1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Heating with wood - the ultimate chess game

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by SeanD, Dec 29, 2005.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. SeanD

    SeanD New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Messages:
    70
    Back in the day, when I heated with natural gas, I just set the thermostat at 70 and was happy. I got high tech with a programable thermostat and saved a little by thinking more about when I really needed to have the house warm. Now I all of my heat comes from burning wood and realize I am constantly solving the heat puzzle. What is happening outside? Warming up or getting cold? What kind of wood is next to go in the stove? Elm (starts quick, burns fast), cherry (lasts longer) or locust (this must be what its like to heat with coal). How much air to add? Do I need to warm up the house 5 degrees or just maintain where I am? That 150 million btu wood pile that seemed enormous in September is disappearing!
    My friends at work think I'm a little daffy with this, but I have to tell you I really enjoy this daily chess game. The money saved is just the icing on the cake. The real satisfaction comes from waking up each day and devising a plan to keep you family warm no matter what happens.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. Willhound

    Willhound Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Messages:
    441
    Loc:
    Northern Ontario, Canada
  3. adrpga498

    adrpga498 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    853
    Loc:
    New Jersey
    As long as none of us are check mated then all is well.
  4. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    2,123
    Loc:
    Midwest
    Actually, I was just thinking along those same lines today as I observed my new christmas gift...electronic weather station with indoor/outdoor thermometer. Kind of nice to see what the temp is doing outside and where I am at inside then adjust the stove firing accordingly.

    Corey
  5. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    2,248
    Loc:
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    Wow, Glad some others do the same...

    Today I was letting the stove really loaf along. Like a 12" long split of elm (o.k., I won't go there tonight) every 2 hours. Was around 45 out today, but my wife wanted to show off the stove to her family who was supposed to visit today (Severe fog in the Pocono's squashed that) and so I threw on a few moe splits around 5 pm.. Was near 82 in the house. Crap!!!!

    I tiled the hearth today and with that stove cranking I had to use a lot of water to cool and prep the cement backer board, Have a heat shield on it now with a bunch of tin foil on it.

    It looks nice though!! I'll post some pics tomorrow over in my install thread in the Pic forum.

    I beat...time for bed!!
  6. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2005
    Messages:
    917
    Loc:
    Deltaville,VA
    Sean, I'm glad to see I'm not the only "unique" one. I like your analogy to chess and find myself doing the exact same thing as you. The women is really into too since the winter time electric bill went from $280 to $80. (Electric Baseboard)

    Corey - I got the weather station too with the remote sensor, and have been positioning in differnet rooms to check out the temp differences throughout the house.

    My new project has been putting gallon jugs of water behind the large empty space behind the stove to see what kind of temp rise I'm getting - for a possible HWH pre-heater.
  7. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    You know you're in trouble when a major topic of conversation around the house is the room temp. It can easily become an obsession, but at least it keeps you off the streets and out of bankruptcy court.

    Warren, I thought about you last night as I loaded the boiler up with some of the last of my elm from the summer before last. Good thing it's been relatively warm around here, cause I don't think there's many btus left in that 2-year-old-unsplittable-crap. Lamentably, I've got a couple more dead elms to cut down this coming spring, but at least they're small enough so I don't think much, if any, "splitting" will be required. That's good because I've found that with most elm, "splitting" is done with a chainsaw.

    Funny thing about watching the weather, which like all woodburners, I do obsessively, too. I grew up with a thermometer and a barometer and when I left home, I always had one of each around. Now I just go to weather.com and type in my zipcode. Or someone else's if I feel like it.
  8. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    2,248
    Loc:
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    Ahh, my favorite subject I love to hate. Just wondering about what you said "cause I don't think there's many btus left in that 2-year-old..." Does Elm really loose btus that fast?
  9. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    I don't think it has that many to begin with, Warren. This stuff is pretty light compared to my beech and maple, at any rate. I did notice this morning that it burns down pretty well, with a fine coating of ash. I will say that I loaded the boiler up before I went to bed this morning at about 1 O'clock and it was still going pretty well at 10:00. So, not bad for a night when it got into the high teens. The computer says it's 24 now; 10 up the road in the Adirondacks. Still not enough snow to ski on, so I guess it's back to ripping out the laundry room floor for me today. Wish I could burn the mdf I'm tearing out, but it's slathered with old glue and linoleum, not to mention that medium density fiberboard is probably held together (barely) with phenolic resin of some sort.
  10. rudysmallfry

    rudysmallfry Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2005
    Messages:
    356
    Loc:
    Milford, CT
    Love this thread. Any of you guys still single? I'd love to perfect this science, but currently don't even know what I'm burning.
    Where do you get this weather station thing? That sounds cool.

    Do you guys all cut your own wood, or do you have it delivered? I ask because you all seem to know exactly what kinds of wood you are burning at any given time. The guy who delivered my wood only offered that it was a mixture of hard woods. I was able to pick out some cedar only by it's color and rule out any presence of pine, but other than that, I have very little knowledge of what's in that pile. I've been sorting it by weight. I figure the heavy stuff is oak or maple. For the next load I had delivered, I'd love to know what's in it. Do such suppliers exist?

