Parlor Stove Question

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by Master Brian, Nov 22, 2008.

  1. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    I was at an Architectural Salvage Store today and came across a pair of old "The Estate Stove Co" parlor stoves. We thought the price was resonable and hope to get one of them working. One looks to have all the heating elements, valves, pilot, etc. The other doesn't. The owner said he wouldn't recommend hooking it up, but an older gentleman whom I guess used to deal with Antiques when the current owner was much younger, said he had rebuilt one before and wouldn't worry much. He said find an "Old Timer" plumber to aid in getting them working and that the owner just didn't want to be held responsible.

    Has anyone here delt with old gas parlor stoves and getting them to work, where they are safe? I came across a link where it looks like someone else is using one and enjoying it. Here is a link to that website as it has a picture of the same unit(s) that I purchased.

    No matter what I plan on going thoroughly through these units to check for leaks and would replace anything in doubt prior to trying to light one. I am hoping to find someone locally that can test them out and ensure their safety. Worst case, I'll buy some flicker bulbs and see about an electric heating element and use them for decoration, but I really would love to get at least one working. I am also trying to find a link for izing/eising glass to replace the glass in the front doors. I've googled it but am having a hard time finding.

    Thanks for anything leading me to some direction or feedback about trying to bring these back to life.
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

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    8,997
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    First, is that stove vented to the outside? If not, it would not be legal or SAFE.

    If you just have to have that stove, I would think about restoring the outside and using it as a decorative piece, but not actually running it.


    Anything is possible, given a large enough pile of cubic $$$$$$$$, but you have a major undertaking to make this old beast legal and safe. At a bare minimum, it would need to have a pilot operated safety gas control added, with overtemp and CO limit shutdowns. I don't know how in good conscience you could operate a non-vented gas heater in your house.
  3. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

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    The only way that thing could be considered safe is with a "flame glow" produced by a light bulb...
    Sheesh!:eek:
  4. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

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    To expand on Redwood's suggestion, it is possible to make a light inside look very much like a flickering fire. I'm not sure where the components can be found, but they are available. This not only would be a safe way to go, but would be far less costly. Even if the safety issues could be overcome, this would not be an economical way to provide heat for your home.
  5. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    I have thought about the electric flicker bulb effect and possibly an electric heater or even seeing about the flicker bulb and seeing if they could be turned into a radiant heater of sorts.

    They would be vented through an approved chimney. Supplemental heat for basement and/or 2nd floor den only.

    As far as cost, I don't have much in them at all. If I were to only get one working and if it cost me $1200, I am still no worse off than if I went out and purchased a brand new unit. If I were to get both working, then double that figure. With at least one, it looks to be in great and probably working condition; however, I want to have it gone through and if safety features can be added, then great.

    I will say, I am a bit perplexed/saddened by the nay-sayers. I know I am a bit of a dreamer, but these are pretty cool pieces in my opinion. I know looks can be deceiving, but they also look to be pretty efficient, in that they have 5 tubes coming off the the "firebox" part of the stove. 3 of those tubes carry air in/out of an approx 5-6" "air chamber" inside the firebox area, then 2 of the tubes seem to carry the exhaust back out. I say they look efficient, because that to me would seem to be a rather well thought out idea, to maximize heat efficiency and ensure you draw as much heat off the unit as possible. There are also 2 seperate valves to control 2 seperate burners and a seperate valve to shut off/control the pilot.

    Like I said, I know I am a bit of a dreamer/optimist, but I won't run these or proceed if I am not 100% satisfied I can make them "safe". Others seem to be using them, safely.... The part that makes me leary about some comments is some people don't "understand" about living in old houses and taking old things and making them work. Some just prefer to buy new and throw away when finished.
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    stove

    A wood burning stove requires a triple wall vent, which is neither the best looking, nor easiest, thing to install if you have to pass through an upper room to reach the roof.
  7. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

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    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    Not doing wood, gas only.
  8. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

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    Location:
    Connecticut
    Master Brian,
    I know how you feel about wanting to have a working antique heating your home, I come from an area of the country where there are many old homes. In fact the oldest one in my town was built in 1639, but these were from an era of gas lights and very simple on/off controls. Essentially you turn it on and light it, then when you want it off you turn it off.

    The people of the time when these were in use feared gas and rightly so. Carbon monoxide poisoning, asphixiation by leaking gas, explosions and fires were much more common during the period than they are today with the modern appliances that have many safegaurds built into them.

    Do yourself a favor and don't plan on using it!
  9. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    Do you feel the same way if a "professional" were to rebuild it? I actually came across a guy in California, who rebuilds/refurbishes antique stoves and such. He said they do all or nothing and said it would be safe when finished. Obviously cost is something that can't easily be figured over the phone, because these are all different, but he said average cost was about $1000 depending upon what customer wanted/needed done.

    I'm not sure $1000 + two way shipping is anything I would do at this point, but I am weighing my options. I kind of figure it may be one, maybe two years before I'm ready to even think about doing anything. I just thought they were really cool and price was reasonable, so we got them.

