Buy a new wood stove or install a new furnace

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Gudjonson

New Member
Nov 18, 2023
3
Caroline
I have just recently bought my first house and it’s going to be a lot of work to get it to where we will be comfortable living in it. The original owners had a fireplace upstairs and a wood stove downstairs they also had a furnace. At some point in the past couple years they had the chimney redone but then they took out the wood stove.

We just had the furnace inspected and there’s a large crack running through it and it needs to be replaced. After getting a few quotes and seeing the huge price difference we’re wondering if we should just get a new wood stove and just use wood heat. I’m concerned it wouldn’t be warm enough because we do have kids and live in a place where our average temp in the winter is -15C but can get as low as -40C.

What I’m wondering is what I would have to do in order to make it warm enough to skip the furnace completely because eventually we want to have a completely self sufficient house.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
102,596
South Puget Sound, WA
It's important to have heat for when you are away, or sick in order to stop pipes from freezing. For this reason, sole dependence on wood heat is frowned upon by insurance and mortgage companies.Also, it takes time to season wood so many need to have a stash drying 2-3 yrs in advance. Is that possible right away? What will be the source of wood for the next couple of years while the split wood is seasoning? And then there is the house itself. Some floor plans are not great for heating solely with wood.

Tell us more about the house size, floor plan, insulation, etc.

Where is Caroline?
 

Gudjonson

New Member
Nov 18, 2023
3
Caroline
It's important to have heat for when you are away, or sick in order to stop pipes from freezing. For this reason, sole dependence on wood heat is frowned upon by insurance and mortgage companies.Also, it takes time to season wood so many need to have a stash drying 2-3 yrs in advance. Is that possible right away? What will be the source of wood for the next couple of years while the split wood is seasoning? And then there is the house itself. Some floor plans are not great for heating solely with wood.

Tell us more about the house size, floor plan, insulation, etc.

Where is Caroline?
In the winter we’re never away for more than a couple hours, and my husbands family has a huge stash of wood ready at their farm.
It’s a raised bungalow 988 sqf on main and full basement that has one bedroom done and the rest has no insulation.

Caroline is in central Alberta.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
2,056
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
Caroline Alberta I'm assuming? About 450km southeast of me.

Given the above is true, I'd also assume you are connected to natural gas, if that's case it's a no-brainer, have a new furnace put in, deal with the wood stove later. Natural gas is cheap here compared to most of North America, and there's not near the savings on fuel to be had by processing firewood like most of the members on here are used to.

What are you being quoted for a furnace? I'd go with a bare bones single stage high efficient unit. Variable blowers, multi stage burners, etc are nice to have, but incur a large extra cost. Setup with the correct thermostat they run just fine.
 
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Gudjonson

New Member
Nov 18, 2023
3
Caroline
Caroline Alberta I'm assuming? About 450km southeast of me.

Given the above is true, I'd also assume you are connected to natural gas, if that's case it's a no-brainer, have a new furnace put in, deal with the wood stove later. Natural gas is cheap here compared to most of North America, and there's not near the savings on fuel to be had by processing firewood like most of the members on here are used to.

What are you being quoted for a furnace? I'd go with a bare bones single stage high efficient unit. Variable blowers, multi stage burners, etc are nice to have, but incur a large extra cost. Setup with the correct thermostat they run just fine.
Being quoted at $11 000 starting and only going up from there I get that post covid prices are crazy but that’s like 3 times what I know they were 6 years ago
 

cahaak

Burning Hunk
Feb 12, 2012
157
MN Twin Cities
If you just recently bought the house and the furnace is cracked? I would think you would have some recourse with the seller, but also recognize that the furnace heat exchanger being cracked can be a scam to get people to purchase a new furnace.

If Nat gas is available, get a new furnace, they are not that expensive and if you are handy, you can self install. Maybe a wood stove down the road.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
2,056
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
If you just recently bought the house and the furnace is cracked? I would think you would have some recourse with the seller.

Generally in Canada it's buyer beware. Almost always the buyer hires an inspector to look for such defects before the sale closes, the buyer would have better luck chasing the inspector for compensation for missing the defect.

