Hitzer 503 Insert Installation

Hitzer 503 Insert Installation

PostBy: JafaDog On: Thu Jun 12, 2008 8:20 am

First, thanks to everyone for making this a great place to find out information on burning coal. On to the post....

I want to install a Hitzer 503 fireplace insert into my masonry (brick) fireplace in the living room of my 1,250-sf ranch in Upstate NY. I wanted something that would actually go inside the fireplace, not something that sat outside the fireplace and vented into the chimney. I also wanted something with a gravity fed hopper so I could have heat when the power goes out (as it can often do where I live, sometimes for days at a time).

According to Hitzer's documentation (and verified by Dean at Hitzer), the minimum fireplace opening for installation is 24-1/2". The stove itself is 23-1/2" high with a 1/2" collar for the pipe to go in, so the actual insert is 24" high total counting the collar. My fireplace opening is 25" high, so I have one inch of clearance (25-1/2" if you don't count the collar).

My homeowners insurance requires that I can be able to show that I had the insert professionally installed to code if I ever have a claim that can be traced back to the insert. Hence the need for my "Chimney Guy." My chimney guy is a professional certified chimney sweep who we had reline a deteriorating chimney flue back in 2002. Our chimney has separate two flues: a smaller one for the oil furnace and a larger one for the fireplace. The previous owners of the house had installed a wood boiler in the basement which they vented (against code) into the same (smaller) flue as the oil furnace. They disconnected the wood boiler after a chimney fire in the late 1990s. Of course the mixing of the solid and liquid fuels in the chimney quickly caused the tile lining to crack and crumble, requiring us to reline the chimney with an Olympic "ForeverFlex" liner (complete with insulation) installed to the tune of $900. The fireplace flue is in great shape, thankfully. I trust my Chimney Guy (to a point). He seems knowledgeable and wants to do the job correctly and safely, even if it costs a bit more.

I asked my Chimney Guy to look at our fireplace so that he could give me an estimate for installation of the Hitzer 503 insert. Chimney Guy didn't like only having an inch of top clearance since he couldn't see how the pipe could be connected to the insert's collar when he wouldn't be able to get his hands over the top of the stove to place/connect the pipe. He started talking about cutting out the fireplace's steel lintel with a torch and removing a course of brick over the fireplace opening and then fabricating a replacement lintel in order to give him enough space to install the insert. I saw stars (and dollar signs), but I figured if it has to be done, it has to be done. This could easily put us well over-budget, though. I was planning on around $1,800-$2,000 for the insert itself, and another $1,000-$1,500 for the liner and installation.

My brother-in-law was skeptical, thinking that Hitzer would not give a minimum clearance of 24-1/2" if it really needed to be more than that. So I called Hitzer and asked how they did a typical installation of a 503 insert. Dean at Hitzer was very helpful. He said that they put the liner down the top of the chimney and hold it just above the insert (either by hand or using a board). Then they slide the insert in the fireplace and (with the hopper removed) they stick their hand inside the stove through the door and up through the collar to guide the pipe into the collar as it is lowered. They then use a long screwdriver to install a self-tapping screw through the collar and liner pipe to secure them (the required 1/2-inch clearance is so the screwdriver can fit in over the top of the insert).

This, of course, made much more sense (although neither Chimney Guy nor I thought of doing it that way). But when I called Chimney Guy and told him about this method of installation, he was skeptical (although he warmed up to it somewhat eventually). His basic premise is that he wants to go into a job with a plan he knows will work. If he starts with Plan A and it doesn't work, he has to go with Plan B but will still charge me for both Plan A and Plan B (which is understandable). Personally, I think Hitzer's method will work just fine.

The dealer I plan to buy the stove from doesn't do professional installations (other than to "help"), so that's out. If I do it myself, I risk my insurance not paying out a claim if I ever have a problem.

Are there any Hitzer 503 owners out there who can attest to the relative ease or difficulty of installing this insert? Did you run into any problems or snags when installing it? And just how the heck do you move a 600-lb. monster across a wall-to-wall carpeted living room?

