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Wood burning insert ? (pic inside)

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by a5t1, May 5, 2013.

  1. a5t1

    a5t1 Member

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    We are closing on a house that has this old wood burning insert in the fireplace. The insert doesn't have a SS liner, it just vents into the existing clay tiled flue.

    I'm starting to look at what would be a good, updated insert for this fireplace? Keeping it under $1k would be great.

    Any thoughts?

    (those are real stones FWIW)

    [​IMG]

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  2. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    I can't tell from the pic what kind of insert that is. Whatever it is, it appears that it doesn't draw well by looking at the smoke stains on the stone.
    The size of the fireplace is really gonna be the determining factor here, it looks pretty big, therefore most inserts will fit in there. None that are under $1,000 though. The liner will be more than 1K unless you do it yourself and most inserts are gonna be 2K and up.
  3. Dave A.

    Dave A. Minister of Fire

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    If you just want ambiance, and/or some supplement to your central heat, nothing that will completely heat your house with it, there are a few small inserts available in that price range. Mostly from Big Box and online, Ace Hardware, Northern Tool. (something in the under 2 cf firebox size like my Century insert). Or keep an eye out for something used on Craigs List.

    But you might be better off to start with just the full liner. And use what you have for one season to get some experience and see how you want to go. You may decide to do what you're planning and just get something inexpensive. Otoh, you might decide you want to heat the house with wood and get either a large 3 cubic foot firebox type insert or a wood stove. In the meantime you'll want to get ahead on your fire wood supply.
  4. dafattkidd

    dafattkidd Minister of Fire

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    A5T1, congratulations on the house. I agree with Dave that the first step is probably to line the chimney and keep the existing insert for a season. Just lining the chimney can cost $1000. The first step would be to have a licensed chimney company inspect the chimney and unit to ensure they are safe for burning.
  5. Eaglecraft

    Eaglecraft Member

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    A5T1,

    I second the comments of Dave and dafattkidd. From the looks of the smoke stains on the brickwork, it appears that you have what is called a "slammer" install. That is, the insert is just slammed inside the fireplace opening - depending on the existing fireplace flue to vent the woodsmoke. Slammer installs are generally not allowed anymore because code requires one to match the size of the flue with the woodstove/insert flue collar. Except for the largest of freestanding inserts, most woodstoves/inserts require a 6 inch flue, typically stainless steel. The big woodstoves often require a 8 inch flue. It looks like your stove may be on an exterior wall, so an insulated SS pipe is recommended.

    Installing a new SS flue is a DYI project, depending on your roof (slope, etc.) Many on this site have installed their own exhaust flues. How difficult this job is depends on your roof (how accessible it is) and how big your existing flue is (6inches by 6 inches -tricky- 14inches by 14 inches - can be fairly easy), and how tall your chimney is. You might be able to install a new insulated SS pipe for $1,000, but $1,500 is probably closer to reality. It depends on the length of the pipe/insulation that you need to buy.

    As pervious posters have stated, begin by having your chimney inspected by a certified sweep. You can find one by searching the web for "certified chimney sweeps." The chimney should be cleaned first - typically $200 - and the sweep should look for cracks and other structural defects. It is not a good idea to install a new SS pipe in a defective chimney.

    Good luck on your adventure with woodstoves/inserts. You will not regret the journey.
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    First thing after pulling the slammer out is to get the chimney very well cleaned including on top of the smoke shelf. Then proceed with installing a 6" liner kit and consider insulating the liner. You'll definitely want to do that if this is an exterior chimney. For lower priced inserts I would look at the Englander 13NCi, Drolet Escape 1400-I and Century CB00005. If you DYI budget for at least about $1500for stove and liner.

    Before ordering, measure twice and be sure the new insert will fit properly. The other consideration besides budget is how often do you expect to be burning and how large an area are you expecting to heat with the new insert? If the expectation is to burn 24/7 and to heat over 1500 sq ft, you'll need to go up in size if you can fit it in the fireplace.
  7. a5t1

    a5t1 Member

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    Wow, really fast responses!

    I'm more familiar with pellet stoves. That being said we are planning on using a pellet furnace as NG is not available in the area. This is a 20 acre homestead so wood shouldn't be too much of a problem. I'm thinking the wood insert would be more of a supplemental heat source. I can confirm that the fireplace doesn't have a SS liner installed. I had a chimney sweep look at it and currently working with the seller to get a SS liner installed b/c of the safety issue.

