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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Western PA
    Hello all;

    I was just curious if someone could shed some light my way.

    I am currently having a home designed for my wife and me. I am going to install radiant floor heat in all floors for the main heat with an oil-fired boiler. I am looking for some ideas for the fireplaces. I would like two fireplaces (one in the finished basement and one in the great room on the first floor directly above the basement FP). Id like to use the fireplaces to help heat the home while were home and to ease the cost of heating oil. Also, I love the ambience of a wood fire!

    My question is:

    Should I build a fireplace and use a wood insert for space heating in the room were in at the time?
    Or should I just install a high-efficiency fireplace from the beginning?

    I dont know if the costs would offset paying a mason to build a masonry fireplace just to cover it up with an insert or just plan for the efficient fireplace right from the start. Also, how long do manufactured fireplaces last, can they be replaced after being installed?

    Eventually, I will install a wood fired boiler to heat the entire home but with the initial cost of building, Ill just settle for the two fireplaces for now.

    Im planning a 3 flue chimney, one for the oil boiler, and then one for each fireplace. Ill build another flue when Im ready for the wood boiler. Im not sure if Ill use one of the outdoor boilers or something else. I live in the mountains in western PA so we do have some colder spells during the winter and I have 10 acres with access to over 100 wooded acres of free firewood.

    Any help from the experienced folks would be great. Thanks


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    London, Ontario, Canada
    Wholly cow, I'll need certified check for $300 just to think about this one.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    S.E. Pa

    Talking masonry versus factory built

    Here's my very biased comparison:
    Masonry vs. factory built

    unlisted v. listed
    unengineered v. engineered
    no warranty v. 25 yr. warranty by major corp.
    massive foundation required v. ordinary construction
    clearances to combustibles almost impossible to meet v. spacers and standoffs built in for easy clearance
    no temperature rating on chimney v. 1,700-2,100F
    chimney cannot take thermal shock v. tested for repeated thermal shock
    rectiliner flue shapes inefficient v. round- bestshape
    grossly inefficient v. AFUEs in the 68 range for hybrids
    radiant heat only v. ducts into other rooms
    bo convection blower v. efficient convection blowers
    sloppy optional combustion air kit v. mandatory tight fitting air kit
    no rain cap required v. listed termination required
    no listed terminations v. wide assortment including copper pots and shrouds lsited.
    $10-20K installed v. $3-7K installed
    cold uninsulated wall section v. thermal envelope maintained

    To see what I'm talking about, go to and check out the Heat&Glo Northstar, the Heatilator Constitution, or the Quadrafire 7100i.


  4. #4

    Talking Masonry vs. factory built

    Hey Bob,

    I never knew that you were so partial to masonry fireplaces

    Hope all is well with you.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    First of all, to set the record straight, there is no such thing as "free firewood". I'm not going to get into a fight with you on this, just reply in about 5 years and tell me how "free" your firewood really was. Second, if you are going to insert a masonary fireplace, why not put in one of the higher efficency wood fireplaces and put a nice stone surround facing on it? You will spend less installed money, have a more efficient burning fireplace, and a much safer installation. There are lots of wood fireplace options. I use to work for a dealer that sold Regency and they make an awesome built-in. It's EPA certified without catalitic converters and has options to duct to other rooms, along with a Lifetime warranty. They were more expensive than a lot of others, but I can tell you from having to help lift one, they are much heavier (heavier steel enclosure) than any other unit I have handled. Another option you may consider, for efficiency, is a corn burner. They are really efficient and you can get some pretty nice looking units. Just a thought. Whatever you do, buy as much efficiency and quality as you can afford, because, you aren't going to be tearing things out if it takes a %^%^$@ down the road. Good luck.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    S.E. Pa

    Talking ok, no down payment firewood


    I'm talking about fallen down trees, donated woodpiles, etc. Not looking to pick fly poop out of black pepper either VS. Yes, with Hunter619's 100 acre wood lot, he'll still need a chainsaw, gas & oil, maint., moving the wood to his house, splitting, stacking, hauling inside, igniting, sweeping the chimney, and getting up to tend the fire--all of which do expend some form of energy.

    Glad to see you agreed with my earlier post about EPA fireplaces..

    Just for the record, it is spelled "masonry". Must be the high altitude in Colorado. :-)

    Just havin' fun with you VS.
    Take care,

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Don't have my spell check on this site. Sorry.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2002

    Smile Check out the"Pure Energy" Balanced-Flue model BFC36,very nice product!Meets all epa requirements also.
    Ethics are as important as education.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    any organic burn

    requires combustion air intaked into the space, this air is from the outside and is cold( drafty) by either vents or ducts inside the firplace. any fossil fuel leaves ashes that must be removed and if you building an stone/ masonry firplace build in oversize ash box with removable tray for cleaning.
    next is to discuss flue cleaning and access to run flue brushes thru them. any crooks or bends reduces the ease of cleaning and cleanup of soot cleared from flue
    oil burners exhaust can be harnful to cermanic flue tubes rectangle or round it eats at them however metal can be attacked as well its just easier to replace
    the massive stone.masonry in an hand built fireplace holds heat and releases heat over a long period as it cools
    If you cant cool it
    HEAT THE Hello out of it

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Powell River, BC, Canada
    If you are building a 3 flue masonary chimny anyway, instead of buiding a full fireplace, just install a breach pipe and use a freestanding stove with stainless liner. Wide glass door lets you see the fire and puts a lot of heat into the space with alot less brickwork.

    Or put the freestanding unit downstairs and built-in style up. I will second the Regency vote. Admitted, I work for a Regency dealer but having installed and removed several brands I (and my back) can attest that they are built solid and work great. The F2400 is a popular model. You can get blower kits for the freestanding units as well to help 'spread the love'. LOL
    Where are you? Are you done yet? I got ONE more call for you.....

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