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How to transform our fireplace

 
pollinator
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A couple of additional thoughts;
- Pelmets of the windows with curtains makes a huge difference to lost heat.
- I use an infrared temp. gun to measure the effect of work I am doing, one may help you. Cost about $50
- The ceiling fan on the ground floor may be too low.
- I have seen AGA wood cooking stoves connected to LPG and set on low all the time during winter.
 They are useful for cooking as well.
- Thermally efficient window shutters may be worth looking at.
- Have you checked really well for drafts anywhere?

The Canadians make an extremely efficient wood heater its about 94 % which is heaps above anything else.

- If you have a concrete slab, consider insulating it additional out past the building line.
- If you have a raised floor, perhaps insulate it from under.
- carpets or similar are very good in winter at preventing heat loss through the floor.
 
master gardener
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Sort of... it has to be Bailey proof, lol
 
John C Daley
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What is Bailey Proof please?

OK read the whole listing again and found Bailey is a wolfhound, dog.
All my ideas mentioned are dog friendly and safe.

 
John C Daley
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I have also played with waste engine oil heaters, they cost little to run and can be made to run efficiently. Youtube is a good knowlede base.
 
John C Daley
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FRom the Department of Energy USA;
According to the DOE, the 4 factors that make a wood stove an excellent choice are:
good wood stoves criteria

“Cleaner burning”. Older woodstoves released up to 30 g of smoke per hour (30 g/h). Modern EPA-certified wood-burning stoves produce less than 4.5 g of smoke per hour.
The best wood stove insert – Drolet Escape 1500-l – emission rate is only 1.26 g/h.
“More efficient”. Older traditional fireplaces would draw in as much as 300 CFM and send it straight through the chimney. Today’s wood stoves can even surpass 70% efficiency.
For example, the #1 best overall wood stove can achieve a maximum 77% efficiency rate.
“Powerful enough”. The problem with older wood stoves was the below 50,000 BTU heat output. With higher efficiency and more advanced engineering that goes into wood stove design,
today’s units can easily surpass 50,000 BTU output. For example, the big Ashley Hearth AW3200E-P can produce more than 150,000 BTU of heating output.
“Heat many average-sized, modern homes”. Traditional fireplaces would heat up a room, or even a small cottage.
Today, a family can use a wood stove to heat an entire home.
An added bonus is that modern wood burning stoves have an aesthetic appeal.
They are as well engineered for efficiency as they are well designed as an interior design piece.
 
John C Daley
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Some more thoughts;

Log cabin insulating

Log cabin heating options:

Around 70 % of heat in a log cabin is lost through the roof and floor, so it makes sense add insulation to these areas.
We sell solid boards containing foam, which don't diminish the look of your log cabin but do improve its heat retention.13 Jan 2017
 
Carla Burke
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John C Daley wrote:What is Bailey Proof please?

OK read the whole listing again and found Bailey is a wolfhound, dog.
All my ideas mentioned are dog friendly and safe.


I think our responses were being written at the same time, lol. I was responding to 'any old wood stove would work. And, Bailey is... a force unto herself, and tends to be rather destructive, when left to her own devices, for too long. She has eaten chunks of the floor, stairs, etc, and utterly destroyed a leather sofa. Bailey proof means something she can't destroy, lol.

I'm not looking to use oil, electricity, etc, in this space, and winterizing is a given. I'm really only looking at how to permanently, safely, and as efficiently as possible, replace this fireplace. It will be a process. Probably a long, expensive one, since we can't do it ourselves.
 
gardener
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Carla, what is your actual chimney; above this fireplace; made of? I mean inside the stone fascia ?

Stones? Or something else?



How is this stone fascia held on?  I was talking shite earlier on, when speaking about the stud wall, i thought about someone else's project.

For the winter coming. Chuck 20 ft of 80mm tube in the chimney. With the downdraft outer layer.  With rockwool surrounding it. And fit a pellet stove in front of the stone hearth.

