Help with air circulation

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FrozenVT

Member
Dec 16, 2020
27
Central Vermont
We purchased a house in 2019, it came with a Vermont Casting stove that was replaced in Jan 2021 with a new Pacific Energy Summit LE as the Vermont Casting had some bad cracking in it. We have not been thrilled with the performance of the PE stove, but thanks to this forum we have it running better than ever. No we are facing an issue of getting the hot air to move around and heat the house. I will say that even though this house was built with a wood stove in the basement I don't believe was designed to function as a well-heated wood stove house. It's around 3,300sqft of living space so I know we are asking the max from the PE stove and we might need to add a second stove or continue to use other heat sources.

Our house is not very open concept and the stove is tucked in the basement in a small 18'x12' room. Almost all openings and doorways have a large transom above them, including the opening from the wood stove room. I believe this is one of the many issues. Our staircase is located near the wood stove room and goes from the center of the basement outwards towards the exterior wall, I believe this might be creating some air flow issues as well. I've attached the basement and main floor. floor plans for reference. The stove room will get up to a nice hot 90 degrees but even the hallway right outside it will be much colder. The room directly above the wood stove get's warmish but we still find we are looking for blankets or turning on the heat pump for that room. The entryway at the top of the stairs also doesn't get very warm. The stove seems to be performing well but we can't get the hot air to move around to heat the actual house.

Now that we have the stove running well what should we be trying to get the air moving around? We have tried a small corner fan on the floor blowing into the stove room, we have tired a small corner fan in the top of the stove room opening blowing out towards the stairs. We have tried a 6" tube run down the upstairs hallway down into the stove room with the air blowing into the stove room. None of which seemed to make a big difference. We have a thermostat upstairs on the wall between the entry and foyer and it gets up to around 67/68 degrees when the stove is cranking. As we walk down the stairs we can definitely feel it get warmer. The large basement bedroom and main level bedrooms are pretty much completely unaffected by the wood stove heat.

Sorry for the wordy post just wanted to try and get all the info included I could. We've thought about adding through floor vents to promote better airflow. Or some ducting and vents to move air into the stove room. We are also thinking about adding another wood stove to the main floor, or just moving the wood stove to the main floor. We have two fireplaces on the main floor and we would put the stove in the one in the foyer. Not sure if that's a waste since it's so close to the wood stove below it. We have also thought about a pellet or wood stove in either the large basement bedroom or one of the bedrooms on the main floor to heat that part of the house.
 

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So in looking at your setup...I have a single level home. We have a beautiful beast of a pellet stove in the living room but how do you move that heat? We get it done with 2 fans. Here is a floorplan (ish)
Help with air circulation

We have a vornado 660 at spot B, On the floor of the dining room, blowing level straight into the living room where the stove is.
Help with air circulation

This moves all the cold air along the floor and you can feel the warm air "pop" over the door way at the top when the fan is on. If you held a piece of tissue paper it would wave from the warm air draft.
Now we have second fan that blows along the floor of our bedroom (A).
It's a Honeywell Turbo Force Table Fan HWLHT900
Help with air circulation

This fan pushes the cold air from 6 feet in our bedroom along the floor and out to the hall. You can also feel the hot air "Popping" into the bedroom.
The key is to move the cold air to where the warm is and the warm will automatically flow along the top in the other direction.

So you need a big beefy fan blowing into the room that your stove is in, along the floor, from outside. Proably at the base of the stairs directed at an angle into the room with the stove. Close all the other doors in the basement. This should cause the heat to rise up the stairs. The problem here is you can't have a fan at the top of the steps unless it blows down at the same angle as the stairs or you'll Trap the hot air as it rises....
I would put one of those 660 fans on the floor here, directed into the open door of the room with the stove. This will push cold air along the floor into the stove room. Now that heat will rise up the steps.
Help with air circulation


So now you have hot air rising up the steps...
Fan 1 in this diagram will definitely move heat to the living room...
Fan 2 and 3 MIGHT get you some heat into the bedrooms IF you can feel the heat in the hall...
Help with air circulation

I think your problem could also be if you have a lofted ceiling over that foyer...that's probably where all your heat immediately rises too...and then cools and falls back down and you've lost all your heat to an unoccupied loft area...A ceiling fan there to move the heat back down would also be needed...

I wouldn't use any other fans than the two I suggested...bang for your buck they are the quietest I have found that also move a lot of air...and LAST...I've cleaned them out and relubed and got several years out of them running 24x7 from about Nov to April
 
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Thank you both. I’ll work on playing around with the fan placement EncoreInMass laid out and look into those fans.

I have a box fan currently at the bottom of the stairs blowing into the stove room which seems to be helping pull the hot air out but it’s heating the basement more than going upstairs. Our staircase is open and I wonder if that is impacting the airflow up the stairs. I would think it would help but I played around with some incense smoke and it seems to get all swirled around in the staircase instead of a clear upward and downward flow.
 
I'm not surprised by the disappointing results. This is a big house and the layout is not convection friendly. Moving the Summit upstairs would help a bit, but distribution of the stove heat would still be an issue. A wood furnace would be better suited for this layout. Is there a boiler or a warm air furnace heating the house?
 
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I'm not surprised by the disappointing results. This is a big house and the layout is not convection friendly. Moving the Summit upstairs would help a bit, but distribution of the stove heat would still be an issue. A wood furnace would be better suited for this layout. Is there a boiler or a warm air furnace heating the house?
That was my concern, we are more than pushing the limit of the Summit but expected better results than we are getting. The house does have an oil boiler with baseboard that we use when going away during the winter. I’ve played around with the idea of getting a wood boiler.
 
