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Sunday, January 9, 2011

I love my Wood Burning Stove

When We purchased this house, the big black box in the middle of my family room was a bit puzzling to me. I've had fireplaces before, and they are good for roasting marshmallows, hanging stockings or warming up the ambiance of a room, but I've found them to be mostly ornamental. "How was I going to use this black box??? I thought to myself". Well since we moved in in the summer I knew I would have time to think about that later.

Well Winter rolled around and our first cold month electric bill came in, and I decided it was time to figure out how to use this black box also known as a "wood burning stove".

After all the basic problems were figured out, how much wood, seasoned or fresh, how long to season, how to get it to light, how to circulate the heat...this big black box has turned into a wonderful tool for keeping warm on cold winter days.

First hurtle, how to start a fire. No gas jet was attached to this thing, not that I've ever had one but getting a good "worth it" fire going was quite the chore. Over time I've conquered this task. And am now the master fire builder in the family.

There is an optional screen, if you want the beauty of the fire, But I usually use the doors.

I can start a fire in the morning and keep it going all day long with minimal effort. And has it helped the electric bill? Youbetcha!!!! Big time, it's like a contest for me every winter, how low can we keep that bill!!!!

So despite the one chimney fire I had, oops!! my fault, Get those chimney's cleaned yearly. I love my black box. Here are a few things I have learned in building and warming your home with fire.

If the heat is not circulating but the fire is going strong, try turning on a ceiling fan on low.
This will push all that hot air that has floated to the ceiling back down to earth where it belongs.

I use the small rectangle fire starters and old phone book pages or newspaper to get the fire going. First I crumple up about8-12 phone book pages and make a bed for the firestarter, and then sit 1/2 of a firestarted on top. I light the pages which in turn will light the firestarter. When it's going I add small branches (not Pine I like to burn Oak) on top of it, and add larger branches then logs as it gets going more and more.

Close the doors, open the vents and leave it alone. Let it do the work of getting started. Closing those doors will keep the heat in and ignight the wood faster. If my wood is wet, I'll place a few pieces inside the fire box on either side of the fire, this will dry them out and they will be ready when it's their turn to be place on the fire.

Fire wood should be stacked for a year to season well. Trying to burn fresh wood is a task in futility.

You can tell well seasoned dry wood by looking at the ends. You'll see cracks there where the rings are. Dry wood is also lighter to carry.

I use kitchen tongs to move my kindling into place and adjust smaller pieces of wood. They are easier for me to control than a long handled grabber.

Right now this is the scene outside my back door, and the temp inside is 70 and the heater is not even going. $$$$$$$$

Do you have a fireplace or woodburning stove. Do you use it to heat your home???
Do you have any hints or tips.


Anonymous said...

After $600 a month gas bills and believe me we were not keeping cozy warm at that, we decided to put a wood burning insert in our fireplace and it is working out wonderfully!
It is a bit messy but that is the only drawback I can find.

One tip is to throw some rock salt in the fire here and there to help keep the chimney pipes from clogging and becoming a fire hazard. If you have glass windows spray with water when cold and use a bit of the ashes and some newsprint to clean it- works great!

bee blessed

Charlotte said...

I had a woodburning stove years ago,and while the electric bills were down, the mess was enough to turn me off. Good luck with yours.

Vee said...

Not any more, but I'd love to have a small woodstove. I had two in the home I first owned and they did a pretty good job of heating a very large home. Still, wood is not easy to work with and it's messy. Even so, I'm willing to have some mess for the coziness of wood heat. Sounds like you've got everything under control...we used to make our own firestarters with recylced newspapers soaking them in water and rolling them with a little fandangled thing into "logs." Most people in our corner are burning wood chips instead of firewood.

Jane said...

I've never had a home with a wood burning stove so I really learned something reading your post. The reduced gas bills sound wonderful!!
Have a great week.

Pattie said...

We have used our woodstove for 20 years and still going strong. It starts the first 40 degree day and goes nonstop till spring! We have a HUGE farmhouse and it heats the whole house. There is nothing like wood heat. The only thing I don't care for is the ash dust that covers every thing. But it's worth the cost and warmth.

Jennifer Pearson Vanier said...

When we moved in to our current home there was a huge airtight wood stove in the original stone hearth.
It is indeed a lot of work to manage the wood and we did all the cutting, splitting, stacking, etc. ourselves. Good, dry hardwood is always the best way to get a good long fire.

