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New house construction - reccommendations wanted for wood-burning insert -- 44 Elite?

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

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  1. psychmike

    psychmike New Member

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    carpneils - thanks, it makes sense. But...

    Considering that we won't be relying on it for heat (i.e. we can let it die if it gets too hot), and considering that we won't be using it that much (so the waste wouldn't be as much of a concern as it might be otherwise) and considering that we can use the screen, or open the attic trap door (or window) to let some heat escape, and considering that we REALLY would like a big window to look at the fire through, am I totally crazy to get the bigger one? We already put the money for it in the allowance with the contractor...

    Do I sound like I really want the 44, or what?

    MSG - The Yikes part was for me, like 'yikes, did I make myself look foolish AGAIN??'

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  2. heatxchanger

    heatxchanger New Member

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    Hello there Mike,

    Yup, a zero clearance fireplace is what you need.

    I simply cannot believe that nobody has mentioned the Security Chimneys BIS Panorama. By the way, "BIS" stands for built-in-stove. Lennox recently purchased Security Chimneys and the Panorama is now known as the Lennox Villa Vista.

    Simply go to www.lennoxhearthproducts.com and check out the Villa Vista. The would look quite nice in your new home would it not? The Villa Vista is a zero-clearance, high efficiency fireplace with a large viewing area. It also has a slide-out ash drawer. Additionally it is only 25" deep so it won't stick in your room as much as many of the other zero clearance fireplaces. In addition, the Villa Vista is a catalytic fireplace which means you can easily slow the burn rate down on warmer days to lower the BTU output while still burning clean. CLEAN = efficient. The combination of slow, low, and clean is not readily obtainable in non-catalytic fireplaces and stoves.

    If you ask people in the Hearth business you will quickly learn that Security Chimneys (now owned by Lennox) has been in business for many years and has an excellent reputation.

    No, I don't work for Lennox or even own stock in Lennox but I do think the Villa Vista would be ideal for your room.

    Good luck,

    If you have more questions, just ask.

    pellethead
  3. woolleyr

    woolleyr New Member

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    PsychMike,

    I have a model 44 elite. Love it! Cranks good heat.

    I live near Lake Tahoe, so we are pretty much destined to burn softwood so I don't get the same performance as I would if i had oak. Wish I did but at $400+ per cord you can see why I stick to pine.

    I have the entire fireplace and chimney chase inside the insulated envelope of the house. Keeps chimney warm, drafts beautifully and nearly no creosote buildup.

    I have a 2700 ft2 house with high ceilings throughout and entire wall of north facing windows. The unit will heat the house if I push it, to about 20 deg F outside, gets any colder than that I need supplemental heat in the far bedrooms.

    If your home is say around 1500ft2 you will be able to easily heat it.

    I'd recommend outside air for both combustion and circulating air, DO NOT bring it in through the outside wall chase if you decide to go that way. I'd recommend you bring the air in from underneath...cold air has a harder time traveling uphill when the unit is off.

    This unit like most others will not burn overnight so don't buy into the hype, no of them do. If you get a good 2-4 hours of burning followed by hot coals still sitting there in morning then this is your unit.

    Here's a snapshot from tonight.

    Attached Files:

  4. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Back from seminars we discussed the requirements of a external chase and the cold draft problems. Code wise the chase has to be insulated NFPA 211 and also be sheet rocked with one hour 5/8" fire code sheet rock. It requires the same insulation as any exterior wall. If insulated then no cold drafts should be present
  5. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    Insulating a chase is must to pass code here in Virginia.

    I was trimming around an insert this winter in a new home that did not have the chase insulated, and cold air was pouring through.

    Was helping a contractor "friend" finish up and I told him that the chase needed to be insulated. He said go ahead and trim away, so the inspector could not see behind it!!! (Wish Elk was around here)

    On another note, if you get an ice storm with no electric for days, I think you may be really motivated to use it as a heat source. Or natural gas/oil becomes unavailable.
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Hmmm. The new photo has me a little confused. I thought the stonework and flue for the stove was going to be exterior. But now it appears to be an interior chimney. If so, follow Elk's advice and do it by code.
  7. psychmike

    psychmike New Member

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    BeGreen - I don't know the right terminology, but the fireplace unit will be half inside and half outside the house, the chase will be outside.

