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Heating advice

 
pollinator
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Ben Holler wrote:I would go with a propane stove long before going to pellets.  Pellet pricing and availability it pretty volatile.  Pellets take way more work than propane for about the same cost



Hard to know if that will be true going forward. Prices on natural gas seem to be going ballistic due to supply shortages globally. It's going to be an interesting ride. Not sure about propane, but I would keep an eye out.
 
pollinator
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Location: Iron River MI zone 3b
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Ben Holler wrote:The first thing that needs to be done is have the chimney checked by a pro?  I can't believe none of the HVAC guys have done that.

As far as wood heat goes do you have a chimney durable for venting a woodstove?  There absolutely are good efficent woodstoves available.  But they are not cheap and you are going to need a good chimney to make it work properly.



Apparently the pros all have more important things to do than return a call or come help me out. I’ve called like 12 different companies and haven’t gotten one to come out yet.

I’ve really got no reason to suspect a draft issue. The boiler is vented through the chimney with an insert the entire way. It’s completely screened off on top so nothing bigger than a gnat could get in. The bottom doesn’t look sooted up. But the pilot/ignitor are in horrible shape and the heat exchanger is all sooted up on the right side, which corresponds to the burner that had flames rolling out. So the plan is to replace the pilot and ignitor and clean the heat exchanger as best I can. Then I’ll fire it up and see what happens. If it still sucks ill check the draft but that will be a pain so I’m hoping it’s unnecessary.

We do have a chimney already but the boiler is vented through it and that sleeve/insert takes up a large portion of the chimney space.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Skandi Rogers wrote:We have a pellet furnace in the barn it runs the house, yes there is some loss on the way over better insulation would help, 2400 sqr ft house, poor to non existent insulation we burn around 7 ton of pellets per year for heating and hotwater over 8 months. We load the hopper once every 3 days, but our hopper is only an old oil barrel it could easily be replaced with a bigger one that would need less attention, the furnace needs cleaning once a week, but that can be done while it's running and it needs a proper clean twice a year for which it needs to be cold.  The great thing about the pellet furnace is it runs when you are out, and at night. However I still want to replace our backup oil furnace inside the house with a wood furnace. Our pellet furnace can also burn wood, though it is a pest to do it it can be done in an emergency, all it requires is a grate that fits inside and telling the furnace what is going on.  
Many people round here use straw furnaces and grain furnaces, straw ones can burn anything really and scrap wood is pretty common, grain furnaces can burn anything that will fit up the auger, so grain, wood chips, or pellets.



This is all such good information. I had no idea there were that many different kinds of stoves for burning different materials for heat!
 
pollinator
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I would definitely try cleaning everything up to see if you can get it burning properly, chimney, chimney cap everything should be checked.

As alternatives I would go with an outdoor wood boiler to keep the mess outside.

I did design an efficient small house for someone this spring and we went with a propane fired hot water heater that went through a heat exchanger which fed in floor heating to the whole place. So one hot water heater could heat both domestic hot water and heat the house. I can't recall the price exactly but it was $1200-$1500 before install.
 
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Douglas Alpenstock wrote:

Ben Holler wrote:I would go with a propane stove long before going to pellets.  Pellet pricing and availability it pretty volatile.  Pellets take way more work than propane for about the same cost



Hard to know if that will be true going forward. Prices on natural gas seem to be going ballistic due to supply shortages globally. It's going to be an interesting ride. Not sure about propane, but I would keep an eye out.



Yes that is true.  But I have seen pellet pricing all over the place as well.  In the past 10 years pellets have skyrocketed and there have been supply issues in many areas.  
 
Ben Holler
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Brody Ekberg wrote:

Ben Holler wrote:The first thing that needs to be done is have the chimney checked by a pro?  I can't believe none of the HVAC guys have done that.

As far as wood heat goes do you have a chimney durable for venting a woodstove?  There absolutely are good efficent woodstoves available.  But they are not cheap and you are going to need a good chimney to make it work properly.



Apparently the pros all have more important things to do than return a call or come help me out. I’ve called like 12 different companies and haven’t gotten one to come out yet.

