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March 29, 2009

 

 Lots of people don't realize it, but when you use a heating appliance that is vented to the outside, every cubic foot of air that goes up and out the stack has to be replaced in the room. With the regular old fireplaces and pot belly stoves we know and love, that replacement is going to be in the form of cold air seeping in through cracks, under doors, around windows... any way it can get in. Otherwise there would be a vacuum formed in the house, your ears would pop, the canary would die and eventually your house would implode.

Well, okay, I got a little carried away... actually, if your house is that tightly sealed, your wood burning device would burn slowly and it would be difficult to get a good draft going up the chimney. A lousy draft = a smoky wood burner or fireplace with a lot of the smoke ending up indoors.

My old house is no where close to being tightly sealed. When I had a good fire going in the wood burner, I could put the back of my hand up to the crack in the front door jamb and feel the cold air being pulled in. A lot of the work of the heater was going toward heating that cold air! I finally decided to do something about it. But what? The air intake on the front of my stove was a round design with a built-in adjustable damper and it swung open with the door when it was opened to add wood.

 

 

 

After tossing around many, many ideas that eventually got dismissed because of complexity or cost or being a pain to remove every time I wanted to add wood, I thunk this one up. It went together so easily that I was kicking myself for not thinking of it sooner.

While replacing old rusty flue pipe, I noticed that a 6" 90 degree elbow perfectly fit over the round air intake on this stove. All it needed to secure it was a small angle bracket, pop rivited to the elbow and held to the stove door with sheet metal screws.

I had just bought some dryer vent hose for another purpose, and my quick-as-a-snail brain put the two together.

 

 

 

 

Yes, I've got rocks on my stove. They serve as a thermal mass that slowly releases heat into the room after the fire has gone out. The smooth rock on top of the granite block is my bedtime foot warmer on really cold nights. Behind the chunk of granite is a pile of aluminum ingots from my backyard foundry. Sometimes the granite gets replaced by a big pot of lima beans or corn on the cob!

On top is a small amethyst "cathedral" that I put there just because I think it looks purdy.

You could use more than one mounting bracket, but I found that the weight of the pipe and hose holds the elbow securely enough against the door.

 

The only drawback of this scheme is that I can't reach the air intake damper to adjust it from outside. I'd have to open the door and adjust it from the inside. But I pretty much leave it wide open anyway.

 

 

I think I need to invest in a bottle of stove-black.

 

This is 6" flexible foil dryer vent hose that you can get at most any home improvement store. It is secured to the elbow with metal type heating & air duct tape. It looks so much like the foil of the hose that you can't tell where one ends and the other begins.

 

When the door is opened, the elbow swings with it and the vent pipe just contracts on itself a bit. Works great!

 

No, the vent hose is in no danger of being damaged by heat. Actually, when a fire is going, the vent hose and the elbow both become cold to the touch because of the cold air flowing through it from outside the house.

 

 

I didn't even have to cut an opening to the outside. Back when I used central heat, there was a 4" x 10" heat register mounted in the floor right behind where my stove is located now. I just bought a 4"x10" to 6" round adapter (also at the home improvement store) and adapted my vent hose to the register. The heat duct under the house is disconnected, so fresh air is pulled in from under the house.

 

We are just finishing our first winter season of using the stove with this fresh air intake system and there have been no problems associated with it. My housemate said she could tell the difference right away because it was easier to heat the house and she wasn't having to chop as much wood.

'Nuff said.

 

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