This is an old post, but it fits my question, so, here goes:
I have an 1885 Queen Anne with two fireplaces that share an unlined masonry chimney. They are both functional from a technical aspect, but like Foxglove, my chimney sweep advised us not to use them for burning until they were properly lined. We do still use them occasionally in the winter (we just throw one of those firestarter logs in there for ambiance), and that is ok because it doesn't create much heat. What I am wondering is this:
If I add gas inserts to my fireplaces (they are very small...probably for coal originally), assuming my chimneys are already clean, will I still need to have them lined? My dillemma is that if I am going to go to the trouble of lining my chimneys, I would rather burn real wood (let's face it...real wood is a lot sexier than fake logs with gas flames shooting through them).
Any/all comments are appreciated. I can post pics of my fireplace openings if necessary.
Real wood is clearly a better fire and ambiance. But if you go gas, you can avoid lining. Like most of us on this site, I have an unlined chimney that is small and was originally for coal. I was told by my chimney sweep that it needs to be lined if we want to use it for wood and that it would be expensive and maybe a failure to line it for wood. I put in a ventless gas log and I don't even open the flue when I run it, so no need to line.
I've heard of this "ventless" option. Exactly how does it work? My guess is that it doesn't use much more gas than maybe your oven, which usually isn't vented, and since you don't use that all the time, there would be no chance of ever creating enough CO2 to cause a problem. Plus, in our drafty old houses, there is never a shortage of fresh air infiltrating.
Basically you have it. They are tuned to burn more efficiently than the vented gas logs. Efficient burning of gas is blue, with only Co2 and water as a byproduct. So most of the flame is blue, hidden from direct view and pointed at a ceramic foam log that glow red when it is really hot. A small quantity of the gas is in front of that and set to burn less efficiently (orange flame) for visual effect, but the volume is so low that it doesn't create enough carbon monoxide to cause harm. It has a built-in oxygen sensor that will shut it off if the oxygen levels fall too much. It has never gone off. Also, I have one of those C0/smoke detectors, and that has never gone off (for C0 that is, chicken roasting in the overn....). By keeping the flu closed, I get 100% of the heat in my living room, rather than piping lots of heat out the chimney. So it is super efficient. I put a decorative screen in front of the fire, not to stop sparks like it is made for but to further obscure the view to the fire. There is a slight hiss with mine and obviously no smell of wood, so it is not as nice as a wood fire. But there is no clean-up, wood hauling, etc. either. Really it is the gas BBQ of fires, inferior in style but so much easier to deal with than charcoal.
I have one (gas ventless log) in the living room fireplace of the house we just moved into, and am so thankful for it, have 12 foot ceilings and it is so easy to close off the rest of the house and have one warm room wthout heating the whole house (4000 sq. feet) to 55. We dress in layers, it would cost a fortune to have the chimneys readied/lined for wood, and gas is relativey cheap here in TN.
We have two fireplaces and thought about relining them so we could burn pellets. We had the central chimney lined for our new boiler, and thought we had to do the same for the room chimneys. But, I had not thought of using a ventless stove or insert. And we do have a gas stove, so see the point about not needing a vent.
The ground floor would be easy to convert as it is above the basement and easy access to run the pipe, but I would have to give some thought about how to run the pipe to the fireplace above.
All in all, good info. Thanks.
We had a gas plumber run a flexible gas hose (sort of like water pecs) from our basement black pipe right up through the ash trapdoor into the firebox. No drilling, very quick labor. Since it was on the floor, we had him put a second cutoff in the basement, in case our toddler (at the time, now 15) started messing around with it. We bought the smallest size log, 16", in March at Lowes when it was 50% off for seasonal clearance. If I were to do it over again, I may consider using a fake coal box instead of a fake log, since I am quite sure ours was originally for coal. All in all, it was super cheap. A chimney guy quoted me $3,000 for a stainless steel liner and told me that he could not guarantee how well it would draw after that, and he told me that if it was his house, he would put in the gas log. Since he did not sell or install logs, I thought that he was being quite honest there.
We have a house that is essentially the same age as your home. It's a Victorian row house in Alexandria, Virginia. Our fireplaces were originally coal burning as well (very shallow). Our interest was far more in the way of aesthetics rather than trying to generate heat, but we installed a gas fed coal basket. We wanted to maintain an historically accurate look to our fireplace, so this was the only logical way to go. We bought the basket and element from GasCoals.net and have loved it since. Since the unit is a relatively low BTU unit, our simple metal liner protects the original chimney. Total cost including running a new gas line and placing a manifold for future gas expansion in the basement ran about $4000.