I’ve really got no reason to suspect a draft issue. The boiler is vented through the chimney with an insert the entire way. It’s completely screened off on top so nothing bigger than a gnat could get in. The bottom doesn’t look sooted up. But the pilot/ignitor are in horrible shape and the heat exchanger is all sooted up on the right side, which corresponds to the burner that had flames rolling out. So the plan is to replace the pilot and ignitor and clean the heat exchanger as best I can. Then I’ll fire it up and see what happens. If it still sucks ill check the draft but that will be a pain so I’m hoping it’s unnecessary.

We do have a chimney already but the boiler is vented through it and that sleeve/insert takes up a large portion of the chimney space.



The reason to suspect draft issues is the fact that your symptoms point to draft issues.   Do you know if the liner is stainless or aluminum?  Many HVAC contractors will use aluminum liners that simply do not hold up.  

Honestly checking the draft should have been the first step for any HVAC tech who came out.  

The liner for your furnace may or may not be suitable for venting a wood or pellet unit.  That is something you would need to find out.  And if it isn't between a new stove and a liner or chimney to run it you will be at if not over the 6000 for a new furnace
 
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Hi Brody,  you wrote

3. When heating with wood, how do you leave for a day or two without pipes freezing? I guess you either dont, you get help from someone else, or you have back up heat right?  



Here is a fix for your pipes when you want to leave.   Water runs downhill,  Gravity always shows up for work.  I would reposition the pipe runs in my home to drain at one point, Just make a little notch under the pipe in the floor joist, not much is needed, 1/4 in for every 10 feet. Put a hose valve that doesn't freeze in the winter, connected to the pipes.  Turn off the pump, open the valve and you can drain the house, The pressure tank and hot water heater have their own valves. I would also put a little rv antifreze in the drain traps. Then come back later before I leaving and close the valve. Pipes don't break when they freeze.  So its a solution for not having heat if you are using wood. If you have 1 solid pex line pull it out and run it under the floor joists with hangers giving it that downward slope all the way could be easier and faster than notching joists a bit.

Happy Heating
 
Brody Ekberg
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Ben Holler wrote:
The reason to suspect draft issues is the fact that your symptoms point to draft issues.   Do you know if the liner is stainless or aluminum?  Many HVAC contractors will use aluminum liners that simply do not hold up.  

Honestly checking the draft should have been the first step for any HVAC tech who came out.  

The liner for your furnace may or may not be suitable for venting a wood or pellet unit.  That is something you would need to find out.  And if it isn't between a new stove and a liner or chimney to run it you will be at if not over the 6000 for a new furnace



Our flame rollout could point to draft issues, but if there were draft issues wouldn’t all the burners be equally messed up? I mean, if the chimney liner is plugged or falling apart then none of the boilers burners would be able to properly vent, but theres only 1 burner with issues and the heat exchanger directly above that burner is sooty and filthy. To me, that seems like the issue. Now, if I can clean that and still have issues then I will suspend draft issues for the chimney/liner. Does that logic make sense? Im all new to this.

I think the liner is aluminum but I would have to check it out more to be sure.

And yes, I agree about the HVAC company. I’m starting to think they did a pretty bad job. I watched them a bit to learn how to clean our burners, but didn’t want to hover and babysit them. Maybe I should have. Either way, they wont be back here unless of an emergency.
 
master pollinator
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Ben Holler wrote:

Douglas Alpenstock wrote:

Ben Holler wrote:I would go with a propane stove long before going to pellets.  Pellet pricing and availability it pretty volatile.  Pellets take way more work than propane for about the same cost



Hard to know if that will be true going forward. Prices on natural gas seem to be going ballistic due to supply shortages globally. It's going to be an interesting ride. Not sure about propane, but I would keep an eye out.



Yes that is true.  But I have seen pellet pricing all over the place as well.  In the past 10 years pellets have skyrocketed and there have been supply issues in many areas.  



That hasn't been the case here, but I'm sure that location has a large part in that.  There are a lot of wood industries in this area.  Prices for the years we have had a pellet stove have been stable.  We get ours at Tractor Supply and they have been steadily at about $205.00 a ton if you buy them on sale.  So far there has been a sale every year, but that may change.  Right now they are at $235.00 a ton.  We buy 4 tons in the fall and it's been close a few years, but we haven't run out.
 
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Six years ago I had to do someting like this. Stove is in the basement, and we have a second floor, and about 3,000Sq ft.

