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)

New to Heating My Home with Wood

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by loridonovan, Dec 4, 2005.

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

    loridonovan New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2005
    Messages:
    8
    We just bought a Lopi Answer freestanding wood stove for our fireplace in our 80 year old, 1500 sq. feet, stone Cape Cod (Pennsylvania). It's our plan to heat as much as possible this winter using the stove and rely on the gas heat as a back-up. We haven't had much luck getting the heat to travel to the second floor. We have an open staircase just 30-40 feet from the hearth that leads to the upstairs... but once you get half-way up you can literally feel the drop in temp.

    The house is poorly (ie. not) insulated and ,many of the windows are less than desireable. However, friends told us that we would get such tremendous heat from the stove that we would welcome our somewhat leaky spots. So far... this is not the case.

    I'm looking for tips to get the stove hot enough to heat the house on a continual basis and tips on how to keep it burning efficiently when we have to (a) sleep and (b) leave the house for a few hours.

    Thanks for whatever you can suggest. E-mails are welcome.

    Lori
    lori@loriodnovan.com

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. loridonovan

    loridonovan New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2005
    Messages:
    8
    I was wrong about our square footage... it's 1260. Still, you're point is well heard. Unfortunately, given the specs of our fireplace, The Answer was the unit that fit and what we now have to work with. I should have also mentioned that we added a ceiling fan at the top of the stairs on the second floor. (Was that a good idea?)

    We do not have a thermometer, but will run out and buy one today. I don't know what the temp drop is for that reason and also because we don't have a thermometer on the second floor. I would guess there's about a 6-8 degree difference between floors.

    Working with the controls is going to be a learning process. We also don't want to blow through all our wood. We currently have two cords. Any estimate on how many cords it would take to get through to March?

    Thanks for your patience with our learning.
  3. yukiginger

    yukiginger Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Messages:
    227
    Have you tried any sort of fan in the room to help circulate the air past the stove? I don't know how far your stove sits out at the fireplace (if at all) but using a small room fan to help pass air along the stove might help. I assume that you don't have a blower for it, so coming up with your own system of improved circulation might really help.

    Please keep us posted.

    Mark
  4. loridonovan

    loridonovan New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2005
    Messages:
    8
    I actually do have a blower. The stove doesn't really set outside the fireplace at all, maybe an inch or two tops.

    And, again... incorrect on the distance. The distance from the fireplace to the stairs is only 10 feet.
    You can see the whole house here: www.1316broadway.com (we had previously had it on the market for sale, but decided to stay)
  5. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    9,226
    Loc:
    Lake Wissota
    Getting heat to your upstairs can be tricky. Think of supply and return. You need a supply for the heat to rise and a return for the cool air to come down. If you only have the stairwell its probably not enough. You may want to look into a floor register on the oposite side of your stairwell.

    Do you have a blower on your stove? Inserts really need one to circulate the heat better.

    I go through 3 full cords of wood to heat my 1800sq ft home. But the house is pretty tight and more of an open floor plan.
  6. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,289
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    That house would now cost 300K+ in Atlanta and about 600K+ in Berlkley, Ca.

    The answer is a fairly small stove, and being in a lot colder of an area than the Northwest (where Lopi are built) AND in an older home, we can fairly say that your house is at the upper end of that stoves range.

    Keep in mind the other comments about air FEED and return, in other words, air needs to circulate. The fact that it is stopping in the middle of the stairs shows that it is not. Perhaps a floor grate would help the air have somewhere to either feed to return to.
  7. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    How is your stove connected do you have a full liner or what is the size of the masonry flue you are using?

    All these questions because, I believe you have draft issue, as evident of all the soot around the fireplace in the pictures

    That big tree behind the fireplace also could be a factor creating down drafts. Small stoves will not draft as effeciently in larger exterior masonry chimneys. So re-post your current arrangement details
  8. Rick

    Rick Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2005
    Messages:
    185
    Loc:
    Connecticut
    Maybe I'm just too easy going, but a 6 to 8 degree temperature differential is pretty acceptable in my book. In my old house if it was more like 15 to 20 degree difference, and i was OK with that. I just kept the area by the stove around 80. In this house, the floor plan (coupled with my low expectations) keep everything relatively more comparable.

