Fireplace

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by DayBird, Feb 8, 2005.

  1. DayBird

    DayBird Big Bird

    Messages:
    2,173
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2004
    Location:
    Pell City, AL
    "..You're getting smarter by the (Watt) Hour ....I'd say ! fordy.. :) "

    Thank you.

    Several people (caring, concerned friends and relatives) are urging us to install gas logs. Seems to me that would defeat the purpose of having a wood burning fire place.

    I've never had a fireplace before. It's always been a dream, but never a reality until now. I have several questions.

    I'm assuming you clean the ashes out as needed. These can go in the compost bin and/or mixed in the bedding for the chickens. Right or wrong?

    What about the chimney. It's in a mobile home so the entire chimney is less than 6 feet in vertical length. What needs to be done to keep it clean?

    There are blowers made into this thing. I'm assuming it would be good to use them. Right or wrong?

    There is a wire mesh hanging inside of glass doors. Would there be greater heating with the glass doors kept open? Seems to me that it would.

    Other than "firewood," what else can be burned? Cardboard, newspaper, sticks from the yard? I know that anything chemically treated or pressure treated cannot be used.
     
  2. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,490
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2003
    A chimney operates by using a draft...heat rises so the smoke goes on up the chimney. That draft does not magically stop at the screen and alot of the heat in your house will go straight up the chimney with the smoke. A fireplace can increase your heating bill. Same for gas logs, only they are worse. For gas logs to be installed safely, they put a block in your flue to prevent it from being closed (which can cause a CO problem with the logs on), so you always have a draft going up the chimney.

    Fireplaces and gas logs are more for decorative purposes than heating.

    Jena
     

  3. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    596
    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2005
    Location:
    Ohio
    Sounds like you might have one of those "Wantabee Fireplaces".

    In general fireplaces in a historical sense have been poor heating devices. Their net input into the house has been very poor. There are some super engineered fireplaces that attempt to improve by making their combustion air drawn from the outside and many use some sort of heat exchanger thingee to scavenge heat that normally would go up the chimney.

    Normally if you have a choice you want a fireplace to enclosed and control the draft in some manner and extract the heat in some heat exchange method. Sounds a bit like what you got, hence why they have the blowers. I assume the blowers are not to input combustion air. So I would think you want the doors closed. The wire mesh is usually a spark catcher, designed to catch popping sparks if the fireplace is open.

    You can burn just about anything that will burn. Some might give off a nasty smell. Newspapers can be burnt but do not burn well by themselves as the only fuel. Layered with wood do very well. Best to fold about 3/16 thick paks into a U shaped log and put that upside down, lined up in a row to support each other.

    Best over a good wood fire that is already burning well and in the charcoal phase, then layers of newpaper tubes and wood in a crosshatch affair. The one negative, newpaper, books, etc produce a lot of light ash unless they have a lot of good wood layers to really incinerate them. Then it tends to go into a fine powder more concentrated ash.

    Like with all wood burning devices you should be monitoring the flue for creosote, tar, ash buildup. Your own experience should guide in when to schedule cleaning periods. You generally do not want to run long slow fires, especially in the early burning phases, that is what tends to produce the most creosote / soot .
     
  4. DayBird

    DayBird Big Bird

    Messages:
    2,173
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2004
    Location:
    Pell City, AL
    So what do y'all suggest? Keep the thing but not rely on it for heat, just using it for decorative purposes? My bubble is slowly bursting. :waa:
     
  5. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    596
    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2005
    Location:
    Ohio
    Give it a try and see what your experience is.

    Don't be afraid to experiment with various fuels, loadings, burn rates and other fireman stuff. Attempt to determine what your net heat gain is. Maybe turn off / down other heating devices and see what the thermostat / thermometer is saying room temperature is doing.

