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Converting to 'real' fireplace...

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  • Dec 23rd, 2006 1:39 am
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[OP]
Deal Addict
Sep 4, 2003
1850 posts
9 upvotes

Converting to 'real' fireplace...

Any fireplace guys on RFD?

We have a gas fireplace in our 3 year old home, its one of those predominantly 'asthetic' fireplaces....I've put a blower fan in it recently to get some heat out of it...but its pretty much useless for that. I think the people that built the house went cheap on the units.

What we'd like to do is to retrofit a real 'wood burning' fireplace instead.

Can this be done? Would it be a good idea? Does anyone have a 'real wood burning' unit and they advise against it.

We love having a 'real fire' going but the wife says the novelty would run out and it would end up being a mess over time. The unit we want to change is upstairs in the living room.
13 replies
Deal Addict
Mar 21, 2006
4478 posts
465 upvotes
Burlington, Ontario
Many municipalities will not allow new installations of wood burning fireplaces because of the pollution.

It would be best to call your municipal office and ask for a proper answer.

If we you were able to get a wood burning fireplace, you would also require a whole chimney type structure added to it as your gas furnace probably vents out the side of your wall.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Jun 11, 2001
8014 posts
408 upvotes
Is there even a chimney? We have a gas fireplace and no chimney... check your bylaws and see what the rules say. Definatley nothing beats a nice realy fireplace (love going to the cottage because of this). -sg
...zzz...zzz...zzz...

www.heatware.com
[OP]
Deal Addict
Sep 4, 2003
1850 posts
9 upvotes
BuildingHomes wrote:
Dec 18th, 2006 12:17 pm
Many municipalities will not allow new installations of wood burning fireplaces because of the pollution.

It would be best to call your municipal office and ask for a proper answer.

If we you were able to get a wood burning fireplace, you would also require a whole chimney type structure added to it as your gas furnace probably vents out the side of your wall.
Interesting you mention this...will have to check. I've run into a couple gov't web pages that seem to advocate wood burning, listing it as more efficient, especially with the high efficiency fireplaces/stoves now available..and the fact that wood is a renewable energy source. I thought it might be frowned upon but was suprised by some of the web info I've seen.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Sep 4, 2003
1850 posts
9 upvotes
sleepyguy wrote:
Dec 18th, 2006 12:28 pm
Is there even a chimney? We have a gas fireplace and no chimney... check your bylaws and see what the rules say. Definatley nothing beats a nice realy fireplace (love going to the cottage because of this). -sg
Exactly..we were up at Banff in a chalet this weekend, it was great having a real fire. Typically we don't get to use one unless we're out camping during the summer.

No chimney, but a full exhaust system going out the side of the house and it gets HOT!!!
Deal Addict
Apr 13, 2003
3272 posts
58 upvotes
The gas fireplaces the builders put in tend to be the cheapest ones out there. You can get a lot better.
Also, I read in consumer reports that wood fireplaces end up losing heat, since they cause a lot of your houses heat to go up the chimney. It will actually suck the warm air out of your house. They said the only way they work is if it is the primary source of heat.
If you put in a wood stove, it's a different story though
Deal Expert
User avatar
Aug 9, 2004
21622 posts
261 upvotes
Mississauga
We have a wood burning fireplace.
Here's the pro's: Can be cheap if you have access to free wood e.g. when people cut down trees, smells nice, crackles nice, doesnt require any other power i.e. electric blowers.
Cons: fire risk in chimney, keeping wood in house can be inconvenient/dirty, sometimes higher insurance, hard to control e.g. can get smoky inside, or too hot/not hot enough.
air-tight wood stove inserts really work nice though, esp if heating is more a concern than ambience. Have one of these at the cottage.
Thanks for the memories, RFD.
Good-bye.
Deal Addict
Sep 19, 2005
2838 posts
48 upvotes
check with insurance company as some will not insure you or higher rates! Most wood fireplaces are inefficient as they suck the warm air out of the home. Messy!! and if you dont clean a chimney you will have a fire!!!!!

