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Broke College Kids

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by MT-SEA, Nov 19, 2013.

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  1. MT-SEA

    MT-SEA New Member

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    Hello Hearthers,

    In short, we had to turn our heat off because it was so expensive and I need your guidance. I apologize in advance for my ignorance of everything hearths/firewood (I do make a mean fire though).

    We have a Sunfire Hearth (I'm assuming it's post-1993, but I don't know how to tell; any way to tell?) with a contraption that blows the hot air back into the room (again, sorry for my ignorance).

    We have no wood, Seattle is wet, and with winter quickly approaching we don't really know where to begin (gathering, storing, etc.). We recently used all of the wood that we had lying around.

    If anyone has any advice at all, it would be greatly appreciated!

    Cheers!

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  2. Augie

    Augie Feeling the Heat

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    Craigs list, look for any wood you can find. Start to read here on running your stove. Your wood will be higher moisture content than ideal, but you can stay warm. It will take work but you can do it.
  3. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forums fellow Washingtonians.

    Where to start? I couldn't find anything about Sunfire Hearth except as the name of a hearth products store in West Virginia. Could you post some pics of the stove and any labels? Take a look at the top of the inside of the stove. If you can see some tubes with holes in them running across the top, it's an EPA style stove.

    The contraption is called a blower. Now, you've already learned something here!

    The key ingredient to burning properly is dry wood. At this time of year, (actually any time of year), that's going to be a challenge. Sellers will always tell you it's "seasoned" but it rarely is good enough. But if we know a little more about the stove and the installation, maybe we can help figure out something.
  4. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    A pic of this heater would go a long way in helping us come up with advice. If you take the pic with a phone turn the phone sideways to take it or it will be sideways when you post it here.
  5. Waulie

    Waulie Minister of Fire

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    What is the primary heat source (oil, nat. gas, electric, propane)? If it's really expensive, I'm afraid you may need a LOT of wood to a big dent in the heat bill.

    If you are renting, just be aware that your landlord is likely not insured to have a tenant running a wood stove. Maybe not your concern, but you should be aware and he should know your intentions.

    Craigslist, cut up pallets (preferably mixed with other wood so it doesn't burn too hot), lumber scraps, etc. You are going to have to get real creative at this point in the PNW to find wood suitable to burn without paying a premium. Be safe!
  6. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I live close. Your best bet will be pallets near industrial areas, lumber scraps from some sort of industrial operation, or lumber scraps from construction. Cruise the yards for piles of pallets, and cruise CL for free/cheap firewood. Being college kids, and hopefully at UW, you probably aren't equipped to convert logs into firewood.
  7. NWfuel

    NWfuel Minister of Fire

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    I can come up with pallet wood if you decide this direction. I also have N Idaho logs or firewood if $560.00 cord is in your budget. Very nice kiln dried western juniper 26 million btu per cord delivered on 1/2 cord pallets. And of course free Super Cedar firestarters with every purchase.
    Thomas
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  8. MT-SEA

    MT-SEA New Member

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    Thanks everyone for your replies.

    I'm still in class right now, but when I'll try to post pictures when I get home (if not I'll post them tomorrow).

    I was reading a little about pallets: Should I make sure it's not painted? What if the pallet is green (not painted)? If I get damp pallets, will they eventually be burnable if I let them dry? Approximately how long would I have to let them dry?

    Also, we are renting and the landlord knows that we are burning wood (he encouraged it). I'm fairly certain that we were using gas heat before we turned it off. The house seems to hold heat fairly well... Or maybe I already have frostbite.
  9. Augie

    Augie Feeling the Heat

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    Guys, really read the op's post. They are broke kids and for one reason or another they can't afford heating fuel for their primary system. This is the need for using their woodstove. I am assuming and expense will be to much. The need to scrounge. Pallets may be their best bet. Hammer and a hand saw and you can keep your house warm. Lots of work but, lack of options makes for easy choices
  10. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    A fairly inexpensive circular saw makes short work of pallets.
  11. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    I agree with Augie. They need help scrounging.

    The U District is not a place where you can store cords of wood (if that's where they are). Pallets are a good place to start. Probably many places around town where you can find them free. You will have to be resourceful, but I'm guessing you are.

    If you do have some bucks to put in, North Idaho Energy Logs are a good source of heat and are compact. Best deal is by the ton, though and they have to be stored dry.

    Edit: Pallets are generally not painted and the wood will be dry enough to burn. Don't worry if they're rain wet, they don't soak up water.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2013
  12. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    If you're really cold you can burn cardboard, furniture, whatever. Don't worry about whether or not the pallets have been painted or treated since the smoke will be going up the chimney. Perhaps your landloard has a connection for some cheap wood. If you're good tenants, he'll want to help you stay.

