Our New Old House

1918 Bungalow


Archive for the ‘fireplace’ Category

A fire on the hearth once again

Back in October, the glass cracked in the wood burning stove. It’s not safe to use with cracked glass, so I got right on the phone to the company that installed it for me. The stove was still under warranty and I needed to go through an authorized dealer to get the part. Unfortunately, after getting the process started, this dealer stopped returning my calls and emails. I checked with some other authorized dealers of this brand of stove but with no luck. I finally contacted the manufacturer to report that their preferred method of using authorized dealers to service their stoves had broken down. Fortunately, their warranty service provider was very helpful and with some info about my stove, got a new glass panel shipped to me at no cost. So after suffering through the worst of this winter’s cold snaps without the use of our stove, this weekend we got to work replacing the broken glass.

I’m not sure how the break happened in the first place. This type of glass is actually a form of tempered ceramic and it’s supposed to withstand the hottest of temperatures. From what I understand about glass in general, it could have been a fault in the glass itself that finally gave way. I could have been that it was screwed into the door unevenly (as we discovered when taking it apart.) Some of the screws holding it in place were wrenched down really tightly and that may have caused it to crack when everything expanded with the heat.

The bolts have to withstand pretty high heat too. They hold the little metal clip that curves over the edge of a round metal bar that holds the glass snug against the inside of the door.

Here are the clips and bolts disassembled.

Our cat, Charlatan, was on hand to provide proper supervision.

The bolts were pretty tight, either from having been tightened really hard at installation, or from all the heat. With some muscle, K.O. was able to get them all undone while I steadied the door.

The broken pieces came out pretty cleanly. You can see the braided gasket still attached to some parts of the glass. The new piece of glass had this gasket already attached.

We gave the door a quick cleaning to make sure there wouldn’t be any debris between the door and the glass.

While I held the new piece of glass and the bracing bar in place, K.O. carefully re-assembled the clips.

Using a flathead screwdriver in one hand and a Phillips screwdriver in the other, K.O. held each clip in place so it wouldn’t twist sideways as the bolt was tightened.

Ta-da! Shiny new glass!

A fire glows warmly on our hearth once again, keeping our home toasty warm on a very low budget.

Even our fluffy overlord approves.

A room in which to live: the Living Room

I wanted to take a picture of this before it got painted over. The living room and dining room both had this trim around the top of the wall.


I had to do a lot of plaster work in this room. I’m particularly proud of reconstructing this corner that had crumbled away as the house settled.


Here’s a before picture:

One side of the wall over the fireplace needed some major repair:

I started attacking the gunk on the floor with a new vengeance, doing garbage bag sized sections rather than grocery bag sized ones.


Mom came over with some of my friends to help me put primer on the walls.


We bought a new rug, cleaned everything up, and arranged the furniture and here’s the result! It’s not finished, but I can see the finish line from here!




Phew! We can actually live in the living room now! Paint colors for the wall are being planned, also I’m going to restore the bookcases with leaded glass windows.

[tags] built-ins, photos, plaster, furniture, paint, future plans, ceiling fan, flooring, living room, fireplace, cabinets[/tags]

Come on baby, light my fire!


Isn’t that a nice, cozy fire? I’m so thrilled with our new fireplace insert. We need to buy some less expensive wood than the couple bundles we picked up at Quik Trip ($3.99 for a bundle of about eight pieces). I’ve been calling around to a few places and I’ll let you know what we ended up spending and how much wood we got once we get it.

We haven’t really run it long enough or hot enough to seriously heat the house yet. It was still curing the first time we burned in it so we didn’t want to fire it too hot right away. I’ll see what it can do tonight since it’s going to get pretty cold.

Stand by your mantis

Last night I wanted to see if I’d left the owner’s manual inside the fireplace, so I opened up the glass door and saw THIS!!!


This praying mantis had made itself nice and cozy inside our fireplace! It’s that time of year when mantids (the correct plural form of mantis – I looked it up!) are laying their eggs then finding warm places to hang out until they, well, die. This one has been eating all the other little bugs that have made their way down our chimney. Fortunately, our fireplace is sealed with an airtight door. Unfortunately, it looks like our mantis friend is doomed. We can’t keep it alive in the house all winter (they typically don’t live longer than a few months in the fall anyway) and if we leave it in the chimney it will die when we light the first fire. It seemed to be on its last legs anyway, so hopefully nature will take its course and we’ll find it has perished before we have to dispose of it alive.

Nice to know we have these beneficial insects in our yard anyway!

Progress… in progress

The electricians are probably going to wrap up today. We stopped by the house to drop of a light fixture for the kitchen and we took a look around. Here are pictures!

The house is in various stages of disarray, but no worries!

This is the light fixture that was removed from the basement hallway. Pretty gross huh?

The ceiling fan we picked out for the living room:

The light in the dining room that compliments the ceiling fan in the living room:

New light fixtures in the bathroom. We’re going for a chrome and white look for all the bathroom fixtures. These lights look a little out of place amongst the 70s wallpaper and dingy yellow paint. Just wait until everything is crisp and white! (Additionally, we have had them install a ceiling fan + light, but since that wasn’t fully installed yet I didn’t take a picture.)

The wood burning stove insert is all done, the chimney is re-lined, and the part above the roof has been rebuilt completely. It all looks GREAT and I’ve never been so excited for cold weather to arrive so I can try this out!

Just a quick plug for a really great business here: The company we hired for this, Alpine Chimney Sweep, was simply awesome! If you have any chimney or fireplace or wood burning stove issues at your house and you’re anywhere near Des Moines, I really recommend looking them up. They’re friendly, efficient, clean, and even bumped up our installation day because they had an unexpected opening in their schedule.

Here’s the stove unit ready to install:

While they had the chimney and firebox all cleared out, I took the opportunity to take a few pictures of an area most homeowners never really get a good look at: the inside of the chimney and ash dump.

Here’s the firebox all cleaned out:

The damper had rusted shut and debris from the crumbling chimney had fallen on top of it. It had to be removed anyway, so here’s what’s left of the broken pieces, leaving room for the new liner and stove pipe:

The view up the chimney:

I put my camera in great peril to get this shot looking down into the ash dump:

The front of our new wood burning stove:

A wider view:

I’m really glad they put the original flue damper handle back in its place. It’s not needed anymore, but it’s better than having a big hole in the brick where it should go. I can’t wait to clean up the area around the hearth and maybe paint the brick a different color. I have big plans for this fireplace area of the house! Big plans, I say!

Sadly, by the time we got around to looking at the chimney outside we’d lost too much light for me to take a picture. You’ll get your picture though, never fear!

I am absolutely thrilled at how much progress was made this week. I never imagined everything would go so smoothly and so fast. Here’s hoping for continued good fortune in the rest of our projects to come.

Oh! And another quick shout out to a damned decent guy, Matt, who works with Brandon, at least for the time being. Matt is headed back to Omaha to rejoin his lovely wife there and since he’s moving, he graciously offered us his futon, no charge! That’s great because we can use all the free furniture we can get! 😉 Thanks again, Matt!

[tags]bathroom, ceiling fan, chimney, contractors, dining room, electricity, fireplace, light fixtures, living room, photos, wood burning stove[/tags]

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