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getting house temps up

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by trguitar, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. trguitar

    trguitar Member

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    Hey guys. This is my first full year burning, and I'm having some issues getting the temps in the house up.

    I have no problem getting the stove to crank. I can easily get it above 600* and even up to 700*. And I can sustain these temps for long periods of time, as well as get long overnight burns. I've reloaded in the morning after 8 hours or so off the coals. I also have no problem getting the temps in the house from the 50s into the 60s quickly (within one hour) even when it's fairly cold out (20s or 30s). But, I can't seem to get into the 70s. I have the blower running, too.

    The house is a 2300 sf cape with an open floor concept. The insert is in the living room (middle of the house), and the chimney is interior. The Freedom does extend out about 8".

    Since it's only me in the house right now, I typically only burn in the evening and overnight during the week. When I come home from work the house is usually in the 50s. I get the temps to mid-60s within an hour, but can't get much higher. Wash, rinse, repeat for the rest of the days.

    Is there a problem with my setup? Or am I trying to do the impossible in attempting to bring the house from 50 to 70 in a few hours?

    Your help is appreciated.

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  2. arborealbuffoon

    arborealbuffoon New Member

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    The two things that come to mind from hearing your story involve the construction and insulation levels in your home and of course the dryness of your wood. Since this is the first year, I bet your wood is probably less than completely ready to burn.

    Even though the veterans on here sound like broken records when speaking of moisture meters and such, it IS true. It is in single digits with wind here right now, and I have a very large space with very high ceilings and we are holding in the low 70s easily. Put some soggy wood in there, and the place will drop by nearly ten degrees within a short time.

    Good luck to you.
  3. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    If you're really maintaining a stove temp of 600 to 700 for long periods of time, you're running it right and getting everything it's got to give you. Either your stove is too small for the house or the house needs insulation and tightening up, or both. I'm no expert on matching house size to stove, but 2,300 feet is a lot of house. If 60s is the best it can do for you in relatively moderate winter temperatures, sounds to me like you don't have enough stove for the square footage.
    n6crv and BrowningBAR like this.
  4. nelraq

    nelraq Member

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    Have you heard the expression "2 steps forward, 1 step back" or "I just can't seem to get ahead of the game." IMHO, I think that your "2 steps forward" is burning in the evening and overnight. Your "1 step backward" is letting the fire go out during the day and dropping your house temp back into the 50"s You just can't get ahead this way!

    I would suggest that you try burning 24/7 for awhile. It does take some time to get the house and its contents warmed up. Once you are "there", you may find your "lows" may get down into the high 60's - but it's certainly easier to go from 60 to 70 than it is to go from 50 to 70.

    It could be that your stove isn't big enough or your house isn't well insulated, but try the 24/7 burning - it may just work!

    My 2 cents worth!
  5. ddddddden

    ddddddden Minister of Fire

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    Can we infer that you burn 24 hours on weekends? Any problem keeping house temp up when you do burn 24 hours? I agree with Gyrfalcon, if you're easily cruising @ 600+ F, your wood and setup are probably fine, but you may want to look into installing a block-off plate in your chimney. 2300 sq ft is a large space, and insulation is always a question, but the Freedom is a big stove. I think the answer to your question is yes, most stoves in most houses are not going to raise the house temp by 20+ deg in a short period of time, and it works better to keep the house warm than to let it get cold and then try to play catch up., so your solution is probably going to be to burn 24/7, like most of us do when it's cold out. :)
  6. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Very true about the structure itself getting chilled and that you have to drive that out before your interior can really warm up. But getting from 50 to 60 is by far harder in those conditions than getting from 60 to 70. If the OP can get from 50 to 60 in an hour, he/she should be able to go on to 70 in no more than another hour if he's got enough stove for the space.

    I say this because I'm way understoved in a very cold climate, so I have a great deal more experience with getting a cold house up to a comfortable temperature than I wish I had. My indoor temp falls to the low 50s every night because the stove's burn cycle is so short. So I'm essentially doing what the OP is trying to do every day during the winter season but having no problems getting up to 70 in a couple of hours or less even with this tiny stove.
  7. trguitar

    trguitar Member

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    Thanks for the replies.

    Here are some answers to the questions posed.

    The issue is definitely not the wood. I was burning a stash of 6-year old red oak (with a moisture content of ~13% when split open with a maul). Now I'm burning pallets and BioBricks while the rest of my wood continues to season for next year.

