Thread Number: 68289  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
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Post# 910261   12/9/2016 at 00:55 (227 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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For some reason, I thought about fireplaces tonight. Maybe because it's a snowy, cold night where I live. (Cold by my area standards.) It would be nice to sit by the fire, sipping hot tea, while I annoy everyone on post on Alas, though, there is no fireplace here.


I grew up in a couple of houses that had fireplaces. One apparently inspired my parents big gift for themselves one Christmas: a screen and tools. (First year in that house.) I don't remember it, but we lived in a house later on that had a fireplace, and one happy  memory was using that in winter. It was hugely saddening when we stopped using it--some concerns that chimney cleaning was overdue. My mother and I talked about getting it done the last couple of years we lived there; however, the budget was tight, and we never got around to it... Although I did sort of revive the main fireplace by tossing in yard sale find set of electric logs. So we had "a fire" the last winter (including the last Christmas). 


I miss fireplaces, and think "someday" I'd like to have one again...although I suppose they aren't the best things for the environment, or the wallet, if used. (Although I suppose gas fireplaces would be better on both counts. But there is something about real wood fires I still like.)


So how about others here? Does anyone else have and use a fireplace?

Post# 910271 , Reply# 1   12/9/2016 at 04:56 (227 days old) by goatfarmer (South Bend, home of Champions)        

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We have one, that we put a fireplace insert into. Equipped with a blower, it keeps the living room toasty warm this time of year.

Post# 910274 , Reply# 2   12/9/2016 at 05:14 (227 days old) by appnut (TX)        

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The house I grew up in had one.  All 3 of my houses have had them and I have used them.  My current house featured a "heat-a-lator" blower in it and particularly enjoyed how well it kept "the common area" warm.  I haven't used mine for 20 years due to being laid off in 1997 and subsequent financial issues.  And unless a huge financial windfall is bestowed on me, I probably won't as I would need the chimney to be inspected and cleaned before I even purchase wood. Neighbors around me still use them.  I kind of enjoy the smell outside when it gets really cold and the fireplaces are used. 

Post# 910279 , Reply# 3   12/9/2016 at 05:28 (227 days old) by Frigilux (The Minnesota Prairie)        

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I have a wood-burning fireplace but never use it. The former owner used it all winter and put a few logs in it for show when selling the house. They are still in there 14 years later, LOL.

I burned down a barn when I was 6 and since then cannot imagine having a fire---even a controlled one---inside the house. If western civilization collapses I suppose I can knock down my backyard fence board-by-board and keep warm.

Post# 910297 , Reply# 4   12/9/2016 at 08:11 (227 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
We use a sealed combustion chamber fireplace with blower

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And big quartz glass doors. It can warm the house by itself in the transition period and cuts the gas bill by more than half in the sub-zero periods. 

I don't see how burning wood contributes to pollution, the sequestered CO2 just gets returned.


The sad thing - it used to take us at least two hours to cut down the dead treas and load a cord.

Thanks to beetle kill, the last run wasn't 45 minutes from start to finish. I put my hand on one 5" tree and said, 'let's cut this one...'when it snapped.


The local forest service was pretty nasty about letting us cut wood even 10 years ago. Today, they're so glad to get the dry, brittle, burns at a glance stuff out of there they even smiled at us when they checked our permits.


I love a wood fire. The animals adore it.

This post was last edited 12/09/2016 at 09:00
Post# 910304 , Reply# 5   12/9/2016 at 09:03 (227 days old) by Iheartmaytag (Wichita, Kansas)        

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I wanted a wood burning fireplace.  It was on my list when I bought the house, because a few years back there was a big ice storm where power was out for up to two weeks; I wanted a back up. 


In an 80 year old house I got a former Coal burning fireplace that had been converted to gas.  It's cleaner, works to make the room toasty, and there for an emergency.  Just doesn't quite have the ambiance of warm flickering flames.

Post# 910306 , Reply# 6   12/9/2016 at 09:29 (227 days old) by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

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I have a big fireplace in the center of my house with a heat-o-lator. It is absolutely worthless for generating heat into the house as it all goes up the chimney.

Post# 910312 , Reply# 7   12/9/2016 at 09:51 (227 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        

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Something isn't working right, if that's the case.

Post# 910315 , Reply# 8   12/9/2016 at 10:06 (227 days old) by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

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If I keep a hot fire going for 3-4 hours, there is some heat coming from the heat-o-lator vents but I feel it is way too much work when my small Hearthstone propane "woodstove" gives instant heat and is powerful enough to keep the entire living space comfortable in the event of a power outage when my oil boiler wont work.

Post# 910322 , Reply# 9   12/9/2016 at 10:47 (227 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        

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There is definitely something wrong. You should be getting strong heat output as soon as the draft is established. You might want to check that out.

You won't get the level of efficiency our sealed combustion chamber does - outside air in, not room air, but there should be a good return of heat. Perhaps a former owner closed a draft or something fell across a duct? You'd be surprised how many stupid things happen. My parents' first house in the US was ice cold in two rooms whilst the rest was very well balanced. After many attempts to 'fix' it by various furnace people, it was an Italian cousin visiting in February who solved it: The previous owners had stuffed a pillow into the cold-air return line to those two rooms. Pillow out, whole house balanced and comfy.


Take a good look, do a smoke test, I bet something's blocked.

Post# 910323 , Reply# 10   12/9/2016 at 10:50 (227 days old) by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

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if all the heat from your fireplace with the Heat-o-lator is going up the chimney try installing a glass fire place enclosure on the front. This way when the fire is dying out the heat will still be relected back into the room.