    I guess I'm surprised by the cost of the wood burning inserts, not sure why I thought they'd be less money.

    I'll try and get exact dimensions next time I'm over there. The chimney is actually on an interior wall, I'd like to try and take advantage of the thermal mass that's in that masonry. Guess I'll start searching craigslist for a good insert. Any particular ones to stay away from? What is the maintenance on the wood insert? On the pellet stove we'd shut it down once a week (24/7 burn) and clean it out. End of the season I'd clean the vent pipe...

    Thanks all
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    If the seller is providing the liner than a new insert will cost significantly less than a pellet stove. For the stoves I listed you are in the $1050 to 1199 range. There are more expensive units out there, but these are the budget leaders. Wood inserts are MUCH simpler than pellet stoves. Other than ash cleanout there is not much to service on a regular basis as long as you are burning seasoned wood correctly. Based on your described needs any one of these models should be sufficient.

    Get your wood split, stacked and seasoning asap if you want to burn by fall.
  9. a5t1

    a5t1 Member

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    Unknown if the seller is going to install a liner, he thinks it's fine the way it sits.

    Regardless, I read that because this has a clay tile flue along with the surrounding rock masonry and it's an inside wall that galvanized pipe would work? Does that sound right? (Unsure if I should post the link to the source)
  10. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    That is not correct, galvanized pipe is never approved for a wood burning appliance. For a stove or furnace it requires at 24 gauge black or blued steel pipe.
    But once the pipe meets the thimble in the wall, it must either be all masonry or Stainless Steel from that point on.

    An insert must have a SS liner. Some installs allow for a direct connect, which is a piece of SS liner that is hooked to the stove and stops in the first flue tile. But ideally, it would have a full length SS liner. Never would Galvanized pipe be acceptable.
  11. Ram 1500 with an axe...

    Ram 1500 with an axe... Minister of Fire

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    If all is good with this insert, maybe you should get your feet wet with this, 1 g won't get you much, you might as well play around with this if it is safe, get it inspected....
  12. chimneylinerjames

    chimneylinerjames Feeling the Heat

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    A stainless steel liner is a must. If you want it done right and not have to worry about anything, install the liner the entire length of the chimney and insulate it also.
  13. Dave A.

    Dave A. Minister of Fire

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    It's been said already, but will say it again. With a wood burning insert in a fireplace you need to have a full stainless steel liner installed and preferably insulated and you should have a block off plate installed as well.

    Can't tell which insert you have in there from the photo, but it looks like it might be a good one -- maybe a cast iron Vermont Castings with two doors. Of course it wasn't installed correctly with no liner but unless it's damaged or older than it looks (pre-EPA) it could be made to work with a new liner. Am curious why you seem so anxious to replace it right away.

    Personally, in your situation, I would want to try it out see how it operates first, how it heats the place to get a better idea, whether the size is right or not, etc. what to replace it with or even if that's necessary. For $1000 new you can't get much, Anything nicer (comparable to what it looks like you have in there now) is going to cost around $2k or more, though if you wait until the summer , you might find a good deal on something.

    As far as what to look for used, you want to avoid pre-EPA ones. Anything you see, and like from the photo and description, just look it up, or ask here.
  14. a5t1

    a5t1 Member

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    The seller removed the insert for cleaning but doesn't feel it's their responsibility to install a liner. Thanks for all of the advise. I had no reference for cost regarding wood burning inserts, now I do. I'm going to ask that they leave the insert out of the fireplace, I'll install a SS liner and then reinstall the insert and see how it burns. I'll get a few more pictures of the insert in the next couple days and see if you can identify what it is and if it's worth keeping.

    With the purchase of the house I'm not looking to spend extra money but in this environment I'm already thinking of getting ready for next winter.

    Thanks all
  15. PapaDave

    PapaDave Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the Hearth, a5t1.
    If you're sure you'll be burning wood at any point in the future, start getting firewood right now.
    Depending on the type of wood, this winter could be a struggle trying to burn.
    If you wait until after the insert/flue situation is sorted out, you'll likely not be a happy camper this winter.
    Try to get enough for at least 2 years and get it c/s/s ASAP.
    Keep us updated, and more pics are always welcomed.:cool:
  16. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    Just a heads up, from the looks of that insert it looks pre-epa and probably has a rectangle exhaust, if it does you will need to get a Rectangle to Round insert boot to attach the liner to the insert. You will need to drill and tap holes on the top of the insert to attach the boot to it.

