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Woodburning Zero Clearance Fireplaces

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by builderbob, Jun 14, 2007.

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  1. bmstove.com

    bmstove.com New Member

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    $450 is the list on the 3.5" X 18" X 3" catalyst for the Xtrordinair. I typically cut my customers a break to $399.

    Replacement is very simple and it will last quite well. 10 years is often promoted as the life span but I would figure on changing it every 7 to really anticipate what you will need in the real world.

    You're certainly right in estimating the chimney savings alone will pay for MANY catalysts. By the time the catalyst cost uses up that savings you may be too old to handle the wood anymore anyway.

    Jack

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  2. builderbob

    builderbob New Member

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    Thanks for that catalyst info. Yes, if they last 7 to 10 years, then for the price difference from the Napoleon NZ6000, that ought to get me out 3 or 4 catalysts at least---meaning 20 or 30 years or longer. Your right, after that long I won't care anymore.

    I did find one thing in the Xtrordinair owner's manual though----on it page of warnings near the start--all the "dont's" which it warns could void the warranty---it says "do not operate the unit with the doors open except for briefly to add wood".

    That eliminates the ambiance fires with the doors open for this unit. The Napoleon NZ6000 states they can be operated with doors open.

    As to the warranty, I found the Xtrordinair is 2 years parts AND labor for the unit, and parts AND labor up through 5 years for most of the elements of the fireplace. And ship back freight is covered too. Pretty good warranty coverage.

    By comparison, the Napoleon says "lifetime" warranty, but in the fineprint it is labor too for only 1 year. Then diminishing coverage on parts only after first year.
  3. builderbob

    builderbob New Member

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    About the Xtrordinair and the operating with closed doors----I just read the online "brochure" and it explicity states the unit can be operated with the doors fully open and there is a screen available for such use when people want an ambiance fire.

    That directly contradicts the "Safety" rules stated in the owners manual, one of which says when operating the Xtrordinair the doors should be kept closed and the latch hooked.

    So, since the brochure says open doors are ok and they even sell a screen for such use, I doubt they could deny a warranty claim based on the apparently outdated owners manual. In court I would present the brochure as Exhibit 1!!
  4. bmstove.com

    bmstove.com New Member

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    They are simply saying don't operate the stove with the doors open. Some people just open the doors and have no screen. The fireplace is designed to use with the screen for as long as you wish.
  5. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Wow, that is a major cost item! You also have to assume that many people are going to have to have a service person install it, which means a 500-600 total job.

    As to how long they last, I suspect it depends on burning habits, chimney, etc - but my experience has been that cats usually tend to last more toward the short end of their expected life than the long end.

    The cost must be figured in - BUT, EPA requires a certain warranty on these converters, which is usually prorated - so maybe a dealer or someone who knows can tell us what the cost to the consumer is....say if it needs replacement in year 4 or 5.
  6. bmstove.com

    bmstove.com New Member

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    Craig - the cat in the Xtrordinair is real easy sitting on the heart. They made it a no-brainer but then again it is a fireplace and not a stove.

    You're right about the warranty on cats. They are pro-rated. I think up to 2 years you get full replacement and then it is pro-rated up to 8 years. So, If a $400 combustor fails in 4 years, the customer will pay $200 and the warranty will cover the other $200.

    Jack (looking desperately forward to vacation next week)
  7. builderbob

    builderbob New Member

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    So, let's be conservative and assume a catalytic converter lasts 5 years and no warranty for any portion.

    And let's assume the price difference between Napoleon NZ6000 with solid pack chimney and Xrtordinair with AC chimney is $1600----that would buy 4 converters. So those four plus the original with the new fireplace would last 5 converters times 5 years each, or 25 years. All that time to eat up the cost difference.

    After 25 years I don't think I would care. It could be time for a new fireplace by then anyway.

    Advantage Fireplace Xrtordinair.