Flick the switch and enjoy the gas fireplace. Maybe your unit was not installed right if it is not providing any heat,,,,

Mine are so warm that I dont need my furnace most of the time!
Deal Addict
Apr 13, 2003
3272 posts
58 upvotes
fireguy9 wrote:
Dec 19th, 2006 6:02 pm
Flick the switch and enjoy the gas fireplace. Maybe your unit was not installed right if it is not providing any heat,,,,

Mine are so warm that I dont need my furnace most of the time!
Mine keeps the place warm too. My parents have an older one, and it doesn't put out that much heat. And the builder ones arent that good either...I guess you get what you pay for
Sr. Member
Nov 17, 2005
812 posts
10 upvotes
montreal
I consider myself a serious fireplace owner. I purchased a wood pellet stove this spring and love it. I researched for a year trying to figure out what would be the best buy for my money.

Here are the pros of a wood pellet stove:

Clean buring fuel-emissions are cleaner than oil furnace or even slow combustion stove. so clean it does not even require a chimney.

cheap fuel- a 40lb bag costs 3.98$ and lasts for at least 2 days!

Easy to purchase. Sold at many hardware stores. Can pay with a CC.

Consistant quality. you don't have the risk of getting a bad batch like when buying wood by the cord.

no chimney required. Save money because you have no chimney to clean. Because there's no chimney you don't have to worry about damaging your roof/shingles either.

No tools to buy like the log poker/blower/broom etc. No Spark screen to purchase either. No log holder to buy either.

My pellet stove is controlled my thermostat. I set it at 75 and the stove maintains itself.

Pellet stoves are air tight sealed and dispence convective heat. The heat release ratio is phenomenal. The actual stove is only warm to the touch even on high but the air it shoots out is extremly hot! Every other part you can touch without burning yourself except the glass door.

Wood pellets are not traded like a commodity or regulated like oil/gas/electricity is. It's a cheap fuel which is renewable.

When the pellets go on sale I can buy and stock up. The bags are sealed airtight and do not have to be used the same year i buy them.

I don't have to chop wood or deal with ants/wood chips in the carpet.

In my opinon they are much safer than any other fireplace and i leave mine on even when i'm not home. Here's what an alberta fire marshall wrote about them when i asked if they were safe to leave on when i'm not home...

" I have seen many pellet stove installations. From a fire safety perspective I believe them to be superior over other appliances as the volume of combustible product at any given time is quite limited (less than a handful at a time). The heat release ratio is phenomenal. I have not seen the typical issues common with wood stoves or fireplaces appear in pellet stoves and the installation clearances are also not as stringent. No creosote build up = no chimney fires."

The only cons I can think of.....

Pellet stoves require electricity to operate the fans and auger and obviously will not operate during a power failure.(I have a generator though so this is not a problem for me)

Storing all the pellet bags takes some space. I bought 75x40lb bags and have a garage and 2 sheds so again this is not a problem for me.

If you have the storage space and are able to lift a 40lb bag then I would recommend it highly!

If anyone has any questions about wood pellet stoves just ask.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Sep 4, 2003
1850 posts
9 upvotes
new_vr wrote:
Dec 19th, 2006 6:31 pm
Mine keeps the place warm too. My parents have an older one, and it doesn't put out that much heat. And the builder ones arent that good either...I guess you get what you pay for
Yes, you got that right. The models that we have are pretty much useless for actual heat....but then they're in a room with 20ft ceiling with one wall being almost floor to ceiling windows. We inherited these POS units as the house was a year old when we bought...I guess the people who built the house went cheap.

We have seen the real gas units at the homeshow and they are amazing, but you still don't get that 'smell' of burning wood.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Sep 4, 2003
1850 posts
9 upvotes
brute33 wrote:
Dec 19th, 2006 9:37 pm
I consider myself a serious fireplace owner. I purchased a wood pellet stove this spring and love it. I researched for a year trying to figure out what would be the best buy for my money.

