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First time stove insert owner - but the install looks really wonky!

Post in 'Classic Wood Stove Forums (prior to approx. 1993)' started by VinnyJF, Nov 7, 2010.

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  1. VinnyJF

    VinnyJF New Member

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    Hello all! First time home owner, poster, and I'm anxious to be using my fireplace/wood burning stove - but I'm either too anal when it comes to the home, or my gut is right on the money.

    When the home inspector walked through, before we bough the house, he noticed the insert was wobbly, and said "Hey, have a chimney sweep check this whole system out." The sellers did, and, the chimney sweep said "Everything is fine. Level 1 inspection conducted, no creosote buildup, etc..." Well........

    When we move into the house, I smelled the fireplace.....on windy days...with the stove's doors closed (new gasket too). The air was coming from around the insert. Of course, this was during the summer, so I didn't pay it any mind. Makeshift solution: stuff paper towels in between the insert and the brick to stop airflow. It worked very well.

    So, now Autumn is upon Virginia, and I'd like to get the stove going....but my gut is telling my something's not kosher. So, I started searching the internet on resources, and how things are supposed to be installed, etc. I wanted to see if their was a pipe coming from the stove to the chimney...or if it was just shoved into the fireplace (which I understand to be a big no-no). Well, the only damper is the one in the stove, and there's no pipe attached to the stove, and as far as I can tell, no lining in the chimney either.

    So the sellers - who told me they LOVED their wood burning stove, had it just sitting in the fireplace without a block-off and/or a reline. I thought code required at least a partial, up to the first smoke block or something like that (not familiar with lingo yet...sorry)

    So, I'm looking for advice, help, resources, etc...because I really don't trust the company who did the initial inspection, and well, if/when I call someone else...I want to be prepared so I know how the job is supposed to be done. OR, if it's a possible DIY project, I'm all for that.

    Thanks in advance

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  2. Jotulf3cb

    Jotulf3cb New Member

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    post some pics please ..... that would help
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Sounds like a slammer installation. What is the insert? Post a picture if unsure. If it is an old dog, it may be better to install a new one with a liner. That will qualify for the tax credit.
  4. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    This state seemed to be the land of the slammer installed inserts back in the eighties. I know. I did one and burned in it for 21 years here. Hit us with a pic of the stove but it is dollars to doughnuts that it is either an old Sierra (loved mine), Buck insert or Black Bart. That really is hard to attach a proper liner to to make it safe.

    If air is leaking around that surround plate. Don't even burn in that sucker. The least that is gonna happen is the cool air mixing with the stove exhaust is gonna crap up that chimney. The worst is gonna be carbon monoxide leaking into the house.
  5. VinnyJF

    VinnyJF New Member

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    Thanks for the quick replies. Attached are some pics of the stove. I pulled it out some for some shots, but I didn't want to pull it out all the way, just in case I couldn't get it back in :)

    I had to use my cellphone camera - real one's on the fritz.

    Thanks again,
    Vinny

    BTW: no electric fan hooked up either. :) Notice the wires. Again, thanks for the help.

    Attached Files:

  6. tickbitty

    tickbitty Minister of Fire

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    That looks like an 80s Country flame maybe? If that rectangular slot on the top is the only flu outlet, you will have trouble getting a liner on there but there have been a couple other people on here lately, with old Buck stoves I think, that are getting converter adaptors and giving it a try to hook up a liner.
    Still in all I would look into other options if you can possibly afford it, there are some nice inserts out there that should work for you and qualify for the tax refund etc, and you could probably sell that one if you shine it up a bit.
  7. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Yeah you can spend a hundred and change on a adapter to hook that old boy to a liner. But they weren't designed to work with the strong draft that you will have with a liner and it will be a groan to control. Mine went nuts right off the bat with a liner attached. You really should look at replacing the stove.

