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Walkout basement rocket mass heater

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I am in the very beginning stages of designing/laying out a heater for my home. A few details. I know nothing. I did buy Ernie and Erica's DVD. I live in southwestern Michigan and regularly get measurements in the feet of snow due to lake effect and we see sub zero temps in January and February. My home is a 1800sqft walkout ranch with the walkout side having western exposure and a nice large window. I have a very low roof pitch of either 3 or 4 twelve. I want to put a rocket mass heater in my walkout basement where I have a large finished area. I have looked at the possibility of putting it on the main level but with the weight the shoring expenses would make the project not worth while. I don't want to heat the upstairs with this, Just the basement and only about 800-1000ft of that. Ernie and Erica had expressed that there can be issues with putting these in basements but unless I buy a new home it's really my only choice. So, my questions are all based around why it's bad to put one in a basement and how to overcome it. Is a walkout as bad as a normal basement? How high above the peak of my roof do I need to go to get good draft with the exhaust pipe. In their DVD Ernie and Erica showed that opening a second story window could cause the system to vent backwards, I don't have a second story, will my main floor windows cause the same thing? If the windows are never opened on the main floor will things be ok? Honestly, I cant see why I would open them in the winter anyways but I could see opening a door on that level. What are the temperatures of the exhaust on a rocket mass heater? Temperatures of the exhaust pipe? Whats the maximum length the system can be with 8" pipe? Any advise at all that will help on installing one of these in a walkout basement will be of help. Yes, we will be in this space for the majority of the time this is running. The idea is to winterize the main level so that no pipes freeze and live in the lower level through winter. I have full plumbing in this section so it will be like an apartment. Thanks in advance.
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Howdy Miles, welcome to permies!

I am sure some of our Rocketeers will be along soon to help you out.

In the mean time be sure to read through some of the old threads. They may answer some of your questions.
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Location: Dubuque, ia
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This book will help you, I would like to put a RSMH in my walk out basement too but than it would be too warm for potatoes and carrots to overwinter.
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Location: AR ~ozark mountain range~zone7a
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Hey Miles, a picture of the walkout basement area would help a lot, resized pictures down to the size of 45kb uploads to the internet quickly, it would help if you could indicate on your picture where you expect to place your RMH & related chimney.

Without a picture, I might simply run the vertical length of chimney on the outside of the building, thereby avoiding any troubles caused by open doors or windows or whatever. I like the idea of your walkout basement location, supporting heat for the plumbing, and possibly support a large dry storage area for firewood. Generally an outdoor or indoor straight vertical chimney that rises above the roof by 3' or so, will draft your RMH quite well, the idea is to capture as much heat within the mass, and then dump the remainder via the chimney. You might think about the flow of natural air currents over your roof, and as those currents wash along the roofline, avoid placing the chimney where the exhaust, washed from the chimney might flow into your doorway.

james beam
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