Here are the pros of a wood pellet stove:


If anyone has any questions about wood pellet stoves just ask.

Some excllent info..thanks for posting!

I did some brief reading on wood pellet stoves the other day, very interesting stuff. Now to find a reputable dealer/installer in Calgary to get teh final info.

Curious to know, are these free standing or can you get pellet stove inserts to fit in the existing area of where my current gas fp is?

Also, what kind of wood are the pellets made out of? Do you get the natural smell of burning wood or because its sealed, all you heat is raw heat?

Thanks.
Sr. Member
Nov 17, 2005
812 posts
10 upvotes
montreal
rc51 wrote:
Dec 20th, 2006 5:46 pm
Some excllent info..thanks for posting!

I did some brief reading on wood pellet stoves the other day, very interesting stuff. Now to find a reputable dealer/installer in Calgary to get teh final info.

My dealer was CAA recommended. I was very pleased with their service. Just make sure the company you buy it from has it installed by their own employees (not sub-contracted out).

Curious to know, are these free standing or can you get pellet stove inserts to fit in the existing area of where my current gas fp is?

that i don't know.

Also, what kind of wood are the pellets made out of?

GRANULES LG products are sold in five brand names: GRANULES LG, DURAND, RENEWABLE ENERGY, HORSE BEDDING and JARDIN FLEURI.

Our wood pellets are heat-compacted wood fibres produced by a perforated rotating mould. They contain no additives or chemical products. Made from dry sawdust and shavings issued from wood sawing operations, the pellets contain no bark, which is a great advantage.

The tree species used are black spruce, grey pine and balsam fir.

One hundred percent natural, GRANULES LG pellets actually surpass the highest standards for residential wood pellets, as established by the PFI Institute (Pellet Fuels Institute, Arlington, Va) in the United States, an organisation in charge of product quality control for this truly environment-friendly industry.

Wood pellets are a biomass product of renewable energy for clean heating, made from recycled wood fibres. More than 600,000 homes in North America are already using this type of heating, by which thousands of tons of waste are recycled into energy.

here's a link to the company of wood pellets i buy.....
http://www.granuleslg.com/produits_an.htm?section=1

Do you get the natural smell of burning wood or because its sealed, all you heat is raw heat?

althought the flame is nice my model is airtight and therefore no smell. That may not sound good but the truth is if you're heating full time with wood you can be more at risk of breathing in those toxic smells. I'm not a doctor but i'm sure that long term exposure to burning wood fumes cannot be good for your health. I'm glad my fireplace is airtight.

Thanks.
if anyone wants the pdf brochure of the model i purchased you can email me at info@photofx.qc.ca
Deal Addict
User avatar
Oct 12, 2001
3609 posts
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Funny, we just replaced our wood fireplace 10 days ago. The big thing I have to say is make damned sure your installer knows what the h he/she is doing! The person (idiot) who installed the original unit had not turned or screwed together the chimney - the sections just came apart. It was not plum with no bracing up the chase (21 ft), and therefore had a totally uneven load on the top of the fireplace. We're lucky it didn't come crashing down or kill us from fumes. (We're in the midst of renovationg and haven't lived there yet.)

The installer I got has been doing this for 39 yrs, (does masonry and got into stoves as more people went to high efficiency) said that the way to keep your creosote down in the chimney is (for example) after having an overnite burn where there is little heat going up the chimney, to stoke it up hard in the morning and let it run full bore for about 20 mins to burn out the overnite residual in the chimney.

Brands, Vermont Casting or RSF were his recommendations. I was his helper for two days, and he did things installing it that I know other installers would not have done. I can certainly see that you can only enjoy your fireplace, whatver you choose, if it is working to its max. We prefer wood to pellets or gas, and are willing to cut the wood, gather it, clean the ash and chimney, whatever it takes. Its not meant to be a supplementary source of heat, but as the unit will heat up to 2000 sp ft it certainly can do that if needs be.

Good luck in your purchase.
What the H E double hockey sticks have I done now?

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