    Rick
  9. loridonovan

    loridonovan New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2005
    Messages:
    8
    Let's see if I can answer the various questions and comments.

    We have the Lopi Answer with legs (not the "insert") in the hole of the fireplace. The store we went to, which is considered reputable in our area, said this was a good option for us as the jagged stone around our fireplace makes it difficult to place an actual insert. We also liked the look of the stove free-standing in the fireplace. We DO NOT have an insert with the flat surround piece around the masonry.

    I wouldn't call it "stuffed-in" to the fireplace. It was placed there by professionals, not by us. And the blower is the blower that came with the Answer. It's attached and part of the aparatus.

    I don't have a thermometer in our upstairs so it's hard for me to gague exactly what the temperatue differential is. All I know is, it's cold... especially by comparison to the first floor.

    We did buy a stove-top thermometer today. We placed it on the cook-top because it won't stick to the pipe. Right now we're running at 600 (and the thermometer says that we're close to "over-firing").

    We're contemplating cutting registers into the ceiling/floor to help with returning the air - but of course, its a bit of a project.

    Lori
  10. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    9,226
    Loc:
    Lake Wissota
    600 deg sounds about right for a steel stove high end burn. Check your manual for stove operating temps.

    How is your stove vented into your chimney? Does it have a stainless steel liner running all the way up to the top of the chimney? Is there a block off plate above the stove where the fireplace damper would be? Maybe most of the heat is getting absorbed by the fireplace or simply going up the chimney?
  11. loridonovan

    loridonovan New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2005
    Messages:
    8
    A liner was installed at the same time as the stove. I believe the original fireplace damper was removed at that time. We only use the damper on the actual stove. My understanding from the installer was that the orignial fireplace damper had to be removed in order to place the stove properly.
  12. Sundeep Arole

    Sundeep Arole New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    237
    Loc:
    Framingham, MA
    Frank,

    Her stove is an insert, really. It has a five wall convection chamber around it. I don't think that has so much heat loss as to heat up the brick and radiate heat away. There will be some heat loss, but not as much as you think. That said, I do think she would do better with a bigger stove.
  13. loridonovan

    loridonovan New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2005
    Messages:
    8
    The fireplace is not outside the house. The fireplace is within the actual walls, not jutting out -- if that's what you're getting at.
    We didn't buy the bigger stove because it wouldn't have fit in the fireplace and the sq. foot numbers on the answer fit our square footage. I didn't know there were any other variables at the time of purchase. It said it would heat a house my size, so I assumed it would.

    The house IS warm... don't misunderstand. I just said there is a marked difference between the first and second floor. Our goal is for our gas furnace not to turn on and right now that's happening. The house thermostat is located about 25 feet from the stove, so it's being satisfied (showing the household heat at 76-78 when we're running at full speed. Certainy much hotter than we're used to with gas.

    My big concern was how to get the heat from the first floor to circulate upstairs.

    We have the stove we have. We're not in a position to sell the one we bought at a loss and buy one that's even more expensive. We have to make this work. So my question in coming here was how to use the stove we have most efficiently. How to keep the fire burning properly to maintain constant heat and use our wood economically.
  14. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2005
    Messages:
    1,440
    Loc:
    middleborough, ma.
    I can stand on the stairwell of my 34 X 26 Cape and feel the warm/cool air exchange coming up and down the stairs
    If we had put registers in the floor our bedroom would be too hot

    Got down to 20 last night and the whole house was plenty warm of course our stove is capable of heating a much larger house.
  15. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    2,248
    Loc:
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    Lori,
    First off, you essentially do have a stove that is designed exactly like an insert. The Lopi dealer claims that your stove is an insert with legs and no surround. Otherwise the insert and freestanding stoves are virtually identical. Your stove is fine and it's a nice stove. Forget anyone who suggests you need a different stove. My stove is just slightly larger than yours, and in total my house is about 2100 sqft...approximately 1400 of which is downstairs.

