Another "help me pick what I want" request - and a wonky chimney

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JennyNH

New Member
Aug 24, 2022
3
New Hampshire
Please forgive me for asking the common newbie question, but I've been looking over your threads for a month and I'm still stuck.

We're looking for a stove (I think) for our family room hearth.

The room is ~30'x15,' around 8' ceiling. Our home has baseboard heat, so this is absolutely an aesthetic / backup heat source.

The room does have a fireplace, but it's been unusable. It works fine at first, but once the fire dies down and the chimney cools off, it backdrafts and fills the whole room with smoke. We're hoping a stove - or an insert - will solve that problem. (Should we think that it won't?)

Our home - a new construction in colonial style - is well insulated, but it looks like the designer/builder might have made some sub-optimal choices on the chimney stack. The chimney is three stories high - but it serves four flues: this fireplace, a second fireplace on the other side of the wall, a small bread oven (those two rarely used, but don't seem to have the same backdraft problem) - and a fourth flue for the oil heater in the basement.

The flue in this room makes a turn or two above the fireplace to get into the stack, apparently. It's large enough an insulated 6" pipe, but the turns surprised the chimney guy we had look at it.

Fireplace dimensions: width 49.5 (32" in back), 29.25" high , 22 1/2" deep (17.5 at top)

Questions -

- is it even worth trying a stove or insert instead of an open hearth, or should we expect the exact same problems?
- Assuming a stove or insert will work -

- I like the cast iron look of the Vermont Castings, and regardless would visually like something that works with the colonial design of the home (our default choice has been the Dauntless)
- I'm open to either a free-standing stove or an insert (we looked at the Montpelior II and a Regency model) - but I'd prefer not to have to run power to it or run a fan
- From looking at all the videos I can find and reading threads here, I'd prefer not to be dependant on a catalytic combustor (don't want the supply chain dependency, and I think someone said it can stain/darken the glass?) - but that's not a deal killer.

We've saved enough that while tax credits would be nice, it's absolutely not a decision maker. We'll stretch for the right choice, whatever it is.

What should I be looking at / for?

Thank you!
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
3,548
SE North Carolina
I would go down the Insert route first. Look at the pacific energy T5 insert. Looks great and is a solid performer. Blazeking Ashford is on there good insert. Read of on cat vs non catalytic stoves.

Look that dimensions Of the fireplace and models your interested in.

If you don’t find any inserts that are acceptable the choice for stoves expands but will be a considerable cost if not vented through the exsisting flue.

All stoves need really dry wood. Like stacked and covered for a year or two. Get on that now. Wish every year I had built a wood shed before I got my stove and firewood.
 

JennyNH

New Member
Aug 24, 2022
3
New Hampshire
May I ask why you recommend an insert over a stove?

Is it because of the backdraft issue (do inserts work better for that?)

The house was set up with an outdoor wood boiler, so we've already got a fair amount of wood from last year - albeit in pieces currently too big for a woodstove. And the fella is stacking up lots of stuff this fall for use the winter after this coming one. I think we're set on that front.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
3,548
SE North Carolina
May I ask why you recommend an insert over a stove?

Is it because of the backdraft issue (do inserts work better for that?)

The house was set up with an outdoor wood boiler, so we've already got a fair amount of wood from last year - albeit in pieces currently too big for a woodstove. And the fella is stacking up lots of stuff this fall for use the winter after this coming one. I think we're set on that front.
Getting a stove to fit a fireplace means lots of compromises unless the fireplace is really big/tall. I have both. In 2018 I was able to find one stove that came in white/ Ivory that fit my fireplace. It need a blower set down in the firebox floor behind it.

If the stove can’t go inside then it takes up a lot of space and figuring out how to connect the flue.

Inserts are just made for heating from a fireplace. I have both and like both. The stove for its looks. And the insert for its size and how easy it was to pick one as they all fit where I couldn’t find a stove to fit under my lintel.

If you can get an insulated liner installed the backdraft should not be an issue unless you have some negative pressure issues in the house. Then it’s going to be an issue no matter what you choose.

It’s a personal preference I guess. If you like the stove look top/rear vented shorter stoves are available but selection is not great.
 

bigealta

Minister of Fire
May 22, 2010
863
Utah & NJ
Post a few pics of your fireplace opening if u can.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,244
Long Island NY
On the other hand, inserts don't do as well providing heat if the fan is off?
The OP said he did not want (to depend on a) fan.

So, IF an insert is the best answer, see if you can get a (aesthetically pleasing) one that sticks out a bit more. You'll get more heat out of it.

If you burn mostly intermittent (ambiance, evenings, weekends), I would personally not go for a Blaze King. (I have one, and it's fantastic, but I burn 24/7, unless the temperature outside gets too high.)
 

BKVP

Minister of Fire
On the other hand, inserts don't do as well providing heat if the fan is off?
The OP said he did not want (to depend on a) fan.

So, IF an insert is the best answer, see if you can get a (aesthetically pleasing) one that sticks out a bit more. You'll get more heat out of it.

If you burn mostly intermittent (ambiance, evenings, weekends), I would personally not go for a Blaze King. (I have one, and it's fantastic, but I burn 24/7, unless the temperature outside gets too high.)
We advocate for a different insert as well if the unit is to be used occasionally for ambiance or a short term fire. The PI29 does stick out in front the fireplace, so if power is lost, it had great radiant heat. Kuma and a few others are also available that stick out onto the hearth some.
 
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JennyNH

New Member
Aug 24, 2022
3
New Hampshire
Thank you all!
This is our hearth.

hearth.jpg

It's my understanding there's a potential issue with an insert overheating if it is run without the fan, is that correct?
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,244
Long Island NY
That is not correct; it would be dangerous if you run the insert and power goes off. No way to stop the burn then.

Is that trim wood? There are required clearances.to combustibles that might make a need to change the trim to non-combustible materials.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
3,548
SE North Carolina
Flush inserts might have smaller clearances to trim/ mantel. Stoves generally have larger clearances to mantel. But again you need to pick a stove to build trim out too the specific clearances.

Insert can run with no blower. no damage will be done but their efficiency goes down. Less heat into the room more up the flue.

Look at a PE T5 insert. It would look very nice. More of a classic look. Osborn makes some nice modern looking. Regency has good ones too. You make need to get a wider surround for the 50” wide opening but that can be done.

Look at the Jotul F45 with short legs. Rear vented to a clean out T. See where that puts your 16” hearth requirements. Older F500 and F400 would work too vented. It could be set further back.

I don’t recommend top venting the F45 as it is a Pain to remove everything to sweep.

My choice would be heavily influenced by options that did not require any hearth extension modifications. But if I found the perfect one and didn’t mind spending more time/money to make it work one might go that route.

I think at this point budget matters.
 
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