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Insert Questions

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by bodeen, Apr 27, 2006.

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  1. bodeen

    bodeen Member

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    Great forum!

    Here's my dilema. I have a 35-ish year old Heatilator fireplace with a masonry chimney. Squirrel got passed the damper when it was closed so I was taking the damper out to inspect and found out the the smoke shelf has rusted through. Unknowingly many fires have been burned with this condition (nobody got hurt and nothing burned). I did notice that we seemed to have higher draft then normal for sometime. Undoubtedly due to the fact that the air normally routed through the heatilator chamber was going right up the chimney. I have seen some of the nightmare pictures of these Heatilators being torn out of masonry chimney's. Expensive to say the least. I was told it could be torn out in pieces with a grinder and sawzall and a mason could build it back without tearing out the side of the chimney..... YIKES!!
    My questions are, to which I have had many different answers and none being the same.
    Can I install an insert stove with full liner installation and fabricating a block off plate in place of damper and running lining through it? It would also be capped at the top of the chimney. I was also thinking of fabricating a sheetmetal patch to cover smoke shelf and sealing it up.
    Recomendations for an insert in a 1000 sq.ft. house with cathedral 12-12 pitch ceiling, Tin roof with 1" foam insulation between rafters. Ceiling fan for circulating heat back to floor from sleeping loft. Concrete block walls. Located in Northern Va. Yes, it would be the essential part of the heating system. I would lean towards a bigger stove given lack of insulation.

    Thanks in advance for any and all advice.

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  2. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy New Member

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    inserts for small zero clearance fireplaces can be a challenge. What i sell for most of those is a quadrafire 2100I, my customers seem to like them. Your install sounds good with the block of in the firebox and the top. Unfortunalty, your firebox size will be the limiting factor in your decision. There are other models out there that work well too, im shure others will comment.
  3. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    I think what he is talking about is one of those metal boxes with the tubes that are built into a masonry fireplace with a regular masonry flue. I don't see why you couldn't install an insert with the mentioned repairs. It woudl sure be a whole lot easier than having a mason restore it to an open fireplace not mention the gained efficiency.
  4. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    can you provide the fire box dementions Height width and dept

    Sounds like you damper frame and box rusted out. This can be replaced but one should solve the problem of water getting to it,
    possibly a chimney cap?

    An insert will net you more usable heat and by plating off the damper area and top witha full liner you will not have to deal with replacement of the damper I suggest cutting some of it out so a round liner can pass threw without ovalizing it to fit threw the damper area
  5. bodeen

    bodeen Member

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    Thanks for all the reply's so far!

    My firebox is very big compared to some of the modern zero clearance firepolaces I have seen (I'm no expert). My approx. dimensions are 48" wide by 32" tall I do not have the depth measurement right now but from what I have looked at I do not think I have a size issue. I think even say the Summit would fit.
    Shane, My fireplace is metal but not of the tube variety you are speaking of (thank goodness). It has air intakes on either side of the hearth down low 12" ~ from the floor and then after that air circulates around the box it comes out above the fireplace on the front of the hearth. No tubes. All is metal all the way past damper area until it transitions 12"x12" flue tile.
    Elkimmeg, my dimensions are above minus depth measurement and yes the bottom of my damper frame did rust out along with the smoke shelf because of no rain cap. I havent talked to any body that said they could fix what is in place. Everybody suggests tearing it out. I also believe that I can get a 6" liner throught the damper area with no ovaling of the liner, damper removed of course.
    Now, my thinking of patching the smoke shelf area with sheet metal before I make a sheet metal block off that would go just below is to maybe be able to reap some benefit of the original warm air flow around the metal box as original. I too believe that if this will work, it will be far more efficient and probably about half the cost of replacing the whole firebox with masonry that would not be as efficient.
    What do yall think about my plan so far? Suggestion for a insert? What about this insulating of the liner, is this a must?

