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Masonry heater options for a second floor

Posts: 67
Location: Merville, BC
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This is my first post at Permies, and I'm hoping to enlist the wisdom and knowledge of the collected folks here. In short, I'm wondering if anyone can point me to information about building a masonry heater on the second floor of a house.

The longer version of the question is as follows:

We are looking at buying a house. It is on 5 acres and 9.5 km (6 miles) from our local city. It has a year round pond, drilled well, mostly cleared pasture. In short, the land and location are fairly ideal. The house... well, it needs work. It is an oddly shaped 1970s thing. It does have great solar exposure into the main living areas and bedrooms, though there is little to no thermal mass (it's all wood and drywall). If we decide to buy it, I eventually plan to explore options for insulating, sealing, adding thermal mass. This is the West Coast of Canada, approximately 400 km (250 miles) north of Seattle, so the climate is fairly mild with grey rainy winters and some bouts of snow (winter temps avg. 3C/37F; summer temps 18C/65F)

The main living room also has a small wood stove (which the current tenants are bared from using). This room is about 650 square feet of floor space, and half of it has a two storey ceiling height. The bedrooms are above one half of the living room, and they open on to a loft style hallway that overlooks the other half of the living room. The wood stove is placed in the corner of the ascending stairway, and the stove pipe rises up two storeys to the vaulted ceiling.

It occurs to me that a masonry style heater, with it's attendant thermal mass, may be a great helper in heating this space... however, this main living area is on the second floor (standard wood frame construction) above full height rooms in the basement. Is there any way to build a masonry heater that is supported by wood frame flooring? As for rocket stoves, I'm not sure if that is the style of construction we would like to go with, even if they could be built in this situation.

Hopefully you can point me towards further info, or even just tell me I'm dreaming of pipes...


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I have the exact same question.  I am building a portable minihouse, which will be resting on wooden blocks, timber framed.  What do I need to do to put a masonry stove in it?  Is this even advisable?  Can someone in a trailer park use a masonry stove for heating?  The rules and regulations say these buildings have to be portable, so concrete aprons etc aren't really in the plans.

Hey Kirk, I live close to you.  Neat.
Posts: 3141
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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As far as permissions go, you will have to find that out for yourself (unless there is someone knowledgeable about Canadian trailer parks in general).

But for practicality, sure you can do it. You would need to add enough masonry (bricks, concrete blocks...) below the floor to support the added weight. Building a heater that was in some way modular so it could be disassembled without destroying it would be a good idea, and might make a big difference if you are seeking permission. Aside from that, just make sure you have heat protection both around and below your heater. It is critical to have not just insulation but free air space below the combustion zone, as heat will slowly travel through any insulation and build up in the floor. An air space that lets that heat dissipate will save you from this.
Posts: 11799
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Remember that heat rises, so any heating on the lower floors will soon arise to the higher floors, especially if the space is open such as a loft.

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