    I was laughing about tile the hearth while the stove's on. I still need to do my wall behind my stove, but didn't know if the wet thinset had any flammable qualities. I'd been putting it off until a warm day comes. Guess I can get back to work.
  11. SeanD

    SeanD New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Messages:
    70
    rudysmallfry,
    Yes, I cut, haul, split and stack all of my wood. Cut about 8 or 9 cords this year. 40% each of elm and cherry. Balance is made up of locust, maple and oak. That brings up another interesting aspect of heating with wood - you are intimately familiar with your heat source. Every time I move wood from my woodpile to the house I think back on where the tree was and what I had to do to process it. You even remember specific logs that gave you a hard time. Last night I grabbed a mangled piece of elm and thought "I remember you, you #%^&%."
    Sean
  12. DavidV

    DavidV New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Messages:
    792
    Loc:
    Richmond VA
    Yep.. a guy down the street had some trees blow over and they had enormous roots. he set the root pieces out by the road. I could barely get them into the truck. 18-24 inches long and 24-30 inches across. Hell to split. I never did figure out what they were. Probably elm. some of them I took personally and would hit them witht he 8 lb maul 30-40 times a day before and after work, then switch to wood that I could actually split. each piece took literally hundreds of hits to split open, and then I had to use a sharp machete to cut the stringy connectors in between. I thought they were elm, but they burn hot as hell and last a long time. They have all seasoned for 2 years now so I still have no idea what they were.....but I damned sure remember them
  13. rudysmallfry

    rudysmallfry Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2005
    Messages:
    356
    Loc:
    Milford, CT
    I started to think you guys were a little off with your admiration for your wood, but now that I think about it, I do get a warm fuzzy when I use the Maple that I split myself from a fallen tree.

    I don't have a lot of trees in my yard, but I've already made a mental note of which ones I consider expendable. On the subject of home grown trees, I have one maple who's roots are sitting in a salt water tidal marsh. I've read stuff about salt water being bad for burning wood. Is this true, and does it eliminate this tree as a burning candidate?
  14. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    27,984
    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
    All wood burners should have that one knarley big hunk of wood sitting beside their splitting stump. Come home from putting up with idiots all day at work, change clothes and pound away on that sucker. Imagining a face on the top makes it downright threuputic.

    And a damn site cheaper than a shrink or "going to group".
  15. Herb

    Herb New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2005
    Messages:
    13
    the game I'm trying to master now, is, to add 3-4 hours worth of wood at 5:00 -:30 a.m. or p.m., before loading up at 8:30 - 9:00 for the day/night. This way, I'm getting 24 hours of burn on 2 full, and 2 half loads. It took me 3 years of buring to get it down this efficient!
  16. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    2,248
    Loc:
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    Sounds like Elm to me!

    What does any of us being single or not matter...just curiuous...and no.

    BUT, my kids have certainly embraced wood heat...my son popped a bagle into the toaster..and said..."gotta go back to the fire"
  17. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    2,248
    Loc:
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    If your thinset is just a concrete base, not flamable, but it might dry too quick. I used a home made heat shield made from cement board and aluminum foil when I put the tile on my hearth.

    If he delivered mixed hardwoods, he included cedar? I didn't think that was considered a hardwood. One thin I noticed though, is that freshly cut and split apple looks a lot like cedar inside. Of course the bark si totally different, and so is the smell.

    I like to know the species more just to know than to plan it's burning schedule. So far in the now roughtly 1 month of my burning experience, I don't notice a significant difference between elm, soft maple or cherry. I think apple and oak may have a little more burn time.

    Oak seems to season fast, but I've split it pretty small. The apple seems to take much longer to season. I think apple has a much less porus bark, and oak splits into a much more fiberous, thus larger surface area, split. Elm is a PITA to split, but it burns nice, and there's a lot of dead elm around here, so lots to burn.
  18. woodpile

    woodpile Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Messages:
    31
    Chess game? I've felt like an 1800's locomotive engineer - but this train doesn't move, hence the title "Stationary Engineer". Yesterday I fed the stove, moved some of the drier wood from the second pile it has lived on to the basement stair well, cutting and splitting as necessary. Check the stove temp, adjust the air, check the room temp, turn on fans, fetch more wood. So far it's pretty fun, and probably more engaging than heating my house aught to be. I've had a fireplace, but didn't use it much because it made the house colder and I didn't feel it was safe to leave unattended. For years I've collected wood, and now I'm using it, burning 24/7 for the past 10 days. I should have a clean lot by spring!

    I've had 2 out of 2 of my elm trees die, followed by a norwegian maple. Fungus loves both, but will eat the elm first, then have the maple as desert. I suspect the BTU value is given over to the microbes if it is not kept nice and dry. Elm has interlock grain, meaning each year's growth spirals up in a different direction. This makes it almost impossible to split, and a real pain to use as furniture wood unless you use nothing but power tools. There is no way to plane with the grain, since it changes everywhere. I've been splitting some of the elm with a maul. Real amusement comes from hitting the green honey locust - the maul bounces right back up!
  19. bruce56bb

    bruce56bb New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    333
    Loc:
    Flint Hills of Kansas
    pile.........save the green locust splitting for when its cold,really cold, then give it a try. i think youll find it a lot more cooperative:)
    bruce
  20. rudysmallfry

    rudysmallfry Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2005
    Messages:
    356
    Loc:
    Milford, CT
    Maybe that cedar is apple. It sure does burn a long time. There are a lot of fruit trees around here. It's very knotty, not a straight piece in the pile. One of you guys should publish a book, "the ultimate wood burning guide" complete with illustrations of split woods and methods of identification. That would help a lot of us mid level pyro's burn more efficiently.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page