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Clarification (advise) on Clearances for 1905 Fireplace

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Historicalwork, Nov 5, 2012.

  1. Historicalwork

    Historicalwork New Member

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    Hi, I have spent more time than I should browsing this forum - what a great resource. We are purchasing a 1905 foursquare home with what appears to be an original fireplace. We had the chimney and its two flues checked and both need lining. But structurally they are in good shape. The house has an old oil furnace and we hope to add a wood stove to assist heating the house. We'll probably use it more for viewing than heating most of the time. But during very cold periods we would like to reduce oil usage for obvious reasons (the heating is hot water baseboard). The fireplace sits on the 1st floor and there is a 2nd floor and a partial attic above the 2nd floor. Excluding the basement area, it's probably about 2,500 sq ft. I would say the floor plan is somewhat open. But we don't expect a stove to cover the whole house.

    I have been going through specifications from various wood stove manufacturers and I can see very quickly that clearances - particularly to the side where there are wood columns - are going to be a big limiting factor. The chimney sweep we had inspect suggested that maybe a smaller free standing stove backed partially into the fireplace might be an option. I am also reaching out to some local wood stove stores - but we don't have too many in the area. I thought I would post a picture with some measurements to see if anyone has had to deal with a similar situation or configuration or if there is any general advice on which direction to look. In some ways, having a free standing stove would be nice and we don't think it would take away from the looks of the room. But I would love to know if anyone has a similar fireplace with either type of stove.

    We are a bit budget minded - we'll have to line both flues and get the stove. We want a quality stove but probably won't buy the best. In our area the stores sell Pacific Energy, Regency, Vermont Castings, and Jotul. Any thoughts would be appreciated. I'll certainly post back what I learn along the way. Thank you.

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  2. Historicalwork

    Historicalwork New Member

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    I also wanted to add, do people think it's important to buy a stove from a local store. If I limit the purchase to local stores I'm limiting options in terms of brands. I see a lot of talking this form out brand that I carried in stores around our area here in Northern Virginia.
  3. Historicalwork

    Historicalwork New Member

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    I know I am answering my own thread - hopefully not because I posted a question I shouldn't have. But I just heard back from a local store who is saying they don't carry any stove (free standing or insert) that would work with this fireplace given clearances to wood. And they carry Pacific Energy, Vermont Castings and I think a couple others. That's disappointing because it would mean passing on the idea of a stove altogether and lining the chimney for a fireplace only or removing or modifying the original mantel. Not what we wanted to hear.
  4. baydraftmare

    baydraftmare New Member

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    Loc:
    Roxboro, NC
    It's not impossible to install a woodstove, but you will have to build out your hearth further and the stove will be out further into the room with the flue pipe going back into the alcove then up. Backing a freestanding unit into the space will obviously put the side trim inside the recommended clearance.
    We have an older home as well c1901 and we have 3 fireplaces like yours and we will be installing woodstoves over the next couple years. Your fireplace is very nice and attractive and you may be able to find a tile that corrdinates with the tile surround and build out the hearth pad into the room and make it look nice as well as be functional. It will become a beauty vs function issue at some point though. We absolutely will do this to our fireplaces though because we wish to heat with wood predominately as we have an abundace of wood. [​IMG]
  5. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    You have a difficult case here. I took a look at the Regency Alterra which is a small flush insert. From it's clearance requirements it may just fit but then I noticed how shallow your fireplace is. Most inserts require 16 inches or more in depth. Maybe some people here who have a better idea what is out there can chime in but an insert may not be an option. That leaves you IMO with:

    - Extending the hearth considerably and putting a free standing stove in front of the fireplace that meets all clearances.
    - Look for another spot. Is there an adequate room on the back of the fireplace? Maybe you can build a hearth there, make a hole in the wall and run the pipe into the flue from there. Just thinking outside the box.
  6. Historicalwork

    Historicalwork New Member

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    baydraftmare - i would look forward to learning what stoves you pick given you do have similar type fire places.

    grisu - i did kick around the idea of putting a wood stove in another spot - it's worth considering. The configuration of the house does not seem to offer any obvious spots but it's something we may consider. I think the idea of having a free standing stove in front of the fireplace may be an option knowing we would need to built out or add a pad to extend the hearth. But the bigger issues is how far out is too much for the room size. It's not a large room and at some point it may feel like the stove is sitting in the middle of the room.

    I hope to talk to a few places this weekend to get a sense of the possibilities. We don't necessarily love the look of the mantel and tile. At the same time it's original and we had to take it out to put in something that facilitates a better fit for a stove.
  7. Peak and Pine

    Peak and Pine New Member

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    Wha? You're not liking the mantel and tile?

    Gosh I am, like a lot, so how about treating the existing treatment as sorta sacred. And while you may not want to use it as-is, i. e., as an actual fire place with a roaring fire as you lay on your belly reading Seven Pillars of Wisdom using only the light of the flickering flames, maybe consider a smaller, older parlor type stove (mine is Bangor Foundry c. 1890) with a slightly built out hearth. Put it on iron castors so that after you or someone you hire has fabricated a removable metal buffer plate 'tween brick chimney and stove pipe you can, say for Christmas, haul the whole thing outa there and return it for awhile to a real fireplace. Santa would like that. As would you, as you finish up the Lawrence of Arabia book.
  8. Historicalwork

    Historicalwork New Member

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    :) I know what you mean - it is a nice fireplace and the thought of just lining it and doing some misc work to make the fireplace functional is a big option. We are just concerned about the heating costs of the house and really wanted to utilize a wood stove. And I like the idea of having something for when the power goes out. I emailed a couple companies and i guess the option (mentioned already) is to put the stove out infront on an extended hearth. The other option is to find a small insert - i think that might be the best comprise. So we are going to keep looking. Interestingly, there is a second chimney in the house. But it seems to have been closed off some time ago - we assume it served a stove in the kitchen. So it might be interesting down the road to consider something in the kitchen. But it would take up a lot of space and require changing around cabinets, etc. I guess you have to make the best of what we have. We'll figure something out.
  9. mfglickman

    mfglickman Minister of Fire

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    Oh please don't rip out the mantel or tile. :( in our old house I consider us stewards of a sort, trying to preserve and maintain the history of our house for future generations.