    The Freedom is a big insert. It has a 2.9 cf firebox. The specs say it's capable of heating up to 2250 sf. I know of a few people that heat their 2000 sf homes with the Republic 1750, which has a 2.2 cf firebox, and is rated for 2000 sf. So, based on this, I don't feel that the stove is undersized.

    Regarding insulation -- the three years I've been here previously, I have heated with oil. I've averaged using about 430 gallons per season. Now, this was with leaving the thermostat at 58 while I'm not at home, and turning it up to 68 when I'm there (usually just nights). I also have passive solar, which will heat the house to the mid-60s during a sunny day even in the dead of winter. On weekends, I'm pretty active during the day, and being in the house when it's at 68 (while being active) feels very warm. This is why I only brought the house temps up to 68 at night with the oil.

    I have been able to get the temps in the house into the 70s with the stove, but not consistently. From what I recall I have done it when the temp outside was a little warmer (40s).

    Can you tell me more about the block off plate? I don't remember whether one was put in during the installation.

    I'll try burning 24/7 to see if that helps.
  8. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    I believe the sq ft heating ratings on stoves are based on a moderate climate - Virginia-ish - and the ability to maintain temp. Its takes a LOT more BTUs to raise the house 20 degrees than just maintain a constant 70. And it gets harder and harder as the outside temp drops. So your usage pattern I believe is creating a need for a bigger stove than the usual rules would suggest. Or maybe you need 2 stoves - run both to raise the temp quick then just keep one gong to maintain.

    For example Ive got a stove rated to heat 1800sq ft (45k BTU) in a 1400sq ft house. I can hold a 70F no problem on most days. If I let the house drop to 65-68 I can bring it back up in an hour or so as long as its above 20 outside. When it gets down to the single digits I have to CRANK the stove even to raise the house 5 degrees in under a couple hours.

    OTOH, the central heat boiler could bring the house up 5 degrees on a zero day in a fraction of the time - but thats because its (oversized) 3x the output - 140k.
  9. Huntindog1

    Huntindog1 Minister of Fire

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    One aspect of keeping the fire going even during the day is your house is a storage device for heat your not just heating open air but in your case you kind of are with the big house with a open floor plan those are hard to heat with any kind of heating device. But by letting things get cold your house the storage device is storing that cold 50 degrees in it structure . By keeping the fire going your houses thermal mass is staying up and you can keep it heated easier.
  10. Joey

    Joey Feeling the Heat

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    Also,,,the blower really cools down the firebox. The blower helps with circulation,,,but it takes a lot of heat out of the firebox...
  11. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    I dont know if it applies but sometimes after my house has cooled down over night I spend the day (if its real cold) burning a fair amount of wood and then late in the day all of a sudden it doesn't take hardly any wood to keep the house warm, I guess everthing has finally warmed up. I am heating a large (over 2000 sq ft) open area house. The stove puts out enough heat about 90% of the time and the rest is a bit of a struggle.
    And I agree mine will get to a certain point fairly easily and then I have a harder time getting past that temp, on a cold day I would guess that to be about 66 degrees.
    ailanthus likes this.
  12. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Without the blower my house would not be as warm so not sure what you are getting at, blower is a good thing, you have to get the heat moving around the house. In a warmer climate I can see where you dont need them as much.
  13. stejus

    stejus Minister of Fire

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    I didn't see this mentioned.. do you have a block off plate in that interior chimney? You may be heating the chimney with half the output of that stove. That heat is escaping somewhere and you need to find the source. That stove should handle your house. I've got a 2000 sq ft colonial with a 2.3 cf insert on an exterior wall that keeps us real warm.
  14. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    If my house gets cold it will take a while to get it up to temperature. Here it feel like the entire first day home after a cold weekend away from home the house is not fully warmed even though the stove is hotter than usual. After a day or so the stove can ease up and the house will still stay warm.
  15. trguitar

    trguitar Member

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    About the block-off plate -- I don't know if one was installed. I will talk to the installer next week.

