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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Yorktown Heights, NY
    Posts
    6

    can you block-up old heatilator vents?

    Hi,
    I am having a mason re-stone fireplace but there is an issue with the old steel heatilator.
    Old steel heatilator has 2 vents on each side of chamber, one low, one high. Brick is in the middle of these 2 voids that are right on the outer wall of the fire box. I am assuming the vents are lower 'in', upper 'out' for convection of heated air that flowed next to firebox.

    There never was a noticable heat "outflow" from the vents. Can I have a mason 'brick' along the outside of the firebox and eliminate the voids (filling them in) . . the voids that had the intention to flow radiated/convected heat?

    The previous stonework was built "away" from the wall(vents). the vents were hidden - but were not covered - by a partially free-standing stone work.

    I want to restone the exterior, did not want the job of removing the firebox, but am uncertain if I can have the mason just stone-over these vent openings without creating a firestop from the outer shell. (hopefully picture attached helps). Thanks, Jim
    Attached Images Attached Images    

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    S.E. Pa
    Posts
    6,304

    Exclamation fire hazard!

    You cannot block those air ducts. You have soot tracks indicating significant heat/ smoke movement outside of the firebox. I stronly suggest you get a qualified hearth professional to inspect the fireplace and open the walls to ascertain if there is any fire damage first.
    Next, remove the steelform fireplace and rebuild with a Rumford-type design.

    I suggest you contact Chris Prior up in Mosherville, NY just west of Saratoga Springs. Yes, it's a long drive but he is the best in the country. All he does is fireplace restorations and his Prior Fire design, which really works great. He is also very competent with regards to the fire safety aspect.

    Either do it right or put flowers in that fireplace.

    HTH

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Yorktown Heights, NY
    Posts
    6
    hth.
    Thanks, I am very thankful for your response (my first as a member!).

    I will not block them up. I suppose perhaps the least destructive thing would be to rebuild the stone with the thought of putting in an insert. that way, the vents are rendered useless since the insert is self-contained.

    Either that, or rebuild the stone away from the vents similar to the previous fireplace "wall in front". let the vents operate as usual.
    What do you think?
    Jim

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    S.E. Pa
    Posts
    6,304

    Cool

    You still have fire hazards in that wall that need to be inspected even with the insert. Understand that inserts radiate a huge amount of heat. It does not look like you have the proper wall thickness on this firebox and combustibles too close. Get a pro in there ASAP.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Brewster, MA
    Posts
    354

    Are you kiding/Heatalator?

    Are you kidding?

    There is no way that Heatilator can be repaired or used. The thing is totally rusted out. It is just a warm air furnace. The heat exchanger is shot. That's why there is soot on the brick outside it.

    I have to wonder what kind of experienced chimney/fireplace mason you hired that didn't know that. I started doing mason work 50 years ago. The only heatilators I ever saw were shot, leaking and not used. I have customers in my plumbing and heating business today that have old ones that they don't use. They are rusted out.

    IMO, the only way you can properly salvage what you have and be safe is a gas insert with a properly vented chimney. The back of that fireplace is all burned and rusted out. The connection at the throat to the chimney flue was always a weak link. You couldn't set the flue tiles (if they were used) on the metal throat or the expansion could crack the whole chimney.

    You must live in the country. No city or town AHJ would ever let you get away with that. There couldn't possibly be a permit.

    Seeing photos of that gave me chills. No reputable, experienced mason would ever have done what was done here.

    Sorry for the rant but that is just too dangerous. You can make it safe with a vented gas fireplace insert. But you can NEVER make that rotten, rusted Heatilator safe. not ever.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Brewster, MA
    Posts
    354

    Heatilators (Old)

    Check the Heatilator Web Site. They don't offer anything like that anymore. Just vented fireplaces.

    Call them up and ask them what they recommend you do and if they have parts. I would bet that they loose their minds when you show them what you did.

    <http://www.heatilator.com/>

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Yorktown Heights, NY
    Posts
    6
    Thanks for the input!

    None of the back brick, ect was really visible until last week when I dismantled the fireplace "wall" that stood in front of the vents. And that wall existed from the day we purchased . . .

