House Circulation Issue

andycee

New Member
Nov 5, 2019
4
Cape Cod
Hey folks, long-time lurker, first-time poster here. We had a Regency CI2700 wood insert installed this summer, after loads of research (and because the Blaze King we wanted would have required major work to our fireplace), and while I'm starting to get comfortable with managing the fireplace and getting decent burn time (I got my first fire to start this morning without having to use a lighter-- just the embers from last night), but I'm still challenged by the air circulation issue. I've done a bit of reading, but our house is a very unique layout.

Anyone familiar with New England has seen a version of my house a million times-- the classic colonial with the bonus room on the side with the fireplace at the far end. However, the interior layout has the stairwell on the opposite end of the house, making it difficult to get the heat to flow upstairs. We have mini splits throughout the house (in the image below, they are the red rectangles) and we have a ceiling fan in the vaulted bonus room (the brown circle). Every bedroom on the second floor has a minisplit, so a layout of the rooms isn't really helpful I don't think. Currently, I'm running about 80-82 in the bonus room, 72ish next to the bottom of the stairwell, and mid/high 60s in the upstairs.

So, yeah, there's room for improvement. I've got the ceiling fan running low counter-clockwise and the splits running on fan mode. I know the choke where the bathroom is probably is the reason for the inability for the air to move, but I'm not sure what to do. I would put some small fans in the ceiling corner, but there aren't any outlets, and with two small kids, I'd rather not run extension cables (nor would I want to look at it for 6 months a year). I've considered cutting a vent hole in my daughter's room, which butts against the vaulted ceiling of the bonus room, but I'd like to save that for a last resort. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
Air flow.jpg
 

kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
4,427
07462
That is long way for an insert to get heat to, I'd wait a couple more weeks and let some longer cold set in first to see if any thermal loops set in. There is a possibility that the insert may just be a heat saver (supplemental) to more substantial heating by mechanical means.
There is a way to do something but it maybe ugly, you can cut in a cold air return vent and install 18" shrouds on it to funnel the air down past the warmest air on the ceiling (its an old new England trick) but again it might be a waste of time also since your insert is flush mounted so you will have limited heat coming out between optimal heating periods when the blower is running (burn cycle) by any chance did you also have an insulated block off plate installed before the unit was slid into place?
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
1,096
Woolwich nj
Back in the day when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and before forced air Heat. Convection heat was used.. my brother has an old farm house with 2.5x3 ft grates in the floors alowing the heater in the basement to heat the 2 floors above it.. this would allow a portion of that air to go right upstairs .. this would help creat the loop you need
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
79,091
South Puget Sound, WA
As you've figured out the vaulted ceiling and long path to the upstairs stairway is not a great setup. Cutting a vent into the upstairs bedroom would help, but that would only serve one bedroom if the door is closed. Is there a basement? If so that might be useful for locating a duct to pull cold air descending down the stairwell and push it to the bonus room.
 

andycee

New Member
Nov 5, 2019
4
Cape Cod
That is long way for an insert to get heat to, I'd wait a couple more weeks and let some longer cold set in first to see if any thermal loops set in. There is a possibility that the insert may just be a heat saver (supplemental) to more substantial heating by mechanical means.
There is a way to do something but it maybe ugly, you can cut in a cold air return vent and install 18" shrouds on it to funnel the air down past the warmest air on the ceiling (its an old new England trick) but again it might be a waste of time also since your insert is flush mounted so you will have limited heat coming out between optimal heating periods when the blower is running (burn cycle) by any chance did you also have an insulated block off plate installed before the unit was slid into place?


Thanks for the feedback-- we did not have an insulated block installed. I was going to , but I felt like there were some folks adament that it was a bad idea and the installer didn't recommend it.

My biggest concern with the vent is whether or not there's a loss of privacy for my daughter. We generally don't close doors in the house, so it shouldn't be a problem.


As you've figured out the vaulted ceiling and long path to the upstairs stairway is not a great setup. Cutting a vent into the upstairs bedroom would help, but that would only serve one bedroom if the door is closed. Is there a basement? If so that might be useful for locating a duct to pull cold air descending down the stairwell and push it to the bonus room.
We leave our basement door open for the cats; the basement door is in the middle of the house, so I'm not sure if that's really helpful. Are you suggesting putting a vent in the bonus room into the basement?

Our thought when we put the wood stove in was that since it can handle 2800 square feet, our 1800 sq ft house, albeit not the ideal layout, would be able to heated by the stove-- at least about 80% of the heat. I don't mind the bonus room running 5, even 10 degrees warmer than the rest of the house, as long as the rest of the house warms up. Right now it's hard to tell how much of an impact it's having on the upstairs-- I guess we will have to see if the colder weather helps create better thermal loops.
 

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
10,010
Nova Scotia
You might be taking a fair hit from the absence of an insulated block off plate.

EDIT: And, square footage stove heating capability 'specs' is some darn fuzzy stuff...
 

andycee

New Member
Nov 5, 2019
4
Cape Cod
You might be taking a fair hit from the absence of an insulated block off plate.

EDIT: And, square footage stove heating capability 'specs' is some darn fuzzy stuff...
Yeah, the specs I figured were a bloated number, hence why I got a bigger stove than we 'needed'.

I was considering getting some rockwool behind it at some point-- Seems like an easy, albeit heavy, thing to add. I was on the fence about it because our garage is on the other side of the chimney, so if there's a bit of heat loss in there, it's not a total loss.

