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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. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    In getting a warmer house, this may be more cost effective than the current (less expensive) setup, even if you could manage to improve airflow from the basement... less wood used and less time invested for more effective heat. But what is the current flue setup? Don't neglect to add in the potential cost of an insulated liner if you currently have an oversized tile flue in an exterior chimney.

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  2. HDBobbers

    HDBobbers New Member

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    There's a steel liner in the basement side of the chimney which was installed prior to my owning the house. Inspection at the time of purchase passed it for use pending cleaning. Chimney itself is sectioned into basement, fireplace, and boiler system. All definitely seperate and blocked from each other. Each need to be cleaned seperately. Fireplace and boiler are currently tiled, so would require an insert to really take advantage of proper drafting.
  3. El Finko

    El Finko Member

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    HD, how do you feel about running 4-6" round ducts around the basement?
    I would cut small return vents in the floor of each room upstairs (one per room), connect some round ducts together and have them all collect in the basement as close as possible to the stove. Add a puller fan and you'd get some circulation. Warm air would rise up the stairs and cool air would be sucked back down to the stove.
    For a fraction of the cost of an insert install, I bet you'd be good to go.
    This is the basic premise that I used. I believe it was BeGreen that turned me on to the idea. In old houses with coal furnaces, warm air would rise up through grates in the middle of the house and cold air would fall through small return vents through the floor in each room.
  4. HDBobbers

    HDBobbers New Member

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    I wouldnt be opposed to the idea though i'd need to run the ducting below the joists which are locking to a central I-beam running the length of the basement, centrally.

    Are you suggesting pulling the cold air from the upstairs to the wood stove via duct, or pushing the warm air via the duct to the upstairs? I have a 2'x1' grate in my living room and another matching in my bedroom.
  5. El Finko

    El Finko Member

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    Pulling cold air back to basement. As has been mentioned, it's easier to move the cold air. My set-up is backwards (I push the warm air), but even still, it keeps my house (1450 sq ft upstairs) cozy.
    I have one central hot air hole sized perfectly to one of the box fans you see at Lowes. It pushes the hot air. Then, in each room, I have a floor register cut (two in some rooms) to allow cold air to get back to the basement.
  6. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

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    I have an insert upstairs which helps on the coldest of days, but I normally don't have any trouble heating 2300 square feet (800 downstairs, 1500 upstairs) in
    a walkout ranch. Our master bedroom is on the walkout lower level, along with the family room and wife's loom room. so it's where we spend our time during
    the heating season.

    Is your basement stairway open? I think that's huge for heating from the lower level. I can feel the cold air running down the stairs as the hot hair rises through the
    open stairwell.
  7. HDBobbers

    HDBobbers New Member

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    Stairway is open, yah. In fact i dont have the door on the hinges as i've been installing oak flooring throughout the house. There is a ceiling fan in that room about 4 ft from the stairwell, though i havent not been able to determine if the forward OR reverse spin is helping to move the air... for that matter, if it is recommended, if the ceiling fan should be pulling toward the ceiling or pushing toward the floor.
  8. lazeedan

    lazeedan Feeling the Heat

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    I agree with El Finko. Pull the cold air to the basement.
  9. HDBobbers

    HDBobbers New Member

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    Tried a new fan solution last night, though i could not get the upstairs to break more than 61 degrees with 78 down. It was about 25 degrees last night.

    Fan blowing down/sucking through the grate in the bedroom with an air mover pushing the cold toward the stove. Another air mover to move the air from the stove toward the stairwell and another pointing upward. I hung a skinny strip of tissue in the basement doorway and the air was moving. Thermostat gained from 53 and settled at 61 throughout the house. This is a bit warmer than i've been able to get it before, though still... i immediately got complaints from a visitor that it was cold. For me, 61 is a freakin heatwave in that house.

    I'm looking at inserts now to go into the fireplace upstairs and i'm really considering the Osburn 1600... in my price range and i can get one online for about 1700 shipped free. A little disappointed that my town disallows self install and requires permits for mechanical installation, town inspector, certified installer, yada yada yada... wasted money on something i could do myself. My house has been a complete gut and rebuild and all the work has been done by me, so having to contract someone for an install is just... painful.
  10. El Finko

    El Finko Member

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    HD, you'd get better results with the vents and not need half the fans you're using.
    In effect, your entire basement is a return duct. The cold air is mixing with the warm air too much, and it's killing the convection effect.
    Try this as an experiment: using old bedsheets tacked to the basement ceiling, create a tunnel/corridor about as wide as the stove, straight from the stove to the stairs. You want to capture and focus the heat from the stove and get it to the stairs.
    Just by doing that, I think you'd be surprised at how much more warm air makes it up the stairs. Add your fans pushing cold air down through the existing grates and it'd imrpove even more.
    This isn't the solution, but it would give you some idea of what your stove is capable of, if you keep the cold air in the basement separate from the warm air in the basement.
  11. HDBobbers

    HDBobbers New Member

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    So... basement view... 3 being my stove location. Vent 2 is within an open closet that houses the boiler (open double door and open ceiling to the rest of the basement).

