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Ask Bob | Gas Products | Wood-Burning
 
  ASK BOB
   
We are interested in putting a gas stove in our existing house. I have heard the terms B-Vent and Direct Vent. What is the difference?
B-Vents take air from the room and house for combustion and send the final products of combustion up a single flue, usually of a 4” size. B-Vent, in all cases, has to run up the full height of the home like a stove or furnace chimney. Direct Vent models offer the greatest efficiency of all vented appliances, and the most versatility in installation due to the option of horizontal or vertical venting. Vent pipe may terminate through a wall or through the roof. A double wall vent pipe is used; one chamber provides outdoor air for combustion while the other provides a passageway to exhaust the fumes; this system balances incoming combustion air with outgoing exhaust air for a "balanced" operation. Direct vent does not remove heated room air to provide combustion for the fire. Their performance is not generally affected by home construction issues and they usually work perfectly in all installations.
   
Ok, I give up… What’s Spider?
It is Johns Manville’s Formaldehyde-free Spray-in custom Fiber Glass Insulation Delivery System. It offers a revolutionary way to insulate homes. Spider is engineered for superior thermal and acoustical performance, as well as fast installation, complete coverage, quick drying time and mold resistance. Spider is lightweight fiberglass insulation bound together with a non-toxic, water-soluble adhesive that also binds to cavity surfaces for gap-free coverage. Spider sprays in to fill an 8-ft. 2x4 cavity in about 20 seconds. Because Spider is made without formaldehyde, it improves indoor air quality and promotes a healthier indoor environment. This is important because the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies formaldehyde as a carcinogen. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends limiting exposure to formaldehyde as much as possible. JM offers a complete line of formaldehyde free fiberglass insulation.
   
My garage door opener is really old and noisy, do you have any suggestions?
Many of the newer openers are very quiet, faster and safer. Many of them also have direct current motors that use much less electricity. The remote controls that are usually available with the newer openers offer extra security. You will probably want to get one with rolling security codes instead of a fixed code. With a fixed code, common with older openers, a thief can park near your house and steal your code with a code grabber device. Safety around children or pets is also a common concern the control systems affect. All new garage door openers have electric eye-type sensors to reverse the door if something is underneath it. The belt-drive is the quietest type of opener. If you are replacing your opener, you might want to think about a new door too. The newer doors seal better. They also offer a pinch resistant design. The joints of the panels are designed such that there never is an open gap, which can pinch fingers.
   
How can I make my indoor air quality safer?
Good question. As an insulation installer, I know homes today are built tighter than ever. It’s GREAT that houses are well insulated because it boosts energy efficiency. However, it’s not so great for the occupants if the home is too tight to permit proper ventilation.” Studies show that we are actually more likely to get sick from poor indoor air quality at home than from outdoor pollution. That’s why it’s critical for people to work closely with their builders to keep ventilation in mind during the construction process. In particular, it’s important for consumers to demand appliances that vent indoor pollutants outside the home. For example, if you’re looking to add a fireplace or stove, a direct-vent gas unit is the best choice for the health of your family.” Direct-vent gas fireplaces use outside air for combustion, and expel 100 percent of combustion exhaust and by-products (like moisture, carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide) outside the home.
   
I suffer from allergies. I took your advice and replaced my woodstove with a direct vent gas stove. It’s been a great improvement. Do you have any other tips for improving indoor air quality?
Yes, of course. Installing a central vacuum system is an excellent way. Asthma and allergies are increasing at epidemic proportions – affecting one out of five people. A central vacuum system is a built-in cleaning appliance that can help. A clinical study conducted with allergy sufferers at the University of California at Davis has proven that a BEAM system provides relief from major allergy symptoms by as much as 61%. Unlike conventional vacuums that can recirculate dust, a central vac system lifts dirt, dust mites, pollen, dander and other allergens from carpets, drapes, upholstery and other surfaces, and carries them from the living areas to a canister usually located in the garage. This makes for a cleaner home even if the occupants don’t suffer from allergies or asthma.
   
