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Fireplace Insert and Split Level Home Questions - Please help

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by SugaryinMD, Nov 28, 2011.

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  1. SugaryinMD

    SugaryinMD New Member

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    Hello everyone,

    I am new here and new to wood stove installation, so please excuse me if my question is a basic one.
    I just bought a home and it had a Earth Stove by Lennox Hearth Products Fireplace insert Model
    BV400C-2 installed by previous owner. We were very excited because we hoped this would help us save on heating costs.

    My home is a split level (so it looks like a lying down Y) and it is about 1800 square feet and the wood stove insert is in the basement.
    When winter came we loaded it up and started it. The temperature probe would read 1800 degrees but the stove was only heating the small basement family room it was in.
    We would have raging fires for all day and the only room getting any heat was the basement family room where the stove was located.

    I contacted my local wood stove store to come out and look at the stove and see why it was not heating. They said the stove is big enough to heat my whole home and that is it perfectly operational. They then informed me that the old owner just stuck it in the fireplace with no pipe or lining. So just stuck it and it flows right up the fireplace chimney. He told me that
    it would be 2000 dollars to line my chimney and that he could not guarantee that it would make the stove throw heat further then the basement family room.

    I decided not to pay this because why throw 2000$ if it wont work to heat my home.

    Does anyone have a similar type of home? and do you think the reason it is not throwing heat is because the chimney is not lined with a pipe of some sort or is it because the stove is in the basement?

    I have seen chimney lining kits online and I am wondering if this will solve my problem. I would really like a stove set up that will heat most of my home.

    Thank you

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  2. Iembalm4aLiving

    Iembalm4aLiving Feeling the Heat

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    If the insert burns well as is, adding a liner won't make it burn that much better. If you do a search on Hearth.com, you'll see that a common complaint of basement installs is that it doesn't heat the whole house. Any chance it could be moved to an upstairs fireplace, closer to where you folks spend most of your time?
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The liner is good safety insurance, but it's important to have the damper area sealed off, especially if this is an exterior chimney. Otherwise a lot of the heat produced will be warming up the masonry instead of the house. Pull the surround and see if you can look up around the damper shelf. There should at least be a good packing of mineral or ceramic wool insulation around the liner. If not, I would try this as a first step. Or if you are handy you could go for a proper block off plate.

    Here's a helpful article on the topic with some links on the bottom to posts that show how folks have done this.
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/wiki/Why_damper_seal_is_needed/

    Does the area where the stove is located get fairly warm? If yes, this may be an issue of getting the heat better circulated. We have some tricks that might help.

    EDIT: GET A LINER first
  4. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    There ain't no liner. Total slammer.
  5. Got Wood

    Got Wood Minister of Fire

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    Do you have a blower on the insert?
  6. SugaryinMD

    SugaryinMD New Member

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    Yes the stove does have a blower on it! Thank you for your responses so far.
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Ah, you are right. Thanks! I missed the part where they decided to forgo the liner. Added an edit comment.

    Absolutely get a liner on this stove as step one. As currently described, this is an illegal installation. Get the chimney cleaned and then a liner installed. Ask that the damper area be sealed when getting the estimate. You can have this done by any CSIA certified chimney sweep.

    The manual is very clear on this:

    The fireplace damper must be secured in the open position.
    As a minimum, a flue extension past the fireplace
    header is required. A preferred installation is a positive
    flue connection (sealing the throat of the chimney).
    This
    appliance requires the use of a 6†or 8†diameter flex or
    rigid single wall pipe, minimum 24/25 MSG black or
    blued steel connector pipe (stainless steel recommended).
    Offsets can be handled with an offset adapter
    (it aligns starter pipe with fireplace flue). For more information
    on the offset adapters, see pages 8 and 24.