    Will def. pass elk's comments about code on to the builder.

    Thanks fireWx, good to hear from another satisfied 44 owner. I think I am too far down the FXP route now to turn back, though I still am not sure if we'll end up with a 44 or a 36.

    And thanks pellethead for the recc's, I like the look of both of those units! Real nice, and I had wondered what the dif was betweeen catalytic and non-catalytic....
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Gotcha, so the stonework on the interior is just a stone veneer. Then we're back to the original recommendation. Insulate the exterior chimney chase to increase draft and reduce creosote buildup.
  9. psychmike

    psychmike New Member

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    Dealers and installers I speak to have not heard about insulating the whole chase -- everyone says just do it up to the firestop. I am going to ask the builder if he'll do the whole chase and see what he says.

    I decided on a dealer in Middletown, NY called NorthStar Energy Systems. They are the friendliest and most knowledgeable-seeming and they will also spend the time with you on the phone happily. So I am going to ask the guy to come out and look at the house and the wall to help me choose between the FXP 36 and 44 -- and have them install it. I could tell by the level of detail we got into that this guy has installed this unit enough to know it by heart.

    I will definitely post again when I have anything else of interest to tell anyone about how it is going.

    Thanks again everybody, such nice folks here.
  10. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    I only insulate up to the firestop, never above.
  11. psychmike

    psychmike New Member

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    BeG? Whaddya think about what Sandor sez?
  12. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Lets not go overboard true insulating the entire chase would be best. If the insulate the first level then fire stop it with metal, that can be considered to meet the exterior wall insulation requirements. After the fire stop, it would be considered outside the the insulation envelope. It is not just enough to insulate the walls, the area within the fire stop, according to NFPA 211, has to be one hour protected, commonly achieved by installing 5/8" fire code sheetrock. The top side of the fire stop has to be insulated, But 2" clearance around the pipe. What many do in my area, is either use fiberglass and up to 2" away and cermic wool insulation in that 2" area.
    To recap the chase is insulated and metal fire stopping shield up to the begining of the second floor above the metal, 26 ga or thicker galvanized steel stop, The fiber glass and cermic wool insulation is placed. The fire stop is a separation the un conditioned space from conditioned behind the stove. Sandor method is correct if code compliant stopping and one hour protection is in place.

    What usually happens is the walls insulated to the fire stop and that's it. But heat escapes threw the metal fire stop or cold can penetrate it creating the cold draft so common Insulating above the fire stop prevents the cold drafts. Chapter 3 NFPA 211 does require that chase up to the fire stop to be one hour protected.
  13. psychmike

    psychmike New Member

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    Elk - It sounds like you are saying that insulating above the firestop is not really necessary...

    I am still tempted to ask the builder to insulate the entire chase, given stories I have heard about cold drafts, but can you give me your opinion if this is a total waste of effort given that I am in a climate where in the coldest month the average low is 12 degrees, and there is not a lot of wind?

    Also, most people seem to reccommend locating the blower intake below the level of the fireplace unit, so that cold air is less likely to travel UP the vent - you agree with this?
  14. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    The fire stop metal should be insulated by laying insulation on top of it and cermic wool type insulation arounnd the pipe
    Metal does transmit cold or warmth. The insulation on top of the metal fire stop prevents the tramsission of cold to the lower
    part of the chase. No one has mentioned insulating the floor cavity another reason for cold drafts
  15. psychmike

    psychmike New Member

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    Just checking back in now, after we have used the unit (Fireplace Extroardinaire 44 Elite) for awhile (about six or seven weekend-long burns). We did insulate the chase all the way up, wonderboard over batten insulation (I actually wasn't there to see what he did which still leaves me with some sneaking fears about what if he didn't do it right. Northstar Energy Systems in Middletown NY installed the insert, and they definitely knew what they were doing, and must have seen how the insulating was done, so I guess he would have said something if the right materials were not used.) The veneer stone is not installed yet outside or inside, just the wonderboard still showing on the inside.

    There are definitely no cold drafts, though we have not hit the really cold weather yet.

