I'm hoping for clarification on an issue we're having with our Fuego
fireplace insert and chimney. We bought a 28 year old home last fall
that has this insert. We used it over the winter and noticed that the
upstairs bedroom wall above the fireplace gets warm; warm enough that
the room is very comfortable. We were concerned about this and called a
couple of local fireplace installers. Both told us that this was a fire
hazard, but when we called a Fuego dealer with 30-some years of
experience, he said that in such circumstance it's not uncommon for
walls next to the chimney to get warm. It seems, though, that "how
warm" is the most important question. The Fuego dealer said that if the
house is 30 years old, then it's unlikely to be a significant fire
hazard (as in, "if it were, there already would have been a fire.").
I have not looked behind the wall, but in the attic the chimney is
surrounded by cinder blocks and the blocks are touching a couple of
2-bys in the framing. Of the two local guys, one says we need an
insulated pipe put in ($1800) and the other says we need a new pipe and
insert ($3000). The Fuego dealer thinks we probably don't need
I'm hoping that someone can provide me with their informed opinion
about this, because I really hope the Fuego dealer is correct; but if
$3000 is needed to ensure the safety of my family and home, then that's
the route I'll go.
Thanks for any help.
Without knowing more about the insert there is no way anyone here can answer
the question. There are all kinds of inserts. Is it wood or is it gas?
The best inserts are zero clearance high efficiency inserts. We have a gas
model. It is as efficient as a furnace so the air going up the chimney is
basically cool. Since your wall is hot, the chimney is hot and heat is
being lost so yours most be low efficiency since the heat is going up the
stack. If it were high efficiency the heat would not be heating up the
if you are going to spend money fixing it, get yourself a high efficiency
unit. Then you won't have to fix anything in the chimney. The best use
ceramic glass and not tempered glass which can't take the heat.
It's a wood-burning zero clearance from the late 1970s. We've been told
that it was considered efficient "for its time." I realize it is
losing heat out the chimney, but my concern is about the safety of the
heat transfer to the wood framing.
Current gas models can be 85% efficient. I don't know about wood. The way
these things work is that there is an inner firebox with a ventialation
system. The air from the house circulates inbetween the inner and outer
box. Make sure the inner box isn't breached. Also probably should check
the outer box too since it is old, especially if rain enters the chimney and
could have rusted it out.
isnt the case but Id be willing to bet they didnt do much in the way of
"exploring" before they told you this right?
Your issue is not the insert its in the chimney structure.
I believe what you mean is the flue liner (more than likely clay) is
surrounded by blocks. this is very normal...as well as framing touching
the chimney so thats not a problem.
If I were you I would do some exploring on my own to save some money
and really know whats going on. a interior wall getting as warm as you
say I believe is a concern. as mentiond walls "next to" a chimney or
fireplace getting warm is not uncommon but upstairs and that warm I
would check it out. Take the drywall off and just see whats going on.
Plan on taking out a section of wall that you can replace easily. It
may be that where the wall is the framing members are just 2x2's and
the heat from the chimney is simply transfering to the wall. But a 30
year old house should have insulation so its tough to say, hell for the
price of some drywall and paint you could save alot of money.
The 'how warm' question is the only salient point here. When the fire is
cranking, can you burn your hand touching the sheetrock? Warm, even warm
enough to heat a room, isn't a concern at all. It's hot that starts fires,
and even the heat that will burn your fingers won't necessarily ignite your
See if you can find someone with a surface thermometer to measure the actual
temp, but my common sense tells me that if you don't smell anything out of
the ordinary, and all you feel is a warm wall, then you have no problem
By all means, have a pro inspect your chimney regularly, but don't go
complaining about warmth. That's what the fire is for.
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