Can I install a wood burning insert into my factory built fireplace?
There are very few manufacturers of wood burning inserts that are listed to be installed into the manufactured or "zero clearance" type fireplace.
Those that are listed have exacting installation requirements that may be difficult to achieve.
Shop carefully for this option and be sure to understand the limitations!
Is a wood burning fireplace insert right for me?
Casual use open fireplace are not efficient and require frequent fire tending. Oversize fireplace flues sweep the firebox heat up the flue. Even worse, the draft of the fireplace gathers up the heated room air as well. A few hours of casual fireplace use can force your central heating system to work harder and cost you money!
Here’s a few guidelines and suggestions when shopping for that new insert. Understanding your options and good measurements in hand are important when you visit your local hearth store.
Determine the condition of your chimney. Chimney built pre-code standards should be professionally evaluated and upgraded as required. Insert installations require that the chimney be approved to current codes, clean and in working condition.
Fireplace chimney flues are oversized. Most wood inserts will require an inner liner to be installed if the existing flue liner is larger than 7” x 11”. All gas inserts require inner liners. Liners for wood and liners for gas are constructed of different materials and sizes.
Inserts use electric blowers to extract and distribute the heat from the firebox. A nearby electric outlet is required. To eliminate the exposed cord from the surround you may wish to have an electrician install a hidden outlet.
Wood inserts require a storage area where the wood will be dry and accessible for refueling and you also need to provide a safe method to dispose of wood ashes.
Inserts are sold as two or more components: the insert plus a surround panel and sometimes an optional front. The insert must physically fit into the firebox. Fireplaces with tapered fireboxes or slanted back firewalls can be difficult to accommodate. The surround panel is designed to cover the gap between the insert and the actual fireplace opening size. Surround panels are offered in differing sizes and styles giving one insert several options.
Each product is tested and listed to minimum clearances from combustible top and side fireplace trim as well as from combustible mantles. The dimensional depth of the facing trim and of the depth of mantle is important factor when measuring.
All wood inserts require the hearth to extend beyond the insert opening. This is a stated distance in the product manual.
How do tell if an insert will fit my fireplace?
In order to determine if an insert will fit and which insert fits best, the fireplace needs to be measured. The opening width and height need to be measured, if it is an arched fireplace, measure the height at the center as well as the sides. The depth from the opening to the back wall of the fireplace, also the height and width of the back wall should be measured.