted May 10 2006 - 01:42 AM

Revive my old thread.

Had my estimate last friday and the person was in my house and out in like 5 minutes!

Measured the face of my fireplace and depth and a couple of other things, then we went upstairs and measured the pitch of my roof and wrote things down and kind of ran out the door!

Anyway, got the estimate back via a letter, a Quadrafire 3100i wood stove including labor and parts (Chimney, stove, and floor slab) including taxes comes out to ~$3450 while the 3100i insert/blower/chimney flue comes out to $3700.

Strange enough that the stove is cheaper but that is probably what is going to be done. I have the perfect place to stick it in to, a corner where if we run the chimney straight up and avoiding bends, it will run behind a wall in the upstairs bedroom so it wont be visible and then through the roof. I do need to go down to the showroom to look at options for the stove (trimming, the floor piece) and I need to start looking at stoves in more detail. They also carry Jotul so I'd like to check them out too...

On my way!

Jay
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#16 of 26 OFFLINE   Jay H

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Posted June 07 2006 - 06:07 AM

Wood stove is mostly installed! Looks nice. It's crappy outside and raining so they can't cut the hole in the roof and seal it in the rain so they will come back. But they put the floor piece in, the stove on top, and put the fitting in the ceiling and cut the tiles and rerouted the ceiling joist. Now they are ready to cut the roof and put the chimney up, flashing, and seal it all. Took about 3.5 hours to do the woodwork. Had to put an access door in my upstairs closet so they could go back inside the crawl space above my main floor.

Found out that above the cheap acoustic ceiling tile is 1" cedar tongue and groove panelling, which is in GREAT shape, it looks REAALLLLYY nice and makes me want to rip out the ceiling tile and leave it at bare cedar. Being cedar, it smells nice too. Also, the ceiling rafters are made with cedar too. However, found out the insulation in the crawl space is ancient. Says "cotton insulation" and it's all falling apart, probably 30+ years old..

Also, found an old Lucky Strike cigarette pack that says NJ cigarette tax 3cents.. Don't know how long has it been since the NJ cig tax has been 3cents...

Jay
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#17 of 26 OFFLINE   Jay H

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Posted June 22 2006 - 11:13 AM

..and here it is, all done!

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#18 of 26 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted June 22 2006 - 11:34 AM

Looks nice. You didn't need any protection on the walls behind it?

I'm still hoping to add an insert before winter, though don't know if that will happen with all the other projects vying for funding around here. The pellet stove I got is okay for part of the house, but nowhere near enough for all of it. I'm still having some issues with it, as it is also kind of finicky and won't burn low, which I'm told they aren't great for anyway.

Enjoy the heat!

#19 of 26 OFFLINE   Jay H

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Posted June 22 2006 - 11:25 PM

Well, there is a minium of 7" which is what is required by code and also labelled in the installation guide. So, being in the corner and angled out, there is 7" of clearance on the left rear corner and about 9" of clearance on the right. (The existing baseboard heat unit is there and that kind of pushes the stove a little further from the wall. The stove pipe leading up through my second floor crawlspace is a double stainless steel pipe. It's black inside and bare SS outside.

Jay
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#20 of 26 OFFLINE   Brandon_T

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Posted June 22 2006 - 11:59 PM

Looks real good Jay. FYI I do insurance inspections, typically commercial buildings, in the loss control field, but for a few years I did alot of farm inspections and that usually included wood burning stoves. Have you informed your insurance company? If you don't mind me asking who is it? I work for many of them and most of them have the same requirements. Don't be surprised if you get a call from someone from your company saying they want to come take a look at it, photograph it, and measure some things. Even though local code may be 7", you might find that your insurance company will require a minimum of 18" to walls or combustibles without any protection, such as your walls. They may ask for brick to be installed or something that is non-combustible. Just trying to give you a heads up. Again, it looks great and its something the wife and I are considering in coming years. Don't know how I missed this topic originally.