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Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

Posted by Rosie (My Page) on
Fri, Oct 28, 05 at 22:28

While browsing around shopping for a wood zero-clearance fireplace for our new home, I came across this from Belgium. I really like the simple styling but that's just about all I've learned so far. Any information to rule in or out as a possibility would be extremely helpful. Thanks.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

Hi -

I, too, have been looking into this woodstove. I'm wondering if you had purchased one, and how it is working for you. Also, how much cost (installation, et al) are we looking at?


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

Sorry, nothing to offer on this. It does look nice, though, doesn't it? Let us know what you come up with if you decide to pursue it.


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

I have an Optifire, if you are still interested, drop me an email and I can send pictures or answer any questions you might have.


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

I just came across the Optifire as well looking for something to make my masonry fireplace actually warm the room. I'm very interested in pics and ballpark prices you paid for the unit and installation.


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

I don't know about these-- they may be great-- but if you are into modern design, I've heard very good things about 'Scan' stoves:


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

Fund to see this come to life after all this time. We went another direction--husband's choice--and put in a Quadra-Fire. How do you like your OptiFire, Bartels? That Scan stove is sharp.


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

I like it alot, it turned out to be a very clean modern look. As far as using it in a masonary fireplace,

it isn't really designed for that as it is a zero-clearance unit and would probably be too large and

difficult to fit into all but the largest masonary fireplace. And it is only certified to use with

Heatilator SL-300 Chimney componets. Also, it has to have outside air for combusition in order to meet

code. Our house is split level and about 1700 square feet on the main level. It heats all that and more,

keeping the house in the mid 70's when it is well below zero outside. But it does use quite a bit of wood

to run it that hot. The automatic therostat is a nice feature, you can turn it down, or it will turn

itself down to prevent overheating. Fan also turns itself on and off according to the heat. Running it lower lowers wood consumption and all the way down, I've found coals in the firebox 3 days later. It has a 260 cfm fan which is quiet compared to most. It puts out a lot of heat if you want it to. One complaint is on how the outside air works. The outside air is simply make up air, it is not routed directly into the combustion chamber but rather mixed with the combustion air. So when you go to sleep and the fire goes out, in the morning (if you left the outside air open), cold air comes out the intake vents for convection air. Cost is about $3000 with the fan and outside air kit. The curved door model is slightly more. Installation I did myself as it is pretty easy. We don't have a local shop that sells these and the closest shop in Chicago would not make the 150 mile drive to our place to do it. None of the local shops will install stuff that they do not sell, despite the fact that they are Heatilator dealers In looking at other units localy a full tearout of an existing zero-clearance builder box and installation of a new zero clearance unit ran about $450, which seemed cheap. That includes tearout of the old chimney. But it does not include the cosmetic facade or finishing. I think $1000 would be more realisic all said and done with the facade. Also, Heatilator SL-300 Chimney is not all that cheap. The minium 15 feet required will run $600 with all the supplies. For a similiar look check out the Infire from Wittus. They have both a zero-clearance and masonary model available.


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Pictures


Before:


Tearout:


Installation and Framing


Here is an almost completed picture, drywall still needs to be mudded and taped and painted, tile still needs to be layed and the mantel needs to be installed.




Once it is totally complete, I will upload a new pic.


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One more picture

Test Fire (NOTE, the framing above was not complete in the picture, I had a test fire before completing that):


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

Sorry, I was wrong about the model for masonary fireplace, it is called the H530, not the Infire. The Infire is another B&G model not sold in the US to my knowledge, but the H530 is made by Wittus. It is available for both new installation (soon) and existing masonary.


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

Here is the final picture of the installation.


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

Awesome job!! Great pics, does that ever get rid of the 70's look of the old fireplace!I was wondering, the intake vents your talking about, exactly where are they, just curious.


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vents

The fireplace requires 65 square inches of convection air underneath it, to keep it cool, which in turn warms the house as well. I think it said no more than 32 inches of that could be the outside air, the rest had to come from the house. So I came up with the following:

"Two grates that measure 13.5"x2" one on each side give me 27 square inches each. And then you are also allowed to count outside air intake, which at 4" gives me 3.14*2*2 or 12.56 square inches. That makes for a grand total of 66.56 square inches."

Notice how the fireplace sticks out from the wall (the darker section). It is exactly 5" out from the wall 1.5" times two (for the framing studs, and then 2' for the vent grate. Most installions I have seen simply put a 12"x6" grate right in the center underneath it, but I did not like the look of that as there is no way to blend a grate into a flat wall, and by having the air intakes off to the sides and at the floor level, fan noise is greatly supressed and I can insure that the coldest air in the room is getting sucked in by the fan. I really wanted it flat with the wall becuase I thought it would look really clean, but then we could not have a mantel or easily hide the air intake, so that is what I came up with. And for code reasons, you also have to have non-combusibtle material extend 16" (I think) so I had to have something other than carpet or wood on the floor in front anyway (I went with tile).