We live in 35 yr old two story, 1250 ft townhouse. The only heat source we had when we bought it were electric, hydronic baseboard heaters with thermostats mounted on the wall and there was also a manufactured fireplace installed in the living room. The first winter here I hit the ceiling when we got the electric bill. Using the fireplace as it was wasn't much help unless we kept a roaring fire going all the time, because with out an enclosure all the heat went up the chimeny as the fire started to die out. We had an Avalon woodstove insert installed with a blower and that worked great. But the fire box required that the wood be no longer than 15" to 16", and to get it started it took a lot of babying with using progressively larger pieces of wood as the fire got going. And the wood had to be really seasoned and dry, or the fire just smoldered. Since I was still working full time it was a real hassle splitting wood all the time. So we switched to pressed logs, like the old Presto logs. These were wonderful, but expensive. Our next door neighboor, who's unit is identical to ours got a Whifield Pellet insert and she loved it. So we went back to the dealer we bought the Avalon from the year before and he gave us a great deal on a trade in for the Whitfield insert which we had installed the day Princess Diana died. This pellet insert is the bomb! It's easy to start,(although the self started never worked very well). I use Sure Start fire squares to start it. The pellets are easy to store, not too expensive and the stove with its blower warms the entire house in about 15 mins. Its cheerful to watch and easy to maintain. I've never regretted this purchase. We still use the electric heaters too, but the pellet insert helps to keep the cost of heating under control and really warms a cold house quickly.

Post# 910326 , Reply# 11   12/9/2016 at 11:13 (227 days old) by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

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I have glass doors, damper works fine but wood is just too much work. I have a few neighbors with pellet stoves but are useless in a power outage.

Post# 910327 , Reply# 12   12/9/2016 at 11:14 (227 days old) by twintubdexter (Palm Springs)        
Fireplaces in the Southern California Desert...

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The area I live in is relatively new. Wood burning fireplaces are illegal. I have a gas fireplace which I occasionally use when I have company. Most of the heat produced goes up the vent (chimney) so it's really just wasting gas. Fortunately gas is not expensive here. I often smell mesquite burning in the evenings. Maybe it's a BBQ, although I wouldn't be surprised if some yahoo is trying to burn wood in a gas unit. I suspect the vent on top of the chimney would be tell-tale black. I'd report it to the fire department if I spotted one...just call me a mean old man, even at this time of year. Scrooge was right, Christmas is a humbug.


My vote for the best "A Christmas Carol" ever...

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Post# 910365 , Reply# 13   12/9/2016 at 15:17 (227 days old) by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

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Woodburners and fireplaces are a curse for a lot of people with asthma. Inside and outside. Whether the wood is dried well enough or not. It creates a lot of fine dust that is a nightmare for sensitive lungs. I will never be able to have something like that and would get serious lung problems if neighbours would use one with little wind or wind from the wrong direction.

Post# 910378 , Reply# 14   12/9/2016 at 16:58 (227 days old) by appnut (TX)        

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Tim, is your fan blower motor working correctly? On mine, once the fireplace really heats up the metal, I turn on the blower and it pumps out the heat. 

Post# 910388 , Reply# 15   12/9/2016 at 18:09 (227 days old) by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

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I have 2 fan blowers on either side and both are working fine. I think the problem is the fireplace is in the middle of a 16'x40' room with a cathedral ceiling and all the generated heat goes up to the top of the ceiling and ceiling fans really dont help alot.

Post# 910416 , Reply# 16   12/9/2016 at 22:18 (226 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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I don't see how burning wood contributes to pollution, the sequestered CO2 just gets returned.


I've heard the argument in Mother Earth News more than once that wood is ahead of other fuels. In order for the system to work, we need to plant trees, which clean the air. Meanwhile, fossil fuels carbon content is locked deep within the earth...until it's pumped or mined and then burned. And when burned, there is usually nothing to compensate, like a brand new tree.


One can also argue that a fuel spill involving wood is a lot less devastating than petroleum.


Another factor to keep in mind: newer wood stoves and inserts are much cleaner than had once been the case. Indeed, there is evidence of that in my state. In the Tacoma area, there has been real concern about air quality (and I think it's a national concern, probably EPA). During certain periods when air pollution can be a real problem, there would be burn bans. The first to be banned would always be plain fireplaces and older stoves. I think it reached a point where wood stoves in one area now legally must be a low emissions design. I have mixed feelings, because I can see having an antique stove, and wanting to use it, but the area has had the pollution issues.

Post# 910417 , Reply# 17   12/9/2016 at 22:31 (226 days old) by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

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Here's an article that explains how woodburners and fireplaces can be a threat to your health.

Post# 910421 , Reply# 18   12/9/2016 at 23:39 (226 days old) by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

I've got 2 real fireplaces and one fake.  The real one now both have gas logs.  I put a gas log in the living room fireplace last fall, and that room got a lot more use, especially when company was over.  Had stopped burning real wood in there decades ago simply because of the mess of cleaning out the ashes.  The other gas log is in the library and get a moderate amount of use in the fall.  I can light it and run it very low and get a good deal of heat out of it and delay starting the furnace for weeks, if not a month by settling in there for the evening.  That gas log dates back to the mid 60's and is not as decorative as the newer unit in the living room, but it is still enjoyable to watch.  I newer one in the LR has a serpentine burner that generates quite a realistic flame, plus the embers glow much like a wood fire.  The design certainly has come a long way.


Got to agree with the OP, a cold snowy evening by the fire is something i look forward to, especially after all the holiday prep is done and the trees are up.  Sit back, sip some good red wine and enjoy the flames flickering.

Post# 910423 , Reply# 19   12/10/2016 at 00:02 (226 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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My parents had the original tall & shallow (but not a "Rumford" type) 1927 fireplace here converted to gas over 30 years ago.  


My dad could build a roaring wood fire, but I never got the hang of it, and can do without having to tend a fire once it's going anyway.  Now that it's gas, all I need is a long lighter or match, and there's no need for a screen -- a big plus for aesthetics IMO.  We only light it when entertaining.


