Old house renovation-new wood stove?

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Zach Hoyt

Member
Feb 11, 2015
25
Orwell NY
I am hoping for some advice about what to do. I've been involved with burning wood all my life, till I was 15 I lived in a passive solar house with a Fisher wood stove in the basement which did all the supplemental heat. For the last 20 years I have lived in a huge converted barn with a gasification boiler, and there is a house with a DutchWest catalytic stove from about 2002 in it across the way. I just bought an old house in the Adirondacks and am working on it now, planning to move there next year. It's officially 950 square feet, but that is based on the outside dimensions. It was abandoned for 6 years and all the plumbing and the oil boiler and distribution lines were allowed to freeze, so I am starting from scratch about heating. There is a ventless propane heater on one wall but I don't think they're healthy and won't use it.

I'd been thinking of getting a wood stove for the house, and a smaller one for the ~14x32 woodworking shop I need to build in the back yard. However, as I have been looking at the forum here over the last few weeks and reading about the 2020 approved stoves and how they need >20% moisture content wood, I am doubtful. The lot is just under 1/4 acre, so I have limited space to dry wood. For our current boiler and stove I have always cut wood in the spring, stacked it in a shed, and begun burning it in the fall, so my drying times have been 6 months to a year and that has worked fine. Once I move I will not have any dry wood on hand, as the new house is 120 miles away. It sounds from what I am reading here like I would need to buy wood now and stack it to be dry for fall 2023, and in the meantime I would need to heat another way. I am not planning to stay in this new house for more than 5 years, and maybe less. My goal is to build a house somewhere up there, when money permits and I have found a place where I'd like to stay for many years.

I like heating with wood but am also open to other options. I have fairly new 100 amp electric service up there, so I am not inclined to go to the expense of upgrading to 200. I have read a bit about air source heat pumps for cold climates but I have no experience with them, and don't know anyone who has one, and I don't know how much power they take. I have also read about vented propane heaters, and that seems like it could be a viable option. Or maybe there are other things I haven't thought about. I am having trouble finding a way to get a realistic number on how many BTUs of heat I should need for the house. I have seen 5-6 BTUs per square foot given as a rule of thumb, but the building I live in now is 7k+ square feet and solely heated by a 140k BTU wood boiler, so that figure seems doubtful to me.

I am completely gutting the house and will be insulating the walls to r15 and the attic to r30 or 38, and probably the basement ceiling too. The basement walls are 2 feet thick, made of stone mortared together, so I don't think I can insulate them very well. I will be putting in new double pane windows too. The old chimney on the house needs to go, I will have to rent a lift to tear down the top part. If I put in a wood stove I will plan on a metal chimney. If anyone can point me in the direction of a way to find out my probable heat needs, or has any insight into whether I should be looking at wood given the new stoves and their new requirements I will be most grateful. I am sorry this is so long.

475E3098-0DAE-427C-BA15-E7CB0B254315.jpeg
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
28,157
central pa
I am hoping for some advice about what to do. I've been involved with burning wood all my life, till I was 15 I lived in a passive solar house with a Fisher wood stove in the basement which did all the supplemental heat. For the last 20 years I have lived in a huge converted barn with a gasification boiler, and there is a house with a DutchWest catalytic stove from about 2002 in it across the way. I just bought an old house in the Adirondacks and am working on it now, planning to move there next year. It's officially 950 square feet, but that is based on the outside dimensions. It was abandoned for 6 years and all the plumbing and the oil boiler and distribution lines were allowed to freeze, so I am starting from scratch about heating. There is a ventless propane heater on one wall but I don't think they're healthy and won't use it.

I'd been thinking of getting a wood stove for the house, and a smaller one for the ~14x32 woodworking shop I need to build in the back yard. However, as I have been looking at the forum here over the last few weeks and reading about the 2020 approved stoves and how they need >20% moisture content wood, I am doubtful. The lot is just under 1/4 acre, so I have limited space to dry wood. For our current boiler and stove I have always cut wood in the spring, stacked it in a shed, and begun burning it in the fall, so my drying times have been 6 months to a year and that has worked fine. Once I move I will not have any dry wood on hand, as the new house is 120 miles away. It sounds from what I am reading here like I would need to buy wood now and stack it to be dry for fall 2023, and in the meantime I would need to heat another way. I am not planning to stay in this new house for more than 5 years, and maybe less. My goal is to build a house somewhere up there, when money permits and I have found a place where I'd like to stay for many years.