    My house has the stove room at one end of the house and it has a cathedral ceiling. Not ideal for getting heat down out of the cathedral and into the rest of the house. We do have a ceiling fan that seems to make a big difference. (blowing towards the ceiling)

    The livingroom we have is a good size...20x25, and there are two entrances into it. Both entrances are double french doors. On one side...The Dining room and the thermostat for the main floor, on the otherside, the Foyer with the stairs immediately outside the french doors from the livingroom. The temp in the dining room typically reads 75-78, and it's quite warm in the livingroom. When standing on the stairs, as previously mentioned, I can feel the cooler air moving down the stairs and midway up the stairs, I can feel the warm air on my face as it comes up the stairs. The upstairs is typically much cooler. Last night the upstairs got down to 65 (where the upstairs thermostat was set) thus kicking on the oil burner briefly at about 4 am, (outside temp was around 11) and the dining room dropped to about 68.

    The problem you may be experiencing is that when your sitting by your stove, it's quite warm, and moving to another part of the house that may be 10 degrees cooler feels a lot colder. My wife mentions this also, but given that the house is generally warmer than we'd keep it with 100% oil, she is fine with it. I wouldn't worry about it at all. If the temp difference is only 10 degrees, think of how much heat actually IS getting up there. If your central heat kicks on only to move the temp up 10 degrees vs doing all the work, I'd say your stove size is perfect. Any bigger and you'd cook yourself out of the room it's in.
  16. Rick

    Rick Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2005
    Messages:
    185
    Loc:
    Connecticut
    Ahh, bingo. I think step one would be to measure the temperature in the cold part of the house. It may be actually quite acceptable. I had the same problem in my last house. 80 by the stove, 60 to 65 in the coldest part. So you're wearing a t-shirt and sweating by the stove, go somewhere else and, as my wife would say, "it's freezing in this house" (yes, to my wife 60 degrees farenheit is the temperature at which water freezes, at sea level :) ).

    Rick
  17. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    9,226
    Loc:
    Lake Wissota
    Jeez Dylan,
    Where did the soapstone thing come from?

    Sounds like its nice and warm in the main living area. I think they just need more time getting use to their stove and maybe experimenting with fans or a floor register.

    My stove is in my finished basement, I have 1 floor register above the stove with a fan inside, and my stairwell is about 20 feet away. Right now the temp outside is 5 deg, the stove temp is 500 deg, the basement is 78 deg, and upstairs living-room is 73 deg. The 2 upstairs bedrooms are 68 and 70. So there will be a difference in temps throughout your house. Its just the way wood stoves heat. They are space heaters, not whole house even heat heaters even if you have a soapstone stove. (Right Dylan?)
  18. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    848
    Loc:
    St. Louis, Missouri
    I'm a 'little' behind reading posts...

    Lori, if you answered this I didn't see it:

    Do you have a 'block off plate' above the stove? If not, this might save quite a bit of heat from going up the masonry area surrounding your chimney liner.

    Is one side of that big masonry fireplace structure exposed to the outdoors? If so, you're losing some heat through it. Maybe more than you think.

    Could you put some insulation behind and to the sides of your stove without it being visible to the room? If so, there is an excellent material, sometimes called a 'ceramic blanket', that can be used to save a lot of heat, especially if one side of your fireplace has outdoor exposure. You can also place this stuff on top of the stove. It's about $9 per foot and is about 24" wide by 1/2" thick. It's used behind inserts by some highly reputable installers. It is also used to insulate chimney liners. Good stuff. Won't burn.

    Looking at your layout, I did not see where the ceiling fan was installed, but I'll assume it is outside the upstairs bedrooms at the top of the stairs. If so it might help move heat into the bedrooms if it is pushing air UP towards the ceiling. If you run it pushing air DOWN, you might be creating some pressure loading that is preventing air exchange. Smallish fans, on the floor in the bedroom doors (to move cool air out and down the stairs) may be quite effective if you can run them low enough to prevent too much wind chill.

    Looking downstairs, the first 'fan thing' I'd try is to put a simple box fan (you probably already have one) on the floor on the other side of the room from the stove and blow it toward the stove, past that exposed radiator. For your layout, that looks like it might set up a nice circular convection current of cold air from the kitchen (I think, or is it the study), past the stove where it is heated up, and conveniently toward the stairs where more of it will hopefully go upstairs. This will also make it more bearable if you are sitting in that love seat in the 'hot zone' right in front of the stove.

    Good luck. Let us know if you make any progress.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page