Earlier this year, the Bay Area Air Quality Management group announced it was pursuing a complete ban on wood burning fireplaces.  It would have required a retrofit whenever a home with a wood burning fireplace was sold.   There was a serious uproar from the community and realtors, more about the costs involved than the desire to burn wood, and the plans were dropped.  I'm sure that if a retrofitting incentive plan could be funded, opposition to something of that nature would be minimal.


In the meantime, we have "Spare the Air" days declared when stagnant conditions cause particulate pollution to build, and on such days burning wood is not allowed.  People generally tend to observe them because they can't hide what they're doing.


The guy around the corner from me burns wood every chance he gets, and regularly on weekends.  I don't know if his chimney has draft issues or if he just likes to let his fires smolder, but the smoke sort of wafts instead of billowing upward, then drifts over the surrounding homes during the better part of the day, making it hard to be outside.   I can even smell it in my basement because it enters through the foundation vents.  He does observe the Spare the Air alerts, though.   Maybe he knows there are lots of neighbors who would be reaching for their phones if given the chance to lodge a legitimate complaint.


One thing I wouldn't mind if I had a different kitchen configuration and more room is a vintage stove with a trash burner.   I've had a couple of mid-'30s Wedgewoods in the past that had trash burners, and it was a cinch to start a fire in them and keep them going.

Post# 910426 , Reply# 20   12/10/2016 at 00:23 (226 days old) by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

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We have Spare the Air Days too in most of Sonoma Co. We also have two neighbors that consistently burn on the no burn days. For the first two years I let it slide. Then when it was freezing cold and we were always observing the no burn days and as a consequence had much higher PGE bills I finally reported them. They kept burning and I kept reporting. Finally, I called the Bay Area Air Quality Control Board and asked why there had been nothing done to stop the violations? The guys response was, "Do you get a ticket every time you speed?" To which I replied, "Then why even ask people to report violations if nothing was going to be done?" He said they would eventually get around to it. Oh well, And poeple are wise to it and on no burn days anywhere I walk in town there is always fire wood smoke in the air.

Post# 910430 , Reply# 21   12/10/2016 at 02:11 (226 days old) by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

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In a few weeks, I'll move in a house with wood fireplaces, they haven't been used for years and the one downstairs had a flat screen TV over it... The fire bricks inside that one should be replaced too.

I do not intend to use it but I'd like it to be safe to use in case there's a power outage. I'd like to put a gas insert in the one upstairs, it's an open fireplace without doors and I'd like to have something mostly decorative in it but I'd also like to have at least some of the heat staying in the house.

It won't be the number one project as there are quite a few things to fix and take care of and my budget for upgrades will be very limited!

One of the first things after I get an insurance coverage for the house (that's a lot more complicated than I thought it would be!) will be to try to fix the heating in the garage. The thermostat still works and the relay for the garage circulator clicks but there's a wire that's cut on it and I'm wondering why. It could be from normal wear or? I guess I'll find out soon enough. I got spare Honeywell relays today and I hope the trouble won't be too complicated to fix.

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Post# 910432 , Reply# 22   12/10/2016 at 03:08 (226 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

Have a fireplace with a Fisher wood burner insert -but don't use it.Too much trouble and the insurance rate would go up if I did.Other folks around me use their wood burners and sometimes the outside is intolerable.Wood smoke IS harmful!Remember years ago flying into Denver Stapleton airport around Chirstmas.The plane flew thru a lot of smog-the pilots commented it was from woodburning appliances!Also at my place used to be a woodpile in the garage-got rid of it because it was a "condominium" for mice and snakes!

Post# 910442 , Reply# 23   12/10/2016 at 07:13 (226 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
After January

7th. Then we'll be ready, in zip code 85379.

Post# 910444 , Reply# 24   12/10/2016 at 07:19 (226 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
I mean,

get all the creosote off the fireplace interior so you don't have a chimney fire.

Post# 910464 , Reply# 25   12/10/2016 at 10:04 (226 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
We live

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in a state roughly the size of Germany.

With a population less than half-a-million.

And a 24x7 stiff breeze.

And the best air quality of any city in the US because of that stiff breeze.

I'm not the least worried that my fireplace is hurting anyone's health here.


Now, I can remember visits to Berlin before the wall fell which left me gasping for breath.


It's all about the concentration of fires in a given space - we couldn't do this in Munich. Actually, the last fireplace I had in Munich ran through a scrubber and a catalytic converter. 


Post# 910486 , Reply# 26   12/10/2016 at 11:51 (226 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
nothing worse for me

than a 2 cycle snow blower, not using the new lower smoke oil.

Post# 910496 , Reply# 27   12/10/2016 at 12:48 (226 days old) by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

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I'm not cocerned about the environment in your state but more about the air quality inside your home.

Post# 910502 , Reply# 28   12/10/2016 at 13:30 (226 days old) by perc-o-prince (Southboro, Mass)        

2 fireplaces here. One in the more-used living room downstairs and another in the more semi-formal living room. Both get used. There's a heat-o-later in the downstairs one, but it doesn't throw much heat. Each side of the fireplace has a lower vent for intake and an upper vent for heat exit. Odds are something was wrong with the installation or something happened in there years ago. Tried positioning a blower fan on one of the intakes but it didn't help.

We burn at every gathering, small or large, during the cold weather. For the larger ones, both fireplaces are going. When Rich's grandparents and uncle were alive, many was a time that the downstairs fireplace had a fire going most every weekend, all weekend long, in the winter.

After having a cap put on (after 40 years of trouble-free burning), the main floor fireplace draft wasn't what it used to be, and we'd get smoke in the downstairs if burning upstairs. Finally had a separator put between the flues under the cap, and voila, no more problem.


