Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Maiden Voyage of the Woodstove

I wrote an earlier post about the hearthpad that Byron built for our Woodstock Fireview soapstone woodstove (click here to check it out).  We finally had it installed - incidentally, on our 10th wedding anniversary.  Our home has electric heat, but we're planning on heating primarily with wood so we won't go catatonic every time we open an electric bill this winter and because it's another way many people add a little sustainability to their lives, whether they know it or not!  (Did you know burning wood in a modern woodstove releases just as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as a tree rotting naturally?  All of the wood we currently have stockpiled was given to us from trees that were cut down or pruned from small city lots.)  Besides that, however, wood heat has this amazing ability to penetrate you to the core.  There's really nothing like it.  We installed a Hearthstone Homestead soapstone woodstove we bought off Craigslist in Other House a couple years ago, and it kept us quite toasty during the Snowpacolypse of '09-'10.  Byron and his cousin installed that stove with double-wall chimney pipe, which we bought at the hardware store, and Byron built the hearthpad with slate tile on top of layers of cement board.  Behind the stove, Byron installed reclaimed wormy chestnut panelling under the built-in bookshelves.  Ah, memories.  We haven't always been in the Ghetto Stage!

Our Hearthstone woodstove...hopefully whoever buys our house will appreciate it as much as we did!
We decided to go with a Woodstock stove this time because it's built a little differently than the Hearthstone.  Woodstocks have double-wall soapstone with an insulating airspace in between, which lets the heat emit slowly...spreading it more evenly over the entire house.  Our particular model has a catalytic combuster that actually burns the smoke from the wood, making it extremely efficient.  So if Byron continues to stockpile wood like he has been for the past few years - and have I mentioned he's a wood miser? - we should be good to go until we're well into our eighties or nineties.  Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating.  Anyway, Woodstock hand crafts all of its stoves in New Hampshire and ships customer-direct for a very reasonable fee...less than driving up there, for sure.  Click here to visit their website.  So after Byron picked the stove up, the trick was to get it into the house.  We had to call in some big guns for that:

See that little white tag on the crate?  It reads, "500 + lbs."  Yikes.

Thanks to whoever invented the dolly...
...and thanks to Fred (my brother, in the black shirt), Robb (with his back to the camera) and Shawn (on right.  Also known as Hercules.)
The farmhouse has two substantial chimneys (and three fireplaces) that were added on by Byron's Aunt Sue and Uncle Rodney in the 1980s.  However, you can't just smack a woodstove onto the hearth and stick a pipe up through the damper...unless you have a death wish.  When installing a woodstove, a chimney needs to be lined with a special stainless steel pipe, wrapped in ceramic wool insulation.  We thought about installing the chimney liner ourselves, but decided that was best left to people who actually know what they're doing, since we are talking fire here.  And if there's any way you can have this done in the summer, you'll probably get a better price.  I think the guy we hired has been pulling some serious hours lately, but we liked him and also liked that he actually cut out the damper in the fireplace; some installers want to leave the damper in and ovalize (i.e., squish) the pipe, and we weren't too keen on that idea.  Here's Byron and his woodstove the evening it was installed.  I got a full lesson on operating the thing, since this is going to be my job - one of them - when Byron is at work.  I've already requested a cheat sheet.  Byron loves the stove not only because it's one of the best quality and most efficient available - not to mention made in America by craftsmen and women who obviously take pride in what they do - but also because he somehow thinks Grandma and Grandaddy Green would appreciate this work of art sitting in their parlor and warming a home they loved.

The first fire!
Our be much enjoyed for many winters!


  1. A bit envious! I really want to heat with wood. We had an old fireplace insert, but it was funky & giving us all black lung, so it had to go. Nothing like back it went into the free cycle.

  2. Keep a close watch on Craigslist! It's hard to find Woodstock, but Hearthstone (another soapstone stove company) and Jotul (pronounced "Yodel") are both excellent. We saw a Yodel insert one time that was seriously underpriced b/c the owner didn't know what she had. Your house is set up really well to be heated with wood.

  3. Hi just found your blog post on the stove, we r looking to put a heritage model into our fireplace. I found one on craigslist considering it.