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Primary Heating with Wood... but... issues

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by HDBobbers, Nov 19, 2013.

  1. HDBobbers

    HDBobbers New Member

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    I apologize if this has been covered, but i've searched through the site for similar and i'm coming up short.

    I have a Vermont Castings Defiant Model 1 in my basement. Old, but it will pump heat without a problem and i restored it from a hunk of rust to where it is now. The problem i have is that i can't get the heat to transfer from my basement to my first floor.

    Hopefully the image i uploaded can be seen. It's an image of my upstairs. Note that the boxes labelled 1 and 2 are grates in the floor sized at about 24"x12". Also note that there is a central stairwell. The basement is the same square footage as the upstairs but the walls bisecting the area are in the area of where the Bathroom/Laundry and Bedroom 2 would appear... that's my workshop... have to keep the cats out.

    I can get the basement cooking. 80 degrees or more without an issue. However, the warm air is not moving despite anything that i've attempted. You can actually walk into the stairwell and hit a wall of hot air. The upper level of my house can be 30 degrees difference in temp.

    Now, i've tried blowing air up the stairwell/down the stairwell, blowing air up the floor vents/down the floor vents, turning the kitchen ceiling fan on pulling/pushing, closing off one vent entirely and attempting fans in the vent or stairwell... the heat just is hanging there.

    I'm at a loss as to what the issue is and after having spent an entire winter bundled under blankets or spending time in my basement last year, i've kind of met the end of my thoughts on what to do. The only thing i can think of now to heat my home is to forego the basement method altogether and install an insert in my fireplace (designated by the #3 in my livingroom on the right of the house). Opening at 33Wx28Tx26D tapering with a small rectangular damper.

    Admittedly... i'm a bit overwhelmed by the choices on the market and reading the umpteen reviews on this site has made my choice action more difficult instead of helping. I have limited funding, in and around 1-2k to furnish an insert, but i can't help but scratch my head about my current installation and why i'm having such a problem. Heat rises... but in my house the laws of nature don't seem to apply.

    Am i doing something glaringly wrong here? Best if i just say screw it and put the money into an insert?

    Layout Upstairs.jpg

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  2. HDBobbers

    HDBobbers New Member

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    Also, the upstairs is approximately 1500sq/ft matching the basement which is semifinished and insulated.
  3. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    Wow you do seem to be defying the laws of physics, especially since you have the two big grates and an insulated basement. I have friends who heat their entire 2 story house from their basement with a Fisher Papa Bear and roast all winter, and the house is way bigger than 1500 sq ft so know it can be done. He does not have any grates and uses no fans, and the stove is located pretty close to the bottom of stairway in the basement. The stairway is central to the house, like yours.

    The only thing I can think of is you have some kind of weird airflow issue that is preventing the heat from naturally rising. Is your basement ceiling insulated?

    I am sure someone will be along who has a setup similar to yours and can help.
  4. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Is your upstairs really airtight and well insulated? Where in the basement is the stove located? Is there any air moving through the grates? (e. g. checked with some incense stick?) Any idea where the air for the stove is coming from?
  5. HDBobbers

    HDBobbers New Member

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    To fire_mans question... there Was a drop ceiling I n the basement that I pulled down to keep the heat from trapping. Only thing between the basement and upstairs now is the subfloor and the oak hardwood I laid above that.

    To Grisu the upstairs is well insulated and retainsheat well for that matter. All windows are covered and the attic stairwell that shares the basement stair on the top side has an insulator blanket keeping the airflow stopped.

    The stove itself is located about 5ft north downstairs of where I've labeled the fireplace.

