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I have an unused fireplace in our living room. It has an insert-style front and blower-ventilated pipes for the fire to sit on, but when we bought the house the fireplace doors were missing (and the power cord cut). So as an essentially open fire pit in the living room it's a terrible energy loss when used, which we never do. I've looked into purchasing an insert or freestanding wood stove and holy cow they're like $4000!

So I'm thinking why can't I just buy a freestanding wood stove, even a portable one, and put it in the fireplace? I can place a proper-sized flue down the existing 10" flue easily that'll descend to the stove. The stove will sit in and slightly protrude from the existing steel firebox, no problem there. Why wouldn't this work? Apart from aesthetics of course. Just one reason I love SWMBO... her response when I gingerly asked about an ugly icehouse stove in the living room was "well is it gonna be worse than a broken fireplace we never use?!" :applause:

For reference, we could be talking anything from a $40 army surplus type deal to a steel barrel stove conversion or barrel stove to a Clarry pellet stove (probably the coolest of the lot :)).

And just as to how I got to this place: our community had disastrous flooding in September. We all were trapped for days in our valley with no power, clean water, communications etc... essentially a time machine to the 18th century. Then we spent the next several months figuring out what happens to a vacant home with no grid access as winter freezes (think buying a generator to power an air compressor rigged to our house plumbing system to blow it out preventing burst pipes, for one). SO my wife and I have a newfound appreciation for the vulnerability of our home and are worried about future weather events in particular. We're not whole-hog SHTF preppers, and don't want to be. Just increasing our resiliency. We are aware of what it would take to heat our whole home and this won't cut it as a primary heat source, and is not intended to. We would use this as an auxiliary heater occasionally in the most chilly room of the house, and if push came to shove we could close off the rest of the house and live in as much as this thing will heat :D.
 

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Before you go to the effort of changing the defunct stove, I would at least explore what options there are to acquire replacement or newly fabricated doors. The cut cord is an easy fix. If you can replace the doors for less than a liner+new stove that might be attractive.

Are you going to be buying wood or do you have a DIY option?
 

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We did what you are considering in our previous house. It worked great. We had a custom stove builder build us a stove that fit perfectly, instead of force fitting a standard stove.
Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #5
We'd be buying wood, which is why one of the pellet stove options is interesting (easier to store). I've thought about replacement windows but figured they'd probably get into expensive enough territory that I might as well get something new that's equally/more efficient.
 

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forgot to mention that one of the best features of the insert is that you can adjust the air intake as well as the exhaust through the damper. when you choke it down it burns hot and long. it is very efficient and will blow hot air for 12 hours after loading three sticks of hardwood 7" in diameter and 18" long onto a bed of coals. split wood also loads into the box nicely. the only drawback is that it fills up with ashes in about 48 hours and it's a pain to empty them through the little trap door in the bottom. i'll let my burn down and empty it after a couple days of use.
 

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You don't need windows in a stove. :) Steel plate is a lot easier to fabricate.

From my perspective, determining whether you can use the stove to heat on a regular basis and actually save money compared to electric/gas is the first step in determining whether you just need something basic to keep warm when the power goes out, or if you are in a position to spend more for a stove you are using more or less full time.
 

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Most municipalities have building codes that prohibit barrel stove heaters in homes do to their history of burning through. Wood stoves that set back into existing fireplaces are more convection than radiant heat because the stove is basically surrounded and requires a blower to pull the heat off the stove and blow it in the room, not going to work very well without power. The smaller fabricated stoves like the one sold at Home Depot are 72% efficient and are priced in the $650 range, half that for used. I have an existing fireplace also and hated to give up the floor space to a wood stove but in the end the compromise was worth it. JMHO
 

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Most Pellet stoves are worthless when the power is off, the auger and blower use electricity. Have you seen or know someone that has a gravity type like your looking at? Just not sure how much they would heat up an area. I would have somebody come out and see about retrofitting to slide in another insert (might find a used or demo) or maybe they can recommend another option. You didn't say if you have access to natural or propane gas but that would give some more options as well.
 

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Finally, a subject here on Beesource where I am NOT a newbie!