    Should I be able to see the plate if I take the surround panels off?
  16. logger

    logger Minister of Fire

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    He was saying the blower keeps the stove temps cooler than w/out the blower. They keep the hot air moving away from the stove. I think you misunderstood his comment.
  17. blwncrewchief

    blwncrewchief Burning Hunk

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    Since I am not living full time at the house yet I have to go through the warm up process often also. I am more over stove'd than you with 1400 sq ft (although 10' ceilings so about the same cu ft as a standard 1600-1800 sq ft ranch) and 3 cu ft stove. When I'm not there for a day or more the electric heat only keeps the house 50*. With R45 ceiling and R15 wall insulation it is fairly well insulated. When I fire the stove from 50* the house pulls up very fast to about 65* in probably an hour or so and then stops. It will then creep very slowly up into the 70's running the first load hard over 3-5 hours. Even when I get the air temp up to 74-78* the house still "feels cold" for the first couple hours as the thermal mass warms up. After that I can just cruse the stove according to the outside temps. It honestly takes 6-10 hours for the house to really settle in after getting cold. After the house settles in it is almost hard to keep it from getting too warm if it is over 30*. The other night it was 13* with a wind chill of -6 and the house stayed 72-74* crusing the stove at 500-550*. Some times I will leave at night and load the stove at about 8pm and not return until the next day around 10 or 11am. After 12-16 hours the stove is usually down to 150-250* and the house has dropped to 55-65*. But even at 55-60* when I reload the house will pull right back up into the 70's within an hour or two because the thermal mass has not cooled off yet. This is the classic case of what everyone says about momentum. The day time might be when you need to get and keep that momentum up and get the thermal mass of the house warmed up. If you can get over that hump you might find that maintaining 70's at night is no more difficult than you are fighting the 60's now.
  18. RORY12553

    RORY12553 Minister of Fire

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    I have a 2300 sq ft house which is a bilevel. The stove which is a hearthtstone heritage is downstairs on one corner of the house. I have in the floor between the two floors which pulls hot air up. I have noticed exactly what these guys are saying which is if you let the house drop which I have done it will take a considerable amount of time to warm up. I have not mastered the 8-10 hour burns yet during the day but I figure if I get six out of it at least the house doesn't drop that much where it will take a lot to warm it back up.

    I have only been burning a short time since i bought the house but boy does it save on OIL! Haven't used any oil to heat the house yet this year and I know it has been mild during the day but I have also gotten some temps that dip down at night.
  19. ort5

    ort5 Member

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    Yes, you should be able to see it. It's a metal plate that seals up the chimney from the room.
  20. stejus

    stejus Minister of Fire

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    Yes, take the top surround off, stick your head or a mirror up there and you should see a plate or insulation. If nothing is there, I suggest you get some Roxul and stuff as much as you can into the smoke shelf and area where the liner passes through to seal the firebox off. Search Roxul blockoff and there is a post with details/pics of how someone did it. That's what I followed and it works great.
  21. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    I think you have a couple of things that when combined are giving you your results.

    As said above, allowing the house to cool to that degree is going to require a lot of btu to get it back up.

    AND you are using a stove that at its highest rate of output and all things being perfect is rated for your sqft. If you have even a small part of the whole system not quite right (say questionable insulation, leaky windows or a whole host of other possibilities), you will be behind the 8 ball.

    Definitely find out if you have a block off plate. That alone can make quite a difference.
  22. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I suspect there is more than meets the eye here. It sounds like the stove is running well, but sq ftg heating ratings do not take into account air leakage, large glass area, insulation levels, and most importantly, house cubic footage. Does the house have high ceilings or a large amount of glazing?
  23. trguitar

    trguitar Member

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    OK. I will take a look next week. (Going away for the long weekend.)

    I have a boatload of rockwool left over from redoing the kitchen last spring. I knew there was a reason I saved it!

    You guys are making me feel a little better about this. I was starting to get depressed. But at least I have a plan going forward.

    1) try burning 24/7
    2) make sure the block-off plate has been installed and insulated

    I'll post an update next week
  24. trguitar

    trguitar Member

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    The ceilings are fairly short: 7.5 feet.

    Based on the previous years' oil usage, I think the house is fairly well insulated. I have not had an energy audit, though.

    There is a sunroom about 25 feet away from the stove, at one end of the house, with 4 big windows (7' x 3'), 3 skylights, and a brick floor. This is the passive solar area. I don't insulate the windows at night, per se, but I do draw shades. Maybe it's possible I'm losing heat out there?
  25. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Perhaps there is a hidden leakage like older recessed can fixtures or a pulldown attic stairway, or a whole house fan vent? The sunroom could be an issue. Its heat loss will depend on how the sunroom was constructed. If this is a converted porch, then it could be a major loss. Our sunroom, kitchen entry was a huge heatsink and heat loser, especially during windy weather because of this style construction. It essentially was a large outdoor vestibule that got enclosed over the years. Unfortunately that meant clapboard with no underlayment. The wind blew right through it. I did a test on cold week that proved this. I took some 4 mil plastic and temporarily sealed it off. The heating difference was noticeable right away. And when the wind blew, the plastic looked like a taut balloon.

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