Using a woodstove as an insert


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Old 03-19-12, 08:32 AM
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Using a woodstove as an insert

Hello everyone, i have found some mixed answers on this topic. I have an alaska kodiac stove which is commonly made into an insert from the factory from the same stove. I contacted the manufacturer and they said they pretty much just cut the legs all but of the stove to make it into an insert. I have seen this done before with the stove almost tight up against the sides of the fireplace, whether its safe? well thats the question!

My question is, can i slide the stove into the fireplace (with a new chimney liner & block off plate installed) and use it without causing the fireplace to overheat? I read from some guy's safe installation recomendations that without 4" of clearance between the stove and sides of the fireplace, it could damage the mortar between the fireplaces fire brick and/or the firebrick itself?

Half of the stove would sit ontop of the brick hearth, would that mortar and brick possibly heat up too much and cause damage? Since it is a raised hearth i would think it is all brick underneath continuing down to the basements fireplace so that no framing etc would be directly below that first course of hearth break?

I would think that a fire built directly on the firebrick and mortar of the fireplace would be hotter than a stove if it was within less that four inches or even right against the brick? Possibly the stove could be damaged/warp i would think if it over heated due to not being able to have as much airflow, but the manufacturer said it was fine to set the stove right on the firebrick after cutting the legs off. I was going to leave as much of the legs on as possible to keep it off the brick probably an inch or two? The woodstove will provide a more constant, heat i am sure though compared to a fire simply built inside the masonry fireplace which would need to be taken into consideration for heat absorbed my the mortar/brick.

I was only going to slide the stove halfway into the fireplace leaving a foot of air behind it, so that the stovepipe would line right up with the fireplace damper for the stainless liner to run straight up. I would also have a blower mounted beside the stove with a small metal duct blowing underneath the stove to circulate hot air around the stove.

current setup info: i have a masonry fireplace and raised brick mantle. The entire rooms floor will have cement board with ceramic tile on top. The entire fireplace wall is brick around the fireplace from floor to the ceiling.

Thanks for any input!
 
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Old 03-19-12, 09:34 AM
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update

I have just received another email from alaska manufacturer, they said that if the fireplace is masonry, then there are no clearances for the install. It can be placed directly against the sides of the fireplace but the masonry will absorb and waste a lot of heat if there is no air circulation.

Does anyone else have any argument against this being true? I intend to have this all inspected but my borough codes people seem to beat around the bush and not return phone calls as well. Thanks again!
 

Last edited by DiyRye; 03-19-12 at 10:53 AM.
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Old 03-19-12, 10:27 AM
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I don't understand the reasoning that if a fireplace is safe and able to withstand the heat of burning wood that it is not safe to burn wood inside a steel enclosure inside the fireplace. Our lake cottage had a wood stove slid into the fireplace and never had any trouble with it.
 
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Old 03-19-12, 10:35 AM
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That's what I was thinking. Other than the constant, consistent heat I see no real difference!
 
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Old 03-19-12, 10:48 AM
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Sounds like you are really thinking this through and being as conservative as possible. Leaving a gap is a great idea for both air circulation, as you mentioned, but also as a way to inspect things.

IMHO I think you are good to go. And I suspect the reason your codes folks are beating around the bush is because they do not know.

As a precaution I would print off that email from alaska manufacturer and store it in a safe place in case of fire. That way you can defend this non-traditional install with your insurance folks in case of fire.
 
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Old 03-19-12, 12:05 PM
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dac122 is on the right path, but my opinion would be you need the insurance co's approval up front. I would not want to battle them if after a fire they claimed the non-traditional install had a problem. Insurance companies in my area have been tough on what they will allow and anything that isn't manufactured and installed by professionals needs their written approval. The days of slapping some legs on a 55 gallon drum and heating ones house are long gone.

Now, there is another factor I didn't hear mentioned. If your chimney is an outside structure where it is exposed to the cold, future air sealing and other improvements on the inside may be limited by not having a sealed combustion insert that uses outside air. As you seal up air leaks in a home to make it more energy efficient, you also make it much more sensitive to exhaust appliances, which your stove would be. A good wood stove would be much better than an open fireplace, but not as good as a sealed combustion insert.

Otherwise, just make sure local code people approve as well.

bud
 
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Old 03-24-12, 08:39 PM
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I'm not familiar with the codes in the states, but normally anywhere if you modify
the wood stove it takes the certification out of the picture. You should get the proper insert to retro fit the open masonry fireplace. Also there are other considerations like lintel depth, smoke shelf depth and opening size just to mention a few. For worst case scenerio, if your house were to burn down due to the fireplace and your insurance found out that an uncertified person installed the fireplace, they won't cover any costs. You wouldn't try and replace the transmission in your car and expect insurance to fix it when it doesn't work?
 
 

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