Any replies would be appreciated.
JafaDog
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 503 Insert

Re: Hitzer 503 Insert Installation

PostBy: CapeCoaler On: Thu Jun 12, 2008 9:34 am

We will be installing a 503 this summer and the Hitzer method sounds fine to me. The throat of the fireplace may cause you to ovalize the liner to get it down to the stove.
As far a moving the stove, ½” plywood and 6 pieces of 1” pipe will move just about anything across the floor. The problem is when you must lift it. Remove as much weight (doors, hopper, and grate) and have 4 people or a jack and cribbing. Getting four people to help should not be a problem if you have a BBQ and some beverages as an ‘after work reward’.
CapeCoaler
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: want AA130
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine BS#4, Harman MKII, Hitzer 503,...
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Stove

Re: Hitzer 503 Insert Installation

PostBy: JafaDog On: Thu Jun 12, 2008 9:59 am

Thanks, CapeCoaler. The liner is flexible the entire length, so hopefully with the damper assembly removed we'll have enough clearance to avoid squishing the liner. As for the plywood and pipe, great idea. I'm worried about bunching the carpet up, but that method may keep the bunching to a minimum. What material pipe for the rollers? PVC or some sort of metal?
JafaDog
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 503 Insert

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Re: Hitzer 503 Insert Installation

PostBy: CapeCoaler On: Thu Jun 12, 2008 4:26 pm

Plain old iron pipe from the plumbing supply house, 24" length to get through doorways and six pieces. Three or four are always under the stove, the extras are so you can rotate the back to the front for movement. If you leave the legs on a stove you will need a sheet of plywood for a flat bottom under the legs. Plywood is for a road base for the pipe, you will need two pieces as the stove will be always on one piece. The carpet will not bunch because of your plywood highway.
CapeCoaler
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: want AA130
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine BS#4, Harman MKII, Hitzer 503,...
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Stove

Re: Hitzer 503 Insert Installation

PostBy: LsFarm On: Thu Jun 12, 2008 4:48 pm

Another option would be to go ahead and do the install yourself,, take as much time as needed.. then invite the 'chimney guy' over for the BBQ and refreshements.. show him how you inserted your hand into the stove and aligned the flue liner,, and tightended the screws on the collar,, offer to pay him for a instalation statement showing that it was installed per factory directions and meeting his approval. He may be fine with this. Or get a building inspector over to inspect and sign off on it.. [might be risky]..unless you supply him with several refreshments first. :lol: :D

Just some more options..

Greg L
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

Re: Hitzer 503 Insert Installation

PostBy: JafaDog On: Thu Jun 12, 2008 9:43 pm

CapeCoaler: Thanks. I figured metal pipe but wasn't positive.

LsFarm: I doubt my Chimney Guy would go for signing off on work he didn't actually do himself, regardless of refreshments. He's just that kind of guy. Not in a bad way--he's just honest and straight-up. I thought about having the building inspector sign off on it if I did it myself, but I hesitate on that for a couple of reasons: 1. Some municipalities in my area actually require a building permit to install a solid fuel burning appliance. If I go the building inspector route, I may need to get a permit first (better to ask forgiveness than permission here?). 2. Once he gets in the house and starts poking around, who knows what else he might see that's not up to code (less of a worry, but still there). These concerns may end up being baseless. I can probably call the town office and ask (anonymously) if a permit is required or not. The codes are not posted online. If no permit is required, I could use self-install and building inspector as a backup plan if my Chimney Guy doesn't work out.

I'm hoping to convince my Chimney Guy to do the Hitzer-style install. I'm 95% sure it will work. If he refuses, then I can always seek a second opinion (and a second Chimney Guy) or go the building inspector route.