    Now the Xtrordianair just leaves me bothered by the prohibition (and potential warranty voider) in the owners manual saying "Only burn a fire in the fireplace with the doors closed AND LATCHED." The way that statement is worded doesnt sound much like---only burn with the doors open if you have a firescreen.

    So, I wonder if I would enjoy the ambiance of a closed door fire mostly as well anyway?

    builderbob
  8. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I don't know about you, but I've seen occasional posts from woodstove owners that have the ability to run their stoves with the door open using a firescreen, some said this was a feature they considered important when picking the stove, so it was something they thought was desireable to do. However they found that they seldom, if ever actually did it once the novelty wore off - they were happy looking through the glass and enjoying the greater heat output of a closed stove.

    Gooserider
  9. builderbob

    builderbob New Member

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    My thinking was kind of drifting along those lines. Since I have found two decent models by good companies, each of which have have nice large viewing areas on their doors, I was thinking, what would be the big deal on keeping the doors open? I could see the flames good with the doors shut, and I could keep the house warm and toasty at the same time.

    And I could leave the doors open a few times a year when we might really just want the open flames and nothing in between.

    I could have my toast and (h)eat it too!

    builderbob
  10. youngstr

    youngstr Guest

    Bob,
    I leave my doors open regularly with the firescreen on without issue.

    I would guess Fireplace Xtraoridaire corporate probably has 2 issues with operating the the unit with the doors open and the firescreen on;
    1. All your heat is going up the chimney with the doors open.
    2. You can't engage the cat with the doors open(smoke will pour into the room). Since you can't engage the cat the fireplace no longer meets EPA standards.

    I'm only guessing these issues are why FX wants the doors closed. As I stated, I run with the doors open(particularly when the room gets too hot and I don't want more heat) and haven't had any problems.

    Y
  11. builderbob

    builderbob New Member

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    Thanks for chiming in.

    So as a Fireplace Xrtordinair owner do you consider yourself: very satisfied, satisfied, unsatisfied? And which model do you have, the Elite 36 or the Elite 44?

    Best thing you like about your FPX, what bugs you the most, and what brand chimney did you use?

    Also, does FPX not allow use of the paperwrapped logs like Duraflame? I was thinking once in awhile when low or out of firewood we might want to use a Duraflame log to tide us over for an ambiance fire.

    builderbob
  12. youngstr

    youngstr Guest

    Hey Bob good questions, you really put me on the spot. I have the 44 Elite and would give the FP a 4 out of 5 stars. I've only owned it for a little over a year so take my comments with a grain of salt....

    Pros;
    - The unit really puts out a lot of heat. Our family room is 18' x 24' with a catherdral ceiling. Once the FP warms up, the FP quickly warms the family room with freezing temperatures outside. The house is around 2600sf and other than a few really cold nights we primarily heated with wood this past year.
    - When I load the FP up at night, I always have enough coals to restart the FP the next morning. Just a guess, but my burn times are consistently over 8 hours.
    - Most of the wood on my property is hemlock and pine. Since this is what I planned on burning I was really concerned about creosote in the chimney as well as smoking out the neighbors. Other than smoke at startup, the cat does a great job burning off the smoke. It's funny, my neighbor was over a couple of months back commenting about how much wood we went through but he never noticed a lot of smoke.

    Cons;
    - When I purchased the FP all I heard was about was "posi-pressure". The sales guy said posi-pressure, yada yada yada. Only problem is, posi-pressure is not recommended for use in cold environments(it's in their current manual but wasn't in the on-line manual when I purchased the FP). I don't know how FX corporate can even talk about posi-pressure when the northern 1/4 of the country can't use it(NH,ME,VT,NY,WI,ND,SD,CO,MT,....). Sorry to vent but this burned me(pun intended). I'm not sure where the dealerthought I'd be installing this, Texas? Needless to say this changed my planned install. This is my biggest gripe with the FP.
    - The FP takes a while to warm up (before than temp sensor trips and the blower turns on). This probably my second biggest gripe with the FP.
    - Some people have complained about cold air infiltration(i.e. the front of the FP getting cold when not in use). If I'm home and it's cold outside I build a fire. As such, this might be an issue but I can't really comment on it, just wanted to pass this along.

