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  1. #1

    Hmm Can't Firgure Out My Fireplace

    I am so glad I found this forum by internet searching; I hope someone can help me out.

    I recently purchased an older home with a brick fireplace in the basement. I'm not sure what the previous owners did but there seems to be a metal covering on the inside and 4 pipes sticking out from the back wall. I don't know what those pipes are and neither did the "specialist" who came out to my home to install a metal liner inside the chimney. I found some pictures on the internet that looked similar to my fireplace and I drew in where the 4 pipes are located. Except for my addition, everything else looks exactly the same as if it could have been my fireplace.

    What I desperately need assistance with is turning this fireplace into a gas unit, if I could. Is there a way I could just insert a gas unit and be done with it; do you have any idea what those pipes could be; and if I purchase a gas unit, what about the flue and metal liner for venting -- did I waste my money? I'm just so confused and don't know which way to go. If you could give me some direction or instructions I would so much appreciate it. Oh, one last request, do you know of a company I can call in the College Park, Maryland, area who could do the work on my fireplace, too.

    Please help!
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    S.E. Pa

    Cool steelform fireplace

    Those tubes are heat exchanger tubes. This Fp picks up heat and blows it out through the front grille and bilateral upper grilles. Cold air is drawn in at the lower grilles with the fans. If you cut those tubes, you could create an unsafe condition. How did your "expert" access the top of the smoke chamber to install the liner, how did he make the transition and is your damper rusted shut? Sounds like you need to find a new "expert".

    Usually, these steel forms get torched out when they rust out then the firebox is rebuilt as a Rumford style using firebrick with refractory air setting mortar and a stainless steel Rumford throat/ smoke chamber riveted to the SS listed liner and a top damper/ cap installed.

    Instead of torching, one option is to remove the brick facade and pull the steel shell out of the Fp intact. Then you can rebuild it or install a gas direct vent fireplace in its place and give it a face lift with a new look althogether.

  3. #3
    Good Evening Hearthman! Thank you for responding.

    I will try to answer your questions: What the "expert" did was cut an opening into the chimney from the outside. There is now a square iron door for access for cleaning. I don't believe the damper is rusted shut; the home inspector required that it be replaced before I moved in. (I'm afraid to look up the flue, something may fall out; paranoid.) I have attached some pictures of what I could find on the internet that look similar to what I have on top of my chimney. I also found a picture that looks similar to the door I have on the outside of my chimney; it's attached to this reply.

    So if I'm understanding correctly, you're saying pull out the black metal box? If I chose the second option to just install a gas direct vent fireplace after pulling out the black metal box, would I need the pipes or would the gas plumber know what to do? What about the metal liner up the chimney, just leave it, I guess . . . .

    Again thank you for your assistance; it is greatly appreciated. I don't have a clue what I'm doing or what to look for or what questions to ask a company! I plan on printing your responses to give me some guidance on what to ask when I do start interviewing experts to handle this job.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Madison, WI
    If all you want is a gas insert you prob just wasted a bunch of money doing all that work. I cannot say for sure without seeing everything but typically we can put a gas insert into that type of fireplace no problem. We have to cut the heat tubes out and run two 3" liners up to the top. The fireplace is rendered un-safe for wood burning in the future but most people don't plan on ever going back to wood.

  5. #5
    Thank you both for your replies. I thought I probably wasted my money but I was hoping I could work with what I have going forward -- an expensive lesson learned. Now I'll start looking for a company that can do what I'm looking for in my area. Thanks again!

  6. #6
    Hello Hearthman and all who helped me with my fireplace questions! I have another question; I decided to keep my wood burning fireplace as it is since I spent so much money on the liner, damper, etc. I'm using the wood I purchased from Home Depot -- it's supposed to be clean burning, better for the environment. My first night lighting the fire, my basement was so warm and comfortable. I was quite pleased. Around the third night of lighting a fire, my basement was chilly. I could feel the cool air coming from the bilateral grille. Could it be something wrong with the heat exchanger? There is a lever that sticks out from one of the tubes in the wall of the firebox; what does that do, did I somehow close of the tubes in the grille? I checked the lower blowers and they seemed to be working fine but I don't think I did anything different to cause cool air to blow out of the grille. I also wanted to know if there was something I could buy to put in the fireplace with the wood while it burned that smelled nice, that would give the basement a nice smell. I'm beginning to like my wood burning fireplace; it makes the basement so cozy.

    Thank you in advance for your assistance; it is greatly appreciate.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Long Island New York
    I'm sorry, but if the " Specialist " did not know what those "tubes" were , that should have been the end of the conversation/estimate .

    I have had my battles with those " Tubes " installing Bellfires .
    The removal of the heat exchanger is often times one of the hardest parts and have always been hurt in some way

    No big deal though as long as my customers are happy when the job is done that is all I care about really .

    It is a little safer taking the face of the fireplace apart, but it is a lot more involved than torching them out, naturally .

    I would want to know how they installed a liner, more specifically, the bottom plate that closes the gap around the new lining from the original flue without removing the " Tubes"

    Unless the outside wall was opened to make this connection , I would question if it were done correctly

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    With the info I read. I believe you can have a gas insert installed without doing anything more to the existing unit. As previously mentioned. You will need gas, power and two liners. Then your good to go.

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