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Wood stove?

September 25th, 2013 at 08:26 am

Hubby and I have been toying with the idea of getting a wood stove insert for the upstairs fireplace. It basically looks just like a fireplace with doors, except it's a wood stove you can use to heat your house.

Apparently, some of the new ones are more than 90 percent efficient.

We have just removed the gas logs from our upstairs fireplace. They started leaking. It was a sign. We have a gigantic pile of free wood from a tree we took down, and from neighbors who took down trees, so the wood would be free.

We're thinking we could use this to partially heat our home in winter, and as emergency back up heat in our many power outages. The up front cost would be about $3,000 installed.

I think we have decided to go for it. We have money in savings that would pay for most of it, and we could use cash flow for part of it.

Any thoughts on wood heating and wood stoves? Any of you have any experience with it?

9 Responses to “Wood stove?”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    No experience, but will be interested to hear your results with it!

  2. Bob B. Says:

    I grew up with a wood stove.

    Wood needs to be nice and dry when burned; talking about the moisture within the logs, not necessarily rain water on the bark. My dad would cut down a tree (he has his own woods), and let it cure (dry) for a year before cutting it up for fire wood. "Green" wood hisses and bubbles as it burns, and does not heat efficiently.

    Sounds like this would only be as a backup, and not main heat source, so wouldn't take as much wood as my folks house - but it's A LOT of wood to heat a house. Furnaces are probably much more efficient than 30+ years ago. Also, must put fire in late night and early morning, but probably not a big deal as a back up.

    Cutting, stacking, loading wood takes time. Also have to dispose of ash, and can be kind of messy.

    Allergies can be an issue. My DW and DD2 have allergies/asthma, and that's what holds us back from installing in our house.

    On the plus side - is a very constant, nice heat, and if you have a good supply of wood, is inexpensive.

  3. LuckyRobin Says:

    Yes, the most important thing is to have dry, seasoned wood. It usually takes wood a year to be properly seasoned for burning, but if you live in a windy area it can dry out faster. Wet wood can be mixed with dry, but if all you have is wet wood you won't be able to heat your home with it.

    Have plenty of dry kindling. You will place it on top of wadded up newspaper or other paper. Small branches are great for this, especially ones with pine needles intact. So is regular wood cut into small pieces. Dried pine cones are also great for starting the fire. And dried bark is one of the best things out there. I also used a method of twisting newspaper into kindling sticks that I learned of in The Complete Tightwad Gazette.

    Learn about the wood you have. Different types of woods burn faster, slower, hotter, or cooler than others. You want a good mix. You may have to get up in the middle of the night to feed the stove during a power failure if it is your only source of heat. It needs to be checked on often throughout the day. You always want to have hot coals left to add new wood on top of. Letting the fire go out means starting all over from scratch with your paper, kindling, and twigs or pinecones.

    We heated our home with a woodstove on and off for a decade and we saved an awful lot of money. We never paid for wood, though we did rent a splitter once to do some rounds that were three feet across. We always had trees coming down or our families did. We even used old pallets that we broke up. It's a lot of physical work, but you will save a lot on heating costs.

  4. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    We have a standalone (like an old potbellied but new square shape) stove in our house - we installed ourselves 15 years ago because this inexpensive home did not have a fire place at all.

    I would never go back to having an open fireplace. This type has no fumes entering the home, extremely heat efficient, and space saving.

    Here's my experience:

    1. Used for heating the 1st floor in winter. Our mild climate is easier to heat (California) and on the coldest days I start a fire late afternoon (3-5pm) and let it go until we go to bed around 9pm. If it is particularly cold I make the fire roaring that last hour.

    1a. We use central heat for ONLY 1.5 hours a day and it's on a timer for 6-7:30am when we wake and get ready for work/school. That's it, no other heat utility. Very low heat bills in our house.

    2. Firewood is not hard for us to come by, because we have a country property, but can be harder in other places to obtain. We keep an inventory for over a year and use what is dry first (about a year old). The best is natural wood, but if lumber is available (from demolition) we use it and mix with natural.

    3. Keep the firewood pile tidy and neat and covered. Beware of creating mouse (and hantavirus) habitat.

    4. Small pinecones make very good fire starter. Mix with some dry pine needles and wrap in a sheet of crumpled newpaper.

    5. Scoop out ashes every few fires. Yours truly does this, it is not terribly time consuming nor messy. But I am fanatically neat and usually vacuuum the floor around the stove, the floor around the wood bucket, etc.

    6. There are some laws in coastal/central California restricting wood burning (BBQ, stoves, etc,) for air quality, so check if there are such restrictions in your area.

    7. The cost is worth it, enhancing your home value and reducing your heat costs. It is a cozy thing and we tend to hang out in the family room (together! doing our various homework/computer work/crafting) in the winter.

  5. ThriftoRama Says:

    Thanks guys. Just some thoughts.
    -Our cut wood stock is currently two years old. We have tons. We also have it cut and stacked. We have plenty of room for more wood piles.
    -DH enjoys cutting wood. It is his zen. The kids also like to help.
    -DH and the kids also love to build fires in the winter. They do it together, and the kids get so excited. We do this in the downstairs fireplace now, and it doesn't heat anything. Just smokes up the basement. Might as well get some heat, right?
    -Our house is a one story , 1700 sf ranch, and the models we are looking at have fans and are rated to heat that space.
    -We have a lot of random power outages, even in clear weather. This is fine in every season but winter. I worry about a prolonged winter outage, because we would have no way to heat the house.
    -We have a very efficient brand new furnace, and whole house very thick new insulation. This would be back-up, and we'd likely light a fire every morning or evening and then just set the furnace to a very low temp, just to keep the house above a basic level. It could cut our gas bill, but our gas bill for heating is only maybe 100 a month.
    -I'm wondering how often you have to clean the flue, etc. with heavy use?

  6. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    We have a DIY chimney brush and have done it once or twice in 10+ years (probably not enough but we are not experiencing blockage/reverse air flow). We also tend to burn untreated wood.

  7. Bob B. Says:

    I remember dad sweeping the chimney, but not very often. Maybe once every four years or so. But I was a kid, and my memory is faulty.

  8. LuckyRobin Says:

    Nowadays they recommend you get your chimney swept every year. However the woods I used always burned so fast and well that there was seldom any build-up, so we ended up only needing it done every four years or so. We had a free-standing stove with a pipe that went all the way up. I am thinking if you are using a chimney from an existing fireplace with an inserted stove, it will need to be done every year, but not sure. Ask the people at the place you are going to purchase your stove.

  9. PNW Mom Says:

    How about a pellet stove? Our first house had a wood stove and while we enjoyed it, it was WAY to big for the size of our little ranch.

    My parents had a pellet stove in one of their houses and really liked it. I think they burn cleaner than a wood stove. Not sure if it would work for your situation though. When DH and I downsize from the house we are in now, we may consider a pellet stove (we currently have a gas fireplace).

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