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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    8

    Question Putting Gas Logs in OLD Coal fireplace?

    Hi-- I have an old house with two back-to-back fireplaces which share a single chimney. They are small fireplaces originally meant to burn coal, and they are very pretty and decorative so I don't want to do anything that would cover up the surrounds.

    The chimney liner is deteriorated and some of the bricks are falling off the top of the chimney outside. There are no dampers. (Last week a flying squirrel came down the chimney. That was exciting )

    I would like to put vented gas logs in the fireplaces to provide "ambience" and a little supplementary heat. I also need to do whatever is necessary to make the chimney stable and safe. I would be hiring someone to do this, but I'd like to have an intelligent idea of what would need to be done before I start shopping around.
    For instance, would they need to reline the whole chimney? Or can they just run a pipe up it?

    And do I need to call a chimney guy? A gas guy? What?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    612

    Default Re: Putting Gas Logs in OLD Coal fireplace?

    From your description of your chimney, I would have a chimney guy be the primary and let him sub out the gas work as necessary. Once chimney is repaired the unit you choose will determine the appropriate liner size and the correct size gas line to be stubbed to the fireplace location. See which installer (chimney or gas) is schooled in the installation of the unit you pick and go with them.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Posts
    126

    Default Re: Putting Gas Logs in OLD Coal fireplace?

    I had the top three rows of bricks reset on my chimney - known in the trade as re-crowning. The rest of my chimney was in good shape. I think it cost about $400 with a few other things they did like filling a gap above the firebox with fireprrof insulation and adding a chimney cap.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Putting Gas Logs in OLD Coal fireplace?

    Thanks, bp and PumpkinStalker (lol at the username!)

    I am getting an estimate from a mason to repair the chimney where the bricks are falling off.

    I've done some more research into the liner situation--- but I am confused. There is a lot of conflicting advice out there on whether a liner for gas logs needs to be steel or aluminum, and whether it needs to be insulated or not. And what do you do about lining or not lining the smoke chamber? The ones in my fireplaces are large and somewhat irregularly shaped.

    Does anyone have any advice on this?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    8

    Default Re: Putting Gas Logs in OLD Coal fireplace?

    Quote Originally Posted by KCPumpkinStalker View Post
    I had the top three rows of bricks reset on my chimney - known in the trade as re-crowning. The rest of my chimney was in good shape. I think it cost about $400 with a few other things they did like filling a gap above the firebox with fireprrof insulation and adding a chimney cap.

    KC-- Was your chimney lined, at all? Mine is just bricks and mortar-- no tile or clay liner or anything.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Posts
    126

    Default Re: Putting Gas Logs in OLD Coal fireplace?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joann59 View Post
    KC-- Was your chimney lined, at all? Mine is just bricks and mortar-- no tile or clay liner or anything.
    Well, lucky you I have a couple pictures I took when I climbed up there on the chimney people's ladder!

    Here's a shot of a bat inspector (that's another story!) but it shows the chimney...those top 4 rows of bricks could be picked up or blown off in heavy wind. Previous owner never had a cap either.


    Looking straight down, this side is the fireplace flue. To the left out of picture is the old furnace flu (no longer used and the previous owner put a piece of plywood slathered in quickcrete over it.) You can see I was missing a tile around the perimeter.


    And then this is literally looking straight down the flu. Nope, no liner! I wanted to change to wood burning but they said it would be about $4,000 to make the necessary fixes and liners to make it safe.


    I would look into what's called a "ventless" gas fireplace. Apparently they do not require a flu at all, and the chimney people plugged mine up with fireproof stuffing because it was not necessary anymore and let heat escape. One thing...you have to follow the directions for them because you're not supposed to have the flames actually touch anything whether it be the logs or the rocks around the base.

    Hope this helps.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    1,604

    Default Re: Putting Gas Logs in OLD Coal fireplace?

    Not a chimney guy, but I would stay away from any ventless heat source. No matter what they say, they put contaminants and sometimes too much moisture in the air.
    Nice pics of your chimney pumpkinstalker. I hope you do some remedial work to keep the water out if you plan on keeping it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Posts
    126

    Default Re: Putting Gas Logs in OLD Coal fireplace?

    I was definitely leary, but it was in the fireplace when I purchased the house. My house inspector was a former fireman and said that they too were skeptical of a "ventless fireplace" but when they tested the air around it, they found no harmful levels. Just what I was told and I too am not a fireplace expert. I don't understand how you can have combustion and NOT have some contaminants. Someone in the field care to explain, I'm interested!

    I got her all fixed up though, new crown, new clay tiles up top, and a new chimney cap.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Putting Gas Logs in OLD Coal fireplace?

    Yes, nice photos! It looks like the bricks and mortar inside the chimney are in good shape.

    I don't want to go with a ventless unit because of the possibility of toxic CO--- also ventless units put water vapor into the house, which may be fine in a dry climate, but not where I live.

    I've gathered more info, and it seems I need a steel liner and it doesn't need to be insulated, but I still don't get how the steel tube gets connected into the firebox. Do they make a big metal hood? Or what? (There are very few chimney guys where I live, and those that exist want an arm and a leg just to come out for an estimate, so I want to have a good idea of what I need beforehand.)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    246

    Default Re: Putting Gas Logs in OLD Coal fireplace?

    We have vent less gas log fireplace. It works great but it doesn't give out a lot of heat verses wood burning fireplace or wood burning stove.
    We use it few times for entertainment purpose and it does add moisture to the air, which is great because Carolina winter is awfully dry.

    Our chimney isn't in great shape, if we have the dough then we'll replace entire chimney and go back to wood burning fireplace.

    Nothing tops great smelling of wood burning fireplace.
    "Life does not go by the book, we learn as we go along".

    You only need two tools in life - WD-40 and Duct Tape.
    If it doesn't move and should, use WD-40.
    If it shouldn't move and does, use the Duct Tape.


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