Suggestion for an A-Frame house

Suggestion for an A-Frame house

PostBy: Hollyfeld On: Thu May 22, 2008 3:34 pm

Hello all,

I just found this site this morning after I was talking to someone about my idea of installing a wood burning stove in my fireplace to offset the cost of heating my home with oil. He suggested that I look at coal stoves before I progress any further on the wood stove idea. After quickly discovering that the coal stove would be more cost efficient, I also found out that I could have the coal stove installed elsewhere in the house and still have the option of having a fire on those not-so-cold nights in Fall and Spring.

Heres my situation.

My house is an A-frame where the main floor is roughly 900 square feet, not including the loft, which is used as a living room. The ceiling is about 27' at the peak The dining room, kitchen, main bathroom, and master bedroom are all located on the main floor. Almost in the center of the main floor (where the dining room is and the old living room was) is a huge 5' long, 3.5' wide and 27' high chimney/fireplace. The fireplace is a see-thru type and the chimney, which looks like a big skyscraper, houses the boiler flue on one side and the fireplace flue on the other. It is made of cinderblocks and covered in beach pebbles. A price I got for a woodstove to be installed inside there was roughly $3500.00. The stove was about $1900 and the install would be about $1600 because of the height of the chimney and the liner that would have to go the entire length.

I don't really have another good location to place a wood burning stove where it wouldn't eat up valuable floor space in the main room. The one wall is mostly windows and the roof comes down so low that I wouldn't be able to place it in one of the corners. It would be close to a window and I'm not sure if that would be OK. After looking at the coal stoves, not only will they be cheaper to heat with, but I could place one in the corner and either run the flue up thru the roof, or even better, get one that uses the direct-vent (which is nice for my situation). The clearances for coal stoves seem to be less than they are for woodstoves.

I was also checking out the coal boilers and having one installed in my basement mechanical room (the basement is finished btw), but I haven't really researched them yet.

There is no radiator in the bathroom (my girlfriend just loves that :lol: ) so we keep the door open when were not using it. We also usually leave the bedroom door closed and the windows cracked open so it's frigid in there for sleeping. So, I'm under the impression that a coal stove on the main floor would sufficiently heat the entire upstairs of my house. Any thoughts or ideas?

Thanks :D
Hollyfeld
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker
Stove/Furnace Model: KA-6

Re: Suggestion for an A-Frame house

PostBy: LsFarm On: Thu May 22, 2008 4:00 pm

Hello Hollyfeld, welcome to the forum.. A quick question to make your girlfriend really happy: Do you have access to the underside of the floor to your bathroom?? If so, consider installing hot water pipes under the floor, in the joist spaces, insulating the joist spaces, having a warm floor in your bathroom is a luxury that you will never regret..

Now, that aside, where roughly are you located?? Are you where you can get Anchracite coal, either in bulk or bagged?? Finding and installing the stove or boiler is easy,, but if you are far away from the mines and breakers for Anthracite,, then getting coal can be a battle. [I'm in Michigan, and have it trucked in]

I prefer boilers for most instalations,, but if you have a nice corner or spot that is begging for a coal stove,, I'd look at all the websites,, decide if you want or need to have a stoker stove, that needs tending only about every day or two, or if you are around every 12 hours or so, and can use a hand load stove..

This may sound strange,, but with your see-through fireplace, is there room on the side of the see-through to place a stove, backed up to the chimney? Then put a flue pipe up the side of the fireplace and insert the flue into the chimney above the fireplace and the fireplace damper?? Using just the fireplace flue, no liner should be needed.. The reason I like this idea, is that the coal stove would still be centrally located, using a masonry chimney, AND you would still have the use of the see-through fireplace.. But not at the same time as the coal stove.. But I'm sure you would be using the coal stove 99% of the time. Just an idea..

Also,, there are coal fireplace inserts available,, I really like the Hitzer 503,with the gravity- hopper fed firebox.

The best way, but also possibly the most expensive is to go with a coal boiler, this way you can tend the boiler every two days or more, and not use up any floorspace with a coal stove..

I hope this helps,, Greg L
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

Re: Suggestion for an A-Frame house

PostBy: Hollyfeld On: Thu May 22, 2008 4:24 pm

I have thought about the radiant floor in the bathroom. It is certainly something could install myself...just a matter of finding the time :)

I'm located about 25 minutes from the PA border so the either picking up the coal in my truck, or having it delivered shouldn't be a problem.

I would say that would be around every 12 hours or so, but the convenience of a stoker sounds nice.

When i looked at the wood stoves, I was told that I would have to run a liner up the entire length of the chimney for it to meet code. I did consider placing the stove on one side of the fireplace and running the flue up the side and out the roof next to the masonry chimney, but this specific area would eat up too much floor space between the back deck doors and the chimney. As far as placing it on either side where the opening is (not sure if this is what you meant), that area too is just not big enough.

