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Community and Q&A

Wood Burning fireplace in PGH

rlittell | Posted in General Questions on

My wife and I are in the process of finalizing the design of our HP home located in Central Ohio(CZ5).  We are building to PGH+ standards with a focus on air sealing.  The home is all electric and 3,200sf plus 1,400 of eventually finished basement.  Originally agreed upon was to omit a fire place in exchange for one outdoors.  However, I have lost this battle in the end.  Does anyone have recommendations for air tight fire places?  The HVAC design is already complete with a ventilating dehu and 2 ducted heat pumps serving East and West sides of the home.  Does anyone have experience with zero clearance woodburner/ fireplace that doesn’t have a huge energy penalty the other 360 days that it is not in use?

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  1. nynick | | #1

    Not the best solution, but I'm going to have an operable chimney cap installed on my existing chimney.

  2. Tim_O | | #2

    Are you looking for a more traditional fireplace or something like a woodstove? I was eyeing the Stuv models, they have a direct air intake and fairly high efficiency burning. But not over the 75% requirement for biomass tax credit I believe. We ended up conceding that we don't have the budget for a $7000 woodstove that we may or may not use.

    I do think they have fireplace inserts as well. They list their installation accessories as airtight.

    1. rlittell | | #6

      Thanks Tim, We are leading towards a Stuv. I found another model that has a tighter sealing box more like a wood stove than the guillotine style of Stuv, but the required non-combustible clearances were prohibitive. Was hoping that there was cheaper option someone might have come across or a dampening option

  3. orange_cat | | #3

    Woodstoves - like Stuv - might work?

    (There are cheaper look-alike to Stuv - eg. Morso 6140, Nectre (n65?) with similar performance).
    This can be sorted by BTU and efficiency.

    1. rlittell | | #7


  4. Expert Member


    If you are only using it occasionally, and it is completely inside the conditioned area of the house, the efficiency of the unit doesn't matter. All you are concerned about is stopping air-leakage where it penetrates the building envelope - that is the combustion air intake, and chimney.

    1. Expert Member
      DCcontrarian | | #5

      I would say burning wood in a PGH introduces a particular set of challenges:
      1. Making sure it doesn't leak when not in use.
      2. Making sure it can get enough combustion air.
      3. Making sure there's no negative pressure to keep combustion products from going up the chimney.
      4. Making sure you don't overheat.

      The last one is a big one. It's hard to burn wood on a low setting. When you have a house that can be heated with a hair dryer on a chilly fall day when a fire might be appealing, it's hard to keep that fire from overheating the house.

      1. rlittell | | #9

        I think I have 2 and 3 covered. 1 and 4 are my biggest concern. no point in having a fire if you have to have every window in the house open in the winter!

    2. rlittell | | #8

      agreed. I'm leaning towards more of a stove door for the gasketing.

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