Look towards the lower left of this picture and you can see the where the vent grate is on the right hand side. The other side has the same thing. On the other side I also mounted the variable fan switch to sort of hide it as well. The overall idea was to have all the clean look of a modern or contemporary gas fireplace, but only woodburning, since wood I usually get for free and gas I have to pay for. I think you get a lot more heat out of a wood unit as well.





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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

I'm looking at the Optifire to fit into my existing masonry fireplace. I have a 16x16 " flue, so I can run the Heatilator chimney pipe inside the existing flue, and I have a 40" x 30" hole, so the unit will JUST fit in vertically (with the required 2" min clearance under).
BUT this is without the fan unit.

I'm wondering... if I could create my own forced air solution with a remote blower to push air through the unit.

Does the 260CFM fan that comes with the unit just force air through a jacket around the fire box? I'm also wondering if I could route the 4 hot air outlets into my existing HVAC ducts and rig the thermostat to turn my furnace fan on and off.

Any thoughts?


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

sschill.... There's another very similar looking model from Witus called the H530 for existing masonry fireplaces (note it is also available as pre-fab) that might not only be easier to install but is probably also cheaper. It's rated a tad less on the heat output. I have no experience with it, I just ran across it as I liked the look. Here is a link:
http://www.wittus.com/wpwoodinsertmain.htm

But if you are still interested in the Optifire, I might be able to help a bit. The clearance on the back and sides is for fire/heat reasons only. Since you have an existing masonry fireplace, you can probably ignore those I would think as it states clearance to combustible materials. Again, I would ask somebody though as I know nothing about fireplaces, despite installing this one myself (I followed all the rules) They aren't expecting someone to install it in an existing masonry fireplace so the instructions does talk about that. The 2" underneath is the minimum required for convection air to cool the unit. With the fan, the minimum increases dramatically because the fan is actually installed through the firebox and hangs below it. This is how you service the fan in a typical pre-fab permanent installation like mine. You can see the fan below it dead center in my framing picture above. Also note that there are standoffs on the top that you would probably have to cut off to make it fit, but that's OK, they are not structural they just serve as a reminder to not put combustibles in that area.. Bodart has a solution for this fan problem as well though. This add-on allows you to position the fan elsewhere and feed the air underneath it and maintain the minimum 2". Not sure if you could make that work with an existing masonry fireplace though but here is a link.
http://www.b-g.be/uk/foyers/catalogue/accessories/fan-casing.html

There are 4 knock outs on the top that allow you to vent the hot air elsewhere such as through vents or I suppose if your installation allows, you could hook them into existing ductwork. There are some stipulations on what type of duct work to use and the direction and what not. My installation is in a chase on an exterior wall, so I couldn't use them. So then the hot air then is blown out the thin slit you see between the firebox and the outside frame. You can probably see what I am talking about in my picture as the camera flash reflected off the raw sheet metal inside that slit. You cant normally see it. Most of the air comes out the top, but some does come out the outside. That does leave one more question though. There is only one frame available that extends 2". I am not sure if that would work for a masonry fireplace as it might not cover it all either. Most inserts for masonry installations have a variety of frame available to cover any sized opening. But you might be able to make something work.

The Wittus site (http://www.wittus.com) has a link to the installation instructions for the Optifire on their site. They arent real good, but they have some pictures and what not that might describe all this in more detail and help you decide if it will work in your installation. Also, I can send you a link about 50 more pictures of my installation if you are interested in seeing more details.


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

Forgot to add a couple more things. The fan and outside air kit are sort of one unit. The outside air kit is just the metal box you see around the fan underneath with a host hooked to it and a flapper type closure mechanism. I commented on this earlier, and this is one area where the design could be better as most of the outside air becomes convection air and not combustion air. I assume if you use the other fan casing I posted the link to that somehow the outside air hooks to that. The outside air is just make up air, it is not routed directly to the combustion chamber or anything. The thermostat I had to buy separate, it does not come with the fan or the fireplace. It is a simple standard 120volt thermocouple and a paint matched metal mountain bracket that allows it to touch the bottom of the firebox. It also integrates with the door fan switch. When it gets hot, it closes the circuit is all. It is installed on the hot side if I remember right but it could also be on the neutral wire. If you'd good with electronics, you could use that signal with a relay to also switch and produce whatever low voltage you need to trigger your home furnace fan. One thing I mentioned is that the factory kit is mounted on the bottom of the firebox, which is the last place to get hot and the first place to cool off. It should have been designed to be mounted up top, to get your hot air quicker and shut it off earlier when the fire goes out. This also means that for an hour or so when the fire burns out, the top is still warm, but cools quickly when the cold outside air is blown over the firebox. But alas it was not. I think some of this might be because all this was designed as a 220 volt system by Bodart. The American importer, Lucky something I think adds the 120 volt fan and electrical stuff after the fact so maybe that was how it was designed. It is a very high quality very nice and quiet fan though and well worth the $200 they get for it. It is not your standard squirrel cage.