I like heating with wood but am also open to other options. I have fairly new 100 amp electric service up there, so I am not inclined to go to the expense of upgrading to 200. I have read a bit about air source heat pumps for cold climates but I have no experience with them, and don't know anyone who has one, and I don't know how much power they take. I have also read about vented propane heaters, and that seems like it could be a viable option. Or maybe there are other things I haven't thought about. I am having trouble finding a way to get a realistic number on how many BTUs of heat I should need for the house. I have seen 5-6 BTUs per square foot given as a rule of thumb, but the building I live in now is 7k+ square feet and solely heated by a 140k BTU wood boiler, so that figure seems doubtful to me.

I am completely gutting the house and will be insulating the walls to r15 and the attic to r30 or 38, and probably the basement ceiling too. The basement walls are 2 feet thick, made of stone mortared together, so I don't think I can insulate them very well. I will be putting in new double pane windows too. The old chimney on the house needs to go, I will have to rent a lift to tear down the top part. If I put in a wood stove I will plan on a metal chimney. If anyone can point me in the direction of a way to find out my probable heat needs, or has any insight into whether I should be looking at wood given the new stoves and their new requirements I will be most grateful. I am sorry this is so long.

View attachment 283888
You shouldn't be burning wood that is higher than 20% in any stove or furnace. Doing so wastes lots of BTUs driving that moisture out of the wood.
 
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EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
2,216
SE North Carolina
I have found that pine dries quick. If top covered. It’s not high btu wood but I think dry lower btu wood is better than wet high btu wood.

I think heatpumps just make sense but I think they need some backup heat source. Oil gas wood ect. To get insurance you probably need something other than a wood stove.

Make the decision if you have the time to do it right the first time. If you are on a tight time line or budget wood just might not make sense this year. Pellet stove?? You did say you were buying wood. Good insulation and 18-24k(this is pure speculation) btu heatpump and a pellet stove on 100A service seems like a winner. Power draw is speced minimum is 18A 240V. Read up on the MR cool DIY units. Can’t recommend as I don’t have any experience with them but I almost purchased one.

Having long terms plans to stay there vs shorter might influence some of my decisions. Insulate insulate. Did I say insulate?
 

Zach Hoyt

Member
Feb 11, 2015
25
Orwell NY
Thanks, that's very helpful. I'm not going to need to start heating the house till next fall, as I won't be done with the work and ready to move up there till the summer. I do need to look into heat pumps more for sure. I hadn't thought about a pellet stove, I've never had one and they always seemed to my ignorant mind like the worst of both worlds, requiring handling the fuel, higher fuel cost, cleaning ashes out, etc, and not able to be used during power outages or to burn free random wood like a stove can. I'll have to look into pellets for sure, though, they may be better than I had supposed. Thank you very much.
 

moresnow

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
1,957
Iowa
Thanks, that's very helpful. I'm not going to need to start heating the house till next fall, as I won't be done with the work and ready to move up there till the summer. I do need to look into heat pumps more for sure. I hadn't thought about a pellet stove, I've never had one and they always seemed to my ignorant mind like the worst of both worlds, requiring handling the fuel, higher fuel cost, cleaning ashes out, etc, and not able to be used during power outages or to burn free random wood like a stove can. I'll have to look into pellets for sure, though, they may be better than I had supposed. Thank you very much.
Small home on a small lot. Are you in a town/city with natural gas to the house by chance? A standard forced air furnace and a few heat runs would cover the requirement easily. Even easier if you are gutting the interior walls. Then add a small efficient wood stove on the main floor that can be used as you desire.
 

Zach Hoyt

Member
Feb 11, 2015
25
Orwell NY
I'm on a small lot in a hamlet that is two blocks of a town dropped into what's otherwise the middle of nowhere, so there's no natural gas. That's why I was thinking of propane if I went with gas at all. The basement is not suitable for anything, it's too damp to even store firewood in, let alone anything that could rust.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
92,773
South Puget Sound, WA
A 2 cu ft stove should suffice. What is the budget for the stove? Does that include the chimney system?

Will you be putting some gutters on the house? That should help dry up the basement a bit.
 

moresnow

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
1,957
Iowa
I'm on a small lot in a hamlet that is two blocks of a town dropped into what's otherwise the middle of nowhere, so there's no natural gas. That's why I was thinking of propane if I went with gas at all. The basement is not suitable for anything, it's too damp to even store firewood in, let alone anything that could rust.
I have a LP forced air furnace that is considered our primary heat source. It only gets used when we leave for vacation.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
92,773
South Puget Sound, WA
Propane is too expensive to be considered for home heating here. I took out the furnace and replaced it with a high-end heat pump in 2006.
 