I'd like to get some "real world" installation feedback on this particular model. I know there are a few Hitzer 503 owners on this forum. Anybody have any stories to tell?
JafaDog
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 503 Insert

Re: Hitzer 503 Insert Installation

PostBy: CapeCoaler On: Thu Jun 12, 2008 9:53 pm

Ask around town if the inspector is reasonable or not. If he is, most of the inspection is for proper clearances to combustibles, go for the self install. Unless you have done other work yourself that required permits and you did not do it to code you should not have problems.
CapeCoaler
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: want AA130
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine BS#4, Harman MKII, Hitzer 503,...
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Stove

Re: Hitzer 503 Insert Installation

PostBy: JafaDog On: Fri Jun 13, 2008 7:23 am

Like the roof I'm putting on next week? ;)

Actually, it's a re-cover. Not sure if a permit is needed for that where I live...probably not, but I'm sure he would notice the new shingles and wonder when and how they got there....
JafaDog
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 503 Insert

Re: Hitzer 503 Insert Installation

PostBy: Devil505 On: Fri Jun 13, 2008 7:53 am

[quote="JafaDog"]First, thanks to everyone for making this a great place to find out information on burning coal. On to the post....

I want to install a Hitzer 503 fireplace insert into my masonry (brick) fireplace in the living room of my 1,250-sf ranch in Upstate NY. I wanted something that would actually go inside the fireplace, not something that sat outside the fireplace and vented into the chimney.






Sounds like you are pretty well determined to put something inside the fireplace but just 2 points:

1. Putting a stove in front of the fireplace will provide much more heat

2. Installation cost would be nothing. (easy to do yourself with a few friends to help move it)


Just a thought
Devil505
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: TLC-2000

Re: Hitzer 503 Insert Installation

PostBy: JafaDog On: Fri Jun 13, 2008 8:26 am

I considered a freestanding model initially, but it would take up too much space in my (smallish) living room, and my wife was totally against it. It was enough of a battle to convince her to give up her fireplace for an insert (she likes the ambiance of a nice wood fire regardless of the amount of heat escaping up the chimney), and she was initially very resistant to altering the fireplace in any way. I finally convinced her that we had to do something to supplement the oil furnace, and being able to at least see some blue ladies dancing in an insert helped ease the pain for her somewhat. Freestanding is pretty much out at this point, though. But thanks for the suggestion.

The next project after the insert will be refacing the (ugly) brick with cultured stone. She loves that idea. :D
JafaDog
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 503 Insert

Re: Hitzer 503 Insert Installation

PostBy: CapeCoaler On: Sun Jun 15, 2008 1:58 pm

The money you save burning coal will pay for many home improvement projects. She will soon love the coal stove.
The stone project should be an easy one, more like doing tile than masonry.
CapeCoaler
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: want AA130
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine BS#4, Harman MKII, Hitzer 503,...
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Stove

Re: Hitzer 503 Insert Installation

PostBy: JafaDog On: Fri Jun 27, 2008 8:35 am

Update (6/27/08): So Chimney Guy came back with his proposal--a whopping $2,235 to put the liner in and install the Hitzer insert. And that's using Hitzer's installation method without modifying the brick fireplace. Needless to say, that's WAY over-budget for us. I can't imagine what he would have wanted to modify the brickwork.

The proposal wasn't exactly what I was looking for, though. I wanted both chimney flues cleaned and inspected (which was not included in the proposal), and I didn't want the poured-in insulation (which was included in the proposal). Regardless, it looks like I'll be seeking other options for this installation, up to and including installing it myself and having it inspected by the town Codes Officer. The only unknown factor at this point is the condition of the fireplace flue. If the tiles are in good shape, I don't have to insulate the flex liner. If there are cracks in the tile, etc., then I have to at least use wrapped insulation on the flex liner to get it up to code. I want to be able to pull the flex liner up if the need ever arises to remove the insert, so poured insulation is out of the question.
JafaDog
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 503 Insert

Re: Hitzer 503 Insert Installation

PostBy: CapeCoaler On: Fri Jun 27, 2008 9:11 am

Sounds like you should get a different 'Chimney Guy' to do an inspection/cleaning as the first one did not include an inspection in the proposal as you requested. Are you sure your code requires a SS liner to be insulated inside a masonry chimney? If the chimney is good you most likely do not need a liner.
Just ordered the 503 today. Price is going up $50 on 7/1 and an additional fuel charge of $50 on the delivery fee. Expected delivery is 4-5 weeks. There is now a damper on the 503 just like the 983, so no restrictor plate is needed if there is a overly strong draft.
CapeCoaler
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: want AA130
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine BS#4, Harman MKII, Hitzer 503,...
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Stove

