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installing insert into zero-clearance prefab... removing refractory panels?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by cleo, Jan 26, 2012.

  1. cleo

    cleo New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2012
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    Loc:
    Ohio
    We have a heatilator EC-42 fireplace and from reading here I see that there are some inserts that will fit. We called the installer that the dealer recommended and he was here yesterday. He told us that to put a bigger insert into our fireplace he could take out all the refractory panels and basically "gut" the firebox and that it was perfectly safe to do so (just leaving the metal firebox). Everything I'm reading says NO, the refractory panels have to stay in place and there are only a few things that can be safely removed. He said there are all these air chambers on the insert that will make it safe to remove the refractory panels because the outside of the unit won't be that hot. I had already found an insert that was pretty big that would fit without taking these out so I don't know what the big deal is but he was pretty insistent that they can all safely come out. My husband said he doesn't think it's a good idea either but thinks what this guy said "makes sense". I'm totally against it, I want it installed exactly like the installation instructions say to install it.

    So, is this guy correct and it IS safe to remove these things? We can't find much online on this.

    thanks!

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  2. Lighting Up

    Lighting Up Feeling the Heat

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    I think your right to question it. I would NOT do it and I have one inserted in my ZC that was not altered . To be honest I 've never heard of that and I'm sure the insert stoves owners manual that is approved for your ZC will tell you so. I would run from this installer, good luck.
    md
  3. stoveguy13

    stoveguy13 Minister of Fire

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    NO WAY!!! do not remove them
  4. cleo

    cleo New Member

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    thanks for the replies! I guess I need to hunt down another installer. When I asked him point blank if he would just install it WITH the refractory panels in place he said he would, but I could tell he was annoyed with me. Not sure I'm okay with that. Also (and this is quite petty) he wore boots caked with mud into my house and across my new carpet when he came for the estimate. My thinking is that any contractor that would wear muddy boots in my house, would probably also be not too careful with the install. I've had contractors that take great care to not damage things while they work, and I've had contractors that seem to mess up everything they touch. I prefer the first type.
  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I don't see anything wrong with expecting a workman to do the job in a professional manner. Remember, you're paying the bill. Listen to your gut and find an installer that you trust and is professional in all aspects. It might cost a little more, though sometimes not. Peace of mind and full satisfaction is priceless.
  6. Lighting Up

    Lighting Up Feeling the Heat

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    Would never of made it to the estimate point, hell would not of gotten his pencil out. My wife would of chased him out while he cleaned the floor behind him. Definitely a deal breaker for me.

    Your asking the right question, your in the right place...always safety first and you'll find the right one...good luck!
    md
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    PS: Welcome to Hearth.com!
  8. cleo

    cleo New Member

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    Jan 25, 2012
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    Loc:
    Ohio
    my husband agreed that installer #1 was out, so we visited a 2nd dealer who told us that they can't put anything in our fireplace. So we went from "you can put anything in there" to "you can't put anything in there"... called dealer #3 and their guy came out (and took his shoes off at the door - scored points right there) and told us he sold one insert that would fit, the quadrafire 2700i. He gave us a quote and we gave him a check so he could get it ordered. Hopefully if all goes well in a couple weeks the project will be done, which is good because I'm tired of thinking about it. Total installed cost will be $3900 which includes the liner for the chimney. Not sure if we could have shopped around and got a "deal" but at this point I don't even care, I just want it done! Thanks for all your help!
  9. Got Wood

    Got Wood Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like you made a move, good luck.
    As I was reading this I thought of another option (which is what I did) - remove the old unit entirely and put in a new zero clearance FP.
  10. Rob From Wisconsin

    Rob From Wisconsin Minister of Fire

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    East-Central Wisconsin
    You could, but the beefed-up price of a ZC unit, plus the additional cost of Class B chimney would likely make it
    cost quite a bit more. Also add-in the additional carpentry required to frame the ZC unit, plus tear-out &
    installation of new Class B flue. It all adds up......
  11. Got Wood

    Got Wood Minister of Fire

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    Very true.... have to balance investment with what you want to live with for many years. Personal choice... no wrong answer
  12. jlightning

    jlightning Member

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    Loc:
    Southeast PA
    I have been through the same thing Cleo. I also have a newer house w/ a zero clearance fireplace w/ limited options. I remember there is a little metal plate inside the fireplace insert on the left side that tells you how many btu's your fireplace insert can handle. My fireplace if memory serves can handle 40,000btu's which left me with very few options along w/ the size of the fireplace. The only ones i found were the Vermont Castings Montpelier which was very snug and the Jotul 350 Winterport which is what I went w/ and am very happy with it. I do remember looking at the Quadrafire stoves but I didn't think any of them fit. I did have the installers make a custom metal surround to go behind the surround panels to cover up the gaps. Good luck w/ your new stove!
  13. Lighting Up

    Lighting Up Feeling the Heat

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    Yes congrats on your choice your going to see a big difference. Hope you added a blower with that stove. To me blowers make a big difference on small stoves. Now you have some time start working on the wood it's going to burn different then the ZC did...keep it seasoned and dry .
    md
  14. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Milton GA
    Like Got Wood and others here, we were all in the same boat with our pre-fab fire places. What I found was - it's a trade off. The unit that was SAFE and would fit my heatilator - was SO small firebox wise and BTU output wise, that it wasn't worth the cost to install. Replacing the pre-fab fireplace with a zero clearance stove and flue wasn't much more expensive. I kept my cost down by doing the tear out, framing, and finishing work. I only paid for the stove, flue, and installation. Again, it was not much more than the tiny insert, but now I have a BIG beautiful stove that HEATS everything I wanted.

    These zero clearance stoves are specifically designed as a SIMPLE replacement. For me it was SO much better then trying to make a tiny insert and liner work in my pre-fab heatilator. Personally - I'd worry more about the pre-fab holding up. It's not a masonary fireplace - it's pure junk that most people just put a gas log set in for looks.

    If you are not already committed to the insert, you should really give the Zero Clearance Fireplace/wood stoves a look. My Kozyheat z42 was an exact match for my heatilator 42. The new HT flue was an exact match up the chase. Seriously, the install took about 15 minutes and you can't put a price on not worrying about the safety aspect of your set up.

    Good luck.

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