Looking for some advice for a beginner with a unique space to heat

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Oreb179

New Member
Oct 4, 2021
6
Massachusetts
Hey all,
I'm looking for some advice on a new wood stove and I'm in a fairly unique situation. I'm a young person that is essentially sharing ownership of a house with several other young people (the specifics aren't necessary to describe, just take that statement at face value). I'm looking to find the most affordable way to heat half of a very large house. The house itself is very large, but not all of it is heated or lived in. The part to be heated via wood stove (the other lived in part of the house has radiators, this side does not) is probably 2500 or so sq feet, but has very high ceilings. There is already a wood stove installed, but we are fairly unhappy with it. It's a used Vogelzang Durango that is warping fairly bad and constantly falling apart. We find that it burns through wood quite quickly and just seems pretty underpowered for the space it is needed to heat. It's not urgent that we replace it, but would greatly increase quality of life if we could find something that is a bit more warm or efficient and this season, it seems financially do-able for us.

We have decided as a group to try to buy something that would ideally make the whole space warmer and use less wood as we do end up using a lot as is. The figure we have decided as a group is about 800 dollars and we don't necessarily have a preference for used or new. I was wondering if anyone could help point me in the right direction. Do I want something newer and EPA rated, or would I potentially get more bang for my buck getting something used or older? Feel free to rec brands or models. I've done some amount of research, but I find it useful to get responses and advice from actual people.

We are in Massachusetts, so we do get long and cold winters, but maybe not the absolute extremes that some other states may get. I'd say the wood stove is running pretty regularly from late november to early march at least. Thanks in advance for any help and let me know if I've left out any useful details!

Also to be clear. Preference on built to last, warm, fairly low maintenance. Efficiency is a plus, but I'm guessing most stoves will be a bit more efficient than what we have. We tend to get about an 8-10 hour burn before we can longer light from embers.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,053
central pa
Hey all,
I'm looking for some advice on a new wood stove and I'm in a fairly unique situation. I'm a young person that is essentially sharing ownership of a house with several other young people (the specifics aren't necessary to describe, just take that statement at face value). I'm looking to find the most affordable way to heat half of a very large house. The house itself is very large, but not all of it is heated or lived in. The part to be heated via wood stove (the other lived in part of the house has radiators, this side does not) is probably 2500 or so sq feet, but has very high ceilings. There is already a wood stove installed, but we are fairly unhappy with it. It's a used Vogelzang Durango that is warping fairly bad and constantly falling apart. We find that it burns through wood quite quickly and just seems pretty underpowered for the space it is needed to heat. It's not urgent that we replace it, but would greatly increase quality of life if we could find something that is a bit more warm or efficient and this season, it seems financially do-able for us.

We have decided as a group to try to buy something that would ideally make the whole space warmer and use less wood as we do end up using a lot as is. The figure we have decided as a group is about 800 dollars and we don't necessarily have a preference for used or new. I was wondering if anyone could help point me in the right direction. Do I want something newer and EPA rated, or would I potentially get more bang for my buck getting something used or older? Feel free to rec brands or models. I've done some amount of research, but I find it useful to get responses and advice from actual people.

We are in Massachusetts, so we do get long and cold winters, but maybe not the absolute extremes that some other states may get. I'd say the wood stove is running pretty regularly from late november to early march at least. Thanks in advance for any help and let me know if I've left out any useful details!

Also to be clear. Preference on built to last, warm, fairly low maintenance. Efficiency is a plus, but I'm guessing most stoves will be a bit more efficient than what we have. We tend to get about an 8-10 hour burn before we can longer light from embers.
At $800 you are going to be looking at used no way around that. What chimney is this stove going to be hooked to? Do you have a good supply of dry wood?
 

