Insert questions and possibilities for a newbie

Match Girl Posted By Match Girl, Oct 11, 2018 at 2:15 AM

  1. Match Girl

    Match Girl
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    Oct 10, 2018
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    Thank you for any advice you can offer!

    I am looking to put an insert into my wood fireplace located in the interior (center) of my 1920 home. The fire place is in the central wall in the center of the room that is a completely open living room and dining room. On one side of the fireplace takes you behind to the kitchen and door to utility basement, and the other side takes you behind to the bathroom and then up the stairs to the three bedrooms (so the staircase runs directly behind the fireplace). I believe the footprint of the home Is 24x26.

    I have taken off the old fireplace door, thoroughly cleaned the inside of the firebox, and busted off the old hearth that i will replace with the correct dimensions (the hearth broke off clean from the construction hearth seen in the pic).

    I've been debating between a gas insert (ease of use) or a wood insert (i think my hearts desire when I'm not worrying about the learning curve and worried friends). I love all the qualities, authenticity and intentionality of a real fire.

    I haven't shopped around bc the guys at the local lopi dealer have been so helpful and patient with me and they do all their own installing. ...I'm all about quality, but also on a definite budget. ...this has led me to the consideration of the Lopi Republic 1250i and 1750i. My firebox clearance is 29 1/2 in wide by 27 inches high by around 22 inches deep and 24 inches wide at the back wall. That front room is 25ft in length by 11 1/2 ft in depth (more like 10 1/2 ft where fireplace juts out). I have an old natural gas furnace which is my only heat source at this point. I know the woodstove will be absolutely used for regular (hopefully) daily fires that have the bonus of heating my house. I won't stress myself out this year about trying to use it as my main source bc i need to learn the art and find a good wood source, but i want to have the option of growing into that choice if i so desire. My rebuild of the hearth will be impacted by my stove choice. I have a bit of an uneven floor and am not so sure i should busI out that remaining hearth, so I don't think my hearth can be flush with the floor... So we will have to be aware of its presence when running through to the upstairs (i say running bc I have 4 kids that will need to be educated on the heat dangers of a real stove. They are used to a fake little electric stove i have had sitting on the hearth, but of course that is not hot.

    Pros i see to the 1250i is that it wont stick out but 3 inches, maybe safer for kids and dogs.. But i worry it might not put enough heat out? Pros to the 1750i is being that it does jut out 9+ inches, there is added radiant heat, more log space, plus i love the idea of a steam pot sitting on it. My concern is will the extra hearth depth be in the way and will it be too much heat with an efficient burn?

    Other considerations: i have thought about installing it without the framed in shroud, bc i like the look of that and wonder if it helps put the heat in the room... And if so, another question i have is does my inside hearth need that top layer of firebrick to guard from the heat or can i bust it out and gain a couple more inches in height? Also, is the insert built different than the freestanding? Could the freestanding be shoved in the same hole or does it require all the clearance, even inside a fireplace?

    Sorry i put so many questions in here, but the sooner i can make my decision the sooner i can order and be on their install list. Mn winters are long and cold!
    Last question is, do you think the blower fan is absolutely essential? I am not sure if aesthetically i like it... Also, the dealer is talking about finding me one of those radiant heat activated stove top fans, but in reading about how they sit on the stove, I'm wondering how that would work in this situation?

    Also, if you have any encouragement for braving it and going with wood over mindlessly convenient options, I would love that! ...unless of course you think a gas fireplace makes more sense.

    Again, thank you so much!

    .....it won't upload my pic but i can try later.
     
  2. begreen

    begreen
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    In your climate region I would go for the 1750. It will provide longer burn times and better loading options. I wouldn't worry about a bit more hearth projection of the insert. That is a benefit and helpful if there is a power outage. Yes, get the blower, it will help improve the insert heat output and circulation. You will appreciate this on those sub-zero nights. Skip the stove top fan.

    Try downsizing the picture so that it can be posted. Here are some picture posting tips
    https://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/putting-images-into-your-forums-posts.87212/

    Besides a proper and safe installation, the next important thing you will need is fully seasoned, dry wood. Poorly seasoned wood will make for low heat and a frustrating experience.
     
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  3. Match Girl

    Match Girl
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    Oct 10, 2018
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    Thank you so much Begreen! ...I found what seems to be a good price for birch. He claims it has been seasoned for a year. Is there a way to politely confirm it is indeed dry before I commit to the purchase? Should i ask if he meters the moisture content or just hope it is good? How do you feel about birch? It was more reasonable than maple or oak.....
    Also, once I get that picture up i would love suggestions for the hearth construction. I will have to build it myself... But I have become pretty handy.... Also, I've heard people reference "hearth rugs" on here. Are they considered acceptable (in place of) as a hearth extension?
    Thank you!!
     
