Any advice for an insert problem?

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rmbrumfield78

New Member
Feb 23, 2022
13
65101
So, we just moved into a nice '54 mid-century mod ranch in 2020. House has stacked fireplaces, one in the basement, one on the first floor. Whole structure is between house and garage. First winter we did a few fires just as is in the basement, was OK but not a whole lot of heat (bit dangerous for my 1 & 3 yr olds), but my inlaws offered an older insert and my father in law was going to help install the liner and everything (former gen contractor). This fall we had all the pieces and he came over, built a platform to work on up on the roof and we started trying to install the liner.

First prob, OG clay liner is something like 8"x10" and the 6" steel liner + insulation was not wanting to fit (especially since much of the mortar was allowed to drip out the seams). We finally started pulling the steel liner down when we ran into prob 2: I have about 135 degrees of bends in that chimney. In the chimney stack this is the far one: so it goes down past the first floor fireplace (middle of stack), 45 degrees to re-center itself, then another 45 to straighten up, then a 45 to get to the smoke shelf. We were not going to be able to get that liner, with or without insulation, through all of that.

We were just going to do a direct connect but our brick façade is too thick and we can't even get the insert to line up with the short liner we shoved up there. (I was a little miffed at my FIL because I wanted him to come do the measurements before hand so I could order all the right parts and get things right and if he had we probably wouldn't have spent close to a grand for all the materials, but also my 60 yr old FIL came & worked on my roof on a day off, worked himself like a dog, and was frustrated that this stove he gave us was going to do us no good, so it is what it is).

Any advice from that? We were going to hack up the stove to see if it would go back far enough and just do the direct connect, but further measurements proved that wouldn't work. Looking at something like Vogelzang Wood Stove Insert where the flue connector is at a 45 so we don't have to worry about depth of stove, but that still leaves us at direct connect.

Bonus question: our chimney stack has 3 chimneys for 2 fireplaces, one of them (the one not connected to a fireplace) is blocked off. Any ideas of what it is?
 

Bobbob

Member
Jan 13, 2022
42
Transfer PA
So, we just moved into a nice '54 mid-century mod ranch in 2020. House has stacked fireplaces, one in the basement, one on the first floor. Whole structure is between house and garage. First winter we did a few fires just as is in the basement, was OK but not a whole lot of heat (bit dangerous for my 1 & 3 yr olds), but my inlaws offered an older insert and my father in law was going to help install the liner and everything (former gen contractor). This fall we had all the pieces and he came over, built a platform to work on up on the roof and we started trying to install the liner.

First prob, OG clay liner is something like 8"x10" and the 6" steel liner + insulation was not wanting to fit (especially since much of the mortar was allowed to drip out the seams). We finally started pulling the steel liner down when we ran into prob 2: I have about 135 degrees of bends in that chimney. In the chimney stack this is the far one: so it goes down past the first floor fireplace (middle of stack), 45 degrees to re-center itself, then another 45 to straighten up, then a 45 to get to the smoke shelf. We were not going to be able to get that liner, with or without insulation, through all of that.

We were just going to do a direct connect but our brick façade is too thick and we can't even get the insert to line up with the short liner we shoved up there. (I was a little miffed at my FIL because I wanted him to come do the measurements before hand so I could order all the right parts and get things right and if he had we probably wouldn't have spent close to a grand for all the materials, but also my 60 yr old FIL came & worked on my roof on a day off, worked himself like a dog, and was frustrated that this stove he gave us was going to do us no good, so it is what it is).

Any advice from that? We were going to hack up the stove to see if it would go back far enough and just do the direct connect, but further measurements proved that wouldn't work. Looking at something like Vogelzang Wood Stove Insert where the flue connector is at a 45 so we don't have to worry about depth of stove, but that still leaves us at direct connect.

