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Recently I bought a house that had a ventless gas log insert in the hearth, but had obviously been used as a wood burning fireplace previously, showing lots of charring. A chimney inspection revealed that the house had been built without a smoke chamber back in 1953 (!). I was told it could never be a wood burning fireplace because of the obvious lack of draw.

I'd like a WBFP but cannot afford to rebuild the entire chimney. Is there some sort of flue liner or stove pipe/insert that could make this work? Thank you for your advice.

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    Something doesn't make sense, in 1953 all fireplaces would have been wood burning. – Tyson Nov 22 '16 at 21:46
  • Yeah, I'm thinking "second opinion" here. If there's no other issue with the chimney I'd be lighting a fire to see just how "obvious" this "lack of draw" actually is. A small fire, being prepared to put it out and ventilate the room if it starts filling the room with smoke. – Ecnerwal Nov 22 '16 at 23:26
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    Smoke chambers actually reduce the draft. Some designs using a more straight through chimney (taper with no shelf and chamber) and a damper near the top to increase the draft. Have a second opinion done. Most likely you will need a reseal (plaster like coat). And it is very likely if needed a all metal box and chimney liner could be fitting into opening. The old 60 home I am trying to buy has a very small or next to none shelf and chamber, pretty much a straight shot. But it is primarily a cooking hearth on one side. Of course wood burning here is restricted at all the wrong times. – spicetraders Nov 23 '16 at 3:11
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    After removing ventless gas insert, have firebox & vent stack inspected (to check mortar and any drill holes/fasteners) and then parge to ensure no holes allowing heat to framing members. Inserts are often installed to by-pass chimney repairs required for continued wood burning use. Be sure gas feed can't be turned on during wood burning. – James Olson Nov 24 '16 at 17:59
  • @Tyson - gas fireplaces date to the late 1800's. Just because a chimney was built in 1953 doesn't mean it's suitable for wood fires. – Sean Nov 28 '16 at 1:55
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Yes chimney liners are available depending on the local codes. Stainless steel and aluminum flex are common. You may need to contact the logset manufacturer to find out what is approved. If the mortar is in good shape you will not get better draft with a liner. Sometimes because it's not cool enough outside or your chimney is too short you don't get good draft until the chimney warms up. That's when a liner comes in handy. If sized properly it will warm up fast and draw within minutes. Talk to someone about doing the work for you as chimneys are not a do it yourself kind of job. You are dealing with carbon monoxide.

  • Very much appreciate that advice, Joe Fala! – ASW Feb 19 at 14:53

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