Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Down and Dirty of Wood Stoves as Survival Heat-Cooking

I just received this e-mail and thought it very worthy of an indepth answer, having learned much. If you would like to read and see more photos of the wood stove project, please enter it in the search tool to the right of the blog.


This is a shot in the dark if this email will even get to you after the blog being done in 2011. I was happy to see your photo of the wood stove pipe going through the window and having such a short run outside. I have a couple of questions. Have you had any issues with this set up? Also is that single wall pipe on the outside or double wall? The reason I ask is because (and please don't think I'm insane) I was planning on doing the same type set up for an emergency stove. I was told I had to use double wall pipe on the outside because it would be cold and build up creosote and cause a fire (which is why I was asking if you had any issues). I don't plan on having to run this small stove I bought and stored, but with the way the world is going I wanted to provide a source of heat if our natural gas service fails, or electricity as well. I have a generator (fuel dependent) and manual way to get water but realized living in the North East I had no back up to keep my family warm. I decided to be crazy and buy a small wood stove on clearance and store it on a dolly in the basement. If needed I can pull it up, connect all my pipe through the window just like you did and start it up.

Thanks for any info if you do get this !

Installing my wood burning stove in a north east Georgia cabin proved very interesting and more expensive than I thought. I ended up using single wall pipes, both inside and out, numerous elbows, spark arresters at the top and multiple tubes of fire-proof silicone and masonry connections.
It drew fine at first. Seemingly, though, the thing got worse, and although it heated the tiny 12 x 15 insulated studio, I found a black soot building up, a layer that needed wiping off inside furniture. This is never a good sign. If the furniture is getting coated, what about my lungs? I was working with perfectly dry wood, scavenging all around the nearby forest.
Turns out the spark arrester screen, so necessary to keep the sparks from starting the forest on fire, would catch the least little pine sap rising in the pipes.
I raised the pipes via an extension, so it would draw better. I learned to take the bottom joint apart, on the outside, scrape out all the tiny mounds of creosote that formed.
If I had to use this as an emergency heat system, I would make this a weekly chore, including getting on the ladder, and Cleaning this screen is vital as well. It will seem to draw, yet the tiniest back flow sends a toxic dust into your housing.
I was able to cook on top. I know minimal heat is needed during severe cold. I learned that windows must be cracked, and fresh air enjoyed every so often. I actually think some carbon dioxide buildup is possible. I would never fire this set up over night and let it go unattended, even the smouldering coals take vital oxygen from the air.
Of course, all things are done at your own risk, and there are many much more experienced woods people than I who use wood stoves regularly.
I got by with the single wall pipes because I used very little heat and they were far enough from the metal building.
All in all, as a very last ditch thing, and much better arrangement would have been to install a double wall pipe straight up through the roof. Still cleaning the screening and spark arrest er would be a mandatory experience.

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