    Thanks alot, I am feeling a little better about this now!
  6. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy New Member

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    My personal opionion is that the insulation is almost as important as the liner. In my neck of the woods, we see a drastic degrade im performance with out the insulation, but there mostly start up issues.
    And insert that meets your needs that you buy from a local dealer will be good. Lopi, Quadrafire, PE, Country, Jotul.. there are many more. If you want big, and you have big, i would look at the quad 5100I, the reason i say that, its what im familiar with. Dont even consider building a masonry fireplace back, that would be a waste of money. Sometimes my customers will put a hearthstone homestead on the hearth in front, and use the panel surround that you can buy for it to get a different look, but wonderfull install. Good luck.
    Ryan
  7. bodeen

    bodeen Member

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    My local dealer offers:

    Jotul
    Hearthstone
    P.E.
    Morso
    Lopi
    Napolean
    Englander

    Some of these dont offer inserts. I was looking at P.E., Hearthstone and Jotul

    Thanks again
  8. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    As far as I can tell there is no Quadrafire 2100i anymore. I chose a 2700i only because it would fit into my prefabbed fireplace. This one sounds bigger. I'd say go for a bigger one.
  9. mlouwho

    mlouwho New Member

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    Bodeen,

    You are making this much more difficult than it needs to be. There is no need for a smoke shelf if you have a good insert installed with a proper liner. The chimney becomes just a chase, a box around your new chimney liner for the sake of clearance. You said you hoped to get some extra heat from repairing it, why go to all that work? If you get a GOOD insert with a blower, you will have plenty of heat. Try the Regency I1100, sized perfectly for your home.
  10. bodeen

    bodeen Member

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    mlouwho,

    The reasoning behind the repair of the smoke shelf would not be for its use, but to patch the whole in the steel box so as to gain use of the griiles installed in the hearth already. They take air in from next to the floor on the side of the hearth and it circulates between the the steel in the firebox and another peice of steel behind that, then out of the hearth on the front up high. With the hole in the smoke shelf this natural circulation goes to the chimney. I understand that it will be blocked off anyway but I was thinking it would be more efficient.
    I was looking at the Regency 3100 too.

    thanks,

    Bodeen
  11. PAJerry

    PAJerry Member

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    Bodeen, mlouwho is pointing you in the right direction. The Pacific Energy Vista is very similar to the Regency I1100 and I considered both. I much preferred the layout of the firebox in the PE so I bought it. My whole house is about 1300 sq. ft. with the main floor about 1000 sq. ft. The Vista heats it up nicely to 75 and we have to lessen the stove loading to keep it from overheating the house. We have only had it since March and the coldest days were in the 20s but it sure does the job. From all I have read, it is best not to oversize your stove since you will have to damper it down and that can lead to creosote buildup and a dirty glass in the door. You will not regret putting an insert in - they are great!
  12. mlouwho

    mlouwho New Member

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    Bodeen,

    If you install a quality insert, there will be no heat outside of the insert and still inside the old fireplace to be circulated through those grills. If there is a small amount of heat that gets through the body of the insert into the old firebox, it will not be enough to produce the heat needed to make that “convection” system work. The blower on the insert will give you more heat than you need.

    Thank you Jerry. Any Regency dealer that will sell you an I3100 for a 1000 sq ft house should have his dealership taken away. All of the stoves you mention have afterburn and air wash systems in them, both only work when the stove is burning hot. A stove designed to heat 3,000 sq ft will never be burned hot enough in a 1000 sq ft house. You will have a chimney full of creosote, filthy glass and not be happy with your insert. If you are concerned about efficiency, you should be looking at the right size.
  13. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy New Member

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    did i say 2100?? LOL, im easly confused this time of year, yes that model is discontinued, the 2700 is current. Not much different, but good call. My mistake. Im rusty this time of year. Check out the homestead or heritage. They both have a 23.5 inch rear exit top hight. good for retrofits.
  14. seaken

    seaken Minister of Fire

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    These heatform steel fireboxes are very popular around here. I concur with what has already been said. Don't bother trying to repair the smokeshelf. It is a waste of your time and energy. And yes, do insulate the liner and run it all the way to the top. A block off plate at the damper level may be helpful or may not be needed depending on what type of panel system the insert uses. Most of the time we do not install a block-off at the damper if there is a sealing plate surround included with the insert. Make sure the top is properly blocked off with a top plate and storm collar.

