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Help picking new stove/furnace...

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by mu1166, Dec 16, 2007.

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  1. mu1166

    mu1166 New Member

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    Just found this forum and I am a newbie when it comes to burning wood. When I was growing up all we had was wood heat. I just purchased my own place at it has a old Monarch wood stove in the basement. The stove is still in good condition but my burn times with red elm and ash are only 3.5 hours... I am looking to maybe go with a wood furnace route? What is everyone's opinion? I need all the help that I can get.

    Here is a brief description on my place. It is a true brick home built in 1930. It is well insulated. The stove sits in the basement on the south edge of place (my chimmney is located here). the natural gas furnace is on the other side of the basement in a seperate room. There is a old air return and ductwork directly overhead where the existing stove sits. The house is relatively small being 600 sq ft in the basement, 990 on the first floor and 550 on the upper level.

    I have a good supply of seasoned wood, and have been cutting and splitting for the last 2 months for next year (mostly red elm and ash with a little oak mixed in). I want to use the new stove/furnace as mostly supplemental heat to help lower the cost of my heating bill.

    The look of the stove isn't to important because of where it is going to be located. would a wood furnace or a wood stove be better suited for my purpose??

    thanks for all your help.

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  2. Jimbob

    Jimbob New Member

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  3. mu1166

    mu1166 New Member

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    Thanks for the reply. I've never heard of that brand. I live in north central Iowa, and we don't have many places to go and view anything like this. Thanks once again.
  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Your house is small enough where a woodstove in the living area, perhaps one with a blower, sounds just about right. If you want to keep your mess in the bestment, then a small furnace (there are plenty of different options to choose from) sounds like the way to go.

    One consideration, if you decide to stay in the basement, is how easy it is to get wood down there. You'll need a good chimney for either option. The one you have now may not be safe, but can easily be made so with a stainless steel liner.
  5. mu1166

    mu1166 New Member

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    Getting the wood into the basement isn't by anymeans fun, but it isn't a problem. Just carry it down. I usually give my nephew a job for a while when he comes over he seems to like it for the first 20 minutes.

    My chimney is in very good condition. It was built onto the outside of the house which really limits me to where I can install a stove/furnace. I don't want to put a new chimney in since the original chimney houses the exhause pipe for my gas furnace. I am thinking a small wood furnace to supplement my gas furnace. Is there any brands that you recommend? Would I need a forced draft furnace to better control the heat? How big of firebox, blower should I be looking for? I am having the a plumber come over to look at the ductwork this week (he is supposed to at least).

    I want to stay with wood since I have a decent supply and the ability to get more.

    Anyone have a list of wood furnace maker? Google doesn't seem to like my searches for them.
  6. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Another option might be the Englander unit - I forget the model # offhand, but it's intended to act as a more or less parallel wood hot air furnace to an existing conventional fuel unit. Englander also tends to be very reasonably priced, and a couple of their senior people are very active on the forums, and really do a great job of supporting their products.

    Gooserider
  7. mu1166

    mu1166 New Member

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    I am up to doing about anything.

    Since I have a cold air return directly above my existing wood stove, would it be feasable to just put a large vent in it there (with a slide to close when not in use)? If I would end up doing this, I still need to get a different wood stove since my burn times are maybe 3.5 hours at the longest. I can have it burning very well when I go to bed at midnight and when I rise at 6 I barely have any coals left.

    If I would do this, then my furnace fan would be on all the time, unless it can be set up to run the fan first and if the temp get's to low then the gas furnace kicks in. I'm up for any ideas, and I have gotten quite a few from reading a whole lot of post in the past few days.

    What you any of you do? I would love to swith over to a boiler system but I don't think that is going to happen. It just isn't feasible.

    Thanks for all the help.
  8. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Well technically it is a major code vioalation to have an HVAC return within 10 feet of a wood burning appliance unless it's rated for it and hooked up accordingly.

    I will admit to being partial to Englander, as I've been tremendously impressed by the level of support and help that Mike and Corie have provided on the forum for years, but it seems to me like you might do very well with the Englander wood furnace unit, connect it to the air return vent and use the furnace blower to circulate the air - possibly there would be other requirements on what you would need to do in order to get the air flow patterns to work right, I'm not sure. It might be worth PM'in Mike (stoveguy2esw) or giving him a call and asking if his unit would work for you. I've never used one, but have seen them in one of the Big Boxes, and it seemed like a nice setup, and Englander is definitely one of the best "BTU per dollar" brands.

