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Posted: 9/29/2004 4:31:19 PM EST
The house I bought this summer has a fireplace. IIRC it has what's called a fireplace insert, whatever that is. It's wood burning by the way and has an electric blower which circulates air into my family room.

How do I know if it needs cleaned?

Is there any particular type of wood which is best? There's an old tree in my backyard someone has already cut down and looks quite dry. I assume it's fine to cut up into fire wood.

How do I prevent the fire from getting too hot? Is there even such a thing as too hot a fire?

What's the best way to start the fire?

Any other advice (other than telling me to convert to gas ) anyone can give me?
Link Posted: 9/29/2004 4:32:49 PM EST
IM Sweep. he is a professional chimneysweep.
Link Posted: 9/29/2004 4:33:12 PM EST
Paging Sweep.

Paging Dr Sweep.
Link Posted: 9/29/2004 4:34:51 PM EST
I've always been told that Oak is pretty good to use in the old fireplace, more heat/log.
Link Posted: 9/29/2004 4:44:47 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/29/2004 4:45:46 PM EST by Pangea]
Oak, Ash, Hickory(pops alot though), Pecan, Hackberry, Sasafrass, Poplar. Just about anything except Pine for your primary wood. Use slivers of cedar or Pine for kindling. Kindling is the stuff you put down first then place progressivley larger wood on top.

Your insert should have an intake dampner and maybe and exaust dampner. The intake dampner is used to regulate how much air gets to your fire and this regulates the temperature. The exaust dampner or flu is used to controll air flow also and helps keep the heat from going up the chimney or stovepipe. It should be kept open enough to allow all the smoke out but not all the heat.

As mentioned above, ask Sweep. He knows how to tell you what some of us know but can't explain real good.
Link Posted: 9/29/2004 4:52:11 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/29/2004 4:53:42 PM EST by cyanide]
To check if the chimney needs cleaned
climb the roof and shine a flash light down it, then clean it anyway
make sure the flue is in working condition

look for cracks if it is a masonry chimney

consider a chimney liner, if it is an old house

Better yet have a chimney sweep inspect it for you - way cheaper than having the house burn down.

If putting in a wood stove or fireplace liner --- have it done professionally - it is a simple and yet complex matter --
clearances
chimney capacity
chimney height
etc ...

Well worth the trouble ---------- cozy fires are thought provoking.


One burns the wood that one has access to --------- in the end no big deal, it is just that some burn cleaner and hotter than others -- in the end , you burn what you have.



Link Posted: 9/29/2004 4:53:14 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/29/2004 4:57:20 PM EST by rayra]

Originally Posted By RED_5:
I've always been told that Oak is pretty good to use in the old fireplace, more heat/log.

Have that type of insert at the place in the mountains. Works great. The blower pumps room air through about a dozen ~2" pipes that form the grate, the air coming out of the top vents back into the room is too hot to hold my hand in front of. Less than 10mins of fan time with a roaring fire will heat 800sq' of open space to t-shirt conditions.

When we bought the place, it was pretty shabby. One of the renovation projects was the fireplace. I found some replacement fans and covered the thing with very high temp engine paint.



One of these days, we'll sandblast 50-some years' worth of soot and varnish off the stones.


Firewood - hardwood like Oak, eucalyptus etc burn much longer but cost much more per cord.
softwoods like pince etc burn very fast, and are more likely to pop / spark.
You can buy either type, or even mixed which is a good compromise.
And the time to buy bulk firewood is NOT this time of year. Buy it in the mid-summer when it's cheaper.
We average about 12-15 long nights of well-burning fires, out of a full cord.

Link Posted: 9/29/2004 5:06:15 PM EST
Buying wood? Go to a saw mill and ask if they sell butts and slabs. Butts are what is trimmed from the big end to make a log a proper length. Slabs are what is cut off with the bark to square the log for cutting boards. The 5 saw mills by my house give slabs to anyone that will come get them or charge $50 per dumptruck load delivered within 10 miles. Slabs are great especially when used with split wood like from butts or tie blocks. I am buying tie blocks for $10 for all you can haul on a pickup. Tie blocks are the trimmed off ends of railroad cross ties. These are straight off the sawmill and aren't treated. All hardwood. You can get about a solid cord on a 3/4 ton pickup with good tires and it will split and stack into about three ricks. For $10!

Pallets are good hardwood and can be burnt very easily. You just have to sift your ashes unless you have a big hole to dump them in. Nails and staples.
Link Posted: 9/29/2004 5:08:15 PM EST
Currently have three, standard fire place with glass screen and a free standing stove and an incert in the barn. Good rule for firewood is keep it hard, keep it dry. If you happen to get some junk like cottonwood which burns dirty you can mix a little pine or cedar to keep it burning and the heat up. I bought a 12 ton hydralic jac type log splitter last year that works off my air compressor on the internet and seems to do a good job. Cleaning should be done with a sweep brush you can get at Home Depot for $30-$40 after every 30 days of use, more frequently if your using dirty wood. Personally I'll burn anything I can get my hands on as long as it's free but keep it clean cause chimmy fires are no fun as your standing on the roof with your waterhose down the pipe.

