Help - Dangerous Setup

  • Active since 1995, Hearth.com is THE place on the internet for free information and advice about wood stoves, pellet stoves and other energy saving equipment.

    We strive to provide opinions, articles, discussions and history related to Hearth Products and in a more general sense, energy issues.

    We promote the EFFICIENT, RESPONSIBLE, CLEAN and SAFE use of all fuels, whether renewable or fossil.

NoGoodAtScreenNames

Feeling the Heat
Sep 16, 2015
416
Massachusetts
Hi Everyone,

I recently had a chance to visit some distant cousins who had just built a new house - typical colonial style. They heat exclusively with wood but they don’t have a stove. What they have could most generously be called a fireplace but it’s basically just an open area to the chimney. There’s no lintel or smoke shelf. They are happy with what they have, last year was particularly hard with them before they had even this setup. The draft is terrible. The whole house smells smokey, in fact a few times they got a down draft and literally the entire house filled with smoke. They had to open the door to air it out. The smoke detectors would have been going off - if they had any. Oh and their roof is made of a combustible material. It’s truly scary.

Their neighbors have a similar set up in a way, but that could best be considered an indoor fire pit with a hole in the roof to let the smoke escape. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before.

I tried explaining the benefits of a modern epa certified stove with a stainless steel liner. They humored me but didn’t really seem interested. They were content and thankful for what they have now.

I don’t know what to do to get them into a better situation. Any advice?

I’ll try to upload some pics later.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,531
South Puget Sound, WA
I expect lots of folks visiting relatives are going to see some odd setups over the holidays. Hope it's safe. Pics will help, I'm having a hard time visualizing this.
 

Rob711

Feeling the Heat
Oct 19, 2017
433
Long Island, ny
A new colonial with just open fireplace for heat? Do they have running water? Homeowners insurance? Pics please. What new roofing material is it? Is this a backwoods shack, don’t mean to be offensive. If I hear new colonial I’m thinking new home built to code.
 
  • Like
Reactions: blacktail

NoGoodAtScreenNames

Feeling the Heat
Sep 16, 2015
416
Massachusetts
Here’s a pic looking up into the chimney. Not sure if the scale will come though on this, but it’s a large, Santa friendly size. No cap. I’ll get some other pics from the inside up tomorrow.

38c530430d578161545e623c438d7bcc.jpg



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

NoGoodAtScreenNames

Feeling the Heat
Sep 16, 2015
416
Massachusetts
A new colonial with just open fireplace for heat? Do they have running water? Homeowners insurance? Pics please. What new roofing material is it? Is this a backwoods shack, don’t mean to be offensive. If I hear new colonial I’m thinking new home built to code.

Ha! No offense. It’s not my house. Yeah it certainly sounds a little backwoods...


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Sodbuster

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2012
1,506
Michigan
Holy Crap shows you the quality of inspectors these days.
 

Sodbuster

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2012
1,506
Michigan
Here’s a pic looking up into the chimney. Not sure if the scale will come though on this, but it’s a large, Santa friendly size. No cap. I’ll get some other pics from the inside up tomorrow.

38c530430d578161545e623c438d7bcc.jpg



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

HaHaHa, if they even dream that their heating their house with this they are delusional. Does give a nice opening for a wood stove and block off plate. Some people just won't list so unless it's a severe/dangerous concern let them go along their happy way. Where's the chimney crown?
 

NoGoodAtScreenNames

Feeling the Heat
Sep 16, 2015
416
Massachusetts
HaHaHa, if they even dream that their heating their house with this they are delusional. Does give a nice opening for a wood stove and block off plate. Some people just won't list so unless it's a severe/dangerous concern let them go along their happy way. Where's the chimney crown?

I don’t think they will listen even if I tell them it’s dangerous. Every time I told them about something to fix they just said they were perfectly happy with what they had. They are nice people but they’ve been through a lot. Last year they were basically homeless and living on a house boat their church rented for them. So I guess in some ways this is a step up from where they were. But I can’t give up because of the safety concerns.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,597
Northern NH
WIth that setup, they must be burning incredible amounts of wood, most likely green. One approach is go for the economic approach, they will burn a lot less wood if they go with a conventional stove.

