Going back to wood

Geoff Posted By Geoff, Dec 2, 2005 at 7:51 PM

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  1. Geoff

    New Member 2.

    Dec 2, 2005
    I just bought a new (to me) house which is currently heated by propane... too much propane (forced hot air furnace, VC insert in a finished room in basement, VC Radiance stove on main floor). The house was built between '81 and '84, has a brick chimney with 2 flues (I think), and was used as a vacation home (weekends mainly as I understand) until 2003. There was previously a wood stove on the main floor and possibly one in the basement as well. In '99 the original owner replaced the wood stove with a gas stove, probably becuase he got old and it was difficult to deal with wood. The top floor (3 bedrooms, one bath) has no heat source or ducting. The gas stove on the main floor dosen't give off a whole lot of heat even though its rated for 35,000 BTUs (compared to wood stoves I've used before) but does have a blower that sends heat up towards the floor of the master bedroom. That floor is post and beam and has 1" pine flooring so I think heat should leak up through it easier than normal ceilings. The upstairs can get cold so I am going to install some ducting and put in a fan to draw air up from below, but there isn't quite enough heat below...

    I'd like to go back to wood, at least on the main floor and try to use it for a good portion of the heating for the house (which has about 1500 sq. ft. of living space). My parents have an Upland 207 that has been sitting in their barn for close to 20 years (it probably wasn't used heavily before they got it) that I can have. I saw that one of the site sponsors (Woodsman's Parts Plus) carries an add-on catalytic converter that goes in the stove pipe. Has anyone used one of these before? Opinions? Do they simply attach to standard 24g stove pipe? I'm thinking that adding one might be nice to get some more efficiency and longer burn time. The Upland uses a 7" pipe, the add-on cats come in 6" and 8". I haven't measured but the chimney is at least 25 feet from that floor. Does it ever make sense to step down from 7" to 6" (cost savings) or go up to 8"? I'm guessing that going up in size would be better because I could reduce draft if I need while increasing draft with the smaller pipe might be difficult. On that subject, I'm thinking about relining the chimney.

    I'm thinking of installing the Upland for now. I have no idea if it will provide enough heat or not. We may get a better stove later if the free one isn't up to the task.

    Any thoughts?
  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson
    Mod Emeritus 2.

    Nov 18, 2005
    Central NYS
    I've got one of those 8-inch add-on cats hooked up to my boiler and it works pretty well. It seems to cut the smoke, kicks out some radiant heat and last time I checked the element, it was clean. You won't get nearly the efficiency or smoke-eating capacity as a cat designed into a stove, but I think it's better than nothing. Really all it amounts to is a round cat element suspended in a stove pipe that you can engage or disengage by pulling a lever. It doesn't come with a thermometer, which surprised me because I thought from reading the online description that it would. So, you need to get a $25 internal probe thermometer also. I have mine mounted just below the cat element, but I think it would make more sense to put it above. Finally, I would go with the 8-incher. The cat element can cut your draft, which is not a problem in my case, but why risk adding a problem by constricting your exhaust flow if you don't have to?

    Craig Issod told me last year, before I bought the thing, to expect "up to" a 10% increase in efficiency and "up to" a 50% decrease in smoke. I'd say the smoke part is about right, but have no idea about the efficiency gain.
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