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Another new guy with questions...

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by blthomas, Oct 14, 2006.

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  1. blthomas

    blthomas New Member

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    Hey there.

    Name is Blair.

    I'm not new to burning, but seeking advise on what I can and can't do.

    I've had free standing wood and coal burners, and now am in a home with my first fire place.

    We bought the house last year, the fireplace is in a basement family room.

    I cleaned it from top and bottom openings best I could using extendstion rods and a round chiney brush.

    We burned ALOT of wood last year trying to supplement the heat pump.

    Now the questions....

    After having used the fireplace, I need more heat. I have been looking at inserts, coal and wood.

    My fireplace is not masonry. It's a Superior brand, metal with the fake firebrick, the flue is metal, I believe the double walled type through a chase on the main floor to the roof.

    I have been told I can't pull the fireplace out and stuff a insert in with that type of flue pipe, (metal, no masonry), and not having a masonry fireplace itself to use as a heatsoak if I'm using the right terms.

    So am I on the right track? My fireplace cannont be made into a insert?

    Could I get a free standing stove and using the appropiate distances to combustables in the basement still use my metal chimney? This was how we burned our coal in the last house. Douoble walled chimnet stack through a ceiling support box and out the roof. Straight and simple.

    All my stove's have been Harmon's, I'd love to get one if I can't do a insert due to lack of masonry in my situation.

    Thanks for any thoughts or advise, wish I had found this forum last year, or a few years before that when I first started burning coal.

    Blair in Virginia.

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  2. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    What about a free standing direct vent coal stove?
  3. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    There are some inserts out there that are approved for your type of fireplace. I think Lopi and Quadrafire have a few. You may have to reline your chimney if it's not rated at 2100 degree pipe? Take some measurements of the firebox to a local dealer and see what they have that might fit.
  4. blthomas

    blthomas New Member

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    I'm not sure of all the terminology. Is direct vent just main exhaust pipe out? Utilizing the existing flue pipe?

    I'd go for one, but the wife wants to keep the mantle and fireplace look. It's all finished out in wood.


    Thanks for the heads up. I'll definitely look into this ASAP.

    Many thanks guys.

    Blair
  5. kd460

    kd460 Feeling the Heat

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    It sounds like the same boat I was in. My prefab zero clearance fireplace is a Heatilator with the double wall flue in a wood/stick constructed chimney chase.

    What you need to look for is an insert that is ZERO CLEARANCE APPROVED. That seems to be the term you want to look for when shopping for an insert in a prefab firebox. You will also want a stainless steel chimney liner that is connected to the insert and runs the entire length of the chimney. You should also use insulation with the liner. I personally did not go with the insulation. The insert drafts well, but, I am going to add the insulation. Some say you need it and some say you don't. After a little investigating and revelation, I decided to add it and will do so soon.

    There is lots of info on this site about installs, and not sure if you will contract this out or do it yourself. Just make sure you pull a permit (although it did not help me in my situation with the lack of insulation-another story). The biggest issue will be sizing up the appropriate insert for your firebox. I was extremely limited with what brand and size I could go with based on my dimensions. Every manufacturer lists firebox opening sizes, but what is just as important, but not as commonly listed is the location of the flue outlet. This is VERY IMPORTANT. You need to make sure the insert fits, you need to make sure the flue collar on the insert and the stainless liner can be attatched when the insert is slid in (someone needs to get hands in there to make the connection), and you need to make sure the flue on the insert is in line (location) with your double wall pipe chase.

    I shopped and shopped, found a pacific that would fit, but then when it came time to pick it up, I realized that physically there ws no way the liner would connect to the insert. The installer said "no problem-we can cut the firebox" thats when I learned a valuable lesson-and I knew that "cutting the firebox" is not allowed or safe. Had to start over and found the one I have in my sig. It lined up perfectly and, the collar for the flue can be installed and removed from INSIDE the firebox. This is a nice feature as it allowed me to get a larger unit.

    Now this part I will mention very carefully. If you pay to have an insert installed, then be aware. The majority of installers in the industry are top notch, but, you really need to do your homework in order to make sure you get a high quality install. As with any service, you can get a bum install. If I was not educated by this website, I would probably be burning right now with a chopped up firebox. I have read many other similiar instances here. I am sure they are rare, but we hear about them here because people come to this website for advice when there is a problem. It is highly unlikely, but you need to make sure. After all it's your house that is on the line. So, do your homework so you can talk the talk and walk the walk.

