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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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    I dunno...I've had awesome luck with Craigslist on everything from boats to motors and just tonight I bought a riding lawn mower...KILLER deals to!

    In terms of wood... what do you classify as seasoned? Again, how do I tell if someone is reputable without knowing anyone else who buys wood??

    Thanks!

    -Emt1581

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  2. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Er, what I was trying to tell you is that I was totally, utterly biased the other way until I ended up with a stove. Actually having the stove is what turned me around. Get it? And I'm sure not a "typical gal" because I wouldn't have those wildly impractical granite countertops if you paid me, either. But the point on the stove is that there are many absolutely beautiful ones out there if you look around a bit.

    Not sure what "colorful ones with glazing" means, but go browse some woodstove manufacturers' Web sites and see what's out there. I'm partial to soapstone, which is what I have, both for the quality of the heat and the look.
  3. emt1581

    emt1581 Minister of Fire

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    How are granite counter tops impractical?

    I'll have to look up those soapstone ones.

    -Emt1581
  4. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Hey, then go for it. We'll still be here to hold your hand while you cry later. Unless it's been cut AND split AND stacked for a year or more, it ain't "seasoned" by the standards of modern stoves. "Seasoned" on Craigslist or even from most local dealers/suppliers generally means they cut the tree down a month or so ago and left it lying in the woods, or at best cut it to 8 or 10-foot lengths. That's only fractionally better than green.

    Ask your stove dealer for a suggestion. Look up firewood dealers in the yellow pages. There's at least half-decent odds that somebody who's in the business full time will tell you the truth about when the wood was cut and whether it was split sooner than the day after you call. If somebody's charging within around 50 bucks of the regular going rate for green firewood for "seasoned," that's an immediate tip-off that it's not. And it's not necessarily because they're dishonest, it's just that the old pre-EPA stoves didn't need such dry wood, nor do open fireplaces, and most folks are going by those standards. Around where I live, where ancient "smoke dragon" stoves are the norm, some folks just wait until they run out of firewood in mid-winter, then go out and cut down a couple trees, split them up and throw them right into the stove.

    Not saying you couldn't luck out. It does happen once in a blue moon. But the odds are overhwelmingly against it.

    If you get in a load of green wood well split down (you may have to offer extra for that) and stack it as loosely as you can in a windy, sunny place, you might get by this winter without really major agony. Again, the Woodshed forum is the better place for this discussion, but some woods, like ash, dry much faster than others, like oak. So what kind of wood you end up with will make a major difference.

    As a last resort, look for kiln-dried wood, which goes at a premium but will be dry enough to burn very well.
  5. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Ever knock over a drinking glass, never mind a wine glass, on a granite countertop?
  6. emt1581

    emt1581 Minister of Fire

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    No. I haven't knocked a glass over in years. Our everyday cookware is Corell which you can pretty much slam on concrete. I use plastic cups or beer mugs. Other than if you're clumbsy...how are they impractical?

    -Emt1581
  7. ddddddden

    ddddddden Minister of Fire

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    If the Mrs. likes granite, I would wager that she'd go for a soapstone stove in the living room. mmm. . .soapstone.
  8. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    RE: Stoves . . . ah, not all stoves look the same . . . sure if you want a traditional matte black cast iron stove you can get one . . . or a flat black steel stove . . . but many folks find the soapstone stoves or the enameled stoves to be mighty pretty . . . and some say it becomes a focal point of their home . . . especially in the winter. Myself, I went with a matte black stove . . . a) it was cheaper, b) it was available right then . . . however if I had to do anything different I might have sprung for the fancier looking stove.

    RE: Hearth . . . all free standing stoves still need a hearth . . . well unless they're built right on a concrete pad . . . the hearth (also known as the hearth pad) protects the area from the heat radiating from the bottom of the stove in some cases and protects nearby combustible flooring (i.e. wood floor, carpeting, etc.) from errant sparks, embers or the coals which sometimes roll out of the stove.
  9. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Ah, fire school is open . . . and you're in the right place for learning.

    Heat Transfer: There are three basic ways that heat can transfer from Point A (i.e. the source of the heat) to Point B (which in the case of staying warm in the winter would probably be you.)