Post# 910504 , Reply# 29   12/10/2016 at 14:20 (226 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        

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That's sweet of you. The closed combustion chamber means just that - outside air intake (forced when needed) and sealed Brennkammer with sealed exhaust, forced when needed. The blower's have zero contact with the combustion byproducts. There's a sophisticated temperature sensing sudden and an integrated CO monitor which not only sounds alarm, but cuts the blower's while forcing the draft. Never gone off, though.

Post# 910531 , Reply# 30   12/10/2016 at 17:51 (226 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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Well, Panthera, even with all those systems, there might be issues of something leaking out when the door is opened to toss in wood... Of course, how much of a problem wood burning with any given system raises depends heavily on how its used, and the people in the environment.


The other minus I see with all those systems is that they sound like they need power to work...and so if the electricity goes bye-bye, I assume the wood burner won't work. It seems to me I've heard this as a minus for some systems like wood pellet stoves--it requires power to run.


Outside air supply for combustion is not news to me. No idea when it came to be, but I remember having conversations with the guy who used to maintain the place where I live. He was fired up (ha!) to install a wood stove here--which I'd have liked--but the problem is I live in a mobile home  [Gag. Shudder.]  But a problem we hit: it would have to be a cheap installation, and one of the big stumbling blocks to that was that wood stove had to be a special one with combustion air intake from the outside, which poses problems when used stove shopping. But stoves like that apparently just have an unforced air connection (a pipe leading outside, no blower) or so I gathered. Meanwhile, you could get any stove used--even one sitting in a ditch, rusting away--and toss it into a real house, and (as far as combustion air supply was concerned) no one would care, or so I gathered. The fire department, however, might not approve of a rusted-out stove on other grounds...



Post# 910535 , Reply# 31   12/10/2016 at 18:05 (226 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        
Gas logs

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It seems like a lot of people in my area are using gas fireplaces or gas logs now. I tried to help give away some firewood a decade ago, and I found zero takers. People I knew with fireplaces said they'd converted.  Not everyone, of course--stores still have (the last I knew) those paper wrapped fireplace logs, and I see bundles of overpriced firewood outside Fred Meyer every winter. So someone must still use real wood fireplaces.


I have to admit to some  dislike of gas logs and also some changes of thought--or at least a growing tolerance. I think I positively hated the idea, once. When my childhood home was sold, the buyer talked openly about whether gas logs would work in the fireplace. My mother and I both cringed at the idea--even though we'd never had the resources to service the chimney, we were die-hard "real" fireplace fans. (The electric logs I mentioned using earlier were OK--they  made the fireplace usable again, and were obviously 100% reversible. Indeed, one could in theory alternate between real wood fires (on special occasions like Christmas) and use the electric logs the rest of the time.


But I'm getting more tolerant of the idea, and can even imagine myself using a gas fireplace if I had one. I like the traditional wood...but as I get older, I guess I see the practical advantages of gas more and more. Wood is either a lot of work to chop, or a lot of expense (to buy wood), for what is (with most fireplaces) nothing more than decoration. Add to that the pain of cleaning out ashes...


And past this (at least part of which was hinted at above), one thing that is nice about gas is that it lights fast, and seems more practical for regular use. It's nice to think about building a big fire on a cold Saturday night. But those evenings when one might only have an hour or less to sit, relaxing, gas seems a lot more practical.

Post# 910576 , Reply# 32   12/10/2016 at 22:30 (225 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
Well, fortunately, the draft is so strong

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Even when we open a door to reload, there's so much suction not even ash comes out.

The outside air doesn't have to be forced, so that's no problem and the fireplace is conventional in loading and burning so that's no problem and I have 12 v. backup blowers in case the power goes down so that's no problem. I guess I'm paranoid, but it did seem one major reason to have a fireplace designed as the main heat source for a medium sized house.

It's a Canadian design and, as the comments here (and from friends back home in Germany) show, it's not a concept with which most people in Europe are familiar. I love it - such pretty fires, such pleasant and cheap warmth and a backup for times when the power does fail.

Post# 910577 , Reply# 33   12/10/2016 at 22:54 (225 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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Sounds like a good design you have, Panthera!


As commented before, I like the idea of heating with wood, but having the ability to watch the fire would be important. When I lived with a wood stove one winter, as I think I mentioned above, one thing I did NOT like about it was that the doors were solid metal. (That stove was probably chosen based entirely on practical issues. The people who built that house heated with wood only for many years, apparently. They may well have only cared about "free heat" and not at all about "romance of flickering flames.")


I remember reading some reprints of floor plans and building ideas devised by Gustav Stickley (Arts & Crafts/Mission era), and one thing I recall was a fireplace idea of making a fireplace that a metal firebox IIRC that could circulate hot air. Presumably, this would get more heating out of a fireplace, although the efficiency would be less than other systems (e.g., more or less sealed stove). One could apparently order a premade fireplace firefox (again IIRC). Fireplaces were a major part of Stickley design, and one assumes the more efficient fireplace was an earlier attempt at getting better efficiency and allowing people to enjoy the fire.

Post# 910578 , Reply# 34   12/10/2016 at 22:59 (225 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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A couple of other memories... As mentioned, when I was growing up, we had a fireplace that we used. That era was also an era of energy consciousness (due to oil crisis of the late 70s). I remember glass doors being a big thing, and a move my father had on his "someday" list. I think some colleague of his swore by them, and I think efficiency was one point made. I was sort of glad "someday" never happened--I liked the regular screen. Actually, I'd have liked a setup where there was no screen (although admittedly this results in safety issues. In that house, the hearth wasn't big enough--50s "ledge" design--to have the fireplace screen open for much longer than it took to add wood.