Bonus question: our chimney stack has 3 chimneys for 2 fireplaces, one of them (the one not connected to a fireplace) is blocked off. Any ideas of what it is?
To answer your bonus question: I have a similar chimney ( 2 fireplaces and 3 flues ). The third unused flue was likely for an oil furnace original to house. Most houses of this time used oil as primary heat source.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
28,452
central pa
So, we just moved into a nice '54 mid-century mod ranch in 2020. House has stacked fireplaces, one in the basement, one on the first floor. Whole structure is between house and garage. First winter we did a few fires just as is in the basement, was OK but not a whole lot of heat (bit dangerous for my 1 & 3 yr olds), but my inlaws offered an older insert and my father in law was going to help install the liner and everything (former gen contractor). This fall we had all the pieces and he came over, built a platform to work on up on the roof and we started trying to install the liner.

First prob, OG clay liner is something like 8"x10" and the 6" steel liner + insulation was not wanting to fit (especially since much of the mortar was allowed to drip out the seams). We finally started pulling the steel liner down when we ran into prob 2: I have about 135 degrees of bends in that chimney. In the chimney stack this is the far one: so it goes down past the first floor fireplace (middle of stack), 45 degrees to re-center itself, then another 45 to straighten up, then a 45 to get to the smoke shelf. We were not going to be able to get that liner, with or without insulation, through all of that.

We were just going to do a direct connect but our brick façade is too thick and we can't even get the insert to line up with the short liner we shoved up there. (I was a little miffed at my FIL because I wanted him to come do the measurements before hand so I could order all the right parts and get things right and if he had we probably wouldn't have spent close to a grand for all the materials, but also my 60 yr old FIL came & worked on my roof on a day off, worked himself like a dog, and was frustrated that this stove he gave us was going to do us no good, so it is what it is).

Any advice from that? We were going to hack up the stove to see if it would go back far enough and just do the direct connect, but further measurements proved that wouldn't work. Looking at something like Vogelzang Wood Stove Insert where the flue connector is at a 45 so we don't have to worry about depth of stove, but that still leaves us at direct connect.

Bonus question: our chimney stack has 3 chimneys for 2 fireplaces, one of them (the one not connected to a fireplace) is blocked off. Any ideas of what it is?
An ovalized liner will take care of it not fitting. As far as the face being to thick elbows can help at times or an offset box.

I would avoid the vogelzang products or others from us stove company they are pretty low quality. Look at drolet for a similar price range but better quality
 

rmbrumfield78

New Member
Feb 23, 2022
13
65101
To answer your bonus question: I have a similar chimney ( 2 fireplaces and 3 flues ). The third unused flue was likely for an oil furnace original to house. Most houses of this time used oil as primary heat source.
My FIL thought our house might have had an oil burner, but there is an entirely different chimney in the middle of the house where that would've been, and is what our furnace is hooked up to.
 

rmbrumfield78

New Member
Feb 23, 2022
13
65101
An ovalized liner will take care of it not fitting. As far as the face being to thick elbows can help at times or an offset box.

I would avoid the vogelzang products or others from us stove company they are pretty low quality. Look at drolet for a similar price range but better quality
Is an ovalized liner a special product? Or would it just be squashing the liner we have? Is there any issue with the bends in the system?
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
28,452
central pa
Is an ovalized liner a special product? Or would it just be squashing the liner we have? Is there any issue with the bends in the system?
I wouldn't recommend just squishing it. Some people do that but it gives inconsistent results.

I run regular round through our ovalizer.

I have no idea if the bends are an issue. Sometimes they are. There are times we need to open up holes from outside to get through offsets. Sometimes removing liners helps etc etc.
 

rmbrumfield78

New Member
Feb 23, 2022
13
65101
I wouldn't recommend just squishing it. Some people do that but it gives inconsistent results.

I run regular round through our ovalizer.

I have no idea if the bends are an issue. Sometimes they are. There are times we need to open up holes from outside to get through offsets. Sometimes removing liners helps etc etc.
Did not realize there was a thing called an ovalizer. Too bad Menards/home depot don't have those as rental machines. Looking over more things I have seen many say that non exterior chimneys don't need insulation and with smaller chimneys you can get away with no blanket but pour in vermiculite type insulation. We may have a better shot with no blanket around those bends. Biggest issues is the way our chimney is built. Cinder block construction with like a cement layer overtop or something. taking it apart to get to those offsets would be a bear and probably pretty costly.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
28,452
central pa
Did not realize there was a thing called an ovalizer. Too bad Menards/home depot don't have those as rental machines. Looking over more things I have seen many say that non exterior chimneys don't need insulation and with smaller chimneys you can get away with no blanket but pour in vermiculite type insulation. We may have a better shot with no blanket around those bends. Biggest issues is the way our chimney is built. Cinder block construction with like a cement layer overtop or something. taking it apart to get to those offsets would be a bear and probably pretty costly.
Insulation requirements depend upon the clearance to combustibles from the outside of the chimney structure to combustible materials. For external you need 1" interior you need 2. So from a safety standpoint it is more important on internal chimneys
 