    Manual: http://www.lennoxhearthproducts.com...rth_BV400C_Installation_Operation_775005M.pdf
  8. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Anything you can do to enhance the effectiveness of the appliance and minimize the loss of heat into the masonry and up the flue to daylight would help to keep all the heat you can inside the envelope of the home. These things would include a full stainless liner and a block-off plate. There is nothing you can do to escape the fact that this insert is a space heater, not a whole house heater. Getting the heat up out of the basement is another challenge altogether, independent of getting the most out of the insert. Judicious use of fans carefully placed as the house configuration dictates will likely be your best economical bet. It will take some trial and error, as most every home is unique. Lots of members here with basement installations, perhaps some will join the conversation. Rick
  9. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    You could have a bunch of issues that all contribute to the stove performing poorly. To get an idea what is going on: What's the temperature in the basement room? With the stove going well but the heat not moving it should be almost unbearable in there. If not, heat distribution is not your problem but the performance of the stove. A few ideas:

    - You say you have a roaring fire in there for the day. Are you engaging the cat at some point? Most of the heat may just go up the chimney.
    - Has your wood been split and stacked with lots of sun and air exposure for at least 1 year (2 for oak)? Not properly seasoned wood will not burn well and a lot of heat will be used to boil off the water still in the split.
    - Is the basement room insulated? Concrete walls/slab can eat up a lot of heat.
    - Block-off plate or other damper seal-off was already mentioned.
    - I am wondering whether the cat is still working ok. Did the stove shop actually come out and take a look at it? Do you know when the stove was installed and whether the cat has been replaced at some point?
    - Plus, I would also really recommend a liner for the stove to work properly and safely. Depending on your setup you could maybe get a better quote.
  10. Beer Belly

    Beer Belly Minister of Fire

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    If your floorplan is like mine.....walk into the living room, kitchen and dinning room floor.....6 steps up to the bedrooms.....6 steps down the the family room. Your fireplace is in the lower level below the bedrooms....maybe find a couple of areas in the lower level where you can cut square holes in the cieling, that will land in good areas of the bedroom floors (I say "good areas", meaning not landing in the middle of the floors), and install vent grates to help the heat rise to the bedrooms. Our house has the fireplace insert (sticks out onto the Hearth 11 inches), with a blower, on our living room level, directly across from the steps to the bedroom level.....I'll take mercy and not mention our savings.....it just wouldn't be right.....our is just a good fit and location
  11. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Talk with a local code official before you go hacking holes in your floors/ceilings. It may not be permissable at all, or it may be permissable so long as certain distance requirements are met, or it may be permissable only if fire-safe dampers are installed. Safety first. Rick
  12. SugaryinMD

    SugaryinMD New Member

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    The layout is walk in front door into living room to the right is 6 steps up to three bedrooms and then 6 steps down to family room and laundry room keep going forward into kitchen and to left is master. The basement floor is slab concrete with tile. It makes complete sense that all the heat is going up the fireplace and heating the masonry. When the stove is going the room is just luke warm and not unbearable at all and the blower is constantly kicking on.

    I had the woodstove store come out and look at the stove and chimney and they are the ones who gave me the quote. I thought it was very steep because it was the same as putting a new stove in another part of my house that may work better.
  13. SugaryinMD

    SugaryinMD New Member

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    I also have no idea when the stove was installed. We bought the house last year and it came with it. I am kind of annoyed that the building inspector did not pick up on any of this....very upsetting.

    can a chimney sweep install the liner?
  14. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Go to this website and type in your zipcode on the left side. That will give you a listing for certified chimneysweeps in your area that you can call for estimates.

    http://www.csia.org/
  15. rwhite

    rwhite Minister of Fire

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    Also depending on when your home was built (or remodeled) it may have insulation in the floors. I have a 1930's home that was remodeled when I bought it and they added insulation to floors. I'm glad they did this because with hardwood floors and teenagers it sounds like elephants are upstairs when we are in the basement. But the trade of is that you are not going to get much heat up through the floor.
  16. KSgrown

    KSgrown Member

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    We have a very similar layout and just installed a fireplace insert last year. For one, you NEED a liner. You can buy it online and a chimney sweep can install it or you can do it, it really isn't too difficult. Rent a ladder and stuff the liner down the top of the chimney, connect to stove. Then you add a block off plate. Also, a regular handy man could probably get these things accomplished for minimal cost aswell.

