Wilkening Doors?

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Swamp_Yankee

Member
Oct 18, 2018
71
Hunterdon County, NJ
I did some searching and found some discussion of Wilkening fireplaces and doors but not much firsthand knowledge:


This is our fireplace and I've been debating on whether or not to install an insert for a while:

1605575475814.png

The fact of the matter is I'm basically what I would term as a "recreational" wood burner at this point. When I first started burning wood when we bought our first house nearly 13 years ago, woodburning was survival. My wife and I were newly married and pretty broke and heating oil was approaching $5 a gallon. I bought an Englander 28-3500 used for $300 and it saved me THOUSANDS over the 10 years we owned that house. I scrounged all of my wood and burned 24/7 through the season. My personal best was a $25.00 oil bill as we were on automatic fill and the company would just come out whenever the computer told them too. That was in the middle of a severe cold snap too! Fast forward to today, we have been in our current house for three years now. As you can see we have a beautiful and well built masonry fireplace that we use quite a bit. However, a few things have changed-we now have three young daughters as opposed to the two we had in the old house, I have a job that though it is close to home, takes a lot more of my time (but it pays a lot better), and finally the house has a Buderus G215 Logano oil boiler with a 2107 Logamatic controller. Long story short, I have less time, more money, and I'm using less oil. What hasn't changed is that I love burning wood and everything associated with it-cutting, splitting, stacking, etc...all of it from getting up early and heading out into the woods with the chainsaw, hauling out rounds and splitting them to settling down in front of a crackling fire with cold beer in hand is an escape from my desk job and the real world.

That's a long way of saying that I'm not willing to give up this view and the ability to operate the fireplace openly by installing an insert or freestanding stove. However, I DEFINITELY want to get rid of the hideous 1970s Glassfyre doors and ugly gold accents! It seems that Wilkening is really the only company out there that makes a true gasketed door, or at least its the only one I can find. I would be curious to hear some firsthand accounts or at least impressions of them. I like the fact that Wilkening offers the option of ceramic glass so that we can operate with doors open or closed, and the sealed doors will keep out drafts when we are not operating it. This is the model (Ultimate Seal) we're looking at:

1605579049185.png
 

PaulOinMA

Minister of Fire
Oct 20, 2018
1,035
MA
I had an old school Wilkening.

Now have a Lopi insert and couldn't be happier.

BTW, I lived in Hunterdon county 1986 - 2003. Flemington, Raritan Township, and Kingwood Township. Really liked Hunterdon.

BIL/SIL in Raritan Twp.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,667
central pa
I did some searching and found some discussion of Wilkening fireplaces and doors but not much firsthand knowledge:


This is our fireplace and I've been debating on whether or not to install an insert for a while:

View attachment 267017

The fact of the matter is I'm basically what I would term as a "recreational" wood burner at this point. When I first started burning wood when we bought our first house nearly 13 years ago, woodburning was survival. My wife and I were newly married and pretty broke and heating oil was approaching $5 a gallon. I bought an Englander 28-3500 used for $300 and it saved me THOUSANDS over the 10 years we owned that house. I scrounged all of my wood and burned 24/7 through the season. My personal best was a $25.00 oil bill as we were on automatic fill and the company would just come out whenever the computer told them too. That was in the middle of a severe cold snap too! Fast forward to today, we have been in our current house for three years now. As you can see we have a beautiful and well built masonry fireplace that we use quite a bit. However, a few things have changed-we now have three young daughters as opposed to the two we had in the old house, I have a job that though it is close to home, takes a lot more of my time (but it pays a lot better), and finally the house has a Buderus G215 Logano oil boiler with a 2107 Logamatic controller. Long story short, I have less time, more money, and I'm using less oil. What hasn't changed is that I love burning wood and everything associated with it-cutting, splitting, stacking, etc...all of it from getting up early and heading out into the woods with the chainsaw, hauling out rounds and splitting them to settling down in front of a crackling fire with cold beer in hand is an escape from my desk job and the real world.