    The LOPI also will be a good choice. They have a good mid-size insert called the Revere and a larger unit called the Declaration. To size the unit correctly you should have a local dealer inspect the space. He/she will also confirm that the fireplace can safely accomodate the insert.

    Good luck,

    Sean
  15. bodeen

    bodeen Member

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    Thanks for all the replys!

    So I will scrap trying to patch smoke shelf and go ahead and make a block off plate. With the block off plate in place it will be a positive seal between top liner plate and bottom of chimney and the damaged smoke shelf would be in between. This brings me to more questions! What to seal the block off plate with at the damper location? Standard Silicone or is there a heat rated product of some kind? I have seen guys use masonry type screws to fasten in a masonry fireplace but since mine is steel I will need something adhesive like. I also have been searching for what to use to redo my chimney crown? I know mortar is not the answer but cant find a definate answer. I have seen the plastic coating stuff but my crown has some smallish cracks and when I knock on it, it sounds hollow like its just sitting there and not really bonded to the top of the chimney so that would rule out the plastic stuff.

    Now I am considering the Lopi or a P.E. Hopefully I can catch a sale once it gets really warm. Ok, so maybe thats my little dream! Thanks again for all the input thus far. You guys have been great!

    Bodeen
  16. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    Use High temp RTV silicone and self tapping sheetmetal screws to secure and seal the block off plate. Crown saver is good for repairing crowns if you're going to rip it off and repour then you can buy some crown mixes or just make it out of cement, then coat it with crown coat.
  17. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    I have to differ from shane's advice after witnessing RTV caulk ignite, in that very location around the damper plate. I suggest using as tube of refactory cement or draft stopper 136 standart 1,250 degree plus. RTV is only good to 500 degrees and is good for pellet stove vent seals but not for single wall wood stove pipe, and in close proximity of the pipe. One also could use common sheet metal screws but would require drilling a smaller diameter holes
  18. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    You're right elk if applied around where the pipe penetrates the block off plate it probably would ignite. I usually don't seal around that part due to expansion and contraction (the couple I did do with gasket cement were cracked away the next year when I went back to clean them.) The edges of the block off plate should be fine with silicone though.
  19. seaken

    seaken Minister of Fire

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    I have found it effective to use common 26g sheetmetal and some liner wrap insulation blanket to seal the damper block-off plate. Use the insulation blanket to fill in the gaps between the sheet metal and the fireplace. Make sure it is pinched between the fireplace and the sheetmetal so that is is not loose. Use some aluminum tape to hold in place on the sheetmetal while placing the block-off plate into the cavity. Predrill holes in the block-off plate then use these holes to drill pilot holes in the steel firebox then follow with a self-tapping sheetmetal screw. Set up two drills to make this easier. My experience is that self-tappers alone will not handle the heavey duty steel plate and break off.

    Sean
  20. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    Insulation is a great idea Sean. I'll use that next time I do one.
  21. bodeen

    bodeen Member

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    Shane,

    That is a great idea that I will definately use.

    So my local dealer is trying to sell me the Clydesdale or the Kennebec this is what his recomendations are. Any thoughts either way? I did read some not so good things on this forum about the Clydesdale and qaulity control issues. So I this point I am leaning Jotul, Prices are comparable. I may start a new thread with this.

    Thanks,

    Bodeen
  22. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy New Member

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    Keenebec is a good unit, like i have said in other threads reguarding this insert, im a single door guy. Some people are and some people arent. Good quality unit that will give you a long service life. I dont like the clydesdale much, not for QC issues, but asthetics. it doenst do it for me. The kennebec i believe is in the neighborhood of 55k btu's. That should, for average construction, average wood quality, and many other factors, heat about 1200-1500 sq ft, and burn 4-6 hours.
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