Need stove model advice for poorly laid-out house

Sarie

New Member
Sep 3, 2020
5
NoNewEng
Hello, I could use some sage advice from folks on the forum, please. From reading here, we've narrowed it down to the BK Ashford, PE Alderlea T5, and maybe a Woodstock Progress Hybrid. We've spoken to several dealers, all who seem to push different stoves, one is convinced we need a Hearthstone Green Mtn 60, which is by far my favorite in looks, but I'm not finding a lot of Hearthstone love on these pages. The same dealer is lukewarm on a BK for us, even though they sell them.

We're in up north in New England, plenty of height on the exterior wall for a pipe, 8' ceilings. The house has few walls, but is an odd U shape. It's a little over 2000sqft, and already a bit chilly. Stove location will be in the N-NE part of the house, its location is our only option. We'd like to heat as much as we can with wood without roasting ourselves out of the LR. I've attached a rough layout below. I think the stairs will be a heat vacuum to the bedrooms, but I'm concerned about getting the heat to the kitchen and - if possible, but not necessary - to the office. We both work from home, so are here to load. Cat stoves are new to us, as are convection. We've heated only with radiant before, and not in this house. If stoves are performance- and reliability-wise pretty even across the board, my preference is for a large viewing glass on a simple stove with as little clearance possible, but mostly I'd like to know which stove would be the best heating option for our situation.

Dealers suggest:
Hearthstone Green Mtn 60
PE Alderlea T5 (another suggests the T6)
From our research we added the BK Ashford 20 or 30, and the Woodstock Progress Hybrid.

Any thoughts appreciated, thank you.
 

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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,189
South Puget Sound, WA
How is the house insulation? If average I would recommend the T6 over the T5. Your winters can be harsh. We heat our 2000 sq ft old farmhouse with one in a milder climate. It does a good job and is a stout, simple design. The Green Mtn. may prove to be a good stove. It's not been out long enough to confidently recommend or talk about long term maintenance and problems. The Blaze King Ashford 30 or Progress Hybrid have a good track record and have been out for several years. They are more complex stoves, but have a longer burn time in milder weather.
 

Sarie

New Member
Sep 3, 2020
5
NoNewEng
How is the house insulation?
Thank you for replying.

The house is relatively new (3yrs), so fairly tight, but still large with a fair number of windows.

The stove pipe has to go out the wall and up the exterior side of the house (another story and near the peak of the roof, so pretty high). The dealer said it would be less efficient than through the roof and could contribute to creosote build-up/fires. I'm not sure if he was talking about the BK specifically because of the slower burns or any stove. I've contacted all the local dealers, and I seem to get a different answer about everything. It's hard to sort out.
 

Sarie

New Member
Sep 3, 2020
5
NoNewEng
If average I would recommend the T6 over the T5. Your winters can be harsh.
So we were told that the T6 would be overkill and heat the LR area too much, but we figure that the with the suck of the stairs and a fan moving the air to the first floor back rooms, it might keep the LR pleasant. And can't we just burn a smaller load? This is my first time working with dealers, and I'm a little out of my depth.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
5,351
NE Ohio
but I'm concerned about getting the heat to the kitchen and - if possible, but not necessary - to the office.
Put a small fan on the floor at the far (cold) end of the house, pointed back toward the warm end of the house, running on low...you'll be surprised how well that will move the heat around...
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,189
South Puget Sound, WA
So we were told that the T6 would be overkill and heat the LR area too much, but we figure that the with the suck of the stairs and a fan moving the air to the first floor back rooms, it might keep the LR pleasant. And can't we just burn a smaller load? This is my first time working with dealers, and I'm a little out of my depth.
Yes, you can just burn a smaller load. The local stove dealer refused to sell me the T6 and lost the sale. Fortunately, Tom Oyen provided more reasonable guidance that was right on. We have very rarely overheated the house or our living room with the stove. We overheated more with the Castine which the T6 replaced. It's a much more radiant stove. I have no regrets going with the larger stove. In colder weather you would be running it with full loads.