Zach Hoyt

Member
Feb 11, 2015
25
Orwell NY
Thanks, 2 cu. ft. is a good number to work with. There is not a hard budget, though I am a cheesparing kind of person so I would like to keep the stove and chimney each under or close to $1000 if possible. I don't think gutters are feasible, the roof is metal 12/12 and I imagine the snow slides off pretty violently when it goes. French drains might help some, I will need to look into whether they're allowed. Thank you all for your advice.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
28,157
central pa
Thanks, 2 cu. ft. is a good number to work with. There is not a hard budget, though I am a cheesparing kind of person so I would like to keep the stove and chimney each under or close to $1000 if possible. I don't think gutters are feasible, the roof is metal 12/12 and I imagine the snow slides off pretty violently when it goes. French drains might help some, I will need to look into whether they're allowed. Thank you all for your advice.
Gutters are absolutely and option and nessesity.

I doubt you will be able to do a chimney for $1000. It is going to be pretty tall that's going to cost
 

Zach Hoyt

Member
Feb 11, 2015
25
Orwell NY
I am thinking about putting a short chimney in the low part of the roof, about 11 feet from the taller wall, just inside the insulated envelope. The whole downstairs is pretty open, just two big rooms with a 7x7' opening between them, so I'm hoping the heat can travel since the whole house is small. If I can't do that then I'll have to do a tall chimney to above the peak of the main roof, which would indeed probably cost more than $1000.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
28,157
central pa
I am thinking about putting a short chimney in the low part of the roof, about 11 feet from the taller wall, just inside the insulated envelope. The whole downstairs is pretty open, just two big rooms with a 7x7' opening between them, so I'm hoping the heat can travel since the whole house is small. If I can't do that then I'll have to do a tall chimney to above the peak of the main roof, which would indeed probably cost more than $1000.
Yeah at 11' from the taller wall would meet code but it's very doubtful that it would work properly
 

Zach Hoyt

Member
Feb 11, 2015
25
Orwell NY
I've been thinking over the plan for putting a stove in this house, and have figured out how I can run a chimney inside the heated envelope for the 2 stories, then through an unheated attic and out just beside the peak of the roof. I am imagining that I will run single wall stove pipe up from the stove to just below the ceiling and then there will be about 10 feet of metal chimney in the heated area, 8-9 feet in the unheated attic, and 4 feet above the roof. The stove will be on the ground floor, not in the basement. This seems like a pretty long chimney for a 6" diameter, but I don't see another way other than having a quite short chimney which wouldn't be likely to work well at all from what I have been told.

I have been looking further into stove options. I'm planning to buy a new stove, and am looking to buy a cheaper one (~$1k or so). I have not had much luck finding stoves right around 2 cubic feet in that price range, so I am leaning towards the Englander 2.4 cf stove as sold by Home Depot. From what I have read Englander has a pretty good reputation among the cheaper stoves. I think it is likely better to go a little bigger than a little smaller than needed, in order to have the stove able to burn through the night, but I am open to advice if this is not a good idea. I also saw a couple of stoves from Pleasant Hearth that look like they might be about the right size and are cheaper, but they don't seem to be able to use an outside air kit, and that seems like a drawback. I have read to stay away from U.S. Stove/Vogelzang. I'll put in links to the stoves I've been looking at, or if anyone has better suggestions I'll be happy to hear them. Thank you very much.


 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
92,773
South Puget Sound, WA
For better control with the tall flue, put a damper in the stove pipe at 6-12" above the stove.

In addition to the Englander, look at the 2 cu ft SBI value stoves (Century & Drolet). And for a square firebox and N/S loading look at the True North TN20. It's PE's value line.
 

Zach Hoyt

Member
Feb 11, 2015
25
Orwell NY
Thanks, that's very helpful information. Having a damper in the pipe sounds very handy, and I know they're very easy to put in. Both the Century 2900 and several of the Drolet models look appealing. It looks like the Century has longer burn time with more firebox capacity than the Drolet stoves at the same price point, so that is probably what I would choose between those two. Overall, though, it looks like the Englander has the same BTU and firebox capacity as the Century 2900 but with somewhat higher efficiency and also higher emissions, and in a smaller physical footprint. The True North looks nice but a bit above what I'd like to pay.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
92,773
South Puget Sound, WA
If you can locate a used Englander 13-NC that would work too.
 

Zach Hoyt

Member
Feb 11, 2015
25
Orwell NY
Thanks, I'll keep an eye out. Mostly around here the used stoves I see for sale are much older and of dubious usefulness, but there are nicer ones every now and then.