    I have seen mill ends on CL which are just lumber cutoffs. Usually chunks of 2x4 looking material that are cut off when making some sort of wooden thing in a factory. They were in Kent and free or maybe something silly like 3$ per truckload.
  13. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    But don't start ripping out the front porch or anything...

    Sometimes I see cedar shakes for free from roofers and siding contractors. It's not the best firewood, but it burns and burns hot. Just not for too long.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2013
  14. MT-SEA

    MT-SEA New Member

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    Thanks for the pallet tips everybody; definitely will grab some after class.

    Also, below are the pictures of the Sunfire:

    http://imgur.com/a/xdw7i

    Thanks again everyone
  15. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    One thing you are going to have to watch is the condition of the chimney. Was it cleaned and given a good bill of health very recently? If you burn poorly seasoned wood you will need to keep an eye on the flue condition. Creosote builds up quickly when burning unseasoned wood. The chimney should be checked for at least once every cord burned. Failure to do so could lead to a chimney fire, especially if the fires alternate between smoldering fires and hot pallet wood fires.
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  16. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    Oh that's different looking...I can't help with info on that.

    As for wood: Construction cut offs, as long as they aren't pressure treated. Remodeling scraps like lathe and dimentional lumber. Pallet pieces. You can try places that make custom cabinets, etc for scraps. If you can get stuff that's cut and split even if it isn't seasoned, mix it with the pallet pieces/other scraps. We heated for two years without really seasoned wood this way. Make a smaller fire with the scraps if you're starting a cold stove to get a nice hot coal bed, then load in some of the splits and other pallet pieces onto it. Do be careful not to load too much at a time or with too many coals (it takes some experimenting).
  17. Augie

    Augie Feeling the Heat

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    I can help you build a cheap diy version of a soot eater if you would like to clean the flue yourself. PM me for info
  18. Sons924

    Sons924 Member

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    check you local beer distributor for free pallets.
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  19. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That should be a natural fit for broke college guys.
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  20. Sons924

    Sons924 Member

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    I get all of my pallets from beer distributors for free. I use them to stack my firewood and use the broken ones for starter wood. Works out well. Also see if there are any motorcycle dealerships in your area. New atvs and bikes come on pallets, so the dealer just stacks them out front.
  21. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Treated wood burns just fine too.
  22. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    It does, yes, but people around you probably won't appreciate it. And you might not either if you get a back draft/smoke in the house from it for some reason.

    If you have no other options and you're freezing, yes, it burns fine. As does painted wood, stained wood, plywood, particle board, papers, etc. HOWEVER, unless it's a last resort, it's not a good option and I wouldn't recommend it. Before burning anthing except plain, untreated wood, try to FIND plain, untreated wood.

    I don't imagine you have an option to get this either, but if you do, it burns VERY hot in our experiance (use carefully!): FRESHWATER driftwood. Saltwater driftwood probably would too, but it's highly corrosive and I would venture to guess your landlord wouldn't appreciate it's effect on the stove. We burned totes of it in our first year. If we hadn't ended up with so much scrounged wood we would have been collecting and drying it like crazy the last two years to put up as kindling/shoulder season small fire wood. It burns faster than dry pine, but it burns HOT.
  23. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Not a good idea though. Pressure treated wood smoke is especially toxic. Burning it in an urban environment would be very irresponsible and more than just a public nuisance. Don't do it.

    The wood should never be burned, it is a highly toxic substance and its burning breaks the bond with the wood. When the arsenic is burned especially in a galvanized chimney or with galvanized nails, the zinc reacts with the arsenic to form arsine gas, a very toxic and odorless substance, which causes poisoning. The chromium is very toxic when inhaled and the copper, although it does not travel well in smoke, will be there in minute concentrations.
    http://www.noccawood.ca/docs/problem.html

    Treated wood should not be burned in open fires or in stoves, fireplaces, or residential boilers because toxic chemicals may be produced as part of the smoke and ashes. Treated wood from commercial or industrial use (e.g., construction sites) may be burned only in commercial or industrial incinerators or boilers in accordance with state and Federal regulations. CCA-treated wood can be disposed of with regular municipal trash (i.e., municipal solid waste, not yard waste) in many areas. However, state or local laws may be stricter than federal requirements.
    http://www.epa.gov/oppad001/reregistration/cca/cca_consumer_safety.htm
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
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  24. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Yep, smoke is bad, but treated wood burns just fine. Railroad ties on the other hand, are not good no matter how small you cut them up. When I'm cold and in a rented house, I wouldn't think twice about burning treated wood or saltwater driftwood. Obviously, the perfect fuel is seasoned hardwood firewood but that is not going to happen in this case now is it.
  25. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    What does a rented house have to do with gassing one's neighborhood? This is in the middle of the city. If you have to burn treated wood it's time to get a night job and pony up to pay the heating bill.
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