Incerts work well but you'll get better heat from a free standing stove. You can buy a little therostate on a magnet that you put on the door or pipe if's accesable but you want to keep the heat at a moderate setting. If it isn't hot enough you'll get more cresote build up which means more cleaning. Heat is controlled by the amount of air and wood so you regulate those and you control your heat.

I usually keep a big box of pine needles around for fire starting. A nice hand full of those with some kindling and tender on top. Oh yea, don't forget to blow. I would not consider converting to gas as wood is much more versitle and splitting a few cords each year will do wonders for your bod.
Link Posted: 9/29/2004 5:20:23 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/30/2004 6:04:33 AM EST by cyanide]

Originally Posted By rayra:

Originally Posted By RED_5:
I've always been told that Oak is pretty good to use in the old fireplace, more heat/log.

Have that type of insert at the place in the mountains. Works great. The blower pumps room air through about a dozen ~2" pipes that form the grate, the air coming out of the top vents back into the room is too hot to hold my hand in front of. Less than 10mins of fan time with a roaring fire will heat 800sq' of open space to t-shirt conditions.

When we bought the place, it was pretty shabby. One of the renovation projects was the fireplace. I found some replacement fans and covered the thing with very high temp engine paint.

img.photobucket.com/albums/v95/rayra/fireplace1.jpg img.photobucket.com/albums/v95/rayra/fireplace2.jpg

One of these days, we'll sandblast 50-some years' worth of soot and varnish off the stones.


Firewood - hardwood like Oak, eucalyptus etc burn much longer but cost much more per cord.
softwoods like pince etc burn very fast, and are more likely to pop / spark.
You can buy either type, or even mixed which is a good compromise.
And the time to buy bulk firewood is NOT this time of year. Buy it in the mid-summer when it's cheaper.
We average about 12-15 long nights of well-burning fires, out of a full cord.




Liners can get 900-1200 degrees during a fire up (worse case scenario)

They should burn at 400- 500 degrees for good burns ( but can get as as hot as 600-900 degrees ), hot engine paint is rated at what 500 - 600 degrees - not enough.

They sell high temperatures paints that can handle heat - engine paint is not one of them.
Link Posted: 9/29/2004 5:49:04 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/29/2004 5:50:25 PM EST by Seth_Livzz]
Thanks for the help so far everyone!

There's a butterfly looking thing above the log cradle (looks like a butterfly valve from a carb anyway), is that the flue? It doesn't look adjustable other than being either open or closed.

Oh and btw, the insert itself is made from firebrick, not metal.
Link Posted: 9/30/2004 2:22:03 AM EST
Excellent suggestions, I heat exclusively with wood, usually burn five cords/chords(?) per year, use only hardwood, I still clean it every month, always get at least a gallon of ashes and creosote out of it.

rk
Link Posted: 9/30/2004 5:00:28 AM EST
Link Posted: 9/30/2004 5:10:41 AM EST
Link Posted: 9/30/2004 5:18:07 AM EST
I love our fireplace.

Gas.

Just flip the switch and enjoy.
Link Posted: 9/30/2004 2:01:54 PM EST
Thanks Sweep!

I just measured the diameter of the pipe/flue/whatever-you-call it above the insert and it is 8". The insert is original to the house, which was built in 1991. The glass doors are amazingly clean, especially considering the people I bought the house from were complete slobs. So maybe it has that fancy air circulation thing you were talking about.

I'll just have a licensed sweep come out before I start blazing away. Better safe than sorry.
Link Posted: 9/30/2004 2:13:40 PM EST
I have an old brick fireplace, and have been wanting to get an insert. I have to stand in front of it to get any heat. The house is 70yo with mostly original windows, so it is kind of drafty.

Is any particular brand good?
What should I look for?
How much should I expect it to cost?
Mine is 3ft w x 2ft h, x 2ft d, if that makes any difference.
Link Posted: 9/30/2004 2:35:59 PM EST
Link Posted: 9/30/2004 4:06:05 PM EST
Link Posted: 9/30/2004 4:41:14 PM EST
AND NOW A WORD OF CAUTION...!


Every year on the local news I see more than a few houses being damaged and/or burning down due to people cleaning up and dumping the ashes from last nights fire. The ashes are still hot and they dump them in their giant plastic garbage can full of paper garbage and a few hours later the side of the house is on fire.

---Make sure the ash is completely cold before removing!

---Store/transfer ash in a STEEL CONTAINER WITH TIGHT FITTING LID (ie a small steel garbage can) until ready to dispose of.

---Do not store container around anything that is flammable!
Link Posted: 9/30/2004 4:59:02 PM EST

Originally Posted By Noname:
AND NOW A WORD OF CAUTION...!


Every year on the local news I see more than a few houses being damaged and/or burning down due to people cleaning up and dumping the ashes from last nights fire. The ashes are still hot and they dump them in their giant plastic garbage can full of paper garbage and a few hours later the side of the house is on fire.

---Make sure the ash is completely cold before removing!

---Store/transfer ash in a STEEL CONTAINER WITH TIGHT FITTING LID (ie a small steel garbage can) until ready to dispose of.

---Do not store container around anything that is flammable!



Wise words.
Link Posted: 9/30/2004 5:00:12 PM EST

Originally Posted By Sweep:


You convert to gas I'll lock your account.



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