What are my options, would like to stay with wood burning
My wife and I gutted a 1950's split level house. This fireplace had a rusted heatolator that we removed. The below photo is all that remains. The fire rated brick is off to the side. I'd like to stay with wood burning, and am thinking about a Pacific Energy or Lopi wood burning insert. However, I'm told that in order to do that I would need to rebuild a functioning masonary fireplace (i.e. install a damper). Has this been your experience? Why do I have to install a damper only to disable it when I install the insert? Are there other alternatives under $5,000? I would hate to rebuild a masonary fireplace just to cover it up with the insert. But I really like the heat these woodburning inserts provide.
Any help or insight is greatly appreaciated.