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chris.brock

Wood burning fire place question, also non political, wood burning related

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My neighbor cut down this huge willow and I took the wood. Drifter basically called me an idiot for messing around with willow. I have to admit he was right. That wood sucks, but I've nurtured this stuff for more than 2 years and it's somewhat burnable. I've got a shitload of it plus lots of wood at my cottage.

 

We've got a gas fireplace at home we don't use. The inspector disconnected it too, lol. It's inset into the fireplace in this 40 year old house.

 

My question is, would it be a good idea to pull the gas unit out and go back to an old school fireplace? Will I actually gain heat with a fireplace or will it just draw in outside air into this drafty house? Ambiance is cool but I want a return.

 

My brother put in a high end, wood burning insert with a blower into his fireplace in his old house. It cost $4k. Even if he cuts his own wood he'll never recoup that cost. I'm not doing that.

Edited by chris.brock

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Lol. Wood burning related, I like that. Funny, cause we were in the exact same situation in the house we recently moved out of. House had this gigantic fieldstone hearth with a tiny gas fireplace insert. Looked incredibly stupid and we never used it. I wanted to pull the insert and go back to wood burning and inquired, was told by a professional that I'd have to redo the liner and possibly the chimney if I remember correctly. I didn't really believe him.

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Chris you will gain ambient heat standing in front of the open hearth fireplace and it will eventually draught good hot air from the room up and out the stack. There is zero ROI, actually it will eventually cost on unrecoverable fuel that you use to heat the home for primary heat. Like I sarcastically said on a similar thread tonight get the "Fireplace Channel" and watch it for ambiance. If you want to have a nice fire and cuddle on the Bear skin rug, not bare skin, go for it, actually bare skin is good. You most likely won't be covered for a house fire if you fire up that open hearth fire. My wife insisted on having our Gas fireplace that has been here for 16 years inspected and serviced by our local dealer. The kid said he needed to put a tag on the gas valve as the thermopile was a whatever ohm vs. a what ever ohm and wasn't to code. I told him it was the thermopile his Mother sold me last year and he could either leave my place vertically or horizontally. He could report the violation to the Ministry but they have no authority to arbitrarily lock your gas supply, and I educated him. I asked the poor kid what's going to happen to my grand children here when sub zero temps hit and 1 or more die of hypothermia tonight. They can't just lock out the supply valve but will tell you they can. They can write up a violation and file it, if not repaired in so many days then they report that to the Ministry and they must issue a lock out order.

 

Man I have turned into the mean old man!

 

Willow is good for weight in the back of a 2WD pick up.

 

edit: what exactly is wrong with gas fireplace? They want to sell you a new one. This year a small piece of emery cloth on the thermocouples got our 16 year old gas unit working. PM me if you wish.

Edited by Old Ironmaker

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Weeds, yes in order to meet code today the cost to upgrade to a new chimney liner, transition box, new insert etc. can make wood burning very costly. A retrofit can cost up to several thousand dollars. If used as primary heat and NG or Propane isn't available it may be economical vs. electric in the long term. That is if your Insurance provider covers loss due to fire if wood burning is the primary source for heat. There are Insurance providers that will and there are some that won't cover loss due to fire. They can get ridiculous. Even though I didn't have a woodstove in our place during inspection they insisted I remove the stack that wasn't being used. Don't ask me why because they didn't have an answer other than it's policy. I should have left it there as the stove was in my shed, "just in case" and I would rather not freeze to death during a freak storm and take my chances on a house fire. It is important to confirm coverage first before making that investment.

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Chris, the house we are currently renting has a wood burning fireplace and we use quite a bit. It is in the coldest room of the house which is the family room above the garage. I must say, it warms up the room quite well and does it quick despite the ceiling being 11 feet high!

 

Can't beat the sound of crackling wood and the natural heat.

Edited by huzzsaba

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Huzzaba,

 

I think Chris is talking about using the unit as an open hearth fireplace, not a closed wood burning insert like you might have. Yours may provide heat to the home whereas a open hearth unit "sucks" heat from a building envelope. The heat loss created can be very high. If yours is not a enclosed stove with or without a glass window you may feel ambient heat in the room but it actually draughts heat from the dwelling as I have explained above. It feels nice but is not economical in the least.

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So the gas flue goes up the existing fireplace chimney ? If that's the case, I'd get a WETT inspector to see if it passes muster. Would probably mean having to remove gas liner first. Might be easier to just get another gas fireplace vs going wood. Insurance isn't a problem with fireplaces as long as it passes inspection iirc.

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Huzzaba,

 

I think Chris is talking about using the unit as an open hearth fireplace, not a closed wood burning insert like you might have. Yours may provide heat to the home whereas a open hearth unit "sucks" heat from a building envelope. The heat loss created can be very high. If yours is not a enclosed stove with or without a glass window you may feel ambient heat in the room but it actually draughts heat from the dwelling as I have explained above. It feels nice but is not economical in the least.

Ours is the open type fireplace with a small mesh curtain. Not the one with the door that closes and has small window . Not sure of its inefficiencies, but the rooms it is in is always cold despite the heat being on in the house. on the colder nights, the fireplace does the job.

Edited by huzzsaba

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Huzzaba,

 

That Fireplace is draughting heat away from the rest of your home and sending it up the chimney.

Thanks for letting me know. I didn't realize that it's that inefficient.

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Thanks for letting me know. I didn't realize that it's that inefficient.

 

Yup....that's why it's the coldest room in the house. Warm house air rising up the flu and cold air replacing it. At least until you light a fire, then it will warm the room, but most of the heat is going up the chimney.

