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To OAK or Not to OAK

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by offingmoot, Jul 15, 2008.

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  1. offingmoot

    offingmoot New Member

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    I am posting this in a few forums to spark a conversation. I am installing a pellet insert. Quadrafire Santa Fe. House is 1400 sq ft, open floor plan. 75 years old with balloon insulation. I have lived in the house for 2 full winters with no cap or flue on the chimney it is drafty in the fireplace room. I also notice even though windows are brand new and the house is fully caulked, that I feel drafts on very cold, windy days.

    I cannot decide if I should install an Outside Air Kit. Have seen it debated before.
    My water heater is electric, and the oil furnace is in the basement and will hopefully NOT run this winter, so I am not worried about a house draft affecting that. I have no kitchen range exhaust as that is electric as well. The only exhaust is the bathroom and it vents directly into the attic for now. So that would be the biggest pull of air probably from the attic.

    Outside air for combustion sounds smart and practical but I am scared of pressure problems and spillage.

    I read a good article here but still cannot decide.
    http://www.woodheat.org/outdoorair/outdoorairmyth.htm

    Problem is I need to decide soon cause they will have to drill out the chimney to do it. He said to run it along side the exhaust in the chimney one would have to be much higher than the other and looked busted.

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  2. cncpro

    cncpro New Member

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    Don't put too much weight on my answer because I am a noob at all of this.

    I have decided against the OAK for now...

    Factors in my decision were:

    1. After asking around here and reading all over the internet it seems like most don't bother with OAK.

    2. I asked my Quadrafire dealer and he assured me I won't need it. Keep in mind that if he recommended it I would have bought the kit from him so why would he lie ?

    3. Of all the people I have known burning wood in a wood stove I have never seen an OAK on a wood stove... If not needed for a wood stove why would it be needed on a pellet stove ?

    4. If I do end up wanting an OAK it will be cheap & easy to install at a later time in my installation.

    5. My house is 108 years old and I think it breathes quite freely :down: .
  3. offingmoot

    offingmoot New Member

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    thanx for your reply
    well my house breathes freely too and that is what i was worried about. will i be pulling too much cold air in from outside thru the house.? I want the stove to be my primary source of heat.

    it also interested me when i realized i will be taking air i just heated and using it for combustion.

    other consideration is what will the cost and time be to install one after the fact considered it has to be installed in the chimney. i assume he would have to drill out the bricks in order to do it??
  4. cac4

    cac4 New Member

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    I'd take that article with a huge grain of salt. Most codes are there for a good reason. There are so many "ifs" involved. "if a, b, c, and d...then it might work the opposite of how you expect". well..."ok".

    also, I get the impression that the article is talking more about fireplaces and stoves; not pellet heaters. different animal, altogether, and there are other reasons to oak-vent those. Some manufacturers *require* outside air, for good reason. Mike from Englander just posted a lengthy explanation as to why.

    I know there are modern furnaces that also require outside air to run, too.

    in a newer, tight house, there simply isn't enough make-up air. especially houses that have the sprayed-in foam insulation. they are practically air tight. they need to have additional air handling systems, even without a fireplace of any kind.

    you guys have older houses...likely not as much of an issue.

    one thing that I know is definitely a bad thing is venting your bathroom directly into the attic. That will rot your roof from the inside out, and cause ice dams. It should go all the way up through the roof to the outside, or out the side through a soffit, but never dumped directly into the attic. I'd fix that right away.

    forgot to mention: I have a heatilator fireplace in my 1994 house; I can't light it and get the chimney to draft unless there is a door open. can get it to draft if the furnace is running. When it finally does get moving in the right direction, all you can feel is a huge draft of air rushing across the living room floor toward the open fire, as it sucks the air that I paid money to heat up the chimney. It only makes sense that an oak would help. Its going to take the air from the point of least resistance. Its always amazed me how you can have a roaring fire in this thing, and not feel a dram of heat...unless you stick your hand right into the fire.
  5. offingmoot

    offingmoot New Member

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    i know about that bathroom vent into the attic. been that way since i moved in. i didnt even notice it until a few months ago. I never turn the fan on when i shower but my girl moved in and she does. i couldnt figure out why all my papers in the attic seemed damp even when it was dry outside......neither one of us use the vent now until i can get up there and fix it. gets pretty damn hot in there and i have about 2 1/2 feet of clearance to work so i am waiting for it to cool down some.

    as for the OAK, i just found out i cant get pellets in my area so i am gonna have to go with a wood insert and i suppose i wont need an OAK anymore either.
  6. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    personally (as well as professionally) i am pro OAK. no matter how leaky your house is it still can maintain a slightly lower ambient air pressure. even if neutral though , look at the heat removal v/s heat retention you can get with an OAK. an exhaust blower on a stove can remove tens of cubic feet of air a minute as it runs. this air after a while once the home is heated , is air that you have already paid to heat and your dumping it outside. here's the kicker, while you have dumped air outside , the removal of that air means it has to be replaced, this air will come in from outside through every little leak in the house, meaning you now have to heat that air up to stay warm, this happens on a constant basis. now , with the OAK you are burning the cold more oxygen rich (cause its heavier, more 02 per cubic inch the lower temperature coming in in my opinion is offset by increased oxygen density) so you are no longer drawing in cold air through leaks, lastly , but quite important, as air is heated it expands and creates a "positive pressure envelope" within the house the expanding heated air actually pushing back against the leaks making the house hold heat even that much more.

    to me an OAK with a pellet stove is a no brainer, as for the article from woodheat i can se how some of their theories make sense with an open fireplace , but certainly not with a sealed pellet unit under a forced negative draft.
  7. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    I installed a OAK for obvious reasons. My home was built for electric heat and is very tight.
    I have 3 baths with fans and sometimes 2 are used at the same time with the dryer running plus the power vent on the oil furnace which pulls out plenty of indoor air.
    Think about it. Running a bath fan and a clothes dryer at the same time can pull more than 250 cubic feet per minute + and that`s an awful lot of air and it has to be come from somewhere. Maybe some of it from the exhaust vent on a pellet stove . Anyone smell smoke?
    John
  8. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    john , while the stove is running normally , you likely wouldnt smell smoke , but were the power to go out , or an exhaust blower were to fail , you would had you not installed an OAK , also , you could very well have "stack smell" in the house due to the stove not running and all that air would still be leaving. good point giovanni.
  9. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    just another admonishment regarding getting the bath fan exhaust repaired before the mold, mildew and moisture ruin everything in the attic .

    :)
  10. offingmoot

    offingmoot New Member

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    i am still waiting on a quoted price to install the OAK. The guy i met at the stove store is burning the quad santa fe stove with no OAK and says its not necessary, but i still want it
    other considerations for me are how is it going to look on the outside of the house if its just a whole drilled in the chimney with a vent cap?
    is there another way to install it that will not be intrusive to my home or look bad on the outside the chimney is the focal point of the front of my house
    FYI i am getting an insert in an exsisting fireplace with no cleanout built in to the chimney
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