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  1. joshuaviktor

    joshuaviktor New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2005
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Northwest New Jersey
    Ok, here's a question. I have a number of questions and problems. I'ma gonna lay em out for ya.

    Background-We just bought a new house (new to us) in Northwest New Jersey. The house was built in circa 1736, and has 6 fireplaces and no insulation. We have an oil heat/hot water radiator/indirect hot water heater(no tank) system in the house which is ruinously expensive to run. We're talking $500 a month in oil, with cheap (c.o.d) oil at 2.19 a gallon.

    We just moved(involuntarily) from Louisiana, due to Hurricane Katrina. We are back on our feet, with jobs, a house, cars, and the kids are in school. I'm kinda proud of that, to be honest with you. Oh, by the way, guess how much help the government was? Anyway,

    I have scrounged(dumpster dived) at a local rug store and laid several layers of rugs in the attic to trap heat in the upstairs bedrooms. I left the roof uninsulated to vent, and keep moisture down.

    I plan on insulating the basement ceiling to block cracks, and again, help trap heat in the living spaces.

    Questions - I am thinking about a multi-pronged plan for heat. Let me know what you think.

    For quick heat, and occasional use, and instant on/off, I'm sticking gas(propane) sets in several of the 6 fireplaces. (Including the one in my bedroom, <nudge nudge wink wink>)

    I want to get a wood stove/insert, so that evenings, night, and weekends, we can build a fire in it, and with the help of a little fan to help move the air around the house, significantly increase the heat. We can also not have a fire when no-one is there (safety), but I can also turn the thermostat pretty far down at those times, and the dog wears a fur coat, so he's ok.

    I also want to get a corn stove, probably the Iroqouis 4100, so I can fill the hopper, and clean clinker once or twice a day, and leve the sucker running.

    If the Iroqouis works, I want to get a corn boiler to supplement the oil furnace.

    Problems- 1. Finding an affordable wood stove that won't kill my homeowners insurance. It has to be EPA listed, right? I can go as high as $1000, but I really can't afford more than that, and that includes shipping. But I want to get the biggest, safest one I can buy. Recommendations, PLEASE? I have checked Ebay, and I see the MDR XE 1800. But I can't find a review of it here.

    2. With chimneys available, how much am I going to spend on a propane fireplace insert? I am a little confused by direct vent, vented, and ventless.

    3. Does anyone here have experience with a corn stove? I can't find any reviews.

    If these are dumb questions, I apologize. Thank you in advance for any help and advice you can give.

    Joshua
    joshuaviktor@ya[NOSPAM]hoo.com

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  2. joshuaviktor

    joshuaviktor New Member

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    Loc:
    Northwest New Jersey
    After reading some more posts, a coal stove would be good, too. Any sugestions?
  3. Mike Wilson

    Mike Wilson New Member

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    Northwest Jersey is sitting next door to coal country. Take a look at Harman, Hitzer, Alaska, and Keystoker coal stoves. You can get a rice burning stoker and keep the house warm on the cheap... plus you can look at it as a technological upgrade to your 1730's home. How about a coal fired boiler? Just ideas to think about.

    These guys are serious about coal, however the forum is usually pretty dead.:
    Coal Forum

    Good luck...

    -- Mike
  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Central NYS
    Coal is how all big, old, uninsulated houses were heated back before oil and gas became so prevalent. Given your location, I think that's excellent advice. I would go for a coal boiler in the basement.

    Unfortunately, the price of coal seems to have risen along with oil and gas. You'd probably want to noodle out your potential savings before shelling out the money for a boiler. Wood is still the best bet if you can get it free or for cheap, but there are a considerable number of variables that you have to consider with wood, mostly to do with transportation, handling, availability and chimney condition.
  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Congratulations Joshua, sounds like you have accomplished a lot in just a few months.

    Here are my suggestions for this winter. It sounds like you are considering too much work and too many heating units. It would most likely be very expensive to plumb in gas to all those locations and is probably not very efficient. You might not save much in the final analysis. I would suggest spending your money 1) if the windows are original, or old, put clear plastic over every window that doesn't have a storm window. Walk around with an incence stick and seek out drafts. Caulking will go a long ways here. Make sure the doors seal well, weatherstrip where needed. Then, block off with some 1" rigid insulation, all the unused fireplaces. Try for a tight fit, caulk it in place with removable caulk if needed. If the house is 3 stories, consider not using the upper floor for the winter, if that is an option.

