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Replacing a prefab fireplace

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by maiwalhe, Oct 30, 2006.

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  1. maiwalhe

    maiwalhe New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Messages:
    16
    Hello Everybody,

    my name is Heiko and I am new to this forum and pretty inexperienced when it comes to fireplaces and stoves.
    I have a prefab open wood-burning fireplace that the builder installed. I would like to make it more efficient and use it as
    a serious heat source in my house. I thought the easiest thing to do is to put a wood-burning insert in and be done with it.
    Well it turns out nothing in life is that easy. I went to two local shops and they both told me that they don't have any inserts
    that are approved for a prefab fireplace and that can not be done.
    One thing I can do is take out the prefab box completely and replace it with a high efficiency wood-burning fireplace.
    Now my question is, has anybody done this before and what are the pitfalls along the way? I know I need to put a SS
    liner in my flu, but besides this are there other things that might make this project fail?

    Thanks for your advice.
    Have a nice day.
    -Heiko

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  2. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,101
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    Quick answers....and you will find other info here, the wiki, etc.

    1. You probably can find an insert to fit it - you should line the flue if you put an insert in it - it must be an insert designed to fit.
    Shop around for sizing on the net if you like - that way you will know more than the dealers by the time you go to buy.

    2. If you are going to replace it, you must rip BOTH the unit and the chimney out. A built-in unit can then be installed along with a new class A metal chimney. You cannot use the existing chimney in any way, even lined.
  3. maiwalhe

    maiwalhe New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Messages:
    16
    Wow there is just one surprise after the other.
    When you say replace the chimney what does that mean.? Excuse for my lack of knowledge but I thought the chimney is just a
    metal pipe inside a framed support structure. So when you say replace the chimney, does that mean one pipe comes out
    and a new one goes in or does the framing have to be ripped apart and rebuild? I would not want to do the latter.
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,101
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    Means that pipe comes out 100% along with fireplace and new pipe goes in. Framing should be fine since new pipe is most likely smaller than existing.
  5. DonCT

    DonCT Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2005
    Messages:
    609
    Loc:
    Bristol, Connecticut
    I had an existing prefab, also known as a Zero Clearance fireplace, and was in the same situation as you. You will find your options are limited as to the inserts you can place into your ZC. They are out there, but it really depends on the size of your ZC.

    Please see this thread by Warren. He placed an Osburn 1800i into his ZC: http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/98/

    Another option is the higher efficiency fireplace. Fireplace Xtrordinaire is a good example of these. They are alittle more pricey, but they maintain the "fireplace" look. You may have some clearance issues with these, as they tend to be alittle bigger than a ZC, and they may not fit into the same framing.

    The option I chose was to rip out the ZC and install a wood stove. There are several ways of laying it out, but I chose to build an alcove. Once again, you will need to pay attention to clearance to combustibles in this type of installation.

    As for the chimney, I'm not sure if you could get away with just lining it. Perhaps some of the other forum members could speak to this. For my stove, I removed all the old pipe and installed new Class A double walled pipe. It wasn't the cheapest solution, but it sure helps me sleep better at night, and I have no issues with draft on the stove.

    I hope this helps alittle. Welcome to the forums!!! Stick around and enjoy the warmth of the company :)
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