The other memory I have from that era were special grates that would recover more heat by using air tubes that surrounded the fire. IIRC, some were passive designs (no blower), but others had a blower. (The ones with a blower, one assumes, would work better.)

Post# 910731 , Reply# 35   12/12/2016 at 05:24 (224 days old) by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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My parents have a Franklin stove with doors on the front that can be opened for "fireplace" burning. I would love to have a gas fireplace here now but just don't have a place to install it with my baby grand taking up half the living room. I guess I'll just have to stick to the ultimate in low maintenance fireplaces....put this on the big screen and turn off the lights.


Post# 910736 , Reply# 36   12/12/2016 at 07:11 (224 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
long narrow

chimney, tunnel, mind?

Post# 910754 , Reply# 37   12/12/2016 at 09:20 (224 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        

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You're a naughty boy. You'll have the Imperial Queens reaching for their Geritol if you're not careful.

'Fraid the November elections have me thinking along slightly different lines - the winning voters are in a long, dark, narrow tunnel. At the end they see a light! Our Salvation, our Führer! Nope, just an onrushing freight train. I did mention it was a very narrow tunnel with no place to go, didn't I?


I was thankful for the fireplace this morning. Flame sensor on the furnace was dirty. Again. never fails at three in the afternoon, nope - always in the middle of the night and always when we're cruising down toward minus 0°F. Got it cleaned and working - but ordered a new one just in case. That's the third cleaning in just a short time. I think it's coming to the end of the road. Or, it's always been marginal.



Post# 910794 , Reply# 38   12/12/2016 at 15:28 (224 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
I am naughty aren't I?

Oh well, Wyoming is a beautifull state indeed! I can tell you are a well traveled survivor, an I am the eldest of five, so I had to be also.
One winter when I was a teen, I dug out half the neighborhood from a 19 inch snow storm. Seniors needed help.
One winter my car broke down on me when it was well below zero. The cooling fan motor separated and the fan sliced into the radiator. I was living alone in an apartment, and my friends were either working, or unavailable to help.
I hiked to the local auto parts supply, got a new radiator, and fan, and put it back together on the kitchen floor. I had to get to work the next day.

Post# 910795 , Reply# 39   12/12/2016 at 15:30 (224 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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Of course the furnace never breaks at 3 PM. Evil gremlins sit in the basement, checking the watch to see if it's the middle of the night, and then checking the outside temperature to see if it's cold enough to be a huge inconvenience if the furnace breaks!


I think it's more than a little scary the thought of the furnace breaking suddenly. At night, when one is home, is inconvenient. But what if the part acts up on a chilly weekend when one is out of town?

Post# 910796 , Reply# 40   12/12/2016 at 15:33 (224 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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Franklin stoves are an approach that interested me years back. Better efficiency than a fireplace (although supposedly not as good as sealed wood stove of that era), and the option of having it open to enjoy the fire. Although the value would only exist if one regularly used it as closed stove. Otherwise, one might as well just have an all-metal fireplace... (Or, of course, a stove with a window.)

Post# 910843 , Reply# 41   12/12/2016 at 20:51 (223 days old) by washman (Butler, PA)        
Not now

washman's profile picture
but back in Indiana, state of, we had a double wide that had one in the corner. It was mostly for show, you'd never dream of heating with it. We used it each winter mainly to burn up the piles of wood we'd cut in prior years when we heated with wood exclusively.

IIRC, it was in the family/tv room.

Post# 910921 , Reply# 42   12/13/2016 at 07:32 (223 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        

and yes, I agree, but let's hope that train doesn't wreck in the tunnel again!

Post# 910923 , Reply# 43   12/13/2016 at 08:52 (223 days old) by DaveAMKrayoGuy (Oak Park, MI)        
Bonus Pic's: Typical & P'nty Fan!!!!

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Well, here are the only pics o' my fireplace that seemed to make it to my new computer & were probably taken w/ my new camera (the old one fell & broke two times: 1) daughter dropped it, spent $100+ to have it fixed 2) "Fat, Drunk & Stupid" took a selfie of himself being two, out of the three--retired it after that...) --and I had pulled them off of Facebook:


I have probably not burned a single log since then, back a great number of years--just too much work to clean the fireplace out (have a half-a-box o' starter logs & some kindling) and I don't care for the heat from the furnace to go up the chimney (it has a good damper, which is shut) nor for it to be by only heat source (it's in the den & I'm ready to nap & relax in the bedroom, though I'd just got up--well, almost two hours ago I took my daughter to school & my wife just left) either...



-- Dave

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Post# 910987 , Reply# 44   12/13/2016 at 15:22 (223 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
Well anyone

can tell that drawing is an old belt drive Whirlpool. Ring toss on the toes?
Back in the old days, we had to pull pallets down the alleys from the trucks to the store stock room. In winter, my feet to got so soaked once, they were calling me cheesy feet.

Post# 911063 , Reply# 45   12/13/2016 at 23:57 (222 days old) by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        

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Two FP in this '41 home. The one in the living room is original, complete with massive painted mantel and smart looking narrow glazed brick fronting. I stuck a vintage insert I found on Craigslist in there - it barely fit but it managed. It keeps the room warm but not so much the rest of the house (it's single story).


The second story is in the remodeled (circa mid-70's I think) second bedroom turned into family room contiguous with kitchen area. It's got that distressed brick facing, including mantel, floor to ceiling. I put another old insert in that one - it's an interesting one, with articulated glass doors and a nice long squirrel cage blower. The more modern design seems to fit the fireplace design better than an older one might.


However, I haven't lit either one up in two winters now. Too busy, I guess, plus one must keep track of the "no burn days" in this area. But as soon as I clean up the clutter around them I'm planning on getting one or the other or both going for atmosphere. 


My favorite FP insert is the LOPI brand, but they can be a bit hard to find.

