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Anyone have experience using a woodstove in the cellar to heat your house?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by iburnpine, Sep 14, 2006.

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  1. iburnpine

    iburnpine Member

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    I'm wondering if anyone does this and if you could share any information regarding it. I have two stoves in my house, one in the cellar and one in our living room. I've read that you should burn where you 'live', so I do all of my burning in the living room. My Jotul basically heats the entire house but I was wondering if it would be possible to heat the entire house with a bigger stove in my cellar. Of course, I'd have to keep the cellar door open and perhaps add some registers into the floors but I'm wondering if it's even possible. My house is about 1800 sq feet and well insulated.

    Oh yeah, when I used my stove in the cellar last year (Regency F110 - i think), it definitely heated the entire cellar and the floors sort of warmed up but I was sort of expecting more warmth on the first floor.

    Thanks all....

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  2. carpniels

    carpniels Minister of Fire

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    THis question was asked last year too (I did) and the response was mostly negative. Too much heat loss through the basement walls, never enough air movement, no use of radiant heat.

    The conclusion was that a stove in the area you live is much better. I have to run some fans to get the hot air to where I want it, but that is a small price to pay.

    Thanks

    Niels
  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    If heating from basement, a furnace or boiler - or a stove with at least a ductwork connection (not aware of any, but have seen in the past) is best. Otherwise, most heat is sucked up by the basement.
  4. Mike Wilson

    Mike Wilson New Member

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    Think of all that cement... its a giant heat sink. I'd suggest keeping the stove in your living area. It is, after all, a space heater.

    -- Mike
  5. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Agree. My office is in an unfinished basement and the stove runs all day. It provides squat for heat to the upstairs floors. That job is left up to the stove in the family room.
  6. Corie

    Corie Minister of Fire

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    It depends though. Our basement is concrete block, but has stud walls and fiberglass batt insulation between the living space and the concrete. With good insulation, and finished walls, a minimal amount of heat is going to make it to the concrete.


    If the walls are just bare concrete block, forget about it. Concrete block has awful thermal properties when compared with other insulating materials.

    For example, 8inch normal weight aggregate blocks have about the same R value as a 3/4 piece of plywood. ( .97 [hr*ft^2*F/Btu] vs .93 [hr*ft^2*F/Btu] )
  7. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Won't work if the basement is not insulated. If the house is an open floor plan and on the small side it will work. My house is 1800 sq ft including basement. My stove is in an insulated finished basement. With the help of vents and fans I can keep a 5 degree difference between the 2 floors.
  8. suematteva

    suematteva New Member

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    Basement needs to be well insulated and have open floor plan, we have open stairwell within a couple feet of the stove, and an additional register opening. two thirds of basement is finished. It works well in our situation due to the layout and insulation..
  9. iburnpine

    iburnpine Member

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    Thanks guys, most of the replies are what I expected but it's always nice to get confirmation from those that have done it.
  10. Corie

    Corie Minister of Fire

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    I was just working through some homework and came on a problem which applies here.


    Given an uninsulated basement, with 6ft of it's walls underground, and 2ft of wall exposed to the outside air; with an outside air temp of 25 Deg F and an inside temp of 75 Deg F, find the heat loss per hour ignoring heat loss due to infiltration and the outside air requirements.

    The numbers are ugly, to say the least. Given 8inch aggregate block, that I mentioned above, a 40' x 20' basement is losnig 21082 Btu/hr through the walls and floor at that temperature. It takes a LOT of stove to make up for a loss that large.
  11. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    Boy, two days in a row I get to vent about my experience! Just kidding, I feel better after yesterday.

    Definetely need the basement insulated. I put a big stove in the basement to heat my house. The first winter, had to feed it constantly. Once the fire went out I could practically watch the thermometer drop back down to normal. The heat was going somewhere but sure wasn't going upstairs or staying in the basement. I insulated it. That was better, but heat wasn't moving like I wanted. I had to keep my basement around 90F to heat my house, the top floor was around 55F. I installed ducting. 3 went to the main floor, 2 to the upper, a register above the stairs, couple fans, and a big hood right above the wood stove that should've funneled any of the heat rising into the main floor. What a let down, I had to keep the basement 80-85, the main floor stayed 70's, the upper floor was usually 55-60F. I had that for 20+ years. In winter I felt like I'd lost the ability to use 2 floors. The basement was too hot, top floor too cold, occasionally I'd turn the oil on when I couldn't take it. To sleep at night went to bed wearing a thick hooded sweatshirt.

