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Feeling deflated...(whining inside)

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by mfglickman, Jan 23, 2013.

  1. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Joful is quite correct... Before stoves became commonplace in the early/mid 1800s the expectation was only to heat the room in use, and even then you were diong well if you didnt have to wear a hat indoors. During the day typically the kitchen was the only room warm, and overnight all the fires were allowed to die and you would pile up under a lot of blankets and maybe a bedwarmer if you could afford the extra fuel. That was the reason for 4 post beds - they where fully draped in to hold in body heat. It was typical to wake up in the morning to frozen water pitchers indoors.


    Also, the purpose of central chimneys was all about using the masonry to keep the heat IN the building, nothing to do with sweeping. This is why we see central chimneys in new England, and exterior chimneys in the south.
    Joful likes this.

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  2. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    I suspect the reason old New England houses have so many doors and small rooms they shut things off and only heated what they needed and the kitchen was always needed.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  3. clemsonfor

    clemsonfor Minister of Fire

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    Are you in town or out of town?? If you have a small volenteer fire dept they may have a Thermal Camera on the truck. If you know someone on the FD they may get permission to run it by your house real quick and do a 5 minute walk through, to help show you the leaks, and give you an idea of where to look. In a city i bet this would not fly but in our small town i think i could get the Thermal Cam to my house or yours (if you were near the station) to do this, after all part of your money paid for it. Also for those who think there could be a fire the camera is not the first thing they grab that would be used at the smell of smoke and no visible source or after a fire is extinguished, and if its needed the guy running it can go straight to the fire and probably beat the trucks there or beat others to the station.

    This would not be so hard for me as i am a member of the VFD also the cheif is a buddy of mine.
  4. clemsonfor

    clemsonfor Minister of Fire

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    makes you wonder how soft we are!!!

    If you cant heat your newly insulatied 200yr old home how in the world did they stay warm with open fireplaces back then in the NE??

    I do know at my 60yr old farm house (which is not really what your picturing but just a normal rectangle wood sided small home) that the FP in the bedroom kept it quite comfortable in there at night....if you got up 3x in the middle of a 7 hour night to stoak it!
  5. brian89gp

    brian89gp Feeling the Heat

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    Agreed. A blower or a fan will transfer the heat from the stove to the room faster, thus cooling the stove off faster, and allowing you to burn wood at a higher rate and getting some more heat.

    Sometimes the blower on my insert will overheat and shut down. I turn on a fan pointed directly at the stove and there is a signifigant difference between having no fan and having a fan in the amount of heat it puts off.
  6. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    ... and frozen chamber pots. <> I used to complain about having to mow the lawn as a kid...

    edit: I used to "heat" a large house with three open fireplaces. They do throw a ton of heat into the room in which you're sitting, but at the cost of making many of the other rooms colder, due to the make-up air they draw on the house.
  7. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    That was probably considered a blessing. Consider the stench in the heat of summer. Or then again maybe in summer they went to the outhouse.
  8. mfglickman

    mfglickman Minister of Fire

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    This is a great idea! We do have a VFD and it's a small town (less than 7,000 people) so if they have the equipment they just may do that...thanks!
  9. mfglickman

    mfglickman Minister of Fire

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    Likely the reason the guy who built my house had NINE children too...in about 900 SF...well what else are ya gonna do in CT cold in January, LOL? Plus more babies = more warm. :p

    (ETA surprisingly, all 9 survived childhood, according to public records...)
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  10. ailanthus

    ailanthus Feeling the Heat

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    We had a blower door test done before I even considered heating this place with wood. Found out the insulation was actually decent, and far from the worst problem. I did spend about $1500 on the test, spray foam, rigid foam, caulk, and finally cellulose attic insulation and spent many hours in the attic and crawlspace sealing the leaks that my test identified. We're now heating comfortably with a single stove 1.7 cu.ft. in an 1800 sq ft house on 2 stories. It's still got plenty of draftiness, but I took care of the lowest hanging fruit. Bottom line is that insulation without air sealing isn't going to be as effective as it could be.
    I was told that Tyvek helps, but it's not a true vapor barrier, and it's still important to caulk interior window trim and the dozens of other places I never would have thought of. Blower door test was probably some of the best money I've ever spent.
  11. granpajohn

    granpajohn Minister of Fire

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    See, the house is blessed. Everything will work out. DV
  12. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    Don't forget though, that there has been 200 years of settling, additions and changes that have effected the original structure. Running wiring and plumbing has put numerous holes where none existed. Corners, etc that were originally tight and square have sagged a bit and moved a little to create gaps. What originally could have passed for insulation has deteriorated from age.

