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Doing some research

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by DonCT, Dec 9, 2005.

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  1. DonCT

    DonCT Minister of Fire

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    Greetings. I've been reading these forums for awhile now and love all the information that's provided. Alot of knowlegable people here :)

    I live in a condo with a built-in fireplace and would like to replace it with an insert, either pellet or wood burning. I'm not quite sure what model the existing firebox is, but the front dimensions are 40x32, measured from the edge of the surround. I haven't been able to measure the depth, but it looks like it can be pretty deep.

    My questions are:

    1. Can I put an insert into that space?

    2. What would people recommend as far as brand? (Reliability, ease of use, comfort)

    3. Pellet vs. Wood burning? I do have access to free wood. Alot of times, it just needs to be cut and split.


    I've attached pictures of the existing FP. I really appreciate everyones help!!

    Attached Files:

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  2. Hinterlander

    Hinterlander Member

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    From looking at the photograph, you may have a problem with clearance to combustibles. Most inserts require a minumum of 24" from the top of the insert to the nearest combustible surface. The wood surround may need to be replaced with something that will not burn. In fact, I'm surprised to see a ZC firebox installed without a stone or brick surround like that.

    It can be done - I put a Lopi Revere wood burning insert in my 42" Heatilator ZC firebox with a full stainless liner and it works great. I have a cultured stone hearth and surround that goes to the ceiling You will also need a good tall chimney for draft.

    Regency makes a nice little insert, I believe it is the I1100, that goes into most ZC fireboxes and has a low "clearance to combustibles" requirement. Check out their website and download their install manual for more info.
  3. DonCT

    DonCT Minister of Fire

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    How involved is it to replace the mantle? I'm not a construction worker, but I am pretty handy and have friends I can call on. Does anyone have a picture of a thier ZC fireplace that I can use as a guide?

    I wanted to rebuild the hearth anyways, as it's pretty torn up.
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Speaking of clearances to combustibles, promise me that you aren't going to use the fireplace as long as the Christmas tree is near it.
  5. DonCT

    DonCT Minister of Fire

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    No, the tree is there because it's permanent location hasn't been preped yet. That's all I need is for the tree to go POOF along with my condo!!!!

    I've been doing some research on the internet trying to find resources that talk about updating a ZC fireplace (replacing, upgrading the mantle area as well), but there doesn't seem to be much out there.
  6. DonCT

    DonCT Minister of Fire

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    Just some more info on how the fireplace is built. It's installed in a corner, and the corner wall is 84" long. Some of the clearances I've seen for inserts look like they would match up to the space that should be behind the existing fire box. It would just be a question of the clearance to the mantle.
  7. Hinterlander

    Hinterlander Member

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    You might want to try to find a mason that would like to do some indoor work this winter and get him/her to put some marble or cultured stone around your firebox. The material is really pretty cheap, about $5.00 per square foot at the most, is easy to work with and doesn't really cause much mess. Once that is done, you can reline the chimney and install the insert.
  8. DonCT

    DonCT Minister of Fire

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    When you say put it around the fire box, are you talking about replacing the wood that is surrounding the fireplace (i.e the mantle)? Do you have a picture example?
  9. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Because it is a pre-fab, any wood insert will be small. If that suits you, it might be cheaper to install and to use. Can't suggest brands because size of opening becomes the real issue!

    Pellet will definitely work also, but the stove costs more and if you have access to free or cheap wood that is a big consideration. In the end, it is a lifestyle choice.

    Perhaps you might even consider propane of natural gas units.
  10. DonCT

    DonCT Minister of Fire

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    Could I rip out that existing pre-fab and replace it with a ZC insert?

    As for propane/natural gas, I looked into that. There is not gas lines in my area, and I can't have a propane bottle inside the unit. And I don't think they would let me put one outside either.
  11. DonCT

    DonCT Minister of Fire

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    Some more info:

    I was able to locate the type and model of the fireplace. It is a Marco 36NI-3. Unfortunately, Marco is no longer around and I can't find any technical information about the fireplace.
  12. tman

    tman New Member

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    I had a yankee bay (lopi) pellet insert installed in my majestic heatalator and the big thing I found was in the measurements for the depth and the location of the exhaust port that will have to be hooked up. It seems the wood surround would have to go and with my pellet, it sticks out of the metal fire box 12'' so your carpet would also need to be cut or a hearth extension. Clearence issues outside the box can be overcome, but anything inside the metal firebox is what your stuck with. That is where your isert will sit., with support legs on the front of the unit I assume.
  13. annette

    annette Member

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    You wrote that you live in a condo. This brings a few things to mind:

    Where can you store the wood or pellets? What floor do you live on? Bringing in firewood or bringing pellets up from a storage locker may be an unpleasant task, depending on how much you want to use the insert.

    Also, be sure to check your condo association's rules, to ensure that you don't need to get permission first, or aren't planning something that they'll throw a fit over. I can't think of why they'd object to you changing a wood-burning fireplace to something very similar, but it's good to CYA unless you know they won't catch you!

