Monday, October 31, 2016

Rocket Mass Stove Prep For Winter



Yes. That is a metal drum in our home. And our only source of heat.



We've had our rocket mass stove for over a year now, built it ourselves, and were beyond happy about its performance last year. We would fire it up usually in the evenings about 4pm, burn wood for 2-4 hours depending on the temp outside, and then let it burn out before we went to bed. The grain bin stayed warm (65-70 F) for the next 20 hrs or so. The sticks we burn are all scrap wood from our 7 acres and no wider than three inches so they fit in the burn chamber well. If you like to see more details about our rocket mass stove, the ducts in our concrete floor and how we built our sole heating system, please go HERE.

Of course the system was not absolutely error free, we had some issues with steam leakage between the joints of the stove pipe leading up out of the concrete floor and then outside. You can easily see the drippage on the pipes, on the wall behind the stove pipe, and on the floor.



The wall of course made me sad, being newly painted surfaces, so on a day when the stove was not being used we caulked those joints well. or so we thought. The leakage was less, but did not stop. It was times like that, when we were still in rocket mass stove learning curve mode, that I was very happy for the concrete floor. It was already ugly, so I tried not to fret the additional scarring done with the stove pipe oozing. I'll just paint the area around the pipe, and the wall again, later.

This summer we considered taking all the stove pipe above the concrete apart and reinstalling, but life got too busy when we had to deal with managing two farms. That story is HERE. So as winter is breathing down our necks, we decided to try another approach. I did some internet research and we agreed to purchase this Rescue Tape.



 This stuff is very weird. Not all all sticky to the touch, and you have to pre-stretch it before wrapping the stove pipe joints, but it does stick to itself. Hopefully it will seal up our seepage issues which primarily seem to come from the bend in the pipes.



We won't know how effective it will be until we fire up the stove for the first time this year. Last year Lift Off  Day was Nov. 15 and with the weather still being quite mild here in Illinois, we may even go beyond that day this year. When it is warm outside we open windows and let the sun heat the inside of the grain bin and the concrete floor. Around 4 when temps start to drop we just close everything up and the inside stays very comfortable, even on the nights when we did get a bit of frost.




The area between the rocket mass stove and the wall, just under the window is where I put my winter clothes drying rack, but for now I'm still happily drying clothes out on the line. The metal rack (pic on the right) was found at yet another thrift shop for only $15. Keith raised it another 24 inches by attaching some extra metal pipes he had lying around, so now there is storage on both the four shelves as well as underneath.

Stay tuned for Rocket Mass Stove Lift Off  2016 !

13 comments:

  1. i love this, I think it's such a great idea! If it was colder here in the winter it's something I'd be interested in doing. Make sure you have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted in all the roofs with a stove pipe in though as we don;t want you falling into a forever sleep from it! Stay safe, kev.

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    1. Thank you Kev. Our three sons all harped on us about that so we obeyed. :)

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  2. Thanks for sharing the particular curve balls, you're learning from your rocket stove. My dilemma is with a dishwasher at the moment. Trying to find something that will fix my problem. All but for a little clamp I can't close!

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    1. It's funny, or not. When our four kids were home I begged for a dishwasher but was told it would never fit in our old kitchen. Kids grew up, we got even busier and I PUSHED and got my dishwasher. Now eight years later, I am cooking more than ever, no dishwasher and I am very happy without it. One less dang piece of inconvenient convenience. I don't miss the dryer or microwave either. I do miss bread. I'm on a diet.

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  3. I believe that wood requires around 15% humidity to burn at its optimum, so a little moisture is almost essential. I had thought of building a rocket stove up at our barn, but we plumped for a VERY expensive Italian wood burning stove instead. Stupid us!

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    1. And I bet that stove is far prettier than our hunk of metal in the floor! At first I hated it's ugly face but it's performance won me over. The humidity thing is good to know. THANKS!

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  4. Replies
    1. It better. Our backup includes a tiny electric heater and an abundance of sweet potatoes, which may or may not burn well. I have no idea.

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  5. I hope all your work solves the problem.

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    1. If not we'll just paint the floor and wall black to coordinate.

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  6. I used silicone tape to repair a water line leak. It was trial and error, but I learned that a) yes, pre-stretch b) stretch as hard as you can while applying, pulling all the time c) start way before the join to be sealed and wind way past the join. A second application over the first really sealed the pressured water line. Hope you've got your joint sealed. Fingers crossed.

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    1. Got them and thanks! We also learned about stretching HARD and had to reapply a few pieces when we found them unraveling from the stove in the morning. Looked a bit like a mummy coming undone.

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