Post# 914149 , Reply# 46   1/5/2017 at 16:41 (200 days old) by Davey7 (Chicago)        

My fireplace provides no real heat (which is good with steam heat) and has excellent draw as I'm about halfway up my building, but it does provide great atmosphere on dreary days and at parties.

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Post# 914158 , Reply# 47   1/5/2017 at 17:03 (200 days old) by GusHerb (Chicago/NWI)        

Is this the building built in the late 20s? That radiator looks like it's at least from the 50s if not newer, looks more like a steel baseboard style unit with a tall cabinet (to produce a strong stack effect and pull more air through the convector) 

Post# 914212 , Reply# 48   1/5/2017 at 20:55 (199 days old) by verizonbear (Glen Burnie )        
Ventless Gas Fireplace

verizonbear's profile picture
I have a ventless gas fireplace in my basement bar area, works very well makes the basement warm and cozy, no issues with fumes, love it.

Post# 914214 , Reply# 49   1/5/2017 at 21:30 (199 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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Stumbled across this. Malm apparently still makes metal, freestanding fireplaces in the US. One offering:


Since it's all metal, it might have better heating value than a "standard" fireplace...although, of course, wood stoves would be much better.

Post# 914320 , Reply# 50   1/6/2017 at 14:46 (199 days old) by firedome (Binghamton NY & Lake Champlain VT)        
thanks to PhilR

firedome's profile picture
we just got this Drolet made-in-Northern Quebec (they really know their woodstoves up there!) woodstove: efficient, has glass doors for viewing the flames, and of course can be opened up for more ambience, if one has a good hearth and is willing to sacrifice some of the heat. But with 11 ac of mostly hardwoods, efficiency and cost of wood is not a huge factor!

We once lived in an 1852 all brick 3 story house with 7 fireplaces: Parlor, DR and 3 BRs for heating, cooking fireplaces in basement and kitchen, the latter 8 ft wide x 5 ft tall and 3 ft deep with a pot hanger. They all drew really well since they knew how to build them then, but were horribly inefficient at heating. Inside one wore a lot of warm woolen clothing during the winter because we depended mostly on the ancient and huge oil hot air furnace that did keep us very warm but guzzled oil at a truly amazing rate... hence our next house was new, well insulated, and had 90% efficient hydronic heat.

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Post# 914382 , Reply# 51   1/6/2017 at 23:05 (198 days old) by Sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        

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I retrofitted both fireplaces in this house (1941) with inserts with blowers. I got both inserts for about $50 each off Craigslist. They are not hard to find; a lot of cities and counties around here require converting to gas if a major remodel is done to an existing home.

Both do fairly well at heating the rooms they are in (living room and family room). But the other rooms, not so much. Still, it's ample ambiance. One drawback are the frequent "no burn" days where wood fires are prohibited for air pollution reasons. Consequently I've accumulated quite a bit of firewood here, from just chopping down trees I planted here and there. This weekend a major rain storm is predicted so I could probably light up one or both fireplaces.

Post# 914387 , Reply# 52   1/7/2017 at 01:35 (198 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

lordkenmore's profile picture

a lot of cities and counties around here require converting to gas if a major remodel is done to an existing home. 


I'm not aware of any requirements like that in my area (Western WA) but then I don't know the ins and outs of current codes/policies for major remodels. But I have to wonder if wood burning fireplaces might not one day be banned or at least heavily regulated. (There are sometimes burn bans at times here when air quality is a concern.)


There is a ban on older wood stoves in the Tacoma area. IIRC it's illegal to even own a woodstove that's not a newer EPA certified design. (The demands removal or permanently disabling the stove.) The only exception is when the stove is the only heat source. That apparently requires special approval. Note this stove ban applies to any stove--not just a sitatuion where someone decides to do a major remodel. You have 1980 family room with stove and that stove is no longer usable, even if the room is 100% 1980 down to the light bulbs in the ceiling fixture. (That area of Tacoma was a huge headache for air quality, so that may be why the rules are so strict.)

Post# 914622 , Reply# 53   1/8/2017 at 12:42 (197 days old) by mayguy (Minnesota)        
Back and forth..

I really cringe when people has ventless fireplace/heaters. WAY TOO MUCH trouble waiting to happen.. I am glad they are banned here tho.

We own a '68 split level home, and has two fireplaces upstairs in the living room, and one downstairs in the family room. They are both the basic brick fireplace, that has fire brick walls inside, and no vents, so really no heat comes out of it other then the radiant heat.

The dampers has seen better days, and fire bricks are starting to come out on the fireplace in the living room, and we no longer use that one. I got insulation in it when we dont' use it to cut down on the heat loss up the chimney.

We do use the fireplace downstairs time to time for the mood, power outage and I would love to use it for heat as I grew up using the fireplace for heat in the late 70's. *Later on got a wood burning furnace to heat the whole house.

The back and forth part, our chimney has seen better days as well, but it's needs attention before something does happen. we are agreeing on taking the fireplace upstairs out as we don't use it, and also eats up a lot of space that we can't lay out the living room around another way. As for the fireplace downstairs, Hubby wants a gas downstairs, and I want wood again.

His point, gas can flip on and off when needed. No hassle of starting it/carry in wood.

Mine, I always grew up with wood, and still love it.. A local place sells wood pretty cheap, so cutting not a big deal. Cleaning up the ash don't take that much work! I like the sound, smell, and look of a real fire, where gas is "always the same" and about every people I know, I hardly EVER see their gas fireplace going??? I do know a few other who has wood, and that's going. What if we used up all of our natural gas? What if we are with out gas in the winter? I think burning wood is better for our eco system.

Post# 914665 , Reply# 54   1/8/2017 at 15:17 (197 days old) by Sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        
SF Bay Area Fireplace Regulations

sudsmaster's profile picture
In July of 2008, the Air District passed Regulation 6, Rule 3: Wood-Burning Devices to reduce fine particulate matter air pollution from wood smoke.