I bought an Ideal Steel stove from Woodstock Soapstone. These are pricey!! But it works. Your house is smaller, but your climate is colder (I am zone 6). I am absolutely thrilled with this stove. It is extremely efficient, and keeps our whole house warm. We love it and it is absolutely worth the money and then some.

https://www.woodstove.com/
woodstove.com/ideal-steel-hybrid-wood-stove

Your biggest problem will be wood. You will need much more wood than you think you need. Estimate it any way you please, then triple the estimate and pray for an early spring.

It is too late now to get good wood for this winter, unless you are paying for it somewhere.

God bless
 
Brody Ekberg
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T S Rodriguez wrote:Six years ago I had to do someting like this. Stove is in the basement, and we have a second floor, and about 3,000Sq ft.

I bought an Ideal Steel stove from Woodstock Soapstone. These are pricey!! But it works. Your house is smaller, but your climate is colder (I am zone 6). I am absolutely thrilled with this stove. It is extremely efficient, and keeps our whole house warm. We love it and it is absolutely worth the money and then some.

https://www.woodstove.com/
woodstove.com/ideal-steel-hybrid-wood-stove

Your biggest problem will be wood. You will need much more wood than you think you need. Estimate it any way you please, then triple the estimate and pray for an early spring.

It is too late now to get good wood for this winter, unless you are paying for it somewhere.

God bless



As of now, I believe I’ve fixed our boiler. It’s still 13 years old and I would still like to come up with a sustainable alternative before it actually dies though, so I’ll keep this in mind! Thanks for the link!
 
gardener
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Brody Ekberg wrote:

As of now, I believe I’ve fixed our boiler.



That's good to hear. There are rumours that winter is coming again this year.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Michael Helmersson wrote:

Brody Ekberg wrote:

As of now, I believe I’ve fixed our boiler.



That's good to hear. There are rumours that winter is coming again this year.



Based off of our fall so far, I’m thinking it might be coming hard and fast! Our trees pretty much went from green to bare over the last 2 weeks. The fall color season was about 5 days long here.
 
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Location: Saanich ,B.C. (zone 8/9), 700mm precip.
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So, taking  a permie perspective since this is a forum for that kind of stuff...going back to permie ethics: care of the people, care of the earth, return of surplus.

Also, you seem interested in spending little, no need for comfort ("just don't freeze") and want some "independence" in your heating supply.

[1] earthcare: ditch the effing propane. It is a greenhouse gas creator, non-renewable and has a LONG supply chain that makes/keeps you totally dependent on outside systems.

[2] people care: ditch the effing propane (see the pattern here?)...burning it is toxic. Fires kill people dramatically . Carbon monoxide kills too but in your sleep. Nuff said.

This gives you some options.

[a] If I were really tight for money, I would:
- insulate the attic
- seal cracks in the ceiling with foam (from the  attic)
- seal cracks in the basement with foam
- insulate the basement walls
- plastic up the windows
- weatherstrip the doors and windows
- buy a couple of electric space heaters to "stop freezing"

[b] If I had a bit more money, I would:
-do everything above except buying electric heaters
- buy an electric heat pump with electric backup
- put in a nice little woodstove like a Jotul for backup / coziness if I had access to wood.

You will have a system that is [1] good to people (safe) and [2] good to the earth (electric and /or renewable wood energy). Long term North America is phasing out propane, oil, natural gas for heating so will be forced down this road ultimately. Along the "phase out" expect the propane/oil/gas prices to go WAY WAY up, so you will slao save money.

What I suggest will cost some money. The cheaper option (space heaters) will cost more  per year to run though. At a point though you will have to pay somehow for heating: either in conservation, better equipment or operating/fuel costs...if you own a house you gotta pay to run it!

By the way option #2  is exactly what I did except I don't need the wood stove and have an old wood fireplace if I need it for backup. Transitioned a 1950s rancher house that burned a LOT of oil by adding a shit-tonne of attic and basement insulation and crack sealing into a reasonably good building (still with single-paned windows though - - infinite payback on upgrading those) then kicked that oil furnace's ass to the recycling center for a heat pump (that came with air conditioning to help during this summer's heat bomb).
 
Ben Holler
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Kelly Finigan wrote:So, taking  a permie perspective since this is a forum for that kind of stuff...going back to permie ethics: care of the people, care of the earth, return of surplus.

Also, you seem interested in spending little, no need for comfort ("just don't freeze") and want some "independence" in your heating supply.

