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Converting a Propane Fireplace into Wood stove

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by mommy505, Nov 10, 2013.

  1. mommy505

    mommy505 New Member

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    Hello all, we currently have a propane fireplace that we would like to convert to a wood burning stove insert. We pulled the propabe one out yesturday, and now have a shell of a corner fireplace. The fireplace vents thru the wall to outside. What is the best material to line the fireplace with (its bare studs after we pulled the propane) and is it necessary to use triple wall pipe, or is double wall good enough?

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  2. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    It sounds like you will need a high-efficient zero clearance fireplace not an insert which goes into a masonry fireplace. Did you already look at some units like the Kozyheat42, Napoleon NZ3000, or a RSF fireplace (http://www.icc-rsf.com/en/rsf-woodburning-fireplaces)? You will find in their specs how to install the fireplace, which chimney to use, clearances etc. If you have a tough time deciding we can help you. What area do you want to heat? Is it more for heating or ambiance? How is your insulation? What kind of wood do you intend on burning? Is it seasoned?

    Pictures of the corner would help, too.
  3. mommy505

    mommy505 New Member

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    The fireplace is in the corner of our living room. We will be using it as a heat source. We are on propane for our furnace and it's way to expensive where we live. I attached pics of the space we removed the old propane fireplace and pics of the wood stove insert we would like to use. Our house is vented thru the wall to the outside.

    The wood burning insert we have found fits in the space where we took the old one out. Not sure if that matters or not.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 10, 2013
  4. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Ah a PE insert. You can't just put a wood burning insert in place of a propane set up as a swap out.
    That wood framing will have to go. Check the manual for the insert for clearances to combustibles.
    Unless that piping is also rated for wood burning, it will also have to be replaced, and that will also require clearances to combustibles.
    Is that a Summit insert or one of their smaller inserts.
  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Yikes, you can't use that stove in that location. It can only go in a masonry or approved zero-clearance fireplace and as Howildz correctly pointed out, the chimney pipe must be approved for wood stove use. Without extensive rework, what is shown in the pictures would only work for a gas or perhaps an electric fireplace.
    RockyMtnHigh likes this.
  6. mommy505

    mommy505 New Member

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    Ok, we were told that we could put durarock, then the wood stove and it would be ok. We planned to put all new pipes etc. as required to make it work. Would a pellet stove be a better option?
  7. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    It would be cheaper,faster just to close that up and get a free standing stove and run the pipe up through.
    Would also heat better without fans.
    Nothing that you have there is feasible for a insert.
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I disagree. The issue is clearances to combustibles. This will be an issue with any stove that isn't designed to fit in this kind of space. There is wood sitting directly above the stove that is the biggest issue besides the chimney. In the present location you may be able to fit a smaller wood burning zero-clearance fireplace in there like a BIS Traditions CE, RSF Topaz or similarly sized fireplace if the desire is to burn wood.

    Or you could open up the corner by continuing to remove the shelves, etc. above the current opening all the way to the ceiling. That would allow you the greatest number of options for a freestanding stove or zero-clearance fireplace or pellet stove, etc.. The question is what do you really want there for the final product?

    If an efficient, modern EPA fireplace is the goal, visit a good RSF or Lennox fireplace dealership with pictures and discuss. If it is a freestanding stove, prepare to tear out up to the ceiling and we can help you with stove choices, hearth and finishing options.
  9. mommy505

    mommy505 New Member

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    Ok thanks for the advise. We are trying to be cost effective and safe for our 5 kids. I really don't want to have to tear out what we have now and redo something else but it sounds like that might be the only choice or leave it alone. THe builder who built our house did the minimum install on the propane fireplace. There was not even electric hooked up to it to run the blower, but of course we didn't know all that until we pulled out the propane one..
  10. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    You might be able to put a pellet stove insert in there and use a through the wall pipe. I don't know but might be something to look into if you're at all interested in a pellet stove.
    Of course they are not cheap either.
    Good luck.
  11. mommy505

    mommy505 New Member

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    We are going to check out our options tomorrow at the local store. Our house now has a vent with the pipes to the outside for the propane fireplace we removed. According to pellet stove measurements it would stick out pretty far from the space in the pictures.. Hopefully we can figure something out and don't have to leave an empty space.
  12. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    Try to talk to at least two different dealers if you have them close by.
    I truly believe you would be better off with a free standing stove..you have to buy new pipe anyhow.
    But of course what you like and prefer is what you should do.
    I do understand that you already have the stove insert though.
  13. mommy505

    mommy505 New Member

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    Thanks, we will try two places. I wish the insert would work because it was given to us and in perfect shape, but I would rather have a house to come home to and not one that burnt down lol.
  14. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    Well it could be done ..all it takes is time and money! lol
    How big is the room..and for that matter the whole house?
    1 or 2 story?
  15. RockyMtnHigh

    RockyMtnHigh Feeling the Heat

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    No.... this will be anything but ok. You will likely burn your house down. There are pellet inserts that can be used as ZC (zero clearance) but you need to make sure they are approved for that type of install.

