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Not sure if I'm in the right forum...need stove placement advice

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by newbieinCT, Sep 26, 2013.

  1. newbieinCT

    newbieinCT Member

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    hello everyone,

    I'm new to hearth.com and I'm completely overwhelmed. I've looked online and spoken to two different wood stove stores and chimney companies in the area and I"m not getting anywhere. Hoping you guys can help - the pellet/wood stove/fireplace people all want to sell me stuff. If this is the wrong forum, let me know and I'll try and find the right one!!

    We recenty bought an old house (c.1900) with some more recent additions (c.1980s) ~2200sq feet. It came with a pellet stove at the far end of the house - it's sitting in front of a fireplace but not in it. Not to code and we need to either put it on the floor (it's sitting on a 18"high brickwall that attaches to fireplace) or get a pellet/wood insert. It's a Kozi MX. We used it 2x and then turned it off until we could learn more.

    The house has long and mostly straight layout (from room w/ wood pellet stove --> kitchen --> dining room --> front room. Front room has stairs that go up to 3 small bedrooms. Off the dining room - to the left - is an addition (living room). In the living room is a wood stove. We don't know if it works - we won't light it up because the pipe outside is installed completely wrong AND it's an indoor pipe and rusted.


    Our concerns are:
    replacing pipe in in dining room (wood stove) is at least $2300, thinking of moving the free standing pellet stove to wood stove location - cheaper install. Even so, we aren't not sure if the heat (from either stove) will make it out of the living room and into the dining area. Both stoves have blowers but we need the heat to go into the dining room after heating living room (right turn) and heat the middle of the house.

    At the far end of the house, we are considering a pellet or wood stove-insert in the fireplace area. The chimney is there and needs to be cleaned but it seems like an insert would be better than taking up all the floor space or doing something illegal and unsafe like the previous owner did (sitting on the brick wall)

    We haven't been in the house for a winter, so we don't know how cold it gets but we know the insulation isn't great and we need to add more above the pellet stove room and probably in the attic. That will probably help but most of our issue seems to be how will we move the air. The idea of the living room stove appeals to us because it in more centrally located - master bedroom is above living room, and the rest of the rooms of the house are all in that general area.

    So...if any of this makes sense...can someone help guide me in the right direction? Or to a website I might not have seen yet? I feel like I'm going in circles :/

    thanks,
    Meg

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  2. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    Welcome to Hearth.com, Meg. You are DEFINITELY in the right place. Like you said, the first thing you need to do is make sure your heat, from whatever source, stays in the living area. That means insulate, NOW. Move your pellet stove, if you think the install is not to code, but from your description I can't say one way or the other. Maybe a picture or two will help. Get your chimney cleaned AND inspected. That may not be to code, structurally sound, or it may not be safe. Once you've taken those steps, pictures & dimensions are worth the time it'll take you to put them here. We will help you, without any sales pitch.
    newbieinCT, Oldhippie and PapaDave like this.
  3. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    I second Daksy; you are certainly in the right place. Would you mind posting a sketch of your floor plan? That will help in giving us an idea where to place the stove(s). A picture and dimensions of the fireplace and the stoves would also be great.

    In addition, if you are planning on heating with wood this winter: Do you have dry, seasoned wood at your disposal? You will not be happy about any new stove if you burn wet wood in it; not to mention it would be very unsafe.
    newbieinCT and Oldhippie like this.
  4. Oldhippie

    Oldhippie Minister of Fire

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    Insulation and air flow are important.. so you are on the right track. Also safety is of course the most important.

    A floorplan, even a pencil drawn one would really help the experts here get you started in the right direction. You did a pretty good job describing things, but these guys will want details. and a picture is worth a 1000 words.

    Meg, I can assure you, this winter Connecticut will be cold, and you will be cold and broke trying to heat it if you don't take some pretty quick action. You need a multi-prong approach.

    1. Tighten and seal the existing house. Let's quickly identify and fix all the air leakage that can quickly be fixed with a caulking gun and/or weather stripping.
    2. Insulation; again identifying big bang for your buck opportunities.
    3. Wood stove (or other heat source) plan and how to move air around. It isn't as hard as you think.
    Get a camera and start taking pictures that you can post here, because we want to see them.