    There is conductive heating . . . best example here is to go over to the hot stove and lay your hand on it (no, no, no . . . I was just kidding) . . . in conductive heating the heat is transferred through direct contact. Another way of thinking is that when you fry up some eggs in the morning the heat is transferred to your frying pan from the gas stove by the direct contact with the flame on the metal frying pan. For the purposes of heating a home conductive heating doesn't come into play unless you have to consider clearances from combustibles since putting something that can catch on fire (i.e. 2 x 4, cardboard box, etc.) directly against a hot stove or stove pipe can catch on fire in time.

    There is radiational heating . . . best example here is when you're outside in the sun shine and you can feel the sun on your face. The heat here is being transferred through radiational waves so to speak. In home heating you experience this with a woodstove when you're sitting in front of the stove and you can feel the heat coming out of the stove. I would wager most woodstoves use radiational heating to transfer the heat from the stove to heat you and your home.

    Finally there is convectional heating . . . best example here perhaps (given the fact that I am just a dumb firefighter and not a scientist) is when you turn on a fan on a hot, muggy day and the fan begins to blow that hot, muggy air around. Here heat is transferred through a medium . . . which most typically is either air or water. Most central heating systems use convectional heating by transferring the heat they generate from burning oil or gas to heated air which blows throughout an entire home thanks to ductwork and a large blower or by circulating heated water through pipes in the case of a hot water heating system. Some woodstoves use convectional heating by incorporating shrouds or shields.

    So what does this all have to do with woodstoves . . . well basically this is the long explanation as to why woodstoves are considered space heaters. Since they primarily use raditional heating with the waves radiating out until they strike something (a wall, furniture, you) they tend to heat up the immediate space very well . . . but as you get further and further from the source of the heat generally the cooler the temps will be. While you can utilize some of the convective properties in some woodstoves and even set up your own convective current by using floor fans to move the heated air from one room to another, most folks will tell you that in most homes it can be a challenge to get the entire home heated to the same temp level and depending on the size of your home you may not be able to heat your entire home.

    Now this doesn't mean heating with a woodstove means you need to have a woodstove in each room . . . or that you can't heat an entire home with a stove . . . rather it means folks need to know that woodstoves most effectively heat smaller spaces . . . and if you're being realistic you need to know that it will not heat the same as a hot water baseboard oil boiler with the same temp in each room of the house. Folks who think they can install a woodstove anywhere in their house and then expect to have the temp exactly at 72 degrees in every room in the house will most likely be disappointed.
  10. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Continued from previous post . . .

    Woodstoves can be pretty efficient and can heat your entire home, but again they do have their limitations. Perhaps the statement closest to the truth about woodstoves being space heaters is your second statement . . . woodstoves are designed to heat a certain space and square footage.

    RE: Hearth. I think some folks think of a hearth and fireplace with the mantle and brickwork as the same thing . . . however the best way to think of a hearth is to think of it as a bath matt . . . for your woodstove. Having a bath matt when you get out of the shower is nice . . . it provides protection to you so you don't slip on the wet tile or vinyl floor and some folks think it kind of compliments the shower and bathroom. A hearth is the same thing . . . it provides protection to the floor if the woodstove puts out a lot of heat and it provides protection from errant embers, sparks, coals, etc. I guess the best way to think of a hearth is not as a fireplace surround, but rather think of it has floor protection for a woodstove. In some cases the floor protection just provides simple ember/spark protection . . . and in some stove models' cases the floor protection has to have a specific insulation number since the stove radiates a lot of heat through the bottom of the firebox.

    Now that said . . . some folks with woodstoves build a hearth . . . but then also add on to it with a vertical element . . . in some cases to provide additional protection to nearby walls . . . or in many cases to just make things look a little bit nicer looking.

    As for what the hearth can look like . . . it certainly could be built of bricks . . . and some folks do so . . . however depending on what the stove calls for and what local inspectors and your insurance company are looking for you could have a hearth built with porcelain tiles, granite, sandstone, soapstone, marble, glass, etc.