    Now for stoves, obviously, this house was heated with wood for a long time. How many sq. ft. does the house have? How many stories? Look at the floorplan (send in a sketch if you can) and try to figure, what were the primary fireplaces used for heating back in the the 1700's. Most often, this will be the kitchen and living rooms. Then, install good strong heaters for those rooms, especially if it looks like convection up a stairway will work to get some warmth upstairs. I would guess that the rooms over these room will gain some warmth. You might want to consider coal for one stove, it may be easier to get and puts out a lot of heat. You will need to have the chimneys inspected to make sure they are ready for a stove or insert. If not, they will need a stainless liner.

    As to stove types, where were you planning to locate the freestanding MDR XE1800? That will need a lined flue as well. The price is pretty good, another just listed for $869, but I have no experience with the quality of this stove. Hopefully someone will chime in soon. Call the local stove shops and see if you can get a reliable chimney sweep or local inspector to come out and appraise your chimneys. Your money will be better spent on a couple well-installed, safe stoves, that are well located, than trying to heat every room with a dedicated heater. You also might want to look at Harman stoves. They make a very good coal burner, as well as wood and wood/corn pellet stoves.

    Over the summer, consider insulating the house, that is going to provide you with the best return on your investment.
  6. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    The propane sets are a waste of money...except the bedroom of course. These will cost up to $1 an hour or more and also suck lots of other heat out of the house!

    I'll let other chime in with ideas, although I suppose a coal boiler might be nice for 100% heating. This way you could switch back and forth from oil to coal as prices changed.

    You can definitely find one of the Century, Dutchwest or Englander stoves mentioned here for less than $1000, EPA approved and all!
  7. joshuaviktor

    joshuaviktor New Member

    Joined:
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    234
    Loc:
    Northwest New Jersey
    Approx 3000 sq ft. of living space.

    Big Side of house is 2 stories plus stand up attic.
    Small Side of House is 2 stories.

    House is true centerhall colonial.

    Imagine a big square. Divide it in three columns, middle column being a little smaller. It has two rooms on the left, the dining room and kitchen. On the right, there are two parlors (now family rooms). In the middle is the front door, the back door, and the staircase that goes all the way up to the atic. Each double room set (kitchen/dining room, front parlor/back parlor) has 2 fireplaces with a common chimney. That's four fireplaces with two chimney. The fireplaces are essentially on each side of the wall, with no dampers, and the chimneys join up about 4-5 feet up. I have fiberglass insulation stuffed up there to prevent drafts. Rigid insulation would not work, without significant amounts of caulk, as the 270 year old brick has very lime-rich mortar. In other words, there's lots of gaps between the bricks. No holes, but it wouldn't be practical to use rigid insulation. I expect to have to put liners up the chimneys.

    Upstairs, there is a bathroom, several small bedrooms, and one large bedroom with a fireplace. This fireplace joins up with one of the chimney sets from downstairs. This is the one I am thinking of a propane set for. Propane sets burn over a gallon an hour? Yikes, that is expensive.

    On the small side of the house, it is one big room(small kitchen/living room), with a small staircase leading up to another big room (bedroom), with a HUGE hearth on the bottom floor. We're talking 16 inch square timber for mantel, 8 feet wide, 5 feet high. Used to be a beehive bread oven, but that was removed. It has its own, rather large chimney. This one is also blocked off with fiberglass.

    I guess a coal or wood insert would be better than a freestander, as it would fit into one of the fireplaces, and look correct, and take advantage of the size of the fireplace.

    I intend to put a coal or wood insert in the dining room, and a corn stove in the front parlor. I can circulate air into the central hallway, and get air circulation throughout the entire house effortlessly. The house was built to circulate air from fireplaces.

    With high efficiency inserts, 1 or 2 of them should significantly decrease my reliance on oil, yes?

    As for plastic on windows, I recommend John Leeke's web site. Interior Storm Windows I intend to start making them for next winter, sooner, if possible.

    THANK YOU.

    Joshua
  8. BS-N

    BS-N New Member

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    Loc:
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    Pictures would be neat.
  9. carpniels

    carpniels Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Rome, NY, USA
    Hi Joshuavictor,

    Sound like you have a large project at hand. I am sure the coal guys advised you well, considering your location. Especially if you can have it delivered in the summer (low price) and use it 24/7 in the winter.

    For you, conservation is key. COnservation has helped me more in my house that any improvement is heating equipment could give me. You have to insulate. Especially the ceilings. I had 12" fiberglass put in mine and it helped a lot. Preventing air leakage is key too. Get a caulkgun and go to town. Seal every hole you find. Well worth the money. I had insulation blown into the walls. They cut a hole in the wall between the studs, alnd blow fiberglass in it. Works well. Better is blown in closed cell foam, but you need to take the wall apart, so they can spray it on.