Our house is a split level with the main level being all one room. Heat naturally rises to the second level where there are bedrooms and overall the heat flows pretty evenly because of this design. However the half basement under the main level gets bitter cold quickly in the winter when the heat does not run. Simply running the furnace fan for a half hour or so evens this out nicely. This trick might not work in every house though. We have about 2200 square feet or new well insulated house and the Optifire can heat it all, even when it is well below 0. In fact, even at the lowest setting, if it is about 30 outside it quickly climbs into the 80s in our house and we have to open a window, so perhaps it is too large for our house.


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

Does anyone know how many square feet this baby can heat? I live in Canada just north of vermont. My house is close to 3000 square feet.

thank you.


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

The square footage it can heat depends on a lot of factors, such as the layout and how well insulated your house is, as well as the climate, which I assume is probably colder north of Vermont than it is in Iowa.. It also has the option to hook up to your existing duct work, which I have not done. Mine heats 1700 square feet of relatively new well insulated and air tight split level house with a very high cathedral ceiling and open rooms on the main level. I've maintained 80 when it is well below 0, even running the furnance fan to circulate air into the other 600 sqaure feet downstairs. It is rated for 50,000 BTU's per hour and that's probably the best indicator of how much it can heat. There are larger more powerful units out there with higher BTU ratings. Do remeber though, the larger the firebox the more wood they consume when you run them hot. Running this unit on high consumes a large arm load of oak every 2 hours.


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

thank you for the response. I was under the impression these kind of fireplace only needed to be filled every 8 hours or so but you mention putting wood in every 2 hours, I am missing some information?

thank you


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

Every 8 hours would be a stretch for any fireplace other than the very large furnance style fireplaces or outdoor burners, if you were interested in getting heat the whole time. If you loaded it up with good hard wood, oak, hickory, etc. and turned the air way down, it would certainly burn for 8 hours, but probably produce about 1/4" the heat output it was rated at, and the last 2-3 hours would be nothing but coals and not much heat at all. You would also get a very dirty very quickly doing that. Not to mention it would smoke the whole time. If you want to get the full BTU's it is rated at, you will need to add wood at regular intervals and keep the air opened up. If you were using bad wood, pine, soft maple, etc. you'd be loading it even more often.


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Wood consumption

I think non pre-fab units or inserts, especially the larger ones probably hold their heat better becuase they have more mass. The Optifire weighs in just under 500lbs, where some of the Pacific Energy inserts are over 700lbs. They also let some of their heat go into the masonary where as in a pre-fab unit, it either goes out the front through convection air or up the chimney since the box is insulated. Perhaps somebody else with a different model could comment, do you add wood every 2-3 hours when you are burning your stove for heat and awake, or less often. I thought similiar to a fireplace every 2-3 hours was normal to keep things burning cleaning and hot.


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

If anyone needs them, I have Heatilator SL300 30 degree offsets left over that I can't return for sale on eBay that are being offered at 99 cents (plus $9 for shipping). They go for $90 at a dealer. They are brand new, never even opened the box. Search for "30 Degree SL300 Series Offset and Return by Heatilator", userid is the same.


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

I am interested in the Optifire unit you installed. I noticed you did not install any of the hot air ducts to your unit. My impression fron the instauctions I downloaded was at least one duct needs to be installed above the fireplace in order to let heat out. I would prefer not to do that since I intend on installing a flat screen TV above the fireplace with a 12" stone mantel to deflect heat away from the TV. You get enough heat out without the ducts?

Where did you buy your Optifire and where did you find Heatilator venting?

Your install looks beautiful!

Thanks,
KP


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

According to the installation instructions (http://www.wittus.com/Specs/Optifire Manual.pdf), you don't have to install the hot air ducts unless a combustible mantel is above it. My mantel is stainless steel and not combustible. Besides, I didn't want to see heat grates, I wanted a clean gas fireplace look, but wood burning. That is the reason I bumped it out from the wall, to hide the air intakes which are very important and equally hard to hide.

Page 15 Item 7.4
If a COMBUSTIBLE MANTLE is installed, ONE FRONT AIR DUCT MINIMUM must be connected (with or without a fan).

I don't think using the ducts would give you anymore heat, it just allows you to move SOME of the heat to a different location within the house if so desired. I get a ton of very hot air our of the slit around the firebox as is, more than I need to heat my house (see above for house specs and climate). Even with the ducts installed, you are still going to get a lot of air out of the front, as there is nothing that stops the air from coming out the front after you install the ducts. Hot air does tend to naturally rise up the ducts I would think, but hot air in motion seems to tend to continue in the direction it is going. You going to have to get creative to mount a TV above it. It puts out a ton of heat, if you run it on high (air intake and fan). You might be OK with a stone mantel to deflect the heat though.

