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PostPosted: 31 Jan 2009, 23:05 
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Following the sad and slow death of our gas fire we have decided to rip it out and go for solid fuel (wood) open fire.

The corgi chap as removed and capped the gas and we are now left with a hole 17" wide, 23" high in the mantle and approx 17" deep.

The hole is square with no shape or profile.

The rear face comprises red bricks with evidence (sooty) of a previous fire. The sides are lined with clear 'thermalite' (sp?) blocks that I would guess would be unsuitable for use adjacent to an open fire but would welcome thoughts.

So, the main question - what do I need to do / install / replace (thermalite blocks?) to have a real fire in the space?

(I have already booked to get the chimney swept as we do not know when this was done last).
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PostPosted: 01 Feb 2009, 07:45 
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Its likely that the structural opening is larger and the blocks were just used to reduce the size to suit the gas fire, so they could well be removed but can't be sure without seeing it.

Have you thought of a woodburner rather than an open fire as they throw the heat out instead of most of it going up the chimney, also no risk from sparks etc

Jason

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PostPosted: 01 Feb 2009, 08:33 
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Woo hoo, Simon. Nothing beats an open log fire IMO but as Jason says a lot of heat goes up the chimney. There was a thread elsewhere on a rather neat system from the Netherlands where they line the chimney with two concentric pipes, the outer (IRC) being slightly longer than the inner so that incoming fresh air gets pre-warmed by the smoke etc going up the inner tube.

We have two open fires, one was rendered internally with fire cement (by me) and although it's lasted, it could do with redoing as it's 'live'. The fire on the other side is still red brick but we rarely use this one so not sure how long the bricks would survive with constant use. You can buy vermiculite type sheets to line the walls and back...I got some from a local wood stove supplier.

Ventilation....have you got enough? Where will it come from? We have to ensure that the door to the main room is kept shut until the fire gets going otherwise the air it needs gets sucked down the chimney in the other room bringing all the smoke with it. Partly due to the two flues not being separate at the chimney pot end.

Old castiron firebacks were also popular and throw the heat back into the room.

Your biggest problem will be making sure you have the firebed at the right height otherwise it won't draw and you'll fill the room with smoke. Try and locate any book by Count Romford who made exhaustive studies on optimal fireplace design.

Building Regs say you need a fireproof hearth in front of the fireplace that is raised above the adjacent floor level (so you can't carpet all the way to the fireplace!).

Is the flue good? Does it leak to other rooms? Do a smoke test ? Mind you if it did and you've been using a gas fire then you'd probably be dead.

Any questions, fire away (no pun intended)

Roger


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PostPosted: 01 Feb 2009, 16:25 
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Thanks chaps. I agreed with Jason's hunch - that the real thing was bigger and had been reduced to accommodate the gas fire.

So, out with the lump hammer (not L-N!) and time to make some space!

I was encouraged as almost no brick dust ended up in the room as it was all drawn up the chimney - a good start I think!

This is where I am up to now. I am not really sure where to go next -

* whether I need to do something by way of lining the cavity?
* whether the small concrete base simply needs extended to fill the gaps at the sides where the thermalite bricks were or whether concrete is suitable for the base of the fire?
* even whether I now have too big an opening which may cause problems down the track.

Still - never learned anything by not trying!

BRgds
Simon.

BEFORE

Image

Image

DURING

Image

AFTER

Image

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Last edited by SVB on 01 Feb 2009, 16:58, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 01 Feb 2009, 16:58 
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You need a pre cast cocrete back and throat, and this is normally built with the surrond off the wall.

Have a look at this pdf.

http://www.solidfuel.co.uk/pdfs/opening ... eplace.pdf


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PostPosted: 01 Feb 2009, 18:29 
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What's the rest of the floor made of? If it's a suspended floor, or the fire is on an outside wall, then I'd strongly recommend a Baxi underfloor draft fire. This gets over the problem of howling gales on the back of your legs, and has a huge ashpan which only needs emptying ever few days. BUT, of course, you have to dig up the hearth to fit it.
To fill the space you've created, either use a precast concrete fireback like SP recommends, or you can get 4 section firebricks that form the back and sides.

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PostPosted: 01 Feb 2009, 18:43 
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I found out last week that to install a solid fuel appliance you need it to be installed by a registered company or be approved by building control.
Sorry if i`m TYGTSE

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PostPosted: 01 Feb 2009, 19:48 
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We have a wood burner and i wouldn't have anything else.

They use less fuel and are more efficient. Look great when lit and look better than open fires when unlit. There easier to light and then can even stay lit over night if fueled up and shut down.

