Is soapstone insert bad for occasional Soapstone

  • 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.

Gerri San

New Member
Oct 11, 2018
12
Warwick, RI
I am looking into a fireplace insert (zero tolerance fireplace) but only plan to use the insert for fires a few times a week. Am concerned reading the Clydesdale manual that I would have to do a warm up fire each time to warm up the soapstone if it is cold start (wouldn't this generate a lot of creosote?). I want the fire for ambiance not as a continual heat source. Would I be better with a cast iron insert like hi-300 or jotul? Appreciate any insight as it is a big expense and I want to get it right.

Also my flue is 5-1/2 inches...don't I need a minimum of 6 inches, especially for a zero clearance fireplace?

Thanks in advance for any advice.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
24,947
central pa
I am looking into a fireplace insert (zero tolerance fireplace) but only plan to use the insert for fires a few times a week. Am concerned reading the Clydesdale manual that I would have to do a warm up fire each time to warm up the soapstone if it is cold start (wouldn't this generate a lot of creosote?). I want the fire for ambiance not as a continual heat source. Would I be better with a cast iron insert like hi-300 or jotul? Appreciate any insight as it is a big expense and I want to get it right.

Also my flue is 5-1/2 inches...don't I need a minimum of 6 inches, especially for a zero clearance fireplace?

Thanks in advance for any advice.
First off what fireplace do you have? Most zero clearance units do not allow inserts to be used in them
 

Gerri San

New Member
Oct 11, 2018
12
Warwick, RI
First off what fireplace do you have? Most zero clearance units do not allow inserts to be used in them
IMG_20181003_123103.jpg
 

Gerri San

New Member
Oct 11, 2018
12
Warwick, RI
It is a pretty large fireplace...A hearth store came by to measure and said the Clydesdale would just fit inside it. Apparently the flue is a strange 5-1/2 inch rectangle but he thought it could fit the liner (which doesn't make sense to me and the liner is 6inches)...I am beginning to wonder if I would be better replacing the old wire curtain with glass doors and keeping it as a fireplace for occasional fires. There is also about an inch of separation in the back of the firebox so not sure if that is an issue.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
24,947
central pa
It is a pretty large fireplace...A hearth store came by to measure and said the Clydesdale would just fit inside it. Apparently the flue is a strange 5-1/2 inch rectangle but he thought it could fit the liner (which doesn't make sense to me and the liner is 6inches)...I am beginning to wonder if I would be better replacing the old wire curtain with glass doors and keeping it as a fireplace for occasional fires. There is also about an inch of separation in the back of the firebox so not sure if that is an issue.
Just because the insert fits doesnt mean it can be put in there. We need to figure out first if you do have a zero clearance fireplace. And if you do what make and model it is. From there we can look up the manual and see if an insert can be put in there.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
88,845
South Puget Sound, WA
The 5 1/2" measurement might just be the damper opening width and not the flue size. Is there a metal chimney on this fireplace?
 

SculptureOfSound

Feeling the Heat
Sep 9, 2017
372
Wisconsin, USA
I don't really understand the point of soapstone as firebrick as it is used in the Clydesdale. It will take extra long to warm up, but then the heat that it later releases will mostly go up the flue. Also, it acts as an insulator within the firebox and prevents the heat from as easily reaching the cast iron shell, again meaning more heat up the flue.

It should hold heat in the firebox longer which would make reloads on coals easier, but that's about the only benefit I can imagine.
 

Gerri San

New Member
Oct 11, 2018
12
Warwick, RI
Brick exterior chimney. IMG_20181003_131948.jpg I am going to the town hall tomorrow to try to get more info on this 30 year old fireplace, if it exists. We didn't build the house so I don't know the brand and neither the chimney sweep or hearth store tech recognized it. The hearth store tech is the one who told it was a zero clearance fireplace. (I have more reading to do to find out what that means).

Also going to get a level 2 inspection (learned about that from reading the info on this site). Will be using a certified chimney sweep in RI. The damper size is 4 inches and the flue on the bottom is 5-1/2 rectangular.

Appreciate your input tremendously, and will keep you updated as I get more information.
 

Gerri San

New Member
Oct 11, 2018
12
Warwick, RI
Your comment on the soapstone makes a lot of sense. Seems soapstone would actually be the worst choice for intermittent fires in a flush insert. The Clydesdale manual says whenever you start it cold you have to do a small fire first (which they warm will generate a lot of creosote).
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
88,845
South Puget Sound, WA
Looks like there are multiple flues in that chimney.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
24,947
central pa
Please take some pics of the inside of the firebox
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
24,947
central pa
That is definitely a zc unit but it is very odd that it is in a mulit flue masonry chimney
 

Gerri San

New Member
Oct 11, 2018
12
Warwick, RI
It does seem to be odd and the rectangular 5-1/2 flue seems odd. I think for safety getting it inspected level 2 is the next step. We do use it for fires several times a year so even if it turns out that an insert is not possible (which sounds like a real possibility), I would get glass doors put on and enjoy it occasionally as a fireplace still. Thank you so much for your help and I will update my post as I get more information. Maybe it can help someone in a similar situation.

You don't know how close we were to having the flush mount Ckydesdale installed. Am so thankful I found this site.