How can I redistribute wood heat better in my house?

  • Active since 1995, Hearth.com is THE place on the internet for free information and advice about wood stoves, pellet stoves and other energy saving equipment.

    We strive to provide opinions, articles, discussions and history related to Hearth Products and in a more general sense, energy issues.

    We promote the EFFICIENT, RESPONSIBLE, CLEAN and SAFE use of all fuels, whether renewable or fossil.

BC_Josh

Member
Oct 23, 2023
126
Nelson, British Columbia
Hello fellow wood burners,

I had my Blaze King Sirrocco 20.2 installed this fall and it works great, but it is hard to get the heat to spill into the kitchen/dining area (see attached diagram/layout) or into the den. It is noticably cooler in there, not terribly comfortable. Of course, the bedrooms are closer to the woodstove so that is logical, that the heat spills into them pretty good. There are no more floors besides the basement and the main floor which is shown on the diagram.

The air intake for the gas furnace (which is in the basement, which is 2/3 crawl space) is on the main floor next to the woodstove, shown in the diagram. I have a furnace fan that I turned on full time but it seems to just pump in cool air through the heating ducts (also shown in the diagram), and doesn't draw enough warm air from the stove to redistribute throughout the house. All the ducts seem to blow cooler air than room temperature. So, I turned off the furnace fan. I have a ceiling fan in about the middle of the living room turned on reverse so it is blowing the warm air upwards, across the ceiling and down the walls (I can feel the breeze off it when I sit on my couch).

I've also put some fans on the floor in the kitchen/dining room and closed the door to the den (where my girlfriend sleeps when she is over) She is coming over tonight and I'm planning on supplying her with a small electric plug in heater. I've also closed the door to bedroom #2 (see pic) so the air goes more into the dining area. Bedroom #2 is used as an office where I do some self-employment work, and use the computer often so I need to keep it open.

I would like more heat flow throughout the house. There are many variables right now, all of which I've fiddled with and had some success but not enough solutions found yet:

- The furnace fan which can be turned on or off.
- The ceiling fan in the living room.
- Floor fans in the kitchen and/or in the den.
- Doors to rooms which can be opened, closed, or left partially open.
- And, the worst: a winter vest and/or a hat taken on and off depending on where I am in the house (please, no!)

And, there are variables which are not utilized at this time (and I am probably not aware of all of them, nor do I know if these are valid but I'll wing it and write what I think I MIGHT be able to do):

- Installing a more powerful fan in the furnace to suck more warm air next to the woodstove into the ducting and through the heat vents throughout the house.
- Installing a fan that sits just inside the furnace intake vent next to the woodstove to suck air down so the furnace fan can work better at redistributing the heat.
- A larger ceiling fan in the livingroom ( it's a small room, so the 36" "ceiling hugger" fan with 6 blades seems to do fine in that small space without cluttering the ceiling and room too much).
- doing a small renovation to enlarge the doorway between the kitchen and living room (bah humbug; I got enough to do!)
- installing, or moving the existing thermostat to the gas furnace so it kicks on more often (really do not want this -- the whole point of the wood stove was to stop burning gas) It currently sits five feet from the wood stove and I just want gas heat when I am out of town.

So far, the floor fans in the kitchen blowing the colder air gently towards the stove seemed to help the most so far (as other threads in this forum have shown me works for others); before I did this last night, a friend was over and we remarked at how much colder it was in the kitchen than the living room and how there seemed to be a "wall" of cold that prevented the warm air from getting through the door and entering the kitchen. However, I'm still wanting more warm air into that kitchen/dining room and den than the floor fans seem to provide (although they're not very powerful - one is an 8" fan, the other a box fan). Besides, it is still pretty mild weather and I'm worried that when temperatures drop it will be mostly uncomfortable in almost half my home! And, I really don't want to augment my woodstove with an electric heater or a heat pump in the colder part of the house if I don't have to. This all seems to be a convection/airflow issue.

I know I should really better insulate my 80 year old home. Although I have double glazed modern windows, the walls are 2x4 studs and the insulation is not all that great. But, at this time, I can't really afford to do this.

Please advise and let me know if there are some variables or solutions I'm not exploring. Thanks, y'all!
~BC Josh

house floor plan w heat vents.jpeg
 
The furnace system will lose too much heat to be effective unless it is well sealed and fully insulated, all supplies, plenum, and returns. It's not designed to move low temp (80º) air.