You can order the Optifire directly from Lucky Distributing(http://www.luckydistributing.com) in Oregon. However, I am in the midwest, and freight was a little high. So I found a dealer in Chicago called American Heritage Fireplace (http://www.americanheritagefireplace.com). You'll even see some of my pictures over there. They had to order it as well, but I guess they get a better price than I could directly, so their price, which included shipping to Chicago was cheaper than the direct price plus freight. I did have to make the 400 mile round trip to Chicago to pic it up. You can also buy from Wittus in New York directly as well, but once again, freight is going to cost you. I think I found a place in the Twin Cities that sold it as well, but that's a longer drive.

Heatilator SL-300 chimney pipe is probably the most common pre-fab wood fireplace chimney pipe in use in the states. That's likely one of the reasons that the importer selected it to certify the Optifire with. Any fireplace dealer that sells Heatilator or Superior fireplaces should be able to get you that. Its relatively cheap, easy to work with. There are all sorts of pipes and parts available so it is adaptable to almost anything. Of course, you might end up with some parts leftover like I did.

If you drop me an email, I can send you the link with more pictures. Otherwise, if you have any other questions, let me know. Posting information about this fireplace has generated quite a bit of interest. I've had a lot of people contact me about it. I suspect this is becuase it is one of he few modern or contemporary fireplace available in the US and even then not many shops carry it or are willing to install it.


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

Thank you for replying to my post as quickly as you did. I did not see an e-mail address to use so I figured I'd respond here.

I live NW of Chicago so I'll contact American Heritage. I knew they sold SCAN and RAIS stoves which is what we were going to buy before I saw the Optifire on-line. Your excellent information on this forum pretty much sealed that decision. We've heated our last two houses with European stoves and love the contemporary look you can't find with most US manufacturers. I can't figure out why everything made in the US looks like it belongs either in a turn of the century house or a steel mill.

I was concerned about the heat output of the Optifire yet it cranks out more BTU's than the SCAN and OSBURN stoves we've used. But not being "stove like" didn't sem like it could perform as well. You've addressed that issue for me.

I'm not sure If I'm going to use the ducts in addition to what is generated out the front of the fireplace but it's nice to have that option. I have not been able to get an answer from Lucky or Wittus on how far the ducts can be run so I think I'd play it safe and locate two of the ducts where our living room transistions into the dining room and kitchen. We are not concerned about getting a lot of heat to the bedroom since we like it cooler for sleeping.

Thanks again for all your infomation. I may touch bases with you again with questions.

KP


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

It doesn't say how far they can be run. I'd assume as far as you want, so long as it is up. It does have some drawings showing the up. Also, if you are Northwest of Chitown, I think American Heritage might have a store in Milwaukee and another suburb too. There is also a place in Chicago called Evolution Trade Group that sells Nestor Martin and a couple other European brands. I as well can't figure out why US manufacturers have not caught on to the modern european look. I guess when people think wood burning they think traditional.


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

I can't believe I found this thread! We have been wrestling with the same issues in our hunt for a replacement for our 20-year-old, inefficient, zero-clearance fireplace - in particular, the utter lack of "pizazz" in the vast majority of inserts being sold in the USA at the moment. The Lady of the House (LOTH) has been drawn to the Optifire as the current best available option as far as her sense of aesthetics is concerned. Naturally, there are practical obstacles in our path to satisfying both *my* compulsion for something that could ultimately become the primary source of heat for our 1113 sf condo in Boston and *her* insistence on something that she can live with as the virtual focal point in our primary living space. Here is our tale, begging your collective indulgence...

Our condo is in a 20-year-old four-story building that was constructed in "commercial style" (i.e., steel support columns and beams, concrete subfloors on corrugated steel pans, and metal stud framing). It has a large garage at street level and three condo units above - we are on the first living level and have two neighbors above us, all in virtually identical floor plans. Each unit was equipped with a pre-fab zero clearance fireplace manufactured by Martin Industries (bankrupt in 2002, assets assumed by Martin Hearth and Heating, which no longer supports its predecessor's products). The fireplaces are vented by UL-listed double-walled chimney systems (8" diameter inner pipe, 13" diameter outer pipe, separated by 2.5" air gap that is maintained by "finger" spacers attached to the inner surface of the outside pipe... I hope I've succeeded in providing an adequate mental image of that!). Our chimney extends about 30' vertically (no jogs) through the two concrete subfloors above us (via 18" holes punched through the concrete) to a flat roof, where the three chimneys (ours and our two neighbors') sit in a neat little row. Each chimney is in an enclosed chase that does not allow access to the pipes (we have access to *ours*, as I've already dismantled and removed the original fireplace).

