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Old 09-26-08, 08:55 AM   #1
bennelson
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Default Woodstove for winter

Just a reminder,

If you heat with wood in the winter, now is a great time to tidy up your wood pile and clean your chimney.

You do clean your chimney, right?

Well, if you haven't, better to do it now, then when there's snow on the roof and it's dark all the time!



Here's one of my wood piles.
This is all scrap I get for free from a local cabinet shop. What's great is that it is all SUPER-DRY and almost exclusively hardwoods.

Note that it's covered with a tarp to keep the rain and snow out.

Wood can be a great carbon-neutral heat source which can keep your winter energy bills down, but you gotta be willing to put in the work.

Ideally, wood should be burned at a very high temperature for maximum efficiency, in a stove that can handle the heat and absorb it to slowly release that heat later. That's typically called a masonry stove, Finnish stove, Russian stove, etc.

Second to that is a high efficiency cast iron stove. They are sealed up pretty tight and burn very well.

After that would be a glass-front fireplace. Great for ambiance, ok for heat.

I wouldn't recommend anyone try to heat their home with a standard fireplace. They look great, but require a huge amount of air, all of which has to come in from the outside (cold air!) and then most of the heat goes right up the chimney anyways!

If you have a standard fireplace, seal it up, put glass on the front, or convert it to a high-efficiency natural gas fireplace.

(There are also outdoor wood-fired furnaces. These have other advantages and disadvantages, but almost have more in common with a boiler or modern furnace than they do with a woodstove or fireplace.)

My winter additional heater (main home heat source is a modern natural gas forced air furnace) is a Vermont Castings Intrepid II glass-front cast-iron stove. It's pretty small (requires special wood size) but puts out a lot of heat, and has the feel of a fireplace because of the view of the fire.


In general, it's a bad idea to try to "mod" a commercially made cast iron stove. However, its surroundings and attachments can be modified to improve its use.

More on this in future posts.

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Last edited by bennelson; 09-26-08 at 09:09 AM..
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Old 09-30-08, 01:22 PM   #2
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The house I lived in during college had a wood buring stove. It was great. Kept the main floor super hot. We'd cook our dinner on top.

I don't know if you can confirm this ben...but we were told that using pine can cause a chimney fire....because it burns so hot.

We got most of our wood from local farmers who wanted some land cleared out.

We also were given a lot of 2x4's from a local mill that gave us all of the bent and knotted boards they couldn't use.

I would definatly consider a wood stove...just make sure it has glass doors...ours didn't and ocasianaly a burning log would roll out when we opened the door.
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Old 09-30-08, 01:29 PM   #3
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Your pile looks like the one we had in our living room...we had no room out side the house.

We'd set up a couple stations when we came back with a bunch of wood...one guy would cut the logs down to a length we knew would fit well into stove...and another would split them. I used my circular saw to cut the 2x4s and our other roommate would take the cut wood inside and stack it.

It took some team work...but like you said...put in some work and its worth it.
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Old 09-30-08, 01:33 PM   #4
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Another source of potentially free wood is a pallet making place. I know someone whose brother does this and has free heat all winter.
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Old 10-02-08, 08:35 AM   #5
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Any place you can get free wood from is great.

Any place you can get CLEAN DRY wood is even better! (Cabinet shop, pallet-making place, etc.)

Pine can cause chimney fires, but not because it burns so hot, rather, it's the pitch or resin that's in the wood. That burns all hot and sticky.

If the chimney already has a build-up of creosote in it, an extra hot fire can ignite that. In general, fairly hot fires burn very clean. "Cooler" fires often don't completely burn all the volatiles, which can stick in the chimney and later catch fire.

Pine boards or 2x4s would be kiln-dried and should be fine for occasional burning.
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Old 10-16-08, 02:13 PM   #6
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Re: Burning pine,
its my understanding that softwoods have more volitile organic carbons in them that only burn at very high temperatures. Since most people don't like to run their stove hot enough to burn all the VOC's so they condense in the chimney as creosote creating a chimney fire hazard.
So its important to keep the temps up, but especially when burning softwood, given that your starting with a clean chimney. If you think your chimney is gunked up then clean it and then start having hotter shorter fires.
Ian

Doh! just realized that the previous post said everything I did...

Last edited by IndyIan; 10-16-08 at 02:25 PM..
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Old 10-16-08, 06:00 PM   #7
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Short, hot, fires are the best way to burn. You get as much heat out as you can that way.

It is actually very similar to the popular "pulse-and-glide" driving technique.

The main thing that helps is adding mass to whatever holds your stove. Massive stoves hold the quickly burned heat much better. Cast iron stoves are better than sheet metal stoves, and stone and brick are better than cast iron.

One way to make your heat "coast better" is to add mass yourself. I have bricks stacked up behind my cast iron stove. Some sort of a large container of water would work great too!
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Old 10-21-08, 02:16 PM   #8
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A caveat to adding mass to your stove is, don't put the mass in direct contact with the firebox. We used to cook stuff on a tile right on top of the stove, that was fine as we didn't have an extremely hot fire while cooking. But when we did have a hot fire the tile acts as an insulator and that part of the fire box overheated. So now our stove top is a bit convex and I had to repaint the area under the tile. Probably took a couple years out of the top but it seems no worse for wear and didn't warp the door frame.
I've heard of people putting a car rad behind the stove and running water through it to heat their normal hot water tanks or a heat storage tank. These should be "open" systems so it can't build pressure and create a steam explosion...
We have concrete floors and a couple years ago I made a aluminum foil reflector to take radiant heat coming through the glass and direct in into the floor infront of the stove. It worked fairly well as the concrete was alot warmer there but the reflector didn't fold up so it hogged space and got dumped by the wife. I may make a folding version that can be stored better if cabin fever strikes this winter.
Ian
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Old 10-27-08, 01:01 PM   #9
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Default Free pallets

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daox View Post
Another source of potentially free wood is a pallet making place. I know someone whose brother does this and has free heat all winter.
We burn pallets on the weekend in the wood stove.
They're free,
and the pellet stove and oil burner don't run for 2 days out of the 7.
Check out Craig's list for you area and search the Free stuff for pallets.

Some stores also get their supplies on them,
so check with them,
at this time many of the iParty Stoves have Free pallets ads in Craig's list.

Also note though,
that not all pallets are the same.
Good hard wood ones weigh about 50 pounds.
The light weight one are pine.
burn accordingly.

Last edited by Sandy; 10-27-08 at 01:03 PM.. Reason: added note
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Old 11-20-08, 09:20 PM   #10
bennelson
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Default First fire of the season

Tonight was my first fire of the season.

Pretty late this year, it's gotten cold for a while now.

Unfortunately, with the painting we had going on an a couple other things. We had boxes stacked all over the house, including against the stove.

I finally got to moving some of it out of the way and brought in a few armfuls of wood.



Notice that this style of woodstove has a closed glass front. This is MUCH more efficient than a fireplace, but you still get to watch the fire.

Behind the stove, I have a stack of bricks (you can see three of them in the photo) which are back from the stove about six inches. These suck up the radiant heat the shoots off the back of the stove.

(and no, that cardboard box, and crumpled paper aren't usually there. Just the remnants of me moving things around)

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