Thanks for the link whoisthat. I yw a little technical for me but I'll look it over a few times. In the refrence list there is a book called "Heating With Wood", I read it and it's good, light reading.
Robotech, Im glad to hear there are going to be new nuke plants. I hope I can still afford to charge my iPod.
The first thing you need to do is have a qualified hearth pro perform a level II inspection of those fireplace/ chimneys for suitability of a stove as well as coach you on sizing, installation requirements and options. Plan on installing an insulated listed stainless steel chimney liner at the very least and possibly a mantel and floor shield.
Be careful of some of those websites and books out there: a lot of, shall be say, questionable advice being given. Find out what the codes are in your area. NFPA 211 is the national std. but has been voted in as a code in only a handful of jurisdictions so far. You will need to install to the stove listing, liner listing, and the building codes meeting the more stringent requirements.
No wood is 'free'. Someone has to cut, split, stack, cover, haul and feed it into the fire. Having said that, the best wood is seasoned wood--not so much species. Get a moisture meter and test for <20%mc.
As for stoves, do not install old clunkers. We are trying to clear the air from these old polluters. Get yourself a modern EPA Phase II certified stove listed to UL 1482 and warranted by a stable stove mfr. Modern stoves are very efficient, can cook you out of a home and many meet the requirements for the 30%/ $1,500.00 tax credit. Once you have your basic info. your local hearth retailer can help you with selection, installation and service. I strongly recommend against buying online or second hand.
Thanks for the replies guys. You have helped me reach my 15 posts in just a few days with minimal effort. Its always a pleasure to talk about wood heat especially with folks who know more about it than I do. Thanks again.
Well, I guess I fall into the "Old Clunkers" category (Earth stove, Colony Hearth model)
I’ll disagree strongly about type of wood. Seasoned for sure, but up here (Anchorage Ak specifically) we have birch, spruce, aspen and cottonwood available. Birch has far better BTUs and its burns better and longer. So I take Birch whenever I can get it and fill in with Spruce if not. Aspen and Cottonwood are too wet.
I burn 6+ cords or so a winter. Depending on temperature it is all the heat or supplemental. Yep I pollute, if they want me to quit, its time I got a break like they give the big boys and give me credit towards a new stove. At 2500 to 3000+, it’s a toss up between that and a new efficient furnace. There are o regulations (though Fairbanks 350 miles North of here has so much wood burning going on they are going to have to enact them)
The wood is free, but you do have to factor the costs of a chainsaw, gas, oil, at least one spare chain and the cost of hauling. Add into some splitting tools, maul or two (best) and splitting wedges (or count on spending a week on some hard splitting logs, whacking them for a while and giving up!). Small sledge to set the wedges (Estwing makes a nice setup for that, though a 4-5 pound short hand sledge helps also).
Wedges are a real quandary. I have yet to fine one I really like. Estwing makes some good ones (USA) and you can find them at Home Depot, though you have to look carefully in the hammers section as they tend to hide them low on the shelf. They work great in that they have a wide ramp at top that blows open the round once you have the wedge deep.
They are also soft. No grip surface low down, so if the round is springy they bounce back out.
I also have a Sweedish made wedge. Forget name. Works better in some way as it has ridges, and a twist.
I wind up using all of them. My brother put dimples on the Estwing and that helped. Will get lines welded on one by another brother.
Chain saws are the big ticket item. I like Stihl (its made in USA despite the name). I have an MS270, and it does well and stuff up to 2 feet across, though most of mine is under 18 inches. Count on about $400 for a good saw. Husky is generally well like and then Dohlmar, Jonesread and one or two others. You need a good one if you are going to cut long and hard.
You better know how to handle a chainsaw (I have for 40 years and no accidents). Get some instruction if you have not used it, and be dammed careful. Always be ready to pitch it, and don’t get yourself in positions that you care cutting too close. Chaps are recommended. Ear protection is a must.
My wood source is close by, so hauling fuel costs are not a big factor.
Part of a winter burning paid for all the up front costs, saw last a long time. You need an 8 ft pickup to get a good load or a trailer. Wood is heavy, ¾ tone pickup is the smallest you want to use (or money goes into drive train repairs) or make sure it’s a multiple axle trailer and rated for what you haul.
I split a day to a weeks worth at a time. Its great winter exercise , you can cut late into the winter, and you have to love those –25 days when you just finally freeze up, go home and thaw you and the saw out.