[1] earthcare: ditch the effing propane. It is a greenhouse gas creator, non-renewable and has a LONG supply chain that makes/keeps you totally dependent on outside systems.

[2] people care: ditch the effing propane (see the pattern here?)...burning it is toxic. Fires kill people dramatically . Carbon monoxide kills too but in your sleep. Nuff said.

This gives you some options.

[a] If I were really tight for money, I would:
- insulate the attic
- seal cracks in the ceiling with foam (from the  attic)
- seal cracks in the basement with foam
- insulate the basement walls
- plastic up the windows
- weatherstrip the doors and windows
- buy a couple of electric space heaters to "stop freezing"

[b] If I had a bit more money, I would:
-do everything above except buying electric heaters
- buy an electric heat pump with electric backup
- put in a nice little woodstove like a Jotul for backup / coziness if I had access to wood.

You will have a system that is [1] good to people (safe) and [2] good to the earth (electric and /or renewable wood energy). Long term North America is phasing out propane, oil, natural gas for heating so will be forced down this road ultimately. Along the "phase out" expect the propane/oil/gas prices to go WAY WAY up, so you will slao save money.

What I suggest will cost some money. The cheaper option (space heaters) will cost more  per year to run though. At a point though you will have to pay somehow for heating: either in conservation, better equipment or operating/fuel costs...if you own a house you gotta pay to run it!

By the way option #2  is exactly what I did except I don't need the wood stove and have an old wood fireplace if I need it for backup. Transitioned a 1950s rancher house that burned a LOT of oil by adding a shit-tonne of attic and basement insulation and crack sealing into a reasonably good building (still with single-paned windows though - - infinite payback on upgrading those) then kicked that oil furnace's ass to the recycling center for a heat pump (that came with air conditioning to help during this summer's heat bomb).



I agree with everything you said.  But would like to point out that if you are planning on relying on an open fireplace as a backup heat source you are most likely going to be very cold.  In most cases an open fireplace is negatively efficient.  Meaning you suck more heated air out of the house than they contribute.  
 
pollinator
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Couple of points to remember from previous comments;
- heat pumps are not efficient at low ambient temperatures.
- changing the open fireplace to a combustion heater will cut fuel usage dramatically, possibly by 2/3s.

I would continue with a propane back up until it becomes impractical
 
Kelly Finigan
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Hey Ben, this is exactly 100% totally correct!

"But would like to point out that if you are planning on relying on an open fireplace as a backup heat source you are most likely going to be very cold.  In most cases an open fireplace is negatively efficient.  Meaning you suck more heated air out of the house than they contribute.  "

We have stacks of free dry wood and only use this when the winter storms knock the power out...goal is only for localized / room heat til the power comes back on (say up to 12 hours)...the old folks do love the ambience though and sit close to it...us mid-agers and the young'uns find it too hot close up but if it was a winter night I think we'd all huddle around it and get the sleeping bags out...or maybe the insulation would pay off and the house might only lose heat slowly. Fireplace is a shitty heating method really.

If we need backup more often  - - or if I someday feel I have too much money - -  I might throw a small stove in the fireplace surround...tight fit though so it would need to be real tiny...maybe a Hobbit or a ship's stove.
 
Ben Holler
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Kelly Finigan wrote:Hey Ben, this is exactly 100% totally correct!

"But would like to point out that if you are planning on relying on an open fireplace as a backup heat source you are most likely going to be very cold.  In most cases an open fireplace is negatively efficient.  Meaning you suck more heated air out of the house than they contribute.  

"

We have stacks of free dry wood and only use this when the winter storms knock the power out...goal is only for localized / room heat til the power comes back on (say up to 12 hours)...the old folks do love the ambience though and sit close to it...us mid-agers and the young'uns find it too hot close up but if it was a winter night I think we'd all huddle around it and get the sleeping bags out...or maybe the insulation would pay off and the house might only lose heat slowly. Fireplace is a shitty heating method really.

If we need backup more often  - - or if I someday feel I have too much money - -  I might throw a small stove in the fireplace surround...tight fit though so it would need to be real tiny...maybe a Hobbit or a ship's stove.

You could always go with an insert in the fireplace.  They work quite well.   Regardless you would need a stainless liner hooked to the stove or insert regardless.  The cost adds up quickly.
 
pollinator
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I second the value of properly sealing and insulating.

