Gas to Pellet, now Pellet to Wood Burner

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dawiz9578

New Member
Feb 18, 2021
7
Michigan
Hello all,

New to the forum and starting to do some research on replacing our pellet stove with a wood burning insert. While doing another project I found the gas line that is running behind the pellet stove so it was gas at one point. When we bought the house the previous owner said the pellet stove made a HUGE difference in his gas bill since we had a propane tank that needed to be filled, so I guess I mistakenly took this to mean an overall savings. I was pretty pumped at first, but after a year of feeding that thing pellets and having to listen to it run all day I realized it just changes who youre paying (gas company vs pellet provider). We have ~5 acres of woods out back and plenty of people around us with woods so firewood is not hard to come by. Also there is no need for electricity (blower, igniter, etc) with a good ole fashioned wood burner even though we have a backup generator I installed once we switched from propane to natural. Given the setup of the gas to pellet, and now pellet to wood burning, Im looking for some guidance on exhaust piping, footprint, heat distribution, etc. Our house is 2 story. I dont plan on modifying the mantle or brickwork around the insert if possible. Im not necessarily looking to heat the entire house with a little wood burning insert/stove, but the way Ive seen my familys work I think it would be possible with some distribution assistance, but maybe Im getting too jacked up. Appreciate any feedback or common pitfalls of a noob or this kind of retrofit. Thanks in advance!

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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,548
South Puget Sound, WA
What is behind that pellet stove? You will need to identify the make and model of the ZC fireplace and determine if it is a gas unit or a wood unit originally. If gas, this is a no-go. It will need a complete replacement. Also, many ZC fireplaces do not permit the installation of a wood-burning insert. This needs to be checked in the fireplace's manual.
 

dawiz9578

New Member
Feb 18, 2021
7
Michigan
What is behind that pellet stove? You will need to identify the make and model of the ZC fireplace and determine if it is a gas unit or a wood unit originally. If gas, this is a no-go. It will need a complete replacement. Also, many ZC fireplaces do not permit the installation of a wood-burning insert. This needs to be checked in the fireplace's manual.

Heres a picture of "behind the pellet stove" haha which is im sure not what youre looking for or talking about. So ill have to disassemble it and see if there is a model number built into it somewhere? Or go back to the original building company and see if they have information on what they were installing at the time?

The model is of the burning device no? Not the built structure around it (brick and steel) correct? Or is it the materials it is built with?
 

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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,548
South Puget Sound, WA
It looks like a gutted gas insert. That is not suitable for a wood insert installation. It would need a complete replacement or if the area is wide enough, it might be possible to convert this area into an alcove with a freestanding wood stove.
 

dawiz9578

New Member
Feb 18, 2021
7
Michigan
It looks like a gutted gas insert. That is not suitable for a wood insert installation. It would need a complete replacement or if the area is wide enough, it might be possible to convert this area into an alcove with a freestanding wood stove.

I appreciate the responses. Im still a little confused on what is not going to work. Do you mean the brick and everything behind the pellet stove and its (not sure if this is the correct term) apron, or the apron itself? By apron I mean the channel and thin steel covering the gap between the pellet stove (chamber, blower, motors, etc) and the actual brick recession built into the wall?

What youre saying is I probably wont be able to pull the pellet stove out and slip in a wood burning insert in the same cavity within the 12" or so wide apron thats existing? That Ill have to rip all that out and start fresh (somehow) back at the brick and maybe put in a new apron (sorry again if thats not the right term haha) or leave it as is and have a cove style stove such as the picture below? If thats the case thats kind of what I was expecting.....so thats a good thing. Im not too worried about repurposing the apron.

If thats not what youre saying then im still lost and apologize in advance hahah. Thanks again @begreen

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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,548
South Puget Sound, WA
I think the term you are looking for is hearth. The brick is most likely just a facade. I don't see any indication that this is a brick fireplace. It looks like a shallow 2x4 framed bumpout for a gas insert. One can not install a wood insert into this structure. It would not meet the safety or clearance requirements for a wood insert.

I can't say how the wood stove pictured was installed. This may be a European installation. In the US, this installation would need to be entirely non-combustible, aka in a masonry fireplace or eqivalent. This is not what you have. If the current chase is only 12" deep then it's possible that the current fireplace enclosure (chase) would be too shallow to accommodate all the clearance requirements for an alcove installation. The stove, the connecting stovepipe, and the chimney pipe all have clearance requirements that have to be honored. Given the shallow nature of the chase the first thing to check is whether a chimney pipe would have proper clearances. It would need at least 12". Does the chase (the outdoor bumpout) continue to above the roofline? What is the inside dimension of this chase above the pellet stove?
 

kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
5,933
07462
. Im still a little confused on what is not going to work.
Stick a wood burning insert in that hole and the fire department is coming to install a new indoor swimming pool.
 
