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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Posts
    14

    Default Fireplace Problems

    I am hoping someone might be able to help me with our current fireplace. We have the BR-42 which was installed by our builder approximately 7 years ago. Since then, our builder has gone bankrupt so there is no possibility of contacting them directly. We also have no idea who was contracted to do the install. This fireplace box is vented to the outside (directly to the right of the fireplace box; small silver box outside at knee level). From what I've seen I believe ****** I believe we might have a FOAK combustion kit. A gas log system (Mendocino Oak logs manufactured by FMI products for a vented system...purchased at Menards) was also installed at a later date (the fireplace was originally setup for wood with a gas start). The fireplace is located on the north wall of our house in our family. This family is approximately 25' x 20' with vaulted ceilings. The family room opens up into our kitchen area. The problem we are having is two-fold.
    First, a great amount of cold air seems to be entering through the fireplace. This occurs with the flue is closed. On a number of very cold mornings we have awoke to find white frost covering the vents on either side of the fireplace box and up the chimney column and flue (I have pictures). A noticeable draft can be felt entering through these same vents. We have pulled all the siding off the house and insulated (per the installation directions) around the firebox up approximately 12'. We have also noticed that the draft isn't as bad if the combustion air intake is covered (the lever on the face of the box to close the vent doesn't seem to work properly so we have sealed the outside intake with ducting tape). We also use a piece of plexi-glass cut to the size of the opening to seal when the fireplace isn't in use.
    Secondly, the fireplace throws off very little heat when the gas is on. Unless I am sitting within a couple of feet of the box, I feel absolutely no heat.
    We would like to buy an insert for the fireplace to make it more efficient but it is not possible financially for the coming winter. We also do not want to spend money having someone come out to do repairs or modifications. We know a fireplace isn't overly efficient but our case seems extreme. We are looking for tips/advice on how to improve what we have. Anyway, I have the following questions:
    1. Is there anyway to "repair" the lever on the face of the firebox that opens and closes the combustion air vent? I think something maybe bent inside but I don't know how to get to it. The firebox is surrounded by stone. By taping the vent closed permanently , how are we affecting the heat output of the fireplace?
    2. Is there anyway to increase the heat output of the fireplace? Would converting back to wood burning help? Other family members have fireplaces with gas logs and they emit A LOT more heat.
    3. Would adding glass doors help much?
    4. Any other advice/tips/insight that might help us?
    Thanks in advance for your help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,621

    Default Re: Fireplace Problems

    Because the fireplace was originally installed as a wood burning fireplace, my guess is the intake vent and flue vent are over sized. That and the problem of not being able to close the input vent when not in use.

    A 8" flue liner will help control the over drafting but you will need to figure out how to close the input vent when not in use.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Fireplace Problems

    Thanks! How difficult is it to install a 8" flue liner? Where can I buy it? Do they make something that allows the flue to be closed partially reducing the amount of hot air escaping up the chimney?

    Also, if we converted it back to wood, would we get more heat? We don't use it often (maybe once or twice a week), like the smell of burning wood, and don't mind the inconvience/mess. We converted it to gas as soon as we moved in so have no idea if the wood would generate more heat.
    Last edited by pmsmith2032; 09-26-2013 at 05:06 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,621

    Default Re: Fireplace Problems

    Wood burns much hotter than gas.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Fireplace Problems

    Here are some pictures:





    Gas line coming in from bottom of firebox (basement)


    Underneat firebox (basement)


    Plexiglass we use to "seal" the fireplace when not in use


    Flue - 8"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Fireplace Problems

    And a few more:

    URL=http://s926.photobucket.com/user/pmsmith2032/media/20130926_215944_zpseaa99603.jpg.html][/URL]

    Information tag - Lever to close the air combustion vent is toward the bottom of the pic. It is in the closed postion (very hard to close) but still seems to leak air)



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    1,327

    Default Re: Fireplace Problems

    Fireplace doors may help some, perhaps they will do well enough to satisfy your concerns- normally they only slow down the worst drafts. You can seal this area off a lot better by fitting a sheet of styrofoam (such as is used as exterior sheathing) to the opening which will provide a better seal. Of course it has to be removed to use the fireplace and you have to let it cool fully before putting it back. And if a large chunk of blue is visually unappealing, it can be painted with latex or covered with fabric to match your decor.

    When you can, you should consider revamping this with one of the newer fireplace units as the better grade ones are considerably more energy efficient than most of the older ones, especially the old builder-grade models. Make sure that whoever does that install follows all the factory's installation procedures correctly before you write the check. "We've always done it this way" is not a good reason to believe you're smarter than the folks who designed it and the U.L. who tested it!

    Phil

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,621

    Default Re: Fireplace Problems

    The box is designed for wood burning and with an 8" flue. My guess is that the flue and inlets are much to large for the gas logs. Adding glass doors may cut down on the air getting into the house but you will still be loosing all your heat up the chimney.

    One way would be to cut down the size of the flue and inlet to a size needed for the gas logs, second would be to switch back to wood burning and add the class doors, and third wouls be to close the flue and the inlet and ainstall a vent-less gas log set.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Fireplace Problems

    Thanks for the responses. We have decided to convert back to wood. One other thing I forgot to metion was that a number of years ago we removed the outside siding and there was absoltely no insulation. We added styrene insulation (made braces to make sure it didn't fall against the firebox) up as far as we could reach. Now I'm wondering if we need to insulate up even higher and need to insulate the pipe leading to the combustion kit. From what I can remember there was a 2x4 frame maybe 12' (two story house) or so up the chase that surrounded the chimney but I can't remember if it was insulated or not. I would imagine if we insualted up to this point and then insulated the box it might help more? I would think that all wood and insualtion must still remain 1" from the chimey pipe (I don't remember what the framing looked like) so there would still be a gap?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    central pa
    Posts
    98

    Default Re: Fireplace Problems

    ok I am a certified chimney sweep and there is allot of misinformation posted here. for one vented gas logs are meant to be installed in a fully functioning wood burning fireplace 8" is absolutely not to big. as far as putting an insert in your prefab fireplace there is a big debate about that in the industry now but any reputable chimney professional would not do it unless both the prefab fireplace and the insert were designed and ul tested to be used together. do you have the installation and instruction manual for the unit? that should tell you if you can insulate the chase. if it says you can that would defiantly help because these units use a double or triple wall pipe which relies on air circulation through the outer layers to cool the outer wall. the problem is when the pipe is in a cold chase it works in reverse and your warm room air goes up and the cool air comes down through the cooling air intakes. but you need to check the clearances required in the manual because every manufacturer has different requirement but I doubt that 1" is enough for the flue pipe I hope I have answered at least some of your questions if you have more just ask. also you can only use doors or any other part for that matter designed for your specific fire place otherwise you could be seriously compromising the safety of the unit
    Last edited by junkout; 10-01-2013 at 05:43 PM.

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