    Don't worry, it might be easier than you think. ...and if you do have to invest some money, there are many state funded programs to help ease the burden.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
  5. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    And since the others have not mentioned it, let it be known that it is always much better and you get super results by moving the cool air rather than trying to blow the warm air into the cooler rooms. Turn it around. Sit a small desktop fan in a doorway or hallway on the floor blowing on low speed. It will work wonders for circulating that warm air. Just remember to blow the air toward the stove room. That will force the warmer air out and to the cooler rooms.
    Oldhippie likes this.
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Welcome Meg. I think we need to see what you are seeing if you can post some pictures. The pellet stove install may be an easy fix. The wood stove piping estimate sounds high, but perhaps there's challenging circumstances?
    Oldhippie likes this.
  7. newbieinCT

    newbieinCT Member

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    Wow..you guys are great! Already so helpful!

    I just got in, so I'll dig around and find the building sketch of the property so you can see the layout, along with room sizes. I know it's a hard one to describe...we had someone in here to assess our (lack of) insulation issue and he kept going "wow...this is so bizarre!". It's true - it's an old house with additions just kinda shoved on them. It's what we love and what gives it character..but also what is giving us headaches. Nothing is easy :) Don't think the additions or CT winters were thought through very well. The house is in good condition - it just needs some major updating. Like a chimney liner, for the original chimney, that is attached to the furnace. the old owner told us he didn't need a liner! That's b/c he didn't use the furnace and secluded himself in the 2 rooms that got air from the pellet stove and hibernated there all winter. I don't mind the cold winter but I don't want to be miserable either!
    I'll post more with photos in the morning. I was too dark to get any tonight - I think you will get a kick out of our indoor stove pipe that is rotting away outside. Looks like something from Harry Potter.
    Thank you, everyone, for the WARM welcome and advice. I'm excited to show you what is going on and see what you think I should do.
    I'm off to find the floorplan and scan in it. I'll post again in the morning.
    Meagan
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  8. newbieinCT

    newbieinCT Member

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    Ok. Here it is. I got a little delayed sketching up the floor plan - I thought we had a better version but it was too confusing, so I drew a quick sketch this morning. I hope it makes sense. It should give a general idea of the layout of the bottom floor. I added ceiling height since the newer part of the house has 8' ceilings and 7' in the older portion. The heat seems to stop when it gets to the end of the kitchen - can't move into the dining room area as well. Probably for many reasons, one of which is the drop in ceiling height and the air gets stuck.

    Just some notes on the sketch - the bathroom and bedroom to the right of the living room aren't really used. Maybe one day but right now,they are storage. So, it isn't a core room of the house so we don't mind it being colder/not heated as well. The main rooms are (obviously) the family room, dining room and kitchen. Right now, as you will see in photos, the living room is just a big ugly empty room for the dogs to play in.

    Also, there are no door from room to room, except going into that side bedroom and the bathrooms. Therej's a 5' opening between living room/kitchen and about 6' opening between kitchen/dining. The door into the family room from the dining room is about 3' (I forgot to mark that one). I tried to put it on the sketch, but not sure if it makes sense, but the wood stove (in the family room) is in a corner with a wall/doorway near it.

    Okay...enough babbling. Here's the sketch. I'll up load photos next (a few for your enjoyment so you can see the craziness of the previous owner)

    Thank you :)
    Meagan

    Attached Files:

  9. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Hmmm...that one is gonna be a tough nut to crack. You may be in the camp of using through wall fans to get a thermal loop working. Lets see what some other folks have to say.

    Edit: I am thinking something like a through wall fan between dining and front room closest to the west wall (assuming that up is "N"). Then another under the stairs going back into the family room. That would create a thermal loop for the wood stove. The kitchen and bedroom may have enough natural convection on their own from the pellet stove location. The down side is that you would really need to be running both units or you will have fairly drastic temp differences between rooms.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
    newbieinCT likes this.
  10. newbieinCT

    newbieinCT Member

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    That's what we figured...wall fans :/ I'm trying to post photos but it's hard to do and add description. I'll see if I can upload them somewhere so it's easier.