Looking at your layout I would probably try a simple 12" table fan or a box fan, placed on the floor in the dining room, blowing cooler air into the stove room at low speed. I think that would make a nice difference in heat circulation.
 

Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,244
Fairbanks, Alaska
My take is the further north you live, the less you want a chimney on the side of your house. Hook any two identical stoves up side by side, one with a out the wall /up the siding chimey, the other with a straight up shot inside the house and /out through the roof.

The chimney that is inside the insulation all the way to the roof line will stay warmer and have fewer deposits than the one tacked to the side of the house, everytime.

There are plenty of exterior chimneys here in Fairbanks, all over town of many different ages. It takes a lot of fuel to maintain conditioned interior spaces up here and I see the attraction of getting 3 or 4 sqft back. But I am also the guy toting the wood for the stove and brushing out the pipe. I like toting less wood, I like sweeping the chimney less often, and I really don't like having places for water to get trapped on the side of my home. Is there maybe a bathroom on the floor above your stove location?

One thing to keep in mind is the US/federal 3-2-10 rule for chimenys. A wood burning chimney has to stick out at least three feet above the roof line where it crosses or pierces the roof line - and extend at least 2 vertical feet above any obstructions within ten horizontal feet of where the chimney crosses/ pierces the roof line.

I imagine the ridge beam for your rafters runs left to right in the floor plan drawing you posted, yes? Is the dividing wall between the kitchen and living room load bearing or cosmetic/curtain?

I do agree the biggest problem you have is the floor plan. I would lean torwards a a convective stove with a fan kit, a box fan on the floor outside the office door pushing cold air along the floor towards the stove. That's two fans running in the main living area - which will drive some people bananas. If that by itself is not good enough I would look to putting in a doorway between the living room and office to open a horizontal convective loop, but as @brenndatomu already mention vertical convection loops can work brilliantly. You might think about some heavy cloth curtains at the top of the stairs if the bedrooms are getting overheated.

A possible alternative would be to move the stove into the area enclosed by the stairs on the living room floor. If you can make clearance to combustibles for the stove in that nook and there is no plumbing in the way it would put your chimney piercing (I think) pretty close to the peak of the roof. You probably would want a door or curtain at the top of the stairs if that otherwise works - and probably lose some space in a bedroom upstairs, which is exactly why there are so many external chimney chases in Fairbanks.

Good luck!
 
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firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,148
Unity/Bangor, Maine
Truthfully . . . I haven't noticed a huge amount of creosote with my outside chimney here in Central Maine. Every sweep I have had tends to mostly produce that fine black fly ash which flies all over the place -- I would guess at most I would get half a coffee can's worth in a season of sweeping if that. I suspect burning well seasoned wood at the right temps is much more important than whether the chimney is outside or inside.
 

Sarie

New Member
Sep 3, 2020
5
NoNewEng
I imagine the ridge beam for your rafters runs left to right in the floor plan drawing you posted, yes? Is the dividing wall between the kitchen and living room load bearing or cosmetic/curtain?
Thanks for your reply, you are correct, and it is load bearing. Moving the pipe inside would require a lot of reconfiguring of rooms, more than I'd like to take on unless having outside is a safety concern vs just a little less efficient.

Truthfully . . . I haven't noticed a huge amount of creosote with my outside chimney here in Central Maine.
Thanks for your reply, I am a little SW of you. May I ask how tall your chimney is? Ours would be on the first floor, going up the second, and Poindexter is correct, it would be near the peak. So pretty tall, and on a north wall.

One thing a dealer said is that a catalytic stove would create more creosote in an exterior pipe. I've searched around, but I don't see anything to back that up. I'm less inclined to get a catalytic stove anyway just because I read that there isn't much of a fire to view with the slow burns. Again, this seems to be subjective, so I have no idea. I had two salespeople from the same store contradict the other about this.

Choosing a car or even a spouse is loads easier than this.
 

Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,244
Fairbanks, Alaska
@firefighterjake knows his stuff in my experience, and he is much closer to your location than I am. I am at 64 degrees north. What is your latitude? How cold does it get down there?

My point is that Jake is probably a better resource for you than I am. The outside pipe should not be a safety concern if it is well installed. From my perspective up north here to minimize creosote I have to keep the gasses in the chimney at some temperature X.

@begreen , you would know. How hot does a chimney have to average to minimize stage II and stage III creosote? 300dF? 400dF? Like Jake, I harvest mostly fine grey/brown powder with my chimney brush.

Anyway, up here it is easier for me, I have more control over how hot the stove is running, with the chimney pipe mostly in the insulation envelope. I can keep my chimney hot enough to not make dangerous creosote and not roast myself out of the house at the same time.

If Jake can also do both of those things with an external chimney near you, you are golden.

For a given heat output, a catalytic stove will have a lower flue gas temperature (and less flame show) than a non catalytic stove. So really, a catalytic stove will be prone to making more creosote than a non catalytic stove when run in the same house - no matter where the house is- because the flue gas temp will be lower. The non cat stove will also give a better flame show, but the cat stove will give longer burn times with a lower flue gas temperature.

I am the guy at the end of the seesaw here. I don't give two hoots about flame show when outdoor ambients are 55 below. I want to reload as seldom as possible and I don't want to carry any more wood upstairs than absolutely required to keep my wife in her "summer things."

I am still intellectually opposed to external chimneys, but I recognize down in the balmy southern states you can cut some corners. So to speak. I don't have AC in my house at all, I would only use it about five days each year.

You can buy a new stove or car without having to get lawyers and a judge involved in most states. No need to make a clock out of this.

Good luck, and over to Jake.
 

Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
1,000
Palmyra, WI
Half of our 20ft ss class A chimney is exposed. No creosote issues, for se WI with a similar climate, dry wood, and a noncat stove. The stove here (oslo) is very radiant. The lower level here is 1500sqft, upstairs 500. 8ft ceilings. Newer, well insulated. Similar layout (roughly).
As far as heating the upstairs:
Air is stratified in all rooms regardless of location, and level . We've never been able to overheat the upstairs rooms. With 8ft ceilings and partitioned rooms, warm air travels along the ceiling away from the stove, to the stair well, straight up to the upper ceilings, with cool are pooling on the upstairs floors and traveling down along the stair treads, back to the stove.
Extended rooms:
It takes a temp difference to get air to move, so all areas away from the stove are cooler the farther they are. If it's 75 down, then its 65 up and in the extended rooms. We use space heaters to spot heat extended rooms, and keep the remainder at a comfortable level. Most of the extended rooms here are bedrooms, which we like to keep cool anyway. Baths, generally not in there long, spot heat works there. Your office will be cool, and very tough to heat well with the heat source so far away. We tried fans in a similar situation and found them noisy and annoying. There is a significant cool draft already setup along the hall leading to your mud room (and along the sw inside wall of the kitchen), so not sure about pushing more. Keeping doors open and allow air to move naturally worked better here. Your office is eq. to our lower bath as far as location. That room is always a little cooler here, and needs additional heat to be comfortable. It's a small room, and with the door closed takes very minimal heat. But trying to bump the temp in there with the stove being 50ft away and around several corners, and at the wrong end of the draft cycle and trying to tap into a cool hallway draft with a fan just doesn't work. It's not cold, just a little cool to be in.
We generally park ourselves depending on what the house temps are - cool house, then recliners 10ft from the stove, and bask in the radiant heat. Little too warm, move away. There will be air flows setup for you - one from the stairwell to the stove, another sweeping in from the dr doorway. Use those to advantage for placing seating and regulating comfort level. Work with the upstairs doors to help with regulating the LR also. There are two places to sit in front of the stove here - one is noticeably cooler, one warmer - one is in an air draft, one is not - hard to figure out, but an incense stick and smoke can tease that out in a couple minutes - fascinating to watch.​
 

Hoytman

Member
Jan 6, 2020
114
Ohio
Put a small fan on the floor at the far (cold) end of the house, pointed back toward the warm end of the house, running on low...you'll be surprised how well that will move the heat around...
I will add that if the house and layout warrants it a second fan on low might be needed in the middle of the home...again helping live cold air towards the stove area. It may not be needed but box fans are cheap. I like the small floor models, about 12”-16” wide, although a normal size box fan(s) will also work in low. “Floor level” box fans as well, NOT the taller pedestal mounted fans ... because all the cold air lays close to the floor.