  4. Woodsplitter67

    Woodsplitter67
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    I looked at lopi, there good stoves. Go with the 1750. The longer burn time, larger box for a variety of wood , the steamer pot. I like my steamer pot.
    Act quickly thet start to get backed up
    I have 2 gas fireplaces in my home. We dont use them. Dont get me wrong i light them here and there when i need to take the chill out and dont want to over heat the house with the stove
    You got a wood stash going yet, dry and ready to burn
     
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  5. Match Girl

    Match Girl
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    Oct 10, 2018
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    I really don't have wood yet but think i have secured seasoned wood that is birch. I am in the North woods of MN...so hoping someone will have some left.

    Here are a couple pics of the space. That is a fake electric stove inside. The green tape represents where the hearth would need to be for the 1750i. Any thought on not installing the frame/shroud around it? Do hearth rugs replace building the hearth?
     
  6. Match Girl

    Match Girl
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    20181011_195436.jpg 20181011_195611.jpg
    Sorry... Here are my pictures! The hearth i broke off left behind that little cement slab.
     
  7. tickbitty

    tickbitty
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    I'd definitely go for the 1750 - I have one in a small-medium (1400 sq feet) 1950s ranch house in an interior chimney about 3/4 of the way to one side. I ended up leaving the shroud off (even though I bought it and have it here somewhere) because I like the look better as is - it almost looks like a freestanding stove in there. I have the blower and use it but I don't get blown out of the house by the heat, it heats the core of the house really well but the bedrooms stay cool down the hall. I like that it extends from the front a bit. Was not particularly concerning when the kid was small or with the pets. It helps with the radiant heat when the blowers are off (like a power outage) and you can even cook on the top if you want. I never wanted to mess up the paint, but I'm caring less about that every year so who knows. I have a pic on here somewhere - I'll see if I can find it.

    We use the 1750 as primary/supplementary heat because our furnace died and we have a heat pump, ugh, those things will never get me warm enough.
     
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  8. Match Girl

    Match Girl
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  9. tickbitty

    tickbitty
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    34j3psh-jpg.jpg
    Looks nice - you might need a hearth extension out front, I just bought one of the premade hearth pads that I set in front of it seasonally. If I had a bunch of $ I'd tear out my hearth but this works fine and passed inspection.

    Here is a link to a thread with a lot of pics of inserts without surrounds. I think there used to be more pics that didn't migrate well to the new site. https://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/inserts-without-the-surrounds-pics-or-advice.45405/page-2

    And here is mine, taken during non-burning season. Dang I miss this dog. https://www.hearth.com/talk/attachments/34j3psh-jpg.213071/
     
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  10. Match Girl

    Match Girl
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    Oct 10, 2018
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    Thank you tickbitty! It is helpful hearing from someone who is using the same product I'm looking at. Would you buy it all over again? Do you know if the hearth rugs replace building a hearth extension? If i leave the shroud off, do you think i could pull off that layer of fire brick to gain more height, or do i need this for the heat of the stove? Thank you!!!
     
  11. DuaeGuttae

    DuaeGuttae
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    Oct 26, 2016
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    We used to own a Lopi Revere before we moved. It’s the same firebox as the 1750i. I would think that would be a better size for you in your climate than the 1250, and a larger firebox is nice if you want to have overnight burns. We liked having the insert extend into the room. That was probably one of the main reasons we chose it (and a good sale).

    I’m not going to try to sway you towards “mindlessly convenient” as you describe it, but I will say that processing wood takes a lot of time. My husband and I enjoy it (I’d rather split wood than clean house, I admit), but it’s something to think about as you’re making your decision. Even if you buy wood, you have work with storing and loading. I wouldn’t be surprised also if you had to trim or resplit some pieces.

    Our fireplace was raised, and we framed and tiled a hearth extension in front of it. If I remember correctly, we needed a certain distance of non-combustible ember protection. We didn’t raise ours to the level of the hearth, but it was a few inches. It was a substantial weight and could not get kicked out of place. I don’t know that one of those rugs would even count as non-combustible, but with four active kids (that’s what I’ve got, too), I’d take your full space and build a hearth. A rug is too easy to move accidentally or on purpose. Since the hearth can’t be flush, raise it high enough that it’s easier to load the stove and it’s so big it can’t be overlooked and tripped on.

    I can’t really speak to using an insert without the surround. Our fireplace was 50 years old and in a basement. Though it was well cleaned, under certain weather conditions there was an odor. Thankfully our insert and surround stopped that. We did find the blower helpful in distributing heat, and I would not skip it. Ours was very quiet on the lowest setting, loud on the highest, with a whole range in the middle.