We spent $500 to add an extra foot of blown in insulation to our attic (prev was at code which I think was R30) which pushed us closer to R50. Our 1500 ft home is less than 10 yrs old (framed with 2x6's) with six inch, insulated walls and double paned windows. Fortunately all the crack sealing/weather stripping was well done and is still up to snuff.

Our electric furnace came on for the first time this weekend, just in the AM for half an hour, as it went down to 6 Celsius the previous few nights. Our thermostat is set for 19 Celsius in the AM.  It is not uncommon for it to operate at this rate so long as the night temps stay above 5 Celsius at night and above 10 Celsius during the day. When it stays cold (below 10 C) during the day it might kick on again in the early evening (thermostat set for 17C), again for about half an hour. PLUS, it is mid October; furnace used to come on in early September, so it bought us an extra 4-6 weeks with no furnace usage; both at the beginning and end of the season.

Before the extra insulation, the furnace commonly kicked on when it hit 10 C outside, and would come on for at least an hour, 2-3 times a day. I figure it took less than two years for that extra insulation to fully pay for itself.

Initially we were going to go with a heat pump, even put in the concrete and electrical for it, but as the new double wide "came with" an electric furnace we waited to see if the HP was needed. Very glad we skipped adding it OR paying $17,000 they wanted at the time to have the natural gas line run to our home. This year they ran it down our road and we COULD connect to it now for a couple of hundred dollars (plus the cost of new appliances..). Somehow I seriously doubt we will ever exercise that option now that we understand fracking and the environmental cost of "Natural Gas".
 
Brody Ekberg
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Kelly Finigan wrote:So, taking  a permie perspective since this is a forum for that kind of stuff...going back to permie ethics: care of the people, care of the earth, return of surplus.

Also, you seem interested in spending little, no need for comfort ("just don't freeze") and want some "independence" in your heating supply.

[1] earthcare: ditch the effing propane. It is a greenhouse gas creator, non-renewable and has a LONG supply chain that makes/keeps you totally dependent on outside systems.

[2] people care: ditch the effing propane (see the pattern here?)...burning it is toxic. Fires kill people dramatically . Carbon monoxide kills too but in your sleep. Nuff said.

This gives you some options.

[a] If I were really tight for money, I would:
- insulate the attic
- seal cracks in the ceiling with foam (from the  attic)
- seal cracks in the basement with foam
- insulate the basement walls
- plastic up the windows
- weatherstrip the doors and windows
- buy a couple of electric space heaters to "stop freezing"

[b] If I had a bit more money, I would:
-do everything above except buying electric heaters
- buy an electric heat pump with electric backup
- put in a nice little woodstove like a Jotul for backup / coziness if I had access to wood.

You will have a system that is [1] good to people (safe) and [2] good to the earth (electric and /or renewable wood energy). Long term North America is phasing out propane, oil, natural gas for heating so will be forced down this road ultimately. Along the "phase out" expect the propane/oil/gas prices to go WAY WAY up, so you will slao save money.

What I suggest will cost some money. The cheaper option (space heaters) will cost more  per year to run though. At a point though you will have to pay somehow for heating: either in conservation, better equipment or operating/fuel costs...if you own a house you gotta pay to run it!

By the way option #2  is exactly what I did except I don't need the wood stove and have an old wood fireplace if I need it for backup. Transitioned a 1950s rancher house that burned a LOT of oil by adding a shit-tonne of attic and basement insulation and crack sealing into a reasonably good building (still with single-paned windows though - - infinite payback on upgrading those) then kicked that oil furnace's ass to the recycling center for a heat pump (that came with air conditioning to help during this summer's heat bomb).



I would like to ditch the propane and plan to at some point. As of now, I’ve got our boiler running good again so this doesn’t have to be an immediate action plan, which is a huge relief! I’m in Michigan’s upper peninsula and, as of now, about 60% of our electricity comes from burning coal. Plus it’s expensive. Only 8% of the midwests energy is renewable as of now. Obviously that will change over the next years but that’s where we are at now. So electric space heaters are a last resort to me. I work for an electric utility and know how much those things cost to run. Many peoples high bills in winter are from a space heater or two. They can literally double your electric bill. But, I would love to put solar panels on our garage and get us set up for using as much solar as possible in the future, so an electric heat source may be in the plan for the future. Actually, id like to burn wood and have something electric for backup ideally.