 
Satamax Antone
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Carla Burke
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Hi, Satamax! Actually, according to the report, and what he told John, it's not even safe to run anything up there, because of the damage already done. I guess John asked him about putting a stove in, with a new metal liner, inside the existing chimney, and he strongly advised against it - stating both verbally and in the report, that every bit of it must come down. I was kinda hoping y'all could translate the report(posted yesterday), because after reading it, my takeaway was pretty much, "Oh, HELL NO!  It's a miracle you folks are still alive!" There's apparently no heat protection at all, between the metal liner(which isn't even connected at the joints, with big gaps) and the exterior wall of the house. He did tell John the facia is real rock, and salvageable, but the mortar used, is crumbling(which I knew), and entirely permeable, allowing gasses back into the house, and there is nothing containing the products of the fire. He also said the exterior portion of the chimney is too short, and there's no exterior flashing, protecting against the weather, and that we should expect to find both roof and wall damage, up there.
 
Satamax Antone
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Hi Carla. I don't know what your norms are with pellet stoves flues.

Over here, we have concentric flues, where the air intake is outside the flue.



https://www.poujoulat.com/solutions/residential-housing/chimney-systems-for-residential-applications/concentric-flue-systems-for-domestic-boilers/pgi-pellet

This is completely gas tight and cooled on the outside. So there is no risk of burning surrounding wood.

If you really need another source of heat for this winter, given the situation. You could check if someone fits this kind of stuff in your area. If the worse comes, you can also go through the wall. At least, that's allowed here in europe.

Ok, you still need few watts of electricity for the hopper and screw.

But that doesn't stall with deep cold. Unlike the heat pumps.
 
Carla Burke
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Satamax Antone wrote:Hi Carla.

Good to hear you're safe.

I was wondering, do you use this kind of stuff in the USA?



I understand stud walls at the bottom is combustible material. But that also means you can knock part of it to make a proper bell, which will act as a structural part too, if well thought.

But, what us above has also combustible material? I mean, here, the liner showed above is meant for pozzolan, or clay flue elements, or old stone chimneys.

If anything remotely combustible is near'ish, we would use double wall insulated flues.



That would have to be at least 18cm away from any combustible material

But that stuff could at least save your winter.

If there isn't too many flaws in the chimney.


Unfortunately, the chimney is 100% useless and unsafe, AND is in direct physical contact with the wall, ceiling, and roof, from the floor all the way up.  There's no space between, whatsoever, and there are even black marks on the insides of the log wall. We're not sure yet, whether those are soot or burns.
 
Carla Burke
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Y'all... I'm going to be bouncing some ideas around, in here, probably for some time. We already know that even if the homeowners insurance will cover this cat ass trophy🏆, the deductible is...HIGH. This is going to take us quite a while, and finding someone to do the demo work is going to be scary. Maybe scarier than the actual cost, because it's the **only** room where we can safely contain Bailey, hardwood floors are easily damaged and costly, and who knows WHAT we will find behind and above it all.

So, help a gal out. Help me find some happy in this pile o' chit?

Is it possible to do a glass-door batch-box-with-bell, reusing our real rock-face (apparently the ONLY thing about our fireplace that's real!), and the indoor version of this amazingly versatile one??? https://permies.com/t/164923/rocket-ovens/Build-Black-White-Rocket-Oven#1293925

 
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Hi Carla;
OK) For me , happy is you and John , your doggi kids and all the other critters outdoors, are safe and still enjoying your beautiful home!

Next IMO)  You need a quick safe roof jack installed NOW!!!    Don't worry about fixing it all, or even making it pretty. Just get a roof jack installed so you can supplement your  heat this winter.  All other repairs can wait until spring.

Next lets talk about rmh options.   Yes, your stone facing can be reused over a bell.
My black and white oven is really beautiful and could be used as a home heating  stove but I don't think its right for your location.
You need a Peter style batchbox not a riserless Walker style.
A 7" or an 8" batchbox would provide good heat with your cathedral ceilings.