    Good fireplace folks are not born, they learn how to do it. Many tricks, two different people can have hugely varying results. The biggy is always do it safely. Also can be huge difference between two fireplaces. Give yours a chance to see what type results it can produce. :worship:

    If it ain't working, try some other technique. The one big mistake many people make with wood burning devices is trying to load to much fuel when initially starting a fire. Get a good small hot fire going and slowly add additional fuels until it can support getting larger raw loads. Fireplaces are a lot about knowing exactly how to place / support and position the fuels and what various signs / signals / conditions are telling you and how to modify or correct if required.

    Poor fire starting techniques are probably one of the biggest mistakes the rookies always make.
     
  6. DayBird

    DayBird Big Bird

    Messages:
    2,173
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2004
    Location:
    Pell City, AL
    Thank you. I think you've patched the hole in my bubble. :)

    Next question, please:

    What kinds of "tools" do we require? Buy one of those sets with the stand that holds a poker, a brush and a little shovel? Is there something better to have?
     
  7. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    596
    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2005
    Location:
    Ohio
    Poker really isn't that useful.

    A good set of tongs is better, can also double as a poker. I like a tool that sort of has a square blade about 4" square tipped at about 30 degree angle. It is handy for pushing embers, burning beds into the right shape. Nice to be able to "Neat Up" the bed and dress up the edges. Can also function as a poker. You probably use the poker to hook and pull with more than poke. Guess nobody wanted to call it a hooker or puller. :no:

    Brush and shovel or dustpan is essential. Tongs can be used to pick burning pieces and reposition them. Rather than getting cute matched little cheap sets, more important to have good hefty tools that do the job well.

    Having a fire extinguisher handy too is essential. Never let anything like carpets, paper, etc be located within a distance that can be set on fire by a spark or even radiated heat. Practice makes perfect once you get the bug for fire, just about like Gold. Once in your blood damn difficult to get out. :eek:
     
  8. DayBird

    DayBird Big Bird

    Messages:
    2,173
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2004
    Location:
    Pell City, AL

    Sounds great.

    We're pulling out the carpet before we're even moving in the thing. We'll probably just paint the subfloor until we can afford to do something nicer. It's more important to get the place livable and something adequate for the animals before we try to "renovate a trailer" to make it appear to be something it isn't.
     
  9. dreadstalker

    dreadstalker Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    60
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    central nebraska
    make sure that you learn how to use the damper.it sounds like what you have is a zero clearence fireplace.my mom has 1 in her place,and for awhile she used a gas log.she finally let me remove the gas log and put in a insert.they really are the only way to go if you are wanting heat.many of the inserts have galss doors availabel so you can still watch the flame.and yes you will inrease the heat output by using the blower.and don't just paint the subfloor you need something that is at the very min. heat resistant,slate,bricks or at least some sheetrock.if a coal falls out(and invariably 1 will sooner or later)and you don't see it, good bye house.SAFETY IS FIRST
     
  10. DayBird

    DayBird Big Bird

    Messages:
    2,173
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2004
    Location:
    Pell City, AL

    Yep, I knew that much. I'm not totally stupid. :haha: :haha:

    There's a "hearth" of sorts. Big, white ceramic tiles about 2 feet out. Won't that work? :confused:
     
  11. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

    Messages:
    28,248
    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Location:
    SE Missouri
    You'd be surprised how often a coal will land just beyond your hearth. There are special non burning hearth rugs you can get tho.

    For dealing with ashes get a metal container with a lid. And a serious shovel. The D shaped short handled square shovels are my favorite. Much better than the little sets IMHO. You can use the ashes in your garden. They will raise the ph, which is ok in Alabama, not so ok in CO where the soil tended to be too alkaline to start with. Also put some ashes in the poultry dust bath area to kill mites. You can also sprinkle a few ashes in the runs instead of lime.
     
  12. Lisa in WA

    Lisa in WA Formerly LisainN.Idaho Supporter

    Messages:
    15,698
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    What about a cast iron fireplace insert with gas logs? They are supposed to be wonderful at radiant heating, and they are attractive too. We are thinking about one for our master bedroom. I know Waterford has some. www.waterfordstoves.com We heat with a Waterford Emerald gas stove, and it sits right on our hardwood floor. It is the best softest heat I've ever felt, and the stove itself is gorgeous.
     