    There is a small amount of air coming from both the cellar way as well as the floor vent in the living room, though it is mostly cool. Vent in bedroom 1 is stagnant. I have tried both the stairwell as well as the living room as the primary warm air flow point though the air movement is so slight that it is not enough to heat the upstairs.
  6. bayboy

    bayboy New Member

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    My daughter has the same problem with her home. I was wondering can I put a in several air ducts over the wood stove and use duct booster fans and tap into her duct work on her hot air furnace and maybe use the blower on the hot air furnace to push it. I am open to any ideas how to move the air from her finished basement rec room to the main level which is on the opposite side of the house. The house is very well insulated and its a 3 level split. Bedroom upstairs are not to bad. Theres a dropped ceiling in their rec room where the stove is located and its about 80 f there when the stove is running and the middle level wher her livingroom and kitchen is located is around around 68f.Upstairs in their hallway and bedrooms which is directly over the woodstove downstairs i about 70f.Any help would be appriciated..
  7. HDBobbers

    HDBobbers New Member

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    You're calling 68f a problem?... that's weak. 80 in my basement and 50 or less above. Don't appreciate the thread jack.
  8. bayboy

    bayboy New Member

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    If you think that a thread jack bud thats fine with me. i thought this was place for to help each other. I guess you don't need help!!!! If thats what its like here thats fine.
  9. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Rest. Both of you. No thread jack he is just commiserating and trying to solve the same problem you have. And yes, 68F is a problem in this house. >>
  10. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    More people can't heat from the basement than can. The answer is getting an insert on the main floor every day of the week.

    Also putting a small fan on the floor blowing the cold floor level air down the stairs into the basement will help the current setup. The warm air will flow up out of the basement as it is displaced by the cooler air blowing down.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2013
  11. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    This place is all about helping, and not at all about getting snippy and having hissy fits. Be nice.
    eclecticcottage likes this.
  12. Charles1981

    Charles1981 Feeling the Heat

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    I have the same setup as you almost, however instead of a step staircase I have a circular staircase in almost the same spot. I have a ceiling fan over the circular staircase. And also my Chimney and Stove are central directly next to the stair case. I have two floor registers direct above the stove.

    The ceiling fan directly over the spiral stair case blows cold air down into the basement. Then in turn there is a strong updraft through the two registers directly over the stove.

    Typically I can get upstairs around 73-74 when it is 25-30degrees outside. It is tough maintaining 70 upstairs when it is 15 and below. When the power goes out I can only get upstairs to 67-68 no matter what. So that is the difference air flow makes.

    You have a more difficult situation because you want the warm air to not only rise but coarse across from one side of the house to the other. I think it is possible but it may take more experimentation?

    Can you install a ceiling fan over the stair case having it blow down? Possibly install another ceiling fan over the stove/register area drawing warm air up? Are your floor registers directly over the stove? Can you put another one in over the stove?

    For me it has really been all about proper airflow but I think my setup is more ideal than yours (spiral staircase with ceiling fan over it, central stove/chimney, central registers)
  13. bayboy

    bayboy New Member

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    Thanks Guys for your help...
  14. PLAYS WITH FIRE

    PLAYS WITH FIRE Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, blow the air on an angle down the stairs. I have a box fan with a very thin wire that holds it on angle blow down the stairs. The fan is on the same plane or angle as the stairs, it works wonderfully! I tried blowing all ways and found this to be the absolutely best. The wife hated it at first but now she feels the difference... So try that.

    Then try the toilet paper test.
  15. bayboy

    bayboy New Member

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    Ok thanks I will try the fan on top of the stairs to see if that works. Anything is worth trying. Thanks guys I can install a ceiling fan on top of the stairs the room is there..
  16. HDBobbers

    HDBobbers New Member

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    Ceiling fan has done nothing for me at the top of the stairs in the kitchen. Tried upward turn as well as reverse.