    Gooserider
  9. mu1166

    mu1166 New Member

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    That I didn't know. It is good to know now though. Not sure if I'll be going that route now. Looks like I will be looking for a wood furnace w/ blower. I have looked at a couple models on the web (caddy, englander, harmon, hotblast and woodchuck) and the only place around here within 1.5 hours that has any to look at is Menards. They have a DAKA and a Vogelzang (hopefully I am remembering right). I don't know if these are worth while or not.

    Any opinions? The Caddy looks like one nice wood furnace but it does have a nice price tag also.

    Would I need a furnace with a power draft blower on it? My chimney has one hell of a draft the way it is now.

    thanks for the replies goose
  10. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    "Get what you pay for" is probably a good starting point. It's not the only criterion you should look at, but it provides a useful guideline, I think. Because there's no water behind the steel plate, furnaces tend to take more abuse than boilers, so a few extra bucks spent on quality materials and fabrication is probably not a bad idea.
  11. mu1166

    mu1166 New Member

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    I understand that most of the time you do 'get' what you pay for. I'm still debating looking around for a good 'used' one or maybe trying a lower priced model here from menards or just dive right in. I'm' pretty sure that I will stick with it since I absolutely love the heat and smell from a wood burner. Can't be beat in my mind.

    When looking at them, what are the best things to look for? In the 'wood furnace' world, what are the deciding factors of the build quality? Firebox, size of firebox, EPA certification, draft blower (not sure if I need it or not), etc....

    Sorry for all of the 'newbie' questions, but that is what I am to the world of heating with wood.

    thanks
  12. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    DAKA I know nothing about. Vogelzang has a very poor reputation on the Hearth - they sell several stoves that are not UL listed (which you learn only after reading the fine print) and seem to be made more lightly than some of the other "value priced" units. VZ stoves are made in Asia, and reportedly suffer from the lower QA standards associated with those products. Englander is US made, which I don't consider a deciding factor the way some do, but they also have a very low number of reported problems.

    Gooserider
  13. mu1166

    mu1166 New Member

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    US made isn't really a deciding factor in my decision, but I would like to get a few years out of it to see if I am going to like buring wood since I hated doing the work when I was little.

    I don't know much about those 2 brands either, but that is just what Menards has and there isn't any other stores that carry them within a couple hours of me. I'll still do some looking.

    I'm starting to like this site, all kinds of info.
  14. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Furnaces are easier to make than boilers, so there are plenty of brands to choose from. I'm not aware of any big revolution in furnace technology like you've seen recently in stoves and boilers, but there's not a whole lot to engineer, so most appear to be pretty much alike to me. I do like the glass door feature on the Caddys, and I think it's probably safe to assume that furnaces from Canada or Europe are probably going to burn clean. I'm not sure you can say the same about all U.S.-made boilers, though there are some good, clean-burning designs mfg. here as well.

    I've owned boilers made by Royall and Marathon, but both companies make furnaces as well. I'd recommend either boiler for quality construction, though neither one makes a gasifier, so to that extent, they're a bit dated. I bet they make good furnaces.

    http://www.marathonheaterco.com/products.html

    http://www.royallfurnace.com/index.htm
  15. mu1166

    mu1166 New Member

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    Thanks for all the great replies. Now the search is on. I'm hoping to get somewhere to be able to look at some of these in the near future.
  16. mu1166

    mu1166 New Member

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    I am still looking at different brands. There are actually quite a few of them out there. I do have a question on this one. I have been looking all over and come across this add on Craigslist. I am going to get ahold of the person but what is your opinion on this furnace? What questions should I ask and what should I look for when I look at the furnace?

    http://desmoines.craigslist.org/for/528456341.html

    Thanks
  17. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I had a 25-year-old Royall boiler that I bought on Ebay and it was built like a tank. Still is. Really high quality mfg. and solid design.

    Because they don't contain water to protect the metal, furnaces are prone to overheating, usually resulting in warped plates. Not that a little warping is necessarily fatal, but it does tell a tale. I'm suspicious about the new firebrick. Why would they go to that trouble and expense and then sell the thing for $200? Presumably the old brick crumbled, but I'd be curious what the steel underneath the bricks looks like. You might ask them about that, and see if the bricks can be lifted out for a cursory inspection. Or, quite possibly, you can see the condition of the steel from underneath from the ash pit. Check the cast iron grate. I'm pretty sure you can buy a new replacement if necessary for about $100 from Royall. They're still in business in Elroy, Wisconsin. Maybe not that far from you.

