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Basement vs. Living room for wood insert?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by emt1581, Jul 7, 2010.

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  1. emt1581

    emt1581 Minister of Fire

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    Someone on another forum suggested I come here for all things wood stove/insert. So I did some reading today. Even though it's mentioned in a lot of threads that the placement of stoves is often spoken about, I didn't see many threads on basement placement except for a guy who wanted to rip out insulation and put a pellet stove in. So here goes....

    We just bought a new (to us) home literally today the agreement was signed. We move in late July.

    The home has a fireplace in the (finished knotty pine) basement. It's also given us the option to install a new fireplace in the living room directly above the one in the basement due to how the chimney was built. However, that's going to cost a few grand extra. We're trying to keep things cost efficient right now but we want to get an insert in before winter.

    My question is, when it comes to wood inserts, do modern models throw enough heat to make it up two flights of stairs, without putting vents/registers in? If I can put up a baby gate and just leave the basement door open that'd be nice to heat the home. All we'd have to do is pick out a stove or an insert and have someone install it and a liner.

    Growing up we had an Osburn and that thing made the house toasty. But then again it was in the family room on the main level.

    I've read a lot of contradictory stuff here...some say the concrete in the foundation will suck up a ton of heat other say they've had a stove/insert in their basement and love it so we'll see what the replies say now.

    The home is a center hall colonial and with the basement it's around 2000sqft. give or take.

    Please share your experience.

    Thanks!:)

    -Emt1581

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  2. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Generally speaking, solid fuel burning appliances other than boilers/furnaces...I'm talking about wood & pellet stoves & inserts...are space heaters. They do a wonderful job of heating the space in which they're installed, but getting that heat distributed in any direction other than up is a challenge we all face to one degree or another. So, the typical party line is that the appliance is best installed in the space/on the level where you spend the most time. The idea of vents/registers can get a little dicey with fire/structural/mechanical codes, so you want to tread carefully in that direction. Yes, there are folks who report good results heating the upstairs from a basement install...perhaps some of them can chime in here with their experiences. Welcome to the forums. Rick
  3. emt1581

    emt1581 Minister of Fire

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    I appreciate the info. Have that same axe to. ;)

    Thanks!

    -Emt1581
  4. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Your biggest supply/return for a basement install is going to be your stairwell and if the insert is close to it or centrally located, it may work fine. I've had success with basement installs but figure about a 5-10 degree difference in temps between the two floors, you will never even out the heat throughout the whole house. Maybe you can do a basement install this year and see how it works out and plan another stove upstairs later down the road if needed or vise versa.
  5. emt1581

    emt1581 Minister of Fire

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    Well I'm doing my homework now. We aren't poor but money is going to be tight for a while after we move in and have some work done. I want to do it right the first time. If that means a little demo work and building a new hearth ok. But I can't do both. I'm not sure how expensive it is to swap an insert from one hearth to the next. Wouldn't that need a whole new liner and all?

    Thanks!

    -Emt1581
  6. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forums, EMT :)

    Is the space where the insert is going, the space where you will spend the most time?

    PS..get working on wood now, what ever the outcome !!
  7. emt1581

    emt1581 Minister of Fire

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    It'll be my man cave. It's BEAUTIFUL!! But no, our living area will be the main and upper level.

    And the fireplace down the basement is about 15-20 feet away from the steps in an outcove.

    Thanks!

    -Emt1581
  8. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    When you say that the chimney was built in such a way as to give you the option to install an upstairs appliance directly above the one below...just what sort of configuration are you talking about? Two appliances cannot share the same flue, so if the chimney can accommodate only a single flue (liner), then you have to choose...upstairs or downstairs. Lots of homes are built with fireplaces on two levels...but the chimney structures always incorporate two separate flues, one from downstairs all the way to daylight, and another separate flue from upstairs to daylight. What's your chimney structure all about in that respect? Could make a big difference in how you proceed. Of course, even if your chimney has but one flue, you can always add an appliance upstairs and just install stovepipe & Class A chimney pipe up through the roof independent of the existing chimney. Got any pics of the situation we're talking about? Rick
  9. emt1581

    emt1581 Minister of Fire

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    I was told it has two separate flues. If you're looking at the chimney from outside, the wider base covers both the basement and main level before tapering off above. I was told it was just a matter of knocking out the wall and building a hearth to add a fireplace.

    So what your saying is I need to make sure there are actually two flues before even thinking about installing an insert/stove on the main level right?

    Otherwise I'm pretty much stuck with the basement fireplace for an insert. In this situation, given that it's a finished basement and the home, including said basement, is around 2000sqft., will buying an insert rated for 2500+sqft. compensate at all? Any risk in ruining the knotty pine walls with that much heat?

    Thanks!

    -Emt1581
  10. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    I think a floor plan is going to help here.
  11. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Might be the case. What you need to do to confirm is get up on the roof and look at the top of the chimney. If there are, in fact, two separate flues in it, that fact will be immediately apparent to you, as they'll have separate termini where they go to daylight. Rick
  12. emt1581

    emt1581 Minister of Fire

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    In other words I have to look down the chimney and see if there are two separate holes/tube? That should be interesting. Maybe I'll have my roofer friend do that for me.

    Thanks!

    -Emt1581
  13. emt1581

    emt1581 Minister of Fire

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    What would the layout matter?

    Thanks!:)

    -Emt1581
  14. madison

    madison Minister of Fire

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    Regarding the basement install:

    consider the effort, mess, wall damage etc of moving wood to the stove in the basement. ie, if it is not a walkout basement, i would definately NOT want to personally carry wood thru the house, down the stairwell into the basement.
  15. emt1581

    emt1581 Minister of Fire

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    It's a walkout basement and there's a covered porch outside the doorway.