First thing, I am a former volunteer firefighter, so my primary concern is fire safety and indoor air quality safety for a solid fuel appliance.

But I have also been heating my houses with wood for more than 40 years. I live in northern NY, so that's no small undertaking. We have lived here on our farm for more than 25 years in a pre-Civil War house (completely uninsulated, but with curious, almost solid walls) that has no central heat, only what it originally had (though fewer of them because ours are modern and efficient): free standing, wood burning stoves. Our wood comes from our own woodlot; my husband cuts it into logs and hauls it in. I split it down to stove logs and stack and haul it around. He cleans the chimneys. And so it has been, for more than three decades of contented married life.

We burn Vermont Castings Defiants and (soon to be installed, I hope - it's on the Honey-Do List) a Jotul Oslo, cast iron stoves. Previously we have burned other VC models, Carmor sheet metal stoves and an Irish Waterford Stove. I also have a c 1875 Stewart wood cookstove, though it's presently living in the barn until it can return triumphantly to gloat over the fact that propane has disappeared. With any luck that won't be in my lifetime. I've already done my stint of cooking on the Stewart, thank you very much.

We also have a pellet stove for which we purchase pellets. It is very handy for fast response, especially at the beginning and end of the season when not so much heat is needed, and sometimes needed erratically. Once we light the woodstoves for the season, they stay lit for two or three months until we take them down for the mid-season chimney cleaning.

Here's my quick take on what you're proposing: I would look around and find a modern, air-tight, second-hand woodstove and install it in your hearth with all safety precautions taken into account, including relining your chimney as necessary (you can fill the void around the exhaust pipe with vermilculite insulation - the chimney will draw really nicely that way.) This won't be the cheapest route, but it will give you a margin of safety and security when you're burning wood. It will also reduce the chance of two air quality issues: first, and most critical, a properly designed installation will reduce the chance that you are breathing combustion products - nasty stuff; and secondly, a properly made, and correctly operated, modern stove will release fewer particulates and crap into everybody's breathing space, which is a good thing. Second hand stoves can be found in any area where a lot of people burn wood. Cast iron models are often rebuilt by experts for extra innings of use. (One of our Vermont Castings has been rebuilt three times.) Try to buy from a dealer, rather than a private sale. It's worth it to be confident that you aren't buying a stove that has been warped or damaged from being over-fired.

As someone noted above, a pellet stove, or indeed any of the fire-burning appliances with forced air circ., won't give you any help during power outages. Only simple woodstove will do that. You can arrange things with many woodstoves to draw in outside air for combustion purposes which makes them less drafty to live with, and also reduces chance that the stove will cause backdrafting of CO from your regular furnance or boiler. (Our stoves are all set up that way.)

Deciding to burn wood is a serious issue to face, not to be done without giving it it's due care. You after all are penning up live fire in a metal box and betting your lives and all the stuff in your house on it staying safely where you want to keep it. As they teach probie firefighters: fire is completely indifferent to the fact that you are being a hero and helping your community. When it looks at you, it just sees lunch.

May I offer some additional advice re plumbing: Without too much trouble you can equip all your plumbing lines with low-point draincocks. That way if you have an unexpected need to drain your pipes all it takes is walking around the cellar with a bucket and opening the drainpoints. No need for power to pressurize the system to drive the water out. A twelve year old could drain the house in 20 -30 min. Hint: to make sure you don't miss one of the drainpoints, hang a numerical tag on each one. When you think you're done see if you've got a full set hanging from the handle of the collection bucket. Close the supply line into your toilets (and drain the line), flush and then dump pet-safe antifreeze into the bowl when you get low on water. I don't have one so I have nothing to add to a water supply line that goes to the ice-maker in your fridge.

Having a source of heat (and light-duty cooking, don't let any one convince you that you can really cook on a space-heating woodstove like you can on a wood-fired cooking range - which is another animal entirely) makes life in power outages bearable. We've spent as long a three weeks here w/o power in December. It's a nice thought that you will be warm, with hot coffee at hand and something stew-ish reheating on top of the woodstove. Many stoves allow you to operate them with the doors open so you can roast a hotdog or a marshmallow to vary the fare.