    [​IMG]
  17. a5t1

    a5t1 Member

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    Yes, exactly what it needs. Also had a quote to install a liner, quote was $3k? Does that sound right?
  18. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Sounds quite high for just a liner. How tall is the chimney? What type of liner?
  19. a5t1

    a5t1 Member

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    SS liner, maybe 20 ft.
  20. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    High price for only 20 ft. If you are looking to keep costs down then do it yourself, not that hard to do.

    Go ahead with getting pricing on an Insulated flex 6" stainless steel liner, you can buy the liner kits and put the insulation blanket on yourself and save a few bucks.

    Get some friends together and offer free beer and pizza AFTER the liner has been pulled down the chimney.

    Really you have all summer to get this done so I wouldn't jump the gun right now and spend that kind of cash.
  21. Eaglecraft

    Eaglecraft Member

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    a5t1:

    The cost of installing a SS liner depends on several factors: the type and manufacturer of the liner, how long the liner is (SS is expensive and every foot adds cost), whether the liner is insulated (a good idea), or not, the size of the existing terra-cotta flue (a small flue adds cost because it can be more difficult to snake the liner down to your stove), and the configuration of your roof and chimney. A complex roof with a steep slope can add cost because special equipment may be required to get the liner into the chimney flue.

    One other factor which has not been mentioned is the modification that may be required where the bottom of the chimney flue meets the damper. It's likely that the fireplace damper was removed as part of the "slammer" install. What was not necessary at that time was a modification to the brick area supporting the damper. Typically a damper will be rectangular in shape, maybe four to six inches wide. This space/area is usually not wide enough to get a SS liner down the flue, past the damper area, and connected to your stove. It is not uncommon to have to remove bricks around the damper area to make it wide enough to connect a 6 inch SS liner to your insert.

    I suggest that you ask the bidder for a detailed quote specifying the exact liner that he will be using, insulated or not, and what labor costs are involved. Will the bidder be installing a "block-off plate" (a good idea)?. Still, $3,000 seems high. For example, you can purchase a SS liner kit for about $500-600 depending on length, plus another $200 to $300 for insulation. See http://www.chimneylinerdepot.com/store/975/product/Flex-King-PRO-Chimney-Liner-6X25-Insert-Kit.html There are many online suppliers of SS liners. This is just one example.

    Also, the installer should be a certified installer. Search the web for "Certified Chimney Sweeps" to obtain a bid from someone who likely knows what they are doing. There are many contractors out there that simply do not know what they are doing, and they do it anyway, and they make mistakes. Saving money on this "safety critical" appliance can be costly in the end (literally).

    Good luck with your liner install.
    LakeMurraySC likes this.
  22. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Get some more quotes if you are not able to DIY. I would expect that job to cost between $1000-1500 depending on difficulty.

    Here are a couple resources for certified sweeps. Type in your zipcode:

    www.csia.org, www.ncsg.org
    webby3650 likes this.
  23. sticks

    sticks Member

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    when I zoom in it looks like vertical heat exchange tubes to me. Make sure it has a box on the outside of those tubes that you can hook a liner too.
  24. DianeB

    DianeB Feeling the Heat

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    Mine was $900 to install in western mass. It is more expensive to insulate the liner so perhaps that is why your quote was higher. Some recommend insulating the liner if the chimney is on an exterior wall. Mine is exterior, but my dealer did not recommend the liner and I had no problems with draft last year which was my first year with new stove. Previously we had a non-EPA stove with an older version of stainless liner and again no draft problems.
  25. Ram 1500 with an axe...

    Ram 1500 with an axe... Minister of Fire

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    My dealer as well did not recommend an insulated liner. They said they sell 99% the flex ss liners so I went with that and have not had a problem this past season. I was charged $600. From them, that is a good price for 25 ft, but I also bought an expensive insert from them. When I got quotes, other dealers wanted $750 and $800. So it pays to shop around. My 6" pipe barely fit in and it was really tough at the bottom like the one poster mentioned but with determination and grit, we got it in and had a breaking fire going in no time.....good luck

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