Buyers have sued the seller in the past and won, but you've got to prove the seller knew about the issue and failed to disclose/hid it.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
5,356
SE North Carolina
A furnace is the long term solution. If priced out of a new furnace then wood seems like the best alternative. What are the final plans of the basement? You said you have a fireplace upstairs what is it like?
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
2,056
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
Being quoted at $11 000 starting and only going up from there I get that post covid prices are crazy but that’s like 3 times what I know they were 6 years ago

That's certainly more than I was expecting, my parents installed a new furnace this spring, their quotes started at $7k for the furnace installed, I think they wound up around the $11k mark as they went with a 2-stage burner and variable speed blower and then another $7k on top of that for a 16SEER AC unit.

Other options to explore:
Is the heat exchanger replaceable? If so is it something you could do yourself?
Could you install a new furnace yourself? Looking online you could get a new one in the $3-4k range, you'd still have to get a sheet metal shop to build the new duct pieces though.

I simply don't know of a way to get around having a central furnace in our climate, heating solely on wood is a task and requires someone home at least in the morning and evening to tend to the stove. It also requires a substantial amount of wood, I'd be surprised if you could heat a house in our climate on less than 5 cords per winter. You can't go on holiday either, as the house would freeze.

In the mean time, please ensure you have a functioning carbon monoxide detector in the house, preferably one by the bedrooms and one in the living area.
 
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Todd

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2005
10,186
NW Wisconsin
Maybe another option is install wood stove and have direct vent gas wall furnace for backup?
 
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joop

Minister of Fire
Aug 26, 2018
546
beauharnois ,quebec
i heated 24/7 for 2yrs just with wood it's doable but it's not fun.wake up early to make sure fires settled in for the day etc .not the end of the world but not a set the temp and forget it.
 

Newbie78

Feeling the Heat
Oct 5, 2022
369
Canada
There's not really very much to a furnace, especially an old one. More than one of us is assuming that 'cracked' means the heat exchanger. If the part is available, replace it.
 
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joop

Minister of Fire
Aug 26, 2018
546
beauharnois ,quebec
-40 3 to 4 ft snowdrifts to go get a load of wood not the end of the world but not fun lol.get furnace for primary heat, wood for backup and enjoyment
 

Newbie78

Feeling the Heat
Oct 5, 2022
369
Canada
"Eventually we want to have a self sufficient house"...

Work to that end.

A big wood stove will easily heat your house. The uninsulated basement is problematic.

Wall mounted, direct vent heaters are available and many can operate on nat gas or propane. That's usually an easy switch over. Some wall mounts don't require electricity, so can still heat with no power.

A couple of wall heaters AND a big wood stove would cost about 5 grand cad. Then you would need a chimney for the wood stove...

If you are handy, there is no reason whatsoever to spend 11 large on a furnace.

Once kids are not babies, they become pretty tough. Hey, we used to play hockey on outdoor rinks at -20C or more..when we were 8 years old. And we would skate and play shinny hockey whenever we felt like it. The cold wasn't an issue, as long as there was a place to warm up periodically. Once we were a little older, we shovelled the ice before the games.

Anyway
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
102,596
South Puget Sound, WA
In the winter we’re never away for more than a couple hours, and my husbands family has a huge stash of wood ready at their farm.
It’s a raised bungalow 988 sqf on main and full basement that has one bedroom done and the rest has no insulation.

Caroline is in central Alberta.
If the goal is to be self-sufficient then be prepared for something going wrong. I hope it never happens, but accidents and sickness are a reality. How far away is the hospital if an overnight stay is required?

Will the stove be going in the basement? If so, is the basement also 988 sq ft.? As others have noted, an uninsulated basement will lose a lot of heat. This can be as high as a third of the wood burned going to heat outdoors. Plan on insulating all of the walls to reduce this loss.

For a stove, a big, 3+ cu ft Drolet or Osburn will get the job done. Note that getting the chimney cleaned and lined with an insulated liner may cost more than the stove. budget around $4,000-5,000 depending on whether the stove is DIY or not.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
102,596
South Puget Sound, WA

Newbie78

Feeling the Heat
Oct 5, 2022
369
Canada
Yes. We have a legend III. Real happy with it. This particular stove NEEDS a blower to help keep flue temps in check, and only for that. We just run ours manually from time to time, usually only on a big hot load.

It pumps out heat and keeps it toasty even in minus 40 or more in a drafty old farm house. About 5-6 hour reloads in those temps, depending on the load.