    I believe you can use the harmon if you use a liner and maintain proper clearances for hearth style freestanding (don't quote me-you need to check or other may know for sure). You need to check yourself with various manufacturer's. The question is, is it allowable to use an insert in your current firebox (if zero clearance approved) and/or a free standing by running a direct connect insulated liner up your current double wall flue? I have also read terms like "mobile home approved" listed in manufacturer's manuals.

    Post the dimensions of your firebox including flue location. Maybe we can find something. KD
  6. blthomas

    blthomas New Member

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    Big thanks KD.

    I'll take some measurements and a pic or two to post if it will help.

    I read a bunch on Lopi and Quadrafire site's this morning. My main concern is the flue itself. If it's already a double wall, am I understanding that I may have to pull it and replace it to run a insert?

    That may be a deal killer there considering cost and time involved.

    This would be a DIY job, I installed both of my freestanding units, but those were both direct vent I think, the flue came out the back, and hit double wall stainless at the ceiling support box and went straight up through the roof.

    I'll pop some measurements when I get home from work later.

    Thanks a bunch guys.
    Blair
  7. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    What is the diameter of your flue? Most prefab zero clearance type fireplaces are 8 or 10". Most new wood stove inserts have 6" flue. So you can just slide a new liner down your existing flue.
  8. blthomas

    blthomas New Member

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    Good question Todd.

    I'm going to say 8", I just a got a round brush last year when we moved in. Think it's 8" anyhow. Another concern is in the framed part, there is a bend somehwere that I can't see and haven't figured access to either.

    Another thing to look into.

    Blair
  9. kd460

    kd460 Feeling the Heat

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    Yes, my thoughts exactly. Leave the double wall in place, slip a 6 inch liner inside the current double wall. However, you mention a bend somewhere in the double wall. That might make things a little tougher, it depends on how severe of the bend. Hopefully it's not do drastic of an offset. KD
  10. blthomas

    blthomas New Member

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    It's definitely got me thinking.

    I'm not 100% on having a bend or not.

    However, let me see if I can describe my flue, and maybe you guys can give me insight.

    In the basment, the fireplace is built into a framed and drywalls section say 2 feet or more from the block wall. Directly above in the upstairs living room, we have a 2.5 or 3 foot square framed and drywalled chase that goes from floor to ceiling.

    On the outside, there is a 2' by 4' framed protrusion from the house, but it stops even with the framing. It doesn't go past the block meets framing area.

    So I'm thinking my bend is in the chase somewhere before it gets to floor level. Dunno. I haven't been on the roof in a couple months, maybe I can go there, remove the cap and look down with my halogen and see what's doing.

    Thanks,
    Blair
  11. kd460

    kd460 Feeling the Heat

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    As long as you feel confident you can do it safely, that would be best. Also get a flashlight in the insert flue pipe, pointing up to the roof. Go on the roof remove cap or whatever, and look for light. KD
  12. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Hey BL... I did exactly what your saying you'd like to do in my zero clearance fireplace. Mine is a Majestic, and the insert I installed specifically has language in the install manual that states it can be installed in a Majestic fireplace. The only "modifications" I made were to remove the damper (which is an allowable modification), removed the glass doors and the door track, and installed additional fireplace floor support. My insert weighs 315 lbs and I wasn't sure the fireplace was truely up to the task.

    You will need to install a liner in your chimney since I seriously doubt it's rated to handle 2100 degrees. While a bit of a pain, if you have a helper, installing a liner is not very hard if your chimney is straight. Mine isn't straight, but my daughter (11) was easily up to the task.

    Another option mentioned here is a direct vent. Look at the Harman DVC-500. That is a direct vent coal stove. Very nice...VERY expensive.
  13. blthomas

    blthomas New Member

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    Thanks guys.

    I'm headed to the local Harman and Quardrafire dealers to discuss my options and look things over.

    KD, I'm comfortable up there, after talking to those guys today, I hope to check out the chimney and figure out what's happening up there this evening.

    I need to locate the bend. I'll cut the drywall if nesseccary.

    Warren, good to know. I'd like to use what I can here, I'll ask about the DVC-500 tonight. I'm sure the cost will make me wish I didn't like this stuff.
  14. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    I wouldn't be too worried about that bend unless you think it's 90 degrees. A flexible liner should go right down as long as your fireplace chimney is metal.
  15. blthomas

    blthomas New Member

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    You got me there. I was thinking it was a 45 bend, but I didn't realize that the liner was flexible. I was thinking interlocking sections. Very cool.

    Kinda mad, I didn't get a chance to get to the dealer here in town.

    Damn commute with so much traffic.

