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Installing a wood insert


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Firstly, this is a personal project I'm seeking some advice on.

Secondly, we've moved into an old, un-insulated, 1960's wood-frame rambler that will likely see a bulldozer in 1-2 years.

Thirdly, we're burning a fairly new central oil furnace and I've done some rough calculations on how much we'll be paying for our fuel costs this year -- it's out of control.

So, I've inherited a wood stove and will be installing it in the fireplace but I've got a pretty significant obstacle.

The damper opening is not large enough to allow the 6" round flex flue to pass unless the damper is removed, cut or otherwise modified.

I've never done any fireplace work.

Anyone have any ideas on removing or altering the damper? Sawzall? Oxy-acetylene torch? Sledgehammer?

Remember, the house is likely dozer bait and I only need heat for one season, maybe two.

When I have more time, I can post pics if it'll be helpful.

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I'd go at it with a cold chisel and hammer and try to work the whole damper assembly loose.* I've seen enough old fireplaces where the damper is missing and, so, I suspect it wouldn't take much. You would go through a lot of sawzall blades and the torch idea sounds a bit scary!

*Based on you not really caring about future use.

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Let me pose this question. When you come across an insert, do you write up the fact that you could not view the masonry components? A few years ago a client of mine moved in and took out the insert only to find that the original throat and damper had been hacked to pieces making the fireplace useless. While it didn't cost me anything, it was a good lesson on possible situations.

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Originally posted by Eric B

Let me pose this question. When you come across an insert, do you write up the fact that you could not view the masonry components? A few years ago a client of mine moved in and took out the insert only to find that the original throat and damper had been hacked to pieces making the fireplace useless. While it didn't cost me anything, it was a good lesson on possible situations.

Tell 'em to get a Level II inspection per the NFPA. We ought to do that automatically, because not doing it leaves the HI wide open to negligence claims.

Recommending the Level II moves the responsibility to the chimney guy, and covers the HI, the buyer and the seller. All legalistic mumbo-jumbo aside, the best thing an HI can do fireplace-wise is recommend the Level II. Well, unless the HI wants to start doing chimney work as part of the inspection, tote a chimney-cam and get better at Level IIs than the best chimney guy in town...

Regarding another post: "Masonary" is not a word. Masonry, however, is something all home inspectors deal with every day. It's important, I think, to be able to use common housey words without errors.

WJ

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Originally posted by randynavarro

Firstly, this is a personal project I'm seeking some advice on.

Secondly, we've moved into an old, un-insulated, 1960's wood-frame rambler that will likely see a bulldozer in 1-2 years.

Thirdly, we're burning a fairly new central oil furnace and I've done some rough calculations on how much we'll be paying for our fuel costs this year -- it's out of control.

So, I've inherited a wood stove and will be installing it in the fireplace but I've got a pretty significant obstacle.

The damper opening is not large enough to allow the 6" round flex flue to pass unless the damper is removed, cut or otherwise modified.

I've never done any fireplace work.

Anyone have any ideas on removing or altering the damper? Sawzall? Oxy-acetylene torch? Sledgehammer?

Remember, the house is likely dozer bait and I only need heat for one season, maybe two.

When I have more time, I can post pics if it'll be helpful.

In most of the ones I've seen, the installer knocked out the damper and portions of the upper part of the firebox with a sledgehammer.

Every time someone asks me about removing an insert and re-activating the fireplace, I tell them that the firebox was probably hacked up and will need to be rebuilt.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by Tom Raymond

Randy,

Since no one else suggested it, I will. Why not use the fire place as is and put the wood stove at the other end of the rambler? It will give you more even heat, and installing a new metal chimney will be less messy than bashing out the fireplace damper.

Tom

So, instead of having one hole sucking heat out of his house 24/7/365 he can have two?

OT - OF!!!

M.

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I grew up in a rambler with a wood stove at one end, well about at the one third point. No one went in the room with the wood stove because it was too hot, and we all slept in long johns because you could see your breath at the other end of the house. When it got really cold we would all camp out on the floor in the living room (next to the room with the wood stove). For this spectacular level of comfort we would spend several weekends cutting and hauling firewood, and several more weekends splitting and stacking firewood. And every day we moved firewood from the garage pile to the inside pile, and once a week we moved firewood from the outside pile to the garage pile.

Sounds like the house has all sorts of holes sucking the heat out of it. If there are 100 points of heat loss, one more ain't gonna make a difference. All I'm saying is that if I was going to invest that much time and energy into staying warm, I'd actually want my whole house warm.

Tom

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Originally posted by Tom Raymond

Randy,

Since no one else suggested it, I will. Why not use the fire place as is and put the wood stove at the other end of the rambler? It will give you more even heat, and installing a new metal chimney will be less messy than bashing out the fireplace damper.

Tom

Good idea. Trouble is, our bed's right there.

Anyway, I've had success. The damper metal was fairly thin, probably 1/8" or so. It cut like butter with a Sawzall. Yes, it was dirty but came out fairly quickly.

Like Kurt alway sez, us home inspectors need to take things apart and put them back together more. Doing this has certainly helped further my understanding of how fireplaces are built - they're amzaingly simple (at least this style as I know there's dozens of configurations out there).

And yes, I felt a consistent pang of guilt tearing apart a perfectly well-built and functional damper and upper part of the firebox. What if, just what if I won't go through with the renovation and need to put the fireplace back together? Like other have stated, once an insert always an insert. To convert the system back to the original damper/fireplace, it would take an experienced mason and lots of money.

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