Hi guys! This is one of my first posts - thanks for all of the helpful information I've already gleaned from this website. I was hoping all of you experts out there could weigh in on my situation...
My wife and I bought a small 1100 squ ft. ranch house 1 year ago. The house has an old coal stove installed in the unfinished basement (directly hooked up to a chimney), as well as a large coal bin (with a hole from the garage to dump coal into it). I have some pictures attached of my setup for you to reference.
All throughout the upstairs, we have electric baseboard heat, which the previous homeowner has been using for years. We used the electric baseboard heat our first winter in the house (we moved in last November), and the bills were $200-$300/month. Not cool! At the time, I was not very keen about trying to fire up the coal stove, and didn't really know anything about heating with coal, so we used what was easy.
I do not know the last time this coal stove was used. I am not much of a "do it yourselfer", but am always willing to try things out. I really, really like the idea of coal heat and I think we have an ideal setup already in place with the coal bin & chimney. Long term, we want to finish our basement and make it a nice large living space. I've been reading about the coal stoker stoves that have large hoppers to hold a lot of coal & automatically feed the coal to achieve a temperature, and I love the idea. I am 99% sure this is what I want to do, and I want to save up money to purchase a nice coal stove and finish our basement by next summer. Then we will be prepared to go full gear next winter (right before the rate caps on electricity in PA are lifted and my bills go up 40-50%!).
However, in the mean-time, I am thinking about trying to use the existing coal stove this winter. It seems ideal and cheap. At the very least, I want to try it out and get some experience. I have a few questions though:
- How do I verify that everything is safe with the coal stove and chimney setup? Is there some sort of inspection I should get? What would that be called (so I know what to ask for)?
- How do I light this stove? If you can tell from the pictures, it's a tall coal stove with no way that I can tell to access the base. It seems like you just have to dump the coal in.
- From the picture below, how many tons of coal do you think I could fit in our coal bin?
- Roughly...how many tons of coal would you estimate I would burn in 1 Pennsylvania winter, keeping the house at 71 or 72 degrees with a Coal-Trol thermostat? It's roughly 8' x 5'.
Now I am also thinking about how I would setup my house in the long term to best heat the house. When I refinish the basement and put in the nice stoker stove, I will have access to run vents to all of the rooms in the house. Is the best way to get consistent heat by doing the "direct vent" method? I'm not exactly sure how that would work. I assume you would still need to attach the stoker stove to the chimney, and then also to the vent somehow? I'm sure you can tell I'm new to all this (and home heating in general).
I'm sure I will have more questions but I don't want to overwhelm anyone more than I already have! Thanks very much in advance for any help and guidance you can provide.