    RE: I know what you're saying about the insert. My wife was sold on the idea of an insert . . . she thought it would take up less space and look more like a fireplace. If I had an existing fireplace quite honestly I would probably have gone with a wood burning insert. However, you need to take your wife and check out some of the stores selling woodstoves . . . today's woodstoves take up less space than before thanks to many models with close clearances and quite honestly there are some really beautiful looking woodstoves out there in enamel and soapstone . . . add in a nice looking hearth and you end up with a nice focal point in the room. Now if your wife is thinking about the ambiance of a fireplace . . . well the woodstoves today have large windows to give you a nice view of the fire . . . and you're getting the benefit of heat at the same time.
  11. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    As mentioned just cutting a bunch of holes in your floor may not be the best or safest thing to do . . . as for moving heat . . . save your money . . . don't bother with the fancy schmancy whirligigs that sit on the woodstove or even the doorway fans . . . best thing is to get a floor fan or two, position it in your doorway pointing at the stove and it will set up an air current (again . . . establishing a convective current) to move the heat around the house . . . which is how I manage to heat most of my house with a single woodstove.)
  12. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    I'm still plodding trhough this thread, but one of the first things you need to do to help us help you is post a plan of your house . . . don't worry . . . none of us will attempt to sneak in and steal your Ritz crackers at night . . . posting a plan showing the rough dimensions of the house, stairs, lay-out, etc. will help us determine what type of heating system might best suit your needs. For example, if you had a 5,000 square foot house there are few, if any, woodstoves that would suit your needs . . . and instead most folks would suggest you only look at a wood boiler or wood furnace . . . depending on your lay-out we might suggest nixxing the hook-ups and going somewhere else completely.

    Second . . . if you're serious about heating with wood you don't want to go cheap . . . "slapping" an appliance (that routinely burns at 600-1,200 degrees F) into place and hoping to save money by doing so is not a safe, long-term view. Trust me . . . it is far better to spend a little extra . . . and have a warm house and a safe house.

    Finally, be aware that paying for the wood burning insert or stove is only half of the equation . . . you may or may not be able to use the existing flue . . . or you may be able to use it and need to install a liner . . . or you may end up having to put in a whole other chimney (Class A or masonry) . . . and then you will most likely need to build a hearth . . . heating with wood can be a bit expensive at the get-go . . . but it has long term economic benefits if you stick with it.
  13. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    This is promising . . . a seller that seems to know his stuff. What product lines does he carry?

    Also . . . other folks and myself keep trying to help you out here, but you don't seem to be hearing what we're saying . . . you need to think outside of the box . . . you may not be restricted to just one or two places in the home . . . for example you may be able to put a woodstove somewhere else in the house you haven't even considered . . . granted it may cost you the price of a Class A chimney . . . but if doing so means you're safe and warm and it looks good . . . then the price may be worth it.
  14. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    I think you need to start by stopping at several different woodstove companies and picking up some brochures . . . this may show your wife that there are many different styles and looks when it comes to woodstoves and that they're not all large, black boxes with a pipe sticking out of them.

    I like Jotuls for their look . . . other folks don't. I don't care for the look of Woodstock Soapstone stoves . . . they seem to fancy for my tastes, but other folks love them. Get in touch with the local dealers and see what products they have . . . and show your wife. Again, the enameled stoves in different colors and the soapstone stoves are rather nice looking.
  15. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    If there is a second flue here . . . it seems to me that you might be able to do a nice corner installation with a free standing stove.
  16. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Another thought . . . if the basement is going to be your domain . . . what about getting a large, free-standing stove for down here. In this case she wouldn't see the stove . . . and you would gain a bit more in terms of more heat coming off the stove . . . heck, in this case you could even get one of those ugly steel stoves like a Blaze King. ;) Of course it may not be as efficient, but as others have mentioned there are folks who can and have heated their homes with a woodstove in the basement . . . not as efficient and you may need to work some at moving the heat . . . but this may be a good solution for you.
  17. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    In my case . . . yes . . . the woodstove on the first floor easily heats the second floor . . . master bedroom on the first floor is cooler (this is farther away from the woodstove . . . but my wife and I like the bedroom to be a bit cooler.)
  18. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    +1 tothe Dixie Chick. ;) I'll remember the Woodburning Sisters!
  19. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Just cover the top . . . with a tarp . . . plywood . . . metal roofing . . . etc. Rain (and snow for that matter) is typically surface moisture and will go away in a day or two . . . well the snow will not go away in the dead of winter in Maine . . . but it doesn't matter anyways since most of the rain/snow doesn't blow directly sideways . . . heck even when I leave my piles uncovered you'll often see the rain only penetrate a foot or two down from the top.

