Can I burn wood in my fireplace?


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Old 12-06-15, 06:58 PM
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Can I burn wood in my fireplace?

Hello,

I have a fireplace that currently has a fake firewood setup using natural gas. I am wondering if I can get rid of the logs and start burning real wood in it. The box has what seems to be ceramic or concrete panels on all 3 walls about 1" thick. The chimney stack is some sort of a metal pipe. I understand I would have to move the gas piping away but the question is whether the box and chimney stack is rated for real wood. I'm including some pictures of the fireplace and pipe.


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Old 12-06-15, 07:03 PM
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I would think so... See the fine print in the upper right hand corner?
 
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Old 12-06-15, 07:22 PM
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I wouldn't! It doesn't appear to have the proper fire brick and the exhaust pipe doesn't look like it will handle the heat generated by wood fire and even if it would it sure doesn't have the proper clearances. I would contact the manufacturer for correct information, I wouldn't trust my home or life to internet advice when it comes to this.
 
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Old 12-06-15, 07:26 PM
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Here's your manual.

http://www.hansenwholesale.com/image...estic_SH42.pdf

You would obviously need to check to installation against the manual. No one can do that over the internet.

The ceramic knockout is what I would be concerned about replacing when going back to wood.
 
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Old 12-06-15, 07:28 PM
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I agree the label says solid wood fuel, however that wouldn't necessarily apply to the entire installation. The chimney looks to be in contact with wood near the top and even if it is double lined before you do anything you should get someone in there to inspect and approve of your change.

In addition, a traditional fireplace will usually send more heat up the chimney from the house than it adds to the house.

In the picture looking up at the flue and damper, the panel seam to the left doesn't look sealed.

I would give this an absolute NO as you have no idea how it was constructed behind what you see. My old fireplace was solid brick with a firebrick liner.

Then there is the usual, get the approval of your insurance company as any modifications you do must meet their approval. A house fire would be a disaster, but to then discover your insurance co wants to blame you for unsafe modifications (and not pay) would a double disaster.

Bud
 
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Old 12-06-15, 07:40 PM
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The instructions recommend a 2" air space... it does look too close, but its hard to tell from 1500 miles away.
 
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Old 12-07-15, 05:55 PM
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Wow I didn't know so many of you replied. I setup notifications but for some reason never got any.... Anyways, I think you're right - I better go get a professional to come ant take a look at the whole system. Thanks for the manual by the way
 
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Old 12-08-15, 04:37 AM
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What would you do to regulate the air flow to any wood fire . . . . reach into the combustion chamber to reach the Damper Control (which I can't see) ?
 
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Old 12-09-15, 09:11 AM
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Why not? I'm not of the current cry-baby generation. j/k
By the way I've seen other wood burning fireplaces that are built like that, with flue adjuster in the combustion chamber. People used be tougher....
 
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Old 12-12-15, 04:44 PM
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Yes, the fireplace is designed to burn wood. If it was properly installed, it should be OK.


However, you want to check the make, model and serial number of the vent pipe to be sure it's designed for wood. You should find those specifications listed on each segment of the vent pipe.


Same for the transitions through the ceiling and rook. Check it out and see what you get. You may be able to Google the make and model and find out what you have.


Removing the gas piping behind the wall, capping off the pipe and plugging the holw through the fireplace wall with a cement filler shouldn't be difficult.

What is your motivation to converting to wood? Most people find that burdensome, and fireplaces are heat wasters, although the glass doors would probably reduce that heat loss significantly.
 
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Old 12-12-15, 05:42 PM
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OK, so the reason to switching to wood, is that I'm hoping I will actually get some heat out of this thing. Not that I'm going to use it to heat the house but when I do light it up it would be nice to feel some heat. Current setup gives almost 0 heat output. I don't know why. I even partially closed the flue (which is not safe I believe) and still not much heat output. My cousin has a fireplace that has a similar gas log setup except he doesn't have a vent (ventless) and when he lights it up in a matter of minutes you start feeling heat. It fills almost the whole house.
 
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Old 12-12-15, 06:10 PM
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Well if his isn't vented then all of the heat is going into his house where as in your case most of it is going up the chimney.

You will almost certainly be able to get more heat with wood than the gas though.
 
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Old 12-12-15, 08:22 PM
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snpiee, I certainly understand your problem, but your current gas fireplace was installed to be operated with just gas. Yes, the components may, that's may as Furd explained, be rated for wood, but that isn't what the original installation was targeting and therefore there may have been some short cuts, like the chimney being too close to the framing where it exits the roof. To safely switch over to burning with wood you almost have to remove it and start over. Otherwise, you just will not know and the consequences are unacceptable.

If it were mine, and I do now and have burned wood most of my adult life, I would install an energy efficient, glass front, wood stove or pellet stove. The wood stoves can operate when the power is out. The installers can adapt their appliances to what you have and when done you will have a safe and efficient supplemental source of heat that is enjoyable to relax in front of.

Doing it right should also satisfy your insurance company and add value to your home.

