February 04, 2003

Woodheat Nuts and Bolts

Ta da! PART SEVEN! The last installment! If for some bizarre reason you are interested in reading all segments of this novella (a reader recently expressed amazement that I could say this many words about creosote. Pullleeeze. Remember who you're talking to!)... for now, just type in ETERNAL in the search box to the right to find the previous SIX parts. But don't think you are, as they say, outta the woods. More woodlore coming soon...

I'll spare you for now and put off til later describing my aesthetic sense, philosphy or environmental ethic that makes me burn wood instead of some 'easier, cleaner' heat source. And I won't tell here about the tricks I've learned that have made woodgathering easy enough to do, even if some of your joints don't work so well anymore, like mine. We'll have a while between the end of winter and the beginning of the gardening year to get into all that.

Here I just want describe the 'state of the union' in our current wood-heating arrangement. There may be parts of these details that will be helpful to you if you are considering wood heat. Particularly, the links contain everything you need to know to 'do it right'. If you are considering wood heat, by all means, take advantage of this information. Such was not readily available 25 years ago when we were in the creosote-making business.

These are the elements that make for the safest, most efficient wood burning we have had in our long history with woodstoves:

An efficient, low emission woodstove, the Quadrafire 3100 by Aladdin Stoveworks. It's glass doors stay clean and let us enjoy the aesthetics of a fireplace without the smoke and sparks. It burns so efficiently that after the first 10 minutes of starting the fire, nothing but heatwaves come out the top of the chimney; all the smoke is burned in the stove, which also increases the energy yield of the stove. Due to the way this stove is made, very little heat is given off from below or behind the stove and it does not produce the too-hot searing heat you may experienced with other stoves.

A 'zero-clearance' thimble, and triple wall smoke pipe from stove to thimble as well as inside the chimney. In addition, there is poured insulation (of a vermiculite quality) inside the chimney surrounding the triple wall stainless steel pipe. This combination assures that the stove gasses remain hot... well above creosote-distillation temperatures... until they leave the chimney.

Dry firewood. I so far have managed to stay a year or more ahead, not to mention the fact that I cut down or dead wood almost exclusively. I pretty much already have next years firewood over in the pasture. Later today, I will be working on cutting the following year's wood. Hint: when you look at the cut ends of stove-length wood, if you see cracks radiating like spokes of a wheel, the wood is dry enough to burn.

There is no reason for you to be afraid of wood heat. There is plenty of help out there to teach you how to do it right. Here is one of the best all-round guides I have found. However...

Don't go into heating with wood as a cheap alternative to gas or electrical heat. At least not initially. Depending on what you pay for firewood (hopefully you can get it for the price of the sweat and blisters), an efficient stove and proper setup may take a few years til payback. Don't be cheap with any element of chimney construction or stove setup (follow all codes and recommendations re clearance, etc). Trust me. The dollars buy a lot of peace of mind and the joy and satisfaction you will experience in the woodburning lifestyle... money can't buy.

Soon to come: An illustrated Guide to the Ergonomic Woodpile

Posted by fred1st at February 4, 2003 05:01 AM | TrackBack

Fred, as much as I've teased you about this, I agree with you and Gene Logsdon (The Contrary Farmer) that burning wood for heat is actually a quasi political statement in that it frees you from dependence on at least one Utility company. I'm hoping that you'll expand on this idea, if that's where you're planning on going with this...

But, Fred, seriously, CEREAL?


Posted by: Red at February 4, 2003 07:23 AM

I can attest, from personal experience, that's it is a good thing to have all the pieces of stove pipe "in union".

Especially at 9 PM at night, on Super Bowl Sunday, when the temperature is already an all-time record low and getting lower fast. :)

Posted by: Jim Calloway (aka JC South) at February 4, 2003 10:06 AM

" and it does produce the too-hot searing heat you may experienced with other stoves. "

I'm thinking you meant to say "it does NOT".

Posted by: Pascale Soleil at February 5, 2003 12:32 PM

Sorry, the copy-editor in me is on a rampage:

"Later today, I will go be working"

go be???

Posted by: Pascale Soleil at February 5, 2003 12:33 PM

Post a comment

Remember Me?