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Hi all,

I am no fireplace expert--I toured a victorian style home (for sale) that is 100+ years old yesterday. The agent that showed me around stated that the fireplaces are functional, but only for coal. He said wood possibly creates too much smoke (he didn't sound too sure of his rationale). My question is...Is this true? If so, what would need to be done to the chimney to make it safe for wood burning?

Thanks
 

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Hi all,

I am no fireplace expert--I toured a victorian style home (for sale) that is 100+ years old yesterday. The agent that showed me around stated that the fireplaces are functional, but only for coal. He said wood possibly creates too much smoke (he didn't sound too sure of his rationale). My question is...Is this true? If so, what would need to be done to the chimney to make it safe for wood burning?

Thanks
coal makes less smoke, from what I was always told. Probably has to do with the venting.
 

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The house I was raised in had a coal fireplace. I don't know if it could do wood or not, we always used coal. This was back in the fifties. We used a differant type coal than what was used in the household furnace. I can't give too many details, I was only a little kid at the time.
 

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Coal is good because it pisses off hippies. I say burn coal. Just keep a loaded shotgun in case manbearpig comes to get you.
 

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I would think that any coal stove would have to be good for burning wood too. It is not all that easy to get coal to burn. Back in my childhood home we had to start stove with wood, get it burning well and only then load coal on top of wood.
 

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A few things to consider before using wood in a fireplace designed to burn coal. 1) The flue often times is not the proper demension for a woodfire (minimum cross-sectional flue are or should be 1/10 of the fireplace opening area). This could be a problem becasue wood fires do create more smoke than coal. 2) The back wall usually doesnt slope inwards to create a smoke shelf in a coal burning fireplace. 3) The smoke chamber above the firebox is usually not present or the wrong demension. 4) Hearth extensions are often to small.

Coal was burned in a little basket, creating intense heat in a small area. It needs different demensions for combustion and dilution airflow and venting. If you can fit a 6 inch flue liner in the chimney, then you do have the option to install a gas "coal basket". It burns gas, but looks very much like what would originally be used. You could also just find yourself a coal basket and burn coal. Coal does burn longer and create less smoke. Some things to consider woulod be that coal does burn much hotter than wood and needs to get plenty of oxygen. If it doesnt it will build up carbon-monoxide. However coal is much more efficent than burning wood. I would suggest you try Lignite coal. This coal is more of a brownish color insted of black and it ignites much easier.

The first thing to do before you burn anything is get the chimney inspected. With the age of the house it possible that there is no liner in the chimney or possibly cracks and erosion of the morter inside the chimney. There's also the possibility of a lot of crud being built up on the inside of the chimney.
 

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Hi all,

I am no fireplace expert--I toured a victorian style home (for sale) that is 100+ years old yesterday. The agent that showed me around stated that the fireplaces are functional, but only for coal. He said wood possibly creates too much smoke (he didn't sound too sure of his rationale). My question is...Is this true? If so, what would need to be done to the chimney to make it safe for wood burning?

Thanks
One issue with coal heating, is it produces a hotter fire. The Brit's have used coal heating much more than in the U.S. They've developed a process to reline the chimney for when the masonry cracks due to the heat.
 

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Coal is good because it pisses off hippies. I say burn coal. Just keep a loaded shotgun in case manbearpig comes to get you.
It would be so illogical for hippies to get more pissed over coal than wood (cut down a tree + more smoke) that you're probably right.

I'd hate to have to live in a house where I burned coal - not nearly as nice a smell as wood smoke.
 

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Very different construction on fireplaces. Coal burners are much shallower than wood fireplaces. Also, as someone has mentioned, the smoke shelf and upper dimensions are different.
 

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No you can't burn wood in it. Get it inspected. Make sure where ever you live you have a good place to buy coal (i.e. I live in WV so I could prob go dig it up in my back yard). Do you have some where at the house to store say a pickup truck load of coal, its not like wood it will need to be at least under something to keep it dry. Once you start your first fire for the year it is much easier to keep it going than to let it die then try to start it again, the good thing here is a coal fire is much easier to keep going than a wood fire.

I had a coal burner (kinda like a furnace) in the basement of my first house. My new house (I had built) has a wood burning furnace in the basement. Other then how dirty the coal was to deal with, i.e. moving the stuff around and cleaning out the burner ..... I wish I still could burn coal, just for how much hotter the burn is and how much easier it is to keep the fire going.
 

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I live in a neighborhood of 7k or 8k homes that was built between 1899 and 1920 and a coal burning fireplace has just about enough room for one or two of those wax logs, but even they don't burn too well because of the difference in the way the fireplace draws.

The Victorian Fireplace Shop is near my neighborhood www.gascoals.net

They sell a gas coals insert for coal burning fireplaces...

www.gascoals.net/Products/GasProducts/GasCoalBaskets/tabid/407/Default.aspx

or

"Got an even smaller fireplace, less than 7" deep? We have an option for you, too! Use our Victor gas coal burner with a decorative "fret" to cover the front of our burner. You save space requirements by only needing enough depth for the burner to sit inside your fireplace, and the fret adds the decorative front adornment to finish off the look. We have a wide variety of frets available to suit your decor - see them all here »"
 

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You will probably need to reline the chimney and or have the existing chimney cleaned before you use it. My grandpa burned coal when I was a youngin. It was good heat, probably better than wood. The downside of course is the black soot that comes with shoveling coal and moving it around. He also had a layer of black soot that would settle on his white house, I suppose this was from the chimney.

Link to a discussion of coal-burning inserts:
http://nepacrossroads.com/about295.html
 
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