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Struggling on what to do with new construction...please help,

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Rbrennan26, Mar 11, 2014.

  1. Rbrennan26

    Rbrennan26 New Member

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    Hello,
    First of all, this site is amazing and helps me prove to my wife that other people are as obsessed with wood and wood burning as I am. That said, I am pretty new at this and am in a predicament that I need some advice on.

    We are building a new house, 1850 sq ft ranch. We chose the option of a fireplace and found out today that means a Lennox Superior BC-42. I understand this to be a zero clearance fireplace but after much research, it seems this is a glorified box that burns wood more for ambience then supplemental heating. From what I have read, the unit may not last long with lots of use and will actually cool the house more than heat it.

    So after looking at options, it seems some people 1) fit the biggest insert they can inside of the ZC or 2) tear out and start over.

    My question is, what options do I have? I was leaning towards 1) but since construction hasn't started yet! I figure I can do it right the first time. I am willing to spend a little more now to have what I want but just don't know exactly what that is. So basically I am asking the forum what would you do in my situation. If you need more information, let me know and I will provide whatever I can.

    Thanks in advance for reading and I look forward to your feedback!

    Thanks,
    Rob

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  2. bholler

    bholler Minister of Fire

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    put in a good high efficiency zero clearance unit it will cost more but it is worth it
  3. Charles1981

    Charles1981 Feeling the Heat

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    So construction hasn't started, you are talking about tearing it out (in theory ect I take it?).

    I guess as long as it hasn't been started yet:

    1) Go with a better ZC fireplace (don't know anything about these)
    2) Install a masonry chimney with insert
    3) Install a masonry chimney with hearth and free standing stove
    4) Forget all that and build a hearth and have a free standing stove with the pipe exiting through the roof.
    5) would be above but have an exterior chimney on the outside of the house.

    I guess these all depend on what options you have available. If this is a subdivision and they are giving you limited options I don't really know what exactly you have available to you.
  4. Charles1981

    Charles1981 Feeling the Heat

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    Oh and personally I would want a masonry chimney that could easily fit an 8 inch insulated liner, with a hearth, and at 1900sq feet I would get the biggest free standing stove you could find (4ft cu feet in size).
  5. Simonkenton

    Simonkenton New Member

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    Since you haven't built yet, forget the fireplace insert. Install a free standing wood stove.
    And, you can build a real big living room to put it in, and put in high, wide doors leading from that room, to help distribute the heat. These wood stoves with the big glass doors give you a great view of the fire.
    blazincajun likes this.
  6. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    I agree about a free standing stove with stainless chimney.

    Another option would be a ICC RFS Rumford Fireplace. or any of the other RFS units. The Rumford Fireplace would tempt me if I were building today. It is a real fireplace, but is very efficient and has won awards. Worth taking a look at it at their website.
  7. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Not all zero clearance fireplaces are the same. There are many options of EPA-certified ZC fireplaces from Lennox and other manufacturers.
    Look for those that say "high efficiency", "EPA- or EPA2-certified" etc. http://www.lennoxhearthproducts.com/products/fireplaces/wood/
    All of those heat (nearly) as well as a woodstove. Given the size of your house and your climate the firebox should have at least 2.5 cu ft capacity if you want to heat your whole house with it (assuming it is well-insulated for being a new construction). I would suggest to choose a bit larger one. Other manufacturers:
    http://www.fireplacex.com/ProductGuide/FuelTypeOverview.aspx?fueltype=wood&fueltab=0
    http://www.icc-rsf.com/en/rsf-woodburning-fireplaces
    http://www.napoleonfireplaces.com/category/fireplaces/wood-fireplaces/
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2014
    jeff_t likes this.
  8. Simonkenton

    Simonkenton New Member

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    I can speak to the matter of the Rumford fireplace, as I have one in my house. I built it. Yes the Rumford style fireplace is a great heater, for a fireplace.
    In order for you to maximize heat output from your Rumford, you need to build it entirely of masonry, and build it entirely within the house.
    In my house, the back wall of the fireplace is 7 feet inside the house, and it is the inside wall of the bathroom. It sure makes a pretty bathroom wall.

    I live in the NC mountains and it does get cold up here, very windy in the winter. In any weather, the fireplace will easily heat my 16 x 22 foot living room, and most of the rest of the 1,200 square foot, 2 story house, while the fire is burning.
    We had planned to have the sofa 8 feet from the fireplace, had to move it back to 11 feet, that thing really throws the heat!
    Very important to have an exterior air intake. On a thirty degree night, if I burn my fireplace for 5 hours, the heat will begin to come out of the back wall and into the bathroom. Let us say, the fire goes out at midnight. By 2 am the coals are dead and I close the damper.
    Of course, massive heat is being put out all night by the firebox, but the next morning, that rock bathroom wall, the back wall of the fireplace 105 degrees. That doesn't sound very hot, but you have 5 tons of masonry that is 105 or hotter, of course, the firebox is well above that the next morning.

    On that 30 degree day, the fireplace will heat the entire house to 65 degrees until the afternoon, with no additional fire having been built.
    So that, I can burn my Rumford for 5 hours every evening and heat the house with it around the clock, with a low of 30 degrees.

    I have had my fireplace for 17 years and I also have a wood stove. As good as my fireplace is, it still burns 5 times as much wood as the wood stove. MtMitchellSnowGFI025.jpg
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2014
    Rhody PJ likes this.
  9. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    If you are at the Lennox dealer check out the BIS or Montecito line of fireplaces for EPA - II certified units.
  10. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I used to heat a house with three fireplaces, two being Rumfords. They do a great job at heating the room with the fireplace, while rapidly cooling the rest of the house, due to the massive amounts of make-up air they draw.