    You're saying create a temporary wall (the red lines), more or less, between my stove and the stairway to focus the heat in one direction. If i effectively sealed the basement in half along the i-beam that runs the length of the house where would the cold air return be? The floor vents would be segregated from the stove. Wouldnt that cause an issue displacing the cold air upstairs with the warm air from the stairwell?

    House Layout basement.jpg
  12. El Finko

    El Finko Member

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    Leave about a 5" gap at floor level over close to the stove. Or just don't take the sheets all the way to the wall behind the stove. Or both.
    That plus your fans pushing cold air down to the basement and you'll get an idea really quickly what the possibilities are.
  13. HDBobbers

    HDBobbers New Member

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    I wish the stove was right under the stairwell...
  14. El Finko

    El Finko Member

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    That might be better, sure, but try it and see. You'll be surprised.
  15. HDBobbers

    HDBobbers New Member

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    I'll see if i can pick up a few cheap tarps tonight on my way home from the office. A bit leary of doing this with sheets... that stove is hot.
  16. HDBobbers

    HDBobbers New Member

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    12x20 tarp spanned the area nicely. Tacked to the ibeam and walls,extra length pinned to the floor. May not be a good test night though. Still about 40 degrees outside, though the temp has risen 7 degrees in the past 20 minutes.

    Yeah..I know the carpet is ugly.

    Attached Files:

  17. Charles1981

    Charles1981 Feeling the Heat

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    Edit: hrmmm somehow I thought I was posting in a different thread. disregard!
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
  18. STIHLY DAN

    STIHLY DAN Feeling the Heat

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    Easy solution. Take your 2 floor vents, go to home depot and get a 6 inch by what ever size vent you have adaptor. Then 2 6 ft 6 inch duct rounds and attach a fan in a can. This will pull all the cold air to the floor of the basement, pressurizing it, pushing the heat upstairs. Then spreading the heat around. This should cost about $75 and 2 hrs time. The upstairs will be roasting after. Duct must end withen 2 ft of the basement floor, prefferably 6 inches.
  19. El Finko

    El Finko Member

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    What StihlyDan said. Air pressure is the key.
    You're cooking with gas now.
    Get a fan blowing down your "#1" hole and another blowing down your "#2" hole, lift up the tarp a little more in that corner, and you're in there like swimwear.
    Good Googa-Mooga, with the size of that stove you should have no problem. As I sit and type my NC30 is doing exactly what I'm (hopefully) explaining.
  20. El Finko

    El Finko Member

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    Oh, and don't pay too much attention to the outside temp. Right now it's about 35 where I am and upstairs is steady at 73.
    Note: If you have two different-sized fans, then put the larger one over at hole #1.
  21. HDBobbers

    HDBobbers New Member

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    Been testing out the basement bisection for the last few days. Its been pretty cold in the teens and 20s. Keeping the heated air separate from the cold down draft is a complete win. 70 degrees plus inside and the warming time from a cold start is much quicker.

    Now that I'm sold on the setup, I've got plans drawn for a sectioned wall to replace the tarp, as well as fold to the ceiling when not in use. Cold air ducting with fans to be completed in parallel.

    Thank you El Finko for the bisecting suggestion.
  22. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Do what Brother Bart suggested. It will work far better than an overhead fan. Get a small fan and put it on the FLOOR at the top of your stairs. Try to set it so it is angled down the stairs, at the angle of the treads. That will push cold air (50 degrees) down the treads, and leave room for the warmer air to travel up the stairs on top of the cold air. It should work to a far greater extent than your present set up. You should see airflow and temp change within half an hour or so.
    However,we have not seen a schematic of the basement. Not sure where North is, but seems your stove is pretty far from the stairs. That, and any impediment between it and the stairwell will slow heat transfer. However, if your entire basement is 80 degrees and there s indeed a wall of heat at the bottom of the stairs, then the small, low placed fan will work. Try it before investing in the insert. If you don't get sufficient heat transfer, then get the insert.
  23. HDBobbers

    HDBobbers New Member

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    You need to read back a bit.
  24. El Finko

    El Finko Member

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    Word up HD.

    I've been contemplating something like you see here: www.accordion-door.com
    but think I'll try and figure a cheaper way to construct something along those lines myself.

    As I mentioned before, dialing in the size/number/location of the return holes is the key. Right now I have at least one in each room, and they're either 4x10" or 4x12". HVAC guys use an equation to size openings and vents, but I think it's possible to get close enough.
  25. HDBobbers

    HDBobbers New Member

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    Yah. I'd looked at the accordion myself, though im settling in on a framed design that hinges 3 door sections to the ibeam that runs the length of the house and folds down into place from the ceiling. Rubber gasket will be used to seal the gap between the sections as well as the floor. It'll attach to the ceiling via heavy eyelets.

    The drop ceiling I have in there will cover it during the warm months. I pull the ceiling tiles down in the winter anyway.

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