    Not to say old houses are junk, by any means (I LOVE old houses, and prefer them over new). Just pointing out that 200 years of hot and cold cycles, earth movement, wood aging and human meddling means that the house just isn't what it was originally. Imagine what a home built now will be like in 200 years, if it manages to get that far! Yikes.
    Joful likes this.
  13. Black Jaque Janaviac

    Black Jaque Janaviac Feeling the Heat

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    I do understand that they drank a lot of rum and whiskey back then! If they were cold they probably didn't care.

    I also read that the "wealthy" did not necessarily live more comfortably in all aspects. Stick-built homes were a bit of a status symbol compared to log home (sort of the reverse from today). But people back then knew log homes were warmer. Same thing out west, often the sod-house dwellers survived winters that killed the well-to-do.

    If you've ever gone winter camping you learn that it is possible to stay warm in sub-zero temps without heat.
  14. Black Jaque Janaviac

    Black Jaque Janaviac Feeling the Heat

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    To the OP:

    I didn't read the entire thread, but I caught on page 1 or 2 that you put "some" Roxul at the bottom but were told that not much was needed because you had it sealed at the top. You may have received bad advice.

    We have a similar situation although our home is considerably newer it was still a heat dumper. Over the years I've been slowly improving the heat losses. And gradually noticing improvements. Like you, I kept hoping for a "silver bullet" that would solve all the problems, but instead I think my house was sufferring from "death by a thousand cuts". And the only way to save it was to start plugging each cut one at a time. So while nothing by itself seems to have made a big improvement, over the last 5 years I can say there has been a marked improvement. Things I did:
    • Put Montpelier insert in living room fireplace.
    • Bend latchplate on front door to hold door tight against weatherstripping.
    • Stuff insulation in around liner of Montpelier.
    • Caulk around window trim
    • Bricked over old basement fireplace
    • Mortared shut unused boiler flue opening from the bottom side
    • Installed NC-30 in front of former basement fireplace
    • Put Perlite in between flue liners and clay tile
    • Mortared shut unused boiler flue from the top side
    • Put plastic shrinkwrap around windows.
    • Removed basement ceiling tile
    • Insulated the sill after removing ceiling tile
    • Placed bags of leaves around exposed parts of foundation.
    • Installed some floor vents.
    Our second story bedrooms are in the high 50s with both stoves going & temps sub-zero outside. Which is OK but it could be better. The living room is in the mid 70s and the basement is ghastly hot. I think my heat loss is tolerable now but I need better heat distribution. The basement stove room is often too hot. So if there was a way to get more of that heat to rise out of the basement up to the second story things would be better. I'm pretty sure a few more floor/ceiling vents would improve things but I need a good stud-finder to put them in between floor joists.
  15. shoot-straight

    shoot-straight Feeling the Heat

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    you had me at 3 words- drafty, cape and cod.

    we are in the same boat. our house is 8 YO, and drafty as heck. did the blower door test, the guy was WAY unhappy with pretty much everything. like others had said, i picked the low hanging fruit. i had the crawl space insulated along with the band joists and such. we also re-foamed around a west facing door that was a sieve. the foam sprayed in there was a joke. i have lots more to do.

    cape's have major issues because the ceiling of the rooms tend to be also the roof. air needs to move under the roof to properly ventilate, but there is no way to stop many drafts. i have cathedral ceilings too. they are nice to have, but just plain suck for energy consumption. i have a bit of attic space, but dont have an access hatch. i think this spring im goign to go up and work a bit then install a nice door that i can seal up pretty good.
    ddddddden likes this.
  16. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    You inspired me, mfglickman. I did this and posted them in a separate thread (as to not muck up yours, any more than I already have). My conclusion... I don't have so much an insulation problem, as I do a draft problem, and your OP makes it sound like you may be in the same boat.

    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/old-house-thermal-imaging.104400/
  17. evilgriff

    evilgriff Burning Hunk

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    Got the stack effect going here too. We are considering renovating/addition also. Had an architect do a plan and he made an uninsulated crawlspace in the plan. I did not like that idea at all. And new homes in the area, 700k in price, you would think for that money you would get ICF foundation. Nope, just a facelifted 1980's construction. The best built homes I have seen in NJ are done by Habitat for Humanity. Plain looking, but it appears the govt keeps the builders feet to the fire. I am probably going to hire contractors that work for HfH, and are familiar with the newer technology.
    ddddddden and loon like this.
  18. ddddddden

    ddddddden Minister of Fire

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    Good call. It sux. Cold air collects in the crawlspace at night, then the stack effect pulls it up into the house the next day. In shoulder season, I play a stupid game of closing the crawlspace vents at night and opening them around noon to get more warm air in there. Of course, the idiots who built this place put the blower for the heat pump down in the crawlspace, so having ductwork going down there isn't helping either. OTOH, we get by without AC for most of the summer (well shaded.):cool:

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