Fireplace insert- 4 questions


I live in a house built in 1870, and there is an old, very small, non- functional fireplace. One of the previous owners actually had the top of the chimney removed down into the attic when re-roofing, so I have a brick stub sticking up in a low attic.
I have been looking at standalone pellet stoves, but I just saw a wood- burning fireplace insert that looks like it might come close to fitting in the existing firebox. (an inch or two in the back corners might not fit, because the insert is square and the fireplace is angled). There was no manual available at the store, just the floor model (apparently someone stole the manual).
I've done light construction, as well as electrical and plumbing, so I am fairly handy- but I haven't done anything HVAC before, and I'm thinking about talking to (hiring) a contractor to make sure I don't cause any hazards related to heat/fire or exhaust/carbon monoxide. Even before I do that, I figured I should learn enough to make sure I know what the contractor is doing- and who knows, if it is easy, the option is still open to DIY.
As an aside, the insert uses an electric blower (which is great) but I want to make sure that my install will be safe even if the power goes out (in which case I'm assuming that the insert and chimney would be hotter, since the blower wouldn't be discharging the heat into the room).
Here are my questions:
1. In a house/fireplace this old, is an insert even an option? The fireplace /appears/ to be lined with firebrick, but it is hard to tell with all the old soot and age. I don't know what assumptions the manufacturers make about the fireplaces their products will be used in.
2. The house is a tall 2-story (12 foot ceilings on both floors, plus the attic, so maybe 30 feet to the roof?)- is there any problem running an insert's exhaust that high? I wouldn't think so, but it is worth asking.
3. There isn't any access (and I'd be worried about the weight) to put a new concrete liner in the chimney. I was thinking of running metal exhaust tubing straight down to the connect, but leaving the space between the exhaust and the existing chimney empty. the brick would still end in the basement, with the metal exhaust continuing up through the roof. Is that an acceptable approach, assuming it isn't against code?
4. Given the size of the existing fireplace, there really wouldn't be room to put a hand around the insert to attach the exhaust (the exhaust on the back of the unit I saw came out at a 45 degree angle, so I'd have to put on a 45 degree angle adapter to send it straight up). How does one make sure there is a good seal on the exhaust, when there isn't any room to manually attach it?
I appreciate anyone's expertise and contributions, and hopefully I'll have an auxillary source of warmth this winter.
Thanks, Keith
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Keith wrote:

Your entire project depends on fixing the chimney. You cannot, even in your dreams, use it without putting a liner in. That is going to run big bucks, as in major sticker shock, with that tall of a chimney.
As for the electric fan - try it out in the store. Some of those make so much noise you won't ever use it.
Harry K
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Keith wrote:

When I installed mine I removed the brick fire box. My old fireplace was what we call around here a english coal burning fireplace. It was required to make it fit and abide by the required clearances. My unit is a Pacific Energy model.

I ran mine through the chimney (new stainless liner up through). As long as the pipe size is what the burning unit calls for. Friend of mine ran one inside but gave up a fair bit of closet space in the install.

Yes. Again, what the manufacturer of the unit describes. Once the stainless liner is installed a cap covers the top of the chimmney

I had to cut out a section of tiles above the unit in my fireplace to access the pipe. I then had a piece made up to match the surround that came with the unit. You need to be able to acces this - unlike a propane insert the liner for this unit is ridgid.

My brother - in - law is a certified installer. A good friend is a fire inspector. They cecked my progress as I went, I took lots of photos. Not only for your safety and that of your homes (insurance) around here the insurance company requires both a signed paper from a certified installer (brother in law) and the insurance doccument signed by the regional fire inspector (friend). Be careful if this is a DIY. On a side note my neighbour was so impressed with the insert he got one too - he had it installed (prep work as well) for around $400.00.
Good luck.

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Anything is an "option." Your concerns are: (a) is it affordable? (b) is it legal (safe under the building code.)

This is a building code question. The city hall office that issues building permits can answer it. (Be warned: if you want your own copy of the 75-page fire code in my jurisdiction, it costs about $75.)

an
It is more important to find out whether it conforms to code than whether an engineer judges it would fall down because too heavy. In most jurisdictions non-code new installations annul your fire insurance, and in many city hall can order compliance with code.

on
This is a question for (licensed) installers.

You propose here steel and brick work to instal a new chimney for auxiliary heat as distinct from main or cenntral winter heat. Most householders would not think this an economic expense.
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
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Im thinking the chimney on top of the roof its the major issue then the cost of the stainless liner for the chimney. You could get a quote if you want but I dont know a guy who would touch it with a clear concience. And you could be looking at a $5K project if you did find one. You gotta save a lot of heat to justify that plus the stove. And the guy that owned the place before you may have some hidden insight why he did a permanent end to the chimney.
My recommendation is plug the fireplace nice and tight with a chimney balloon low down by the damper or just above the firebox, so you dont loose heat up the chimney. Then put in there a nice candelabra or decorative birch log stack and just enjoy it as an interior design piece. IT would be an uphill climb to resore it back to life again.
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Keith wrote:

I agree w/ the others the cost of repairing the existing chimney and the liner are probably enough to make this a bum idea from the economics standpoint, _but_ if you do decide to pursue it further look into inserts w/ exterior jackets (Fisher is one) that have natural circulation and an external rather than internal fan. Plus, there's an advantage if power is out for extended period or even if you have moderately frequent short outages, there are models w/ cooktop surface--great if you are stuck w/ electric range and no power. Had a Fisher for years and recommend it highly. Got it because initially in the new house we lost power _quite_ frequently owing to old/inadequate substation and large number of trees over lines...
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