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Help With Zero Clearance

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by OregonCountry, Oct 16, 2006.

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  1. OregonCountry

    OregonCountry New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
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    Hi Everyone - Anyone?

    Okay. This is my first post and, I realize you must be mostly guys, so I will say by way of disclaimer that whatever you tell me here might get my husband in trouble. So there, it's out!

    Well, here's the deal. My husband bought a woodstove - Ponderosa - and had it installed into our zero clearance insert. We have an iron piece fitted against the back wall of the insert (the guy who cleaned our zero clearance noticed a crack in the insert wall so that was the fix). He then recommended some buddies to install the stove. It seemed to be a clear shot in with no room at the back but some on the sides (wider at the front and narrowing as it slopes back). The chimney pipe is a triple wall. They fit it in, hooked up the pipe and the thing looks like it was made for the spot. There was no offset on the piping as far as I know.

    Here are my questions. Is this a safe set-up? Husband says yes, guys installing say yes, wife is nervous. The guys also put insulation on both sides of the stove and fabricated metal seals to go over the front of the insert where the open part is on either side. We have smelled what smells like something burning so my husband pulled off the front panel on one side and pulled out the insulation. That seemed to cool things off and the smell was better but, should we pull it out of the other side too? Should we have the front panels on at all or is this causing the stove to heat the insert box too much? If the panels are off will the stove still be effiecient and/or more importantly, safe?

    I've got kids here and I don't want an unsafe situation. My husband says I'm going to listen to everyone else and not him but, the stakes are high and I have to risk the wrath.

    Can you all help me and answer all my questions?

    Thank you so much.

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  2. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
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    2,248
    Loc:
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    The back of a 0 clearance fireplace is usually some sort of fireproof ceramic type material. At least it was on mine. Is that what was cracked?

    What was this iron peice? a peice of angle iron to keep the crack intact? Was the 0 clearance fireplace safe by itself? Would you burn a wood fire in it? If you would not burn a fire in that fire place, then the install of the insert is probably not cool.

    You also said the chimney is triple wall..You mean the origininal fireplaces chimney? What brand of fireplace uses triple wall? Or do you mean that they installed triple wall in place of the original fireplace chimney?

    Overall the install doesn't SOUND dangerous, BUT BUT BUT.... It sound like there are some wrinkles we could dig into.

    I'd get that insulation out of there!!!!!! A insert should have the surround panels installed, but it's not meant to have a bunch of insulation around it, Otherwise, the mfg would have told you to put the insulation there...and I doubt it says that in the install manual.
  3. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Virginia
    Post some pictures so we can see exactly what you are trying to describe.
  4. kd460

    kd460 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Messages:
    394
    First, and no offense intended, we need to get some terminology corrected so we are all crystal clear on what we a talking about.

    A zero clearance fireplace is not an insert. It is simply called a zero clearance fireplace or sometimes called a prefab fireplace. A zero clearance (zc) fireplace uses double wall flu (chimney) pipe. Usually in a wooden constructed chimney.

    An insert is a type of stove that is designed to be placed inside a fireplace. Some inserts are allowed to be installed inside a ZC fireplace, and some are not. You really need to find out if the insert is zero clearance approved.

    Also, it is not good to just let the insert flu gases (smoke) go straight up th ZC chimney (flu). You need to install a chimney liner (if this has not been done) that connects directly to the insert and runs inside your double wall flu pipe all the way to the top. This liner is designed to handle the higher temps that your new insert produces.

    Packing insulation around your insert is not a good. Especially if the insulation is fiberglass insulation (and I bet that was the smell). Fiberglass insulation can't take the heat. Just leave it with no insulation. The metal covers or trim pieces to cover the gaps are fine.

    Finally, please be a little more specific as to what is damaged on your zc fireplace, and like asked earlier, a pic would be nice. Who is "the guys" who told you to put insulation around the insert. Is he a chimney sweep, an installer or something?

    Again, not trying to be sarcastic, just want to be clear. Please post more info and don't run that insert untill you know everything is good for sure! You did good coming here for info. KD
  5. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    No free standing wood stove can be installed in a Z.C fireplaceUnless it is listed for zc instalation IS the Zc fireplace ul listed?.

    If so please supply that data and the manufacture of the Zc fire place If you can not determine the ZC fireplace manufACTURER
    then are you shure it is zc What did your building mechanical inspector say about your instalation?

    A lot of zc chimneys are not listed for wood stove burning Even more trublesome is cracks in the ZC fire place its self that being so it is unsafe to use as a fireplace and definitely unsafe for a wood stove installation. From the soulds of you setup and instalation you have good reason to be concerned. Should you confront your husdand ,you can tell him I am a national certified building inspector.
    I inspect wood stove installt.ions for a living been doing it for 11 years

    the more info you supply here the better we can advise as to your situatuion safety
  6. OregonCountry

    OregonCountry New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
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    Hi There,

    I will try to find out more answers but this is what I have. This is a zero clearance (before the woodstove was installed). It had glass front doors which were removed for the wood stove. And yes, the back of it is some sort of ceramic/brick-looking material. The piece they installed over the crack (and the install of the plate completely covered the back of the zero clearance which included the crack) was 1/4" steel plate. (I thought it was iron but it's not.) And yes, we had fires in it for 15 or more years with no problem except inefficient heating. They say the pipe (original) was triple wall because where we live I think that was code. I think the smell was the insulation. We put 3 cords of wood through this last year and the smell would get worse when the stove got hotter. My husband thought the insulation was what was smelling. Why would they have put that in there at all? Oh, and KD mentioned a wooden framed chimney to go with the zero clearance and that is what this is (masonry on the outside). And KD, this woodstove is attached to the triple wall pipe and sealed off. There is no additional liner but do we still need it if the pipe is triple walled?

    The "guys" who put it in were the installers so we originally presumed the insulation was supposed to be in there. And please don't worry about sounding sarcastic. You absolutely did not. We can't get straight answers unless you have adequate information. This helps me to be more concise.

    And "Better Safe Than Sorry" - I don't know the manufacturer but will try to find out to see if it is compatible with the stove. What would make one woodstove compatible and not another?

    You have all been very gracious to help and I'm interested in your further feedback. Thank you so much.
  7. DonCT

    DonCT Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2005
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Bristol, Connecticut
    Would it be possible to get pictures of your set up? I know for me, it would make it easier to asses your situation.

    I used to have a zero clearance, but I found out that I couldn't mount or hook up a stove safely. So I ripped it out and built an alcove.
  8. OregonCountry

    OregonCountry New Member

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    Oct 16, 2006
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    About the pictures.....don't know how to do that myself and would need my husband to help there. We have a digital camera but I wouldn't know how to drop it in to the computer and post it here. sorry... All I can tell you is that the zc is wider at the front, narrows toward the back, the woodstove sits flush against the back and juts out about 12 inches past the flush point with the zc. We can set an iron kettle on the top and could actually cook on it I guess if we were so inclined. It came out of an existing fireplace, had no legs, and has a brick lined bottom (maybe they all do, I don't know). Does that help at all? The woodstove is a double-doored glass front.

    Thanks again.

    OC
  9. DonCT

    DonCT Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
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    That sounds more like an insert than a stove. There are inserts that are listed to be installed in a ZC fireplace, but they are very small and not many of them.

    I'll see if I can find Warrens thread where he installed an insert into a ZC. See if that matches alittle of what you're talking about.

    * Found it: http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/98/
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