That's a long way of saying that I'm not willing to give up this view and the ability to operate the fireplace openly by installing an insert or freestanding stove. However, I DEFINITELY want to get rid of the hideous 1970s Glassfyre doors and ugly gold accents! It seems that Wilkening is really the only company out there that makes a true gasketed door, or at least its the only one I can find. I would be curious to hear some firsthand accounts or at least impressions of them. I like the fact that Wilkening offers the option of ceramic glass so that we can operate with doors open or closed, and the sealed doors will keep out drafts when we are not operating it. This is the model (Ultimate Seal) we're looking at:

View attachment 267025
In my opinion a waste of money. Just nowhere near the benifits they claim
 

Swamp_Yankee

Member
Oct 18, 2018
71
Hunterdon County, NJ
I had an old school Wilkening. Now have Lopi insert and couldn't be happier. BTW, I lived in Hunterdon county 1986 - 2003. Flemington, Raritan Township, and Kingwood Township. Really liked Hunterdon. BIL/SIL in Raritan Twp.

I think we may have chatted about this before-I pop in and out of the forums now and then. We are up in the northwest-Bethlehem Township. I wouldn't live anywhere else in New Jersey. If could live anywhere in the country I'd' choose Aroostook County Maine. Did you have a masonry fireplace with Wilkening doors or one of their manufactured units with the vents, etc...?

In my opinion a waste of money. Just nowhere near the benifits they claim

I'm definitely not expecting to heat the house in any meaningful way beyond the living room. Just want to pull less heat out of the house when operating the fireplace as well as when its not operating.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,667
central pa
I think we may have chatted about this before-I pop in and out of the forums now and then. We are up in the northwest-Bethlehem Township. I wouldn't live anywhere else in New Jersey. If could live anywhere in the country I'd' choose Aroostook County Maine. Did you have a masonry fireplace with Wilkening doors or one of their manufactured units with the vents, etc...?



I'm definitely not expecting to heat the house in any meaningful way beyond the living room. Just want to pull less heat out of the house when operating the fireplace as well as when its not operating.
If it limits the air enough to make a difference it will turn your fireplace into a creosote factory
 
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PaulOinMA

Minister of Fire
Oct 20, 2018
1,035
MA
I was one of their manufactured units: Wilkening Ultra Great insert. As Ben posted, it was a creosote factory.

I burn at only evenings. Due to the layout of the house, an insert here is only to heat the den and kitchen with the French doors to the living room closed (used to be the dining room for the previous homeowners ... we had to flip them). Both the den and kitchen have large footprints and the den has a lot of volume as it is three steps down from the kitchen. Bay window on one side of the den on the front of the house. Also had French doors at the other end to the porch that might as well just be open. :)

A little insert is perfect for what I use it for. Sounds like dropping down a liner and getting a small insert would be what you want, too.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,791
South Puget Sound, WA
Does the fireplace have a built-in outside air supply or could one be added?
 
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Swamp_Yankee

Member
Oct 18, 2018
71
Hunterdon County, NJ
Does the fireplace have a built-in outside air supply or could one be added?

It does not-I suppose anything is possible, but adding one would be difficult to say the least. This is a site built masonry fireplace that is at least 70-80 years old based on what I know about the house and when the living room was added.
 

Swamp_Yankee

Member
Oct 18, 2018
71
Hunterdon County, NJ
If it limits the air enough to make a difference it will turn your fireplace into a creosote factory

I'm guessing that the reason for this would be due to the fact that putting the doors on and regulating the air while still having the same massive 13x13 clay tile flue would make for a poor draft that would allow flue gases to cool too much before they exited the chimney? If so, what if in addition to the doors, a block off plate (fabricated from heavy steel) with a flue collar was installed and a liner (8"?) was fitted? Essentially the fireplace would be turned into one giant masonry insert with the difference being that with the Wilkening doors I would have a 24" x 40" viewing area as opposed to a much smaller viewing area through an insert door. Again, not expecting a large amount of heat, just the ability to burn and enjoy a large viewing area without sucking large amounts of conditioned air up and out the chimney. However, one other question I would have would be with a smaller flue, would burning with the doors open be out of the question because the potential to have a runaway fire (like leaving a stove door open) be too great because of the stronger draft? As a final note, look, I get it, this is not a conventional request and I'm sure some are reading this thread saying to themselves "just buy a damn insert or live with the inefficiency." I can't help but ask the question and explore the possibilities.
 

webby3650

Master of Fire
Sep 2, 2008
11,061
Indiana
Stoll makes a much better looking door. I would suggest forgetting about a door that seals up perfectly and invest in a lock top damper and a door that looks awesome. Take a look at stoll doors. They offer ceramic glass, but it’s very pricey. You can almost spend as much on a quality door as an insert if you go with ceramic glass.. Some new inserts have a huge viewing glass. The new stoves from Lopi have an incredible fire view! If you are going to burn wood, why not heat the place too?
 
