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Old 11-25-2013, 07:10 PM
 
49 posts, read 77,368 times
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Hi all,

Looking at some land near Roundup and nearly all the trees are Ponderosa Pines. What do people use to heat their homes with? I've heard pine isn't that great because it burns fast and also causes build up in chimneys or smoke stacks - I've also read that some still use it but just make sure to keep it cleaned out thoroughly. I know that there are a lot of areas in Eastern Montana without hardwoods, so what do people usually do?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 11-25-2013, 08:11 PM
 
Location: Where the mountains touch the sky
4,912 posts, read 5,798,823 times
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Ponderosa Pine is fine for burning. Doesn't burn as long as hardwoods, not as hot as Lodgepole Pine, not as resinous as Fir or Spruce.

Just burn it with more air than you would with a hardwood so it burns hotter and it does fine. I found a supply of it this year and have been using it and while I prefer Lodgepole, Ponderosa has been working fine for me.

Just don't choke it down in your stove, it doesn't bank well and if you let it smolder, you will get creosote buildup, so just burn it at an efficient level balancing heat production to smoke, and there should be no problems.

It doesn't hurt to check your chimney every year anyway, but a properly installed double wall pipe will protect you from issues as well.

Or you can use coal which is very available in Roundup.

Good luck
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Old 11-25-2013, 09:44 PM
 
49 posts, read 77,368 times
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You're awesome man! Thanks for the great feedback once again. When you say choke it down - you mean don't cram it full of wood right? Burn it hot and efficiently.

Apparently I'm new to using a wood stove and determining the right tree to cut for this stuff. Is there a preferred tree size when cutting PondeBullBoxer31? I'd imagine the larger the better so it burns longer. Forgive my naiveness I just know with hardwoods you cut a dead mature tree to burn - just don't see many dead pines - am I wrong?

Thanks again.
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Old 11-25-2013, 10:17 PM
 
Location: Where the mountains touch the sky
4,912 posts, read 5,798,823 times
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By choking it down I mean shutting down the draft to reduce airflow to the fire. If you close down your dampers, the fire burns lower, incomplete combustion = creosote.
More air = hotter fire and cleaner burn.

There is no real preferred size, just whatever is either standing dead or seasoned dry. Its harder to split than Lodgepole, similar to fir, but it can be done with a good splitting maul, that's how I do it anyways. If it is well seasoned and split, it catches fire really well and burns clean. Small blocks that are small enough to fit in your stove without splitting work fine, but Ponderosa Bark resists fire and it can be tough to get it started.
Once the bark is seasoned though, it burns pretty good if more smoky than the wood.
I find the bark actually works pretty good in my forge as long as I have plenty of air on it, it burns pretty hot.

Lots of dead pines with the beetle infestation. One place I get my wood went through and dropped the trees killed by the beetles to keep them from falling on their buildings. Only problem is that pine can start rotting fast and gets punkie, don't burn as good.

You shouldn't have any problem finding dead pondeBullBoxer31 anywhere around Roundup as there are a lot of them all along the Musselshell.
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Old 11-25-2013, 10:18 PM
 
Location: Lost in Montana *recalculating*...
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Oh there's plenty of dead pines in Montana, lol.

My old rule of thumb was never cut anything larger than I'm willing to pick up and put in the truck. But then I got a tractor. I was cutting massive oaks (back in WV) and piling them in the truck with the loader. Problem is- you've got to split it all down!

I've found the perfect size (for me) was a log (any species) that I could split 4 ways and wind up with a piece no bigger round than my forearm. You get two pieces heart faced, 1 bark faced. Easier to carry, split and stack. If possible I steered clear of twisted trunks, knarly limbs and things like that. It just made production easier. That's just my preference.

I have not burned a woodstove since moving here 3-4 years ago, however we burned wood for 15+ years back in WV. We now have a pretty good pellet stove and it works well for us.
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Old 11-25-2013, 11:15 PM
 
49 posts, read 77,368 times
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Good information to know guys! The property I'm looking at has a ton of pines on it so that's why I was asking. With that being said, what is the most convenient/cost effective way of heating your home? Do you prefer the pellet stove or coal or other?

It's just nice to know that I can use the pines if I need them.
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Old 11-26-2013, 07:40 AM
 
Location: Lost in Montana *recalculating*...
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Convenient and cost effective? Well the cheapest most convenient way to heat right now is NG. If it was available here i'd have it in a heartbeat.

Me personally we like the pellet stove and use it as a primary and our electric baseboard as a finisher. If we are cold in a room we turn the electric on. I burned a lot of wood before and it's a time consuming process. We have two very active kids so our time is stretched. Pellets are easy- take the truck to the store, load a pallet on the back and stack the bags in the garage. Add one bag per day. Clean the stove once or twice a week. Empty the ash pan once a month or more. Very quick and easy. It's equivalent in cost to NG.

If I had the time? I would burn wood. Even though it was a lot of work I enjoyed being outside and working. It's the cheapest form of heat in terms of cost, but the most expensive in terms of time. It's a commitment.
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Old 11-26-2013, 07:57 AM
 
Location: Where the mountains touch the sky
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Personally, I prefer wood heat even with the work. I had a pellet stove and had nothing but problems with it, but they seem to work fine for other folks. Toss of the coin I guess.

In my area, I can buy cords of Ponderosa for around $60 delivered. I have to buck and split, but it's still a lot less work than going out into the forest and felling the logs myself and hauling.
Blocked /delivered is around $100, Split delivered is usually $125-$150 a cord, so it isn't that bad price wise.

Since you would be in Roundup, I would look into a coal stove because there are mines there and you can buy a couple tons and be set.

Not as much work as wood, but you would still need a shuttle or auger to move the coal to the firebox. I have seen setups with a coal fired furnace where an auger feeds the firebox very much like a pellet stove. You would just fill your bin and let her go. Probably need to make sure the sizes are ok to move into your box.

If you already have pine on the property, you will probably want to burn at least some wood, maybe in your shop or garage, just to prevent the fire load from building up on your property as Roundup is a dry area and gets hit by fire pretty regular.

Make sure you have a defensible space around your home just to be on the safe side.
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Old 11-26-2013, 09:08 AM
 
49 posts, read 77,368 times
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Right - we have NG here in NC and yes that is def the best way to go if it's available. I just figured it wasn't available in Roundup.

So coal + wood sounds like a good idea - just need a separate stove for each? I'd like to have the wood stove as a backup source. How much does coal generally cost per ton and how long does a ton last?

When I visited I saw the area where the 2012 fire came through. I will honestly say that's the biggest concern for me. I did see that 2013 was a pretty damp year though in that neck of the woods. There are threats just about anywhere you live so I'm just trying to weigh the pros and cons.

We like the fact that the property is 35-40 mins away from Billings but still is remote enough for our liking. We like the no-government influence in Musselshell County. No restrictions on building, wells etc. However, none of that matters if you're building a life there to only be burned to the ground by a random fire. I know the residence can be built back but I love the trees on the property and the privacy it lends - so if it burns it would take years to recover that.

Not sure... maybe you guys can make me feel better about that part? lol.
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Old 11-26-2013, 09:31 AM
 
Location: Lost in Montana *recalculating*...
11,856 posts, read 15,500,183 times
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The old Dutchwest stoves made by Federal Airtight were designed for both. General rule of thumb is you can burn wood in a coal stove, but typically not vice-versa. A lot depends on the size of the shaker grate.

Here's a thread about it- Wood/Coal Stove Question
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