Replace gas insert or convert to woodburning?!

ehill03August 1, 2010

Hi folks- would really appreciate some feedback on handling our fireplace "remodel".

We purchased a house in the mountains that was built in the 70's & originally had a stone wood-burning fireplace in the living room. The opening is 30"h x 54"w approx. The previous owners at some point in the 80's converted this to a direct vent Majestic gas insert (RHEDV25)on liquid propane that is only 25"h x 31"w with a large, VERY unattractive brass & black metal surround/trim to cover the gaping sides & top of original fireplace opening.

The "viewing area" on this old insert is minuscule in comparison to the ugly hulking trim/vent & makes the fireplace a real eyesore but it IS somehow linked to our thermostat & is quite effective at heating the main level.

SO- how do we improve the appearance of this fireplace while keeping to our NOT generous budget? We would love the look of returning to wood burning with the large opening unencumbered by trim- esp since the entire wall is stone & w/o a mantle but are not sure if that is an easy conversion & are also weary of the mess & loss of the thermostat/insert function that heats the room so well. We have been unable to locate a replacement trim kit for this older stove at our local shop- are there online resources for this? While just swapping out trim/surround doesn't change the small viewing area & ugly insert, at least it would be more innocuous than the current brass/black trim. Finally, replacing the entire insert- though most costly I'd guess- is an option, but I can't seem to find propane inserts/fireplaces that are configured to maximize the size of our fireplace opening- very wide (54") but relatively short (30"). Am I looking in the wrong places?

Sorry to be so very wordy- this certainly isn't brain surgery, but it's been very frustrating trying to find a cost effective solution to improve the looks of this dated fireplace without losing the function. Would love ANY feedback!

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Right now is a good time to replace your old gas insert with wood since many wood stoves are eligible for a tax credit due to their use of a renewable resource. I love my Lopi Declaration. It heats up my whole 900 square foot great room, even with its long wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. My installer made a custom surround that really compliments the look of the stone wall surrounding my old fireplace.

I especially like having heat I can enjoy without feeling guilty about heating up the atmosphere by burning fossil fuel.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lopi stoves

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 11:19AM
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I second that opinion. There are so many good stove inserts on the markey that Im sure you could find one with the look and viewing area you want. And theres a certain satisfaction you get with woodburning. For me it was NOT paying the gas company last winter and having them contact me TWICE about replacing my meter. They were convinced that it must be faulty because I was using less than 30 dollars worth on Natural Gas per month..........It still makes me smile:)


    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 12:01AM
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Ditto! Wood!

I agree there are many attractive stoves and inserts out there today. And they're EPA compliant so they're not "dirty".

There are plenty of excellent manufacturers out there. Lopi, Regency, Jotul, Hearthstone, Avalon, etc. You can have the opening completely covered, or have an actual woodstove installed in the opening. That's what we did in our old home over 20 years ago. So when we built our current home here in VT, the FIRST thing we got was a woodstove! The fire viewing is excellent, and if you get the right size stove, it'll keep you warm without overheating you.

Even though our home is new, (7 years old now) I don't regret making the woodstove the primary heat source. I have an oil furnace, but I use less than one tank of oil a year.

And compare the price of gas today with the price of firewood. Wood wins every time!

Go to your local stove shop. As a matter of fact, visit at least three. Get opinions of different stoves and inserts by various manufacturers. You won't regret it.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 7:56AM
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