So in looking at your setup...I have a single level home. We have a beautiful beast of a pellet stove in the living room but how do you move that heat? We get it done with 2 fans. Here is a floorplan (ish)

We have a vornado 660 at spot B, On the floor of the dining room, blowing level straight into the living room where the stove is.

This moves all the cold air along the floor and you can feel the warm air "pop" over the door way at the top when the fan is on. If you held a piece of tissue paper it would wave from the warm air draft.
Now we have second fan that blows along the floor of our bedroom (A).
It's a Honeywell Turbo Force Table Fan HWLHT900

This fan pushes the cold air from 6 feet in our bedroom along the floor and out to the hall. You can also feel the hot air "Popping" into the bedroom.
The key is to move the cold air to where the warm is and the warm will automatically flow along the top in the other direction.

So you need a big beefy fan blowing into the room that your stove is in, along the floor, from outside. Proably at the base of the stairs directed at an angle into the room with the stove. Close all the other doors in the basement. This should cause the heat to rise up the stairs. The problem here is you can't have a fan at the top of the steps unless it blows down at the same angle as the stairs or you'll Trap the hot air as it rises....
I would put one of those 660 fans on the floor here, directed into the open door of the room with the stove. This will push cold air along the floor into the stove room. Now that heat will rise up the steps.
Help with air circulation


So now you have hot air rising up the steps...
Fan 1 in this diagram will definitely move heat to the living room...
Fan 2 and 3 MIGHT get you some heat into the bedrooms IF you can feel the heat in the hall...
Help with air circulation

I think your problem could also be if you have a lofted ceiling over that foyer...that's probably where all your heat immediately rises too...and then cools and falls back down and you've lost all your heat to an unoccupied loft area...A ceiling fan there to move the heat back down would also be needed...

I wouldn't use any other fans than the two I suggested...bang for your buck they are the quietest I have found that also move a lot of air...and LAST...I've cleaned them out and relubed and got several years out of them running 24x7 from about Nov to April
EncoreInMass,

I grabbed some Honeywell fans and currently have one at the bottom of the stairs and one in the living room pointed toward the top of the stairs. I'm definitely getting more hot air out of the stove room in the basement as the overall basement temp has risen. I'm still not seeing move hot air movement up the stairs. The stair landing is right next to the entry door and the main level is open to the basement with just an open railing about it. The air seems to be getting swirled around in the staircase and not going up. Going down the stairs once you are on the bottom stair of two you get hit with the hot air. I am seeing cold air leave the living room using tissue paper but not seeing any movement at the top of the living room opening. Will keep playing around with the fans.
 
EncoreInMass,

I grabbed some Honeywell fans and currently have one at the bottom of the stairs and one in the living room pointed toward the top of the stairs. I'm definitely getting more hot air out of the stove room in the basement as the overall basement temp has risen. I'm still not seeing move hot air movement up the stairs. The stair landing is right next to the entry door and the main level is open to the basement with just an open railing about it. The air seems to be getting swirled around in the staircase and not going up. Going down the stairs once you are on the bottom stair of two you get hit with the hot air. I am seeing cold air leave the living room using tissue paper but not seeing any movement at the top of the living room opening. Will keep playing around with the fans.
One problem is with stairs the fan must point exactly down parallel to the steps...on the bottom most landing.

If your stairs rise, hit a landing and then double back a fan anywhere but on the lowest landing will just push all the heat back down and trap it where it will meet the cold air and lose all its energy...
Kind of like this here...which from your floor plan might be the mirror image of your stairs...
Help with air circulation

The fan should be tilted to push cold air straight down the steps..
Help with air circulation


If the fan just points straight out from the stairs it will trap the heat...seen here in my Da Vinci style drawing :)
Help with air circulation
 
You might cut out the transom into the stove room and replace it with a decorative grate that air can move through. It would help a little, anyway..
 
@FrozenVT
Is there a ceiling fan upstairs blowing upwards? Should try that for certain. May have been discussed already? Anywho good luck
 
@FrozenVT
Is there a ceiling fan upstairs blowing upwards? Should try that for certain. May have been discussed already? Anywho good luck
always up in winter...maybe try the highest speed that doesn't create uncomfortable drafts
 
always up in winter...maybe try the highest speed that doesn't create uncomfortable drafts
If that's the case, I would not hesitate to turn the fan the opposite direction. Successful heat distribution routines aren't really set in stone. You never know!
 
If that's the case, I would not hesitate to turn the fan the opposite direction. Successful heat distribution routines aren't really set in stone. You never know!
So we have ceiling fans in the loft ceilings in the livingroom and bedroom...and both spin slowly to lift air up....clockwise. This pulls air up to push air down the walls. It prevents a cool drafty feeling as it circulates the air. It's also proven to work as I have tested the room thermostat temperature using both directions and off.
 
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I wanted to thank everyone in this thread, specially EncoreInMass. With everyone’s helps I’ve gotten the air moving around and heating the house! Haven’t used oil of heat pumps even when it’s been down in the low teens at night! I ended up with a fan blowing into the stove room, a fan at the angle of the stairs blowing down and a fan down the bedroom hallway blowing toward the stairs. I also put a thick blanket over the stair railing and that seemed to have really helped, I think it allows the hot air to raise without mixing with the cold air. Included a photo just to clear up the staircase layout.

Thank you again for all the help, it has really helped!

Help with air circulation