With that picture in mind, here are my questions:

1. The Optifire specs state that it must only be vented using Heatilator SL300-Series chimney components. The SL300 system consists of a double-wall pipe (8" inner pipe and 10.5" outer pipe) with an air gap in between. Our existing chimney specs differ only in the diameter of the outer pipe (13"). How likely is it that we can get Messrs. Bodart and Gonay to approve our use of the existing chimney (also UL-listed) as functionally equivalent to the SL300? I'm quite certain that the SL300 is UL-103 listed (Factory-Built Chimneys for Residential Type and Building Heating Appliances), but it's not at all clear from any documentation that I've found whether it's HT rated (High Temperature, 2100 degrees F.) or not (then it's rated for 1700 degrees F.). My existing Martin Industries chimney was almost certainly also UL-103 listed, but it does not appear in the current UL listings database, probably because of the 2002 bankruptcy. I'm trying to get my hands on a 2002 UL listing, but so far no luck.

2. If B&G are not inclined to grant us a waiver, there is a "Plan B". Totally removing the existing chimney is not an option because we can't get access to the segments that pass through our upstairs neighbors' units. However, it does appear that the *inner* 8" pipe *can* be removed by itself. My inspection of one section of the pipe seems to indicate that the inner pipe is not secured to the outer pipe in the straight sections - the spacing is maintained by sheet metal fingers attached to the inner wall of the outer pipe (the fingers aren't attached to the inner pipe, they just kind of hold it in place). Where a physical connection between inner and outer pipes *does* exist is in the 15- and 30-degree offset sections, but the only place where an offset exists in our chimney is at the bottom of the 30-foot vertical column (to enable connection to the fireplace itself). I think you can see where this is going - if we remove the 8" inner sections and bend the fingers back, we have a shielded, 13" cavity that could accommodate the SL300 ductwork (10.5" outer diameter) in its entirety. Because it's a straight run from the roof to our unit, no access to enclosed chases above us would be required. Is there any reason why this wouldn't fly...?

3. I'm having trouble wrapping my head around the concept of firestops. I understand that, in classic woodframe construction, firestop-spacers serve the purpose of creating a barrier between the chimney and nearby combustible materials (i.e., wooden rafters/joists). What I can't grasp is, if firestops are required in *all* installations where the chimney passes through ceilings above (and that seems to be what the SL300 installation insructions call for), what benefit does that have with respect to *concrete/steel* (i.e., non-combustible) ceilings, which is what I'm dealing with? If the firestops are required even when passing through non-combustibles, then I am faced with essentially an insurmountable obstacle... now what?

If you've managed to stay with me this long, I thank you for your time, patience, and indulgence. Looking forward to your thoughts...

Regards,
- Bob -

P.S.

We love the look of your installation... especially the mantel.


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

Wow, that's a lot of information and certainly challenging. What's recommended and certified is probably quite a bit different from what would work and what is safe. The fireplace is made in Belgium and in Belgium and the rest of Western Europe, probably certified to be used with some kind of similar double or triple wall pipe that is commonly available in those parts. In the US, the fireplace is imported by Lucky Distributors in Oregon, and I think they write the check for the UL and EPA certification, but I am not sure. They also seem to have their hands in how the fan runs on 120 instead of 220/240, the outside air kit, which is required by code in most areas and even some of the labeling and packaging. So I don't know if the fireplace was really even designed or intended to be used with Heatilator Sl300 pipe. Thats just how it was tested and certified for sale in the US. I assume B&G gives some sort of recommendations on to what standards the chimney pipe must meet, and then the importer just selects something available in the US and makes sure it passes all the tests. At least this in my guess to how all this works.

I tore out a Superior brand (extinct and absorbed by Lennox) factory built that used the exact same dimension double wall style pipe. I asked about using the existing pipe, since it was only a few years old and every shop I talked to said that if the fireplace says it needs Heatilator SL300, then that is what you have to use. Upon comparing the pipe I torn out, to the new pipe, it is the exact same design. They claimed the flanges that lock the sections together are different, but they appeared the same to me. The inner pipe is stainless steel and the outer is galvanized. The walls appeared to be the same thickness too. I think I could have probably reused the same pipe and been perfectly fine, but since I had already bought a bunch of SL-300 (by the way I have two spare elbows I am trying to sell) and tore out the old pipe, I figured I would do it right.

You are correct; nothing holds the inner pipe to the outer pipe. There are simply tabs in there that keep them alligned. The elbows though are a little tricky, technically speaking, the outer pipe of the elbows needs to be supported, I guess to support the weight of the chimney and prevent it from coming apart. The supports are simply straps that you nail to studs. But the inner pipe in the elbows, those do not have any special supports.

