Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wood Heat -- Napoleon To The Rescue!

Hi Folks,

It's been a long time since I posted -- just too busy at work lately!

In order to apply the interior plasters, we need to keep the building above freezing at all times, preferably above 50 degrees (F).  I ordered a really nice little stove from Napoleon -- the 1100-PL, with cast iron legs. After much design and re-design we figured out what we'd need for Metalbestos chimney pipe, or smoke pipe, and installed it over 2 pretty darn cold days in December.

Then we hoked up the little Napoleon stove,and started heating the building...  Ahhh, wood HEAT!

Here's the cute little Napoleon stove, after installation:

Napoleon 1100PL Wood Stove

This stove has a pretty small firebox, but should be plenty to serve as back-up heat when the house is finished out.  For now, it should be large enough to keep the plaster from freezing.  This installation will be neatened up when the drywall and plaster are complete, but it should do for now.

BUT... Important Science Lesson:

The Napoleon stove spent the first 10 days or so just thawing out the walls and the building materials.  With huge tubs (~ 1800 pounds) of natural plaster frozen solid (we had low temp's around -12 F earlier), it took quite a few days to bring the place up to around 50 degrees.

Then the plaster was applied to the walls...

Turns out, when you spread the plaster, and increase its surface area by about 20-fold, it begins to cure, and lose moisture to the air through evaporation.  The evaporation process requires an energy input -- the heat of evaporation.  In this case, the energy source is heat from the stove.  As the clay dries, it begins to cool, and to keep the building around 50 degrees suddenly takes a LOT more heat!

Thus, we needed to bring in a larger wood stove for a month or so, in order to dry the plaster on the walls.  The Napoleon stove was sized for the eventual heat load, but the construction process simply takes more heat, until we get the plaster dried out!

Here's the Elm Wood Stove we borrowed for the duration of the plaster work, sitting right in front of the Napoleon:

The Elm Wood Stove c. 1989

The Elm stoves were made in Waterbury, VT, about an hour drive away, and are no longer made.  They are quite pretty things, with a barrel shape, and artistic castings and a "pie plate" front.  This one needs a good cleaning and some stove blacking, but it does work just fine.  We have it sitting on some old cast iron legs I found in the woods from the Fox Farm days.

Now we're heating TWO buildings with wood stoves, so we spend a lot of time building fires!  Tonight is very windy & snowy, and well below zero, so I have to go tend the fire in the Elm stove up in the bale house...

More later,