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bought house with stolen furnace. RMH instead?  RSS feed

 
Brandon Fannin
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I live in Michigan so it gets mighty cold here in the winter. My girlfriend and I do not want to install a new furnace and a forced air heating system. We just don't. We are considering a wood stove or a RMH, but have a couple of concerns:

- This is a three bedroom house. One floor plus an attic. Would a RMH in the living room heat the whole house?
- This house has a basement. Can you build a 2 metric ton thermal mass a the first floor, or would it be too heavy and we'd have to build it in the basement?
- Okay, so we are warm, but is the RMH going to prevent the pipes from freezing? This is our main concern.

You guys are awesome. Thank you.
 
John Elliott
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Was this a HUD house? How else could you buy a house with a stolen furnace? Was the old furnace in the basement?

Those are just preliminary questions. To know if the floor will support 2 tons of weight, we also need to know how the weight will be distributed and how sturdy the floor joists are.

You can make a RMH put out enough BTUs to equal the old furnace, that's not the problem. But if the heat does not get distributed, say to the bedrooms, or to the pipes, there could be the problem of you and the pipes freezing. How open is the floor plan and how well insulated is the house? Can you use the ductwork to force some air around the M of the RMH? Say move some of the duct so it is opposite of the exhaust stack in the mass heater? That way you will have countercurrent heat exchange from the warm mass that is distributed to the rest of the house.

Give us some more details Brandon, and I'm sure we Permies can help you keep from spending coin for a new furnace.
 
Brandon Fannin
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It was a HUD home, yes. And the old furnace was in the basement.

My girlfriend claims the house is well insulated but, I haven't had a personal look at the insulation to see for sure. The floor plan is relatively open and the house is only 800 some square feet so I think heat distribution might be easier than other places.

I'm new to RMH so I'm not sure what you mean by this statement:

"Can you use the ductwork to force some air around the M of the RMH? Say move some of the duct so it is opposite of the exhaust stack in the mass heater? That way you will have countercurrent heat exchange from the warm mass that is distributed to the rest of the house."

I was definitely planning on making the mass long and running ductwork, but will the heat from the duct heat a long mass with no problem? Could we build a RMH in the basement with the mass being a cob chimney with duct work that just diverts all exhaust to the current chimney?

I will try to get some pictures for you so that you can be better equipped to give advice.

Thank you!
 
Charles Tarnard
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Location: PDX Zone 8b 1/6th acre
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What he's asking is if you can funnel some air over a section of the cob and then into the old duct system. Possibly build some ducting over a section and then use a fan to force the air through the house.

I haven't built a RMH, so I can't really answer the questions about length of duct or mass as part of the riser. Sorry about that.
 
John Elliott
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Brandon, it sounds like you have stumbled onto the Russian solution to heating the izba (house): put a big enormous stove in the center of the house, preferably in the basement, and the mass of the thing will keep the rest of the house warm. Apparently the Russians know a thing or two about keeping warm in the winter.

Speaking of which, here is a link to a Russian site that has 100+ pages of pictures of different kinds of house warming stoves. Some of the pages even show stoves/fireplaces in the process of construction. You might see something there that will inspire you for your house.
 
Satamax Antone
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Location: Southern alps, on the French side of the french /italian border 5000ft high Southern alpine climate.
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Brandon, speaking of mass. I don't know for sure for the us. I live in france. But over here, any building is suposed to have joists supporting 300kg per M² If it the same in your house, spread the mass over 5 or 6 m², and you should be fine. You can get more mass if you are against the walls, where the joist fit in the wall or a beam. If they are not roten. You can also make a few posts or concrete block piers in your basement.

The other question is, do you have a spot in your living room for a stove? A fireplace? Because in some of your houses, you have thoses chimneys running the whole height of the house, and it would be a shame not to take advantage of this. Few pics would be handy.
 
William Bronson
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Al hasn't weighed in yet, but there are some good reasons to not put a rocket in the basement, having to do with draft and the operators attention.

 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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As to the pipes, well... IT DEPENDS.

If all you pipes are in interior walls (as they SHOULD BE in the great white north), then the RMH should keep the basement above freezing. If you have pipes in/near exterior walls or the bathroom is at the end of a hallway on the northern wall, then you might have a problem. You can do the heat tape solution, it is way cheaper than a new furnace.

You need to doublecheck your paperwork, sometimes there are rules and stipulations in the contract or mortgage or local zoning that say you WILL have a working furnace or you can't live there. Paul calls the the department of make you sad for a reason.
 
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