Our attic does have insulation, probably at least 8-10”, but I’m sure I could add more. The basement is a poured foundation and I feel like insulating that would be difficult, plus, it stays in the high 50s year round down there which is nice for storing a lot of stuff from the garden. Our windows are pretty bad and we want to get new ones whenever we happen to have a few thousand dollars “extra” dollars to spend. But I do put plastic on them every winter. Will probably do that in the next week or two.

And, although I would happily wear more clothes and be a little cool in the house, my wife is on a different page. She’s dresses for winter if its 50 degrees, so we will want the house to be reasonably comfortable regardless of how we make that happen.

As far as heat pumps go, I know pretty much nothing about them or how they work.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Ben Holler wrote:
I agree with everything you said.  But would like to point out that if you are planning on relying on an open fireplace as a backup heat source you are most likely going to be very cold.  In most cases an open fireplace is negatively efficient.  Meaning you suck more heated air out of the house than they contribute.  



I definitely dont want an open fireplace. I mean, theyre beautiful and nostalgic and if one was already in the house I might keep it. But i would never install one. My parents have one and we use it around Christmas. The house gets super cold aside from the one room with the fireplace.
 
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I live in Eastern Ontario so have similar climate. My house is 1500 sqf but is a modern built with R40 in roof and R30 in walls.  I hear exclusively with wood. I tried multiple types of wood stoves before settling on a Sedore 2000. It's keeps my house quite was warm and burns for 14 hours which for me was huge. All other stoves I tried would go out while I was at work.

The Sedore is a biomass furnace. Will burn firewood , pellets, wood chips, and corn. I only burn firewood though. It is a bottom draft stove (fire normally only at bottom) but it's also top loading so any imperfectly seasoned wood placed on top gets naked dry by time it gets to fire. But there is no viewing window 😔.

Heating with wood is exclusively means no winter vacations in the sun for you. Otherwise pipes will freeze. Maybe talk to a plumber about draining pipes and putting antifreeze in sink and toilet traps.
 
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This advice may be a little late, but I will share our journey. We bought our first house in 1982. Only wood heat. Full time job if you don't have good dry, good sized, wood. 2 tiny kids if we left for more than a few hours I put them to bed in their snow suits. If we left for the weekend, we emptied cabinets into the tub and heated bathroom with an oil filled electric radiator. That felt safer than those with the glowing red coils. When we could, we put in a boiler with hydronic base boards. Payed less for gas than when we had to buy wood but install was expensive, and when we had to replace it, even more so. My nephew bought a house with hydronic heat that had sat empty. When he turned on heat and water... Exploding walls from burst pipes. That left me feeling vulnerable in a power outages. When  our boiler died in a Wisconsin January, lots of borrowed electric space heaters were used to prevent that. A wood stove was re installed as security. Moved further north and I love the system my father in law installed in this house in the 70s. Still going strong. Mainly used a wood stove. Installed on lower level. Near the staircase so warm air travels up, vents beneath cabinet kick boards in kitchen and bathroom  increase air flow. Also there is electric base board of a type I wish I knew about before. They are oil filled tubes, each room has it's own thermostat. They can freeze without damage. And have been allowed to do so many times for winter vacations. Because they continue to radiate heat for a long time after electric switch shuts off they are economic to use. Even , affordable, quiet heat. Self contained units. Wired in easy to install. All contractors wanted to sell a forced air furnace, or boiler. Couldn't even find other info when we searched options.wish we'd talked to grandpa in 82. Found the old paperwork these are called Vecto-Ray 2 stage electrical perimeter heaters from cadet manufacturing in Washington.. hope this helps
 
Michael Helmersson
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Diane Woiak wrote: 2 tiny kids if we left for more than a few hours I put them to bed in their snow suits.



That's a good way to raise some tough kids.
 
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Brody Ekberg wrote:

As far as heat pumps go, I know pretty much nothing about them or how they work.



Heat pumps really only work efficiently at temperatures above 40 degrees, so to me, that means they only work well when I need them the least in our climate.
 
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Jeff Marchand wrote:I live in Eastern Ontario so have similar climate. My house is 1500 sqf but is a modern built with R40 in roof and R30 in walls.  I hear exclusively with wood. I tried multiple types of wood stoves before settling on a Sedore 2000. It's keeps my house quite was warm and burns for 14 hours which for me was huge. All other stoves I tried would go out while I was at work.

