Hi All! I'm new to this forum...and have been reading many different threads with many different options. I'm new to the world of RMH, DragonHeaters, etc. I would like to ask for some help-I have attached a picture of an existing chimney stack that is in our house. We have an adapter for a 6 inch pipe. The stack itself measures about 22" wide. I think after reading through different threads, I've come to the conclusion that a dragon heater/castle build may be the most efficient use of space for us? The whole house is about 1000sq ft, and this stack is smack dab in the middle! (quite convenient really) We'd like the smallest footprint possible, but I'd have no idea where to start in short of buying books, etc. I will gladly do that, but would appreciate your input first so I'm not buying extraenous sources of information. The floor is laminate over concrete (no vapor barrier-it was done a LONG time ago, and we only rent, but the owner has given us permission to do as we wish) We are in SW Wisconsin. I have checked about permits, and since our house was built before June 1, 1980, we do not need a permit at all!
Welcome to Permies and the world of radical heating systems. I have an interesting idea. Your column could be used as part of the thermal mass in a multi-bell system. You could do a J- tube into a primary bell which could then feed a smaller secondary bell and perhaps even a third one. These would progress around the central column and would utilize three column as ones wall off the bell. Thus you would use a good bit less brick. Make sure you insulate the floor under the bells and stove to make sure that you do not have the concrete draining heat from your heating system.
I am sure Thomas Rubino will have dinner great input as he built something similar to what I am preparing for you.
Hi Erin; Welcome to permies and congratulation's on your decision to study rocket science and begin your journey to becoming a rocket scientist!
First thing you will need is a copy of the RMH Builders Guide. Hands down the best book available and the best money you will spend on this project. Written by Ernie & Erica Wisner. Acknowledged master builders with over a 1000 builds across the country. Readily available from them directly or thru Amazon. It will teach you the proper terminology, so you know what we are talking about and it will answer just about any questions. Buy it and spend the time to read it cover to cover. Marking pages with tape ears where critical info is for easy reference. Believe me … you can trash a book with cob covered hands looking for a certain page.
1000 square ' with a central brick chimney !!! Like they knew you would come along and want to install a RMH! Its perfect ! No matter which style of rmh you choose to build, it is going to be awesome and you will LOVE having one. Next summer will find you walking about telling complete strangers how awesome rmhs are ! Quite a few will look at you like you just escaped from the state hospital... BUT there will be a few, intelligent free thinking individual's (Permies) who get big eyes and start asking questions and end up asking if they can come see your RMH and how do they build their own!
I agree with the others that your space is best suited for a brick bell rather than a bench.
Your laminate flooring should probably be removed where the stove will sit, and you should put at least 2 " eps foam board down to keep your heat inside rather than heating the earth.
As you learn about rmh you will want to decide, if you would prefer a simple J tube rmh or if you want to build the newer design Batch box. J tube is easy to build , Batch box is harder to build but burns hotter and uses wood laid horizontal rather than vertical like a J tube.
Myself, I have 2 RMH's I have built. Both are 8" J tubes. One is a standard bench with piping buried under cob and rock. It is in our greenhouse / artist studio. Zero insulation in a plastic room we have no fire all night long ... room is ALWAYS well above freezing and we use less than FIVE cord of wood..... heating all day every day ... in northern Montana . Coldest that room has been was 35F one -14 morning.
My newest stove is in my auto shop , also an 8" J tube design. I built using a brick bell there to save space . It works better than any expectations I had when starting.
I did build it using the newest products avalable in rocket science. Ceramic fiber boards and Morgan super wool ceramic blanket. Cost goes up several hundred dollars when using ceramic products but the ease of use and performance is worth every penny if you can afford it
Hi Erin; Been looking at your photo. Utilizing your existing chimney by putting the bells all around is an excellent use of that brick. (Thank you Ralph for sugesting that idea)
I see one obstical you need to concider. The nice white paint on the existing brick WILL burn off , at least at the top. That will stink for sure and if old enough it "could" be lead paint.
Not all who wander are lost... J.R.R. Tolkien
Location: Highland, WI
posted 5 months ago
Thank you all for your help so far! I apologize for my delay in responding-we've had quite a busy week! I will definitely be buying the book that was recommended-as we want to have this built by NEXT fall, so we've got some time. As far as the existing chimney-I have no idea on inside dimensions-we are only renting. That being said, we won't be able to take out the flooring, as they glued it directly to the concrete-is there another type of base we can use? I like the idea of using the stack as part of the mass or bell, however, the white brick you see-not actually brick-just a bricking facade that is about a half inch thick-it has started to come off in a few places. We're not opposed to taking it all off and refinished the concrete that is already there. I'm pretty sure it's been repainted many times over the years, so probably lead paint in the bottom layers-from the late 70's/early 80's.
As far as the dragon heaters being out of business-I guess that would explain why so many of their links to their blogs don't work! LOL I think a simple J tube would be sufficient, but our brother in law is the one that turned us on this idea, and he has a lot of calculations already done for a batch box-so we might go that route-we'll have to do some measuring and see what will fit better.
The house is not really that well insulated, so we'd have plenty of airflow for a draft to be drawn. We're working on fixing up bits and pieces-but we've only been here a few months.
I think that's all for now-I'll be ordering the book soon, and will come back for more questions later! Thanks again!
The batch box is definitely more technical and exacting to build, so your choice would partly depend on how handy you are and how good you are at interpreting and following precise directions. A 6" or bigger J-tube is pretty foolproof as long as you follow the basic dimensions. A 6" batch box is said to give around the same power as an 8" J-tube core, so if you have a small chimney liner and want to get a whole house's worth of heat, you might want to do a batch box. Being right in the middle of the living room makes tending a J-tube every 20-40 minutes for a couple-few hours not a big deal.
The fact that the tap into the chimney is 6" diameter is less important than the chimney liner size. If the chimney is sound, straight up, and internal to the house, it will probably give enough draft to support an 8" J-tube even if the liner is 8" x 8" outside and 6 1/2" or 7" square inside. I have a 6" diameter temporary stovepipe fro my 7 1/2" J-tube core and it draws excellently (brick bell, not serpentine ducts.)
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