    If building a new house, I'd be planning for a free-standing stove install, with an insulated pipe in a faux masonry chimney chase. No sense in settling for an insert, when the palette is clean and clear.
  11. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The nice thing about an efficient ZC fireplace is that it's ductable. In a ranch this is an nice feature for evening out the heat.
    Joful likes this.
  12. Simonkenton

    Simonkenton New Member

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    "I used to heat a house with three fireplaces, two being Rumfords. They do a great job at heating the room with the fireplace, while rapidly cooling the rest of the house, due to the massive amounts of make-up air they draw."

    Yes I don't doubt it. If you want to get any heat from a fireplace you must have an exterior air supply. The duct for my Rumford is 6 x 14 inches.
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    As the fireplace cools it is going to suck room air up the flue unless it is sealed in with doors and has an outside air supply.
  14. Simonkenton

    Simonkenton New Member

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    Yes, the fireplace will suck all the heat up the chimney, all night long.
    Unless, you do as I said above, and get up at 2am and close the damper.
    Chuck the Canuck and byQ like this.
  15. Wilbursan

    Wilbursan New Member

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    The Renaissance Rumford also comes with a huge, sealed, ceramic glass door (optional?), which they recommend you use when burning. The 1000H model has ducting as well. Seems like a pretty sweet setup but I bet it's pricey.

    Rbrennan26, I just went through this decision process and wound up with the Quadra-Fire wood stove. I almost got a Zero Clearance fireplace with ducting to heat other rooms but backed out for two reasons. One was price, the fireplace plus the ducts was pretty expensive compared to a wood stove, at least the wood stoves I wanted. The second reason was that I couldn't be sure the ducting would work without blowers, and the fireplace won't either (at least not as well as a wood stove), so when the power is out I just wasn't sure how well it would heat. If I could get my money back if it didn't work I'd have done it, but since I can't I went with the wood stove. I also tend to be a tad bit paranoid about fire in the house (I've used fireplaces for many years but only the kind you have to watch), and it makes me feel a little better knowing I can see the whole thing instead of just the faceplate. A big honking masonry fireplace wouldn't bother me though!
  16. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Glass door and screen are standard, not optional on the ICC RFS Renaissance Rumford, which is why it is so efficient and has won awards. Worth looking at the site and, if interested, calling ICC,

    I have no idea what the price is.

    But, if I were building now, I'd sure be interested in this particular Rumford. The best of both worlds: a real fireplace, and no house heat lost up the chimney. Fire is amazing...burning hot in under a minute. Worth taking a look at the site, as I said.
  17. Simonkenton

    Simonkenton New Member

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    . I also tend to be a tad bit paranoid about fire in the house (I've used fireplaces for many years but only the kind you have to watch), and it makes me feel a little better knowing I can see the whole thing instead of just the faceplate.

    wilbursan I agree. If I have a wood stove I want to be able to see the entire pipe. My neighbor installed a wood stove in an existing metal fireplace. Second time he lit it, he went off to work after he loaded up the wood stove and his house burned down.There was some problem in that pipe as it connected to the fireplace pipe.
  18. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Well, I think this graph says it all, for anyone considering ZC or Rumfords. In this graph, the Rumford is "FP C".

    efficiencygraph2000.jpg

    Full report at http://www.rumford.com/emissions/Tiegsfullreport.pdf.

    For the record, we had three FP's in the house I mentioned above (and a fourth in the back yard), and one did have a fresh air intake in the floor of the firebox. It was a massive fireplace, and a massive heater. Still ate wood like nobody's business, and we'd come down to that wing of the house being very cold in the morning after a burn.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 12, 2014
  19. Wilbursan

    Wilbursan New Member

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    I just saw a page on their website where people were asking that question. I've already closed the tab but basically it was around $3K in materials the total cost was around $10,000. Herringbone firebox and other extras like stone instead of block increased the price. So for a really nice one I suspect you could expect to pay on the order of $15K or so (they repeatedly mention that a good mason costs $1K a day). For that kind of money I think I'd rather have a masonry heater. Or ... one of each!
  20. madtrapper

    madtrapper Member

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    I have no problem heating my house which is 1700 sq feet with a kozy heat Z42 which is a ZC unit. Even with the winter we have had in central Michigan this year. I don't even use the blower on it unless the temps drop below 25 at night. It has 3.0 firebox and when filled with seasoned wood with secondaries firing really throws the heat
  21. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I have made a life of living in and renovating old masonry houses. I've hired a lot of masons, and kept one employed full time for a good portion of last year. The going rate right now is:

    $65 per hour for a master / later career
    $42 per hour for an good apprentice / young journey
    $35 per hour for a grunt

    So, figure $800 - $850 per day for a master with his helper (two men).

    Just to show where the housing market is today, versus a few years ago, I was paying $105 - $150 per hour for a master during the building bubble of 2007. Can't remember journey / apprentice prices back then, but probably above $50.
  22. logger

    logger Minister of Fire

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    firepl.jpg

    Someone needs to tell that rifle he is drunk and it's time for bed. :confused:
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 12, 2014
  23. Rbrennan26

    Rbrennan26 New Member

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    Thanks all for the input. Lots of info to digest! I'll provide updates along the way...
  24. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    What ZC fireplace was used for this test? There's a major difference in design between a non and an EPA fireplace.
  25. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    They don't specify. In one place, they name a 36" ZC fireplace, but don't state the maker/model. In the introduction, they have the following statements:

    I suspect the data listed for each type is the an average of several models within that particular type.

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