I didnt tear my chase appear, I simply when up on the roof, cut the silicone around the storm collar, then disconnected (by smashing) the chimney from the firebox, and pulled it out in one piece and rolled it off the roof. To install the new chimney, I lowered to down and attached it section by section, till it ran into the firestop. Even though both pipes measured 10.5 inches on the outside according to their specs, the Heatilator pipe was slightly larger and would not go through the firestop, even with a lot of pushing. So I ended up crawling up my chase like a monkey, unscrewing the firestop which was nothing more than a piece of particle board with a metal sheet screw to it with a hole cut in it. It did separate the insulated portion of the chase from the un-insulated portion, but since both spaces are classic wood studs and partical board, I cant for the life of me see how it would help. It might stop a fire, for about 2 minutes. I have no idea what purpose it serves, but I figured since it is code, I better figure it out. I ended up getting out the saw-zaw and making the hole a bit bigger. Then I was able to lower my pipe back down.

I dont know as though you are going to have much luck, either certification wise or technically using the existing outer and inner pipes. Since it is larger, you might have draft issues. And there is always the issue with getting everything lined up and attached. Another thing about draft, they claim a maximum chimney height of 25 feet which starts at the surface the fireplace rests on. See page 14, http://www.wittus.com/Specs/Optifire Manual.pdf

Will it matter that you are 5 feet over, that, I am not real sure. Seeing as how the fireplace can be mounted at a variety of different heights, it looks like there is some room for error in there.

Your plan B sounds feasible. It would seem that removing the inner pipe and then feeding Sl-300 up it would work just fine. In fact, it would seem slightly better, since you have added a third wall around it, so long as it meets the minimal airspace requirements and all that. I think all they call for is 2" of clearance to combustibles on the outer pipe, which you would have slightly less to the old outer pipe, but I assume whatever the old outer pipe was, it has 2" or so to combustibles already. Plus, as you said you building is concrete and steel, not wood.

Since the existing pipe is larger diameter, and there probably are some firestops, you probably cant remove the inner and outer pipe and feed new SL-300 up since there would be a gap around the firestops. You already said you dont have access to it, but I wasnt sure if you thought of removing it like I did by pulling it from the top up.

Im not a fireplace installer, or expert on anything of this nature. This is also the first fireplace project I have ever done. I tend to try and tackle every home improvement on my own, and most times I am successful, although it takes me 3 times longer than a pro who has done it before. Sometimes I find that if I quit for a couple hours and come back less frustrated, something obvious will appear and I can pick up where I left off and make some prodress. Your plan b idea seems safe, and reasonably easy to do. You are probably going to have a hard time getting a fireplace installer to check off on doing it, maybe even a building inspector, especially since you are in a multi-unit building. But I dont know.

I guess give it a try and let us know how it works out.

You might also contact Wittus in New York. Google Wittus Fire and youll find them. They were able to answer quite a few pre-sales questions for me on size, etc. I ended up buying from a store in Chicago, because shipping was cheaper, but the Wittus folks seems to know a lot about it, maybe they were the one that certified it and not Lucky, I dont know.


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

Here is a picture of what the firestop looked like. I sealed mine with high temperature silicone, becuase it leaked ice cold air very badly from that upper un-insulated part of the chase. You can it's not that fancy of a thing. The other pic is pulling the chimney out from the top.


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

The plot thickens...

So... I did in fact remove the inner stainless steel (8") pipe from below (seven 4-foot sections, plus a 2-foot section at the very top). Then I got *really* bold and wrestled out a couple of 4-foot sections of the galvanized outer pipe (the upper of these two sections was attached with only a single sheet metal screw, which made brute-forcing it pretty easy). I suspect (but haven't yet proved it to myself) that I can probably remove the remaining sections of the 13" outer pipe by pulling them out from the top - they don't appear to be secured anywhere except to each other (with 1-3 sheet metal screws) and at the top where the chimney exits the (flat) roof.

Here's what I'm now seeing... First, when the original zero-clearance FPs were installed in '89, the builder jack-hammered 16" holes in each of the two concrete sub-floors above me to accommodate the chimney pipes. There were NO FIRESTOPS installed - the 13" pipe just runs straight up through the 16" holes to the roof. I can see the gap between the outer surface of the pipe and the rough inner edges of the holes in the concrete. Frankly, I don't know how a firestop would/could be installed (assuming I could shimmy my svelte 38" waist through the 16"-diameter holes to the second and third levels above me) - there's no wood to which to nail/attach the firestop.

What are the dimensions of the Heatilator firestops? Are they just pieces of flat sheet metal that are nailed to the rafters/joists and have holes that allow the pipe to pass through? Does the hole have a "collar", or is it really just a hole cut out of the sheet metal?

I suspect that either (1) the original builder cut corners by not installing firestops with the original chimneys, or (2) the building inspector allowed the installation without the firestops because of the lack of combustibles near the pipe (the closest combustible is a metal-stud-framed sheetrock wall about 2 feet away).

Any thoughts on how to proceed...?


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

I used my existing Superior firestop and just widened it, since the Heatilator instructions said you could use theirs, or build on site. The specifications where pretty weak, it just had to be made of non-combustible material and have certain clearances, this is if you made it yourself. I just made sure the Superior exceeded those specs. I'd check with a fireplace installer, maybe since you structure is not built from wood, they are not required by code. I can't see what good they would do, but then again, there are plenty of building codes that don't make a lot of sense.