    Think I'm just going to give up on it and sell the thing. 54 upstairs and 77 down as I sit typing. Maybe I can get a few hundred for the Defiant and reinvest in a working option.
  17. Charles1981

    Charles1981 Feeling the Heat

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    This is a reason basement installation is often not recommended unless the basement is your primary residence. I knew i was taking a gamble installing my stove downstairs but The Encore was the appropriate size to heat 1800 square feet which I have but it is imperative good airflow is achieved and I knew my spiral staircase was going to be superior especially with a ceiling fan above it. If I had a normal stair case closed on both sides I would have been more strongly considering either an upstairs install or a second small stove upstairs in addition to downstairs.
  18. HDBobbers

    HDBobbers New Member

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    The longer I go on with this setup... the angrier I've been getting. Its just so aggravating.
  19. Charles1981

    Charles1981 Feeling the Heat

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    You gatta do what you gatta do to be happy and stay warm.
  20. HDBobbers

    HDBobbers New Member

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    Truth...

    Just need to settle on an insert.
  21. Charles1981

    Charles1981 Feeling the Heat

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    It isn't going in your basement I hope.
  22. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    I guess that is your problem. The hot air from the basement would like to move upstairs but the cold air there has to go somewhere. In not so well airsealed houses you get a stack effect with cold air coming into the basement and warm air going out the attic which creates an airflow that would also pull warm air from a stove upstairs. You would need to look at getting the cold air from upstairs down. When do you start the fan? When do you just light the stove or when it is already warm downstairs? Maybe try to get a convective loop going early with a fan at the stairs blowing air into the basement and keep vent 2 open. I am also wondering whether cracking some windows upstairs may also help.
  23. Chris_Up_North

    Chris_Up_North New Member

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    This is an "out there" idea, but a friend of mine a few miles away has a wood insert/stove (not sure what kind) in a big brick hearth. The hearth was basically built around it, somewhat crude, but it looks good. Encased in the hearth is about 50' of 3/4" copper pipe that goes up to a big water heater (with no heating element) in the upstairs bathroom closet. Through the thermosyphon effect, it heats that 80 gallons of water REALLY hot. Like 175F hot. He removed all the insulation from the hot water tank. There is no pump, just a gravity drain from above to the hearth pipe, a check valve and an intake to the tank located about 1/2 way up the side of it. As a result, the upstairs of the home is never cold all winter and it gets pretty nippy here in western Maine during January and February. The whole setup behaves like one of those big Russian soapstone stoves and it gives off heat for at least a day after the fire goes out. His home is around 2,000 SF, middle of the road insulation, and he burns roughly four cord per season.

    I don't know if that is within the scope of reason for your situation but maybe something along those lines would be suitable (?)
    If using air as a your heat transfer medium, you'd probably be best off "Grabbing" the air close to the stove where it is very hot and getting is upstairs with as little turbulence as possible. The walls of your basement are probably ~55F and that stove is creating big eddy currents that are possible transfering more heat through your basement wall tank upstairs.

    As for the person who talked about the Big Papa in the basement - that is a corker of a stove. You can feed it small trees and heat all of Argentina from British Columbia with a Big Papa!

    Best of luck!
  24. HDBobbers

    HDBobbers New Member

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    Grisu - I wait on the fans until the stove has been brought up to temp and noticeably heating the room. So, surface temp stable between 400 and 500 after damper closure. That's usually an hour or so for the stove to bring the basement up to a starter temp.

    I have tried cracking windows upstairs but didn't really notice a change in the airflow.

    Is it easier to move the cold air or the warm?
  25. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    At that point you may have already "layered" the air and it may be tough to break that. Maybe try starting the fan just after lighting the stove. You want to establish a current that the stove pulls cold air in and the warm air flows upstairs. How are temps actually before you make a fire?

    Cold air is denser and therefore easier to move than warm air. We usually recommend to get heat to an area by having a small desktop fan blowing cold air towards the stove. The warm air from the stove will then travel into the space that the cold air vacated, thereby generating a convective current. You have to look for ways to get the cold air from upstairs somehow into the basement and towards the stove. The warm air will then travel by itself to the upstairs.
    Woody Stover likes this.

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