    For the heating, ours heats the room it is in very well, the kitchen on the next level ok and the upper bedrooms only if the fire is burning good all day long.
    One thing I did to improve the performance was to use the return air duct system of our furnace to act as a cold air path to draw air back to the stove from upstairs. If you pull the cold air from the rooms upstairs, through the return duct system and into the room with the wood stove, the heat in the stove room will naturally rise up and replace the air you pulled from the bedrooms. We are perfecting this concept this year but in theory, it should work quite well.
  17. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    The room is only luke warm? Your insert has a 3.7 cf firebox. Running it full force should roast you in that room. Installing a liner and a block-off plate will certainly be a must to keep the heat in although that may not be all that's going wrong. Since that insert seems is not displayed on the Lennox website anymore it is probably older. May also be time for a new cat. If you have not done so please familiarize yourself with the proper operation of the stove especially when to engage the cat, reload etc. Plus, use seasoned wood!

    How is the stove positioned towards the door and how wide is the door? I am wondering whether the warm air will be able to get out off the room once the insert is running properly.
  18. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    This just might be your best option...it depends a whole lot on where your family likes to spend their time at home. Rick
  19. bluedogz

    bluedogz Minister of Fire

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    I had a similar situation in my home on purchase- the inspector was very clear that he flat-out refused to even LOOK at the fireplace or chimney as he was not a certified sweep or mason. IA wound up having a similar install in that my stove was just jammed into the flue withoiut any thimble nor lining at all.
  20. SugaryinMD

    SugaryinMD New Member

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    Does anyone have a chimney liner kit they recommend and where to purchase it?
  21. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    There are several good outfits. Chimneylinerdepot.com. RockfordSupply.com, Dynamitebuys.com are a few. Be absolutely sure to have the chimney cleaned first though and inspected. The liner may need to be insulated.
  22. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Yes, a certified sweep can install a liner.
  23. Beave

    Beave New Member

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    I have a Lennox Country C-210 that heats our entire 1970's 2200 sq split level house. We have:
    1. The insert sitting inside an old ZC fireplace
    2. A blower (running on med or low)
    3. Basement install
    4. Finished basement
    5. Wood "chase" type chimney
    6. Full liner (about 25')
    7. New vinyl windows throughout the house (worked great before the new windows though)
    8. Moderate climate (max lows are usually in the teens, winter average around 30-40 degrees F)
    9. Vaulted living room ceilings at the top of the staircase

    Our insert is on the far side of the basement, but the heat magically soaks into the upstairs floor, then travels up the central staircase and heats the upstairs rooms on the other end of the house. 80's downstairs equals 70's upstairs for us. With one load of wood after work, I can outrun the furnace thermostat (set to 68) in our upstairs hallway. From then on, the stove takes over and the furnace does not come on until I stop feeding the stove. Even then, it takes some time to bleed off the accumulated heat.

    When we hang Xmas decorations, we have a fluffy "Santa Beard" that we hang in the stairwell. When the stove is running downstairs, you can see the heat wave ruffling thru the beard. (Note to self, make a video of that and post on Hearth.com)

    Wish I could help more; But I agree with others..... You need a full liner and a block off plate. From then on, you need to figure out how much heat your stove is making, and why that heat is not accumulating in your house. Do you feel like you really "know" the stove? If the blower is cycling on and off alot, that sounds like wide temperature swings. I know if I don't choke down my insert and let the heat resonate in the firebox (give it a chance to get absorbed into the steel and blown in the room) then i blow thru loads of wood and don't get much in return. It might be worth trying to chase down a manual online and learn how to really maximize the performance of the stove, assuming your not very familiar with it.
  24. iceman

    iceman Minister of Fire

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    Could you show us a picture of your setup?
    That would be a BIG help...
    If possible take off the surround and take some more pictures... We all have ideas and solutions but if we see it we can nail down for you
    Thanks.
  25. scotvl

    scotvl Burning Hunk

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    I don't know if I missed it posted but what wood are you burning and when was it cut split and stacked?
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