The Sedore is a biomass furnace. Will burn firewood , pellets, wood chips, and corn. I only burn firewood though. It is a bottom draft stove (fire normally only at bottom) but it's also top loading so any imperfectly seasoned wood placed on top gets naked dry by time it gets to fire. But there is no viewing window 😔.

Heating with wood is exclusively means no winter vacations in the sun for you. Otherwise pipes will freeze. Maybe talk to a plumber about draining pipes and putting antifreeze in sink and toilet traps.



I will definitely look into that stove, it sounds pretty great. Plus, since it would likely be located in our basement, not having a viewing window isnt a big deal. I like the idea of being able to use multiple different materials for heat.

Also, I’m 100% fine with no vacations. I’m more concerned about just leaving for a weekend. But if the stove can burn for 14 hours, the house would definitely stay warm enough to keep things from freezing up if I stoked it up friday afternoon and came home Sunday morning.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Diane Woiak wrote:This advice may be a little late, but I will share our journey. We bought our first house in 1982. Only wood heat. Full time job if you don't have good dry, good sized, wood. 2 tiny kids if we left for more than a few hours I put them to bed in their snow suits. If we left for the weekend, we emptied cabinets into the tub and heated bathroom with an oil filled electric radiator. That felt safer than those with the glowing red coils. When we could, we put in a boiler with hydronic base boards. Payed less for gas than when we had to buy wood but install was expensive, and when we had to replace it, even more so. My nephew bought a house with hydronic heat that had sat empty. When he turned on heat and water... Exploding walls from burst pipes. That left me feeling vulnerable in a power outages. When  our boiler died in a Wisconsin January, lots of borrowed electric space heaters were used to prevent that. A wood stove was re installed as security. Moved further north and I love the system my father in law installed in this house in the 70s. Still going strong. Mainly used a wood stove. Installed on lower level. Near the staircase so warm air travels up, vents beneath cabinet kick boards in kitchen and bathroom  increase air flow. Also there is electric base board of a type I wish I knew about before. They are oil filled tubes, each room has it's own thermostat. They can freeze without damage. And have been allowed to do so many times for winter vacations. Because they continue to radiate heat for a long time after electric switch shuts off they are economic to use. Even , affordable, quiet heat. Self contained units. Wired in easy to install. All contractors wanted to sell a forced air furnace, or boiler. Couldn't even find other info when we searched options.wish we'd talked to grandpa in 82. Found the old paperwork these are called Vecto-Ray 2 stage electrical perimeter heaters from cadet manufacturing in Washington.. hope this helps



Very good information, thank you!
 
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Trace Oswald wrote:

Brody Ekberg wrote:

As far as heat pumps go, I know pretty much nothing about them or how they work.



Heat pumps really only work efficiently at temperatures above 40 degrees, so to me, that means they only work well when I need them the least in our climate.



Yea, same here. 40s is good outside working weather! Im more worried about being prepared for -30!
 
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I was too lazy to read this whole thread, but at one point I lived in a house with heated floors, where the liquid in the pipes in the floor was heated by an outdoor wood furnace. That would be my preference for a large house with a radiator system already installed.

Having heated with wood a lot (two houses with woodstoves, one with a wood furnace) - things to consider when deciding are:
-You need a secondary source of heat. If you go away for a weekend, you DO NOT want your house to freeze and pipes to burst if there is an emergency.  Electricity is a normal alternative source. Even space heaters might work for key rooms.  Rooms do not cool evenly.
-Wood furnaces don't  heat the house when the power is out and the pumps can't run
-Wood stoves heat well line - of sight. Corners, walls, and closed doors significantly impede heat. Fans help but expect corners and side rooms to be cold. Do you have any tucked away bathrooms? Pipes freezing are bad. It's an uneven heat and open floor plan spaces are best.
-Wood is heavy and dirty. You want the woodstove close to a door, and the path to the door to be on easily cleaned surfaces, no doors in the way.
- wood furnaces are typically less efficient than woodstoves but give more even heat (with decent infrastructure).
- Wood furnaces need to be tended less frequent than stoves, and all mess stays outside.
- You typically need to empty a woodstove once a week or so.... This means letting the fire die down and the house cool.