Re: Hitzer 503 Insert Installation

PostBy: JafaDog On: Sat Jun 28, 2008 7:15 am

Sounds like you should get a different 'Chimney Guy' to do an inspection/cleaning as the first one did not include an inspection in the proposal as you requested. Are you sure your code requires a SS liner to be insulated inside a masonry chimney? If the chimney is good you most likely do not need a liner.


Thanks, CapeCoaler. My chimney appears to be in great shape. Looking down from the top, I can't see any problems with the tiles or the joints. It's only about 15 feet from the top of the chimney to the middle of the fireplace opening. There's a bend that prevents me from seeing all the way to the damper, but looking up from the bottom through the damper, everything also appears fine to the bend. I'm not positive that I would need a liner for code purposes. I was more worried about having a decent draft. Plus, it will be easier to clean the round liner all the way down as opposed to trying to clean a square chimney part of the way down and a round pipe the rest of the way down. The liner manufacturer (Olympic ForeverFlex) states that the liner does not need to be insulated if the chimney is in good shape, so at the very least I'm going with an uninsulated liner.

Just ordered the 503 today. Price is going up $50 on 7/1 and an additional fuel charge of $50 on the delivery fee. Expected delivery is 4-5 weeks. There is now a damper on the 503 just like the 983, so no restrictor plate is needed if there is a overly strong draft.


Congratulations on your 503! I will probably have to take the price hit since I'm not ready to order just yet.

About the damper--I'm assuming that this is not the "air wash damper" on the lower right corner of the 503's door but rather a pull-out (slide?) like on the 983 (the handle at the top of the 983 that says "Hitzer")? Are there any photos of the new damper on the 503?

I've contacted two dealers so far. One has a good price on the stove ($1,747) but doesn't do installations. The other delivers and installs. That one quoted me $2,159 for the 503, $485 for the liner kit, and $500 for installation. Although the price of the stove is a little high, delivery and installation seem reasonable (especially when compared with Chimney Guy's quote). There is another dealer who I have yet to call, so I don't know if they deliver and install.
JafaDog
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 503 Insert

Re: Hitzer 503 Insert Installation

PostBy: CapeCoaler On: Sat Jun 28, 2008 10:10 am

If you have a lined chimney I doubt you need a SS liner to be code, ask the town inspector.
I have the same concerns about draft; I resolved that issue by dealing with it if it becomes a problem after the install. The weather is still nice here in September and October and the liner can be installed then.
You do not have to clean a coal chimney of creosote like you would with a wood stove. Coal only produces some ash that will accumulate on horizontal runs and elbows/tees. This can be easily vacuumed out if you plan properly and use well placed tees.
This link has an install diagram <dead link removed>
You just have to run the liner past the smoke shelf and can use a prefab damper sealing kit.
Any ash in the chimney will fall back into the stove or fall around the pipe sealing it better.

No, not the air wash damper. Yes, the handle that says ‘Hitzer’ at the top of the 983 photo. Dean and Cindy at Hitzer are super nice. When I asked about a restrictor plate Dean said I did not need one because they had improved the design due to some complaints about all the heat going up the chimney. In four weeks when it arrives I will post photos. Hitzer has yet to post any photos of the new version.

Go with the dealer who does the install. It looks like he charges about $330 for the delivery and install of the stove which seems reasonable.
The direct price from Hitzer was $1625 plus $206 delivery. The closest dealer was 2 hours away and did not want to service the Cape. The nice thing about a full service dealer is there is no other person to blame. If there are any problems they own it. Ask them about your concerns with draft and see what they say. They may even do the install without a full liner and then install one if it is a problem.
Last edited by Richard S. on Mon Nov 11, 2013 10:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: <dead link removed>
CapeCoaler
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: want AA130
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine BS#4, Harman MKII, Hitzer 503,...
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Stove

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