Important features of Wood Insert
I am in the process of trying to select a wood burning insert for use in an existing masonry fireplace.
So far have run the gamut from "they are all the same" to brand X is the best.
Any important features I should make sure I get or maybe put another way, are there any brands which should be avoided? Example might be, X has poor construction or the tubes clog easily, window won't stay clean etc.
Looking at Enviro, Harman, Pacific Energy, Hearthstone......
One additional question; any opinions on the best bang for the buck manufacturer. The number of choices is mind boggling and brochures and manufacturer websites are not very helpful.
In this industry, you have to look at the corporate strength of the mfr. as well as features and benefits. Will they be around to support my unit and provide parts if needed?
Before you get too deep into picking stoves, back up. You should start with an NFPA level II inspection. This will ascertain the suitability of your existing fireplace and chimney to house a wood insert stove. Plan on installing a full length stainless steel chimney liner with insulation to meet a zero clearance for combustibles to the framing unless your level II reveals you have one of the 5 or 6 homes in the country with proper clearance and firestopping.
Once you are armed with this information, ask the inspector for his recommendations on local stove shops with regards to support after the sale. Never, ever buy a stove over the Internet IMHO. For one, some mfrs. will void the warranty if sold online.
As for the installation, ask your inspector if he does this. He may be a chimney sweep, home inspector or specialty hearth inspector. You want someone who is currently certified as a Woodburning Specialist by the National Fireplace Institute: www.nficertified.org They have a locator tool to find an NFI certified pro near you.
As for wood inserts, a few things:
-depending upon your existing flue size and shape, you might need to break out the flue tiles to make enough room for the listed liner with insulation.
-refer to the listed instructions for clearance to any combustible mantel
-refer to the listed instructions for extended protection for the hearth extension.
-don't size it too big! Most stove shops oversell woodstoves. The result is burning too slow with the air control choked off. This becomes a creosote factory, which can lead to a chimney fire or spillage of smoke and carbon monoxide into the home. Burn small hot fires.
-get a metal ash bucket with a tight fitting lid. I cannot believe how many local fires there are when people put "cold" ashes into a paper bag, which is placed out on a balcony or in a garage where the fire starts. Hot coals can live for a day or so buried in ashes.
-inspect the liner after the first 30 & 90 days then every 90 days of burn season. Plan on having a pro inspect it annually and sweep as needed. With a full length liner, sweeping is easy.
Keep the fire inside the fireplace.
Thanks for the advice.
Originally Posted by hearthman
The install is at least as important to me as the stove. Had figured to use a full liner to the top. Have been discussing with two local dealer/installers. Both claim to have fully certified installers.
One uses what appears to be excellent liner from Superflex, very heavy gauge with relatively broad windings creating a nearly smooth surface but still flexible.
The other wanted to use what appeared to be a lesser product (Pro Line?)but he has a lightly used Jotul 550 that I have been reading good things about.
Both liners are 304 stainless which I guess is suitable for wood but only wood. Its as difficult to research a liner as the stove. Very little good info on web from manufacturers and the warranties don't seem to be worth much from what I read read on this site and others. So while I was impressed with the one product I really don't know if it is superior or overkill.
I realize this post is about a year late, but on the outside chance you haven't purchased yet, I'll give you my experience with a Hearthstone-Clydesdale model wood burning insert.
We purchased it in October 2011 after MUCH research, reading, talking with others, and finally looking at a LOT of stoves. My approach was to go with a company with a good customer service history (based on reading online forums) and who had been around for a while. As you probably know already there are a large number of companies making stoves today.
In any case, we've opted for the Hearthstone-Clydesdale, we negotiated with the dealer and got what we felt was a decent price (although it was still pricey). We were told that if we burned 24/7 we would probably burn maybe 4 cords of wood. Well, we did end up burning 24/7 and our end of winter total was a complete 8 cords of wood...wow.
The stove is great, I can't say enough about it. We got the porcelain coated (my wife's requirement) but I don't regret it at all, cause it looks really nice. The blower can get annoying when it's on full blast, but it kept our entire 3000 ftsq house more comfortable than the oil furnace ever did. We also reduced our oil consumption by 53% which saved us a bundle the first year. The payback on this thing will be less than 3 years at this rate.