Upgrading Heating System
Before this project began, the home relied on the original coal-fired boiler (covered with asbestos insulation and converted at some point to natural gas). It heated a full system of hot water pipes and radiators.
We had hoped to run new radiant floor heating to the addition off the old boiler, so we had the insulation professionally removed to make new connections.
However, removing the insulation revealed a series of cracks which made it obvious the boiler needed replaced as well. So we did. It substantially added to the cost of the project.
It's easier to accept this kind of extra cost when you get to replace a 90-year-old, inefficient burner and boiler with a modern heating plant with an 84% efficiency rating.
In our northern climate, we expect to defray a lot of the cost by reduced heating bills, and the new boiler actually qualified for a rebate through our local utility.
We chose a direct vent, gas fireplace. A direct vent unit can be vented out through a wall which is usually easier than going up through the ceiling and roof.
The vent we used actually came in two pieces: a 5" Inner Vent (to exhaust gases) and an 8" Outer Vent (to draw in fresh air).
The inner vent is actually suspended inside the outer vent, so they can run out the same hole in the wall.
Many gas fireplace designs are more suited to contemporary homes, but we found a model with a black enamel, cast iron facing and grille (in a sunburst pattern) that fit better with the traditional nature of the home.
Improved gas flame technology, ceramic logs and glowing ember materials help further the illusion of an actual wood-burning fireplace -- without the labor and smoke drawbacks.
Outside, the vent's termination cap kind of defeats the wood-burning illusion. For purists, it is possible to run the vent vertically up a chase, but we decided to avoid that extra work.