The house I grew up in was heated with 3 woodstoves and pretty poorly insulated - depending on the temperature, we chose how many were running. My bedroom was directly above the best, main stove and I often saw my breath in the morning. It's... An adjustment.  Before I even took off my coat and boots after coming home from school, I loaded the fire - too cold to run around without a jacket. Meals were often eaten in the living room, because it wasn't drafty like the dining room. The bedrooms on the other side of the house were more line of sight to the fire, and were so hot guests had to open windows!

Another house my parents owned was heated with a single woodstove and much smaller. The back rooms were always cold the rest was fine. A third was heated with the wood furnace and radiant floor heating. It was LOVELY and WARM.

My uncle and my aunt both have woodstoves in the basement . They are supplemental heat and decrease the bills significantly (furnace kicks on if temperature drops below a set point)  but do not keep their well insulated traditional style homes comfortable on their own.

Despite all the drawbacks I list, I really miss having a woodstove.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Catie George wrote:Despite all the drawbacks I list, I really miss having a woodstove.


Me too. Sigh.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Catie George wrote:I was too lazy to read this whole thread, but at one point I lived in a house with heated floors, where the liquid in the pipes in the floor was heated by an outdoor wood furnace. That would be my preference for a large house with a radiator system already installed.

Having heated with wood a lot (two houses with woodstoves, one with a wood furnace) - things to consider when deciding are:
-You need a secondary source of heat. If you go away for a weekend, you DO NOT want your house to freeze and pipes to burst if there is an emergency.  Electricity is a normal alternative source. Even space heaters might work for key rooms.  Rooms do not cool evenly.
-Wood furnaces don't  heat the house when the power is out and the pumps can't run
-Wood stoves heat well line - of sight. Corners, walls, and closed doors significantly impede heat. Fans help but expect corners and side rooms to be cold. Do you have any tucked away bathrooms? Pipes freezing are bad. It's an uneven heat and open floor plan spaces are best.
-Wood is heavy and dirty. You want the woodstove close to a door, and the path to the door to be on easily cleaned surfaces, no doors in the way.
- wood furnaces are typically less efficient than woodstoves but give more even heat (with decent infrastructure).
- Wood furnaces need to be tended less frequent than stoves, and all mess stays outside.
- You typically need to empty a woodstove once a week or so.... This means letting the fire die down and the house cool.

The house I grew up in was heated with 3 woodstoves and pretty poorly insulated - depending on the temperature, we chose how many were running. My bedroom was directly above the best, main stove and I often saw my breath in the morning. It's... An adjustment.  Before I even took off my coat and boots after coming home from school, I loaded the fire - too cold to run around without a jacket. Meals were often eaten in the living room, because it wasn't drafty like the dining room. The bedrooms on the other side of the house were more line of sight to the fire, and were so hot guests had to open windows!

Another house my parents owned was heated with a single woodstove and much smaller. The back rooms were always cold the rest was fine. A third was heated with the wood furnace and radiant floor heating. It was LOVELY and WARM.

My uncle and my aunt both have woodstoves in the basement . They are supplemental heat and decrease the bills significantly (furnace kicks on if temperature drops below a set point)  but do not keep their well insulated traditional style homes comfortable on their own.

Despite all the drawbacks I list, I really miss having a woodstove.



Very good information, thanks!

Ive heard the outdoor wood boiler/furnaces are convenient and less messy but also less efficient like you said. But, if I could tie that into our current boiler system so that the furnace heats water flowing through our baseboards, that seems to make sense.

Ive never lives with wood heat, but I spend about 2 weeks a year at deer camp which has a wood stove and know all about uneven heating. It might be 85 degrees in the main room and 60 in a bedroom. That variation isn’t always a bad thing, but definitely can be at times. We used to stoke the fire before bed, sweat all night long and then wake up cold. Now we leave the bedroom door shut at all times that way it never gets hot in there. Much more comfortable!

 
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Thanks Arthur for adding the drain plumbing advice.(sorry this techno -phobe couldn't figure out how to quote you)that was an important part of my father in laws system. I forgot to include. House designed with plumbing all centrally consolidated. Drains in lowest spot. Rv antifreeze in drains keeps pipes from freezing and sewer gas out of house. Also our basement is a walk out. This old lady wouldn't want to carry firewood down stairs. Too much work and unsafe
 
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