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When is it time to replace old insert?

Post in 'Classic Wood Stove Forums (prior to approx. 1993)' started by TradEddie, Jan 31, 2012.

  1. TradEddie

    TradEddie Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2012
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    746
    Loc:
    SE PA
    I have a 30+ year old Gold Marc insert. The insert is used at weekends when we're at home, or during power outages, probably 30 days each year. For the first few years in the house, I had the chimney cleaned each year, but now every other year, with no reported creosote problems. This is a great insert.

    Unfortunately, there is a cracked weld where the top baffle attaches to the sidewall, and so the baffle is warping slightly downwards. The baffle itself is beginning to corrode, almost de-laminating along the entire lip, but otherwise it continues to run great.

    Is it time to get something new? How dangerous are Pre-EPA inserts? Will a new insert actually be better?

    To meet code, I assume I need a liner in the chimney, no problem, but my bigger concern is clearance, I have a raised brick hearth and my insert extends flush with the lip of the hearth. If I need 18" from the front of the doors, how is this calculated since horizontally (as shown in catalog diagrams) I have 30 feet, but vertically I have only 8-10" to a hardwood floor. If the sum of the horizontal and vertical is 18" am I good? Is this code, or just manufacturers recommendations?

    If I get a flush mounted inert to meet clearance requirements, will this create a lot more heat in the old fireplace than my current insert? The reason I ask is because the Heatilator vents are extremely efficient in reverse when the fire is not lit, drawing huge quantities of cold air from the masonry into the room, so I have blocked those vents. Before doing this, I lit a huge fire in the insert and checked that the area behind the vents was still easily cool enough to touch. Could a new insert cause damage if the vents are blocked? Any option that leaves these vents open is unacceptable, I don't want to rebuild the entire fireplace but leaving these vents is like leaving a window cracked.

    Final question, my chimney has two flues when viewed from the cap. One is obviously the fireplace flue, but there is a second, smaller pipe, perhaps 6-8" wide which is still clean terracotta pipe, what could this be? Could it be an outside air supply for the old fire, a vent for the old ash dump?

    Thanks

    TE

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I'll start backward with the second flue. Can you lower a light down it to see if there is a cleanout or thimble opening? Just for yucks, I'd cap it off to see if it has any relation to the cold air you feel from the heatilator vents.

    At 30+, I'd retire the old fellow. A new insert will burn much cleaner, use less wood and it will give you a beautiful fireview. If you can post a picture of the current hearth and stove that would be great. It will help us to see what options there are. Even if you choose a non-flush insert, a hearth extension is an option to keep everything safe.
  3. TradEddie

    TradEddie Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2012
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    746
    Loc:
    SE PA
    Here's what I have now. The guards on the sides were my own addition to keeps the kids safe. A flush insert would be safer with kids around, but I worried it may not be as good during power outages. The fireplace is big, approx 3ft x 3ft, maybe 2ft deep, would a freestanding stove be an option? Behind those bricks, the entire chimney seems to be masonry blocks, no wood structure until you get to the studs that form the internal garage wall behind.
    The pic with the stove removed doesn't show much, this was the cleaning immediately after we moved in, things have been much cleaner since then.

    TE

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  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Flush inserts will need to have the blower going to put out good heat. An insert like the Revere or the PE Summit that is designed to convect naturally would work better during an outage. And yes a freestanding stove might work.

    Well, as you probably know, the current configuration is not code compliant as far as the hearth goes. A hearth rug is not the best protection. They make prefab hearth extensions or one could be made that would handle whatever the final plan is.
  5. wazzu

    wazzu Member

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    Loc:
    SW Idaho
    Leave the old insert in place as backup and install a freestanding if possible. I have an insert and it just does not work as well as a freestanding would have.
  6. TradEddie

    TradEddie Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2012
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    SE PA
    Possibly the last weekend of burning with the old insert. Money is down on a Lopi Freedom, once I found a much more reasonable price for installation. The new insert will have a tough act to follow, it was 19F here last night, with 40mph winds, I packed the Gold Marc full of unsplittable oak crotches at 11pm, left the blower on low. and it was 74F inside at 7:45am.

    TE
  7. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,037
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    I have a Quadrafire Insert, 4100I. It has a blower and I have a deep cycle battery and a 12vdc/120vac converter. We lost electricity for 4 days late last October due to a very wet snow. The battery was able to run the fan just fine, and I put a CFL lamp on it too. The 4 day outage convinced me to buy a small gas generator, this will deliver about 1000 watts for 8 hours on a gallon of gas. This will save the food in the refrigerator. I still plan to use the insert for emergency heat. The insert I have has an extension of abut 12" and a bay window which give a nice view of the fire.

    I don't fully understand your existing insert. Is it really a "door" extension? You in fact have a fire in the fireplace and a metal cabinet extending out over the hearth? I've used a powered heat exchange with glass doors in a previous fireplace. This helped heat a little, but nothing like an airtight stove/insert.

    When we purchased our current home the fireplace already had what I learned was called a "slammer", i.e., it was simply "slammed" into the fireplace. It was, however, an airtight box with a blower, but it just dumped the smoke into the open masonry chimney of the fireplace. I had a some trouble with creosote build up on that arrangement. The new insert is more efficient and has an 8" stainless steel pipe running up the chimney, so it an airtight stove, albeit, stuck into the fireplace.

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