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Heating From The Basement On Up

Hello. I have a wood burning stove in the basement that I would like to use as a supplemental heating source to help with the rising costs of fuel. I have a small 3 bedroom ranch, with a wide open basement (unfinished at the moment). I was planning on installing floor registers, and was wondering if ceiling fans upstairs would help pull the warm air up. Usually, ceiling fans are set to clockwise in the winter to push the warm air back down to lower levels. However in this case, I'm wondering if I should keep my ceiling fans (which are located upstairs) on counterclockwise on low speed to help suck the downstairs air up. Just looking for some feedback. I could see the clockwise working as well, as the warm air should naturally rise from the basement. Thank you in advance!


  • Steve_Slota
    Steve_Slota Member Posts: 25
    To add more info to this, the basement is about 1350 square feet. It stays 58F down there all year. Solid concrete walls on the perimeter. The wood stove is rated for 2000 square feet. I have to heat the basement up first before the air will rise. I was seeing if there were ways to help it along faster, as I don't need the basement heated, I need the living space upstairs warm. Thanks again!
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 10,278
    Do you have a forced air furnace with duct work now?

    Back when wood stoves heated most houses, there was a large floor grate above the stove to get warm air upstairs. The stair well was then the return cooler air coming down to the stove.

    You could emulate the old hot air gravity furnaces by floor grates above your stove and then cut in smaller floor grates around the perimeter walls. A few and then add as needed.

    The old school floor grates for the second floor would fit between 16" floor joists, had a bottom grate also for the finished ceiling (not needed in your case) and included a foot operated vent closure for control and maybe privacy.
  • Steve_Slota
    Steve_Slota Member Posts: 25
    Thank you for the response! I have baseboards around the upstairs. The woodstove is on the opposite side of the basement door though! Maybe I'll leave that door open a crack. I have one floor register cut directly above the stove that happens to be in my son's room. Perhaps I should put a bigger register in. It is a 12"x4" now. Having a hard time finding good spots around the perimeter for these registers as well. Nothing is ever easy lol!
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,416
    A more typical floor grate would have been 12 inches by 24 -- or even bigger.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Robert_25
    Robert_25 Member Posts: 451
    The ceiling fans can help move the heat around and prevent stratification, but they won’t “suck” heat up from the basement.  Without a means for the cold air to return to the basement, you will struggle to get the heat out of the basement.
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,096
    @Robert_25 is right. you will need return air to the basement to get warm air out
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 18,190
    Get a top quality CO detector also. I’d worry about a fan pulling combustion by products from the air intake to the stove. It takes a fair amount of combustion air to safely support the burn.

    Are there combustion air vents from outside into the space?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Steve_Slota
    Steve_Slota Member Posts: 25
    Thank you for the responses guys! This is a pretty efficient unit. It’s an Osburn Inspire 2000. It’s the type of stove with a Catalina Converter. I have Carbon Monoxide Detectors all over the house including the basement. The idea of the fans was to help with the airflow. I like what you guys are onto, as far as the return air flow. There in lies the task. How do I get the best air flow circulating… That’s what I need to figure out. Hot air rises, I thought it was as simple as that but I was wrong!
  • veteransteamhvac
    veteransteamhvac Member Posts: 73
    How you are going to get the cold air to drop back down into the basement to be reheated? A grate in the floor for the heat to rise is one thing, but a cold air shaft from higher up in the house to create a true circulation system is where you should focus your thinking.

    ps: any relation to Ken Slota USN?
  • Steve_Slota
    Steve_Slota Member Posts: 25
    Thanx Veterans! I have never met a Ken Slota. Funny that lately I have been hit up on Linked In by a couple other people with the same last name wondering if we were related! A cold air shaft, interesting.. 
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,416
    In older houses there was a central or nearly central stair case which did the return function pretty well...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Jon_blaney
    Jon_blaney Member Posts: 293
    For this to work, you have to heat the entire basement to a temperature above the temperature of the main level. So if the thermostat is is set at 70, then you probably need to heat the basement level to 75 or above. That may be a challenge due to the uninsulated concrete walls which are at maybe 50 and have an infinite capacity to draw heat. The stove may not be able to achieve this requirement. I think the 2000 stove value assumes an insulated space. You have 1350 of uninsulated space.

    A warm basement should make the main level floors warmer. The warmer basement will reduce heat loss through the floor. Before I cut anymore holes in the floor, I would insulate the basement. Heat the basement not heat the the main floor from the basement.

    Overhead fans disrupt the necessary stratification for gravity heating to work.

    Just some personal observation. YMMV.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,416
    Actually, if the stove is directly below the main vent to upstairs, you don't have to heat the whole basement -- in fact, you don't want to. That would kill your gravity return circulation. Go look at some colonial houses... or not so colonial farmhouses in rural areas of New England!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steve_Slota
    Steve_Slota Member Posts: 25
    I have been witnessing that for sure! Next step is to insulate these walls. Thank you all again for the great input!
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,177
    Have you considered a louvered door for the basement? That could be your return-air passage.
    Retired and loving it.
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 10,278
    So what is the situation with your chimney?

    You have a wood burner, boiler and maybe water heater.

    And are you familiar with burning wood on a daily basis?

    I don't doubt your skills, but I have attended a few chimney fires leading to house burns over the years.