If your installing it yourself, get your chimney swept first and ask him to check it over.


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PostPosted: 01 Feb 2009, 21:34 
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James B wrote:
I found out last week that to install a solid fuel appliance you need it to be installed by a registered company or be approved by building control.
Sorry if i`m TYGTSE


But I thought his fireplace was always like that?


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PostPosted: 01 Feb 2009, 21:40 
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Thanks all - much food for thought.

The overall purpose we have in mind is to look good and add a bit to the room on a Fri / Sat eve + sunday. The heating is really taken care of in terms of the normal central heating.

With this in mind, do we really need the concrete back and throat? I had some sort of cast iron basket / back in mind.

Hopefully the sweep will be out sometime this week - interesting to see what he has to say!

Thanks all again - onwards and upwards!

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PostPosted: 02 Feb 2009, 05:52 
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SVB wrote:
.....

With this in mind, do we really need the concrete back and throat? I had some sort of cast iron basket / back in mind.

....!


It all depends. Fireplace dimensions (not the basket - the opening) are critical as is height of firebed. Romford is your man.


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PostPosted: 03 Feb 2009, 22:58 
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Quick update:

Chimney sweep been out today and cleaned chimney (3 buckets of cr*p + hoover debris) which was well overdue it seems.

We lit a small fire last night (couple of pages of newspaper + small offcut from shop) - the fire drew like a dream!

The raised centre section on the base of the fire I thought was concrete was found to be more thermalite bricks with a 1/4" skim so has now been removed. - This prompts a question:
We now have the option of whether to fill in this 2" deep 'hole' behind the stone hearth or to leave it as a mini 'pit' wich would make control and clearing of ash easier. Any thoughts?

Given the successful mini fire we have decided to go for a cast iron back and give the shaped concrete back a miss (for now) as all seemed to go well. Looking at these on the 'tinternet it seems one can pay a wide variety of prices for nominally the same item (excluding antique which are mega bucks). But a new back ranges from £140 to £530 for the same item. Is this simply some are profiteering or is there some rubbish out there to steer clear of?

anyway, thanks to you all who have commented so far, very much appreciated - it all goes to making the community we have here that extra bit special and therefore valuable!

Simon.

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PostPosted: 03 Feb 2009, 23:56 
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SVB wrote:
Quick update:

Chimney sweep been out today and cleaned chimney (3 buckets of cr*p + hoover debris) which was well overdue it seems.

We lit a small fire last night (couple of pages of newspaper + small offcut from shop) - the fire drew like a dream!

The raised centre section on the base of the fire I thought was concrete was found to be more thermalite bricks with a 1/4" skim so has now been removed. - This prompts a question:
We now have the option of whether to fill in this 2" deep 'hole' behind the stone hearth or to leave it as a mini 'pit' wich would make control and clearing of ash easier. Any thoughts?

Given the successful mini fire we have decided to go for a cast iron back and give the shaped concrete back a miss (for now) as all seemed to go well. Looking at these on the 'tinternet it seems one can pay a wide variety of prices for nominally the same item (excluding antique which are mega bucks). But a new back ranges from £140 to £530 for the same item. Is this simply some are profiteering or is there some rubbish out there to steer clear of?

anyway, thanks to you all who have commented so far, very much appreciated - it all goes to making the community we have here that extra bit special and therefore valuable!

Simon.


You won't regret it, in my last house, ( which sadly was lost to negative equity) I re-opened a boarded up open fireplace and had it swept and rebricked, I then drilled holes into the firebricks about 8" above the grate and inserted 5mm metal pins leaving 2" exposed, then I made a metal grid to sit on the pins, on saturday nights and with a good film on the box we had a lovely indoor barbrque, on the grid would be sausages, bacon, mushrooms etc, underneath the grate where the hot ashes fell would be potatoes wrapped in foil, it made for a really nice winter night.

make sure you save the coke left over for restarting the fire from cold with a bit of tinderwood and scrunched up newspaper, a few lumps of coal to heat the brickwork and then follow it up for the rest of the night with logs, apple burns the hottest and gives out most heat, don't have the logs too dry or they will spit and burn too quick, you may sit close to begin with but after a while you will want to be a couple of yards away

You won't get blocked up noses with this form of heating and whoever is lucky enough to have the breast running through their room will sleep lovely and cosy.

Rich :D

BTW, When I was a lad my dad used to stick his toothbrush up the chimney and coat it in soot to clean his teeth, he still has them all and he is 78 years young.


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