    -Emt1581
  16. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That will show us how and if the heat is going to migrate upstairs or if it would be better off with an upstairs stove to start with.
  17. emt1581

    emt1581 Minister of Fire

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    So a layout of the basement? I sort of gave it but I guess I could go into more detail...

    If you come down the steps from the main level you can only go left. To that left on the far wall is the fireplace (maybe 15-20 feet from the staircase). Directly to the left and in back of the staircase is open space. It's an L shaped large room really. Diagonally opposite the landing to the staircase is the laundry room. And to the rear of the L is the walkout/exit. There are other rooms but all rooms in the basement have doors and they will be closed normally.

    Hopefully that helps.

    Thanks!

    -Emt1581
  18. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    If you aren't gonna get up there and see if there are two flues then it is time to get a stove installer or chimney sweep out there to do that. You need the existing flue inspected anyway and while he/she/it is there they can advise as to what your options are.

    And having heated a 2,500 foot center hall colonial with wood for over 25 years I can tell you that you ain't gonna heat that house from the basement. I have a stove down there, to heat me when I am down there. The stove on the main floor hauls the freight.
  19. dafattkidd

    dafattkidd Minister of Fire

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    My two cents would be this: The knotty pine- if it's 3/4" v-joint (tongue and groove) and not 1/4" sheets of paneling, then there's a good chance that the wood will warm up and radiate some heat once you get that room heated up. Also if you're only going to get the one stove, I would get something with a real big firebox. I had to get a small insert to fit in my fireplace- it gets the job done, but it's a lot more work. Another head's up is that man cave is going to get really warm. I'm really a rookie and have no right giving too much advice, but hope that helps.
  20. emt1581

    emt1581 Minister of Fire

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    It's thick, not 1/4" paneling.

    Thanks!

    -Emt1581
  21. ddddddden

    ddddddden Minister of Fire

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    Freestanding stove in the living room. No fireplace required. Hearth gate to keep baby at bay.
  22. wood thing

    wood thing Member

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    WHAT ABOUT GETTING WOOD TO THE BASEMENT ?
  23. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    +1. Many stoves only require spark protection possibly making this as simple as laying some tile. It also gives you a lot more stove options when you don't have to deal with the constraints of an existing fireplace.
  24. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Random thoughts . . .

    * Congrats on the new home purchase . . . it's always exciting to buy and move into a new home.

    * You say the basement is finished . . . but is it insulated . . . and if so, how well insulated? This makes a difference . . . if the folks just ran some furring strips and attached the pine board to the walls then I would guess you would still lose a lot of heat to the surrounding cement . . . but if they put up some foam insulation before putting on the pine boards you might be OK to go with a stove in the basement.

    * When I was first looking at the idea of heating with wood I thought having a basement install would be great . . . which is ironic since I don't even have a basement. I figured it would keep the mess out of the house and free up more space in the living area. However, I have since changed my mind. The only time I would put a wood-burning appliance in a basement now is if I had a wood boiler or a wood furnace which would use ductwork or plumbing to carry the heated air/water throughout my entire home. I say this since a) the only real way it seems to be even remotely efficient with a woodstove and get as many BTUs as you can is to have an insulated basement (a friend of mine has a basement stove . . . and they heat their home . . . but they are also losing a lot of heat) and b) once you experience a woodstove running in your living space you cannot imagine what it would be like to not have one there -- the feel of the heat radiating out and warming you, the sound of the crackling fire, the view of the dancing flames and the secondary burn light show, the smell of the potpourri simmering on the stove top and just simply the ability to quickly and easily tell where you are in the burning cycle . . .

    * So if I'm reading this correctly the house is set up so you can simply knock out a small section of the wall and connect to an existing flue in the living room . . . if this is true this would be a no-brainer for me . . . open up that small section of wall (after checking to make sure this is actually true) and build a hearth per your stove's specs and start enjoying the heat, the sound and the view with a free standing stove. Other than a bit of drywall work, the most difficult thing in my mind would be building the hearth . . . and this can be done simply and easily for less than $250 . . . now on the otherhand if you're determined to go with a wood-burning insert and want to build an actual fireplace . . . well then you're looking at a bit more money . . . personally I would spend the money on an attractive stove and hearth . . . and get the most BTUs possible.

    * It's been said before, but I'll say it again . . . put your stove where you spend the bulk of your time. You'll enjoy the heat more and the "extras" that come with the sights, sounds and smells . . . and you'll be able to monitor it better.

    * We like pictures . . . we're very visually oriented. We like pictures of woodpiles . . . pictures of stoves . . . and even pictures of potential areas where a stove could be installed . . . and yes a lay-out of the entire house, square footage, etc. would be useful . . . and as mentioned we like pictures of all of these things . . . or at least a drawing.
  25. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

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    I have my stove in the walkout basement and had a similar configuration in my former house. It can work quite well, but it's dependent upon several
    factors.

    1) You need a large insert or stove to heat the whole house;
    2) You need good air flow between the upstairs and downstairs. I've had very open staircases with a big stove located close to the staircases;
    3) An insulated, finished off basement is a big help; and
    4) You need to be able to live with the sometimes significant temperature differences between upstairs and downstairs (the stove room will be
    very warm at times when you're trying to warm up the upstairs).

    In my case, heating the downstairs is just as important as heating the upstairs. The master bedroom, my office and the family room is in the
    walk-out level. I'll close the master bedroom door to make sure that room doesn't get too warm and may open the window a crack. I also have
    a small insert upstairs to help moderate temp differences. I didn't have that in the old house

    You'll have to decide which compromise is best for your situation.
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