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Newbie to forum-cnverting wood burning to Nat. Gas

Post in 'It's a Gas!' started by The Kirbster, Nov 18, 2010.

  1. The Kirbster

    The Kirbster New Member

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    We've lived in this house for 20 years. The entire east wall of our living room is a native stone fireplace. We've used this every year so far, but only as a supplement to our Natural gas furnace (didn't leave a fire going when we went to work). If it turns REALLY cold, and we DON'T use the fireplace, the rocks radiate cold into the room, so we almost have to have a fire in the worst of winter.

    My health has gone to the dogs, and I can hardly cut wood anymore. I'm ready to convert to a gas fireplace. I'm disabled, so funding is at an all time low too. I want to install it in such a way that it could be reversed & converted to a log lighter, in case we sell the house later on.

    I've researched enough to realize I'd probably be better off with a gas insert, but I doubt I can afford one. I've compared the vent free & vented gas logs, and the vent free looks like the most economical way to go. Don't know if we can stand the smell.

    Since I'm instaling it in a fully functional fireplace, could I leave the damper open, & leave a SMALL opening at the top of the flue, making it a BARELY vented log? Wouldn't that carry the worst of the smells, moisture & unburned gas products up & out, while keeping the rocks around my firebox warm? It's not like we're depending on it as a sole source of heat, it's just something to keep the rock from getting so chilled (and us when we get by it).

    So, I seek advice, warnings...I'll even accept snide remarks at this point!

    Thanks!

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  2. The Kirbster

    The Kirbster New Member

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    Huh. Almost 24 hours, no replies yet.
  3. Wood Heat Stoves

    Wood Heat Stoves Minister of Fire

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    check out gas burning inserts at your local hearth shop
    gas logs are horrible (but look nice)
  4. Fsappo

    Fsappo Minister of Fire

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    Being you cant afford an insert, which would be the best thing to do..the idea of a vent free log set with opening the damper enough to let the smell out may be a second choice for you. Keep in mind, the more open the damper is, the more heat will go rushing out your chimney. The more closed it is, the more chances you'll have odors and possibly other air quality issues to deal with.
  5. The Kirbster

    The Kirbster New Member

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    NW AR
    That was my plan. I just wanted to make sure I wouldn't run into other problems, say something like moisture condensing on the inside of my flue, then dripping back down on my logs or running in my floor....or even worse things, that I haven't even considered yet.

    I fully realize I'd be better off with an insert. I'd be better off to do a major upgrade on my central air & furnace, too. I'd be better off to move to Florida & not have to worry much about heat at all, but none of those options are likely at this point. I'm on disability, and money is extremely tight around here. We're coming up on the 2nd year with no cost-of-living increase, yet MY cost of living continues to increase dramatically! I can't really afford to put ANYTHING in, but as cold as the rocks around my fireplace get, I can't really afford to let it go, either.

    Basically I'm trying to fix a $4000+ problem for less than $800. This seemed to me to be about the cheapest fix I could think of. That's why I ran it up the flagpole on this site, hoping someone would give me other ideas, other options, or at least tell me if I'm making a grave mistake. I'm fully aware of the problems associated with vent-free combustible appliances of any kind. I'm also aware of how efficient they are, largely because of being vent-free. My idea is a compromise between the two-IF it will work the way I think it will.

    Fortunately for me, I have friends in the business that I can go to for advice, help, and licensed installations to keep me up to code. I just thought I'd try to educate myself a little here, before I start bothering them. I'm trying to make sure this idea is feasable before I take it to them. They tend to laugh at my hare-brained ideas anyway! As I do theirs. What are friends for, if you can't make fun of each other?
  6. The Kirbster

    The Kirbster New Member

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    So far, my plan is to leave the damper slightly open, and to cap off the top of my flue except for a small opening. How "small" of an opening do I need? I originally thought around pencil sized, but I'm not sure that will allow enough draft to let the stink & moisture out. It's a large rectangle shaped tile flue, I'd estimate 12 x 18 inches.

    I mean, naturally I want to capture as much heat as I can, while letting just enough escape to eliminate the worst of the health issues associated with vent-free gas heating. I predict I'll still have some smell when I first light it, until the flue warms up enough to draw.

    Unless------should I try to hold the heat back strictly with the damper, & leave the flue wide open so I can open it up when I first light the stove? My current damper does NOT shut up 100% air tight, due to heat warpage. I'd considered an airtight operable flue cap, but I don't think I need that added expense if I switch to gas.
  7. PastTense

    PastTense Member

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    Why don't you just seal the chimney shut and cover up the fireplace with insulation, since you already have the furnace to heat the house?
  8. The Kirbster

    The Kirbster New Member

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    Please read the first post of this thread. It said....

    "If it turns REALLY cold, and we DON’T use the fireplace, the rocks radiate cold into the room, so we almost have to have a fire in the worst of winter."

    and also said.........

    "Since I’m instaling it in a fully functional fireplace, could I leave the damper open, & leave a SMALL opening at the top of the flue, making it a BARELY vented log? Wouldn’t that carry the worst of the smells, moisture & unburned gas products up & out, while keeping the rocks around my firebox warm? It’s not like we’re depending on it as a sole source of heat, it’s just something to keep the rock from getting so chilled (and us when we get by it)."

    Sosme of these threads don't make a lot of sense unless you go all the way to the beginning of it all.

    I've tried just using the furnace. If I didn't mind losing the use of half of my living room & most of my kitchen, I'd have already sealed it up!
  9. fireplace tech

    fireplace tech New Member

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    if you go with anything such as a log set i would go with vent free , with a standing pilot and if you have the lock on your damper to hold it open poss. quarter inch the smell should go out ,but you will have the cold air coming down the flue into the house. i know inserts can be expensive but that would be the best way to go . i would try to stay away from a gas log set they are not really bad but a good amount of maint.
  10. fireplace tech

    fireplace tech New Member

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    yes leave a small opening at the top of your chimney for any smell to escape , and your stone will poss. stay warmer the more you use the log set.
    but as i said you will poss. get a chilly draft down the chimney when your not using it.
  11. The Kirbster

    The Kirbster New Member

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    Even now, no colder than it is, my chimney is drawing. Rather than having cold air come down my flue, it's venting out a small amount of my WARM air, which means cold air is coming in somewhere else. Even with my damper closed & the glass doors shut, it still pulls a little air.

    I'll more than likely set the thermostat on the log at a low setting & leave it there most of the time, so it DOES keep the rocks warm. I'm not as worried about going out & leaving a gas log burning as I was wood.

    I still wonder what all that added moisture is gonna do to my flue. I better get it cleaned thoroughly before I put the log in!

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