    Oh, well I got the mule unloaded and brought a couple cart fulls of older stuff into the basement.

    Thanks for all the help guys.

    Blair
  16. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Your welcome Blair...Let us know how it turns out.
  17. blthomas

    blthomas New Member

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    Well, to say I'm disappointed is a understatement.

    I took measurements of my ZC Superior to the local stove guru. He is a Quadrafire dealer, among others, so the products available were limited to that brand for inserts, and Harmon stuff for everything else.

    Looking at my sketch, top view and side profile, my unit is too small from the bottom to top.

    I have almost exactly 20". The small Quad insert is 22 1/16" top to bottom. What a bummer.

    I plan on double checking my dimensions tonight, but it looks like we'll move in another direction I suppose.

    I'd like to use the same chimney and put a different unit in, but I don't think the wife will go for it. Not sure what I would need to do to put say a free standing wood/coal stove in and use the same pipe. Liner?

    I did look at two Harmon products. I looked at the DVC-500. I could put this on the other end of the house where we have a walkout, it's a straight forward install.

    The other unit, a dual fuel add-on furnace, really had me thinking, but it requires a chimney of it's own, (no biggie), but it's not a looker.

    Meaning it would go in the mechanical room and would have to run the chimney pipe up through the main floor and out to the roof. Also means building a frame chase to hide the pipe, again no biggie, but much more work.

    I like the add-on, it comes with two blowers, plenum to tie into duct work too. About $1400 hundred cheaper than the DVC-500, and on par with several other free standing units.

    Have to mull it over.

    Anyone have any input regarding some possible small inserts that I could look into before passing up on the insert idea all together?

    Thanks,
    Blair
  18. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    I had a height limitation also. Look at the stove I installed. It will fit your situation.

    Osburn 1800i
  19. blthomas

    blthomas New Member

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    Thanks Warren. I had missed you posting that before.


    Blair

    EDIT: I Googled the unit you have Warren. Lots of things to be pleased with for sure.

    Couple questions, maybe you could answer.

    This unit would fit, but I'd only have 3/4" clearance. Is installion possible, seems almost unbelieveable that I could slide that unit in and mount up the liner to it with only 3/4" to work. Maybe from the inside?

    Have you burned with yours yet?

    How does it do?

    It only takes a 16" log. Thats some small wood there.

    Thanks,
    Blair
  20. blthomas

    blthomas New Member

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    Warren, what do you think of your Osburn? Anybody else have an opinion on the Osburn's?

    I'm tickled that Warren linked me with the info on it, means I can get one to fit!!!

    Warren, how well does it do?

    I'm looking at trying to heat a 1200 sqft rancher with the insert in the basement. Can I do it?

    Thanks for the help,
    Blair
  21. KateC

    KateC New Member

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    Hi Blair! I'm pretty new here and wouldn't presume to offer much advice, but for what it's worth I have the same insert. It was installed almost 2 months ago on one end of our 960 sq.ft. ''rancher''----hasn't been given a serious work-out yet but a couple of mornings I woke up sweating my patootie off after my honey got it going. I was also a bit concerned about it only taking 16'' logs but find from tree services selling cordwood that it's considered their standard size---also we process our own and cut it smaller anyway. You'd be surprised how much heat the little sucker gives off, and the blower is included, definitely a huge plus. Not that it was the deciding factor, but it's also very pretty! Hope my little opinion is some help.
  22. blthomas

    blthomas New Member

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    Thanks a bunch!

    Those are things I want to hear. I went out looking at my own small stockpile, and much of it would fit, so I guess no worries.

    I too will process my own, may have to buy some for this season.

    My wife thinks it's a pretty unit, (I do too), I showed it to her last night online.

    Thanks for the input,
    Blair
  23. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I have a very Heatilator fireplace very similar to KD. I would advise going with the largest unit possible that fits. KD's insert is larger than the one I got, a Quadrafire 2700i, but I couldn't find a local dealer of anything else that would fit. We are quite happy with our unit, but it does not have the big output or burn time that others have. I can get more wood that you'd expect in there though. A plus for me was that the hearth didn't have to be modified because the insert doesn't project much.

    The brouchure and manual are in the following link, and you can get some of the measurements there. It seems that most makers have the manual on line so you can get the installation requirements. http://quadrafire.com/products/inserts/woodInsertDetail.asp?f=2700i

    I also attached a pic of our install. We just added the mantle shelf. We got it on line through eBay and we feel that it was both good looking and economical. It has the VelvetFoot seal of approval. Link: http://stores.ebay.com/The-Home-Decor-Store-Inc

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