Don't Burn Wood during Winter Spare the Air Alerts
Under this regulation, it is illegal to burn wood, firelogs, pellets, or other solid fuels in your fireplace, woodstove, outdoor fire pit, or other wood-burning device on days for which the Air District issues a Winter Spare the Air Alert.
The Winter Spare the Air Alert season runs from November 1 through the end of February.

Check Before You Burn
Call 1-877-4NO-BURN
Check the Winter Spare the Air Alert status on the Spare the Air website home page and on
Sign up for e-mail EnviroFlash AirAlert notifications.
Sign up for automatic phone call alerts online or by calling 1-800-430-1515.
Local radio and TV news media will also carry announcements.
Residents whose dwellings have no natural gas or electrical service, or whose only source of heat is provided by wood burning, are exempt from the Winter Spare the Air Alert wood-burning restriction.

Other Conditions of the Rule
Beginning November 1, 2016, no wood-burning devices are allowed in new buildings constructed in the Bay Area. Gas-fueled fireplaces and logs, gas inserts, and electrical fireplaces are okay. Prior to November 1, 2016, the only wood-burning devices allowed in new construction are EPA-certified wood-burning or pellet-fueled devices.
Beginning November 1, 2016, Bay Area residents who begin a chimney or fireplace remodeling project that costs over $15,000 and requires a building permit will only be allowed to install a gas-fueled, electric or EPA-certified device.
The rule also places year-round prohibitions on excessive chimney smoke and the burning of garbage, plastics, or other harmful materials in fireplaces and woodstoves. Residents and businesses should burn clean, dry wood in short, hot fires with plenty of air in order to reduce air pollution from smoky and inefficient fires.
Firewood suppliers are required to appropriately label their wood as “seasoned” or “unseasoned." Seasoned wood has a low moisture content and burns more cleanly than unseasoned wood. Here is the latest information about the labeling requirement.

Activities Not Prohibited
The rule does NOT (a) completely ban fireplaces and wood stoves or completely prohibit wood-burning in the Bay Area, or (b) require the replacement of existing fireplaces or wood stoves when a house is sold.
Here is more detailed information about how to comply with the Air District's wood-burning regulation.

There are some exemptions to the wood-burning ban during Winter Spare the Air Alerts. These are discussed in this Exemption Guidance Document.
Effective November 1, 2016, recent wood-burning rule amendments require anyone whose sole source of heat is a wood-burning device to utilize an EPA-certified or pellet-fueled device that is registered with the Air District for an exemption from the burn ban. An open hearth fireplace will no longer qualify for an exemption.
Fires for cooking are not prohibited during Winter Spare the Air Alerts, but we ask the public to be mindful of air quality, and recommend the use of gas and propane barbecues rather than wood or charcoal-fired cooking devices on these days.


Post# 915154 , Reply# 55   1/11/2017 at 15:46 (194 days old) by Davey7 (Chicago)        

GusHerb - oversized replacement convector. Original buried in the wall. I currently have NO radiators in my unit (anymore, removed the last one). Heating is all concealed steam convectors except in bathrooms where it is convective chase with large diameter steam riser and return. It's the Trane Concealed Heater system. My plan is to restore the original living room setup eventually, but there are too many more urgent projects in the way, wiring, etc.

Post# 915664 , Reply# 56   1/14/2017 at 15:13 (191 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

lordkenmore's profile picture

Interesting Craftsman (Gustav Stickley/Arts & Crafts era not Sears!) fireplace from early 20th century in a Craftsman publication that's on A prefab metal unit that could supply warm air to rooms other than the one the fireplace lived in. I wonder how well this fireplace worked... I wonder if many were sold, and how many of those might survive, too.


Link #1 is reasonably fast to open, but some pictures don't appear for me.


Link #2 for downloading the PDF. I found the pictures worked fine. (There is also a download PDF button on the page that link #1 opens).


Fireplace is on PDF page 213 (page 198 on the page of the original publication itself).

Post# 915675 , Reply# 57   1/14/2017 at 16:02 (191 days old) by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        

sudsmaster's profile picture

One fireplace insert design I really admire is the Lopi. They are generally convective and don't need electrical power to warm a living space. I've seen older ones that look fantastic after many years of use.


And they are still being made.




Post# 915945 , Reply# 58   1/16/2017 at 15:42 (189 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

lordkenmore's profile picture

This weekend, I did some cleaning/rearranging of the living room, and now have my own fireplace! It was quite a project getting all those bricks, and building it. And I honestly thought that the floor might collapse at one point. (Later I learned most people have the fireplace foundation in the foundation area of the house. Live and learn, I guess.) LOL bricks. No real fireplace, either. But I set up a set of electric logs I have with an Ikea Lack-style end table. It sort of looks like a possible modern fireplace. To my eyes, it's less awful looking than those $60 Home Depot electric fireplaces. Although I think the electric logs would probably look better in either a real fireplace, or else a well designed fake fireplace.


A couple of photos. One is well lit, and the other is in a dark room (and IIRC no flash) to show the glow of the "fire".


Still, it amuses me for the moment...




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Post# 915955 , Reply# 59   1/16/2017 at 17:08 (189 days old) by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

I have a "Fake" fireplace in my basement.  It looks real enough but no firebox.  For years there was a set of those fake logs with the rotating colored flame sleeve over a light bulb, not at all realistic, but passable for a rec room.  A few years ago I picked up what I think is one of the better units.  It's more like a projection screen - flat glass panel - that a fire like look is projected on.  It also has a built in heater to boot.  For a fake fire if the room is dimmed it looks fairly real, it really needs sound too, but it a big step up from the old fake logs.