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

Latest update:

I recently spoke at length with Niels Wittus, whose company markets this B&G unit as the Optifire 780. He gave me lots of great insights and made several suggestions about alternative approaches to dealing with the various problems I've outlined here, including building an Isokern fireplace and installing the H530 as a true insert. An interesting concept, but probably overkill for me at this point. One comment he made surprised me, though: he asserts that the H530 insert is a *better* unit (in terms its heating capabilities) than the Optifire Z/C fireplace. I am still struggling to accept that claim, given that the H530 does not include a blower option, has a smaller firebox, is rated for fewer BTUs, etc. What am I not getting???

Meanwhile, I've continued with my demolition efforts and have succeeded in removing (from below) about half of the previous chimney, with surprising ease. I suspect that the ease has been due to the corner-cutting that the builder engaged in when the unit was installed 20 years ago. I've also confirmed that I can indeed fit my svelte frame through the 18" diameter hole in the concrete sub-floor above my unit (and the two sub-floors above), which will greatly simplify the installation of the new Heatilator pipe, especially the firestops (if it becomes necessary to include them in the new installation - no firestops were included in the original installation). Believe it or not, I am now optimistic that what appeared at first glance to be a virtually impossible job can actually be performed with relative ease. Yay!

One question about the Heatilator firestops: What are the dimensions of the metal part of the firestop shown in your photo above? Just trying to determine what kind of framing I will need to do around my 18" concrete openings to accommodate the firestops.

And also a question of pure aesthetics... The Lady of the House is not particularly enamored of the charcoal color of the frame (she's more partial to the H530's silver-ish frame). Is it feasible to consider painting the frame with some sort of heat resistant paint...?

Thanks again in advance,
- Bob -


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

If I am not mistaken, Wittus builds the H530 themselves, it is not a European unit or made by some other company. It came out after the Optifire and was just recently made available as a zero clearance or pre-fab unit. So that might be part of the reason they say it has higher heat output, becuase they need to sell a few of them. But I do think it is a little larger. I don't know though, with the fan off, I don't get much heat out of the Optifire. Normal convection takes place, but the fan is how you get the serious heat out of it. So I don't see how that claim could be true. Wittus was really helpful for me, and I doubt they would decieve you. At the time I got the Optifire, the H530 was not yet available in zero clearence, so it was not an option for me.

Also, Wittus, imports the Optifire via Lucky Distributing in Oregon. They are the sole importer of that fireplace in the US from Belgium. B&G calls it an Optifire too, but the numbers are slightly skewed. They make other Optifire models and sizes, but only the 780 series (double sided and curved door) are available in the US.

As far as the color, it's a really dark charcoal gray, almost black. They call it Anthrite. It's kinda silverish too. I think it's a nice modern color, not stove black, not shiny metal. Could you paint it with high temp paint? Maybe, but it would be a pain to mask it all off, and get it all evenly covered between the outer and inner boxes. Also, the inside is painted that color too, and somehow the paint does not burn off. I think maybe it is a high temp powder coat. The first time you fire it up, the paint bakes in smokes like mad and smells horrible. It says something to the affect to bake the paint with the first fire and not touch the paint the first time becuase it will be soft. So I don't know if you would paint it before or after baking it? Or even how high of temp paint you would need. I think the lady might be pleasantly surprised by the color in person. Its a very trendy color and goes with almost anything.

As far as the firestops, I didn't measure it, and I can get to it anymore, without tearing out my drywall, or poping off the chimney cap and climbing down like a monkey. I don't know as though it matters though. If you go to the Heatilator website, and read about the SL-300 chimney stuff, it will tell you to either use their stops, or else build your own. For the build your own, it'll give you the minimum clearances. I think it is 2-3 inches on either side, I can't remeber, other than that my existing Superior stop (reused from the old Chimney) exceed it, so I was good. I did not buy the Heatilator stop, becuase I did not know that I needed it, I just used my old Superier one and modified it a bit. Personally, I'd just do that, find the clearances, then frame it larger, get some cheap galvanized sheet metal, cut a hole in it. You might not even need to frame it, if you could bend a lip on the metal, and screw it into the concrete. Then you would not need to worry about clearance to combustibles at all.

Good luck. And if you go with the H530, let me know, I'd be curious to see how you like it.


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

Actually, we asked about the H530 the very first time I talked to Niels - the LOH likes its looks better than the Optifire. :-)

What he told me is that the H530 won't be available (certified) as a ZC unit until spring '09 - too late for us. Right now, it's *only* available as an insert, and for me that won't work, as I've already removed the previous ZC fireplace. That's why he suggested building one of those Isokern fireplaces and then installing the H530 in it as an insert.

If you have positive information that the H530 *is* available as a ZC unit today, I'd love to hear about it. I still have lingering concerns about its lack of a blower option, though...