    Trying to figure out what would work better - wood stove vs pellet in the house is also an issue. I don't know enough about wood or pellet stoves to know how they work. We rented a place with a old cast iron Vermont Castings Vigilant or something like that - from early 70's. The set up was horrible and we stopped using it b/c we were getting sick from it. Not installed correctly and a horrible landlord were a bad mix. We decided to wear ski caps in the winter instead! I'm know that was great when it was warm - but it wasn't safe, so I'm a bit wary of wood stoves, even though I know that was an extreme situation. We couldn't do anyting b/c we were renting. You'll see from the photos from or new place that the setup on the pellet is horrible, as well. That's why if we can fix it, we want to. Or if moving it to a new location is better, we'll do that too. Anything to avoid paying high oil prices to heat this monster of a house. We love it...but I don't think I expected all the repairs it needs. All houses need them but the last owner did nothing so we are doing everything. Blech. At least we will have insulation and heat when we are done :)

    Here is picture 1 and 2 of the pellet stove contraption (this is at the end of the living room). Not a pellet stove insert - old owner tried to make it one though :/

    20130927_082428-1.jpg 20130927_082444-1.jpg
  11. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Ok, this is not as crazy as it sounded. The stove solution shown makes sense. It sounds like the main issue for the present is to determine the viability of using the existing equipment (or not) for this year. The fact that the LR and back area is less used makes it a good candidate for the pellet stove, particularly if that stove has a thermostat and can keep that area at say 60F while the front of the house is kept at a more comfortable temp by the wood stove. Heat from the family room can be persuaded to circulate by putting a simple table fan on the floor in the large opening from the dining room to the family room. Point the fan so that it is blowing cooler air from the DR into the stove room and run it on low speed.That grey fan would also work just fine.

    The most important thing now is to examine the condition of the equipment and their respective flue systems for safety and operability. So far this is looking less scary than I thought it would be. The pellet stove could either have a same height brick extension built that matches the current brick (it doesn't have to be the full hearth width). Or the hearth lowered by removing the brick. (not all that hard).
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
  12. newbieinCT

    newbieinCT Member

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    View from pellet stove toward kitchen
    *disclaimer: please ignore all the ugly floors, wall colors and half painted rooms with tools everywhere. We are halfway moved in and scrambling to figure out how to heat the house by winter
    20130926_191011.jpg


    view of unused wood stove in family room - currently acting as storage spot for tools and other items :)
    20130927_082352-1.jpg
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    So far things look pretty good. Can you post a picture of the outdoor wood stove chimney? Not perfect, but better than expected.
    newbieinCT likes this.
  14. newbieinCT

    newbieinCT Member

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    Last pics - the Harry Potter-like stove pipe (and the reason we were considering moving the pellet stove to where the wood stove is located...cheaper pipe install (Wood stove pipe install quoted at $2300)

    20130927_082606.jpg 20130927_082622.jpg i13.jpg

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  15. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    It's hard to tell if the pipe is rusted or if they sprayed it with the shingle stain/paint. Looks like painted galvalume. For sure it needs a proper roof brace. But that is not a big deal. Have you had a certified chimney sweep check it for safety? It might just need the upper sections and cap replaced if they are all that is rusting.
  16. newbieinCT

    newbieinCT Member

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    Ok. I think that's all of them. Just saw that the chimney pics posted sideways. If you want me to rotate and re-post, let me know.
    Just saw a few comments, I'll go back and read them now. Thanks everyone for the help. I think we are trying to navigate the wood stove/pellet world with not much time to learn before winter. The original chimney for the house has no liner and is hooked up to the furnace. That's out first fix. We were going to do it ourselves but hit a road block that we couldn't do on our own - so we brought someone in. We are trying to find a reliable guy in CT to do that for us - one guy didn't even look in the chimney. He rushed through and gave us high prices. Wood stove store tried to sell us two brand new stoves, which we didn't want. We know we have two good ones and *might* have to buy a new one as an insert, but didn't think we needed two.
    It's overwhelming :)
  17. newbieinCT

    newbieinCT Member

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    It may have been sprayed - I'll go look again. I know certain parts are definitately rusted. Also - the 2nd chimney guy said it was an indoor pipe. I wasn't there but my husband said you could see it right on the pipe. I"m going to go look and double check with him I have the story straight. I wish I was there to talk w/ chimney guy the other day - it's alwasy hard hearing the summary vs all the details! I just remember the end result was it was rusted and old and not a pipe meant for outdoors. Oh...and it is really close to the side of the house
  18. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Floor plan
    upload_2013-9-28_8-21-30.png
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
  19. newbieinCT