    Holy cow . . . I don't think I ever wrote so much on a topic . . . and no doubt I'm repeating things other folks have already said . . . but that's OK . . . repetition is good . . . repetition is good . . . repetition is good. ;)

    By the way EMT . . . I don't know if I ever said it, but welcome to hearth.com . . . you're in a good place to learn all you ever wanted to know or not know about burning wood and keeping warm.
  20. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Good perspective . . . and it's worth noting that Gyrfalcon has one of those very sharp looking soapstone stoves . . . I tell you EMT . . . you might want to show your wife some of these stoves.
  21. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    The definition of seasoned varies . . . most folks here say the best definition is wood that is below X% moisture level as determined by a moisture meter (I think they say 22% . . . maybe it was 28% moisture level . . . but don't hold me to that.) Me, I'm just a dumb Maine hick . . . I cut, split and stack my wood at least a year in advance . . . and truth be told I'm now two years ahead . . . which pretty much guarantees me that the wood I have will be seasoned enough to burn without sizzling, spitting water, smoking up the glass or not igniting easily . . . all issues folks typically experience in the first year when they buy "seasoned" wood and expect it to be great for burning.

    As others have mentioned . . . get your wood as early as possible . . . because even if folks say it is seasoned it may not truly be seasoned. Heck, some old time wood burners consider wood that was cut down in the winter and left as tree length until bucked and split in the fall seasoned . . . and I would wager a week's pay that this so-called seasoned wood would not pass muster in most EPA woodstoves.

    Reputable? Ask around . . . but be aware that many folks who are burning in pre-EPA woodstoves don't know the difference between truly seasoned wood. Your best bet when it comes to buying wood is to buy early and give yourself some time . . . otherwise buy a moisture meter to check the dealer's wood and ask questions as to when the wood was bucked up and split.
  22. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    HehHeh . . . I'm a bit slow . . . I didn't realize until today you were a gal . . . and you sound a lot like my wife . . . she doesn't want granite countertops . . . something about having to maintain them and bacterial growth.
  23. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Definitely look up Hearthstone and Woodstock Soapstone stoves . . . if I didn't have a Jotul I would be sorely tempted to have a soapstone stove. I really like the look . . . and I think your wife might like them . . . they're almost a work of art or fine furniture rather than a utiliarian heating device.
  24. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Well, I don't say "ew!" a lot or load up the smiley-faces and multiple exclamation points and freak out over the prospect of a little ash floating out of the stove, so you're excused. I somehow managed to miss that whole part of girl training.

    I'm just a person liike the rest of you, though vastly frustrated by my lack of experience with tools (now, that is part of girl training for sure, unfortunately) and deeply envious of the natural physical strength that allows you guys to wrangle your own firewood.

    Guys, please, do your daughters a huge favor and bring them up to be comfortable with and knowledgeable about tools and to help with handyman projects around the house.

    As for the granite countertops-- I've been mystified since they became so popular, almost mandatory for a "nice kitchen." Of all the things to spend a lot of extra cash on, they're on the very bottom of my list. Yes, they do look nice, but for a real working kitchen, give me high-quality formica any day at a fraction of the price. They're more resilient, require no maintenance at all other than a damp sponge, and nowadays can look only fractionally less handsome than the pricey granite. I freely admit, though, I'm in a tiny, tiny minority, so perhaps I'm peculiar.
  25. emt1581

    emt1581 Minister of Fire

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    Holy hell Jake!! I can only imagine you are bored and sitting at the station waiting for a call. Otherwise how did you spend a few HOURS replying?? Either way thanks for the thoughts/info. Unfortunately I'm running late but tonight I'll be the one sitting at the station, so I'll reply then.

    Thanks again!

    -Emt1581
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