Also, I found a fan in our basement that I stuck in the corner of the kitchen, but I'm not sure which way makes more sense to face. Should it face towards the stairwell, or towards the mini split in our dining room? Also, I've seen folks say to keep ceiling fans on a low setting-- is that the same for floor/counter fans?

Thanks again.
 

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
10,010
Nova Scotia
Not having a block off plate could cause you to be losing lots of heat up and then out thru the chimney - most of which likely wouldn't end up in the garage. (A guess, without knowing entire chimney construction and seeing your chimney/garage relationship).

Not sure on orientation of fans - that's a very hamstrung floor plan for trying to get heat to circulate around. Lots of turns & obstacles. You might need more than one to see any difference. Or resort to cutting a hole, which I would be very reluctant to do. And not sure cutting holes in floors/ceilings for that would be legal or up to code - sometimes & some places, it isn't. I've been trying to figure the best way at my place the last bit to get more of our mini-split heat into the far end of our kitchen. Think I will start by getting a fan I can hang in the top corner of a doorway and see what that does.
 

Grizzerbear

Member
Feb 12, 2019
97
SW Missoura
I have pondered this before because my laundry room always stays much colder than rest of house. I wondered if cutting a vent hole at top of wall and placing a crawl space vent fan in it would work. Reluctant as well to do this if the results happen to be negligible. My grandparents house use to have these vents in rooms that stayed cold but i cant say as to how well they worked since i was so young.
 

andycee

New Member
Nov 5, 2019
4
Cape Cod
I have pondered this before because my laundry room always stays much colder than rest of house. I wondered if cutting a vent hole at top of wall and placing a crawl space vent fan in it would work. Reluctant as well to do this if the results happen to be negligible. My grandparents house use to have these vents in rooms that stayed cold but i cant say as to how well they worked since i was so young.
I'm guessing if you remember them having the vents in the room because they stayed cold, they probably didn't work, or you wouldn't remember them as the rooms that stayed cold. Probably better than otherwise, though.
 

Grizzerbear

Member
Feb 12, 2019
97
SW Missoura
I'm guessing if you remember them having the vents in the room because they stayed cold, they probably didn't work, or you wouldn't remember them as the rooms that stayed cold. Probably better than otherwise, though.
I guess i worded that wrong. I dont rememember if rooms stayed cold or warm. They had the vents in rooms that were blocked from stove room by wall. I guess all i remember is standing on headboard and watching gpa watch john wayne movies when i was suppose to be sleeping lol.;) I cant imagine them working well without something aiding in moving the warm air at ceiling unless it just had to move straight up instead of sideways. Not trying to hijack thread just curious if that would help op as well as me.
 

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
10,010
Nova Scotia
I just re-read a bit. Sounds like your daughters upstairs bedroom shares its wall or part of it with the top part of the great room wall? Vaulted ceiling in the great room?

I'm not keen on cutting holes in walls or ceilings (which is what I had been thinking - ceiling), but I am thinking that if a hole is to be cut, it would be somewhere on that wall, at the top of the great room wall, and then the ceiling fan below might be enough to establish a loop of moving air by pulling air down from the ceiling and thru the new hole, and getting air to move down then across to the other end of the house then up the stairs back to the hole.

Hard to see everything from here though.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
4,694
Northern NH
One thing a lot of folks do not think about is if they optimizing heat flow for heating, they are optimizing smoke and fire flow. Cutting holes in walls and floors can cut crucial minutes for escape time from a house fire. There are spring loaded dampers held open bya fusible link that can be purchased that would go inside the vents being cut that will allow the heat to be distributed but if there is fire, the link will melt and the dampers will close. These are required on commercial duct systems.
 

NoGoodAtScreenNames

Burning Hunk
Sep 16, 2015
236
Massachusetts
Each person has their heat preferences but if the coldest part of my house was in the upper 60s, I’d pat myself on the back and declare Mission Complete. I wouldn’t want bedrooms much higher than that anyway. Sleep better when the room is a little cooler.

80’s in the stove room is too hot for me. I’d even it out by throwing cool air into the room with a fan on the floor. Even a little bit will help with the circulation and by extension warm up the other rooms a few degrees.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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KrisP

New Member
Aug 9, 2019
26
Pennsylvania
fans are probably your best bet... FWIW my insert is in the basement which will be in the 70s when running, and the upstairs wont budge past low 60s, my heat kicks on the same as if there was no insert....you may be expecting too much from an insert? ouotside temps are low 30s
 

kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
4,427
07462
One thing a lot of folks do not think about is if they optimizing heat flow for heating, they are optimizing smoke and fire flow. Cutting holes in walls and floors can cut crucial minutes for escape time from a house fire. There are spring loaded dampers held open bya fusible link that can be purchased that would go inside the vents being cut that will allow the heat to be distributed but if there is fire, the link will melt and the dampers will close. These are required on commercial duct systems.
As a firefighter the thing with using a fusible damper is that your already done because the smoke will always precede the heat that would close the damper 10 fold, how many wood burners close all there bedroom doors at night while sleeping, or keep them closed all the time? A closed bedroom door can be the difference of keeping a fire contained to a room, or adding those extra few critical minutes for escape / rescue, but its impracticable for a wood burner to do that, especially when there trying to heat there home essentially from one large space heater.
Wood burners have to take a calculated risk to heat there homes, typical fire safety starts with planning, prevention, maintenance, and establishing proper practices.
I totally agree that cutting vents in floors is allowing a fire to travel easier, but if you follow prevention, maintenance and establish proper safety / operation of the stove you reduce your overall risk of having a fire in the first place, its a little bit of a catch 22.
 
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