The easiest solution would be to install a fan down low in the den wall that is common with the living room. This will blow air into the stove room. It will create a convective loop that pulls warm air into the kitchen, then den. The trick will be finding a fan that is quiet, yet moves around 150 to 200 CFM. A pair of axial, muffin fans should do the trick.
 
  • Like
Reactions: vatmark
Run that Sirocco a little hotter, a small change in the air control may make a difference.
 
The furnace system will lose too much heat to be effective unless it is well sealed and fully insulated, all supplies, plenum, and returns. It's not designed to move low temp (80º) air.

The easiest solution would be to install a fan down low in the den wall that is common with the living room. This will blow air into the stove room. It will create a convective loop that pulls warm air into the kitchen, then den. The trick will be finding a fan that is quiet, yet moves around 150 to 200 CFM. A pair of axial, muffin fans should do the trick.
Yes, the furnace ducting is very old and not insulated. Just galvanized metal.
Thanks for the idea about the fan insert into the den wall... that would probably go a long ways. I'm assuming you mean with the door open to the den while the fan is blowing so the convection loop is working. I could even set it up so that the fan could have a door or cover on it to baffle sound when it's not in use, so the room still has sound privacy when the fan(s) are not in use in the warm months.
Cheers, really appreciate your input!
~ BC Josh
 
I'm assuming you mean with the door open to the den while the fan is blowing so the convection loop is working.
Yes, the air needs a path into the den so having the door open makes it easiest. There are other ways, like trimming an inch off the bottom of the door, adding a grille to the door, or making a stud cavity in the kitchen side common wall a duct by placing grilles, top on one side and bottom on the other.
 
There are stock fans that will achieve this but some are not too powerful.
This one looks good and can use the stud cavity if desired for some sound proofing.
This one is quiet, at 100 cfm.
 
There are stock fans that will achieve this but some are not too powerful.
This one looks good and can use the stud cavity if desired for some sound proofing.
This one is quiet, at 100 cfm.
Yeah, those kinds of fans looks handy. I would be concerned about cutting a hole in the wall if something like this would wear out eventually, then I'd have to replace it and might not be able to find the same unit or one the same size. I was thinking of just a louvered grill coming from the den room, with an insulated door that could be totally removed when not in use, and then I could add any kind of small fan behind it. The advantage being that the fan would be easy to replace if needed. Then, of course, you'd need to have an open door or another vent going into the room from the kitchen side.

As of now, I've noticed that a couple of floor fans in the kitchen, they seem to be doing a lot in terms of creating a convection loop within the kitchen and dining room area back to the living room with the woodstove. I don't mind if the kitchen is cooler than the living room (can't really expect the whole house to be the same temperature with a wood stove anyway). But, I want to even out the heat as much as I can.
 
As a test try this. While the stove has been up and running and you have been relying on it, walk to the kitchen furnace vent by the door. Put your hand on/over it to see if it feels cold you. If it's cold, shut it, throw a towel over it etc. Same for any of the furnace vents in any room.
You may be surprised.

Remembering to open/uncover those vents can be another issue to remember however!
Tell us what you find.

Great stove btw.
 
is ceiling fan in reverse,if not do it. it helps,also what moresnow said is a good idea .woodstoves that don't have an oak will suck fresh air into the house through any hole.
 
My Grandpa had passive low/high vents cut into walls of any room he wanted to warm (his stove was in a corner of his house). He ran his stove so hot it would drive us out of the living room (where the stove was located), but the other rooms were comfortable. We also took turns opening the exterior door right next to the stove during Christmas celebrations in the living room (when he wasn't looking lol).
 
"All the ducts seem to blow cooler air than room temperature". That's a sensation that you'll often notice with air that's only heated about 10 degrees or more over room temperature. The reason: wind chill effect. Just blow your own breath across your hand and it feels cool too. Gas and oil furnaces heat air to much higher temperatures than room temperatures, while heat pumps also heat to much lower temperatures, also often producing the cooler air effect out of the ducts. To really know what's going on, you need to measure the actual air temperature where it comes out of the duct.