    Look over in the photo section at "Before the Osburn"--it has several photos and a lot of description of an insert installed into a zero clearance fireplace, with major changes made to the mantel. What's the difference between prefab and zero clearance, by the way?
  14. DonCT

    DonCT Minister of Fire

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    The condo I live in is a 3 story townhouse. It's an end unit and I have a garage with alot of storage. So storing the pellets is not a problem. I've talked with the association president and he says there's nothing wrong with updating the fireplace, as long as it's to code, and is inspected by the fire marshal.

    I took some measurements of the existing firebox minus the firebrick (attached picture for clarity):

    17 1/2" deep

    20 1/2" wide at back

    30" wide at front

    18 3/4" high at front

    I want to try and build up a hearth for the fireplace and replacing the carpet with wood laminate, so that will take care of that.

    Can I install that pellet insert without a fireplace. Meaning, can I take out the existing fireplace, adjust the opening, line it with heat shielding, and install the insert? Or would it be better to go with a wood stove? I have pretty much free reign inside the condo, as long as I don't touch load bearing structures. I Photoshoped a picture with an idea I had if I could put a wood burning stove into the space. I just don't know if that's even feasible.

    Attached Files:

  15. tman

    tman New Member

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    There will always be code issues with any custom work. With that said, my dealer and owners manual (lopi Yankee bay insert) said do not remove fire brick. If you are going to remove your prefab fireplace than it would be better to install a regular stove(pellet or wood) . The pellet I have has only a 4 inch ash pan. Inserts have all the moving parts and electronics inside the firebox so any work that needs to be done takes a lot of effort.
  16. DonCT

    DonCT Minister of Fire

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    I stopped by one of the local stove dealers and talked with them. I explained my situation and they gave me some ideas. They said I can remove the existing fireplace and replace it with newer ZC EPA rated fireplace. They have several that are in the 60-75% efficiency range. The models they showed be were made by Security Fireplace and Fireplace Xtrordinair. They were very nice and look like they are what I'm looking for. Has anyone heard of them?

    By going this route, I will get to totally remodel my hearth and mantle. Plus by doing research and coming up with a good plan will hopefully put me into the off season, when I can possibly get a deal.
  17. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    What I have been seeing is that you might be able to use the same chimney system with these zc epa rated fireplaces. You might not need a liner. As long as it can be made to fit in the current space.
  18. DonCT

    DonCT Minister of Fire

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    Does anyone have a Fireplace Xtrordinair or Security Chimneys fireplace?

    I'm begining to warm up to the idea of remodling the fireplace and mantle. (yes, that was punny!!) I can do alot of the work myself to prep the area for the new fireplace, and hopefully use the existing chimney system. That should save me some money. The dealer I talked to said it should range between $3500-6000 installed. How does that compare with what other people have seen?
  19. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Don,
    I too am leaning this way instead of another insert. In reading the installation manual for the Security FP's Ultimate model, it seems to want a 6" liner manufactured only by SFP. For me, installing a Quadrafire model inplace of my Heatilator might be the right thing to do since they both specify the same system (same manufacturer). If you have to replace an entire chimney, it might not be cheap.
  20. DonCT

    DonCT Minister of Fire

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    Attached Files:

  21. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Beats me. I'm know the brand of my zc decorative fireplace cause it says "Heatilator" on it. ASSUMING it has the chimney specified in the installation manual (big assumption). It would sure make it easy if it was. Who knows with an older model. There has to be a nameplate somewhere; hidden, but how far? Maybe someone out there knows where these things are. You don't have a manual that came with your condo that might have the manual for the fireplace? Maybe someone else in your development has one. Other liners may be similar or equal, but I would think one would be on the most solid ground if it was the exact specified in install manual of the new fp. I am thinking if I have to replace the chimney or its chase, I will go insert route. Unless that qf 7100 just pumps out too much heat. :) I suppose one doesn't need to burn it on high all the time.
  22. DonCT

    DonCT Minister of Fire

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    My fireplace is a Marco 36NI-3. They don't make them anymore, go figure.

    You know you're gonna run it on high atleast once to see how hot you can really get your place ;)
  23. DonCT

    DonCT Minister of Fire

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    I talked with a friend who can help me remodel the fireplace. He's got mechanical design experience (and the tools :) ). He is going to help me design and build the chase to probably fit a FPX 36 Elite. I think that fireplace will do nicely for the size of my place.

    I figure that I can spend the winter planning the build, then start in the spring. I can do the remodel in 2 stages: 1st- Cut up the wall to fit the new fireplace, get the mantle and surround mounted. I'm going to probably leave the old fireplace in there, as the new framing will be bigger and just get the chimney inspected. 2nd- I can install the new fireplace when ever I choose based on price and time frame. I would hope to get it installed for next winter, but I will atleast be ready for it.

    Here's a picure that's close to what I want the final product to look like. I'm going to try and build some shelves into the chase though. And keep in mind that it will be at a 45 degree angle in the corner. Should look great!

    Attached Files:

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