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.