Your floor needs to be strong enough for the weight , as well as protecting the hardwood.
Regular black stove pipe is used until you reach the roof jack, from that point on you need insulated pipe.

A batch box can sit alone with the bell attached or be built with the box(core) completely inside the bell.
The bell is nothing but a big empty box... it can be any shape that you find pleasing.   Large tall or short low it matters not.  
Build it with clay brick alone or veneer it with your rock face.
It all seems like a huge scary project that can't be done... its not!
I promise that you could build this yourself if you had the time.... I know you do not have the time... and think I'm crazy...

Start by getting a roof jack installed before Oct. 1st ...  


 
pollinator
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thomas rubino wrote:OK) For me , happy is you and John , your doggi kids and all the other critters outdoors, are safe and still enjoying your beautiful home!

Next IMO)  You need a quick safe roof jack installed NOW!!!    Don't worry about fixing it all, or even making it pretty. Just get a roof jack installed so you can supplement your  heat this winter.  All other repairs can wait until spring.



I second the motion. Placing a metal cage or pen around a wood stove helps with dog-proofing.  People with toddlers do it all the time.
 
Carla Burke
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Douglas Alpenstock wrote:

thomas rubino wrote:OK) For me , happy is you and John , your doggi kids and all the other critters outdoors, are safe and still enjoying your beautiful home!

Next IMO)  You need a quick safe roof jack installed NOW!!!    Don't worry about fixing it all, or even making it pretty. Just get a roof jack installed so you can supplement your  heat this winter.  All other repairs can wait until spring.



I second the motion. Placing a metal cage or pen around a wood stove helps with dog-proofing.  People with toddlers do it all the time.



People with toddlers and dogs even do it with their/ Christmas trees, lol. (The voice of experience!)

Nothing at all can happen, before November. There is simply no budget, and the homeowners insurance assholes won't cover it. They simply refuse. Not their problem, they say. The urgency and size of the job, combined with the lack of means to do anything about it, bring me to a point of mental/ emotional numbness. I'm purely in realist-analytical-strategist mode. *We* cannot get onto the roof. Period. We also cannot pay someone else to, right now. By the time we can, we would be foolish to assume the weather will cooperate with anything we attempt to schedule - but, that doesn't mean we will roll over and die. We've a couple companies to schedule appointments with, for demo and rebuild estimates, and we will be taking your advice about getting the roof jack taken care of, as soon as we can fund it - I'm hoping for early November - and praying for a mild winter.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Hard times.
 
Carla Burke
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Douglas Alpenstock wrote:Hard times.



We DO have alternative heat sources, beyond the heat pump and fireplace. They're just ridiculously expensive to use and sadly, becoming more so - non-electricity-dependent propane, and straight-up electric forced air. We will be ok. But, I'm definitely hoping we won't need either of them. So, in replacing this, we're going to take the time that it needs(&hopefully no more than that!) and, do it right.
 
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Hi,  I am looking for a similar way to try and use rocket mass heaters.  I have a fireplace between 2 bookcases, A frame which means high ceiling and no fan.   I also have a basement below it, so any rigging of a rocket heater would have to be on the brick just outside the fireplace doors.  How much does the cob/mass have to be (weigh) for effective use - what other masses could be used to capture the heat?  Or would I have to use one of the bookcase bottom cabinets for the mass for any potential capture of the heat before it was funneled out the chimney?   "Retrofitting" so to speak does not seem to be an option without major construction....
 
Satamax Antone
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You need between 150 and 400 kg of mass, per KW/h

For example,

A batch firebox containing 10kg of wood, has 39 KW/h of energy, or thereabouts. And burns in approximately 1 hour.

Let say you do 3 burns a day. In a row, to charge your mass. That's about 117 kw/h.

I usually divide by 24h for a 24h flywheel.