- Bob -


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

I suspect the H530 is not available ZC yet, like he said. On the Wittus website it originally said available as an insert and coming Spring 2008 as ZC, now the website says Sometime 2008 as ZC. So what he told you is correct. I am pretty sure WIttus builds the H530, or imports it, so they have to do all the certifications and stuff before they can sell and distribute it.


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

Hi, it's me again... :-)

Wondering if I may ask some questions about your installation...

1. How high off the floor is the lower edge of the Optifire frame? And the upper edge?

2. What's the distance between the upper edge of the frame and the bottom of the mantel?

3. Did you install an outside air intake? If so, is it necessary, or is 65 sq. in. of internal air enough by itself...?

Many thanks,
- Bob -


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

The height is adjustable with the legs. However, if you install the outside airkit and fan, or either, the minimim total height is 45" unless you also buy the remote fan box, then it can be as low as 1" off the ground. I just measured mine, and the trim ring is exactly 11" off the tile hearth, and if I remeber corrected, the fan box was 12" tall, so minus the extra height the trim ring added, and the tile, that makes sense. The top of the trim ring measure 39", so if you look at the drawing, you see I installed mine as the absolute minimum heights, give or take a 1/2"; without buying the remote fan box. If I was doing it again, I'd buy the remote fan box and install it lower, since it makes sense to have it as low as possible. Luckily, I route my convection air instakes to pull the coldest air from the bottom of the room. (See page 21, http://wittus.com/Specs/Optifire Manual.pdf)


My mantel is much higher the the frame, becuase we wanted it that way, and the install instruction specify a minimum of 28", unless you run the remote hot air outlets, which I did not. . With remote hot air outlets (e.g. above the mantel you can go as low as 12". If you mantel is combustible, it says you have to have remote hot air outlets. Mine mantel is stainless steel and therefor, even though it has a wooden frame, I assumed it was not combustible. (See page 23, http://wittus.com/Specs/Optifire Manual.pdf)

As far as the outside air, that is the part that I described above as being not all that great. They call it make up air for a reason. Really, outside air should route directly to the combustion chamber, not mix with the convection air, but I suspect the outside air kit was added by the US/Canadian importer to meet certain regulations. The problem with it is, after the fire burns out, with the outside air damper open, it leaks cold outside air under the unit, and in my case out the convection air instakes. Anyway, somehow, you have to allow for 65 square inches of intake air, and you get to count the outside air intake as well as the convection air intake as part of that. Here is a copy and paste from my installation notes on how I achieved the 65 square inch minimum:

"The biggest pain of this whole thing is with the clean face of the fireplace it needs a place to draw convection air in and it has to be 65 square inches. Not wanting to put a 12"x6" grate underneath, we choose to slightly bump out the fireplace and put two grates on each side. I think I would have preferred the flat front, but I don't think I would have liked that grate, and it likely would have been a tad louder as well. Anyway, coming up with the 65 square inches has proven to be challenging, but I think I got it. Two grates that measure 13.5"x2" one on each side give me 27 square inches each. And then you are also allowed to count outside air intake, which at 4" gives me 3.14*2*2 or 12.56 square inches. That makes for a grand total of 66.56 square inches. Now if I could just get going on the straightening of the chimney before it gets so cold I can't get on the roof and actually start the framing. I guess I am probably being overly cautious and taking this whole thing at about a quarter the speed I normally would. But now that all the safety related stuff is out of the way, things should go quicker. "

So, do you need outside air? Depends on local codes on how air tight your place is. I needed it for both reasons. Our code required it, and my house is so air tight, if I make a fire and fail to open the outside air intake, the fireplace will pull smoke back down the outer chimney liner which then mixes with the convection air and fills the house with smoke. You could also feel to suction on the door when you opened it. The first time this happened, I thought the chase was on fire, until I figure out what was going on.

Hope that helps. If you have any more questions, let me know, I try and check back once a week or so. The other night it got down to 44, almost had to make the first fire of the year, in September, no less.


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

Bartles - I love the look of the Optifire, and like you live NW of Chicago. Not sure if I would have the same problem with delivery/installation, but would like to contatct your supplier and see about getting one of those units for a new home I am building.

Can you tell me where you purchased your Optifire from?

Thanks


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

I actually live about 140 miles west down interstate 80, right where you enter Iowa. But I purchased my Optifire from American Heritage Fireplace (http://www.amherfire.com/index.html) in downtown Chicago. Last year around this time, they had one in stock, but it was the curved door model so I ordered the flat door. If you look at the gallery, you'll notice one of my pictures on their site.


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

Barte;s - do you have a link where I can view all your pic's regarding this project? I just bought a Optifire to put into our house that we will be building next year. I'm thinking about installing the Optifire myself.

thanks for your time,


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RE: Bodart & Gonay Optifire zero-clearance wood FP?

Send me your email and I will send you the complete gallery. My email is my the same as my username here at gmail.com


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