    Can't remember what brand my chimney is. It's double walled, non-insulated...that's about all I remember. I'll look for he paperwork if I get some time.....

    I would imagine the wax in the Duraflame logs would be bad for the cat. I'm very careful about what I burn(i.e. no wrapping paper/magazines/etc). I was thinking about picking up a pallet of bio-bricks this year so the wifey can start the fire easier. I have to call FX customer service first to make sure it's OK.....

    Y
  13. builderbob

    builderbob New Member

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    Thanks for the feedback. The 44 Elite is the model we would be looking at. So since you are in New England, when you installed, you did the blower fan box somewhere inside, like perhaps the side or back of the fireplace module? Do you have it intaking from the family room or an adjoining room or area?

    Some of the comments posted here say the fanblower is fairly quiet, and if not turned to the very top speed, you can barely hear it. How would you rate the fanblower noise (or lack therof) issue?

    This kind of feedback is really helpful to us. Thanks for taking the time and interest.

    builderbob
  14. youngstr

    youngstr Guest

    Bob, no problem I'm glad to offer any insight I might have on the FP.

    Yeah, I had a spot ready on a outside wall for the posi pressure. Since this had to change I actually put the blower in the basement. Because of this, I hear the fan very little(whether it's on high or low). Fortunately, our basement is partially finished, I'm not sure I'd want to pull air from a unfinished basement though.

    As far as the blower unit itself;
    If I stand next to where the blower is mounted (and the fan is on high) it is a little loud. If I stand next to where the blower is mounted (and the fan is on low) it's pretty quiet.

    I'd recommend trying to mount the blower somewhere else if you can. Particularly if your FP and entertainment center are in the same room. I believe you can mount the blower as far as 20' away from the FP so that does give you some installation options.

    Y
  15. builderbob

    builderbob New Member

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    Good info on the blower. Thanks. If I can find a dealer within 50 miles who actually has an FPX Elite with blower hooked up, I will go listen. These things are so subjective, I will feel much better hearing it in person myself before deciding on a blower location.

    Your walls enclosing your FPX, did you just do standard wood 2 x 4's and sheetrock? Did you insulate inside the cavity and then put sheetrock on the inside of the cavity too to cover the insulation? Or what.

    builderbob
  16. youngstr

    youngstr Guest

    I agree, your best bet is to hear a blower in person. My kids are making me deaf so quiet for me is probably loud for you.

    I did 2x6's and insulated the gap between them with fiberglass insulation. Toward the fireplace is just the 2x6's and insulation. I installed Hardiboard (a kind of cement board) as the sheathing on the outside of the 2x6's. Over all this I installed cultured stone. Sheetrock was out for me due to the weight of the stone. I might have been able to use plywood but felt the stone would adhere better to the cement board and it would hold up better to the heat.

    I'm sure I could have used 2x4's in my install but I was paranoid about the weight of the stone.
    Y
  17. builderbob

    builderbob New Member

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    I (barely) hear you about going deaf with kids around (pun intended).

    Good thinking on the cement board for using with Cultured Stone facing. We want to do three sides of our fireplace module with cultured stone floor to ceiling. The fourth side will be an outside wall. Hadn't thought about it, but all that weight probably needs cement board anyway to hold the stone. Plus it could serve, I suppose as a sort of firestop on the sides of the fireplace cavity.

    On the insulation, did you just stuff it tight between the 2 x 6's or do something else -- stapled, or maybe metal straps crisscrossing, or something?

    Also, on your two cooling ducts lines, how did you route those? They have to be outside air too, as I recall, and on FPX they attach on top of the firebox? Did you wrap those ducts with insulation?

    builderbob
  18. builderbob

    builderbob New Member

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    FPX "cold climate kit"? Or "cold climate install"?

