A wood burning stove offers a good source of heat at a relatively low-cost. Many wood stoves can be used to cook on and to heat water. This evening, we used our supplemental wood burning stove to not only heat the basement and first floor, but also to heat water for our evening tea.
Above is actually a picture of our wood pile for next year. We got an early start, as it is important to allow the wood to dry and season. Unseasoned wood can cause a lot of creosote build up in the chimney, creating a potential risk of chimney fires.
I will share some tips that we have learned along the way.
First of all, it is important to try to get an efficient wood burning stove, so as to not waste wood and heat. We purchased a used woodburner to begin with. After burning through a lot of wood, we decided that the used wood burning stove had a poor design. This wood burning stove lacked the ability to regulate airflow. In fact, it has only a screen on the front. This created a huge updraft, which resulted in a very rapid burning of the wood.
It is also vital to have some basic equipment. This list includes a chainsaw, a sledgehammer, an ax, several splitting wedges, and a log splitter (this helps). As part of our planning for emergency situations, a group of us split the cost and maintenance of a log splitter 6 ways in order to keep the costs down a bit. We also stocked up on matches and newspaper (something that is becoming harder and harder to find in these days of digital media).
We also learned that it is a good idea to create a quick “flash” or “burst” of heat when first starting the wood stove up. This helps to establish a quick updraft. A downdraft will push smoke into the house, making the smoke detectors go haywire. The extra smoke is also not good for those of us that have allergies. This may be obvious, but wood smoke contains many potential allergens and irritants.
Prior to starting each new fire, I split several smaller pieces of wood using my axe. I chop the piece down into thin pieces, often making 6 to 10 pieces of “kindling” out of each piece of wood. This helps to start the fire in the quickest fashion. Once the smaller pieces start burning, I add pieces of increasing size.
I recommend a wood burning stove that has both a baffle in the chimney/ piping and a slide out air flow regulator on the bottom. This allows me to control the fire from both above and below. Of course, I am still learning as we go, but so far so good.
I am still working on getting a nice passive airflow system down. At the current time, we rely on fans to move the heat around. The chimney was in the house when we purchased it, but it is not in an ideal location. Fortunately for us, this wood burner is not the primary source of heat. We are still buying propane, but hoping to offset the cost a little by burning and using the wood. I feel that this has been a good purchase overall. We also will receive the slight benefit of a 30% tax credit. This credit did not tip the scale on the decision to purchase a woodburning stove, but every little bit helps.