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What is involved in a DYI insert install?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by cnpeters, Dec 17, 2010.

  1. cnpeters

    cnpeters New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2010
    Messages:
    4
    Loc:
    St. Louis
    I am looking at an insert for a large fireplace (44"WX30"H) for a home I am purchasing and was wondering how hard is an install for a guy who does plenty of DYI chores (from car work to plumbing, electrical - even building an aluminum aircraft, so have metal working skills and tools). I am debating between a couple models, mainly the QuadraFire Voyageur or the Napoleon 1402. Local quotes installed are $4200 and $3550 respectively. I like the former a little more due to the flat design, as I want this insert recessed a little due to the nice arched entry that is complimented by an arched wood storage alcove a few feet over (the masonry is 10 feet wide and goes up two stories in the center of the home).
    A chimney inspection on the new home shows cracked flue tile (14 inch flue pipe, about all barrel sections cracked, maybe 1/8 inch max). More specifics - home is a Colorado style with a 2 story great room, 1600 sq feet main floor, and an upstairs of 800 sq feet that has a den off the master with a loft overlooking the great room - plenty of heat will go up there! Chimney probably 20-25 feet, interior, 10 feet wide by 4 feet, hearth another 2 feet.
    So, my understanding is that a 6 inch flue pipe (SS, flex), likely needing to be lined, needs to be fed in from above after removing the arrestor, cap, etc. It gets secured from above with a reducing plate, then attached to the insert below via a clamp. Will need to wrap the pipe and cover with SS mesh first, I imagine. DO I also need to make a plate at the smoke box/flue junction? Anyway, any thoughts from folks who have done their own installs appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Carl

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  2. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2005
    Messages:
    898
    Loc:
    East Central, NY
    This should probably be posted in the Hearth Room.

    I'll take a stab at this one since no one else has yet, though hopefully some of the more experienced folks out there will add to this.

    I can't offer much help regarding the insert choice as I'm not familiar with many of the ones out there. Since you've done a lot of DIY stuff, especially involving metal working, you should have no problem doing this type of project. Its fairly straight-forward. Its good that the chimney is centrally located as it won't be susceptible to outside winds/drafts and if you choose to install the liner from the top down, its easier to do this in the center of the roof. Its helpful to have the liner insulated and the mesh to protect everything is a good idea. It sounds like a big area, so a 6" liner should fit in there with no problem. You can bring it down from the top or even pull it up from the bottom. You will need a top plate to secure the liner at the top of the chimney. Typically, the fireplace damper is removed and an insulated block-off plate is installed where the damper plate used to be. You can fashion one yourself, and there are plans somewhere on this site.. look in the hearth wiki. Not sure if the cracks in the existing clay are a problem. If you were using the setup as a fireplace, then yes.. cracks in masonry sometimes lead to the wood beams of the house, but since we're talking about an insulated liner it should be OK? folks?
  3. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2009
    Messages:
    1,615
    Loc:
    NW Indiana
    Do some searches in the Hearth Room for tons of info on these installs. It's very do-able for a seasoned DIYer. Usually a 2 man, 1 day job plus some prep time IMO.
    My understanding is you'll be required to insulate the liner due to cracks in the flue tiles. Steel mesh to protect insulation wrap is recommended. 14" flue will give plenty of room for the liner & everything as long as the tiles line-up fairly well. Stick your head up there with a flashlight for a look-see.
    Look at prices for the liner, insulation kit, top-plate, chimney cap and stove connector first as they're not cheap & you may decide to pay an installer. Pro installs vary greatly in quality as ussual.
    Would a free-standing stove look nice in that fireplace?
  4. cnpeters

    cnpeters New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2010
    Messages:
    4
    Loc:
    St. Louis
    Thanks, guys. A free standing stove? The fireplace has an arched brick top, with a similar alcove next to it for wood storage. I would like a clean install with the insert recessed a little and the shroud trimmed to fit the arch for aesthetic purposes.
    Searching the forums seems to have many endorsements for a blocking plate where the damper would be - will discuss with the installer when the time comes if I go that route.
  5. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2005
    Messages:
    898
    Loc:
    East Central, NY
    Posting some pics would be helpful if you're looking for more info from the collective here.

    The installer may try to talk you out of the block-off plate, but its a good idea. You can always fab one yourself and have it ready to go on install day. Put some ceramic wool insulation on the top of the plate and you'll be all set.
  6. cottonwoodsteve

    cottonwoodsteve Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Messages:
    80
    Loc:
    Northern California
    I installed an Osburn 1800 insert myself. If you are a good do-it-yourselfer, you can do it.
    I cur out damper metal and brick. Made damper area block off plate. Used metal chute and long metal straps as shoe horn to help pipe around sharp edge "S" turn through damper/smpke shelf area.
    There are other advantages besides just saving labor cost. You won't get scamed on equipment prices.
    My local quote was $2,200 for insert and $1,200 for liner, insulation and cap. Plus installation labor cost on top of that. I don't remember what that cost was.
    I ordered insert for about $1700 including shipping.
    Liner kit with everything, cap, adaptor, insulation and insulation mesh was about $650
    So basically I saved a sever markup on equipment cost, besides labor cost.
    If I buy a liner kit retail for $650, the local fireplace contractor should get it wholesale for much less and still make a profit selling it to me for 650.
    Or basically he was going to mark up the liner kit 3 times what he paid for it. He lost a potential client on that note alone.
    I did it to code with a county building inspectors sign off.
    Basically read the instructions, look at YouTube videos. Call the stove or liner supplier and ask questions.

    We also have a Magnolia wood stove in another room. The wood stove puts out about 3 times the heat for the same amount of wood. Air around insert even with blower still doesn't work as well as free standing stove air circulation. I found a big minus point with our insert. 50% of the quick starting heat normally comes off of the exposed stove pipe. In an insert there is no exposed pipe. 50% is going up the insulated cinmney liner pipe.

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