I have just finished building a project that consists of adding a return (to the furnace) close to the wood stove, high up on the wall next to it. The stove is in the basement, and close to a corner. This is a 8" x 10" grille, leading into an enclosed 10" x 12" area about 4 feet long. As-is, passively, this represents roughly 25% of all the return air going back to the furnace. About 4 feet from where the air enters that enclosed area, I have a small 5 speed furnace blower that pumps the air into a 8" round duct, going about 15 feet to the main furnace return plenum. That blower is normally off. When the air just behind the new return grille reaches 25 degrees (all temperatures are in Celsius), I have the blower turn on at a very quiet speed (speed 2 of 5), to augment the air being returned to the furnace. This usually happens at about the time the stove fire reaches it's stable burn. If I drive the stove a bit harder and the return temperature reaches 31 degrees, then I have the blower step up to a medium (and more audible) speed, again to increase the return air coming from that source.

Now if I measure the duct temperature at the plenum (after it's mixed in the return air from the other returns), it's only at about 26 degrees, vs about 22 (which is the furnace heating setpoint), and certainly wouldn't feel "hot" if I put a hand over a heating supply grille. But I'm indeed preheating, if you will, the air going to the furnace, and it can only help in reducing the furnace run times. In fact I can view this on the furnace thermostat's phone app, seeing the furnace run time build up over the day, and compare to other days where I haven't used the stove. I have the same model of thermostat running the new return blower setup I just described (these are Venstar colortouch thermostats) and I can also monitor the air return temperature with the phone app, letting me know that it might be time to put more wood in the stove.
 
is ceiling fan in reverse,if not do it. it helps,also what moresnow said is a good idea .woodstoves that don't have an oak will suck fresh air into the house through any hole.
I've definitely been running the ceiling fan in reverse. It is not enough alone to push air through to the kitchen area.
 
My Grandpa had passive low/high vents cut into walls of any room he wanted to warm (his stove was in a corner of his house). He ran his stove so hot it would drive us out of the living room (where the stove was located), but the other rooms were comfortable. We also took turns opening the exterior door right next to the stove during Christmas celebrations in the living room (when he wasn't looking lol).
Yep, I'm finding my living room pretty darn hot today. Mind you, it's unseasonably warm for November this year.
 
So far, I've found running a box fan and an 8" fan on the floor in the kitchen to help with creating a convection loop. The den is cool or cold but my g/f says she likes it that way, anyway. I still think that some kind of grill system in that den will help out to further make an air flow loop that gets some of the heat out of the living room and distributed better throughout the colder half of the house.

I've also turned off the furnace fan but I think the air is too dry in the house and I want to try it with it on again. It's bringing in air from the basement which is cool and moist. My nose is stuffy this morning from too dry of air in my bedroom all night.

Jeez, it's so much easier to just press a button on my gas furnace thermostat but it is not easy paying their ever increasingly higher bills!!
 
Yeah, those kinds of fans looks handy. I would be concerned about cutting a hole in the wall if something like this would wear out eventually, then I'd have to replace it and might not be able to find the same unit or one the same size. I was thinking of just a louvered grill coming from the den room, with an insulated door that could be totally removed when not in use, and then I could add any kind of small fan behind it. The advantage being that the fan would be easy to replace if needed. Then, of course, you'd need to have an open door or another vent going into the room from the kitchen side.
6 or 8" inline duct fan...you will always be able to find those.
 
So far, I've found running a box fan and an 8" fan on the floor in the kitchen to help with creating a convection loop. The den is cool or cold but my g/f says she likes it that way, anyway. I still think that some kind of grill system in that den will help out to further make an air flow loop that gets some of the heat out of the living room and distributed better throughout the colder half of the house.

I've also turned off the furnace fan but I think the air is too dry in the house and I want to try it with it on again. It's bringing in air from the basement which is cool and moist. My nose is stuffy this morning from too dry of air in my bedroom all night.

Jeez, it's so much easier to just press a button on my gas furnace thermostat but it is not easy paying their ever increasingly higher bills!!
Is the fan on the floor blowing towards the stove room? Blowing cool air on the floor towards the stove will circulate much better than trying to pull warm air out of the stove room.
 
Is the fan on the floor blowing towards the stove room? Blowing cool air on the floor towards the stove will circulate much better than trying to pull warm air out of the stove room.
Yes, thank you. I did direct cold air from the kitchen floor towards the woodstove. It does circulate the heat much better than trying to blow warm air into the kitchen.