Ultimately it comes down to you can lead a horse to water but you cant make them drink.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,784
Northern Maine
What keeps the wildlife out? No tile liner?

I wouldn’t sleep there on a bet and my seat would be near a door.
 

NoGoodAtScreenNames

Feeling the Heat
Sep 16, 2015
416
Massachusetts
WIth that setup, they must be burning incredible amounts of wood, most likely green. One approach is go for the economic approach, they will burn a lot less wood if they go with a conventional stove.

Ultimately it comes down to you can lead a horse to water but you cant make them drink.

They do spend a lot of time processing firewood. Most of what they have is stuff collected from the woods and cut / split by hand and some scrap pieces from the mill in town. No chainsaw or splitter so it’s a lot of work.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,597
Northern NH
My guess would be a safe but ugly craigslist smoke dragon $200 to $300, a top plate on top of the chimney with hole cut in it $200 and the ability to get at the top of the chimney to secure it and sections of single wall stovepipe from the hardware store $150 up the chimney with a block off plate down below would be a major improvement. May not be up to code but better than what they have.

I don't think an EPA stove would work as they are most likely cutting it and burning it with no seasoning.

I know folks who have been through tough times and digging their way out, they don't have a choice but it sounds like since they spent the money to build a place that whomever was in charge was clueless. Hopefully there are no kids in the house as they are the ones that usually have the health issues from a bad installation and frequently the one who gets killed in house fire.
 

moresnow

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
1,842
Iowa
They heat exclusively with wood

The modern teepee! Oh my. Imagine if they had a LP or natty gas sys. May as well stick the supply line up the chute and touch it off! Sad, wasteful and unsafe. Wish them luck.

Kudos for the attempted intervention
 
  • Like
Reactions: Sailrmike

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,465
SE North Carolina
Situations like these are tough. I can imagine a situation Where even if a new epa stove and liner were installed for them they wouldn’t have dry enough wood to burn in it and next time you visited you could see it out on the front lawn. They need a fire and have a way that meets those needs. Would a smoke dragon and a blockoff plate be safer? Chimney looked pretty clean.

I would get them carbon monoxide detector (I would have it shipped to them just to avoid another visit that just makes me worried all over again) and if I was feeling generous extend a standing offer to help install a stove if/when they get to that point.
Just my thoughts.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 2fireplacesinSC

NoGoodAtScreenNames

Feeling the Heat
Sep 16, 2015
416
Massachusetts
So I have some pics.

Here’s the base of the “fireplace”

6fbf58908a399dbcaa12feafdcdbe4ec.jpg


All of the houses in the new development are similar to this one. Here’s a view of their street.

41a3ae39712b84659718134b67918a4c.jpg


This is the neighbors chimney. They live in a different development.

effa47bc6394952f135a29f2356ff8bd.jpg


And the neighbors house:

2861b477fce4034c3c08f2e17bd90927.jpg


f6df16f7d72ab11bf7c25cc28db3569e.jpg


Here’s the boat that they were forced to spend last winter in.

674ea5ecb7915fd04150d7e2351ee8fa.jpg






Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
  • Like
Reactions: Todd

NoGoodAtScreenNames

Feeling the Heat
Sep 16, 2015
416
Massachusetts
I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now, but my distant cousins live in Plimouth Plantation. https://www.plimoth.org/

If you have a chance to visit, I’d recommend it especially if you have kids. The pilgrims stay in character for all the visitors, even the ones who tell them to get an insulated liner with a block off plate.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

moresnow

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
1,842
Iowa
Sweet! Haaaaaaaa.
 
  • Like
Reactions: NoGoodAtScreenNames

ispinwool

Feeling the Heat
Feb 5, 2010
262
Butler County, Pa.
Bahahaha!!! As soon as I saw the dear lady in costume, I started laughing!
Well done!
A very Happy Thanksgiving to you as well!
 
  • Like
Reactions: NoGoodAtScreenNames