    Anyway, If we put in a wood burning insert, complete with flue liner, ect, can we then "stone" in front of the vents since all combustion, heat, ect will be sourced through the insert?
    Thanks, this is really helpful . . JIM

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Boise, ID
    Posts
    4,398
    You were lucky to find this site and wise to ask the questions. You just saved your life.
    If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what will never be. (Thomas Jefferson 1816)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Brewster, MA
    Posts
    354

    Back Brick:

    I guess you are saying that the back of the firebox had been repaired by laying fire bricks in the rotten/rusted back slant, It doesn't look like that in the photo but if true, double wrong by someone in the past.

    The damper assembly usually rusts out and falls apart. The Heatilator assembly is really shot and leaking because of the soot on the front below the mantle. The smoke shelf behind the damper probably doesn't exist. I would wish the whole mess, Health, Happiness and Long Distance.

    If you have good access to free wood and want to burn wood, they have wood fireplace inserts. There are a few companies that sell them. You or a Professional need to call them and get their sizes that will fit inside your box. It will be supplied with a stainless steel flexible vent that is properly sized for the unit.

    A gas fireplace insert is nicer because you don't get the hassle of bringing in wood and carting out ash. The modern UL listed fireplace inserts were designed for these applications in mind.

    Good Luck.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    S.E. Pa
    Posts
    6,304

    Cool

    An insert woodstove is tested and listed for installation into a code approved fireplace, which this is not. You must first repair this fireplace and chimney in order to install ANY type of insert as inserts are not repair units unto themselves.

    You need to open walls, inspect for damage and clearances, make repairs, add thickness in solid masonry units to meet the code. Just covering those air ducts does not add thickness to the firebox.

    You really, REALLY need a local qualified pro to inspect that installation and guide you. The steelform fireplace should be removed and the remaining masonry repaired and a new masonry firebox built in its stead.

    If the chimney is not too tall or difficult to remove, I'd recommend you investigate a hybrid fireplace/ stove. These units are listed, meet the EPA emissions requirements, heat like a stove but can burn with doors open (with a drop in effficiency) and can duct heated air into other spaces.

    Gas DV inserts are the most convenient, give off excellent heat and being direct vent enjoy a higher degree of inherent safety when compared to gas or wood inserts with regards to carbon monoxide potential.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Brewster, MA
    Posts
    354

    Listed Inserts:

    It is my understanding that a listed fireplace insert, such as a gas insert with an approved venting system, sized properly for the appliance and placed into an unlined flue is acceptable. The flue pipe must be of an approved material for gas venting or solid fuel venting.

    If you remove the heatilator completely, and install a gas fireplace insert that vents through the old flue with Flex pipe, iwt would be legal in Massachusetts as long as it has approval from The State Board Of Plumbers and Gas Fitters.

    The fireplace insert becomes a stand-alone appliance with its own venting system. What exists for the non-combustable material just becomes part of the installation.

    In Massachusetts, its covered under NFPA 54 for gas. I don't know what it is for solid fuel (wood).


    Check these out:

    http://www.fmiproducts.com/prod_list.cgi?cat=2
    Last edited by icesailor; 04-01-2012 at 03:14 PM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    S.E. Pa
    Posts
    6,304

    Cool

    Icesailor, the link you posted contains only direct vent fireplaces--no gas DV inserts I saw.

    Here is a typical installation manual. Check out page 6 where it discusses installation ONLY into code compliant fireplaces: http://hearthnhome.com/downloads/ins...s/2206_901.pdf

    NFPA 54 and the IFGC both refer you to the listed instructions from the mfr. so the instructions are the defacto code for installing listed products but your local codes may have ordinances that exceed the listing requirements. Mass. is notorious for this excess.

    If you had a unit that was tested and listed as a stand alone unit with stated clearances to combustibles then you would be allowed to install it without "inserting" it into a code approved fireplace.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Brewster, MA
    Posts
    354

    Fireplaces:

    There were more choices in the link that you posted back.

    I was never trying to tell someone what to use, only that there are better choices than what he had done.

    If there isn't room after removing the Heatilator to fit something else in, well, whatever. I've seen hundreds of triple pipe fireplaces that completely rotted/rusted out.

    It is perfectly acceptable to run a flex liner or B-Vent inside an old chimney flue, making it a lined chimney.

    You can install a gas fireplace in a space and vent it with B-vent.

    In Massachusetts, you can't vent anything into an unlined chimney.

    I don't install these things. I just commented on the fact that someone had bricked over a defective and dangerous fireplace.

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