PDA

View Full Version : Heating Home With Woodburning Stove?


dismom24
10-20-2008, 07:59 PM
We are considering a woodburning stove to use for heating most of our home Can anyone tell me the pros and cons? Does it get too hot? Save lots of $$$? Air too dry? Smell? Thanks!

swilshire
10-20-2008, 08:18 PM
Do you have an easy source for free firewood? If so, go for it. If not, I don't see how anybody saves money. Even with free wood, you'll have the cost of chainsaws, chimney sweeping, maintenance and the initial purchase and installation (not cheap).

The air is less dry than when we use the gas heat.

The wood smell is very minimal. If we burn coal (one of our stoves allows this) it does smell a bit.

It's a lot of work. You have to be able to season the wood. My dad always had three wood sheds. One he would be filling. One he was using from. One for wood that was seasoning. We're never that organized so don't always have properly seasoned wood available.

You have to be careful not to bring in wood with bugs. You have to go out when it's cold to get wood. You can burn a lot of wood in cold weather.

I love our Buck stove fireplace insert. It makes a lot of heat and will hold a fire all night. Our second stove is an Ashley that I bought at a yard sale. I've been looking for a replacement because the fire goes out in the night. I'm the first one up at 4AM, so I always get the job of restarting the fire.

You can certainly save money and the stoves make a very warm cozy heat.

Sheila

Melynny
10-20-2008, 08:33 PM
We have a very decorative but efficient Consolidated Dutch West wood stove in our living room. It has a glass window in it so that you can see the fire along with a catalytic burner that burns most of the extra gasses in the smoke to get the most energy out of the wood.

We don't use this as our primary heat source. It has come in very handy during extended power outages. In 2006, the ice storm over thanksgiving left us without electricity for 11 days. I heated our house using this wood stove. It kept our great room/ Living room at a comfortable temperature, the upstairs bedrooms were warm, the master bedroom, down the hall from the great room living room stayed a contant 55 degrees. I did not burn the stove at full blast because we did not have a lot of wood at that time and I was afraid of running out. It did keep our house warm enough to not have the water pipes freeze and I was kind of comfortable.

The biggest factor with a wood stove is circulation. If you can run the fan only on your furnace, to circulate the heat, it will save you some $$, but not much. We use ours mostly for really cold spells and for atmosphers, and then Christmas and other times, it is almost too hot if you build a really roaring fire.

It does make the air much dryer, I have a large pot that is made to hold water and it steams out about 3 gallons per day if you keep a fire going. You can save some $$ by putting a large pot on the stove and making stewes, roasts, etc on the stove top too.

Another issue is keeping the fire going while you are gone, there must be a way to regulate the air that gets to the wood, this will slow the burning down ( also cooling the area) but it will make it much easier to start it back up when you return, you just give the fire more air and the flames start back up in a second. Then you add more wood to build a bigger fire. Our stove will keep an ember glowing for 8 hours, the metal on the sides will still be hot.. All I woudl need to do when I got home from work was to open the air, let a small flame start up, stir the embers and add a few logs. In 15 minutes you will have a good fire. ALL of this is much more work than just bumping up the thermostat. Or you could have a programmable thermostat and it would already be warm when you got home.

As for the ashes, you need some to have a bed for the fire, it will burn better. But when it's time to clean up, it is a mess. The wood its self is a mess. We cleaned ours once per week, usually on Sunday.

If you decide to buy a stove, you should look at the efficient ones, that bring in outside air for combustion, these will not take your warm air for the fire while drawing in cold air to replace what is going up the chimney, that's one thing I wish I would have connected on ours.. it has the option but we have never used it.

Some brands to check are vermont castings, consolidated dutch west.

sorry this is long...

C.Ann
10-20-2008, 09:01 PM
Every house I have ever been in that uses a wood stove for their primary source of heat has always been way too hot.. It's very, very hard to regulate the temperature to "just right"..

And for me personally, even the faintest smell of the wood burning causes a dry, sore, scratchy throat - and also bothers my nose..

GOOFY4DONALD
10-20-2008, 11:29 PM
We live in Montana and we do use it as our primary heat source. We bought a 2 year old Blaze King for 400.00...DH and FIl installed it themselves. We buy about 700.00 of firewood (10 cords) every year. My Dh cuts and stacks it all himself. We usually cut about 300.00 off each months bills and our winter season is usually Nov-March (October and April are still fair game for fires though). DH does all the chimmney sweeping himself and it takes him about 10 min a month. Very minimal smell and we have a woodstove kettle for moisture. I guess it would be worth it if you live in a cold climate and you and your DH don't mind the work involved.

DisneyForLife
10-21-2008, 07:58 AM
We have a very decorative but efficient Consolidated Dutch West wood stove in our living room. It has a glass window in it so that you can see the fire along with a catalytic burner that burns most of the extra gasses in the smoke to get the most energy out of the wood.