    We originally bought our stove to solve the problem of a cold basement. We really only planned for it to heat one large finished room down there where my husband had his office. The stove turned that room into everybody’s favorite place for winter, and after a couple of seasons we ended up using it 24/7 for primary heat for the whole house, though we always had the natural gas furnace for the coldest times since the stove was a bit undersized for our square footage.

    We enjoyed it and miss having a stove now that we have moved to the land of very little winter. It’s interesting to hear how much my kids miss having that place to bask.
     
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  12. Match Girl

    Match Girl
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    I bought a $60 rotary hammer at harbor freight and busted out an old broken hearth made of river rock, broken shells, and cement... It was a workout indead, but great therapy!!
     
  13. Match Girl

    Match Girl
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    DuaeGuttae:
    Thank you so much for your time!! Its fun to hear from another lady! ...re the gas.... Ugh...i know. That is the hardest part is knowing i'll be giving up convenience. My kids are real eager to help in the process of the wood.... But that is what they said about the puppy!! ..so i know i have to look at it as being all on me when i make my decision.... And i just keep coming back to the real deal! I don't think i want to sit and stare at the same perfect fire every night.... Do you have a picture of your setup that you had?
     
  14. DuaeGuttae

    DuaeGuttae
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    FAD4F194-DC53-421D-A364-748773F5ACCA.jpeg

    Sorry, it’s not the best photo, but it gives a view of the hearth extension. The rug to the side was nothing special, just to protect the carpet from debris from wood. We had enough clearance that we could fill up that wood ring if we knew that we had days of snow or rain in the forecast.

    I liked your comment about removing the hearth being therapy. I think that’s one reason I like processing wood. It’s a good stress reducer, and my results have to sit and season before being burned up. As soon as I cook dinner, it’s eaten. As soon as I do the dishes, I’m cooking the next meal. As soon as the toys are put away, some one gets out a puzzle, and the two-year-old dumps all the pieces on the floor.

    My kids help in some ways with firewood. I remember a couple of years ago spending a morning with my oldest daughter (maybe 8 at the time). My husband and I had cleaned up a cherry tree that had fallen in a friend’s yard and had hauled the wood home. Since my husband had bucked it, it was all the perfect length. My daughter and I used a little electric splitter and processed and stacked it all. It was a great morning. Most of the time, though, they’re playing or the older ones are entertaining the younger ones to keep them out of harm’s way.

    There are compressed wood blocks, by the way, an all natural product that can be used to supplement cord wood. I don’t know what’s in your area, but I’m sure other burners in “The Wood Shed” part of the forum could advise.
     
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  15. Match Girl

    Match Girl
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    DuaeGuttae-
    It's the process that I also think will be good therapy! I need activities for mindfulness... Like homemade lattes and tea with a kettle and loose leaf tea .. The process and making it your own makes it meaningful... I'm a single mom raising these kids on my own, and so I think the act of independence is symbolic to me... And a tangible way to instill that in my boys and my girls... And yes, the season of waiting.... Lol... They need a section for deep thoughts in here!!

    I did just tonight officially secure some seasoned birch. I'm thinking two full cords... Do you think i should get more? At this point, i will need to buy it and have it dumped in my driveway.
     
  16. begreen

    begreen
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    Your safest bet is to test the wood yourself before buying. 90% of "seasoned" wood sold is not. Hopefully this fellow is in the 10% but caveat emptor. You can request to test some samples of the wood off the truck before buying. It will need to be split in half to test on the freshly exposed face of the wood. (Bring a splitting maul or have one on hand.) Push the moisture meter prongs very firmly into the wood so that they penetrate deeply. If you don't have a meter then you need to test a bit more subjectively. If you press the freshly exposed face of the split against your cheek it should feel cool and dry. If it feels cold and damp, then it is and the wood is not fully seasoned. If you bang two splits together and they ring with a musical note, then they are dry. If they just go clunk, then the wood is still damp inside. Birch is ok, not as high heat content, that's why it is a better price. Oak and maple should season for 2 years after it is split and stacked.

    A hearth rug is not 'permanent' and not an acceptable hearth extension. A hearth pad that is screw anchored (at least for the heating season) in place is acceptable for an extension if it meets the insert mfg's hearth requirements.
     
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  17. Woodsplitter67

    Woodsplitter67
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    @Match Girl
    If you considering purchasing the stove. Get the wood now. I feel not having the wood on hand is a mistake. The majority of your experience you will recive from running the stove is from the fuel you put into it. Wet or damp wood makes for a poor experience, ince dry wood is a happy this is great experience. Most people purchas the stove then try to fined wood, recive poor quality/damp wood or get whats left over and then wounder why there stove dosent run well, and start to question there purchas. The best advice i can give you get ahead of the wood curve..
    May the force be with you
     
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  18. moresnow

    moresnow
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    If you have the coin to purchase wood you should easily be able to swing a moisture meter! Any box store or perhaps your harbor freight? I would go to your wood source and follow Begreens directive to a T. Split a few of the sellers offered splits. Test on the fresh exposed surface. 20% or less is your target. Do this before the seller shows up with a load of wet stuff. Where are you located? Many here are from MN. May be a possibility of someone directing you to truly seasoned fuel.
     
