Into the world of wood heat.

October 8th, 2008

Filed under: Life and Everything Else

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For a long time Sarah and I have been dreaming about getting a wood stove, both to add a physical and emotional warmth of our home as well as to offset our usage of heating oil. In September we got our first heating oil delivery at $3.80/gallon and decided that it was time to get off the fence and buy a wood stove. We spent quite a bit of time looking at stoves and fell in love with the the Hearthstone Heritage. A few of the things we liked about it were

  1. It’s made of solid 1.5-inch-thick soapstone which supposedly remains hot for hours after the fire has died.
  2. The stone construction means that the heat is even and less intense than a metal stove, allowing for smaller clearances to the wall and passers-by.
  3. It’s pretty
  4. It is locally made in Morrisville, Vermont.
  5. Side-door for easy loading
  6. Advanced non-catalytic combustion system emits 2.77 grams/hour of particulate matter, a.k.a smoke (average is 5 g/h, older stoves emit 60-90 g/h).

After purchasing the stove a week and a half ago I picked it up from the Chimney Sweep on my utility trailer last Friday and spent the past weekend assembling the hearth pad out of two layers of Micore 300 (an insulating ceramic-fiber board) and some slate tiles. I still need to trim the hearth with wood for aesthetic purposes, but that can wait.

While I was expecting the stove to be heavy, I hadn’t realized how much weight 475 pounds is. There was no way I was going to move this stove alone. This evening (Wednesday) I rented a ramp and wheeled pallet jack to minimize the lifting and recruited the help of 5 strong friends in moving the stove. It took four of us to lift the stove at all and we made use of all six of us shuffling together to carry the stove 4 feet from the pallet jack into its final resting place. That many hands made as light work of the job as possible and all in all the move took about 15 minutes.

This coming weekend I’ll install the chimney if the weather is good and we’ll hopefully soon be heating with wood. Thanks again Alex, Bryan, Dean, John, and Jonathan for your help!

2 Responses to “Into the world of wood heat.”

  1. Ed Gon 19 Jan 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Hi Adam – hows the woodstove? I am thinking of getting one and cames across yoru blog. Does it take a long time to heat up? This review gave me concern http://hearth.com/ratesingles/rate1595.html

  2. Adam Francoon 19 Jan 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Hi Ed,

    We have now been using the stove for 3 months and really love it. We have a small house 900 sq-ft, but with cathedral ceilings that suck up the hot air. We have generally kept our oil-furnace thermostat at 50-60 degrees as backup and to keep the pipes from freezing and use the wood-stove for our primary heating.

    If the house is cold when we come home at 5pm and build a fire, the house doesn’t really get warm until about 6:30-7pm. The fire puts out a lot of heat, but it is absorbed by the stone until the stone warms up. While a bit of heat comes through the wonderfully large glass door, the house is really heated indirectly by the hot stone. This is what gives the stove its nice even heat.

    Even with a fire cranking, the stone never has gotten scalding hot. It wouldn’t feel good to leave your hand on it, but the cat running across it or someone bumping into the stove won’t be a problem. Our cats actually sleep between the stove and wall unless the fire is going very strong.

    Once the stove does warm up, the heat just keeps going and going with very slow swings in temperature. On weekends we stock it up, let it burn now to coals, then stock it up again, and the house stays a nice even 71 degrees all day. If I stock it full at 11pm and turn down the air control there will be a bed of coals in the still-hot stove at 8am, ready for more wood.

    The other reviewer is accurate, but the downsides listed haven’t been a problem for us. As he mentions, we do have a tight modern house with backup heat, so the warm-up delay hasn’t been a problem. One does need to leave the door ajar for the first 20 minutes to get the fire going. I haven’t had an issue with this though as there is a large 3″ high lip at the front of the stove that keeps logs from rolling into the glass and keeps things contained. Every wood stove I’ve ever used has required the door to be cracked while starting, so I don’t consider this to be a big deal.

    This year we have been burning mostly old standing dead-wood with good results. I haven’t ever bought ‘seasoned’ wood, so I can’t comment as to how well it burns in this stove.

    One last thing: The ash tray on this stove is absolutely worthless. I don’t know why they even bothered to build it in. I tried to use it twice and got ashes everywhere. Its much easier and cleaner just to shovel out the ashes directly. Since those first attempts I have never even opened the ash-door, so the air control position has never been a problem for me.

    – Adam

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