Although I am getting older I am not at the point, yet, when I'm looking at getting some central heat. What would drive me to that would be dementia, as you can't burn wood without all your marbles focused on the safe operation of the stove. Any fogginess about that could be fatal.

You might also consider some modest solar power with battery back-up to power modern life's indispensibles: Ipads and your cell. We have a small solar array that partially covers our household electric use. My husband is in the solar business so of course, applying the cobbler's bare-foot children Theory of Life, we don't yet have any battery back-up. Much gnashing of teeth when the power goes out and our net-metered system can't make any juice. I just keep my mouth shut at that point.

Hope you can get something set up to give you some good heat boost, and power-outage fall back. It's very comforting. I'd start by having the chimney inspected by a wood-stove dealer's chimney guy. then you'll know what you can do with it. Second hand stoves are often cheaper in the Spring as people decide they didn't really want to make the effort after all. Dealers take them in as trades as well.

Enj.
 

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I'm a fan of standby generators. They're large enough and (relatively) economical enough to supply all the power you need to run a house. You can downsize to a system that only powers the most critical circuits in your home. They're fully automatic so that they start instantly, even if you're not there, and they're available for multiple fuels.

I think the benefit is that if you're on a natural gas or propane or electric heating system that one generator will supply the juice to keep you warm in most cases. Rarely do natural gas or propane systems go down like electricity does.

They're more expensive than a wood stove, for sure, but they also serve a dual purpose; a stove will only provide heat whereas a generator provides the electric power to run everything in the house including the furnace.

http://www.generac.com/Residential/HomeBackupSystems/

http://www.homedepot.com/b/Outdoors...nt-Generators-Standby-Generators/N-5yc1vZbx9s
 

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the insert i mentioned above actually does radiate quite a bit of heat, but i have a small generator that i could use to run the fan on it if necessary. it is possible to boil water on the upper ledge of it. i don't think it would be cost effective to use as my primary source of heat if i had to buy wood, but if i didn't use it in the insert i would just be piling up the dead wood and burning it in bonfires. i'm still using the trees pushed over from the tornados of 2011.
 

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Barrel stoves are nice and cheap, but they have to be replaced periodically and they're not efficient as modern stoves go. On the other hand, the big expensive ones provide high efficiency and long burn times.
 

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Hey! i have a Vermont Castings Defiant, heats our whole house, 2400 sq ft, only heat we have is from the stove. Years ago I had a little dinky house and had a Jotul 8, heated the house like a cha,p, loved that little Jotul!
 

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Man do I have an idea with the Clarry with some modification to the chimney and the addition of a secondary burn chamber.

It looks as if they started out along the line of a shelf reburn chamber. I would have to see for myself how well that is working.

The problem with my idea is it would take some exact building and tinkering to get it to work just right. But once there I have heard reports of houses being heated for entire winters on half a cord of wood.
 

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don't forget to check with your insurance co. and see what they require. In the past where I lived they required that the stove be inspected and ul approved.
My brother just put one in this year, his insurance co didn't care that it was inspected, but must have a receipt from a professional flue cleaner each year. If you don't follow their rules, and you have a fire that is caused by the stove, they say they don't have to pay. My cousin had one of those barrel stoves, the insurance co gave him a week to remove it or his insurance would be terminated. good luck
 

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Forget notifying your insurance... They are not going to cover a chimney fire regardless. I have been over that with multiple insurance cos in multiple states. Even with the UL rating tags and proper clearances. Best thing to do on that front is play dumb.

That being said: I have a Jotal #3 wood stove installed in a fireplace. I re-lined the chimney with stainless liner and attached that directly to the back of the stove. I cut a piece of Durarock to fit in where the fireplace damper used to be, with a hole for the liner to pass through. It heats very well.
 

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I did the same thing on my last house. I removed about three courses of brick from the top of the opening to allow the Jotal stove to fit in. Ran stove pipe up. Nice stove, lots of heat.
 

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the high valley has catalytic bricks at the top of the chamber. the theory is that once they get hot they burn the smoke and smoke burns hotter than wood. it's also supposed to be more eco-friendly.
 
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