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I didn't realize there was a liner up the chimney I would have to remove. If it sucks heat out of my house, that doesn't make sense either, I'm not doing it.

 

OI- the gas was disconnected because I plumbed it in off of a gas line I shouldn't have, I think it's fine, it's just not up to code.

 

 

 

Does anybody want to buy some well seasoned hard wood, Oakville area? $350 for a bush cord. :)

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The house I bought last year has a wood stove insert with a glass window. My wife had a fireplace on her must have list so this is perfect. Heats the main part of the house very well despite being fairly small, especially this time of year plus gives you that warm glow. I haven't had to turn on the heat yet, plus I cut my own wood so for me it's worth it. Of course I didn't pay to have it installed....

 

Ironically enough, the original owners had a wood insert, switched to gas then back to wood. I guess they didn't like the gas as much.

 

An actual open faced fireplace is just plain drafty and like others have said will suck warm air out the chimney.

 

And don't waste your time on willow for burning.

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I have both gas AND wood fireplaces .. the wood is an airtight insert that draws air from outside .. it also has a fan to to move the heat from the fire box to the room above.. The basement can be cold even with a hot fire due to transferring of heat.. The air temperature from the register gets to 50c but I have a drafty house so it doesn't cover the whole place .. I don't pay for wood but if I did it wouldn't make financial sense to heat with it. Insulating the house better and making it a gas fireplace is the way to go but I like the tradition of wood..

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huzz.. close the damn damper!! Get a light out and look up the flue, you'll find a lever to close the metal flapper. Just remember to open it before you light a fire. This style of fireplace worked for centuries and still do!

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Lottsa good info here. Thanx guys. I would like to share my experiences with burning wood for 30 years. When I first built my house 34 years ago I installed a "Heritage" air tight wood stove in the main floor family room. It created so much heat on the main floor I would have to open the patio door 2' on a cold -15C night. The 2 nd floor was comfy at 20C. After a couple of years I moved the stove to the basement family room which proved to be much more comfortable. The basement level was comfortable, the main floor was also comfy. The 2 nd floor was however a little cool. I believe in the old saying - warm basement, warm house. I also exchanged 6 of my 2'X4' basement ceiling tiles with open egg crate type ceiling tiles to allow more heat to rise & warm the floor of the main level. I would suggest you install a stove or fireplace (insert) at the lowest level of the dwelling. I burnt 12 - 15 face cords of hardwood for over 30 years. I was able to scrounge a lot of it for free, also bought a couple of bush lots from the MNR over the years for cheap wood. If I had to purchase this amount of wood over the years it would have been very expensive. I might has well just turn up the thermostat. A couple of negatives with burning wood in my airtight are.

My high efficiency furnace was not coming on, therefore the electronic air filter was not functioning & neither was the humidifier. Our house was very dry, which is not healthy either. Also the dust in the house created by burning wood was horrendous. My wife could dust furniture twice a day & I could still see dust on the table tops.

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huzz.. close the damn damper!! Get a light out and look up the flue, you'll find a lever to close the metal flapper. Just remember to open it before you light a fire. This style of fireplace worked for centuries and still do!

 

Damper stays closed when not in use :) . I think any room above the garage are typical for being colder in winter and warmer in summer. Also that room is the furthest from from the heating/ac fan.

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I still can't quote here.. but as to wormdunkers post. Anyone that is burning wood should be selecting fan "on" (vs auto) on their furnace controller so that the circulation fan stays on and filters the air throughout the house. Also allows you to use your humidifier...

Edited by irishfield

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When we bought our cottage it had a wood insert in an old masonary fireplace. I was told the same kind of thing. The old stove was not good (not insurance if we used it) and the flue was not to code to convert to open fireplace. We had nat gas to the street. We could use the flue for a gas fireplace with the dual stainless liners (one for air in and one for exhaust out). We went for a Napolean gas one with blower and thermostat. We use it for heat when we are there and at 5 degrees when we are not (backup to baseboard electrics set at 7). Only thing I would do differently is buy a bigger one. I went cheap at the time. Thought I was saving money. I didn't realize the Liberals would make the baseboard heaters eat into my reiterment plans so much.

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Are you back home Wormdunker? If you are give me a ring please. I feel good enough to help you finish that basement we talked about TWO years ago due to my health rebirth.

 

Huzzaba just closing the damper when not in use doesn't mean it is well sealed. You shouldn't be using that fireplace if saving money on energy is important to you. I don't know anyone that isn't concerned with heating bills, even some of my friends that are very well off like Wormdunker. Close the damper and then cut to size a few sections of the blue closed cell rigid insulation and stuff it in there tightly. I would also cut some R-24 Roxul and stuff that up the flue as well. I don't think you will be taking on the expense of installing a air tight insert especially since you rent. Maybe the owner will as it is an improvement to his rental unit, you can only ask right? Rooms above garages are notorious for being the coldest rooms in the home. Builders never provide enough and sometimes NO insulations in the floor. We found zero insulation in the closet area of a pals townhouse in Hamilton that was to be the nursery for the new baby. Not a huge repair, just removed the ceiling of the garage and spray foamed between the joists. It became the warmest and coolest room in the home after insulated properly.

 

Canuck unless something has changed the double stainless liners are there to control cooling of the hot waste gas going up and out of the stack (chimney) to outside of the home without the moisture in the gas going to a liquid that causes all manner of problems in the combustion process. Combustion air is provided to the hearth from within the building envelope. We don't want freezing cold air to overcool the stack.

Edited by Old Ironmaker

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