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Converting Woodstoves To Gas

Q: We'd like to convert our old airtight woodstove to gas. Is there a kit for this?

Sweepy NONONO! Converting an airtight woodstove so it can burn gas would be an extremely dangerous undertaking. Wood stoves and gas stoves are very different beasties, with very different safety and operation considerations in their design and construction. Gas stoves have built-in safety features that would be extremely difficult to duplicate without totally reconstructing the airtight.

Even if you had the thermal design education and talents necessary to modify the airtight so it could safely burn gas without blowing up, the expense involved, plus the expense of the gas valve, burner, igniter, millivolt system, etc. would be prohibitive. And you'd end up with a relatively inefficient gas guzzler with no UL safety listing to validate your insurance in the event of an explosion or fire.

The bottom line: If you'd rather burn gas than wood, trade in your airtight on a UL listed gas stove.

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Q: We've got a gas firestarter in our fireplace. If we install one of your wood fireplace inserts, can we still use the firestarter to start the fire in the insert?

Sweepy  No, for the same reasons outlined in the anwer above, that plan would be extremely dangerous. It would also void the warranty and UL listing on the insert, so you'd be all alone in the likely event that something goes wrong.

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Q: I enjoy your website, and have found your information very helpful, but I feel your advice about converting a woodstove to gas (don't do it) might be a little misleading. I have a science background, and understand about why an airtight could turn into a bomb if gas were introduced, that's simple physics. I also have verified with my insurance agent that a UL listing is a must if you're going to put something like a stove or fireplace in your home. So far, your article is right on. But these facts don't apply in every situation.

Case in point: we have an antique woodstove that we'd like to convert to gas. Our old stove is far from airtight. In fact, on the few occasions when we've tried to have a wood fire, it has leaked smoke out of every seam! According to my research and observations, there is no chance this old potbelly could ever be sealed up tightly enough to create an explosive environment.

Point #2: I performed a search engine inquiry, and found a company on the web that will convert old stoves like ours to gas! And they guarantee all components used are UL listed! I wonder if you'd care to comment.

Go ahead and publish this letter on your website if you want, but don't include my E-mail address.
Dr. Dan in Shreveport

Sweepy  That guy selling wood-gas conversions on the internet is a master of misleading wording: the fact is, ALL gas components and fittings sold in this country are UL listed. What his website doesn't mention is, if you use those UL listed components to turn a woodstove into a gas stove, the resulting gas stove isn't UL listed, unless you take it to a UL laboratory and it passes safety testing (to the tune of about $10,000). Think about it: if you put those same UL listed components into an airtight and it blew up, would you expect your insurance company to cover the damage? If your insurance agent doesn't know this one, you can bet his company's claims adjuster does: it is the finished product that must be UL listed.

The leakiness of your pot belly stove also bears examination: if it leaks wood exhaust into the house, wouldn't it leak poisonous gas exhaust as well? Of course it would. And, unlike wood exhaust, gas exhaust is colorless and virtually odorless, so you wouldn't even know you were being exposed until you fell asleep on the couch and didn't wake up.

As I see it, the only difference between converting an airtight and your pot belly is, instead of an unlisted time bomb, you would be making an unlisted poison gas dispenser.

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