That would be considered a 4.875 kw/h

Ideally for a long flywheel, i would say 400kg per KW/h.

So that's 1950kg.

Well, it all depends also on the ISA, and the heat storage capacity of your mass.

If in the burning time, the mass reaches 45 C° or it it reaches 100 C° it is not the same at all.

If your mass is pure magnetite bricks you might get away with 150Kg per kw/h. If it is cob, 400 kilow is better.

 
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I am reminded of the question, "Do you want to heat the person or the room?". It sounds like heating the person in your immediate concern, heating the room will have to wait until you can afford to replace, rebuild, the fireplace and add an insert or efficient wood stove. Heating the person is a matter of finding a good space heater and a comfortable corner. Consumer Reports suggests the Comfort Zone CZZ499R for $55 which is highly rated for both spot and room heating. I use such a thing in the morning when I don't want to start a fire because I will be leaving home until afternoon (the gym, the shelter, hospice volunteering...). My very efficient Pacific Energy Neo stove brings my 60 degree living area up to 70 degrees pretty quick. Granted I have the advantage of three feet of dirt above and around my earth sheltered home. I do wish that I have bought the bigger version of the stove but I added a blower and it does the job.

In the meantime putting up those good old clear plastic sheets that cover windows, and that you shrink with the hair dryer, can make a huge different when it comes to stopping cold air leaks.  And of course you are going to have to sleep with the dog.
 
Carla Burke
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We sleep with the little dog, sleeping with the big one, sadly, is not an option. As I've mentioned, we're all aware of winterizing necessities, and we're working on that - but, there's only so much we can do, ourselves, for safety and our physical limitations. We have temperature sensitive critters and plants, and space Heaters would not be safe running for them.

My emergency-only solution has come to plopping a space heater in the garage, directly front of the heat- pump intake vent. That will give the heat pump some heat to pump, thereby warming the whole house, with only one space heater. We stumbled on this solution last year, when the poor diesel tractor froze up, and we put the propane heat cannon on it, so we could plow, then decided it would be great to keep us from freezing, while we got some necessary things done in the garage, during that crazy cold snap, in February. After it had been running for less than 20 minutes, we noticed the house warming up, and put 2 & 2 together. The electric space heater can run longer, and be put close enough to get the job done, without having to risk running the propane in an enclosed place, when we won't necessarily be out there. It's not a perfect solution, but it seems to be the best solution we've found, for now.
 
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My first thought, looking at the pictures, was at least they didn't put the chimney on the outside where the heat is wasted. Then reading the thread finding out it was fake and not done correctly was disheartening.
The best example of a house like yours I have seen was in northern Maine; negative 40 winters. [that is the same Fahrenheit and Celsius] It  was octagon but had the same sort of loft.  The river rock mass heater was in the center so the heat from the rock that went all the way to the peak of the ceiling radiated into the loft room.

Probably the most cost effective would be to remove the fireplace and chimney pipe from the interior of the rock facing and fill it with insulation then install a wood stove in front so that the stove and chimney heat it rock facing which will radiate the heat back into the room. That is how our current wood stove is set up.  It is on a raised slate hearth with drawers underneath to hold wood and kindling This also kept the dog from getting up against the stove. It is possible such a proper stove installation could be financed.
 
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Carla Burke wrote:

Douglas Alpenstock wrote:You won't believe how much heat a high efficiency wood stove insert will put out compared to your current setup. Make sure it has an outside vent for combustion air. Amazing!

Love the Irish Wolfhound BTW!


A stove insert might be the easiest, most economical way to go, too.


I can confirm that a fireplace insert is a huge improvement over an open fireplace. The aesthetic may be a bit different, but the warmth and much better efficiency made it truly beautiful to us when we were able to have one installed during the 10-day power outage caused by the Great Ice Storm in January 1998. We didn't have a special air intake, but the space between the masonry chimney liner and the corrugated flex chimney for the insert allowed some of the combustion air.
 
