HELP! Bought a House with a Coal Stove & Coal Bin...

HELP! Bought a House with a Coal Stove & Coal Bin...

PostBy: lundys On: Thu Nov 20, 2008 9:59 pm

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.
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Coal stove in unfinished basement
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Downward view of the stove opening
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Bottom opening of stove (I assume where you remove the ash?)
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Coal bin - it's in the door to the right of the stove. Hard to see what's going on, I know.
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Inside of our coal bin
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lundys
 

Re: HELP! Bought a House with a Coal Stove & Coal Bin...

PostBy: hugg On: Thu Nov 20, 2008 10:22 pm

one ton of coal requires about 37 to 38 cubic feet of coal bin space. You will have to measure the coal bin and figure out what the cubic capacity is (measure length X width X height). You will have to inspect your chimney, Stove pipe must be solid and i would make sure you have at least 2 screws holding each joint together. Make sure the shaking mechanism works on the stove. And make sure you get a CO detector. Thats some of the items i would look at. I am sure others will have items to add to the list. I also have electric baseboard heat. Thank God for coal. Good Luck and keep at it. You will be happy you took the time and couple bucks to go coal. Good Luck :D Hugg
hugg
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman / Gibraltar
Stove/Furnace Model: Magnum / CFS

Re: HELP! Bought a House with a Coal Stove & Coal Bin...

PostBy: Rob R. On: Thu Nov 20, 2008 11:40 pm

The stove looks like a Warm Morning. There are some members on there that use them and can offer some pointers.
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Lehigh Rice
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

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Re: HELP! Bought a House with a Coal Stove & Coal Bin...

PostBy: Richard S. On: Thu Nov 20, 2008 11:44 pm

lundys wrote::
- 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)?


First take the pipes off, (you should have these removed at the end of every season). Remove the ash inside the pipe and at the bottom of the chimney if it hasn't already been done. Check the stove for places where ash can accumulate and remove that. Get a mirror and look up the chimney. Cleaning the ash out is the most important step for coal safety because when you burn coal fly ash accumulates and will eventually block the flue. Generally speaking you should only have to do this once a year.

If the chimney is old and/or you are not sure of it's condition have a professional chimney sweep look at it.

Dan from the Fireplace Gallery is good if you live near Noxen.

http://fireplacegallery.net

Check the stove for any obvious problems like cracks in the cast iron etc.

I've noted you're flue goes into a wall? Is that a masonry wall?


- 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.


There's a thread here, look for a recent post by a memeber named dalls. He has video. :)

How to Light a Hand Fired Coal Stove

- From the picture below, how many tons of coal do you think I could fit in our coal bin?


About 40 cubic feet per ton. Roughly I would guess 3 tons at the very most by the picture but you'll have to measure it. that should be enough for the year for your needs.


- 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'.


Probably no more than 4 tons in that size house. Even less if you have good insulation, 6 inch walls, good windows, no teenagers... :P

doing the "direct vent" method?


When someone refers to direct vent or "power vent" they are referring to the method that is used to remove the flue gas. These use fans to force the gas out of the house when a chimney is not available. Since you have a chimney you don't have to worry about that. As for circulation of heat there are many ideas and ways to do it.
Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

Re: HELP! Bought a House with a Coal Stove & Coal Bin...

PostBy: dd412 On: Fri Nov 21, 2008 12:30 am

I'd like to tell you my experience with my wood/coal stove. I hope this helps.

I have a front loading wood/coal stove. For mine to operate properly, I have to build a very good "wood" coal base
of hot wood embers before I can add my coal. I found that the better I lay down the underneath wood coal layer (3-4 inches deep)
- the longer and better my stove operates. My husband used to just start the fire and it would never last more than 8 hours.
I used to build my wood coal base with small kindling and progressed to larger. I guess he just didn't have the patience.
I could operate my fire for 2 days.

I have always positioned the coal in a pryamid- leaving at least a 2 inch margin from the all sides. (Banking it as a slope never worked for me.)
That way when the coal burns the ash falls to the side. Of coarse you will have to shake the grate so that the ash falls into the ash tray below.
There's no need to go crazy with the shaking. Just every once in a while give it a good shake so that air isn't blocked from coming in underneath
the coal pryamid. Observation is the best learning tool. You will be able to figure it out shortly as to what works best for you. It's well worth the effort.

Try to prevent yourself from poking at the coal. When you do this the ash will sometimes stick to the outside of the hot
coal and prevents it from burning efficiently. When this happens you will end up with unburnt ore looking coal.
Unburnt coal also happens when the fire is not hot enough.

Another tibit: hard coal puts out approx. 14000 BTU's per pound compared to seasoned oak which in comparison puts out 8000 BTU's per pound.

Best Regards,
dd412
dd412
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Chappee Wood/Coal
Stove/Furnace Model: not sure

Re: HELP! Bought a House with a Coal Stove & Coal Bin...

PostBy: lundys On: Tue Nov 25, 2008 8:28 am

Thank you everyone for your thoughtful replies.

Richard S. wrote:If the chimney is old and/or you are not sure of it's condition have a professional chimney sweep look at it.
I've noted you're flue goes into a wall? Is that a masonry wall?

I have someone coming tomorrow to professionally clean & inspect the chimney. And yes, it is a masonry wall the chimney is going into (i.e. the side/foundation of our house).

Richard S. wrote:There's a thread here, look for a recent post by a memeber named dalls. He has video. :)
How to Light a Hand Fired Coal Stove

Thanks, I checked it out - but I'm still confused as to how I actually access the base of my stove. It appears that I can only access either the top or the bottom ash area...
lundys
 

Re: HELP! Bought a House with a Coal Stove & Coal Bin...

PostBy: envisage On: Tue Nov 25, 2008 9:39 am

markviii wrote:The stove looks like a Warm Morning. There are some members on there that use them and can offer some pointers.


That is definitely a Warm Morning coal stove. I am not sure which model it is. I have the 400. They are great stoves. I just got mine fired up Saturday night and it has been burning strong. Mine is in my basement as well. It really warms up the basement and the first floor very well.
envisage
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Werner Foundry 350a
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Warm Morning 400, Fire Boss Wood/Coal Hyrbrid
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat, Pea, Chestnut and Stove

Re: HELP! Bought a House with a Coal Stove & Coal Bin...

PostBy: 31scout On: Thu Nov 27, 2008 12:43 am

Definitely a Warm Morning stove. The model # should be on the front of the door where you load the coal in. It looks like either a Model "412" or "612". The 412 was the smallest of that model range, handled 40 lbs. of coal. I had one and it didn't have the capability to heat the area I wanted to heat. I then bought the 612, holds a 60 lb. charge of coal, of course more heat capacity and did a very nice job of heating my house. The draft control at the bottom allowed you to control the fire very well. I now have a Keystoker hand fired and the Warm Morning was much easier to control. A friend of mine has a model 612 Warm Morning and he heats his entire house with it. The house is relatively small, two stories and the stove is in the cellar. FYI.
31scout
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker

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