    So in our case, in the d keeping room hearth, we put a Harman xxv pellet stove, whose clearance requirements are far lower than most wood stoves.

    I prefer my woodstove and would have loved to fit one in that hearth but there was no way we would remove the wood surround.
  10. Historicalwork

    Historicalwork New Member

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    I wondered if I could expand my question... I am beginning to think that getting an insert or a free standing stove is not so practical given required clearances to combustibles and that we don't want to change the original mantel. I have gone through a lot of sites looking at clearances and it seems a free standing stove would sit way out in the room and I don't know how a hearth pad would look with the current hearth. With that said, I was doing some reading on old coal fireplaces and I am not clear if this fireplace was one. And I am not sure if it can be used as a regular fireplace (assuming we line the chimney). The materials don't seem to match up. The back and sides are steel and the bottom has what appears to be new tile (with the ash hole cemented over). It does have what appears to be a typical damper. I attached a better picture. I am very curious to know if anyone has any opinions on a) how original the materials are and b) if (with a properly lined chimney by a professional) there might be issues using it as a regular fireplace. Thank you.

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  11. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Given the wood in the mantel I think you will be restricted to a flush insert.
  12. Historicalwork

    Historicalwork New Member

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    I think you are right - i am going to look around to see if the shallow depth (14") would allow any of the flush inserts to fit. I suppose even if the box is small and burn times short, it would be a step above using it as a plain fireplace in terms of having a heat source.
  13. bigrusty

    bigrusty New Member

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    Historicalwork, did you ever find a solution to your problem? I am new here and was just about to post the same question as you. We have a similar fireplace mantel and I am getting frustrated. Any ideas?
    Russ
  14. FanMan

    FanMan Feeling the Heat

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    It might be a coal fireplace... we attended an open house last summer at a mid 1800s house undergoing restoration and it had numerous shallow fireplaces which we were told were for coal.

    Re the steel back and sides, we had a steel backed fireplace in the house my parents built in the late 1970s. The steel back and sides were for heat transfer; it had hidden heatilators... the only thing visible was slots with no mortar between the bricks near floor level and near the top of the fireplace; those slots allowed heated air inside to circulate into the room.
  15. Historicalwork

    Historicalwork New Member

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    FanMan - the shallow depth does seem to suggest coal - but someone (can't recall where I read it) said chimneys for coal may have been built or lined (mortar) differently than a wood fire? I don't know. But now I am tempted to see what's behind the steel. Thank you for your ideas.

    bigrusty - no, we have not. I am slowly researching options. I have found - not surprisingly - a few other threads dealing with the same issue. It's a tough one to solve. I think the fact is that this particular mantel design and small side clearances present problems for a standalone stove and an insert. While I am not yet at this point, I think we either keep it as a fireplace ( which means lining, perhaps a glass front cover, etc) or we change out or modify the mantel and hearth for a stove. On one hand, we appreciate the original nature of the fireplace and the idea of changing is tough to consider. On the other hand, it's important for us to look for ways of saving on fuel. And we like the idea of stove for power outages, etc. And we don't feel putting a stove elsewhere (i.e. not using an existing chimney) would take more away from the house. I am trying to look at the overall costs - because even keeping the fireplace would mean a larger liner and adding a glass fireplace door - both of which aren't cheap either. If nothing else, I'm learning a lot!
  16. baydraftmare

    baydraftmare New Member

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    Good luck finding a suitable insert. Sounds like that could be tricky. If you choose to keep it as an open fireplace, there are those Great Wall of Fire grates that could help improve heat transfer. Not a ton, but a little.

    For reference, your 14" deep fireplace may have been used for coal or firewood or both interchangably. We have a couple that have 14" depth, but we also have two with 10" depth and maybe 18" wide. These were definately for coal and coal only. The coal grates in them were a hint too.

    [​IMG]

    This is a before or origional condition photo, as this fireplace will be home to our new Jotul 400 Castine and looks a little different. Namely we took out some of the back firebrick and there is a T-connect pipe sticking out. Hopefully today the stove will be connected.
  17. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    Historicalwork, where are you located? You mentioned an oil-burning furnace, but are you in an area that offers Natural Gas? This fireplace may be a candidate for a gas insert & NG will lessen your heat bill & give you a little ambience in that particular room. Like somebody mentioned above, another location may serve you better for the woodstove, & the gas units do not require as much CTC as a wood unit will...Just my gas geek talkin here...
  18. Historicalwork

    Historicalwork New Member

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    baydraftmare - thank you for posting the pic - very interesting. I do have a feeling - based only on a lot of reading and searching - that it may have been for both. And I agree the depth will be a challenge.

    Daksy - I actually checked on that exact thing. We don't have natural gas in the immediate area - I did check. And to your point about another location. While it would take some rearranging of things, a second chimney does exist and we assume it served a stove in the kitchen. Right now there is only the bump in the wall and no other trace of an opening. But we started talking about the idea of moving things around in the kitchen (where room does exist) to allow for a wood stove. And it would be located closer to the stairs going to the second level. So that option is on the table for consideration.

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