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dawiz9578

New Member
Feb 18, 2021
7
Michigan
I think the term you are looking for is hearth. The brick is most likely just a facade. I don't see any indication that this is a brick fireplace. It looks like a shallow 2x4 framed bumpout for a gas insert. One can not install a wood insert into this structure. It would not meet the safety or clearance requirements for a wood insert.

I can't say how the wood stove pictured was installed. This may be a European installation. In the US, this installation would need to be entirely non-combustible, aka in a masonry fireplace. This is not what you have. If the current chase is only 12" deep then it's possible that the current fireplace enclosure (chase) would be too shallow to accommodate all the clearance requirements for an alcove installation. The stove, the connecting stovepipe, and the chimney pipe all have clearance requirements that have to be honored. Given the shallow nature of the chase the first thing to check is whether a chimney pipe would have proper clearances. It would need at least 12". Does the chase (the outdoor bumpout) continue to above the roofline? What is the inside dimension of this chase above the pellet stove?

Turns out easy enough bubble for you guys to burst haha...but thats why I came to a forum like this. Peeled the hearth back enough to slip my phone down in it and snap a picture...you nailed it @begreen. Guess Im SOL then, just have to stick to bonfires outback for burning wood.
 

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newtomntliving19

New Member
Apr 1, 2021
7
United States
@dawis9578 I’m in the same boat ! Zero clearance prefab open fireplace. I am trying to conver it to something that can be more efficient and can help as a primary or at least secondary source of heat. I also have central heat. I have learned that a wood insert is not an option for me; the opening isn’t big enough to start with. So trying to decide whether to take the whole hearth down and start from scratch to install a freestanding wood burning stove ($$$) or just get a pellet stove (less money but not quite the same ambiance as a wood burning stove). If I go for a pellet, I’m considering the harman accentra 52i. Any feedback anyone ? The house is a weekender.
 

dawiz9578

New Member
Feb 18, 2021
7
Michigan
@dawis9578 I’m in the same boat ! Zero clearance prefab open fireplace. I am trying to conver it to something that can be more efficient and can help as a primary or at least secondary source of heat. I also have central heat. I have learned that a wood insert is not an option for me; the opening isn’t big enough to start with. So trying to decide whether to take the whole hearth down and start from scratch to install a freestanding wood burning stove ($$$) or just get a pellet stove (less money but not quite the same ambiance as a wood burning stove). If I go for a pellet, I’m considering the harman accentra 52i. Any feedback anyone ? The house is a weekender.
I vote spend the money and get what you know you will like. I dont know that Ill go the route of modifying to install a woodburning unit, but I may switch back to gas as Im so underwhelmed by the pellet stove. Depends on what I can find. Im not impressed with the function of the pellet stove for what it gives you. Just my 2 cents, everyone is different.
 

newtomntliving19

New Member
Apr 1, 2021
7
United States
I vote spend the money and get what you know you will like. I dont know that Ill go the route of modifying to install a woodburning unit, but I may switch back to gas as Im so underwhelmed by the pellet stove. Depends on what I can find. Im not impressed with the function of the pellet stove for what it gives you. Just my 2 cents, everyone is different.
Thanks !!!
 

dawiz9578

New Member
Feb 18, 2021
7
Michigan
Guys....Im back at it. With yet another winter coming and me not even buying pellets to burn this year Im looking again for some input. Would there be a way to remove the existing insert, rework the brick on the bottom (extend it to match new freestanding stove dimensions) and utilize the bumpout to run a stack up through to have a freestanding wood burner like the one below?
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Or could I go out through the bumpout and run the vent mounted to the outside of the bumpout? Our home is two story so I cant go straight through the ceiling, ill have to go out through the wall before I can go up.
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Not sure if running some sort of double walled pipe through the bumpout is still too small or close for that, then I would have to go outside of the bumpout and anchor to it running up. I assume I would have to take it all the way to the top so depending on wind direction its not hitting into the side of the house.

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Ive been digging around, but its tough to find my exact situation to compare to any of the other stories. Figured id throw it on here real quick and let you guys crack down on me if its doable or not.

Thanks in advance!
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,548
South Puget Sound, WA
Last season I helped friends put in an Alderlea T6 in a set up like that. A fire break ceiling was installed at about 84”. This is where the chimney support box was mounted. From there it was chimney pipe up thru the top cap.
 
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kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
5,933
07462
I dont have the time now, just incase you do, there was a thread on this site of a member I think in WV that removed a zero clearance fp, and install a BK princess w/ class a pipe, poured hearth ect. The thread is either 2 or 3 years old and it had some very good documentation, the poster did all the work himself and it took him a few months, but he also had a very young family and a lot of juggling. I'll try to did it up and post the link either later tonight or early tomorrow incase you cant find it.