  13. Ole Man Legrand

    Ole Man Legrand Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    515
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2003
    Location:
    NC
    WE heat a 1500 sq. foot house with a Fisher Fire Place insert. We burn all kind of wood but mostly Oak. Insert has a fan that circulates the air through it.
     
  14. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    24,572
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2004
    Location:
    MS
    When we built our house a year ago the builder pressured us to put in a gas fireplace, but we refused. We love our woodburning fireplace. When we have a fire we turn the thermostat down. The rest of the house gets chilly, but it sure is cozy in front of the fire.

    Your fireplace will probably heat the entire mobile home. You are fortunate to have the fan...it will distribute heat.

    We use newspaper to layer with the wood to get a good fire going. We get our wood all around us...every time a limb blows down, sticks fall, etc. we gather it, cut it if needed and have plenty of firewood. Check around. Our builder told us that any time we need firewood to check at construction sites. They are usually more than happy to have you come cut up the trees they've knocked down.

    Right now is a good time to go to Lowe's and check out their fireplace accessories. They have them marked down. We got a decorative screen for our fireplace at half price...was $68 and we paid $34.
     
  15. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,421
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Not sure how useful with a fireplace, but for my sotz barrel stove, I've found a small rake tool (narrowed garden rake with piece of pipe welded for handle works fine) to rake the coals to front when adding wood is great thing to have.
     
  16. DayBird

    DayBird Big Bird

    Messages:
    2,173
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2004
    Location:
    Pell City, AL

    Great idea. A Valentine's Day present for my wife? :rolleyes:
     
  17. DayBird

    DayBird Big Bird

    Messages:
    2,173
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2004
    Location:
    Pell City, AL
    So for now, we're going to rip up the carpet and paint the floor. Check out more effecient inserts for purchase at a later date, but begin to use this fireplace. Use the blower and keep the screen and the glass door shut. Get a special hearth rug just in case. Keep furniture away from it. How far is far enough?

    Use newspaper and cardboard layered with firewood. We're going to have lots of boxes and newspaper that were used for packing. Pick up all the sticks from the yard and cut them up into suitable pieces. Should be able to find plenty of bits and pieces laying around our five acres of oak trees.

    Go to Lowes and check out the accessories that are now on sale.

    Anything else?
     
  18. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    596
    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2005
    Location:
    Ohio
    Yup, you sort of got the drift. Go for it. See if you got the moxie?

    One final tip.

    When a fire don't seem to be working right, root under it and " Lift It " Something like a poker or any long iron tool works. The trick with most fires is to be able to get oxygen under the burning materials and then flow thru it. Many problem fires are because the fuels have "Compacted" and block the flow of air thru the materials. Especially if you use layer materials like papers, wood, etc.

    Always think air under the fire and provide a pathway for that to happen. Air flowing over a fire is useless.

    Happy burning.
     
  19. DayBird

    DayBird Big Bird

    Messages:
    2,173
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2004
    Location:
    Pell City, AL
    Is it possible that I don't? :no:
     
  20. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    596
    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2005
    Location:
    Ohio
    Who knows???

    Having the firebug is really not about money or maybe even staying warm.

    More about a life style, love of the ritual, joy of the tasks, freedom, energy independence all of that.

    If you are into details for details sake and just don't love starting and maintaining nice fires, never will last as a long term obsession. In my next long term place I want solar and my own energy plant. Want the ability to be a fire bug as an option for back up. Once biten, once the skills are in place it is a life long obsession to be celebrated.

    If you are into money, comfort and ease and alternative means the other guys offer, maybe moxie is really an old juice drink to be found on collectors posters or deep dank cellars.

    The idea of fire starting, wood burning, mass burning, stuff burning is either in your blood or you want a modern lifestyle with gas bills that come on a regular monthly schedule.

    Drinking moxie was meant to "Hook" a fellow. A true fireman of anything is hooked for life, there is no cure. :haha: