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question about woodstove in basement

Post in 'Classic Wood Stove Forums (prior to approx. 1993)' started by bobby chabby, Jul 8, 2011.

  1. bobby chabby

    bobby chabby New Member

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    i have a question about putting a woodstove in our basement . i have a fisher (mama bear i think) stove in our small country home, that i plan to renovate & move the family to one day . We are living in town now (probably for 5 years or more), & our home has baseboard heat . i installed a housewarmer vented propane stove last winter to offset the high heating bills .Our electricity bills dropped, but i was spending about $160 a month on propane . Our home in town is small ( 800 sq/ft main floor , 200 sq/ft basement , & 200 sq/ftattic bedroom). The main floor has no room for a woodstove, but there is room in the basement . There is an existing chimney that i would run into with double walled chimney pipe thru . The basement ceiling is 6 1/2' . The basement is finished . I was thinking of tearing the drywall and insulation out of the ceiling so the woodstove heat would rise to the family room above . I've done some research on the web, & it seems some people say the woodstove in the basement works great & other people say it makes the basement hot, but not the upstairs . Has anyone done this & had success ? I have the stove & plenty of wood, but i don't
    want to spend the $600 or so on good chimney pipe if the stove heat won't warm the main floor at all.
    Thanks

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  2. jimbom

    jimbom Combustion Analyzer

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    If you have stairs to the basement from the first level, consider that access a big air duct. Use it as a heat escalator. I have done that at my house during power outages. I didn't use small fans, but you could easily arrange a small fan to move the cooler air down the steps and perhaps around the house. A dutch door to the basement with a grill in the lower would be perfect if you have little kids. Open the upper and turn on the fan.

    If the walls and ceiling in the basement are insulated, temperature down there will easily reach 120F. It is going to be hot in the basement. Make sure you consider a ceiling protector above your stove or connector pipe if necessary.
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The main issues with basement heating are: lack of insulation in the basement walls and a poor path for heat to convect naturally to the upstairs. The success stories are often in a house where the stove can be centrally located, near a large open staircase in an insulated basement.

    The low basement ceiling could also be an issue, many stoves require a minimum clearance above the stove. What stove were you thinking of using down there, the Fisher?
  4. bobby chabby

    bobby chabby New Member

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    yes the stove i would install would be the fisher mama bear. I was worried about the low ceiling. Would 6 1/2' - the stove be enough vertical clearance ? After reading above about the high basement temperatures possible, would i have to worry about super expansion & contraction in the main floor hardwood flooring if i removed the basement ceiling drywall & insulation ?
    There is an open stairway from the basement to the main floor, so heat would flow thru that passageway.
    I've lived in houses where a downstairs woodstove heats the upstairs (with vents), but never a house with a basement woodstove
    Is there a concern with pressure since the basement has open stairs to upstairs, but no opening windows?
    Thanks for the help
  5. bobby chabby

    bobby chabby New Member

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    forgot to post above that the lowest point of entry into the existing chimney would put the top of the thimble entry at a little past 2' from the bottom of the main floor joists.
    Seems like i might need a heat shield of some sort . Would a small fan mounted on the basement ceiling blowing horizontal (air space between thimble and joists), that blew whenever i would use the stove, work for circulating the air & reducing the possibility of floor joist combustion ?
    Also was curious, would open stairs bring hot air up or cooler air down? Wouldn't there have to be another vent on the wall opposite of the stairs to create a circular path for the air to travel?
    thanks for any help
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The first place to start with these questions is with your insurance agent and the local inspecting authority. The next thing is to have the chimney inspected and the throat measured to be sure it can accomodate a liner sized for this stove.

    The stove will need wide clearances from combustibles. If you are allowed to install this stove in this location, it will definitely need at a minimum a ceiling heat shield for the full size of the stove. I would continue it right back to the chimney as well. Here is an article on the topic of clearances to get you started.

    http://hearth.com/econtent/index.php/articles/wood_stove_clearances_installing_it_safely
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/wiki/NFPA_Wall_Clearance_Reductions/

    For air circulation, many have had good luck with a 12" table fan, placed at the top of the stairs, blowing downward into the basement. This will assist natural convection in delivering cooler upstairs to the basement. At the top of the doorway hot air will come pouring out and into the 1st floor.
  7. bobby chabby

    bobby chabby New Member

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    So, i guess the open stairs would serve as both the heat exchanger & cold air return. Is this correct?
    Thanks for the links on clearances. Looks like a heat shield would have to compensate for the 24 " span between the thimble pipe & joists . I was planning on calling the insurance folks & inspector, first, i just wanted to get an idea if anyone had used a basement stove & if they had success or failure heating the upstairs.
    I'm looking to save some money in the winter, not in any way put my family in jeopardy.
    Thanks again for the advice
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That's correct. How well this works out depends on how easy it is for the heat to convect up from the stove and the layout of the first floor. The larger the door opening, the better the effect.

    The minimum clearance for single-wall pipe is 18", so the 24" clearance is ok. But it doesn't hurt to increase protection and the shield might look more finished by carrying it all the way back. If you use a double-wall connector, no need really other than looks.

    One thing for certain to think about is overall heat. The stove is way oversize for the area. I would be more comfortable with a small convective or cat stove there.
  9. bobby chabby

    bobby chabby New Member

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    yes, i would agree the stove is too big for the basement . i was thinking at first we'd be able to get all of that heat upstairs. The closet is essentially a big closet, so we don't really need heat down there . When i've used the fisher before in our country home (for primary heat) it really heats up, & moving the stove into a basement with a low ceiling seems it would make the basement a sweat factory.
    Thanks for the help, i wanted to get some input from folks who have experience with this before i spent the $500 or more on double walled pipe to run thru the chimney.
    one last question, is there anyone that uses an older fisher stove in compliance with town/ epa regulations ? Or are these stoves mainly used now for backup or off the radar heat. I know quite a few people that burn them, but they're all in older homes out in the country.
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    From what you have described, it would be good to reassess the first floor options for a modern, close-clearance, epa stove. Yes, it will take precious space. But it will also provide welcome warmth and a mesmerizing fire view.
  11. sesmith

    sesmith Member

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    The key to being able to heat from a basement with a wood strove is airflow. We do it, but in my case I have a forced air oil furnace where I can leave the blower box open and use the existing furnace ducts as a cold air return, and the cellar stairway for the heat to flow up. We get the job done this way, but it's far from ideal. In your case, you don't have any ducting, and it sounds like the cellar is only under part of your main floor. Not sure that the wood stove in the cellar would do what you need. FWIW, have you thought of the possibility of using a pellet stove somewhere upstairs? They aren't quite the same as a wood stove, and pellets will cost more to heat with than wood, but less than propane or electric baseboard. If you have a location on an outside wall, you can vent through the wall. There are some pellet stoves out there that take up very little space.

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