Wood to Natural Gas Conversion...Need Advice on the Whole Project...Thanks!

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jstarzy

New Member
Nov 2, 2018
3
Central NJ
Hi All...

I appreciate any help!

We live in Central NJ and have a functional wood burning fireplace with a good draft that was built with the house in 1970. The chores and soot smell associated with wood has worn me down and I'm considering converting to natural gas. Here are some of the conditions:
-- We have a speaker mounted 10" above the top opening of the fireplace and the bottom edge of our plasma TV is about 4 inches above the speaker or about 14" above the top of the fireplace opening
-- I have easy access to a natural gas supply in the basement below the fireplace. I'd need to convert an elbow to a T and add a shut off and branch on the line already feeding the furnace
-- The fireplace has an ash pit in the back center of the fireplace floor that runs to the basement wall below. The ash pit door in the basement is a very manageable 8 feet or so from where the T on the new gas supply line would be located

So:

-- Because of the TV and speaker above the fireplace opening that are not moving (it's a nice symmetrical home theater) I've ruled out an efficient insert that would seem to require non-combustible space directly above the fireplace opening
-- For the same reasons as above and for smell and health reasons, I've ruled out a ventless log set
-- This leaves a vented log set that I know would be primarily for looks and not heat as I'm reading most heat goes up the chimney, just like burning wood and that's ok, I'm not trying to heat the house with this log set. However, Hargrove makes a "hybrid" that claims to be a vented set that's more efficient and does radiate heat out of the firebox.

Questions:

Installation:
-- Is the conversion a reasonable DIY job for a very handy homeowner that's done previous, simple NG work?
-- Is there a middle ground of me doing some of the installation to save cost but having a pro do some too for safety reasons?
-- Can the ash pit safely be used to run the gas line up to the firebox?
-- Is an accessible floor mounted NG shut off (decorative key-type) near the firebox necessary or only desirable?
-- Can 1/2" yellow stainless flex be used safely from the rigid supply shut off, to the "key" shut off, then across 5' of the basement and through the ash pit up to the firebox where it would be safely secured to an in-firebox shutoff at the rear of the fireplace floor. Depending on the log set, this is where flex or tubing would connect the log set burner

Equipment:
-- Am I on the right track to use a vented log set in my situation? Will the Hargove hybrid or similar, create too much of a heat hazard with the speaker and TV mounted right above the top of the fireplace opening on the brick above?
-- Is an electronic pilot with remote control unit worth the high increase in cost over a standing pilot? (Seems about a cost increase of 40-50% over standing pilot)
-- Any recommendations on log set manufacturer and model for the DIY'r. There seems like a ton of suppliers and models are out there. Peterson and Napoleon seem top shelf but Emberglow and Pleasant Hearth seem the value suppliers.

I's like to be at about $1000-$1500 DIY including a new set of doors at about $300. Possible? What would this cost done turn-key by a pro shop?

I know this is long winded but any help would be great. Thank you.

Jim.
 

DAKSY

Full Time RVer
Staff member
Dec 2, 2008
9,009
Wherever we're parked
Before you tap into your gas line, take some measurements on the length & diameters of the pipe coming in from the meter. Gas works on VOLUME & if you don't have enough of it, one or more of your gas burning appliances may not work right. If you only have 1/2" line running from the meter to your furnace, it probably won't carry enough gas to support your gas log. You may have to increase the run to 3/4" diameter pipe to where you want to tap in. Once you DO tap into the line, the first thing to add is a shut-off & then a sediment trap (aka drip tee). From the tee, you CAN run 1/2" CSS flex-pipe up thru the clean out to another shut-off & then to the gas log set...
 

jstarzy

New Member
Nov 2, 2018
3
Central NJ
Before you tap into your gas line, take some measurements on the length & diameters of the pipe coming in from the meter. Gas works on VOLUME & if you don't have enough of it, one or more of your gas burning appliances may not work right. If you only have 1/2" line running from the meter to your furnace, it probably won't carry enough gas to support your gas log. You may have to increase the run to 3/4" diameter pipe to where you want to tap in. Once you DO tap into the line, the first thing to add is a shut-off & then a sediment trap (aka drip tee). From the tee, you CAN run 1/2" CSS flex-pipe up thru the clean out to another shut-off & then to the gas log set...

Bob....THANKS!

I have 1" from the meter. The 1" is tapped with a 1/2" reducer supplying the BBQ and proceeding to the dryer . The 1" proceeds to the range (just surface burners, the oven is electric) where it is tapped at a 3/4" reducer. The mainline 1" Proceeds to the HWH tapped with a 1/2" reducer. The 1" mainline proceeds to a 3/4" reducer with no tap. The now 3/4" mainline proceeds a 1/2" reducer to a union and shut off, then the 96% high efficiency furnace and terminates there.

Based on your suggestion, I think I will disassemble the 90 degree elbow at the 1/2" HWH branch and re-fit it with a T, running one side to the HWH where it goes to flex and a drip T and using the other side of the new T for the log set. This would tap the log set off the 1" main and share the branch with the HWH. Mechanically, this wouldn't be too difficult.

Do you think this would be ok and supply enough NG for the HWH and the Log set simultaneously?

Removing the 3/4 to 1/2 reducer and substituting with a T for tapping would be better for flow, however, mechanically this would be a bear.

I'd take the new 8' or so flex 1/2 branch and run it to a floor mounted shut off with key and then a drip and then more 1/2" flex, about 6', up through the ash pit and secure the fitting to the floor of the firebox (no shutoff in the firebox as there would be one on the floor next to the fireplace with very easy access). I would connect the log set to the secured flex fitting.

Please let me know what you think?

Thanks so much!

Jim.
 

jstarzy

New Member
Nov 2, 2018
3
Central NJ
And...the whole length of the mainline is about 10' where the turn to the furnace is made. The tap for the HWH and the log set would be at about 7' from the meter.
 

DAKSY

Full Time RVer
Staff member
Dec 2, 2008
9,009
Wherever we're parked
Your gas supply is adequate. Why do you think "Removing the 3/4 to 1/2 reducer and substituting with a T for tapping would be better for flow, however, mechanically this would be a bear.?" Down near the attachment to the furnace, there is usually a union. That makes disassembly & reassembly easy. Turn off the gas at the meter. Break the line at the union & remove everything back to the reducer. Replace the reducer with a reducing TEE & put everything back together. It will all line up. Make sure you've got (2) - 15" pipe wrenches & some pipe sealer & you'll be good to go.
 

k0wtz

Member
Nov 30, 2010
193
missouri
bob i am all gas that is gas furnace, gas heating stove and gas water heater all running off about a 50f run of 1/2 propane gas. i wonder is propane higher or less pressure than n/g? bob