I briefly checked out the insert you suggested. My fireplace is 1/2" too small on the width. I will look into these as an option. The opening of he fireplace is about 30" up from the floor and the current hearth sticks out like a cliff only 8" from the opening of the fireplace. The opening of the fireplace is 2" above the lip of he hearth. So, an insert would either have a space under it, or I would have to fill in that area with something so it didn't look...weird.

The boilers would be nice. I haven't gone to look at the prices of anything yet, other than the woodstove.
Hollyfeld
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker
Stove/Furnace Model: KA-6

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Re: Suggestion for an A-Frame house

PostBy: LsFarm On: Thu May 22, 2008 4:38 pm

Hello again,, I really like stokers,, but they are not silent,, there are fans running,, if your home is silent, then a fan running may be annoying at first.

Take a look at the smaller boilers.. The Keystoker Kaa2, the Harman VF3000. And don't forget that with a boiler you can [will] plumb it into your Domestic Hot water,, so you will have unlimited hot water, and eliminate that cost along with your oil bill.. so even though the boiler costs more to start, it pays back faster,, and won't use up any of your limited floor space..

Keep an eye on your local papers,, Ebay, http://papershop.com/ and http://www.craigslist.com for used boilers, stoves and stokers.

I'd look for used boilers from your local heating contractors too.. they often remove and SCRAP perfectly good coal boilers when installing new oil and gas units.. there are a lot of new units installed because the home owners no longer can [because of age] or want to tend a coal burner.. I'd literally go knock on doors, explain that you are in the market for a used coal boiler,, and offer to help or to remove any that they plan on replacing,, this has worked for several forum members..

I found my Axeman Anderson 260 on Ebay, in central Pa !!, and with the generous help of several forum members got it removed, and I brought it home to Michigan and rebuilt it... so there are options.

Hope this helps. Greg L
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

Re: Suggestion for an A-Frame house

PostBy: rberq On: Thu May 22, 2008 7:30 pm

Lately whenever I answer a forum post, it seems I harp on heat distribution, because depending on house layout you can be sweating near a stove and shivering in other rooms. When you get a good blaze going in your fireplace, does it keep all parts of your house as warm as you want? If so, then a coal stove in a corner of the fireplace room would probably work well.

However, I'm going to guess that the answer is no, and that your hot water heat system is tuned to distribute the heat where you need it. Therefore the coal boiler makes more sense to me, because your radiator or baseboard system would continue to send the heat to all rooms just like now. Ideally plumb the coal boiler in with your oil boiler for backup and for when you are away from home for a few days; though some might say get rid of the oil entirely. I don't know about venting the coal boiler, never can keep it in my head whether they can be power vented or not, but I don't believe both coal and oil boilers could legally vent into a single flue.

As to chimney lining, check on it before you commit to buy anything. In Maine the code says you can not install a new or replacement appliance in an unlined chimney, period.
rberq
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine 1300
Coal Size/Type: Nut -- Kimmel/Blaschak/Reading
Other Heating: Oil hot water radiators, propane

Re: Suggestion for an A-Frame house

PostBy: Hollyfeld On: Thu May 22, 2008 8:17 pm

I get home this evening and discover the new price for the "budget" plan from my oil company. Last year was the first year I went onto the budget plan and I paid $170.00 a month. That was bad, but still doable for me. This year, the letter doesn't even state the price per gallon, but says I'll be saving .15 cents a gallon. The price per month this year is, $308!

I believe I will be looking into coal fired boilers instead of a coal stove or wood stove to help off-set the cost of oil.

edit - As usual with being new to a forum, I should have looked around first for the answers to my questions i had posted in this reply. :oops:
Hollyfeld
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker
Stove/Furnace Model: KA-6

Re: Suggestion for an A-Frame house

PostBy: Yanche On: Thu May 22, 2008 10:39 pm

"A" frame houses are difficult to heat comfortably because so much of the heat will rise up to where you don't want it. Radiant floor heat is the only good solution. Any possibility of retrofitting it? It only needs to be on the first floor, higher floor rooms can be heated with baseboard or radiators.
Yanche
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea

Re: Suggestion for an A-Frame house

PostBy: Hollyfeld On: Fri May 23, 2008 7:08 am

Yanche wrote:"A" frame houses are difficult to heat comfortably because so much of the heat will rise up to where you don't want it. Radiant floor heat is the only good solution. Any possibility of retrofitting it? It only needs to be on the first floor, higher floor rooms can be heated with baseboard or radiators.