We don't use this as our primary heat source. It has come in very handy during extended power outages. In 2006, the ice storm over thanksgiving left us without electricity for 11 days. I heated our house using this wood stove. It kept our great room/ Living room at a comfortable temperature, the upstairs bedrooms were warm, the master bedroom, down the hall from the great room living room stayed a contant 55 degrees. I did not burn the stove at full blast because we did not have a lot of wood at that time and I was afraid of running out. It did keep our house warm enough to not have the water pipes freeze and I was kind of comfortable.

The biggest factor with a wood stove is circulation. If you can run the fan only on your furnace, to circulate the heat, it will save you some $$, but not much. We use ours mostly for really cold spells and for atmosphers, and then Christmas and other times, it is almost too hot if you build a really roaring fire.

It does make the air much dryer, I have a large pot that is made to hold water and it steams out about 3 gallons per day if you keep a fire going. You can save some $$ by putting a large pot on the stove and making stewes, roasts, etc on the stove top too.

Another issue is keeping the fire going while you are gone, there must be a way to regulate the air that gets to the wood, this will slow the burning down ( also cooling the area) but it will make it much easier to start it back up when you return, you just give the fire more air and the flames start back up in a second. Then you add more wood to build a bigger fire. Our stove will keep an ember glowing for 8 hours, the metal on the sides will still be hot.. All I woudl need to do when I got home from work was to open the air, let a small flame start up, stir the embers and add a few logs. In 15 minutes you will have a good fire. ALL of this is much more work than just bumping up the thermostat. Or you could have a programmable thermostat and it would already be warm when you got home.

As for the ashes, you need some to have a bed for the fire, it will burn better. But when it's time to clean up, it is a mess. The wood its self is a mess. We cleaned ours once per week, usually on Sunday.

If you decide to buy a stove, you should look at the efficient ones, that bring in outside air for combustion, these will not take your warm air for the fire while drawing in cold air to replace what is going up the chimney, that's one thing I wish I would have connected on ours.. it has the option but we have never used it.

Some brands to check are vermont castings, consolidated dutch west.

sorry this is long...


Don't be sorry this is long. It is excellent information. A wood stove was in this house when we bought it. We have never had one before so don't know much about them. You have just taught me a few things I need to know so thank you for your post. :thumbsup2

mombare
10-21-2008, 08:06 AM
We have an outdoor wood burner...but I think our situation is probably a little different than yours. We are in MN, and our house is over 100 years old - old radiator heat. The wood burner heats the water in our radiators, along with our regular hot water for daily use. It has been a great investement for us - three years ago the previous owner spent $3000 per WINTER for fuel oil. I can only imagine what that would equate to in today's prices. We have not bought any fuel oil since we have lived there, although my husband is a wood cutting machine in the fall. Our total purchas price was around $7000, but that has paid for itself already.
As for the heat...living in such an old brick house we don't have a problem with it being too hot, except in the summer. ;) The air is always dry around here, but I don't think our skin gets as dry. It's so hard to tell in MN - just so cold, you are in survival mode most of the time!!
Good luck - again, ours has been great!

IlliniMouse
10-21-2008, 08:11 AM
In our old house, we had an add on wood burner inside the house, and at this house we have an outdoor woodburner. If you have a source for wood, they're great. If you have to buy wood, it could get expensive. I know the wood prices around here have really went up, and it's getting harder to find places to cut wood since more and more people are starting to burn wood again.

I really like the outdoor one better, but the indoor one cut down on our heating bills! As someone else said, it was hard to regulate the heat and sometimes was WAY to hot in there. It seems like I was always going into the basement to check on it. The basement definately had a wood burning odor to it, and the mess from carrying the wood into the house wasn't one of my favorite things. The air is dryer with a woodburner, so we always had humidifiers going.

Comparing it to the outdoor one...the outdoor one gets loaded up twice a day, it automatically closes and opens the damper as the thermostat calls for heat, no wood in my house, I feel safer with it being outside, we can also use the wood burner to heat our water, so double bonus there. With the outdoor woodburner, unless we go away, our furnace does not turn on the whole time we have it going because you can keep the fire going much longer. With our indoor one, depending on the wood we had in it and how long we were gone, sometimes the fire would burn out and we'd have to start it again. However, either way, your house won't get cold if the fire goes out because your furnace will kick in. :)

joyfulscrapper
10-21-2008, 08:17 AM
We use a woodburning Jotul stove for our primary heat source. We have a gas boiler, but the wood stove seriously cuts down our heating bills, so we use it mostly.

I definitely gets too hot at times in our living room where the woodstove is, but we simply crack the windows to cool it down and dress lighter. I actually don't wear sweaters or sweatshirts anymore because I don't have to most of the time.

