Ideas on fireplace remodel, anticipating gas insert

newenglandladybugFebruary 7, 2013

After 5 years of hardly any fires in this fireplace because it draws every last ounce of heat from the room, we are planning to convert over to a vented gas insert. It is shaping up to be quite an undertaking. I have done some preliminary shopping around, and with the relative height of the top of the arch (37.5 in from the base) and its close proximity to the mantel, we are looking at likely having to fill in the top of the arch to convert the shape of the opening to something more rectangular or at least less tall. Though I expect budget will dictate otherwise, I have some fantasies of covering the brick with stone veneer as well.
What I'd really love to hear is suggestions on what to do with the wood storage area to the right of the fireplace. I've been told that I can't "center" our new fireplace in the middle of the mantel (can't flex the pipes for the flue), but it seems like such a wasted space. One fireplace store manager suggested getting some nice birch logs and sitting them there decoratively -- to me that seems like a last ditch idea. Would welcome any thoughts.
(PS: the dog bones are not in lieu of birch logs :) )

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I've got to say that I hate our gas fireplace and would trade it for yours any day. Ours is just flicker of a yellow/blue series of flames that don't crackle or pop. I guess to each his or her own.

That aside, if I was doing it again and wanted the heat advantage only, then I'd make sure to get one of the gas fired ones that have the blower and is somewhat sealed behind the glass. Otherwise, you still have the sucking of the cold air, but with none of the advantages of a real wood fireplace.

I don't know the technicalities, but I'd shop around for several installers and see if you (they) can change the orientation and get at least 3 bids. Personally (although I'm not an expert) I don't see why you can't alter the flue/vent, but the cost would be more for sure.

It's probably just up to the cost of redoing things and how much you are willing to pay.

The stone veneer is a great idea and easy to do yourself. Also, consider stone tile.

This post was edited by audiomixer on Thu, Feb 7, 13 at 23:20

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 11:18PM
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You can solve the problem of losing heat by adding a set of glass doors. You may be able to find a company who specializes in building custom doors. You would need to add a vent in the fireplace to allow air from the outside for combustion with the ability to close the vent when you are not using the fireplace.

Have you considered installing a wood burning stove in the fireplace? The fireplace seems shallow so you may be limited as stoves which would fit. Part of the stove may stick out onto the hearth. The stove will produce a lot of heat if you like this look.

If you went with gas, then you still want a set up where the heat is not going to escape from the room. You probably can find one which does not require a chimney. Centering the fireplace will mean major brick work. At the least you will have to finish off the new opening with another brick or stone.

I like the idea of getting a gas insert that looks like a real fireplace and having the logs as decorative piece.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 8:25AM
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We had a huge, long, 1960's fireplace. I had the entire fireplace ripped out. Kept the flue where it was, and had them build a smaller stone fireplace, with a gas insert.

To me, the arches look really ugly, and there's way too much brick. I vote to demo it!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 12:12PM
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I went the woodstove route. There are several models available that would sit on the hearth with the flue going out the back and up the chimney. Mine has a blower so I can get the extra heat. I also sometimes put a kettle on the top to make steam and further humidify the space.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 12:35PM
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