    As tickbitty said, if you buy it before the end of December you can take a 30% credit against any Fed taxes paid this year. Of course the stove dealers know that too so they ain't making any great deals on stoves right now that I have heard of.
  8. Maxwelhse

    Maxwelhse New Member

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    I am by no means a fireplace expert, but I am a "getting stuffed by the previous owners of your house" expert... That emboldened statement above is the problem. I'm not trying to rub you wrong about it, I'm just pointing it out for others that may some day google this thread, hopefully before buying a house. NEVER trust that the sellers of your house did ANYTHING in your interest, because they didn't. If I had hired my own chimney sweep (which is 100% my fault) to inspect my house at a privately scheduled time I wouldn't be eating the demolition and replacement of the fireplace that I demandedI have in the house I bought. I literally just gave this speech to some friends today when I went to look at a house they were considering buying.

    I know that rant doesn't help your problem, but I'm in the same boat right now with my disaster of a "fireplace". Sadly my disaster story doesn't end there. Good luck and I hope its not a major issue!
  9. eujamfh

    eujamfh Member

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    When we got our Buck 91 from a neighbor, they had it installed as a "slammer" install. I put it in, and we did use it for part of the season last year. Not wanting to look back and say, "I am glad I saved $1500 on a liner install to use to fight the insurance company to cover the house fire..."

    I called installers in the area, and they said in the 80s, it was all slammer install. Then, sometime in the late 80s there was code for at least a small stack up the flue. No one enforced it for another decade. It has only been recent that they require a full liner with new installs. Since it was in the house you bought, you would probably be covered insurance wise...but if you are really looking to use the stove, you may want to part with it, and set yourself up properly.

    For us, a chimney cleaning on a non-lined stove runs $200ish in NOVA. Much less with a liner...and as others pointed, is there any price on safety?

    Thats the bad thing about this site - you start to learn, and can not longer enjoy blissful ignorance (refering to myself as the ignorant one - not you!). :)
  10. VinnyJF

    VinnyJF New Member

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    You guys are awesome. Thanks for the info and the advice. I'm guessing what I will do is wait, save, and get a replacement down the road - properly installed. I'll look into the tax credit options, but I don't think I have the funds now.

    I'll be lurking around :)

    Vinny
  11. VinnyJF

    VinnyJF New Member

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    I know! it seems that the more I start learning, the more inflamed I get. But like you said, "is there any price on safety?"
  12. robertmcw

    robertmcw Member

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    That home inspector should pay for that – that should never passed. Check if the fire marshal would have passed and I can guarantee the answer is a big NO.

    If you have fire, will your insurance pay out of code?

    "At some point, you will likely have a problem after your insurance does an inspection on your wood burning appliance - the code changed in 1991 I believe, which was was 17 years ago. All inserts now require the liner. Your unit no longer meets current building code or wood stove installation code, and generally insurance companies will only insure when installed to the current standard." http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/showthread.php?t=272628

    Then you send a letter to the realtor AND the home inspector that they both pay for a retro or you will sue and the realtor for missing that AND send a letter to the state with a groan with the realtor and the home inspector licenses.

    I had a home in Houston and the home inspector missed the grout from the flue to the fireplace box and they agreed to pay. I never followed it because I had to redo the face and the contractor fixed for free.

    My two cents.

    Robert
  13. Maxwelhse

    Maxwelhse New Member

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    Check the laws in your area and the fine print on the invoice for your home inspection. My inspector absolved himself of all responsibility on his inspection report for things he didn't find. I signed it stating that I was present during the inspection and aware of the problems noted. Your inspector may have the same fine print, but your state law may allow you to legally pursue him.
  14. robertmcw

    robertmcw Member

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  15. VinnyJF

    VinnyJF New Member

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    Too dust off this old gem: I decided to give the slammer install a try, and I was surprised to see how much heat it generated - even without the blower going. I'm thinking about trying to make this thing work; maybe rehabbing the insert. I guess it all depends on my tax refund this year. :)
  16. VinnyJF