    No way on the bigger stove in the basement. Plus, you have to be "ahead" of the game when it's down there. If your significant other starts to complain they're cold on the main floor, putting more wood on the fire it'll be 3-4 hours before you feel it. Not so on the same floor.
  12. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    It sure is, on many houses the most heat is being lost out the exposed foundation. Around here people have solid concrete foundations, at R0.08/inch a 10" thick concrete foundation has a total R value of 0.8. The heat loss out the 2 feet above grade of uninsulated foundation is astounding, and you carry it right down to the frost line. You don't lose a lot of heat out the foundation floor, where I live the ground is around a constant 50F, even if it's -30F outside my basement floor holds 50F.

    Wood has an R-Value of 1.5 per inch, many houses don't even have insulation in the rim joist and sill plate areas done and they're a piece of cake. To see where I'm talking about, go into your basement to the foundation wall, and look up to the top of your foundation where it turns into wood (your floor joists above should be resting on it). There's usually only a 2 x ? around the perimeter standing up (rim joist) along with usually one or two 2x4's laying down (sill plates). At R1.5/inch the rim joist is only providing a little over R2. Insulating it around your perimeter (I used R19) gives you almost instant payback. You're supposed to caulk or foam the joints in the rim joist/sill plate before insulating, and do not insulate over any pipes in the sill plate/rim joist. The insulation needs to be cut around or notched and placed behind so the pipes remain exposed to the basement air to prevent freezing.
  13. Homefire

    Homefire New Member

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    I use to live in SC , I heated with a wood cookstove in the basement. It worked wonderfully plus I always had a pot of beans or soup simmering.
    Of corse the average daily low was 62 degrees.
  14. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy New Member

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    What does that blue foam have for r value? i put two layers on the outside of my unfinished basement. My central heating system is a steffers thermal mass electric heater. Its basicly a 5000 lb brick that has coils running through it. The coils heat the bricks during off peak hours when i pay cheap electricity, and the house uses the avalible heat during the on peak heating hours. My question is, this unit is warm 24/7 and its big. Approx 5'Lx3'Wx5'T the outside stays at about 90 degrees acting like a radiator stove. My basement is never warm. I hope that it improves once i get studs and insulation up.
  15. jabush

    jabush Feeling the Heat

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    Are you in a "split foyer" or do you have two floors above the basement?
    My house is a split foyer and my stove is downstairs, which is a finished living area. The ductwork runs lengthways (longways) and cuts into the ceiling space downstairs. I thought it kind of sucked when we bought the house, but it actually directs the warm air from the stove to the upper level of the house. With a ceiling fan in the upstairs kitchen, it pulls the heat right up there.
    Now my addition is another story...
  16. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    The blue foam is Dow, and the Pink is Owens-Corning, both are R5/inch. I know, I just put a pile of it in my basement. The foil coated stuff is better, like 7.5/inch, but it is subject to moisture retention, and significantly drops once the moisture gets into it. I put in the 2 inch Insulpink in for R10, then built a stud wall and put in R13 non-faced bats in. I just took some picts tonight if anyone wants I'll post them over in the Pic forum...let me know. With the cinderblock wall and sheetrock, I figure the entire wall is like R25. (better than the rest of the house). With the Furnace and a dehumidifier running, it's been getting very hot down there this week while I've been working on electric. (Lights, plugs etc...)

    To directly answer the question, my parents had a coal stove in the basement (Den room) Room is like 18x 12, and that room was always near 80 once the Warm Morning was cranked up. That plus a much much smaller stove, something on the order of a Morso 1410 Coal verson, would keep their house warm, but the bedrooms were always cold. The house is a 1400 sqft ranch. It was quite hard to move the heat upstairs.

    The funny story about that stove was the first night we fired it up. It was around 30 degrees outside and we got a rip roaring wood fire going in the Warm Morning to prep for adding the Anthricite. Well, we had no idea how much heat that stove was capable of, nor how to control it very well. We added the about 20 lbs of coal which took right off (as well as coal does), and within an hour or so the downstairs room was near 100 degrees. The stove must have been running at aroud 500 degrees and we got really concerned since we thought we had a run away coal fire.

    So there we were with the sliding glass door wide open 30 degrees out 100 degrees inside and it took quite a while for everything to even out.

    For anyone who needs serious heat, coal is very hard to beat.
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