    The amount of heat it is putting out is definietly not excessive, unless you think 72 degrees or something is excessive - it feels like about that in the room it's in, when burning at full force, and the other rooms seem to hover at about 70 degrees at full burn. That upstairs room might be a little warm, especially for sleeping, I haven't checked the temperature up there yet. The main room, the livingroom where the fireplace is, is like 35' x 20', so even when it's blowing serious heat, it still has a big room to fill, and we have that high ceiling, and most of it is probably flowing straight up the stairs to the one upstairs room. And we leave the doors to all rooms open (including the basement - because there is no door there yet!) and two of the connecting rooms have big archways, so the hot air is probably really flowing well into those rooms, and one of those rooms has three walls of solid windows -- so downstairs it is not too hot.

    We leave the thermostats for the (hot water-radiators) heating system set at 68, assuming it will cut off when the fireplace is heating the rooms fully.

    I still have a lot of questions that I will probably post separately, about how to burn efficiently - or probably there is a tutorial somewhere. I feel like there is more info I should be providing, but being a newbie still, nothing is coming to mind at the moment. Oh yeah, after about 5 burns the glass was already black with creosote, blocking most of the view of the fire! Don't know if that means I am doing something wrong with the burn, the installer said that would happen...
  16. DonCT

    DonCT Minister of Fire

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    Now, how are you gonna check back in without pictures?!?!?!?!?!?!

    Sounds like you got a good unit there. Should perform nicely :)
  17. psychmike

    psychmike New Member

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    pictures...wish I could show you ones with the stome finished, but that may be another couple months at the rate we're going.

    Attached Files:

  18. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Looks like the house is coming along very nicely Mike. It's going to look super when it's all done. What type floors are they? Brazillian cherry?

    How is the quality of the wood that's being burned? Is it nice an dry? Can you describe your burning process from start to finish? Include details about the starting kindling type, air regulation, when the air is reduced, etc. How does the smoke out of the chimney look when starting up, and after the stove is hot? Totally blackened glass after 5 burns doesn't sound right on a modern insert, but I haven't run one of these stove.
  19. psychmike

    psychmike New Member

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    Hey BeGreen - the floor is a Bruce style available at home depot - it's a distressed maple that does look abit like brazilian cherry. (We actually got it during a 20% off sale that brought the price down to $5-something a sq ft).

    The wood was said to be well-cured mixed hardwoods by the guy who sold it to us (I think he said two years, dunno for sure)...but it usually is dewy when I put it on. We haven't really figured out a good way to store it so it stays dry. Right now it is stacked on pallets with a tarp over the stacks. It actually usually seems as if the stuff that was uncovered is drier than the stuff that was under the tarp.

    I use newspapers and then small sticks and bark taken from the cordwood, and then a couple of the smallest splits I can locate that day. Sometimes some cardboard from the trash.

    I keep the fireplace doors closed but the flue and air intake both open wide until I've got the splits going strong, then I usually put a log or two on and lower the air intake to the low position once the logs are clearly afire. I have no idea if I am doing this right, I guess I just read somewhere that the ideal fire is not very flamey, more like coals. From thereon I always keep it with low air intake and sometimes even shut the flue halfway if I am getting serious coals that seem to be generating a lot of heat without seeming like they need much air. At this setting I continue to see mostly coals without much flame even when I put new logs on -- they just burn without much flame, slowly turning to glowing coals.

    And I just add a large log or two every four hours or so, and at night I stuff in three big logs and always still have some coals going in the morning when I wake up so I don't have to restart the fire -- and it seems to throw heat through the night because the livingroom, at least, always still feels warm in the AM.

    Never noticed much the smoke out of the chimney except that it always seems very smokey outside the house.

    Is it OK to use these commercial "fatwood" products as kindling? How about twigs and sticks from pine trees - bad idea?
  20. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    The builder works for you. You pay him. You don't ask him if he wants to do it. Chances are he might opt not to if given the choice, beause he wants to finish and on to the next project. You pay him, tell him what you want. Do it in a nice way, but don't ask for something you want, explain this is what you want & require. If you want it that bad.
  21. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Ops shoulda read the entire posts, LOL , your way past that now. Place looks really great! Looks very peaceful, can't get enough of peaceful!
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