Post# 915978 , Reply# 60   1/16/2017 at 21:36 (188 days old) by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        

sudsmaster's profile picture



There were two brick fireplaces in this house when I got it in '97. Both had fire screens of some sort, and both had fake log sets in them. One had a cellophane wrapped cylinder that rotated horizontally, lit from inside with a standard light bulb. The cylinder had an approximation of flames colored on it. In front of that were fake logs with a translucent area. The other set was a bit more interesting. Instead of being motorized, it had a propeller on top that was designed to catch the warm air currents caused by the light bulb, and turned on the Z (vertical) axis. They both worked after a fashion, but after I sealed the front of the fireplaces with plexiglass, there wasn't enough air current in either of the fireplaces to turn the propeller. And I didn't like the noise the motorized fake log set made.


One thing that floored me is that while the fireplace in the 1941 era living showed signs of years of use, the fireplace in the '65 era family room was obviously added later on, and had no signs of ever being used. I found that hard to believe for a 30 year old fireplace.


I got some new grates for both fireplace and tested both with real fire. But fitting the plexiglass draft seals after a fire session was sort of a PITA.


After a while I replaced the plexiglass draft seals with good fitting fireplace inserts. Both work pretty well, although I think the '65 fireplace draws better than the '41.

Post# 915994 , Reply# 61   1/17/2017 at 01:38 (188 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

lordkenmore's profile picture

Here's a picture of the inside of my logs. Just in case someone wonders about how they work. The plastic strips on the pole rotate. Presumably this reflects a bit of light, creating the flicker. These logs have several log pieces (real wood, too, I think) with a plastic "window" in the middle for the light to come through. The plastic part is colored to presumably add to the effect.


I can't say these logs are particularly convincing, but I think the plastic strips that rotate might be worn. I'm thinking they are probably intended to be silver, like tinsel. But the silver color is spotty now.


Years back, I had another set of logs. I mentioned them before. I used them the last year I lived in the house where I grew up. I can't really remember those, but I think there was only one bulb, and the flicker was created by a rotating drum of crinkled, reflective plastic. I can't remember them being particularly great; however, it did allow some use of that fireplace. I have a vugue memory that suggests we may have switched them on for Chirstmas, giving a last Christmas with a "fire" (of sorts) in the fireplace.

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Post# 915995 , Reply# 62   1/17/2017 at 01:43 (188 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

lordkenmore's profile picture

One thing that floored me is that while the fireplace in the 1941 era living showed signs of years of use, the fireplace in the '65 era family room was obviously added later on, and had no signs of ever being used. I found that hard to believe for a 30 year old fireplace.


That does seem unbelievable!


I don't know this for sure, but I can't imagine that a fireplace could be cleaned to look like new. (And who, but our Hyacinth would even think of trying such a thing?) Every fireplace I've ever seen has obvious signs of use inside--whether it's the fireplace I grew up with (1950 house, probably original fireplaces, both standard masonry), or the 2 fireplaces in a development house that my father once once owned (metal prefab units that look traditional once installed).


Post# 916036 , Reply# 63   1/17/2017 at 08:31 (188 days old) by warmsecondrinse (Fort Lee, NJ)        

The first time I met my (now ex) in-laws was just after they'd finished installing a fireplace in their basement. We got out of the car, I took one look at the chimney and blurted, "It's too short. There'll never be enough draft. The room'll fill with smoke." I got an eye-roll in response. Of course. I only lived in a house with a frequently used fireplace for 20 years so OBVIOUSLY I'd be clueless, lol.

We walked in, and of course the house was full of smoke. The opening was way too large for the chimney height. They eventually closed off part of it with ornamentation but catching a decent draft was always tough.
As for the fireplace I grew up with: One time I came home to find that the Better 'n Ben's stove that had been there for years was gone. I asked my parents why they'd taken it out. I was told they "had to" because "the laws" had changed. I was unsuccessful in getting any more information than that. I also was unable to find a single person in their town who was aware that ANY regulations beyond firecodes (which the stove met) regarding fireplaces and woodstoves even existed.

My highly informed conjecture as to the actual reason? My dad overheard snippets of a conversation in which the words "fireplace", "wood stove", "law" and "remove" were used and he invented a whole scenario that had no connection to the conversation or to his stove at home. I.e. There was no actual reason....

Post# 916051 , Reply# 64   1/17/2017 at 09:19 (188 days old) by Iheartmaytag (Wichita, Kansas)        

iheartmaytag's profile picture

My Aunt and Uncle built a new home back in the early 80s.  They have  a fireplace downstairs that the use all the time.  The one in the living room upstairs has never had a fire in it.  So it is possible for a house with two fireplaces to have one with no usage. 

Post# 916098 , Reply# 65   1/17/2017 at 17:46 (188 days old) by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

My house has a W.B. fireplace in the basement, and the interior is iron or steel. It's a "Heatilator", and has intake vents on each side of the chimney base, and outlet vents on each side of the chimney front, about halfway to the ceiling.

It had a nice stone facing with brick accents that I wanted to keep; however, when the contractor's less-than-bright helper was removing the concrete floor in front of the fireplace, he jackhammered too close, and it made the facing come loose. My masonry guy and I removed it as we were afraid it would fall off. I have all the pieces sitting outside now. Thought about having him put it back on, but think I would like doing it in a different style. I might have a facing of glazed brick installed - white with deep blue accents. The problem is the brick has to be ordered from the factory (Texas), and there is a quantity requirement. I don't need anyways near enough, unless I decide to doing something else in this brick.

The link is about glazed brick.


Post# 916137 , Reply# 66   1/17/2017 at 23:14 (187 days old) by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        
The link is about glazed brick.

sudsmaster's profile picture

Well, you could build a back yard BBQ and face with that nice glazed stuff. Just make sure the bricks in the heat path can take the heat.


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