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Majestic See-through Fireplace

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Eric Johnson, Jun 13, 2006.

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  1. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Our house has a late-'80s vintage Majestic MST Heat-Circulating See-Through fireplace that really doesn't work very well as a wood burner for a variety of reasons. It's connected to a multi-wall metal chimney--part of the original installation, I believe. Glass doors on both sides.

    I notice from reading the manual that it has knock-outs for a gas connection. As it happens, there's a natural gas line running right underneath the thing in the basement, though it's never been connected from what I can see.

    Would it be difficult to rig this thing up for gas? Is it advisible? Can I DIY it?

    Finally, would it make sense from an efficiency point of view to convert to gas? I'm not looking to heat my house--just create some ambience and space heat in the living room and study from time to time.

    The fireplace appears to be connected to the chimney through a Vestal Multi-Opening Fireplace Damper (I've got that manual, too). Will that do gas?

    Thanks for any suggestions and/or advice.

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  2. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Damper Either has to be removed or permanently fixed to remain open

    You probably need a gas log set and a gas fitter or licenced plumber to make the final gas installation and to get a premit.
    Do not even think you do not need one. I know of your mechanical ability, but if you tamper with gas and something happens.
    It is usually not good , Insurance companies will have every excuse not to payout. Per gas codes no one is allowed to install gas piping without a permit and licencing. Me, I would also for piece of mind, have that line pressure tested. Did you know if you call the gas company for an unlelated issue and they discover an unpermitted installation they can turn off your gas . They then notify the local gas inspector of their findings. You will be looking for a licenced installer anyways before your gas gets turned back on.

    As Mechanically as I am,I will not touch a gas appliance. The liabilities and conquenses are too steep for me to take on a responsibility I'm not suposed to touch.
  3. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Thanks for the good advice, Elk. I knew the permit was required and I see your point about the connection.

    Now you got me worried. What happens if the prior owner made an unauthorized gas connection? How the hell am I supposed to know? Does my insurance company bail on that one?
  4. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    They have a home owner exemption for running gas here. You can even run electricity so long as it's your own home. Same rules apply pull the permit all inspections etc. From an efficiency standpoint I think you'd be worse off with the logs since the damper becomes a permanantly open hole in your roof once their installed. In my opinion a gas insert would be the optimal solution.
  5. skypager

    skypager New Member

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    Hey Eric- Is one of the variety of reasons it doesn't work very well because of poor draft? Do you get smoke in the house when you try to light it? If so, a vented gas log set will probably not draft any better then wood and you would be pumping carbon monoxide into the house. If it drafts good when burning wood it will be fine.

    The other option you have (unless NY does not allow them, but I think they do) is a vent free log. Alot of people may jump all over this and say how bad vent free is because of the biproduct of moisture and the fact that it may reduce oxygen in the room if there is not good air circulation. But from my findings - As long as you use it as a space heater and don't burn it for more than 3 -4 hours continuous you'll be ok.

    The other variant on that option is that some manufacturers (ex: Empire Comfort Systems) are now making units that are listed as both Vented and Vent Free, allowing you to operate the unit with the damper open or closed. With a unit such as that it takes away almost all concern when poor draft is involved.
  6. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Shane,

    I don't want to have to tear the old Majestic out and replace it with something else. That's a good point about the always-open chimney, however. The glass doors might provide some relief, but I'll have to check the seal.

    josh,

    Draft is part of the issue. Sometimes it drafts OK; other times, not good. Maybe put a carbon monoxide detector nearby and shut the damn thing off if there's a problem. I cleaned the chimney, so apparently that's not the problem. The other thing is that it's sitting on the opposite end of the house from where the wood is, and the living room is carpeted, so keeping it going is a hassle and a mess.

    Maybe draftless makes the most sense, although I get the impression that they don't produce as much flame as the drafting models. Do the "go either way" ones work better when drafting than when not drafting?
  7. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Neighbor: "Wow! Thirty cords of wood in the back yard. No problem starting a mood fire at your house I bet."