Bud
 
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Old 12-13-15, 03:32 PM
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Ahh. Fireplaces are terrific heat wasters! You have a hole in the roof of the house with a fire under it to create a draft. That means you have a large amount of room air going out the chimney every minute, and every cubic foot of heated room air that goes up the chimney is replaced by a cubic foot of cold air from outdoors that has to infiltrate into the heated spaces.

In return, you mainly get some radiant heat from the fireplace.

The glass doors will reduce the heat loss up the chimney somewhat, but remember that the heat loss goes on 24/7 even when no fire is burning! Closing the damper when there is no fire will reduce that heat loss.

A wood fire usually burns a lot of wood, producing a BTU input of perhaps 100,000 BTU per hour, while a gas log set often burns at perhaps a 15,000 BTU/hour rate. Because the the heat produced is a lot smaller, you don't get much in heat from a gas log set, but you continue to have substantial heat loss up the chimney --- so operating gas logs is usually a net heat LOSER for a house!

Unvented fireplaces avoid that kind of heat loss, but all the combustion gasses and water produced by burning gas comes into the house, often causing problems. And any defect in the way the fireplace burns can vent dangerouns amounts of carbon monoxide into a dwelling space.

Pretty much every unvented fireplace has lots of warnings on using it. Usually this includes warning NOT to use the fireplace as a heating appliance and often to open an exterior window to provide combustion air and vent out combustion gasses and moisture.

In my opinion, unvented appliances are more to be warned AGAINST than recommended.

So I'd treat your fireplace as a decorative appliance. Gas logs ought to produce a really attractive fire, but they aren't an economical source of heat. Neither wood converting you stove to wood be an effective way to heat your home.

To reduce heating costs, check your floors, walls, ceilings and crawl spaces for insulation. Post the make and model of you furnace and we can determine how efficient your furnace is.

Fireplaces were the latest in technology ---in about the 12th century. The fireplace you have is still about that vintage in terms of efficiency.

Sorry.
 
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Old 12-13-15, 04:29 PM
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He did say he wasn't trying to heat his home but rather have his decorative appliance heat the room which a wood fire can definitely do.

As far as the BTUs go, supposedly its about 6600 btu/lb. A decent sized fire place being constantly fed can easily churn through 50lbs in an hour. Or 330000 btu. Of course most people don't keep tossing on logs and you can stretch that out and bring the heat down. But the bottom line is fire is hot.

I have a hearth that I use for cooking maybe 1-2 times a week and that's just me building a fire and then letting it die to use the embers. Even just 1-2 times a week and I went through a metric ton in about 3 months. I hadn't done the calculation till now, pretty crazy that I'm going through 5 million btus per month. No wonder my A/C has trouble keeping up in the summer.
 
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Old 12-14-15, 02:40 PM
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I have a wood stove, and during the winter I heat most of the hot water I need on the stove. I can do some light cooking on the stove as well ---simmering stews and such.


And I do much of the heating of my home with my wood stove, and have for thirty years. Life just isn't TOUGH enough!

What can I say --- as a furnace repairman by trade, I'm a firebug.
 
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Old 12-16-15, 06:37 PM
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Im still working on getting a pro come in and take a look at the entire system for the purposes of switching to wood burning.....

In mean time.... do you guys think that maybe my gas logs are just not of the best out there? Meaning do some gas logs generate more heat than others?
 
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Old 12-17-15, 04:35 AM
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Will your local Fire Marshall or someone from the Fire Department make a visit to evaluate the suitability of your set-up for burning wood ?

They usually like to come out BEFORE there's a fire.

Your HomeOwners Carrier might want the opportunity to comment on how safe burning wood will be , , , , they probably have a Loss Prevention Department that has Guidelines for its PolicyHolders.
 
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Old 12-17-15, 05:48 AM
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Its not the logs that generate heat, it's the size of the gas burner underneath them. You can definitely get more powerful ones.

At some point though you'll run into limitations based on the size of the gas line.
 
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Old 12-17-15, 01:13 PM
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Gas control valves, gas log burner pans and gas logs are usually sold separately.

The burner pan usually contains a fitting called an orifice which has an aerodynamically designed hole in it. The size of the hole determines how much gas flow to the burner, and thus the amount of heat produced when the gas burns.

You might be able to get a larger burner orifice by taking the one you have to a fireplace shop and asking them for a larger size.

But I repeat --- a conventional fireplace is a DREADFUL way to heat a house, or even a room!

A modern direct vent gas fireplace with a glass cover takes NO heated room air from inside your home. It extracts 75-80% of the heat produced by burning the gas and puts it in your house.

You conventional fireplace MIGHT put 10-15% of the heat produced by gas logs in your house, but very like it put NONE of the heat in your house because of all the room air that goes up the chimney.

The only justification for gas logs is that they often produced the most attractive flames. These days air tight fireplaces even do a very good job of being attractive to view.

So IF you plan to use your fireplace a moderate to large amount, I'd take a serious look at replacing it with a modern gas fireplace. If you want to use your gas logs infrequently and mostly for appearance, it makes sense to stick with what you have.


That's my opinion, anyway.
 
 

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