    Also, prevent the 'stack effect'. Do a search and you will see what it is and what to do about it.

    A large wood stove would work too. I have a heartstone II for sale if you are interested. That is a serious wood heater. Do a search too.

    Good Luck

    CarpNiels

    PS. Remember that next year (2006) there are a LOT of tax credits for insulation (windows, doors, blown in insulation, etc) and the like in the tax code. Check them out and use the so you can get some of the investment in insulation back from the federal government.
  10. zogboy

    zogboy New Member

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    Loc:
    CNY
    Good for you brother on the home and the move from La.
    Bet it is a shock on the body ...I mean the weather.


    If the oile boiler system is working now I would add a coal boiler in that system.
    Coal gives the best btu for the buck.
    You can also get a small stoker or pellet type bottom feed stove for heat at the times you are going to want to feel
    hot air blowing in your face.

    Look at it this way around 185 gals of oil to produce the same heat as a ton of coal.

    oil $2.19 x185 = $405.14 or a ton of coal for 1/2 that price. at least that is what I have read about the btu's of coal and oil.

    a boiler might pay for its self pretty quick
  11. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
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    Agreed with the general drift of comments. Sounds like you have a major project on your hands. Pictures really would be great. I love these old houses. Yes, insulation is going to give you your best return on investment. Do it soon, it will just keep paying back. You are at the right location to ask these questions. There is a very diverse spectrum of users here. From the way you have described the house, it sounds like the MDR stove might look out of place aethetically.

    One thing you might want to consider is how much time you will be spending maintaining these stoves. The more stoves, the more maintenance. That is where investing in a top notch stove may save you a lot of time in the long run. This is also an advantage of coal in that some coal burners need refilling less often. All stoves will need cleaning (ash dumping, etc.) on a regular basis, so a stove that burns long, puts out a lot of heat and is easy to maintain would be my guiding criteria. Two wood stoves I would consider are the Pacific Energy Summit and the Harmon Oakwood. I'll let the coal folks speak their experience with their stoves.
  12. Mike Wilson

    Mike Wilson New Member

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    Lemme guess... EE major? ;-)

    -- Mike
  13. joshuaviktor

    joshuaviktor New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Northwest New Jersey
    TAKE A HIT????

    We sold a 1500Sq ft, 4 bedroom, 2 bath, brand new house in Lacombe, LA for 140k, a great price. We bought a 4 bedroom, two bath, bigger house for over 475 thousand dollars!!!

    That is with a VERY creative mortgage broker, 2 mortgages, a very motivated seller (feds closing in on foreclosure),and my in-laws moving in to help with the mortgage.

    That is having to fight to get a truck to move my stuff. I am not being metaphorical in the slightest about having to fight. Let's just say that three years working in prison helped me to get my truck. That is eating MRE's for two months to keep working to save up the money to rent the truck. What more of a hit should I take?

    We are not moving. We will insulate, shovel coal, chop and split wood, shovel corn, whatever it takes. There are no hurricanes here, good schools, and great public services, museums, and jobs. They will have to take my house from my cold dead body. This is my house. This is where my family is safe. We stay.
  14. zogboy

    zogboy New Member

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    Loc:
    CNY
    Joshua you rebel, ( thats a good thing)
    As I said earlier if the hot water heat is in good shape then you already have the top of the line heating systems as far as comfort goes.
    If you can get a coal fire boiler to install with the oil you will be golden.
    You will have nice heat with coal for less money and labor than with wood if you have to buy and stack the wood....
    free wood is hard to beat.
    If you have to be away the oil will run itself.
    You can put the cinder ash on your drive in winter for traction
    By the way my home was built in 1824 and is around 3000'
    I have hot water heat , it is a oil boiler and I am looking for a coal boiler to install for next year.
    I use a bottom feed pellet stove that takes rice coal 40 lbs a day, about $4 here. To tell the truth it keeps most of my home around 70 if the outside air is above 20. On those days the oil burner kicks in....but not nearly as often or as long as it did without the coal stove.
    Take a home boiler repair at the local commuinity college and enjoy that house. :coolsmile:
  15. DavidV