    Eric: "Heck no. Got gas for that."
  8. skypager

    skypager New Member

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    They have come leaps and bounds with vent free flame appearance. They are not quite as orange / yellow and spuratic as vented, but look pretty good. You would have to see them yourself to determine if they look "good enough". I would put an Empire in my house. I'm sure that other brands look nice also, but that is the one I'm most (pleasantly) experienced with. If you find a model that uses a pan burner as opposed to a tube burner it will most likely look good. The big difference in flame is the BTU input. Vented is usually around 60,000 BTU, 90% of which goes up the chimney. Vent free is usually around 40,000 BTU, and almost all of that will come into the house, exept what seeps thru the damper crack (depending on how open the damper is). Obviously, the vent free is better from an efficiency stand point.

    As far as the vent free working better with the damper open or closed- Look wise they would be the same, maybe with the damper open the flame might draw toward the top of the box a little more, but thats it. The biggest difference will be the amount of heat that comes into the room versus up the chimney.

    One thing I forgot to mention in the original - If this is in a bedroom a vent free over 10,000 BTU can not be used. And a vent free under 10,000 BTU looks like the burner on a gas grill.
  9. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Ironic, isn't it?

    I checked around the internet for gas log assemblies and it looks like the decent ones run upwards of $500. The cheap ones on Ebay feature log piles that look more like dog squeeze than anything else.

    josh,

    No, it's between a huge living room and a big study, both with 10-foot ceilings.
  10. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    You wouldnt' have to tear it out to install an insert. I am not a fan of gas logs they're just hugely inefficient. There will be nothing airtight about those glass doors. In my opinion gas logs are pretty and that's what they're good for. Portland Willamette, Hargrove and Vermont Castings all make great looking log sets with quality valves and burners.
  11. skypager

    skypager New Member

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    If you choose to go with a log that has vent free capability, definetly buy something that is quality. I highly reccommend buying a log set from a local retailer who has a service department. I service 100's of gas log set each year and the cheaper mass marketer models are problematic and often impossible to get replacement parts.

    For a quality 2 sided log set expect to spend $800 - 1200 for the log set. You do have some control over what a quality log set will cost you because they commonly have 3 options - Manual on/off, Remote on/off, and remote hi/lo variable.
  12. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    My wife doesn't seem to think that $1,000 is too much to pay for a gas fireplace, which is a pleasant surprise, I guess.

    As I understand it, all you need in addition to the log set is a professionally-installed gas line, right? Would it be reasonable for me to do all the dirty work, including supplying the pipe in the right lengths, and pay a pro to make the critical connections?

    Also, if it's ventless, logic suggests that it must be more efficient. Is that right? Or, is there something about the design of inserts that gets more out of the gas than a logset?

    What's the ballpark on a two-sided gas insert (not installed)?
  13. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Not all states have approved ventless appliances. Is Ny one? Other states list only the certain approved models and do not approve all appliances. You need to do a little more research. All the ones approved in Ma, have oxogan depletion detectors. Also check the satte's requirement of Carbon monoxide detectors, required with ventless appliances. What is the required ul approved detector?
  14. skypager

    skypager New Member

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    All ventless products that I've seen have Oxygen Depletion Sensors on them, I believe that is a nation wide requirement. Of course, the state or local goverment can tighten that code, so its a good idea to check with your local inspection department and apply for a permit.

    A vent less appliance is more efficient, in the sense that almost no heat goes up the chimney. (Close to 100% heat generated is recovered) As for them being able to be operated without a vent - It mostly has to do with the air to fuel ratio, but I can't claim to know the exact science behind it, so I'm not gonna attempt to explain it.

    As for installation - I would just have the installing plumber supply the gas line. I would be suprised if purchasing gas line yourself would save you any considerable money because the plumber will then charge more for labor anyway. Part of the money that the plumber makes on the pipe will help make such a small job "worth doing" to them. However, maybe the plumber will cut you a break if you open up the path that the gas line will take since it will save them time and labor.

    A 24" Vent free gas double side gas log goes for around $900 - 1200. But check with your local dealer, maybe they have an off season sale or discontinued model that would go for less.
  15. seaken

    seaken Minister of Fire

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    Yes, the inserts are intended for prolonged use, as heaters. Vent free is not intended to be used as a heater. Even though it technically has a high efficiency it should not be used for more than a couple of hours at a time. Since an insert is venting the combustion products outdoors, most importantly the water vapor, it can remain on for an extended period and will be a more effective heater - like a wood stove with more expensive fuel.

    Where people get into trouble is when they try to use a ventless log set as a heater. As long as you use it as it is intended you should be fine.

    Sean
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