It is a lot of work! We have never paid for wood in the 7 years that we've been relying on the stove. My husband notices wood in yards and asks if we can take it for them. More often than not, they are happy to be rid of it. The worst they can say is no. As mentioned above, it needs to season, though. We actually have a HUGE pile of unsplit wood in our back yard right now. He dreading splitting it all, but will have to do it soon because we have very little ready to burn for this season. We have a log slitter, though, which will make it easier for him.

It also takes a lot to bring in the wood as needed, but the whole family pitches in.

The air does get dry for us, too, but we put a pot of water on the stove with scented oils in it and the aromas are wonderful. I have a lot of sinus problems and do tend to get more sinus headaches in the winter, but I can't always blame it on the stove, so I really don't know if it's the cause. Winter air in general is dryer than other seasons, so my guess is that is the reason.

I would consider where you would put the stove. Can it heat the entire house reasonably? Don't buy a stove that is too big for your area, that would be overkill and really heat you out of the room it is located in. And I also think it is mostly only worth it if you can get cheap or free wood. You have to be willing to work hard to split and carry in wood. My husband was disabled briefly a few years ago and all the carrying was on me. It was good excercise, but I did dread it!

Despite the cons, I do love our stove! It is wonderful to sit by on a cold evening. It only costs about $130 a year to have the chimney cleaned professionally, but sometimes hubby does it himself. That is a very minimal expense I think.

One more caution (and I think this is very rare) but DH would often try to stuff in way too much wood and then try to shut the door. Ours has glass on the front and he broke it 3 TIMES! :rolleyes1 Each time we had to pay around $80 for the special fireplace glass to replace it. I think he's learned his lesson now, though!

dismom24
10-21-2008, 08:34 AM
Thanks so much for all the information and great advice. We have just cleared a few acres, so we have plenty of wood. What is seasoning? Right now we have 3 heat units and were thinking about replacing the main one with wood heat. DH would probablt unstall it himeself - he did most of the work on our 1400 sq ft addition and is pretty handy. I have one more question - does it bother anyone whose children have allergies or asthma? I have a DS who gets croup every year and want to make sure it is a good choice for him.
Thanks!

mickeyboat
10-21-2008, 11:31 AM
We just bought a woodstove and started using wood this heating season for the first time. DH has used wood all his life, so he knows what he is doing. We also had a double-flued chimney built which was very very expensive. It will be a couple of years before we see a return on our investment.

It is messy and the air in the house is dry. I expect we will have to run a humidifier most of the winter. Wood is a real pain because you have to handle it so many times - get it delivered, cut, split and stacked, bring it into the house, load it into the stove, and then get rid of the ashes. It is quite an ordeal.

We also have a Jotul. It is a beautiful stove and we are still learning how to burn it most efficiently for our home. We have a pretty open layout (except for the kitchen) and the stove heats most of the living space and the entire upstairs very (too) well.

I am still learning the best way to run the fire - to burn it most efficiently. We have a thermometer on the stovepipe so we can redulate wood and air to make sure the wood is burning well. It takes a lot of time to learn, and it takes a lot of babysitting.

Green (newly cut) wood does not burn well - and you actually risk a chimney fire unless your wood is seasoned (dry). Dry firewood is very expensive at this point in the year. To make the most economic sense, you should be buying NEXT years's wood right now so it has a chance to dry before next year's heating season.

Finally, where we live it would cost a fortune to buy a woodstove and wood for this heating season. We bought a small woodstove for the basement through the Northern Hydraulics catalogue.

Good luck!

Denae

Denae

swilshire
10-22-2008, 03:38 PM
One more caution (and I think this is very rare) but DH would often try to stuff in way too much wood and then try to shut the door. Ours has glass on the front and he broke it 3 TIMES!

And we've had three chimney fires through the years. We try to be faithful with the chimney sweep now.

We also bought brushes to try to do it ourselves, but the cap on our wide chimney is HEAVY and the chimney sweep also inspects everything to make sure it's safe.

Sheila

DVC-Don
10-22-2008, 04:29 PM
And don't forget to have your local fire/building department AND insurance company inspect it.

pat fan
10-22-2008, 04:34 PM
What is seasoning?
"Green" wood is wood that has just been cut. The sap in it is wet (not necessary to touch) and does not burn well. Causes creosote in your chimney, leads to chimney fires etc... "Dry" or "Seasoned" wood is wood that has been cut and split and let to dry in the open air for 6 months to a year.

does it bother anyone whose children have allergies or asthma?
My DS has asthma and it doesn't bother him.