What is a light source that will reduce my energy costs?
Install a SOLATUBE™. It is a tubular skylight. The SolaTube™ captures light through a dome on the roof and channels it down through an internal reflective system. This tubing is far more efficient than a traditional drywall skylight shaft, which can lose over half of the potential light. The tubing will fit between rafters and will install easily with no structural modification. At the ceiling level, a diffuser that resembles a recessed light fixture spreads the light evenly throughout the room. A 10-inch SolaTube™ will provide light for a 150 square foot area. A 14-inch SolaTube™ lights a 250 square foot area. A 21-inch SolaTube™ lights a 400 square foot area. These estimated lighting areas are based upon an average 6-foot tube length and 8-foot ceiling height, with the dome being in direct sunlight. With SolaTubes™ operating during daylight hours, electric lights are off which means no energy consumption. SolaTubes™ have insignificant heat gain/heat loss, so air conditioning or heating is not affected. In fact the electric lights a SolaTube™ displaces add more heat to a room than a SolaTube™.  Alternatively, more heat would be lost through a small closed window. SolaTube™ is “ENERGY STAR” rated product.
   
Why should I have an insulated garage door?
Your garage door is the biggest opening to your house. The idea for an energy efficient garage door actually came from the oil embargo and energy crunch in 1973. Wayne-Dalton introduced the first foamed-in-place insulated garage doors for the residential (Thermowayne™) and commercial (Thermospan™) markets. These doors combined energy efficiency and strength in a way never before seen. Its’ patented thermal break allows Wayne-Dalton to tout that the garage door is no longer the weak link in any energy efficient home. The integral struts that are roll formed directly into each of the garage door sections add tremendous strength. Insulated garage doors can be purchased with different R-values. This may be a consideration depending on the climate you live in. Some insulated doors have exposed insulation and some have a steel backing. The exposed insulation has a nice look to it and is usually less expensive.
   
Why should I insulate my house?
Insulating means lining your “thermal envelope” - floors, walls, ceilings and ductwork - with materials that don’t readily allow heat to pass through. This will save energy by keeping heat in during the winter and keeping heat out during the summer. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation. Insulations ability to stop the flow of heat is measured by its R-value. The higher the R-value, the more effective it is. Generally speaking, each time you double the R-value of your insulation, you cut your conduction heat loss in that area in half. Getting the most from your insulation depends on getting properly installed, high quality insulation. When people think about insulation, they think of energy efficiency and comfort in the home. It’s usually easy to add insulation to an existing attic or subfloor. Even if you have some insulation in your attic, you can increase the R-value by adding additional insulation.
   
Why should I use Fiberglass Insulation instead of Cellulose?
Properly installed fiberglass does not settle more than 1% and maintains it’s thermal performance. Most cellulose products settle over time at a rate of about 20% and may loose 20% of its R-Value. The R-Value of Fiberglass does not deteriorate over time. Cellulose can sometimes loose R-Value over time. Insulation can loose R-Value when wet. Fiberglass is not absorbent. (If it becomes saturated due to flooding, etc., it should be replaced.) Cellulose insulation is made of shredded newspaper and will absorb moisture. Fiberglass insulation is not corrosive and contains no chemicals that can corrode pipes & wires. Certain chemicals routinely applied as a fire retardant to most cellulose insulation can cause corrosion of pipes and wires under some conditions. Fiberglass and cellulose perform very differently in terms of fire safety. Cellulose insulation is regulated as a recognized fire hazard by the Consumer Product Safety Council and must be heavily treated with fire retardant chemicals prior to installation.
   
What is ZONE Heating?
Zone heaters are fireplaces or stoves that warm the area within the room and around the unit rather than the perimeter wall, as most central heating systems do. This is a very energy efficient and comfortable way to heat because there are warm and cozy living areas and cooler outlying bedrooms for sleeping. By using a stove for zone heating in place of your central heating, you may save up to 25% of your annual heating costs. Zone heaters burn less BTU’s than central heating systems. You could experience even greater savings with a pellet or wood stove. Gas fireplaces that are “heater rated furnaces” may also be considered as “zone heaters”. Fireplaces and stoves create radiant heat as well as convection heat. Forced air central heat only creates convection heat. Convection heat only heats the air. Radiant heating actually heats up items in the room, such as furniture. This makes it much more warm and cozy.
   
  GAS FIREPLACES:
   
What is a BTU?
A BTU (British Thermal Unit) refers to the heating power of a gas appliance as measured by the amount of energy it produces in one hour. Technically, it is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Here's what you really need to know: On average, 10,000 BTU can heat up approximately 500 square feet, depending on floor plan, windows, ceiling height, etc.
   
