Saturday, February 28, 2015

Wood burning Furnace and Fire Wood

The main source of heat in our house when we moved in was our baseboard heaters. They are essentially just space heaters that are about the size of 2x4's mounted along the base of the wall, there is one or two in most rooms. Well they didn't really keep the house warm, I wasn't freezing but still had to wear my coat to keep at warm and when we got our $400 electricity bill we decided we would not be using those any longer (electricity here is really expensive!).

So we invested in a Englander wood burning furnace that was rated for 3300 sq ft house from Home Depot. Our house is 1600 sq ft but in case we ever finish off the attic we got the big furnace. It had great reviews and we thought no big deal, easy peasy, well just shove some wood in there and make our house super toasty... Well it didn't like that.

Green Wood (wood that is freshly cut) does not burn hot it burns cold which means that the fire is to busy burning off all the liquid in the wood to actual let the fire get hot. We tried burning green wood for about 2 weeks. We tried a variety of different methods different types of wood and it was nothing short of a headache and all the while we were really cold and there was no way I was turning on the wall heaters again! Finally we ran a couple floor vents under the house to see if that would help circulate the air, it was a good half days work and didn't really improve our situation. We thought maybe we had made a huge mistake putting this 600lb furnace in our cellar cause it wasn't working and we were going to have to take it back to the store which meant hauling it back up the stairs. It hurts my back to think of it.

One day it happened that we were out of wood and James was working. I remembered seeing a stack of some old wood where I think the previous owner had a pile under some leafs by the side fence. I went and checked it out and found a good size pile of somewhat decomposed wood with a couple large logs that needed split. The kids and I got the wagon and loaded it full with rotten but dry wood and took it into burn. It burned beautifully hot and it warmed the whole house but it burned quickly like cardboard so I was re-stocking the oven every hour and going through a lot of wood. James eventually went out and split up the large log which was well seasoned (left out to dry for several seasons or months) sure enough this time the house got HOT! to warm and it burned for hours, we had finally figured out the trick.

We had discovered our error. We need well seasoned wood, so we have been scouring our land for fallen trees to cut up, and James has been working tirelessly trying to keep us warm. It has been such a learning process.

Side note: I love that my kids have been learning the value of work (if you go and get wood for the fire you will be warm if not you will freeze) its a direct cause and effect lesson which is so easy for them to understand.

One more quick storey:
Despite diligent efforts we have had a hard time finding well seasoned wood. Its really something you need to cut and let dry out for the next year. Even if you cut up an old fallen tree the good hard wood from the trunk is still green and needs to be dried out. We usually have a 2 -3 day supply of wood and then we have to go hunt for more.
Unfortunately James came down with  a stomach bug this morning and last night it snowed freezing everything over, AND we were at the end of our 3 day supply of wood. By mid-morning it was cold in our house (23 degrees outside). Since James was sick and couldn't really go cut up frozen fallen trees I decide to go into town and buy a  Mr. Buddy propane heater. Well I think our hopes were a little to high because It really didn't do much beside heat up a 3 foot radius around itself which is great if your camping but doesn't do much in 1600 sq ft.

By about 5pm I had had it. I got myself and Luke bundled up and we were going to find some wood, ice storm or not. I think James being the provider felt strong guilt and somehow got himself up and ready with the truck to come help. Just as we were about to drive the truck into the field our neighbors came driving by and asked what we were up to. They generously offered to give us some of there wood. I saw the relief wash over James face (he really didn't feel well!) We went over to their house and they load us up with enough to get through the next day or two and also offered to let us come and cut up some of there fallen trees (on a not so blistery day of course). On top of that the wife (Donella) sent me home with some cute hand crocheted dish towels and a scrubber. We felt so blessed and grateful to this kind family I don't think they know the extent of our circumstance or our gratitude. But we could see that Heavenly Father was once again as always watching over us.

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