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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    7
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    Wood to Natural Gas Conversion...Need PRO Advice on the Whole Project...Thanks!

    Hi All...

    I appreciate any help!

    We live in Central NJ and have a functional wood burning fireplace with a good draft that was built with the house in 1970. The chores and soot smell associated with wood has worn me down and I'm considering converting to natural gas. Here are some of the conditions:
    -- We have a speaker mounted 10" above the top opening of the fireplace and the bottom edge of our plasma TV is about 4 inches above the speaker or about 14" above the top of the fireplace opening
    -- I have easy access to a natural gas supply in the basement below the fireplace. I'd need to convert an elbow to a T and add a shut off and branch on the line already feeding the furnace
    -- The fireplace has an ash pit in the back center of the fireplace floor that runs to the basement wall below. The ash pit door in the basement is a very manageable 8 feet or so from where the T on the new gas supply line would be located

    So:

    -- Because of the TV and speaker above the fireplace opening that are not moving (it's a nice symmetrical home theater) I've ruled out an efficient insert that would seem to require non-combustible space directly above the fireplace opening
    -- For the same reasons as above and for smell and health reasons, I've ruled out a ventless log set
    -- This leaves a vented log set that I know would be primarily for looks and not heat as I'm reading most heat goes up the chimney, just like burning wood and that's ok, I'm not trying to heat the house with this log set. However, Hargrove makes a "hybrid" that claims to be a vented set that's more efficient and does radiate heat out of the firebox.

    Questions:

    Installation:
    -- Is the conversion a reasonable DIY job for a very handy homeowner that's done previous, simple NG work?
    -- Is there a middle ground of me doing some of the installation to save cost but having a pro do some too for safety reasons?
    -- Can the ash pit safely be used to run the gas line up to the firebox?
    -- Is an accessible floor mounted NG shut off (decorative key-type) near the firebox necessary or only desirable?
    -- Can 1/2" yellow stainless flex be used safely from the rigid supply shut off, to the "key" shut off, then across 5' of the basement and through the ash pit up to the firebox where it would be safely secured to an in-firebox shutoff at the rear of the fireplace floor. Depending on the log set, this is where flex or tubing would connect the log set burner

    Equipment:
    -- Am I on the right track to use a vented log set in my situation? Will the Hargove hybrid or similar, create too much of a heat hazard with the speaker and TV mounted right above the top of the fireplace opening on the brick above?
    -- Is an electronic pilot with remote control unit worth the high increase in cost over a standing pilot? (Seems about a cost increase of 40-50% over standing pilot)
    -- Any recommendations on log set manufacturer and model for the DIY'r. There seems like a ton of suppliers and models are out there. Peterson and Napoleon seem top shelf but Emberglow and Pleasant Hearth seem the value suppliers.

    I's like to be at about $1000-$1500 DIY including a new set of doors at about $300. Possible? What would this cost done turn-key by a pro shop?

    I know this is long winded but any help would be great. Thank you.

    Jim.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Beatrice, NE
    Posts
    6,831
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    No fireplace expert here but I think you need to start with a thorough chimney inspection. The fumes off NG are different than the smoke from wood. I have heard about chimneys that deteriorated rapidly after the gas burner was installed. The issue is with smoke if the chimney quits drafting you know quickly but not so much with NG. We use to do some sheet metal work for a chimney sweep, he is retired now, and I believe he always put a liner in whenever he made a conversion like you are talking. A liner will change your budget quite a bit i'm afraid. Maybe someone will be along shortly with better info for you.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    7
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    Thread Starter
    Thanks for the tip on the inside condition of the chimney. The draft is excellent and I know there is a terracotta insert on the fireplace side of the chimney. The other side of the chimney has a metal liner for the hot water heater inside a separate terracotta passage. The liner was required when I converted to a high efficiency furnace that vents elsewhere with PVC pipe and not the chimney. I think it was due to a code rule about there not being enough draft for just the hot water heater in that terracotta passage when the 80% furnace is removed.

    Anyway...good to know and to inspect before I start the job. The results may help with my decision on how to proceed.

    Thank You.

    Any other advice on the job overall?

    Jim.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Thread Starter
    In addition...I forgot to mention that when the fireplace is not in use, regardless of whether the firebox is full of ash or not, we frequently get the strong smell of soot in the house, mostly when the temperature is unusually warm, in fall, winter or spring. I know this is difficult if not impossible to remove but I'm hoping the gas conversion with help along with a better sealing set of doors.

    Jim.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Ontari-ari-ari-o
    Posts
    1,360
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    This isn't a simple DIY job and there are numerous code requirements and safety issues that you are overlooking including the capacity of your existing gas supply. Most of your questions will depend on the particular unit you buy including clearances for things like audio/visual equipment.

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