Oreb179

New Member
Oct 4, 2021
6
Massachusetts
Right now we have about a cord of seasoned wood leftover from last season and are planning on getting more. And your chimney question is why I mentioned that I was a beginner in the title, so forgive my naivete, I'm not sure how to answer that question. There are large metal tubes that go up into the ceiling and attach to a brick chimney at the top of the building if that is of any help at all.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,053
central pa
Right now we have about a cord of seasoned wood leftover from last season and are planning on getting more. And your chimney question is why I mentioned that I was a beginner in the title, so forgive my naivete, I'm not sure how to answer that question. There are large metal tubes that go up into the ceiling and attach to a brick chimney at the top of the building if that is of any help at all.
Do you have a moisture meter to test wood you are getting? It is very uncommon to be able to buy wood that is actually ready to burn no matter what the seller says . Can you post some pics of the venting setup. It honestly doesn't sound very good from your description
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
You may want to put that money into insulation and air sealing. Regardless of the source of heat, keeping that heat inside will help keep bills down.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,588
Northern NH
Its a tough time of year to be making a big move like this and your budget really is quite low. Energy prices are most likely going to skyrocket. Propane and fuel oil will inevitably go up to match predicted high worldwide natural gas prices. That means used wood stoves and dry firewood are going to be hard to find and prices will go up. A lot of folks with junk wood stoves will try to dump them on unknowing buyers. Odds are you are going to need 4 or 5 cords to cover your heating demand as you are effectively heating a "barn". If you have windows consider buying foil faced iso board foam and cutting it fit the openings. If you cut it tight it should fit without tape. Go around with wet sponge to wet you hand on cold day and look for air leaks. If your landlord has not done it most utilities in Mass offer free or reduced price energy audits. Frequently they give you free stuff just to do the audit. A small amount of air sealing can really make a big difference.

You really cant go with a modern EPA stove unless you have a good dry wood supply and at this time of year finding dry wood for sale in Mass is not going to happen 95% of the time. Odds are you will be burning marginal firewood and lots of it plus having to deal with creosote generation. Yes an EPA stove will burn less wood but it will not burn very well if at all with wet wood. My suggestion is look for a steel plate box stove like a Fisher and then add a baffle plate. That ups the efficiency somewhat while retaining the ability to burn marginal wood. If you have the storage space, I would recommend starting to scrounge pallets, lots of them and invest in a sawzall to cut them up and keep them under cover to keep them dry They take a lot of labor to process but are usually dry and good to mix in with marginal dryness wood. I see them all over the place in Mass and most places will gladly let you take as many as you want as they got to pay to get rid of them.

One thing you mentioned is a long burn time. Unless you have dry wood and a modern stove, long burn times almost always equals dirty operation. The temptation is to load up the stove before bed and then crank down the air to last the night and avoid having to relight the fire in the AM. The problem with that approach is that is recipe for creosote and chimney fires. With a mix of roommates there are usually different sleeping patterns so its far better to feed less wood more often over the night and burn hotter.

Whatever you do, you need to do it quick, most folks delay heating decisions until the first cold snap which is usually late October to November. If you act now you may be able to get jump on a big stack of pallet wood but wait until December and you will be competing with a lot of other folks desperate for heat.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Another thing is you will want to have your chimney cleaned and inspected. It may not be in good shape and you're staking your life on it not having a problem.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,417
South Puget Sound, WA
This will take a big stove. The least expensive new EPA stove that is in the ~3 cu ft range will be around $900. That would be the Englander 32-NC sold at Home Depot.

It would be great if you could post some pictures of the current setup and flue connection. We want you to be safe this winter.

Note that it will be almost impossible to buy fully seasoned hardwood right now, in spite of some sellers swearing it is seasoned. That means that even with a good stove the heat may be underwhelming with poorly seasoned wood.
 
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Oreb179

New Member
Oct 4, 2021
6
Massachusetts
Thank you all for the good advice! Fisher was actually one of the brands I was looking at. There is a papa bear for sale locally that's under 800. And yes, definitely good to think about all the stuff we could be doing other than just buying a new stove. Will look into a moisture meter and potentially at pallets and ways to insulate further. Can maybe take some pics of the chimney setup later. I'm confident it's safe so long as it's cleaned, but I really have no idea who installed it or when. Long story, but we did have the fire department look at it recently. I wasn't the person that talked to them, but seemed like the message was that that was ok.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,053
central pa
Thank you all for the good advice! Fisher was actually one of the brands I was looking at. There is a papa bear for sale locally that's under 800. And yes, definitely good to think about all the stuff we could be doing other than just buying a new stove. Will look into a moisture meter and potentially at pallets and ways to insulate further. Can maybe take some pics of the chimney setup later. I'm confident it's safe so long as it's cleaned, but I really have no idea who installed it or when. Long story, but we did have the fire department look at it recently. I wasn't the person that talked to them, but seemed like the message was that that was ok.
A fisher may not be a bad idea. But they have huge clearance and hearth requirements. Post your pics here please. I have seen fire company inspections that were really really wrong.
 

