2:15 PM 02/11/2013
It's my understanding that the NYC building code requires existing fireplaces to satisfy current code requirements only if there is a change in use, for example, converting a coal burning fireplace to wood burning or gas. If the fireplace is to be used for its original intended purpose, then it does not have to be brought up to current code requirements (which, e.g., require a 20" deep firebox for wood-burning masonry fireplaces). How does one determine the original intended use of a fireplace? I live in a late-19th century brownstone with four fireplaces. I checked the plans and other documents in the building department file and couldn't find any info about the fireplaces. Although most brownstones of that era had coal burning fireplaces, the prior owner claimed ours are wood-burning. The size of the fireboxes lends support that conclusion -- they are generally 30" W x 30" H, and have a depth ranging from 17" - 22". The flues taper from roughly 12" x 30" at the bottom of the smoke chamber to 10" x 10" for the rest of the height of the chimney, and they produce a very strong updraft (I burned some pieces of newspaper to test them out). I'd like to have the chimneys relined (possibly with Thermocrete) and use them to burn wood. I know that ultimately I'll need to get input from a chimney lining company, but I'd like to get some background info first. Thanks.
How late in the 19th Century? My 1899 house has five gas fireplaces. It seems that the original gravity hot air furnaces needed supplementation in really cold weather and gas fireplaces were the latest modern convenience found in moderate to high end houses. OTOH the c.1916--20 colonial revival houses in my neighborhood were built with a boiler and steam heat. THEY have a single wood-burning fireplace, added largely for aesthetic reasons.
2:34 PM 02/11/2013 | 0 Votes
whenI read the Old House Journal regularly, 30+ years ago, they often recommended converting to cannel coal burning as far easier than a wood-burning conversion. I haven't any recent information.
3:59 PM 02/11/2013 | 0 Votes