How do gas models turn on and off?
There are several ways of controlling your gas stove or fireplace. The standard method is with the on/off switch that comes standard with every unit. Another method is to have your dealer install a remote control, which allows you to operate your unit from the comfort of your couch or lounge chair. The final method is to hook up your unit to a wall thermostat, and let it run itself according to the desired room temperature.
   
Do gas models need electricity to work?
Not if they have a standing pilot ignition system, just like a gas water heater. This system operates with a pilot light so there is always a flame to ignite the gas. The pilot light also generates the power needed to operate the valve, so that if the pilot light gets blown out accidentally, the valve shuts off and the gas flow stops. The pilot light feature makes operation both easy and safe. (Note: some models do require AC power for the blower to work, but do not need AC power for the fire).
   
Do I have to vent my gas fireplace up through the roof?
No! The beauty of Direct Vent technology is that you do not necessarily need to go up through your roof to terminate the venting. All you need is proximity to an outside wall, the distance to which depends on the model you choose. Not only does this make installation more flexible, but it also keeps the costs down. And with our sleek and attractive patented AstroCap horizontal termination cap, you won't be cluttering up the outside of your home either
   
Can I burn wood inside my gas model?
Gas models are engineered specifically to burn gas, and cannot be used to burn wood.
   
I don't want to tear open my wall to put in a gas fireplace. What are my options?
You will need to cut two holes for the fireplace – one for the vent pipe and another for the gas pipe.
   
How close to the wall can I install a gas stove?
Depending on the model you choose, you can install as close to 2" from the rear or sidewall. This means more space in your room, and less cost for installation. Be sure to check each stove's clearances before deciding.
   
I don't want to see too much stovepipe inside my home. What are my options?
You have several options. First, you can install a rear vent direct vent stove, which vents directly out the back with no vertical pipe whatsoever. If this is not possible, you can minimize the amount of visible pipe with either the 2-foot or 4-foot AstroCap horizontal termination kits for DV stoves. These kits use the minimum required height for our stoves, and then turn 90 degrees to go out your wall instead of up through the ceiling.
   
Can I adjust the heat output of gas models?
Yes. Some gas models are equipped with a valve adjustment that allows you to turn down the heat output by up to 50%, providing you with a wide range of heat for a wide range of temperature conditions. So if you want to enjoy your fireplace in the middle of the summer, simply turn down to valve so that you won't overheat your room!
   
Can I add accessories later?
Yes. You can change the way your fireplace looks any time in the future. Upgrade to gold louvers, add a bay window, install a set of brick panels, and more. The range of accessories makes it easy to change the look of your fireplace to match your new décor.
   
  WOOD-BURNING FIREPLACES:
   
What does "EPA certified" mean?
An EPA certified appliance complies with strict emissions and efficiency regulations designed to reduce pollution and control energy costs. In an increasing number of jurisdictions, only EPA certified units are allowed to be installed. The EPA certification is your guarantee that the stove you are buying will burn cleanly and efficiently, reducing your heating costs and protecting the air we breathe. Non-certified appliances are less efficient and more expensive to operate in the long run. Every wood model is EPA certified.
   
Which is better?
Catalytic converters burn more cleanly, but they need to be replaced after a certain number of hours of operation, and they can cost in excess of $150. Our products use secondary combustion to achieve almost the same low levels of emissions, and our system is guaranteed for as long as you own the appliance. Secondary combustion systems require less maintenance and are more heavy-duty than catalytic converters.
   
Do I need an ash drawer?
Ash drawers make cleanup a lot easier and safer. Instead of scooping out the ashes after every fire, simply dump them into the drawer, and empty the drawer every few weeks. The drawer comes with a lid to prevent the ashes from flying out while they are being taken outside.
   
Will the glass door stay clean?
If the model is designed with a unique airwash system that forces cool air in front of the glass to keep the flames and exhaust away. This keeps your door looking clean and transparent a lot longer. Over the course of a winter, or if you overfire your appliance, you might need to clean the glass. This is easily done with fireplace glass cleaner, available at your local hearth shop.
   
Do I need a blower?
Blowers are an excellent way to spread the heat from your appliance throughout your home more quickly. They do not affect the combustion rate of the fire, since they move air around the outside of the firebox. If you are trying to heat a large room or several rooms, a blower is highly recommended.
   
   
   

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