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Wood furnace in basement

KarenKaren Member Posts: 5
We recently moved into a home with a propane fire boiler hot water heating system. It is costing us an arm and leg to heat the place even with the thermostat turned down low. We are thinking of putting a wood furnace in the basement. The problems is that we have no ductwork. My husband talked to a few people that have either hydronic heat or electric heat and they use a wood furnace to heat the basment and of course the heat radiates up and helps warm the main floor and they keep the basement door open. They say it is ok to install the wood furnace according to the manufacturers specs but instead of connecting the furnace to duct work just use some metal difusers to direct the heated air in different directions in the basement. The furnace has a therostacticly controlled blower. Does any one have any experience doing this and what would the insureance company thing of this. The wood furnace would be installed according to code. The only difference is that it wouldn't be connected to duct work. Any advice or ideas would be appreciated. Thank you Karen


  • JoeJoe Member Posts: 201
    What about

    a wood or wood/oil boiler? Pipe it in parallel with the current LP boiler. Are you sure you want to put a wood monster down in a basement? Weights a ton and who's gonna haul the ash out and tend the fire? Do you have an attached garage to install it in instead? I personnaly would do a wood stove or fireplace insert before going to all that trouble. Is heating oil available in your area? Usually cheaper in the NE.
  • KarenKaren Member Posts: 5
    Thought of that

    We thought of a wood boiler,a friend added a wood boiler to his propane boiler hot water system but it cost him about $3000. He still has to haul the wood ,ash etc. THis boiler is only 7 year old and is supposed to be 83% efficient. A new fuel oil boiler is an option but any new boiler is very expensive. We are heating a one story 1900 sq ft. and basememt is same size. We are mainly looking for some supplimental heat for the basement and hopefully some of the heat will rise up and keep floors warmer would run up the basement stairs. We already have the wood furnace and have hauled it down stairs on a appliance dolly. My main concern is with not having duct work and is that a potential problem? Especially with the insurence company. Thier main concern seamed to be with the smoke pipes and the chimney however. Any advice or ideas will be appreciated. Thanks Karen
  • KarenKaren Member Posts: 5
    Thought of that

    Hi Joe,We thought of the add on wood boiler. Our friend installed on and it cost $3000. and he and another guy installed it himself. And he still has to haul the wood and ash. A new fuel oil boiler is very expensive too and there is the purchase of the fuel tank and all that is involved with that. The actual hotwater system is a two pipe system about 21 years old with the so called High Efficiency Boiler (83%) being 7 to 8 years old. We had a heating guy here and he looked at the water pipes and said that he's never seen anything like it. We have kept the thermostat at 62 and now have turned it up to 64 and that's where it stays and we have burned our Lp tank from 85% full down to 40% full in 3 weeks. (330 gal tank) We live in Central WI. I'm looking for a temp fix untill as we may decide to get rid of the whole hot water system and go forced air. It has cost us about$163 to heat this place for 3 weeks with the heat up no higher than 64 and for most of that time it was at 62. The home is well insulated and the winter so far has no been to bad. My main question is about the warm air that comes from the top of furnace, will we have any problem if we just add some kind of diverter to blow the warm air indiffent directions. There are 2 8 inch warm air opening in the top of the furnace. Any help or ideas or suggestions will help Thanks Karen
  • DaveGatewayDaveGateway Member Posts: 568
    Wood furnace in basement


    I have just helped my son fabricate a wood furnace for his basement. Although he has ductwork to tie it into (which he is now working on), for the past week he has operated it just as you are considering doing. They have not been running their gas furnace at all since he has fired the wood furnace and with 30 degree nights, the temperature in the house when they get up in the morning has been between 78 and 81 degrees. My daughter-in-law is so appreciative of the warm house.

    Think hard before you throw the baby out with the bath water by trading the existing hot water system for a scorched air system. As the other Joe suggested, an add-on wood boiler (possibly an outdoor unit) might be the ultimate answer to your problem.

    We've been heating our home with wood-fired hot water for approximately 30 years and think it's great.
  • hrhr Member Posts: 6,106
    The very first

    thing to do is concentrate on tightening and insulating your home. Changing fuel sources won't keep the heat from escaping :)

    Trust me, wood is far from a "free" heating fuel. Especially if you end up buying it.

    You might consider a small wood stove in the home, to supplement. It's a pretty direct link from wood to personal warmth with little transmission losses, and possibly lower up front cost.

    hot rod

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  • HomeownerHomeowner Member Posts: 22

    I installed an outside wood fired boiler for my mom 2 yrs. ago. She heats a 16 room farmhouse approx. 3200 sq. ft. and heats a 40'x100' greenhouse with it. The greenhouse has a stand alone heat exchanger in it and the house has a heat exchanger installed in the forced air furnace using the blower on the furnace. It can also be piped to a hot water or radiant system and even can be piped to heat water to supplement your hot water heater. It works really good but heating so much area you can just imagine how much wood it burns. Heating a normal house you might only have to load it every 24 to 48 hours.
  • JackJack Member Posts: 153
    What is the heat loss?

    I'd suggest you start with that number. Hot Rod is spot on. Put your first dollar into the building envelope. When I bought my house it was a total energy pig. I redid windows and siding. big difference. Following year I re-insulated the attic. Big difference.

    If my numbers are correct you used 45% of a 330 or about 150 gallons of LP in 3 weeks. 150 gal X 92,000btu/gal=13,800,000btu/(21daysx24hrs/day)=28,400BTUH. That doesn't seem bad for Wisc in the middle of the winter
    I know that is easy for me to say, as I am not paying your fuel bill.

    One thing that I do, and I am biased toward it as I represent the manufacturer, is use a Rinnai 556WTA gas fired direct vent wall furnace, for supplemental heat ( They are efficient, easy to install, quiet and cool to the touch. I do not use my central system until the Rinnai cannot keep up with my comfort demands (that will vary with each home and where you position the unit). THEN, I turn on the central system, enjoy the comfort and pay the bills like everyone else. Your best energy savings come in the Sept, Oct, early Nov, March, April, May time frame.
  • paul strandpaul strand Member Posts: 1

    I would second the Rinnai idea. I was given a natural gas ventless type and have been amazed by how much heat it puts out. I live in a big old colonial in NH and spend about $300 in the high heating months. This is after installing a new Burnham boiler about 5 years ago. I redid a bedroom and opened up a new part of the house that was previously closed off. I used the Rinnai to heat this area and my heating bill has stayed about the same. My guess is that because the Rinnai is 100% efficient, my hot water system doesnt go on so often. And yes, I do have a co2 detector.
  • DaleDale Member Posts: 1,317
    Check your insurance

    If you put in a wood burner your homeowners may go up hundreds of dollars or they may just quit insuring you. Also if you have a tightly constructed house the basement wood burner may not ever draft and smoke in the basement will result, not to mention the insects that come in in the wood.
  • HerbHerb Member Posts: 31
    boiler too expensive

    Karen would you give us some other details about your home. Is your boiler fitted as a 2-zone system? How many square-feet and the layout (ranch, 2-story, etc.)of your home. What else do you use the propane for: domestic water heating, cooking, clothes drying ? Do you know how much you're paying per gallon and the cost of the other competing fuels ( wood, oil, electricity). These details will help us determine your best solution.
  • DaleDale Member Posts: 1,317
    No vent heaters

    If you live in Wisconsin ( Homes built after 1981) or the other states that don't allow unvented heaters be careful about installing one yourself. Their input is low to keep the CO they produce to a legal limit and they usually suggest leaving a window open. People who turn them on and leave them on often have large air quality issues. Go to the site and read about what other people say about unvented product.
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