    DavidV New Member

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    Here's my take on it. Way to kick ass and handle the problem. 1/2 mill mortgage inn Jersey....well depends on where in Jersey but for most of Jersey I would imagine that isn't that much. Insulate the house as you go. I'm in a 2200-2300 modern house that isn't insulated for crap. built terribly. Wood stove makes a huge difference. If you and wife are workingg and inlaws are kicking in to help out on the mortgage and bills that sounds reasonable. fix things one bit at a time.
    I put a used stove in my place andd have been happy with it. you might consider it, since it might save you some initial cash and once things stabalize more you can always upgrade.
    Again, way to kick ass.
  16. joshuaviktor

    joshuaviktor New Member

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    Frank,

    I apologize. I do not take your words as antagonism. It's just a touchy subject. We're actually 80-15-5. In other words, we have a traditional 30 year 80% mortgage (locked rate), a 15% 15 year Home Equity Loan(not line of credit)(and the interest rate is locked for 15 years, then we can pay a ballon payment or refinance), and we put 5% down, and paid all the closing costs up front.

    My fiance is an RN, and makes good money. My father in law is one the country's best when it comes to tugboat steering systems, and hydraulics and such, and works for a great company he has literally dreamed of working at. I just got a job working at a very large, very stable company, and intend to go to Law School next year (part time).

    We can manage the mortgage handily, and are putting life insurance on the principals to make sure nothing happens if something happens, God forbid.

    It's just the first few months. Unplanned transitions are a pain in the gluteus maximus.

    We got the house at a great price, and in my area, prices don't go down. They haven't for 30 years. Plus, we don't intend to sell. We love the house.

    Sorry about that.

    Joshua
  17. joshuaviktor

    joshuaviktor New Member

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    oh, and plus, I didn't have to fight to get money for the truck, I had to beat the other guys who wanted my truck. I thought things were getting back to normal, so I left my AK at home, and didn't have time to get to the trunk for the 12 gauge.

    Believe me, what they showed of Louisiana was NOT the whole story.
  18. joshuaviktor

    joshuaviktor New Member

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    LOL. Well said. Our salaries will not go down, and hopefully, once I finish law school, mine will go up. Thank you for the advice. I will discuss it with my family, and we will come to a consensus.

    Thanks,

    Joshua
  19. Mike Wilson

    Mike Wilson New Member

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    Don't do it for that reason... that's for sure.

    My usual advice to prospective LSAT takers... remember what Nancy Reagan said:
    Just Say No.
  20. DavidV

    DavidV New Member

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    80/15/5. Sounds better than when I bought my place. I would be embarrassed to say what my interest rate was and what my payment was. But we wanted this place. Glad we did it. We love this house and the neighborhood. I've refi'd twice and only lived here 3 years. I pay 75 percent of what I paid when I moved in. The heating costs on this place were so bad the first winter I truly did not think we were gonig to be able to keep the house. Wife was not keen on a wood stove. She had no experience and everyone told her they were dirty and everything would be covered with soot. There has been NO problem with soot. Although there is the wood debris from the back door to the stove. Vacuum fixes that. I can totally relate to your need to cut your heating costs.
    As for the AK and scattergun, I was offered a great job in New Jersey 4-54 years ago. My wife could have picked up and moved and easily doubled her salary. I took a quick look at the gun laws in Jersey and informed my wife that I was only willing to relocate somewhere in America.
  21. DavidV

    DavidV New Member

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    and since we are already WAY off topic. The type of financing that Frank talked about really IS kind of scary. Mortgage rates are still in the low 6's for 30 fixed. still a super super rate. I could have been making lots of cash on my rentals the last few years if I had gone with variable rates but I think a 6 or 7 % fixed loan will be laughable 10 years from now. I could be wrong. it's much lower in europe....but the housing prices are much higher too. trying to read the tea leaves on this one is almost pointless. It's like trying to predice an accident on the interstate. You know one is gonna happen sooner or later and when it does, it's gonna be ugly.
  22. zogboy

    zogboy New Member

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    Josh is trying to keep his family safe and heat his home.
    He will not cause the total collapse of the world economy?
    John
  23. joshuaviktor

    joshuaviktor New Member

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    Loc:
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    What are we going to do tonight, Brain?

    What we do every night, Pinky.

    Try and take over the world!!!

    Bwa ha ha haha
  24. joshuaviktor

    joshuaviktor New Member

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    But on a serious note. I totally agree with Frank. This is a significant and serious problem. This is one reason I insisted on locked rates for my mortgages. We have 7 and a bit for the 80% loan, and 9.8 for the home loan. Yeah, nearly 10 percent is ugly, but remember, it's only 15% of the price, and I'm throwing extra cash at that one as fast as I can. We are reducing credit card debt to 0 within 2 years, and paying off both our cars within 4 years.
  25. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    No disagreement from me, but ya'll might want to take this to a new topic "Bursting Bubbles", in the ash can .
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