from: s pratt
date: Sat, May 22, 2010
subject: in need of fireplace help
i ran into your link while searching google about convertine an old coal victorian fireplace into an efficient wood burning heat source.
i have read that this is something that you know a lot about. i have attached a photo of the fireplace in question. there are actually three of these on the first floor, but we are only looking to make one of them a working fireplace.
any information would be greatly appreciated!!!
I did used to know quite a lot about such conversions or "Rumfordizations" and did about 500 of them in the 1980's and 90's. See http://www.rumford.com/rumfordize.html
Yours looks form the picture you sent to be a coal fireplace dating from the 1860's. It has a particularly nice slate mantel in that the marbleizing is in two colors which means it was dipped (marbelized) in two steps - like batik. And it looks complete with trim and cover and is in good shape. Except for the hearth extension, which was originally probably a single slab of marbelized slate to match the black part of the mantel.
To Rumfordize this fireplace (make it into a code compliant efficient wood burning heat source) the process would be much like that depicted here. The arch would be filled in a streamlines as described here.
The main problem or difficulty will be whether or not and how to reline the chimney. We used to use single wall 8" diameter SS liners but about 1988 a new UL1777 listing was written requiring all liners in old chimneys which were typically in contact with combustible framing, to be insulated. That caused the price of these listed lining systems to skyrocket and often the resultant flue was too small to vent the fireplace. I have described this problem in some detail with some suggestions in an article on the website.
If you are still interested, send me some more pictures and tell me more about your house and chimney. What I'm looking for are pictures underneath the hearth if the basement ceiling is open and of the chimney in the attic and above the roof showing how big the chimney is and how many flues are in it and whether or not your house is brick or frame. My objective would be to find a way to use an unlisted single wall SS liner which we can probably get approved if we can show that your chimney is thick enough and massive enough to be safe in spite of being in contact with combustible framing. See the article on historic fire safety strategies.
Hope we can help you make this fireplace useful again - and keep it just a pretty as it is.
Buckley Rumford Fireplaces
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