Carla Burke
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Unfortunately, that's not an option, right now. There is no mistaking it - it would not be safe to install an insert. The whole thing has to come down.
 
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So sorry to hear about the issues here, Carla. You have taught me so many things with your post and I am grateful that you and others have explained options so clearly.
I agree with Hans that filling your fireplace space with insulation to preserve any heat is an important stopgap measure at this time. Best wishes to you and your family as you solve this tough problem. Keep educating us!
 
Carla Burke
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Ugh. John just got off the phone with our homeowners insurance company. As we suspected, this project won't be covered. Ugh. And, our first solar estimate has come in - while it's a totally doable thing, logistically, and we have way more than enough sun - this company doesn't have financing, and we're not up for taking down a loan for the minimum of $50k, right now. Sometimes, tax incentives just aren't enough to make the difference when the upfront price tag is that high.
 
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I would add a wood stove with a double wall metalbestos (it has mineral wool in it) right in the middle of Bailey's room, or wherever you want it.  It can safely go through your roof with adequate clearance and be sealed in quickly for winter and if you hate it you can remove it and sell it later to someone else.  Buy new pipe and maybe a used wood stove it doesn't have to be perfect to do the job.  Oh and because the metal-bestos pipe is so expensive, just know it doesn't have to be from stove to above the roof, just as it goes through the roof and a few feet below and above the conbustyibles.  Single wall pipe is good for the rest.  Don't forget the damper for efficiency.

Don't be too hard on the previous owners.  Chimneys do shift and break, and people buy what's available at the time.  The lack of clear from combustibles though,  I just don't get it.  Get help from a reputable installer whatever you decide to do.
 
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What about using a far-infrared electric fireplace insert? Even as a temporary low-investment option that lets you keep the esthetics of your lovely rock fireplace and eek some heat from it?  There'd be no smoke, no combustion, no need for venting, and you wouldn't be losing heat up the chimney either. They are very inexpensive to run, though won't work in a power outtage unless you connect to solar, which is very doable. Pet and child safe (you can touch the surface of the glass without being burned). There are several fire settings from roaring flames to simmering embers to suit your preferences, and you can also have visual fire without heat in the shoulder seasons. They are available in sizes to heat 400 to 1,500 sq ft spaces. This type of infra-red quartz is what's used in hospitals to warm premie babies. If you place your seating arrangement nearby, you'll be very toasty [e.g., heat the person not the space], though this will also work to keep the space comfortable as well. Play some crackling/popping fire sounds over the stereo to add to the ambience.

Some brands have considerably more realistic looking flames than others (see Classic Flame SpectraFire for a good example). The firebox comes in sizes from 21-42" inches wide and they are generally 8-10" deep. The cost is $300-$500 ish. I've used these to "add" fireplaces to client's rooms when they need zone heating or wish to have a fireplace without smoke (e.g., family members with lung conditions, asthma, etc). I'll attach some pics; these are using all salvaged materials for the builds.

Some other thoughts: what's the setup on the south-facing side of your home? Do you have adequate glazing to bank some solar heat gain on a thermal mass such as a tile or flagstone floor? A fellow homesteader/permie built a sunroom from salvaged materials (old sliders / patio doors from the ReStore) on the south-facing side of his rustic, uninsulated home. It generates adequate heat on sunny and partly-sunny days to warm the house and greatly limit the need of secondary heat source in his zone 4 Idaho location.

Where does the predominate wind come from? Winter gales will quickly pull the heat from a cabin! One option is to be sure to plant a good wind-break to help combat that. It will take a few years to grow to size, but the difference in the micro-climate it will create for you will be like magic (speaking from personal experience).

Windows: several great comments in this thread on that topic. I use 2 layers: blinds or roman shades (which can be opened or closed) and then heavy curtains on french curtain rods that curve around so there's no gap on the edges. These help so much in both winter and also for preventing overheating in Jul/Aug.
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