Insert vs Firebox vs Fireplace please help!!!!!!!

ahrenoNovember 24, 2008

I had the pleasure of having a chimney fire a month ago. Nothing major happened and insurance is covering everything which includes tearing down and replacing my chimney and fireplace.

http://picasaweb.google.com/ahreno/NiceHousePictures#5098326681503635522 (-- as you can see the chimney is a major part of the curb appeal of the house so it will be rebuilt on the outside to match. However I'm free to do the inside however I like.

I've pretty much decided on wood but could be convinced to pellet. Gas is probably out as the house isn't plumbed for it.

here is a picture inside: http://picasaweb.google.com/ahreno/NiceHousePictures#5098326406625728178

I'd like to get something a little bit more efficient (A LOT more efficient actually). The fireplace is the main sorce of heat for the downstairs which is 900sq ft. I'll probably put some vents in so the heat can get upstairs as well.

I am debating getting the fireplace rebuilt with the intentions of putting in an insert OR putting in a wood fire box instead.

The benefit of the firebox is it's WAY cheaper since i dont need a full chimney... just the stove piping and then a brick face (to retain the original look). The firebox is a bit more efficient than the insert (73% compared to 65%) and comes with a blower.

What are some of your thoughts on this? Is there anything wrong with doing a fire box? anything i'd regret?

Thanks so much

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quintus

You may want to consider just walling over the place where your fireplace once existed. I have heard the new democratic congress will consider a new and hefty carbon tax on NEW and/or REPLACEMENT fireplace construction, effectively eliminating them from new home construction.
Of course, you can always pay the tax.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 9:44AM
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ahreno

Or i could hurry up and get it in before congress does that!

I dont see why a fireplace would warrant a carbon tax... isn't burning wood carbon neutral since that carbon would have been released anyway when the tree decomposed?

    Bookmark   November 28, 2008 at 12:52AM
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ahreno

anyone have any other thoughts on what is best to put in?

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 2:09AM
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quintus

Decomposition of organic material envolves the binding of carbon atoms into other living organisms and eventually into - OIL! By your reasoning, the hydrocarbons from organic material that decayed millions of years ago would already have been released. However, we know we are now releasing those hydrocarbons through the burning of oil/gasoline. Burning wood now immediately releases the bound carbon combined with oxygen (CO2) into the atmosphere. By the way, CO2 accounts for approx. 3 to 5 percent of the green house gases in the atmosphere. H2O,
water vapor, accounts for perhaps 80 to 90 percent of the green house effect. So, maybe the next administration will think about regulating the clouds! If the 250 million autos now on the road were all hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, they would all be putting out - WATER VAPOR!! - a green house GAS!! There IS no free lunch - but the dems. are determined to make it so.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 11:36AM
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naturalstuff

Wow, my type of house. Is it still in that condition? I'll buy it! I love fixing up homes. Do fireplace on inside, imo.

I'd get a wood stove but being there was a chimney fire, I shouldn't recommend a wood stove.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 3:30PM
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SeattlePioneer

A fireplace was the latest heating technology--- in about the 10th century. Today it's grossly inefficient as a source of heat.

A fireplace insert is the way to go since heating efficiency is a consideration.

Pellet stoves tend to be sort of expensive to maintain ---and be sure you have service available locally before buying.

The insert is a no brainer especially if you can get wood for free and don't mind the considerable labor involved in cutting, splitting stacking, building and tending fires, cleaning the insert and so on.

Most people get tired of that after a year or two.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 2:13AM
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fandlil

If you do not have natural gas piped in, you can still go with propane gas. If you want energy efficient heat generation, get a direct vent system that uses propane. The efficiency is in the 70% range, unlike conventional fireplace design, less than half that.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 8:31PM
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garyg

Propane is one of the most expensive heating fuels.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 7:53PM
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fandlil

Propne is costly, but clean-burning and highly efficient. It's a trade-off.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 6:50PM
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garyg

"Propane is costly, but clean-burning and highly efficient. It's a trade-off."

Compare the costs of 1 million btu's of heat for a wood insert vs a propane insert. The 75% efficiency of the inserts (both propane and wood) is based on QuadraFire which makes both types.

Propane at $2.50 per gallon delivered:
(1,000,000 / 91,000 btu per gallon) x 2.50 / .75
= $36.63

Hardwood at $180 per cord delivered:
(1,000,000 / 20,000,000 btu per cord) x 180 / .75
= $12

In this example, propane is 2x the cost of wood for the same 1 million btu's of heat.

Take care.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 7:48PM
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pounddog

Hi Aherno

Have you gotten your fireplace fixed up yet. Have you thought about a wood burning or pellet insert with blower -- either would heat that entire house. I just got a wood insert -- Pellets were not available when I ordered the insert (September). The thing I don't like about the pellets is the cost is controlled too much by someone else and they are subject to availability. Good luck -- sorry I don't have any tech talk, but I did pay $160 for a cord of wood. You can always look on craigslist for good wood cheap.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2008 at 12:06AM
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stovetechri

36 elite by fireplace xtrordiner. put a wood stove in your wall. ull need a bigger chase but the unit is the best around.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 3:01PM
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mckitchens

Buy pellets and you're right back to where you were with oil, gas, electric, ect. Someone else telling you what its going to cost to heat your house. Wood is a pain in the ass, but at least you can "do it yourself"

The best is to have the choice, but that's money right there.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 10:24AM
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