    Prior post, I think by BMstoves, mentioned to install the FPX with an available "cold climate kit" to stop cold air infiltration. But I couldn't find anything like that mentioned at FPX site. What is it?

    I am in area of country supposedly "allowed" (western Oregon) by FPX to use the "posi-pressure" feature by mounting blower fan with cold outside air intake, but wonder if I really should. Some have said with whatever brand to do blowerfan with inside air intake.

    As to the two cooling duct intakes for the FPX firebox shell and chimney, I would install with 180 turns and go to crawlspace, and I would use insulated duct tube.

    FPX recommends insulating the fireplace cavity, and I would do that too. It will be an interior location with only one side of the cavity being an outside wall, but that would be 2 x6 with R19 or greater insulation anyway as well as housewrap. Then I would insulate the remaining three interio walls of the fireplace cavity.

    I just read some of the FPX reviews elsewhere at theis site. While most were very favorable, a few complained terribly of cold air infiltration when FPX *not* in use. I don't want that!!! With an aircooled chimney, 2 cool outside air ducts for shell, and posi-pressure needing cold air blower intake as well-----that is a heck of a lot of cold air sources!! And if we do not use FPX more time than we use the FPX, am I going to be sitting there with an expensive cold air "hole" in my wall?

    Coments?
  19. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    BB, what altitude are you at? Unless sitting up in the mountains, western Oregon is not a cold climate.
  20. builderbob

    builderbob New Member

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    It will be at about 950' elevation.. We are near top of a hill looking out over central Willamette Valley.
  21. youngstr

    youngstr Guest

    BB,
    I just used bats and stuck them between the 2x6's. I did try to staple the edges a little and the top a lot to make certain the insulation didn't fall in toward the fireplace. The fit was tight so I really wasn't too worried about it. It sounds like your install will be very similar to mine, 3 inside walls, 1 outside wall.

    I had the dealer install the chimney, duct lines and set the fireplace in my framing. The duct lines are non-insulated and form a "P" the way they're routed. If you go to the FX site and look over the installation instructions you'll see a diagram of this in the first few pages of the document. I think this is what they refer to as far as a cold weather kit is concerned. If there is anything else that is done for a cold weather installation I'm not aware of it. Again, I wish I could tell you about cold air infiltration but I'm always burning when it's cold.....now I'm getting curious about it.

    Y
  22. bjordok

    bjordok New Member

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    I realize that this thread took place almost 4 years ago but I just read through it and am really curious as to whether any of you are still active on here and can give feedback on your fireplace choice? I'm just beginning to build and have been looking at the very same units discussed here. Thanks!
  23. builderbob

    builderbob New Member

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    We just finished building and we chose the Lennox Montecito Estate. It looks beautiful, nice arched large vewing area. We opted for the Lennox Montecito Estate (exact clone is the BIS Tradition) because we will not burn 24/7, but only occassionally for ambiance fires and supplemental or emergency heating (not that this unit wouldn't be great for 24/7 fires), and we wanted the large glass viewing area. We also liked the option for solid pack pipe which we chose (keep the chimney warmer to insure better draw), and Lennox just upgraded its warranty to Lifetime a few years ago. We liked the looks of the Fireplace Extraordinaire, but the aircooled chimney and two cold air ducts worried us about cold air intrusion into the house when not burning, which for us would be majority of the time. The Napoloan 6000 was just a monstrous unit, and it was not EPA approved (they say it is EPA "exempted, but that is a whole different ball of wax), and again with it worries about cold air intrusion when not burning, and sucking out the house heat.

    We love our Montecito Estate.
  24. Got Wood

    Got Wood Minister of Fire

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    Wow, got all the way to the end of this thread and saw the post about it being 4 years ago .... LOL

    This is my 3rd winter with the FPX Elite 44. Zero regrets for me. I love the look and it is a beast heating the house. No issues with the discussed outside air problems in this thread - live in Dutchess County, NY.
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