It is important to push cold air from the coldest rooms to the stove area. Pushing hot air from the stove does not work as well ... at all.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,189
South Puget Sound, WA
Creosote begins to condense with below 250 deg flue temperature. So if it leaves the stove at 400 deg it may drop to 250 half way up a tall cold chimney.
 

Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
1,000
Palmyra, WI
Creosote begins to condense with below 250 deg flue temperature. So if it leaves the stove at 400 deg it may drop to 250 half way up a tall cold chimney.
Do you know of a data source where stainless classA pipe temps were recorded top and bottom under different ambient conditions. This subject seems to come up, but with no evidence other than just general observations.
 

Hoytman

Member
Jan 6, 2020
114
Ohio
A simple thermometer with digital readout is what I plan to use to obtain my own data...and I will share later.
 

illini81

Feeling the Heat
Apr 7, 2017
336
Southeastern CT
It might just be me, but it doesn't seem like a terrible house layout to me. Not optimal, but far from terrible. The office and mudroom will be colder than the LR for sure, but you might be surprised how much heat gets back there, with a well placed fan to promote circulation.

I'm not sure if I missed what state you're in, or if you didn't mention it, but I am in CT and heat a 2400 sqft Colonial with a single wood stove. I think my stove location is worse than yours, as there is a single doorway that separates the stove room from the other half of 1st floor and from the upstairs. We are still able to heat those other sections with just the stove for most of the year. I've attached our first floor layout for comparison. Note that successfully spreading out the heat requires a fan in the doorway between the two sections of the first floor.

Also, I was really pre-occupied with figuring out a way to not use our exterior chimney, based on what I read on hearth.com. I spent months trying to figure this out, and finally begrudgingly ended up running a pipe down the exterior chimney, as many others on hearth.com have done. It has been a complete non-issue. No creosote issues and no stove performance issues.
 

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Hoytman

Member
Jan 6, 2020
114
Ohio
Yeah...certainly less desirable location. You should think about opening a doorway to the living room. Then you could more easily heat and cook the house...even with fans and open windows.
 

Sarie

New Member
Sep 3, 2020
5
NoNewEng
Thanks for all the replies and suggestions, everyone, much appreciated. I'm in Maine, and the house's layout isn't awful, just not anywhere as efficient as our old place.

Interesting link, Sawset. I'm not sure where to even begin with it, out of my depth for sure, but thanks!
 

firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,148
Unity/Bangor, Maine
"May I ask how tall your chimney is? Ours would be on the first floor, going up the second, and Poindexter is correct, it would be near the peak. So pretty tall, and on a north wall. "

---------

I would guess 20-25 feet of outside chimney.

The stove pipe goes directly up 3 feet and then takes a 90 degree bend to go through the wall pass through and connects to the Class A chimney on the outside of the house. Chimney goes up past the second story and attic and is within 5-6 feet of the peak of the roof.

138.JPG
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,189
South Puget Sound, WA
Do you know of a data source where stainless classA pipe temps were recorded top and bottom under different ambient conditions. This subject seems to come up, but with no evidence other than just general observations.
We have had individuals do some anecdotal tests this on their systems in past threads, but there may be some lab tests too. Did you check on Woodheat.org? I'm getting too old to go up on the roof in the winter to measure, but would expect about a 100-150º drop in our ~20' interior chimney flue system with double-wall stove pipe. This is going to vary radically with the type of installation, wood burned, chimney exposure and length, stove, operator, outside temps, etc.
 
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