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    tiggerella's Avatar
    tiggerella Posts: 184, Reputation: 13
    Junior Member
     
    #1

    Nov 1, 2013, 09:10 AM
    Can anyone tell me about pellet stoves?
    We have a house that I like to call "The House That Jack Built" because it's a strange conglomeration of rooms that's hard to describe. According to the paperwork from when we bought the place, it has 2160 square feet of living space spread out over 7 rooms.

    When we first bought the place, it had three woodstoves in it as well as a steam heating system, but it isn't very well insulated. The initial thought was that we were going to "gut" the place, re-insulate, and put in new windows. Suffice to say that, with emergencies, a lack of necessary funds, etc. we've been here for 13 years and still haven't managed to do the "gut, re-insulate and replace windows" thing.

    My husband, deciding that the chimneys weren't in the best shape, took out two of the woodstoves, and the only one that is still connected is on the worst of the chimneys, so we haven't done anything with wood in a couple of years now. Unfortunately, in his job as an HVAC tech, he talks to a lot of people, and someone has convinced him that a single pellet stove, put into the best of the chimneys, will heat the whole house without any problems. I have a friend who put in a pellet stove with similar advice, and she states that the stove heats the room it's in, but not the whole house.

    Needless to say, I have questions before I'm going to let him talk me into the stove and pellets under the belief that we're going to save all kinds of money in heating oil - especially since I don't trust that the "best chimney" in this place is really all that great...

    1) Can a single pellet stove really heat a 2160 square foot house?

    2) What happens to a pellet stove when the power goes out (as it does often here over the winter)?

    3) Can pellet stoves cause chimney fires like regular wood stoves can?

    4) Would we be better off with buying a pellet stove, or should I continue to push to use the money toward the original plan for the house as mentioned above (as I firmly believe that we'd be better off to gut one room at a time, re-insulate and replace windows, and THEN worry about a more efficient heating system when we aren't just sending all the heat out through the walls)?
    smoothy's Avatar
    smoothy Posts: 25,495, Reputation: 2853
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    #2

    Nov 1, 2013, 10:02 AM
    First thing to remember when looking at square footage to heat that isn't all a single room.

    How do you plan of distributing the heated air to the rest of the house?
    You meantion steam heat which indicates radiators... which means you don't have a centralized forced air heating system which could be utilized to circulate the air.

    Also the fact there are sven rooms.....which I am assuming 6 are not directly off the room that will have the pellet stove in it.
    tiggerella's Avatar
    tiggerella Posts: 184, Reputation: 13
    Junior Member
     
    #3

    Nov 1, 2013, 11:10 AM
    <P>
    Quote Originally Posted by smoothy View Post
    First thing to remember when looking at square footage to heat that isn't all a single room.</P>
    <P>&nbsp;</P>
    <P>How do you plan of distributing the heated air to the rest of the house?</P>
    <P>You meantion steam heat which indicates radiators... which means you don't have a centralized forced air heating system which could be utilized to circulate the air. </P>
    <P>&nbsp;</P>
    <P>Also the fact there are sven rooms.....which I am assuming 6 are not directly off the room that will have the pellet stove in it.
    </P>

    Thank you for your comment about the distribution of the heat, smoothy. That's one of those bones of contention on this idea he's had, as my husband has insisted, right from when we were using wood stoves, that using a fan to push air from one room to another is ALWAYS going to cool the air without really helping.

    The room where the stoves were when we moved in - and where the pellet stove will be if he convinces me this is the way to go - is one large living room/dining room/kitchen and parlor mash-up that the former owner did as a remodel. It's a visually nice room, but a pain to try to heat. Because it's been several years since I was a stay-at-home mom who kept the home fires literally burning all day, my husband's memory of those stoves seems to be that they kept the whole house toasty warm. My memory is of going into the bathroom - which was more of the temperature of an outdoor outhouse even though it's on the back side of the best chimney - and being unable to flush the toilet because the pipes had frozen.

    Thank you for your comments, which confirm what I've been thinking: He heard a short "commercial" for pellet stoves from this friend of his and hasn't thought about some of the other details of this venture. The fact that the other 6 rooms are fairly spread out, although higher than the open ground floor, is my biggest concern. The former bedroom that we've converted into a living room to have a somewhat easier space to heat, which is where we spend most of our time when home, is the furthest from the proposed pellet stove - and therefore would always be freezing. I'm going to keep trying to make him see reason before he goes and spends a ton of money on something that really won't help much.
    smoothy's Avatar
    smoothy Posts: 25,495, Reputation: 2853
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    #4

    Nov 1, 2013, 11:20 AM
    Memories have a way of decieving you... you tend to remember the parts you want to and forget those you don't.

    House layout is everything in how well and even IF the heat gets moved around at all.

    The room with the stove could get sweltering hot... while as you said... other rooms will be quite cold... usually the rooms furthest away and lowest.

    Heat would find its own way to the higher rooms (such as a split level) while the cold air finds its way to the lowest ones... and fans can only accomplish so much.

    In a smaller house with only a few rooms they work better than a spread out ranch style house.

    WIth a compact multilevel house you can through creative control of vents and doors if the stove is on a lower level to control how much hot air is able to rise to the upper level. And such a more compact house would have less distance to the furthest rooms.

    I had done some reserch into this as I have two unused conventional fireplaces in my house.( was looking into one or two fireplace inserts).. but the cost would equal or exceed the cost of heating with natural gas... which my house uses currently.
    ma0641's Avatar
    ma0641 Posts: 15,681, Reputation: 1012
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    #5

    Nov 1, 2013, 01:10 PM
    1. Not in small room configurations. Even in large room configuration you need more input than output and with no insulation I doubt it will be comfortable.
    2. Unless you have backup power, the auger will stop and any circulating fans.
    3. Some creosote but minimal compared to regular wood. Yes, you could have a chimney fire.
    4. They are great stoves. Expensive up front and I hate the continuous "clinking " sound from pellets hitting the feed chute.

    I would spend my money or insulation, tax deductible for energy credit.
    tiggerella's Avatar
    tiggerella Posts: 184, Reputation: 13
    Junior Member
     
    #6

    Nov 4, 2013, 06:59 AM
    Thank you for these answers. It has confirmed the "bad feeling" I've had since he started talking about this. I'll continue to push for the insulation and get the paperwork to show that it would save us on taxes.
    smoothy's Avatar
    smoothy Posts: 25,495, Reputation: 2853
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    #7

    Nov 4, 2013, 07:07 AM
    If you are heating with propane, electric or Fuel oil... they can be a cost effective alternative... but insulation should be the first thing you take care of if your house lacks it or has insufficient ammounts.

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