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OLD gas inserts - Anybody know about these?

Post in 'It's a Gas!' started by mnowaczyk, Apr 25, 2010.

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  1. mnowaczyk

    mnowaczyk Member

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    Check this old cast gas "insert" out.
    http://philadelphia.craigslist.org/atq/1679220088.html
    and this one too:
    http://philadelphia.craigslist.org/atq/1664627579.html
    Another Humphry Randiantfire
    http://philadelphia.craigslist.org/atq/1683915184.html
    Are these serious safety problems? Like an old gas range that required a constant pilot? And if the pilot goes out, your house could blow up? Could this problem be avoided with a modern gas valve, or some type of safety valve?

    The reason I'm asking...

    I'm wondering if anyone has any of these that are still functional. It appears that they'd need to run vent free. The reason I believe so is because I bought a house that has a really nice stained wood mantel with a slate-type stone which is made to look like brick tile, which itself is really pretty ugly. The setup is on a brick wall with absolutely no possibility of having a vent or chimney nearby, but you can see the plugged hole in the floor where it appears a gas line previously came up through the floor. So I imagine that most likely there was a gas log of some type in this 100 year old home.

    We've now got electric heat pumps, and absolutely no backup heat in the event of a power outage. I'm considering my options to get some backup heat that would require no electricity. My research started with looking at inexpensive wood stoves, but I installed a gas vent free fireplace in the past, and realize this could be the perfect option for this house, whether I put one in the basement I'm getting ready to finish, or one where I believe there previously was one on the first floor, or maybe both.

    I think I'd opt for a newer unit that has safety controls, and would be much less likely to leak gas. However, it might be cool to restore the first floor fireplace to it's original glory if there's any chance of this not being a safety issue.

    Thanks!
    Mike


    Found some info on a google search for "Humphrey Radiantfire"
    http://chicagoantiquesguide.com/archives/20051025190734.php

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  2. Wood Heat Stoves

    Wood Heat Stoves Minister of Fire

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    seems a lot of effort to go thru for a unit that might need unavail parts or support down the road...
  3. mnowaczyk

    mnowaczyk Member

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    I've actually read that the ceramic parts of these are readily available. Also, as far as I can tell, hooking up one of these is as easy as hooking up a gas stove... connect the gas line, and you are ready to roll. Seems like a lot less effort than even a gas log, something you really can't have sitting in the middle of the room. It appears these things sat in front of ornamental fireplaces, right on the floor, a great solution for very simple backup heat, with a gas line being the only required connection. With all that, you can see how I'd think safety might be a concern. Right? Kind of like running your kitchen stove for a little extra heat.
  4. Wood Heat Stoves

    Wood Heat Stoves Minister of Fire

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    some of the ceramic in the picture looked worn, i wonder if effeciency is lost over time?
    i'm not a big fan of vent free for a variety of reasons, including they cant be installed in my state...
    does the unit have a standing pilot w/ thermocoupler or similar saftey shut off vavle?
  5. mnowaczyk

    mnowaczyk Member

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    I think they all have shutoff valves on the device, and I'd assume they need to be lit with a match. I wouldn't trust the shutoff valve included witht he device, and would certainly put my own modern valve on the supply side of the device.

    I do think most have worn ceramic, but if I was getting rid of one of these, I certainly wouldn't bother replacing the ceramic. Efficiency wouldn't be a concern in my scenario, as this would only be needed for emergencies, and maybe used for ambiance otherwise (like a standard fireplace... people still want and use them knowing that they are about 15% efficient at best). Safety is my primary concern, at least after determining an easy way to get emergency heat.
  6. Wood Heat Stoves

    Wood Heat Stoves Minister of Fire

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    unvented should burn at 99.9% to be safe indoors, if it was only 15% you'd be gassed out.

    a good gas sniffer will detect uncombusted gas
  7. mnowaczyk

    mnowaczyk Member

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    Sorry. I should have mentioned that my 15% efficiency rating was in reference to a standard wood fireplace where at least 85% of the heat is running right up the chimney along with warm room air, sucking in cool air from drafts in the rest of the house.
  8. Wood Heat Stoves

    Wood Heat Stoves Minister of Fire

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    ok, that makes more sense... :)
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