Along with the usual tools, there was a long- 36" flat piece of steel, turned ninety degrees six inches from the end. Such a simple, ugly even, implement has been fabulous for dragging the hot coals to the front of the stove, moving around logs etc.

One of the things that my hubby bought which has been most helpful in keeping a good fire in check is a magnetic thermometer stuck to the front of the stove (where it goes up before the top of the stove). We try to keep it always in the "burn zone" so you know it's hot enough to not be creating creosote and running as efficiently as possible. He also rigged a sensor up to the chimney as it exits the stove to measure the flue temperature and attached that to a smoke detector to go off should the temp reach 450 deg. F. That means things are too hot and the flue must be closed a bit as well as the dampers at the front of the stove to reduce the air flow.

He cleans the chimney every spring himself and there is little to clean after a season of good hot fires.

We've been at it for six years now and although there is a learning curve, it has been most welcome during our cold winters in this big stone house. (We are also in the process of moving and I must admit that I will not miss the labour attached to keeping the wood stove running.)
Keep cozy!

Bonnie said...

We have a gas insert in the fireplace and a free standing woodstove in another room. On cold upstate New York days and nights my husband keeps both of them running. There is nothing like the warmth of a wood fire.
Your wood stove and hearth look great and I love the gears that you have on the wall beside it.

Shabby Vintage Junk said...

Heya Margo....!

Growing up in the country here in Oz, these little 'black boxes' are pretty much the standard....I SURE wish we had one here in the city....ESPECIALLY when I receive our gas bill after the winter period ($290- for 3 months)....Mind you....I think we're pretty lucky down here re the cost of power & the fact that we don't have extreme temperatures like some of my US Friends....I can't imagine what it would be like (or cost) to have to keep the heating or cooling on pretty much 24/7....!!

....hahahaha....Does that mean if we, by some WEIRD happening found ourselves on a deserted island together I could rely on you to keep the fire burning....??

Cheers for now,
Tamarah :o)

Carol Mae said...

Your wood burning stove is the same one we had on our mini farm for 20 years. The best heating stove you will ever find. I loved it. Now that we downed sized the stove is used in the sugar shack where my husband makes maple syrup.
Thanks for sharing your woodfire story. Hugs, Carol Mae

bucharoo said...

We have a wood burning stove very similar to yours. It's even on the same type of brick pad. It has been a true life saver for us. We live in a neck of the woods where the power goes out all the time. A few years ago we were without power for 10 days and temperatures were recording breaking low during that entire time. We cranked up the wood stove, lit the oil lamps we keep in every room of the house and moved the kids, beds and dogs into the living room with the stove. We stayed cozy the entire time. I'll never forget when the power came back on. We were all sitting in the cozy, warm living room in the muted light of candles and oil lamps. We were all listening to the wood fire crackle, as I read a bedtime story to our youngest. Suddenly the lights came on, the tv started blaring and all the appliances beeped and started humming. We all sat momentarily stunned, but grinning at each other when my youngest looked up at me and said, Mama, I like it better with out the electricity. If it weren't for the wood stove we would have missed that special time together.
I think of that time every winter when we light our first fire of the season and feel the radient heat the stove gives off. I don't mind the mess and I don't mind the lower electric bills either.

Uncovered Ruby said...

I LOVE my stove. I'm quite spoiled with this kind of heat, everything else feels cold to me now. My tip is to never turn down free wood!!! Lisa ;-)

Eileen @ Marie CasaBella said...

Now this really brings back the memories. My great aunt had one in her living room and it could really heat her room. She kept the doors closed in that room. The bedrooms in the back in the house were icy cold but we sank down under piles of quilts in the feather bed.

Barb said...

Once you get used to heat from a woodstove, nothing else feels as warm. In our area, wood stoves are very common.

We start our fire by first throwing in a few pieces of crumpled up newspaper, topped with 3 or 4 pieces of cardboard, then some bark or kindling, and 2 or 3 small pieces of firewood. Before long, we can add bigger pieces.

For the cardboard, anytime we get cardboard boxes, we just tear them down into 12 inch or so sized pieces.

Our woodstove is in our basement, a few feet from our furnace. We built a hood over the stove, along with duct work that leads into the furnace duct work. The heat from the stove rises into the hood, then we turn the furnace fan on, and it circulates heat through the entire house. Works great, and saves tremendously on the electric bill.

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