    Usually well after midnight.
  • solarconvert
    solarconvert Member Posts: 16
    suggest that you head to this URL https://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/basement-wood-stove-insulating-basement.194106/#post-2613251 and read about the set up that @stoveliker describes. i’m doing the same thing at my place.
  • BradHotNCold
    BradHotNCold Member Posts: 66
    Mother Nature abhors a vacuum — what goes up hot must come back cold.
  • Jon_blaney
    Jon_blaney Member Posts: 293
    Could the floor joist be acting as baffles to restrict warm air flow?
  • Karl Reynolds
    Karl Reynolds Member Posts: 24
    Look at the Tjernlund ASLL Level-to-Level Transfer Fan. Requires 120v power. The model AS2 can do 275 cu. ft. so you may need a few of them.
  • Jackmartin
    Jackmartin Member Posts: 194
    The best advise I could give you is inspect your Woodburner daily. I have nothing against wood appliances I grew up with a wood fired furnace. The thing everyone tends to forget is the fact the type of wood you burn and how frequently effects the chimney. The best thing you can do for your family is contact a licensed chimney sweep and have your chimney cleaned. A chimney fire here lead to a very badly damaged home, this was a fireplace and he insisted on burning what we call swamp fir. The stuff stinks and has all the calorific value of a pot tart. The real hazard is it generates a huge amount of creosote, what could be better for a chimney fire. In my opinion trying to heat other areas of your home with a wood stove is not going to work to any extent, it is just going to lead to you using alot of wood, creating cinder excess, and never doing what you want. I don't know if you have gas in your area or if it's oil. Consider getting a pro to look at your home and install a forced air furnace you will get the heating you want and it is compatible with air conditioning something your wife will be delighted with. Wood stoves are for area heating not central heating applications unless like so many people here in the country ,use a central stove for heating and a great number of them are going to pellet stoves enclosed combustion, you don't have to clean the things everyday. Cheers Jack Canada
  • mattman
    mattman Member Posts: 13
    Easiest way to insulate those walls is Styrofoam panels and construction adhesive. Fast too
  • mattman
    mattman Member Posts: 13
    Somebody asked a good question about combustion air. Is the unit drawing air from the outside for combustion or making cold air suck in from outside.  That will kill your efficiency 
  • jimcloh
    jimcloh Member Posts: 2
    Heating the floor could be done without any modifications above the basement. Safely enclose the heater without going to the floor and allow the hot air to use joists as ducts towards the perimeter. Those joists would need to be covered to keep the hot and cool air separated. The exiting hot air and returning cool air should have about equal areas to the enclosed space.
  • Kiwi
    Kiwi Member Posts: 6
    If you are so keen to keep warm, how come you cant install the stove in and central upstairs area?
    The flue s installed here in NZ, where mostly wood is burnt, are now all 3 skinned and ideally insulated between the inner and intermediate skins.
    Both Aussie and NZ use the same Standards.
    We are tolld that we must use particular types of stoves and cooker which meet the ust and NZ Standards but there are a lot of old ones which still function well. However our housing is generally smaller than USA homes and insulation is pretty much a thing that only cam into being in the 1979's & 80's. Now it much better but now we have more sealed homes and consequently more mold and dampness.
    In your situation, if you are going to feed the fire with wood, you must have raw air going to it to feed the fire.
    If it is piped in, great,.... but otherwise, it will likely smolder and create creosote.
    If you want to heat the upstairs, good li=uck to you. Id say your chasing dreams me ole mate.
    Especially if your basement is cold brick or concrete block basement. That will suck all the heat other than whats heading up the flue.
    If you have a cleaver flue maker, you could think of dragging some of the heat off the flue in the upstairs section of the flue, as it passes through the up stairs. However you will need to be sure you don't drag too much off it and cool the top section of the flue, so as there is not enough draw going on down below, in the fire box.

    The way is to have a 4 skinned flue and insulate it between the 2nd skin and the 3rd skin.
    Then very near the top of the flue, leave the 2nd skin shorter, so as the heated air is directed back downwards as far as the floor of the upstairs living area, then does another 'U' bend and heads back upwards. to exit into the globally warmed environment (if you believe all that B.S.) at the top of the flue.
    The insulation keeps changing position so then its between the 3rd and the outer skin, just to help keep the draw going, down at the firebox.

    Get the gist of it?

    As its passing the upstairs area, is where the insulation and the 4th skin are removed from the Flue (not installed) so as you are able to drag some of the heat off the flue.
    For insulation, (we use ceramic 25mm / 1 inch Kaowool blanket ) It fits between each skin perfectly, is fire proof and easy to handle.

    That way, hot flue heated air rises against the inner and 2nd flues, to where it is reversed downwards to a room's floor level. where it does another "U" bend to go back upwards vertically & is where some of the needed heat can be harvested, without killing the fire down below.

    Also,.... if putting the stove upstairs isn't possible, (Im bloody sure Id make layout changes if it were me), but if it cant be done, enclose the stove in a fabricated small room and force feed the air through the floor &/or ducting. A chainsaw is a cheaper way to make a big enough opening, so as the occupants can benefit from the rising heat. (AND the wood being cut, out would be nice dry wood, suitable for kindling!!)
    OR.... A pointing finger, to where the wood shed is, is also a good way.
    Funny how all of a sudden, they ain't as cold as they were moaning about.

    Good luck to ewes.

    Hmmmm.... Takin' of ewes, a Spit roast lamb might be good for that dry timber, ay!

    Cheers from a professional DIYer who love to tinker with UK made old cast iron cookers and stoves.
  • Dave Carpentier
    Dave Carpentier Member Posts: 410
    edited January 1
    If you have forced air in the upper floor, you could utilize a return duct near the wood heater and the forced air fan to distribute the heat. (fan switch on manual, or even thermostatically controlled so that it runs when it notices heat at the wood burner ?)
    30+ yrs in telecom outside plant.
    Currently in building maintenance.