Fireplace Help (again)

chris11895December 4, 2012

We're trying to make some decisions regarding the fireplace in our family room (new build, traditional style). We have been spoiled by living in antique homes with rather gorgeous fireplaces. I fully understand that a traditional masoned fireplace is not as efficient as a wood buning insert or gas. But our family, especially the kids, have developed a bit of a tradition of laying in front of the fire so the ambiance is really what we're after. The cost of a full masoned fireplace came in rather high. Rather high is actually an understatement. Anyhow, we went to a fireplace store today and while I have accepted doing a pre-fab fireplace my DH is struggling big time. He doesn't think the brick on the interior looks ok and the person at the store kept saying it will throw *no* heat so now he's wondering if it will throw even less heat than a masoned FP because it doesn't have the full stone surround? ANYHOW. My questions are these: Can anyone recommend a pre-fab wood burning fireplace that looks as close as possible to a masoned one? Today we looked at Heat&Glo and Heatilator. They directed us towards the Heatilator Birmingham brochure but did not have one on display.
Is there a performance difference between a pre-fab and fully masoned fireplace?
Any advice is appreciated!

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we went with full masonry fireplaces for the same reason. before we realized they were included in our contract we looked at every prefab option available in the showrooms in our area and i didn't like any of them. i wonder, however, whether a Rumford fireplace kit would be cheaper than the prefab options you're looking at. I've got no idea whether it will or not, just throwing this idea out there as they are very nice looking and supposedly very efficient in throwing heat.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 10:26PM
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The rumsford is MUCH more expensive (in my area) than any other type of prefab (like 2-3x more)... But, it may be worth checking in to.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 11:06PM
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Thanks! Can you post the sources for the kits? This is the first I've heard of them. Also, do you need the foundation underneath with them like you do with masonry?

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 11:18PM
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See link.

Here is a link that might be useful: rumford

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 12:57AM
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It is possible to design a factory-built (so called "zero clearance") wood burning fireplace so it is virtually impossible to distinguish it from a masonry fireplace. The trick is to pick the right proportion with an integral operable screen and make the hearth flush with the bottom of the fire box - a detail that must be non-comustible and something the fireplace shop and your contractor are not likely to know how to do.

I have used the Lennox Colonial successfully and I'm sure there are others. I'll try to show you some photos and details later.

The statement about "throwing heat" is inappropriate. I would ignore any further comments this person makes about fireplaces. What you enjoy is the radiant heat from the fire and although that may be increased by a shallow firebox (Rumford style), it is not noticeably affected by the thickness of the masonry liner.

Don't forget that the metal chimney termination is quite large and although I have left it exposed most people want to hide it in a fake masonry chimney enclosure.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 7:11AM
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Thanks for the input! I'm going to look at the Lennox Colonial this weekend. I also found a company called Mason-Litehref>. Has anyone seen these or heard anything about them?

Here is a link that might be useful: Mason-Lite

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 7:52PM
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Check out the pre fab fireplaces from FMI. They have at least 2 lines of masonry fireplaces that use actual firebrick. You can choose from either a herringbone or stacked patterns in either the white or red brick. Check out the Georgian Masonry or Portofino Masonry styles.

Here is a link that might be useful: FMI Woodburning Fireplaces

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 9:11PM
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Thanks for posting that still_waters. I found their web site a few days ago but it was after hours and the only way to find out where they have dealers is to call. I'll call them on Monday.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 10:30PM
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In addition to the detailing of the firebox, a realistic looking traditional fireplace opening needs to be proportioned well. Most factory-built units are too short for their width.

The Lennox Colonial is 36" wide X 29" tall which is very good. The FMI Plantation is 48" wide X 42" tall which is similar to the Colonial.

Even the best units must raise the bottom of the firebox 1 1/2" to 2 " above the wood platform they rest on but it is possible to put a non-combustible hearth flush with the bottom of the firebox if the materials above the level of the platform are non-combustible. This means the hearth will be raised unless the fireplace unit is lowered into the framing of the floor. It is also possible to raise the hearth up 14 to 18" so it is possible to sit on it. In both cases I recommend avoiding brick for the hearth.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 6:01AM
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Thanks, Renovator! Why do you suggest avoiding brick for the hearth? What do you recommend instead?

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 8:07AM
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Renovator is right.
You can have your cake here and eat it too!

Try RSF fireplaces or Napolean or Lennox Montecito.
All are zero clearance with high BTU output and excellent efficiency. You can even get a mesh screen on some and open doors for full fireplace effect. Can't tell difference from real stone/masonry fireplace except you don't need an expensive footing in basement. Stoves themselves are not cheap though.
RSF is well known brand and can be connected to ductwork to spread heat throughout entie house. Can use existing duct work also and includes a 1000-1200 cfm blower that mounts remotely to keep things quiet. Excellent choice.

Here is a link that might be useful: RSF Fireplaces

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 10:39AM
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