    The carbon monoxide poison thing is something I do take to heart, my mother, lost her mom to carbon monoxide poisoning when she was in her late teens. I was speaking to my wife last night about these, because one thing I worry about is the open section where the pilot tube goes in and the fresh air intakes along the bottom. I know some, if not all of the newer units are 100% sealed up, bringing fresh air in from outside.
  10. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    I'd be more worried about the thing blowing up or overheating than CO, although that could be an issue. If the firebox is intact and the chimney is properly done, CO shouldn't be an issue. Without the safeties to prevent gas from running without combustion, an explosion is a much bigger issue, to me at least. Plus, an inspector would likely not approve its installation nor would your home insurance likely cover you if anything happened. A rebuild on an old system that never had UL approval or any other safety association test procedure is foolish, in my opinion. Even if you used UL approved parts, unless the system was designed for them, I don't think (don't know) it would qualify, since things are usually tested as fully operational assemblies.
  11. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    I understand the thoughts/concerns about the gas running without combustion, I guess that could happen if the fire went out and no one was around. That is a very valid concern and I'll keep that in mind. Thanks!

    As for inspections ...... :rolleyes: Sorry for the sarcastic eye roll there, but this is a 100yr/old house, I seriously doubt 90% of it would pass a current inspection, yet it still stands and I'd argue is probably better built than 90% of the new houses out there today! That is in no way a knock against any new construction people, I've worked in the trade in the past and I know there are some very talented people, doing very talented things and building a quality product. The UL part & inspections wouldn't even be an issue if this was an original fixture in the house and had been kept operational all these years, because it would have been grandfathered in.

    This likely wouldn't undergo an inspection, but I also realize inspectors tend to "OK" things when they are done to older houses, vs newer houses, because they are somewhat grandfathered. This was the case when I had my main electrical panel replaced from a 60amp panel to a 200amp panel. The required clearance wasn't there, but they said, hey it's fine!

    Again, I'm sorry for the bit of a rant, I know you are looking out for my safety and it is appreciated! I also realize for a lot of you, you have to satisfying the inspector before you can get paid. I get that.

    Thanks again and I am taking all the responses to heart and thinking them through!
  12. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    22,017
    Location:
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    The fine print in your insurance policy probably says everything is null and void if you add an unapproved and permitted gas appliance to the house. Now, the retrofitted gas valve may have a thermocouple built in that would keep it from opening...but, since the refurbishment is not inspected, there's no guarantee it was done right, or if it will work.
  13. kingsotall

    kingsotall Plunger/TurdPuncher

    May I recommend:

    [​IMG]
  14. Cass

    Cass Plumber

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  15. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

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    Location:
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    Cass, Thanks, but I believe that is a link I had found just the other day. I called and spoke with the person and he is the one who refurbishes these old units.
  16. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,017
    Location:
    New England
    Just a comment...you can refurbish a Model-T to like new, but that doesn't mean it is safe, convenient, or efficient to use in today's world. Same thing in my mind with an ancient heating device.
  17. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    Funny you bring up the Model T, because I was thinking kind of the same thing, except, you can refurbish it, it's still 100% road legal and insurance would still cover it in an accident.

    When you restore it, you don't have to bring it up to todays standards and equip with anti-lock brakes, airbags, etc.... In fact it can even be altered and turned into a T-bucket and still not have to undergo any different regs.

    Would I drive it on the interstate at 70mph, probably not, but I also probably wouldn't expect an antique appliance to perform 100% to today's standards either. That doesn't mean it isn't safe, it just means it needs to be used as it was intended.

    I know it sounds like I'm being stuborn on this, maybe I am, but I need more than it won't pass inspection and just a "it isn't safe" statement. There appears to be a big business in restored cooking ovens and refridgerators. Are those not safe either? What's the difference? The house I moved out of 8 months ago was built in 1874, it was baloon framed on 2x6 floor joists on a rock foundation and across the street from a railroad. If I were to go to the inpsectors today and say, hey "this is what i want to build", they'd say no way it is way out of code. If I pressed on, they'd probably tell me it wouldn't stand. Well why does the one built in 1874 still stand??? I didn't see any cracked joists and tumbling down walls, etc. Floors were a bit spongy in spots, but it still took the weight!

    Again, maybe it won't work and be safe. I just want to find someone that will give me spacifics, other than like I said, it isn't up to today's codes.
  18. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,017
    Location:
    New England
    Would you give a Model-T to a teenager without decent brakes, or any safety features? The heater can easily be turned on when you aren't home to watch things. What if you take a nap on a windy day and the pilot blows out...things could go boom. The codes are designed to be safe, or at least reasonably safe. We've learned a lot in the last 75-years or so about what works and what doesn't to try to kill you.

    Balloon framing works, but from a safety viewpoint, provides a great chimney for fire to cut from one floor to another, burning the whole thing down possibly before you know it has started. Springy floors can be a real pain, and are possibly a symptom of the balloon framing...the floor goes up and down, the walls go in and out. Nice solid rim joists make a decent fire stop for the walls, and keep the walls from flexing with the floor.

    Will a house fall down because of this? No. Is it conducive to nice solid floors, freedom to put your piano where you want it, having level floors, or hosting a large party without worrying you might have problems? No, not on a new house...you live with that if you want an old house.

    Make it a planter, or put a nice lamp in it to simulate a firebox.
  19. Cookie

    Cookie .

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    You should ask these other people how they are making them safe. Some things deserve to be thrown away and new brought in. Just the way it is sometimes. Personally, I like the idea of Jad's for a planter, I have an old well pump I want someday to be used outside for the same purpose. It is neat to look at, but, I surely wouldn't use this pump for anything else.
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