It has been quite cold around here for the past week, so I decided to build a fire in the RS. I went to my sons house and got two wheelbarrows full of some old wood he had that was cut for use in a wood burning stove or a fireplace. Wood you burn in a RS is cut smaller in diameter and longer in length than for a open fireplace, so I split them down to about 3 inches, the pieces he had are about 16 inches long, more like what you would use in a wood burning stove. In our RS, which is the one you see in the drawing on our home page, you can see that much longer pieces of wood could be used. If you have them, old 2/4's work good, cut up to about 4 feet long. When I use two by fours it takes about 32 feet of studs to fill it up, and that makes a wonderful fire, but for now we are just using this old stuff.
I have made a fire twice a day now for three days. When I built the first fire it had got down to about 20 F that night, and was the same for the next night. We have electric forced air heating, which is old fashioned, and probably not used much anymore. But this house is old, built in a time of plenty in 1973, and at a time when folks didn't worry about insulation all that much either or large power bills, because power was cheep. But not anymore so we have added quite a lot of insulation in the ceiling years ago.
I use a propane weed burner to get the fire going good, which reduces smoke out the chimney, and gets the fire going faster than the news paper or kindling method. It looks like I am going to blow the house up, carrying in the tank and all, and it scared he H out of one lady who was visiting my wife once. but it is effective. Following the steps to making a nice fire, I get it going with the propane, which only takes a few minutes, but remember even the heat from the propane is used to a good use as it heats the brick and later comes out into the room as even heat, so nothing is wasted. I leave the door open to give the fire plenty of air to get going, making a roaring fire, that is probably about 1700 degrees up the back side of the stove, enough to turn an old cast iron stove red, along with its metal chimney. Keeping an eye on the progress of the fire, when it gets all the wood burning well and there are some red hot coals I close the damper a little, and shut the front door. Now air for the fire comes up from the vent in the front of the fire box to feed the fire. In a little while the yellow flame has gone out mostly, and it is time to shut the damper a little more, but don't ever close it all the way. Most of the heat from this fire is stored in the brick to come out later and heat the house, another fire won't be necessary for 12 hrs or so, with the weather we are having now. I know that most of the heat is stored inside the brick because the damper, which is a metal plate that is slid over the flue to allow the smoke, (if any, and poison gas) to rise out the chimney, is not even hot at any time. I thought when I built the RS that I would need a glove or something to touch the damper and move it, but not so, it's not that hot.
I built a fire last night about 10:00 and went to bed., This morning when I checked the thermostat in the hall way, about half way to the bedroom from the RS, it was 70 F degrees. The outside temperature was around 29-30. Not all that cold, but I wouldn't what it that cold in the house. Like I said there are many leaks for cold air to come in the house, yet during the night the RS maintained the temperature at about 70 degrees. Later this morning it went down to 69, and that was about the time I built another fire. The temperature now has gone up to 70 again, as it takes a while for the heat to come out of the brick. With that fire this morning the house will stay around 70+ all day, and with another fire this evening it will be the same through the night. Outside temperature today will rise to 50, and back to freezing tonight. If it were colder another fire could be built around three or four in the afternoon, to make three fires a day. Over the years I have not had to make more than three a day to keep the house nice and warm.
I have used one half of the wood I got from my son for three days of heating. So to me that is plenty efficient and effective, and not that hard to build two fires a day. In the kitchen area, where the stove is, it is a very nice 74, and in the living room. The rest of the house could be heated by turning on the electric heating and its blowing would help circulate the heat from the warmer rooms to the cooler ones. This is at a large savings because of the RS in the middle of the living area.
The Russian Stove