PaulOinMA

Minister of Fire
Oct 20, 2018
1,074
MA
Where in MA are you? I am in Marlborough near the Sudbury line. Could look at your set up, if you are in the area. I pretty much know what folks on here are looking for.
 

crazycat

Member
Dec 8, 2015
15
TN
As far as sealing the windows, there is a product which I think is made by Duck Tape, that looks like saran wrap... you put double sided tape around windows and sliding glass doors, then stick the plastic over the window, then you take a hair dryer and heat the plastic and it shrinks a bit. We used to use it at our old house and I use it to cover the vents of my greenhouse.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,417
South Puget Sound, WA
As far as sealing the windows, there is a product which I think is made by Duck Tape, that looks like saran wrap... you put double sided tape around windows and sliding glass doors, then stick the plastic over the window, then you take a hair dryer and heat the plastic and it shrinks a bit. We used to use it at our old house and I use it to cover the vents of my greenhouse.
I used to have to do this for several old windows in the house. At the time, 3M made the best product. Frost King also sells these kits and they are ok, but the 3M product was clearer, shrunk better and their double-stick tape was definitely superior. In some cases I was lazy and it continued to hold well for a couple years where sometimes the Frost King tape would dry out and lose its stick in less than one winter.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,417
South Puget Sound, WA
Looks like ACE Hardware stores sell the Duck brand kits. So does Amazon. The 3M kits are sold by all major hardware and big box stores.
 

Oreb179

New Member
Oct 4, 2021
6
Massachusetts
Not sure if there was something specifically people wanted to see, but here are some pics of the stove and chimney. It's a pain to get on the roof, but can if necessary.
Also including a pic to show the kind of clearance we have. The buckets of kindling and other junk laying around will move when we actually start burning wood, we just were moving some things around in the summer. Stove can be moved forward when we get a new one to create more clearance.

Also we do usually use the plastic window material every season which I forgot to mention.

As far as value on a replacement wood stove goes, would I be overpaying at 750 for a fisher or equivalent large stove?

To the fellow ma person, I'm not too far from you. If people are unsure or think it's necessary that someone see it in person, I may take you up on your very kind offer to come look at it.

PXL_20211011_163057410.jpg PXL_20211011_163109789.MP.jpg PXL_20211011_163242476.jpg
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,417
South Puget Sound, WA
I'd be looking at a $998 Englander 32NC to replace that stove. You will start using less wood immediately as long as the firewood is well seasoned. That will start paying back for the cost of the stove with every fire.
Tthe galvanized piping in the stove pipe must be replaced and perhaps replace the rusted increaser at the top too. Galvanized duct pipe is not suitable or allowable for use as stove pipe.
 

Oreb179

New Member
Oct 4, 2021
6
Massachusetts
I'd be looking at a $998 Englander 32NC to replace that stove. You will start using less wood immediately as long as the firewood is well seasoned. That will start paying back for the cost of the stove with every fire.
Tthe galvanized piping in the stove pipe must be replaced and perhaps replace the rusted increaser at the top too. Galvanized duct pipe is not suitable or allowable for use as stove pipe.
Looks like that stove is 1400 from Home depot currently. Is there another seller I should be looking at?
 

Oreb179

New Member
Oct 4, 2021
6
Massachusetts
I'd be looking at a $998 Englander 32NC to replace that stove. You will start using less wood immediately as long as the firewood is well seasoned. That will start paying back for the cost of the stove with every fire.
Tthe galvanized piping in the stove pipe must be replaced and perhaps replace the rusted increaser at the top too. Galvanized duct pipe is not suitable or allowable for use as stove pipe.
Oh, and I should have responded asking about the piping. So the galvanized piping, is that all of the piping leading to the increaser or just the lighter colored material at the elbow? What kind of piping should I be replacing it with?
 

clancey

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2021
1,702
Colorado
Just suggesting here and wondering if you looked at any wood pellet stoves and with having a house with other people but someday having ownership of the house would be more clean burning and I believe easier for the whole set of people but i do not know much about stoves but just wondering about a pellet stove set up for you...I would sure take up the generous offer of a person visiting you to see what the set up is if it is within driving distance not a experience stove person here and just thought of the idea for you..clancey
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,417
South Puget Sound, WA
Oh, and I should have responded asking about the piping. So the galvanized piping, is that all of the piping leading to the increaser or just the lighter colored material at the elbow? What kind of piping should I be replacing it with?
The galvanized section is the two elbows in the middle. Also, I can't be sure from the picture, but it looks like the stove pipe is installed backwards. All the crimped ends of the stovepipe should point to the stove.