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  19. Match Girl

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    Thank you to all of you!!! This is so great!
    I am in Duluth.

    So, the guy said it is "split and ready to use." Does that mean i would split in two a split piece for checking it? What tool should i bring with me... A little hand saw? ...yes, i was thinking i should look into a moisture meter... Thought of checking at Menards hardware. ...i sure wish i knew someone here... Kinda intimidating on my own... But i don't want to let that stop me from going with the heat source that "sparks joy." On my way to drop the kids at school this morning, they all still want to do wood!
     
  20. moresnow

    moresnow
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    You are correct. Take a few of his "split and ready to use" splits from a few random locations in his pile. These need to be re-split. How you accomplish that is hard to say! I use a splitting axe. Fiskars X27 model to be exact. Possibly ask the seller to run a few pieces through his splitter? Or possibly he can swing a splitting axe a few times. Dunno. Anyway as described the freshly exposed surface is where you need to press the moisture meter prongs into. Firmly. Menards should have a meter.
     
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  21. tickbitty

    tickbitty
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    Sorry I didn't reply back sooner! I would probably leave the firebrick in, it will give you a little more height in the swing of your door, but I guess it's up to you. Is the back of your fireplace masonry covered with a stucco?
    Yes, I'd definitely buy this stove again and same setup etc. It's awesome. Only thing I would do differently, if $ was not an issue, would probably be to get the Revere with the prettier door (stove is pretty much the same otherwise) and I'd put in a better hearth out front instead of using the extension. Oh, and I would do a block off plate, since I never got around to that. I hear they are helpful in keeping more of your heat etc. I never managed to make one, yet.

    As far as wood, I think Birch dries pretty fast! We cut and split some of our own wood but end up buying a couple few cords each year and have found a good guy. The wood he sells is generally good to go but I vastly prefer his "mixed hardwood" loads (lot of maple, poplar, oak, a bit of unfortunate gum) to the more expensive "all oak" cords, because the oak usually isn't quite dry enough, and will need to be stacked and wait a bit before using, while the mixed cords are good to go. Try a couple different half cords or truckloads from different places and you will see which ones burn better for you. If it's not ready to go, it's not wasted you just stack it and wait until it's ready.
     
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  22. kennyp2339

    kennyp2339
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    So a couple things, beautiful fire place area, the insert your describing should be excellent. As far as additional costs, please no matter what, spring for the insulated heavy duty liner (its worth it) and a block off plate, if the installers say that they will but insulation in instead, make sure there using a rock wool product and not the fiberglass stuff, also a to chimney cap will not be as efficient as a true block off plate in the upper fire chamber area, because the heat does migrate up and absorbs into the masonry (its a waste because you want it going into the living space)
    as far as wood supply, this guy is up by you, if he's near you (big state) i'd use him for wood supply
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMHIkjQ5G-ywZt2bAmSzmvQ
     
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  23. Match Girl

    Match Girl
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    Thank you guys!

    I am going to ask the guys at the stove store about whether they will install a block off plate... I know they have some sort of seal at the top of the chimney... Is the plate still important for a chimney In the center of your house?

    Tickbitty: i just love the picture of your fireplace with the sweet dog in front... It looks like it should be In a magazine!... I hope I can create a cozy space like that!

    I ended up purchasing a load of mixed wood consisting of birch, maple, and oak... It makes a great ringing sound when knocked together, Like a wonderful percussion instrument! ...so I'm hopeful it will burn well since I'm a complete beginner!

    My kids and i put together a little lean to off the side of our shed with some recycled materials so we have a home for our dry wood. Now i need to figure out how to rebuild that hearth in the next couple weeks before they call to install the 1750i! I'm not quite sure how I'm doing that yet!
    20181013_170356.jpg Screenshot_2018-10-22-00-24-32.png
     
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  24. Graye

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    @Match Girl , how did everything turn out? I've read the entirety of this thread and I really want to know how the story ends!
     
  25. Match Girl

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    I was literally just thinking about all of you at hearth.com!... I'm looking forward real soon to unveiling the end results! But I'm not quite done. I braved it and poured a new concrete Hearth to extend the height from inside the fire box. Today I am Sealing the Slate that will be the Hearth extension near the surface of the floor level. I'm hoping everything will be timed right, and the stove store will be ready for me when I'm ready for them!.. so check in soon, cuz I'll definitely post a picture! And thanks for asking!
     

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