Would you mean the basement as the first floor or the main floor which has the dining room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom? I do have access to the entire main floor of the house from the drop ceiling in the basement, but retrofitting an entire house would probably be a pain in the a$$. There are sufficient baseboards around every exterior wall in the house.
Hollyfeld
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker
Stove/Furnace Model: KA-6

Re: Suggestion for an A-Frame house

PostBy: Freddy On: Fri May 23, 2008 7:25 am

From the basement you can staple heat tubing to the floors of the living space. Some heat will radiate down to the basement some, but most goes up. I have a friend that built a house with more or less A frame design. He HAD to use infloor radiant. Even with high output baseboard there was not enough wall space to do baseboard. Of course he loves it. Everyone does! It would be a pain for you to move the hung ceiling, staple the tubing, insulate under the tubing, and put the ceiling back up, but, it would be worth it!
Freddy
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 130 (pea)
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Reading piece o' junk in the barn (rice)
Coal Size/Type: Pea size, Superior, deep mined

Re: Suggestion for an A-Frame house

PostBy: Hollyfeld On: Fri May 23, 2008 7:55 am

It has crossed my mind before and I know some people that could help me design it, and some others that would help me install it. It certainly is doable, and someday...well, ya never know. LsFarm already steered me away from a stoker stove to a boiler in less than a few hours, please, Freddy and Yanche, do get me started on thinking about retro-fitting a radiant floor. :lol:

There is baseboard everywhere in my house (except the main floor bath ;) ). On the main floor where the slope of the roof comes down, there are 5' vertical walls installed with insulated dead space behind them. At the base of these walls are radiators. I don't have any complaints about the amount of heat coming from them, just the amount it costs to heat them using oil.

My current oil fired boiler is 114 Btuh. I assume that I could get a smaller one if I were to switch to coal.

This might seem excessive, but the roof of my house is only 2.5" thick tongue and groove boards. There is no insulation up there so I have a hot-roof. The idea (Freddy...please don't ;) ) of retrofitting insulation to the underside is greatly discouraged due to moisture getting trapped and rotting my roof from the inside out. I could install insulation on the outside and then re-roof the entire house, but that would be VERY costly.
Hollyfeld
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker
Stove/Furnace Model: KA-6

Re: Suggestion for an A-Frame house

PostBy: Yanche On: Fri May 23, 2008 8:47 am

Yes, I mean your main floor, the one you have access to from your drop ceiling. It will be a difficult job but can be done by a homeowner with construction skills. Most important is a correct design, not by seat of the pants or rule of thumb guesses, but by engineering. I highly recommend you buy the book "Modern Hydronic Heating 2nd ed." by John Siegenthaler. Read it cover to cover several times before you do anything. It will show you how to do a heat loss calculation, what comfort means, the pros and cons of different heat distribution system and a lot of practical engineering design advice. It's an expensive book $154 list, $122 on Amazon, but it comes with the limited use version of software that will allow you to engineer your heating system. Follow the advise and you will be very happy. It will be the best $100+ dollars you have ever spent.
Yanche
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea

Re: Suggestion for an A-Frame house

PostBy: Freddy On: Fri May 23, 2008 9:48 am

To heck with books! ;) In floor by seat of the pants: On the ceiling in the cellar run two three quarter inch copper pipes the length of the long wall. Every 35 feet elbow and set over 4 inches for expansion. Buy a bunch of pex-al-pex tubing & a cartload of 1/2" ball valves & tubing barb fittings & 3/4 by 3/4 by 1/2" Tee's. Borrow buy or rent a stapler with a one inch crown & 1 1/4" legs. Make a custom foot the drives the staples so the tubing is snug but not pinched. Studs 16" on center? Staple 3 tubes in the bay next to outside walls, after that two in each bay. (like down, u-turn, back in each bay) The U-turns on the other outside walls provides the extra in that direction. Do not use more than 200 feet of tubing before that loop valves to the header. Insulate under the tubing. Must have foil no clsoer than 2" from tubing, 3" of fiberglass or whatever for insulation. Provide the tubing with 140 degree water. ( tempering valve using infloor return as cold, or a few ball valves and play with settings til it's 140. One 007 pump will drive 1,000 feet of tube. Maybe go to a double 0 bigger after that. Do the happy dance.
Freddy
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 130 (pea)
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Reading piece o' junk in the barn (rice)
Coal Size/Type: Pea size, Superior, deep mined

Re: Suggestion for an A-Frame house

PostBy: katman On: Fri May 23, 2008 9:55 am

My oil company is quoting $3.98/gal if you sign for three years. I haven't seen the contract so I don't know if they have the option to increase. Of course, they always say they will adjust down if the market price declines.

I figure my boiler payback will probably be around 3 years
katman
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Harman Magnum
Other Heating: Harman PB 105 Pellet Boiler

Re: Suggestion for an A-Frame house

PostBy: Richard S. On: Fri May 23, 2008 10:31 am

I'd be careful with a 3 year contract, there was at least two oil companies in this area that went out of business and the customers were left holding the bag. The one was an idiot though, he invested the captital in his business instead of buying the oil... gambled and lost his business and all his customers money.
Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

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