    You will never be able to use a woodstove insert in that space without building a masonry fireplace and flue around it which would totally negate any money you saved by buying the used insert....

    Check out SBI (stove builders international) for a ZC if you are on a budget. They pack a punch and aren't all that expensive for a ZC wood fireplace. I can also vouch for Heatilator, Quadrafire, RSF, and Lennox for good ZC woodburning fireplaces but you will be looking at some bucks. Even a freestanding pellet burner in an alcove situation could work pretty well here.
  16. RockyMtnHigh

    RockyMtnHigh Feeling the Heat

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    Sell that woodburning insert for as much as you can get for it, it will help fund your situation. I understand budgets all too well....
  17. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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  18. Dave A.

    Dave A. Minister of Fire

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    Pretty sure they (or at least some of them) also need to be installed in ZC enclosures. I was considering a Harman pellet insert at one point and was just going to frame around it with durock and metal studs -- not permitted. Harman makes and sells a ZC enclosure just for the their pellet inserts. So it still can be done, just adds a little cost with the ZC enclosure.

    The through the wall pipe is fine and a good reason to use a pellet stove/insert.
  19. mommy505

    mommy505 New Member

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    Our house is around 1700sq ft. Single story. The fireplace area is in our living room, bedrooms are at the opposite end of the house. We are defiantly on a tight budget so I would like to try and do as much as we can ourselves.
  20. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    Well talk to the stealers..opps I meant dealers and get back to us!
  21. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    God bless, I am glad you posted those pictures here. You probably would have burnt your house down within the first week of using that insert in this space. I agree with RockyMtnHigh: Spruce it up a little bit and try to sell it. It is completely useless to you without a masonry fireplace. As I see it you have three options:

    1. Put a zero clearance pellet insert in. I cannot tell you anything about those.
    2. Rip out everything; redo the corner and install a stove with proper stovepipe. Here is an example how that could look like: http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/new-heatilator-eco-ws22-install.107597/ If you are handy that would probably be your cheapest option. Potentially you may be lucky and score a decent used stove on Craigslist. If you want we can help you with your selection but would need to know how much area you want to heat, your climate (probably pretty mild as your are in NM), your insulation, if you want to burn 24/7 or only occasionally etc.
    3. Get a highly efficient zero clearance fireplace like the ones I mentioned in my post above. The install would then look like this: http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/introduction-and-zero-clearance-install.91592/#post-1198786 You can cover the outside pretty much any way you like and give it the look of a real fireplace. However, those ZC fireplaces are essentially as efficient as any modern woodstove. The drawbacks are: they are usually more expensive and rely heavily on a blower to get the heat out into the room.

    If you are going to install a woodstove or ZC fireplace please be aware that those need seasoned wood with a moisture content of less than 20%. To achieve that the wood needs to be split and stacked with lots of wind and sun exposure for at least one year better two or three. It is rare that you can just buy that. If you don't have the wood yet maybe scrap your plans for a stove for this winter but get the wood now to dry it until next winter. In the meantime you can research options, look for a nice used (or new) stove/fireplace, and renovate the corner to your liking and without pressure to get it done quickly.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2013
  22. Dave A.

    Dave A. Minister of Fire

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    I think there is also the option (if you want a wood stove insert) of installing an inexpensive ZC fireplace and then installing a wood stove insert in the ZC, i.e. an insert which is mfr certified as installable in ZC fireplaces. Don't recall the brand, I believe similar to Harman with pellet inserts, there is a mfr which sells ZC fireplaces for their own wood stove inserts. A knowledgeable dealer might know. I do know that some of the Lopi inserts are installable in ZC fireplaces (and there are other inserts, also).

    It seems to be assumed by all that your present insert is not installable in a ZC fireplace. That may well be the case. Still,if I were you, before you get rid of it, I would refer to the manual for it, which will provide the info as to where/how it can be installed.
  23. mommy505

    mommy505 New Member

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    OK, so the one local store we had is now closed down. We have a lowes and home depot locally, but I doubt they are experts. We found an insert on craigslist, the guy doesn't know if it is zero clearance. Can you tell by the pics: http://albuquerque.craigslist.org/app/4109306640.html
  24. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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  25. mommy505

    mommy505 New Member

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    I called the company. They are supposed to let me know. It's says under specs it's approved for zero clearance so we will see.

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