rmbrumfield78

New Member
Feb 23, 2022
13
65101
Insulation requirements depend upon the clearance to combustibles from the outside of the chimney structure to combustible materials. For external you need 1" interior you need 2. So from a safety standpoint it is more important on internal chimneys
Can you define "from the outside of the chimney structure to combustible materials" a little better? Does this mean height of chimney? Thickness of chimney walls? I understand the part of 2" from the face of the fireplace, but some of the other clearances I don't understand.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
2,415
SE North Carolina
The brick chimney needs a 2” air gap from the outside of the brick ( if it’s interior) to any and all combustibles. That includes all framing and roof decking ect. Quickest or least destructive place to look is the attic. Look for framing for ceiling joists and roof decking. All need the 2”.
 

rmbrumfield78

New Member
Feb 23, 2022
13
65101
The brick chimney needs a 2” air gap from the outside of the brick ( if it’s interior) to any and all combustibles. That includes all framing and roof decking ect. Quickest or least destructive place to look is the attic. Look for framing for ceiling joists and roof decking. All need the 2”.
Ah, I know the house portion has that clearance. There is a brick facade surrounding the actual cinderblock build of the main chimney body that has an air gap & I am always worried about dropping things in there when I go into our attic, probably more like 3"- 4" gap around the actual chimney structure to any framing but I can check on that next time I'm up there. From attic "floor" to roof deck its just the cinder block but then it switches to brick for exterior aesthetics. There I do not think there is enough air gap, but we could wrap that last 10' since it doesn't have to go through any bends up there.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
2,415
SE North Carolina
Ah, I know the house portion has that clearance. There is a brick facade surrounding the actual cinderblock build of the main chimney body that has an air gap & I am always worried about dropping things in there when I go into our attic, probably more like 3"- 4" gap around the actual chimney structure to any framing but I can check on that next time I'm up there. From attic "floor" to roof deck its just the cinder block but then it switches to brick for exterior aesthetics. There I do not think there is enough air gap, but we could wrap that last 10' since it doesn't have to go through any bends up there.
I’m not an expert my gut says that if any part doesn’t meet code the whole chimney doesn’t meet code and to meet code it would require the entire liner to be insulated.

i had some mortar squeezed out of the clay joints and it took 3 people, two on top pushing one down pulling a rope, to get by one offset 10” horizontal offset. This was for a 12x12“ flue. It snagged the wire mesh that goes around the insulation.
 

rmbrumfield78

New Member
Feb 23, 2022
13
65101
I have seen some talking about perlite as an insulator instead of a wrap & cheaper than vermiculite. Quote from a company near me said new ovalized inserts + install is baseline $3k & with my set up pretty sure it's going to be more.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
28,452
central pa
I have seen some talking about perlite as an insulator instead of a wrap & cheaper than vermiculite. Quote from a company near me said new ovalized inserts + install is baseline $3k & with my set up pretty sure it's going to be more.
Loose perlite or vermiculite are not listed and won't meet code. They will also settle which means no insulation at the top and compressed ineffective insulation at the bottom.

Por in also needs 1" thickness all around where wrap only needs 1/2" thick
 

rmbrumfield78

New Member
Feb 23, 2022
13
65101
So, here's my set up. The one we're trying to run to is the basement one (the one with woodstove sitting in it). There is no clean out behind it. Directly above it is the livingroom fireplace (my son lounging in front of it w/an electric insert), also no clean out behind it, just cinderblock wall in the garage. The attic shows the space between the façade & the actual chimney, & I believe there's enough air gap within the stack itself from clay liner to brick. The middle chimney is the one that goes to the living room & one of the side chimneys is off set a couple times to get around it. I think my FIL might help me try to ovalize our liner & rerun it, but are there any tips for going through those off sets? Unfortunately since we've only been here not quite 2 years we don't have a lot of people to ask for help in the push pull. If we didn't have to wrap the liner I think it may fit in there OK. I've also seen people break out the clay liner.