This year we are using a wood stove for our primary source of heat. Until this year we had a furnace for back up and hot water, but we put solar in for the hot water and bought a bigger wood stove. Here's hoping all goes well :thumbsup2

Even if you don't have access to free wood, it is still way cheaper than oil. We were going to spend at least a couple thousand on oil and the wood only cost us $350.

mkel34
10-22-2008, 06:26 PM
We have a pacific energy summit insert. We get the wood for free but split and stack it ourselves, friend of the family is a tree guy, but it still is a fair amount of work. My house is fairly large, a little of 3000sq. ft so regulating the heat is not an issue. Neither my daughter or I have any breathing issues and we both have minor asthma.

The savings benefit pays off in about a year when you factor in the cost of oil. I have no buyer's remorse and would recommend to anyone.

mkhelms
10-22-2008, 06:39 PM
Not to be off the topic, but we are looking at a ways to heat our downstairs. We live in a Bylevel and can never use the two rooms downstairs because it is way to cold. We are looking at all possiblities. We have a fire place but my sons asthma can not handle it.
Does anyone have any info. on some heater that the amish sell. We live near lancaster and I just heard someone discussing this at work but didn't get the full scoop.

I loveStitchnippyjon
10-22-2008, 07:22 PM
We have been using wood for our primary heat for over 20 years. The woodstove is in just about the center of our downstairs, and has a thermostatically controlled blower to pull the heat off. We also run a ceiling fan to circulate the air. We usually end up turning on our furnace maybe once or twice a winter just to heat the bedrooms a little extra when it is below zero outside.
Our chimney sweep comes every summer to clean out the chimney and inspect the whole setup. We burn 10-12 cords of wood each winter @ $45/cord seasoned. Approx. $500 keeps us warm all winter!
DH always says that heating with wood heats you when you carry the wood indoors, again when you burn it, and yet again when you take out the ashes!:rotfl2:

pat fan
10-22-2008, 08:29 PM
DH always says that heating with wood heats you when you carry the wood indoors, again when you burn it, and yet again when you take out the ashes!
You got that right! My DH blew his back out this sumer so I got to split it all (DS's helped some) and we (DS's and I) got to stack it all. Usually DH splits it with me just helping...but the workout was great...who needs a gym?

semo233
10-22-2008, 08:57 PM
Here's a good web site to check out

http://www.woodheat.org

mtblujeans
10-22-2008, 09:17 PM
Wood heat is a very time consuming venture and you should know what you are doing. Our first home had an old wood stove in it and we would spend days, in the summer, cutting up wood, hauling it home, then splitting it for weeks (as we had time to do it). We also used about 10 cords a winter. You have to have some place to stack all that wood...preferably away from the house because a wood pile can attract termites and mice....and then carry it through the snow up to the house.

Our old wood stove gave off alot of fumes in the house, which bothered my asthma, but it was the only heat we could afford when we first got married. I also worried about our children's lungs as they were very little. I would not use wood heat again unless we had a new wood stove that burns more efficiently and cleaner. We also had many 'accidents' with embers falling out of the stove and burning the carpet around the area. It took us awhile to figure out how not to stuff the stove too full so embers were not up against the doors and falling out when the doors opened. :rolleyes:

I had to watch my kids around the hot stove all the time. They were too little to understand what touching the stove meant. That also meant making sure their toys didn't get too close so they would go after them and keeping them away when we opened the doors as they would reach for a red ember if it fell out. I remember using wood for heat as an exhaustive practice. :headache:

mtblujeans
10-22-2008, 09:23 PM
Not to be off the topic, but we are looking at a ways to heat our downstairs. We live in a Bylevel and can never use the two rooms downstairs because it is way to cold. We are looking at all possiblities. We have a fire place but my sons asthma can not handle it.
Does anyone have any info. on some heater that the amish sell. We live near lancaster and I just heard someone discussing this at work but didn't get the full scoop.We bought a Sunheat (http://www.sunheat.com/store/cart.php?target=cart) infrared heater for our living room/dining room/kitchen area last winter. It has cut down on our electric bill by using it but it has a fan that blows almost constantly and, frankly, the noise gets to me after months and months of the sound day and night, all winter long. :crazy: It has a heating bulb inside and the fan blows the heat it produces out into the room. The fan only shuts off if the room is warmer than the heater is set.

mkhelms
10-23-2008, 10:03 AM
We bought a Sunheat (http://www.sunheat.com/store/cart.php?target=cart) infrared heater for our living room/dining room/kitchen area last winter. It has cut down on our electric bill by using it but it has a fan that blows almost constantly and, frankly, the noise gets to me after months and months of the sound day and night, all winter long. :crazy: It has a heating bulb inside and the fan blows the heat it produces out into the room. The fan only shuts off if the room is warmer than the heater is set.

Thanks so much for the heads up, I having been trying to find different reviews but can't find anything!!!