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Swamp_Yankee

Member
Oct 18, 2018
71
Hunterdon County, NJ
Stoll makes a much better looking door. I would suggest forgetting about a door that seals up perfectly and invest in a lock top damper and a door that looks awesome. Take a look at stoll doors.

I've looked at Stoll but don't really like their styles. Even the doors they call "rustic" are too ornate and detailed. What I like about the Wilkening doors is their simple, utilitarian appearance-just plain black.

Some new inserts have a huge viewing glass. The new stoves from Lopi have an incredible fire view! If you are going to burn wood, why not heat the place too?

I suppose we've just been spoiled by the full fireplace view all these years. I was looking at the Montlake 300 by Ironstrike for a while because if I'm going to do an insert I do want it to protrude for two reasons-first I just like the look and second the warming top is functional. I'm just hung up on the fact that our viewing area would go from 24" x 40" to 11" x 16". Maybe I just need to keep looking at other insert brands?
 

webby3650

Master of Fire
Sep 2, 2008
11,061
Indiana
I've looked at Stoll but don't really like their styles. Even the doors they call "rustic" are too ornate and detailed. What I like about the Wilkening doors is their simple, utilitarian appearance-just plain black.



I suppose we've just been spoiled by the full fireplace view all these years. I was looking at the Montlake 300 by Ironstrike for a while because if I'm going to do an insert I do want it to protrude for two reasons-first I just like the look and second the warming top is functional. I'm just hung up on the fact that our viewing area would go from 24" x 40" to 11" x 16". Maybe I just need to keep looking at other insert brands?
I get it. It’s hard to beat the view of an open fire. That being said, I don’t see the reason for ceramic glass, why shut the doors at all.
 

Hobbler

New Member
May 12, 2020
9
Blue Hill, Maine
Stoll makes a much better looking door. I would suggest forgetting about a door that seals up perfectly and invest in a lock top damper and a door that looks awesome. Take a look at stoll doors. They offer ceramic glass, but it’s very pricey. You can almost spend as much on a quality door as an insert if you go with ceramic glass.. Some new inserts have a huge viewing glass. The new stoves from Lopi have an incredible fire view! If you are going to burn wood, why not heat the place too?

can you talk more about a ‘lock top damper’?

thank you.
 

Hobbler

New Member
May 12, 2020
9
Blue Hill, Maine
Thanks for posting that.
Does that type of damper work as well as glass doors at saving heat?
I get that the damper at the top of the chimney is less expensive.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,667
central pa
Thanks for posting that.
Does that type of damper work as well as glass doors at saving heat?
I get that the damper at the top of the chimney is less expensive.
When the fireplace is not in use yes. When it is in use there really isn't much you can do when it is burning it is going to suck massive amounts of heated air out of the house
 

Swamp_Yankee

Member
Oct 18, 2018
71
Hunterdon County, NJ
All very interesting discussion here which I appreciate. The more I think about this, however, the more I am asking myself the following question: If an airtight door with a heavy frame, fiberglass gasketing all around, pyro-ceramic glass and an adjustable air control is fitted to the front of a masonry fireplace, how is that different than installing an insert? Does the firebox with its new airtight door not just become an "insert" albeit with a much larger firebox and a much larger loading door? The only thing I can think of at that point is the chimney. If I were to install an insert in the same fireplace, the first order of business would be a liner because the huge 13x13 clay liner would be much too large to vent the insert through. What if I were to install a 10" (or smaller) liner in an effort to keep the velocity of the flue gases up. With a regulated air supply and a properly sized flue would the whole thing not function identically to a basic, non-EPA wood stove? Obviously the main difference would be that any heat imparted to the room would be radiating from the glass and/or the stonework on the face of the fireplace, and unlike an insert, there would be no blower to carry the heat further into the room. I'm not trying to start trouble with the question, I'd just like to see if what I'm stringing together here makes at least some sense.
 

PaulOinMA

Minister of Fire
Oct 20, 2018
1,035
MA
There will be a large difference between a Wilkening and an current insert and liner. My Wilkening insert had to heat my entire fireplace and depositing large amounts of creosote.
 

Swamp_Yankee

Member
Oct 18, 2018
71
Hunterdon County, NJ
There will be a large difference between a Wilkening and an current insert and liner. My Wilkening insert had to heat my entire fireplace and depositing large amounts of creosote.

So you had one of these-or just had a set of their doors on a regular masonry fireplace?

 

PaulOinMA

Minister of Fire
Oct 20, 2018
1,035
MA
I had the Ultra Great insert, as posted above.