Attic 1.jpg Attic 2.jpg Basement back.jpg Basement.jpg livingroom.jpg
 

rmbrumfield78

New Member
Feb 23, 2022
13
65101
Bit of an update, I reached out to the building code office and I was informed of 2 things. Our city goes by the 2015 International Mechanical Code and enforces manufacture instructions on installations. Can anyone help with the 2015 IMC? From what I found on it, it basically says follow manufacture instructions.

I found the instructions for our stove, a quadrafire 830-0381, 15 or so years old, & the instructions give the option of a direct connect or full lining. No mention of insulation. Am I understanding code right that no insulation is needed for this stove? Probably ideal to have it but I don't know that an insulated line can be run to it.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
28,452
central pa
Bit of an update, I reached out to the building code office and I was informed of 2 things. Our city goes by the 2015 International Mechanical Code and enforces manufacture instructions on installations. Can anyone help with the 2015 IMC? From what I found on it, it basically says follow manufacture instructions.

I found the instructions for our stove, a quadrafire 830-0381, 15 or so years old, & the instructions give the option of a direct connect or full lining. No mention of insulation. Am I understanding code right that no insulation is needed for this stove? Probably ideal to have it but I don't know that an insulated line can be run to it.
You also follow IRC international residential code. Which chapter 10 addresses chimneys their clearances construction etc. Yes it can be direct connected into a code compliant chimney that is sized properly. From the pics I can tell you that you don't have the required clearances that means your chimney is not code compliant. To make it code compliant you need to follow the liner manufacturers instructions. Those clearances are also spelled out in the quadrafire manual
 
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rmbrumfield78

New Member
Feb 23, 2022
13
65101
Where are you seeing a problem with the clearances? When we had the house inspected before we bought it no problems were raised. When I had one of the local sweep companies come out to inspect everything last year before I used the fireplace for the first time the only thing they pointed out was the chimney above the roof needed some repointing. From everything I've seen stated there needs to be 2" between chimney & combustibles. They only thing I see is in the attic where a couple of the "floor" boards are touching the chimney & I can trim those off. Below that theres probably a 4" clearance from chimney to the brick facade that surrounds the entire chimney structure. There's no combustibles in that.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
28,452
central pa
Where are you seeing a problem with the clearances? When we had the house inspected before we bought it no problems were raised. When I had one of the local sweep companies come out to inspect everything last year before I used the fireplace for the first time the only thing they pointed out was the chimney above the roof needed some repointing. From everything I've seen stated there needs to be 2" between chimney & combustibles. They only thing I see is in the attic where a couple of the "floor" boards are touching the chimney & I can trim those off. Below that theres probably a 4" clearance from chimney to the brick facade that surrounds the entire chimney structure. There's no combustibles in that.
The brick facade is part of the chimney. It looked to me like the roof structure was touching but I really couldn't tell.
 

rmbrumfield78

New Member
Feb 23, 2022
13
65101
I'll have to take a couple more pics. That void in the pic in the attic is the top of a 4" void between that cinder block chimney structure & the red brick facade you see in the living room. To me counting that facade, that has no direct contact to the flue carrying portion of the chimney, makes no sense if it's about getting air gap between the 2.

Is the air gap supposed to be between the chimney structure or the flue and brick build?
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
28,452
central pa
I'll have to take a couple more pics. That void in the pic in the attic is the top of a 4" void between that cinder block chimney structure & the red brick facade you see in the living room. To me counting that facade, that has no direct contact to the flue carrying portion of the chimney, makes no sense if it's about getting air gap between the 2.

Is the air gap supposed to be between the chimney structure or the flue and brick build?
The chimney structure and combustibles and the clay liner to structure are both supposed to have spaces. Is there 2" to combustible materials at the roof? Does that 4" void go all the way to the basement?