    VinnyJF New Member

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    Also, I just went to check out the blower/fan underneath and......it's missing! I had to chuckle. It looks like it was a fan or something. :)
  17. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    At the very least get the strip fiberglass that they sell in rolls at a stove shop and seal around that surround panel against the face of the fireplace. And take a picture of the look on your face later when you pull that thing out to clean the chimney in a little while and see how much creosote has collected in the smoke chamber of that chimney. I used to have to use a garden hoe to get as much as I could off of it.
  18. cmonSTART

    cmonSTART Minister of Fire

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    Please be careful. Slammers can hurt you.
  19. VinnyJF

    VinnyJF New Member

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    The previous owners had the chimney cleaned before we bought the house, so I'm hoping I won't need a hoe :). Also, Roger on the insulation - I need to get that done.

    I just sent an email to American Energy Systems to see if the unit is a Country Flame or not. It had a serial on a creosote warning label....at least what's left of the warning...it's barely readable. Glad Serials are stamped :)
  20. Loco Gringo

    Loco Gringo Feeling the Heat

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    You guys sure do have me concerned now. This is how ours is installed. The house is 30+ yrs old and even though its been kept up well Im leary of this install. Ours has fiberglass insulation between the surround and the stone, and I get no smoke odor from it. Last Sunday I cleaned the gutters and looked down the chiminey with a light and there was only some creosote in the corners tapering up the first, maybe 10 feet of a 20 ft chimney. Granted there were a few pieces the size of corn flakes here and there to the top. Would it help if I took a photo to get some opinions? I really want some insight on this.

    On a side note I started a thread on opinions as to what members would pay for one of these in new condition, however because of what Ive learned so far here I had planned to install a liner in an effort to reclaim as much heat as possible from the stove and current empty fireplace hearth thats available rather than send it up an open chimney.
  21. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I was the original owner of the insert. And the hoe was every year when I cleaned the chimney. Be sure that the smoke shelf is cleaned. It is the ledge at the top back of the firebox in the fireplace. Sweeps are notorious for not cleaning the creosote out of those things. A guy I worked with back in the 90's had a slammer install too and a hell of a chimney fire a week after his annual sweep because the chimney sweep hadn't been cleaning out the smoke shelf. I have dug a bucket full out of mine on occasion. The last occasion being the day I installed the liner.
  22. VinnyJF

    VinnyJF New Member

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    Wow, thanks for the info! I'm definitely going to stop using it until I get everything straightened out. When I can, I'm going to pull the whole thing out and take a look inside the fireplace and see what's what. I may have to wait, since I blew out my knee(surgery in April), I'm not as mobile as I'd like.

    You guys are awesome.
  23. VinnyJF

    VinnyJF New Member

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    Unit ID'd as a Country Flame B26. Now to get parts!
  24. VinnyJF

    VinnyJF New Member

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    I love coming back here with updates :) I actually found the blower fan and motor tucked away in the garage, amonst some other things the previous owner left me - OPTEST SAT. I also discovered that the thermodisc installed was the wrong part, thanks to Mangum providing me with the old Country Flame B26 manual.

    I've ordered and received the stack/flue transistion - 8" square-to-round (it's taller than I though it would be), the proper gasket and hardware to secure it in place.

    My plan for this season is to make a plank/rail system to slide the stove out of the hearth (so it doesn't slam on the floor...and so I can slide it back into place), have the chimney swept and inspected, and then, thanks to this site's how-to's, install an 8" flex at least to the 1st flue tile, (with sheet metal block) slide the stove back into place, and attach properly.

    I'm not sure if it's a lofty goal, but if it goes well, I'll document with pics and post - timeline undetermined. Hopefully someday it might help others :)
  25. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    You can save some effort, if you are having somebody else sweep the chimney, by finding a sweep that has an insert puller. Most around here have them since so many people used to have the old heavy inserts. Lots still do.

    They are nice, but expensive, portable jigs that they just assemble and slide the insert out.
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