    I don't see a draft blower, but I assume it's mounted in the back. If the motor is shot, you can buy a replacement online for probably less than $50. Ditto for any other blowers, etc.

    In my experience, this is not going to be the most efficient furnace you can buy, but I guarantee you it will kick out some heat and lots of creosote if it's oversized for your house. Smoke too, probably. But for $200, it's probably a pretty good deal. You can probably use it for five years and sell it for more than you paid.
  18. mu1166

    mu1166 New Member

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    I figured that for 200 bucks I really can't go wrong.

    I talked to the owner today, he said he bought it 2-3 years ago to use in his garage not knowing that his insurance company woudn't let him do it. The new firebrick were in it when he purchased it and he has not used it. I don't believe that this stove has a draft blower on it. there is not one in the picture and he said the only blower on it is the squirrel cage type fan on the rear of the unit. He wasn't at home when I got a hold of him so he was not able to answer some particulars but will be talking to him again one of these evenings.

    Does anyone know if there is a Royal furnace company (only 1 L)? I asked him about the name and he was pretty sure that it was just Royal stamped on the main door and ash door.

    Will I be able to get some decent burn times with this furnace? I don't want to have to restart the fire everyday like I have to now.

    thanks for all the help,
  19. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Here's the Royall website. I see there is also an American Royal Furnace Co., but it appears to be related to the Royall in some way. They have the same crown logo.

    http://www.royallfurnace.com/IndoorForcedAir.htm

    Hard to tell from the pic, but the bypass damper handle in the top center is identical to what's on the Royall boiler I had. I just happen to have a pic handy.

    Attached Files:

  20. mu1166

    mu1166 New Member

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    Thanks for the reply.

    He put the new firebricks in it to use it, but his insurance company wouldn't let him intall it in his garage. Since he is a couple hours away I havn't looked at the stove yet, but i asked him to look at the grate and the metal behind the firebrick and he said it looks great. There is no draft blower on this model (it is a Royall out of Elroy, Wisconsin). In your opinion, will I need to put a draft blower on it? I like the idea of letting a thermostat upstairs control the heat, but I don't want it to barely smolder all the time and fill my chimney up with creosote.

    I have a masonary chimney with no liner in it. It is an outside chimney on the south side of my house. I have virtually no creosote buildup in it now. Am I going to need a liner with this furnace (or any other furnace or stove)?
  21. mu1166

    mu1166 New Member

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    Does anyone happen to know what the clearance numbers for a Royall wood furnace are? Do they differ by model?

    thanks
  22. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Yes, you will need a stainless steel liner for a legal and safe installation. You could put a masonry liner in, too, but ss is probably the easiest and most economical, not to mention easier to clean and maintain.

    If the furnace is designed to operate without a blower, then that's how I'd run it. If it's missing a blower that it was designed to have, on the other hand....well, you know the answer to that.

    You can buy a manual for a Royall appliance from the factory for about $10 as I recall. The clearances should be listed and, as with the liner, they should be observed for a legal and safe installation. I suspect they differ model-to-model, and that the clearances for a furnace are greater than those for a boiler, which radiates a lot less heat because it's surrounded by water.
  23. johnsopi

    johnsopi Minister of Fire

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    I have a Yukon/Eagle big jack wood furnace that works great. I've used 1/2 a tank of oil in 3 years. Very pleased.
  24. mu1166

    mu1166 New Member

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    That's good to hear. I am still not sure on what I am going to get. They should be coming over today to look at my existing concrete block chimney and to give me a price on a new liner. My concrete block chimney is 17" square (outside dimension) with a 9 1/4" square opening in the middle. It is exposed to the elements on 3 sides up the side of the house and on all 4 over the peak of the house. Where the stove pipe enters the chimney is 2' underground making the chimney a total of 29' 4" from stope pipe to top of block chimney.

    What kind of liner does anyone/everyone recommend? I don't really know anything at all about chimneys so will be taking your word and the word of the installers today.

    Thanks for all of your help.
  25. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    You might want to post the question in the Hearthroom forum, mu1166. I'm sure you'll get plenty of good advice.

    The only liner I've had done was a flexible ss with cement/vermiculite poured insulation. I think that with a straight run, rigid ss sections might be cheaper. Either way, you should spend the extra to get it insulated. Wrapped, spun ceramic (I think that's what it is) insulation is probably the best.
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