    newbieinCT Member

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    Ok. I went out and climbed up to look. Will need to get the bigger ladder to go higher to check out the rust up above - but from what I can see, you are right about it being painted. That makes sense since he probably wanted it to fit in with the old look of the house. One of the pipes said "amerivent 6B" on one of the pipes. Hard to tell. Up higher, it looks rusted, so I'll go check that part out. It's definitely dinged in a few spots. The man who looked at the chimneys is a certified chimney sweep, part of the national chimney sweep guild and CSIA. I can't see anything that shows this as an "indoor pipe". I'll get in touch with my husband and find out more info. I think I mentioned this already but the pipe is close to the house - it says on the pipe miniumum of 2". I think it's 1.5 in some places. Again, I'll check.
  20. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I think what you need to do it decide whether you want to heat with wood or not first. It is more work and a little more messy, so not for everyone. And you need a place to store stacks of wood. Some yards are not large enough for this. That said it is hard to replace that deep bone warming heat and the beauty of a nice fire. It is also a fall back if your area has frequent or long power outages. A pellet stove will provide nice body warmth if you stand in front of it, but the fire is not that appealing. It is essentially a small furnace and like furnaces they are noisy. Do you want that in the family room? There are newer pellet stoves that are quieter if pellet burning is more appealing to you so you might consider getting a second pellet stove for the family room if burning pellets is more appealing to you and if it make economic sense.

    Personally I don't like the current wood stove location. It is too shallow for required hearth depth, though that could be extended. An ideal location from a heating standpoint would be directly opposite of the opening to the dining room. That way the blower on the stove could direct its output toward the other rooms. But this is easy with other people's money. Ask yourselves key questions. Do you want to heat with wood, or just pellets or both? Is the current location of the family stove the best? Could the living room be much more appealing if that is where you could have a nice cozy fire in a wood insert?

    Note that the biggest issue this season if you decide to try wood is finding well-seasoned wood. It is very hard to get. Poorly seasoned wood leads to poor heating and a much less satisfying burning experience.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
  21. newbieinCT

    newbieinCT Member

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    Thanks for the advice! It helps to hear it from all angles :) We just got in touch with a guy who does all types of insulation - he came and did an assessmen. We knew there was no insulation abve the master bedroom (why? I don't know...), so we were planning on that. Of course, there's a lot of areas to insulate. We plan on staying in this house long term, so we want to do it right. It's just hard to find the money. He told us about the a program through CT Light and Power that can help us. It will help with some upgrades and more importantly, give us rebates on insulation. I think that might be the same program you are talking about, but I"m not sure.

    We have bene caulking and we joined that program trhough CP&L. The first step is for a company to come assess the house, make some improvements and then give us recommendations. The house is old and, as we found out by accidentally putting our thumb through the dining room wall, is all lathe and plaster with no insulation but some horsehair...sooo, we need to insulate everywhere. I think it will make a huge difference though. Trying to learn everything at once...talk about jumping in feet first!
    Thanks for the advice...it's much appreciated :)
  22. newbieinCT

    newbieinCT Member

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    quick question: did you mean to repost the floor plan?
  23. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Yes, just in case some people might not be able to see the pdf.
    newbieinCT likes this.
  24. newbieinCT

    newbieinCT Member

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    Just realized that after I posted the message to you. I forgot to make it a .jpg. Thanks ;)

    Here are two more from the pipe. Husband said the chimney inspector said pipe is the type you run inside your house, not stainless steel. So you are probably right it's galv.alum.

    I'm going to go read up more on the wood vs pellet option. I really do love the warmth of a wood stove and we probably can find room for the wood but we'll have to discuss. Still don't know what we are doing with this place...so much room but so little at the same time!

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  25. newbieinCT

    newbieinCT Member

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    Thanks, begreen
    You gave me a lot of good advice and some stuff to think about. I agree, there is nothing like the warmth of the wood stove. We've had the poor seasoned wood (thanks to that idiot landlord of ours) and it was not fun. Made some miserable fires and made us miserable in the process.

    Unfortunately, we can't put the stove across from the dining room doorway - there are two big windows there. *sigh*. Not an easy fix.
    One last question, before I stop bothering you for the day. what doy ou mean by the current stove is too shallow for the required hearth depth. I think I get it, but just want to make sure.

    Thank you so so much

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