Can I even fit an insert in here without a total remodel?

DetroitReds

New Member
Nov 16, 2018
8
Detroit, MI
Looking to put new insert in existing fireplace opening. Our house was built in 1913, about 1600 sq ft in Detroit, MI with minimal insulation and radiators that actually are quite lovely. I believe we can heat the whole first floor no problem, don't really know how temps will be affected on second floor. Attic is unfinished w/ insulation in the floor. This living room isn't huge - maybe 15'x20'.
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There are 3 issues with my existing opening as I see it:
1. Width: I know that I need to cut my opening wider to fit any insert. Have a quote for a fairly simple job to enlarge to whatever size and cut straight back.
2. Height: existing opening is very tall - nearly 32" from floor. I don't expect to put a massive insert in here, and don't want a huge oversize surround that will dwarf the unit. Otherwise, I'm wondering if we'll need to build a raised hearth, which is a whole other story (and probably rules out our budget for this in the immediate future).
3. Depth: existing is just about 14.5". The Enviro Venice 1200 is one of the only units I've found that MIGHT fit in that depth. I've looked at Enviro, Regency, Napoleon, Osburn, Hearthstone, etc...just starting to pick through Jotul and Pacific Energy links and I have not found anything successful yet. Is it feasible to cut back into fireplace to make it deeper?

Or any other input on questions I should be asking? Trying to be prepared for talking with contractors. Yes, I wish I had done all my research in the spring or summer. Oops.

Right now, top contenders are Enviro Venice 1200, PE Super, BK Sirocco, Regency CI2600, and maybe Hearthstone Morgan. Any obvious units I'm overlooking?

Thanks helpful people! Just discovered the forum and am soaking up everything I can read! IMG_1238.JPG IMG_1239.JPG IMG_1240.JPG IMG_1242.JPG IMG_1243.JPG IMG_1244.JPG
 
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SculptureOfSound

Feeling the Heat
Sep 9, 2017
372
Wisconsin, USA
the VC Montpelier is only about 14.5 deep when installed with the 3 inch extension kit. I've got one and really like the insert - huge viewing area and good heat. I just installed this year and haven't got to fully test it yet but when it was about 30 degrees out I could heat all 1650 SF of our house.
 

woodhog73

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2016
780
Somewhere cold !
Personally I would put a freestanding stove out in front.

Pick the stove first, and then you will know how high you can make the hearth.

The only modification that the fireplace absolutely needs is a blockoff plate for the old flue.
I was thinking the same thing. I didn’t want to be the first to say it because I’m definitely not an expert. But a freestander with a back vent and a 90 degree angle with the stove pipe going up the chimney. Based on the pictures you posted I think it would look awesome. And the free stander will give you a lot more radiant heat. And you can get a good size free stander. Not sure if you can pull that off with your hearth but that the direction I would look into.
 

Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
12,160
Southern IN
Personally I would put a freestanding stove out in front.
Agreed. 32" isn't all that tall, but I think there are a few stoves that would fit, and rear-vent into the fireplace opening for a nice, clean look (mine is kinda hillbilly.) ;lol
An east/west loader wouldn't come out real far from the fireplace opening. Mine is <20". My lintel is 28.75", and I've 1-2" to spare with this stove.

20181116_170037~2.jpg
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,556
central pa
Another thing to check is do you have room for an insulated 6" liner in the chimney. Many chimneys for coal fireplaces like that were pretty small
 
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jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
4,720
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
I was thinking the same thing. I didn’t want to be the first to say it because I’m definitely not an expert. But a freestander with a back vent and a 90 degree angle with the stove pipe going up the chimney. Based on the pictures you posted I think it would look awesome. And the free stander will give you a lot more radiant heat. And you can get a good size free stander. Not sure if you can pull that off with your hearth but that the direction I would look into.
I'm also not an expert, but I do like to talk about stoves on the Internet!

I missed that the OP lives in Detroit, so he's possibly not looking to heat with wood full time. An insert does take up less floor space.

If he does go with a freestander, he'll need to extend the existing hearth or put a new one on top of it. (If you rip out the old hearth, see if your chimney is made of those odd sized bricks, and save them if it is- might need them for chimney repairs later!)
 

jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
4,720
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
Another thing to check is do you have room for an insulated 6" liner in the chimney. Many chimneys for coal fireplaces like that were pretty small
I had never even heard the phrase "coal fireplace" before just now, so I googled it. I guess I've never lived in coal country, because not only have they been around a long time, but you can even buy gas fireplace inserts that look like an open coal fire.

http://www.oldandinteresting.com/fireplaces.aspx
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,556
central pa
I had never even heard the phrase "coal fireplace" before just now, so I googled it. I guess I've never lived in coal country, because not only have they been around a long time, but you can even buy gas fireplace inserts that look like an open coal fire.

http://www.oldandinteresting.com/fireplaces.aspx
They were all over the country in the late 19th and early 20th century. The whole country was coal country then.
 
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DetroitReds

New Member
Nov 16, 2018
8
Detroit, MI
Hi all,
Thanks for input. Yes, old coal fireplace I'm told. I do love our original cast iron unit in there, but I'll pass on heating with coal thank you very much. Not trying to heat FT for sure, but hopefully make a dent in our heating bills.

Now it looks like I have to research 'block off plate' (never heard of it). Any leads? Also, yes I've been trying to get someone out here to look at chimney to see if I can get a liner down there. 3 no call, no shows so far this fall....

I haven't been looking at freestanding mostly because the room isn't too large, and 2 small children running around, plus dog plus cat etc etc. I also really don't want to put in new hearth to raise it up if I don't have to...but if that's what it takes then we'll just wait til the spring.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,556
central pa
Hi all,
Thanks for input. Yes, old coal fireplace I'm told. I do love our original cast iron unit in there, but I'll pass on heating with coal thank you very much. Not trying to heat FT for sure, but hopefully make a dent in our heating bills.

Now it looks like I have to research 'block off plate' (never heard of it). Any leads? Also, yes I've been trying to get someone out here to look at chimney to see if I can get a liner down there. 3 no call, no shows so far this fall....

I haven't been looking at freestanding mostly because the room isn't too large, and 2 small children running around, plus dog plus cat etc etc. I also really don't want to put in new hearth to raise it up if I don't have to...but if that's what it takes then we'll just wait til the spring.
It is way more work to enlarge that opening than it would be to make a hearth large enough for a freestanding stove. And no it doesnt hsve to be raised
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,934
South Puget Sound, WA
Welcome. You can not widen the opening by just cutting it back. An insert needs the proper amount of masonry surrounding it. Like bholler mentioned, a lot more work. You are up for a tough challenge due to the taper and narrow width of the fireplace. Instead of an insert consider putting in a freestanding stove like the Jotul 602 or a little Morso.
 
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DetroitReds

New Member
Nov 16, 2018
8
Detroit, MI
Ok! The masses have spoken! And a consensus is emerging! I'm back to the drawing board to research stoves now. And figure out the best fit that works around our opening.

Thank you all!
 

DetroitReds

New Member
Nov 16, 2018
8
Detroit, MI
Ok! The masses have spoken! And a consensus is emerging! I'm back to the drawing board to research stoves now. And figure out the best fit that works around our opening.

Thank you all!
I'm revisiting my post from nearly a year ago with updates and just a few more questions. Finally got a competent mason who is signing off on removing firebrick from the sides and back. He says max depth we can get is 16", and rear width is 23.5". Front width can be enlarged without altering lintel. I'm left searching for inserts (sorry, not gonna visit the freestanding stove route) that could fit - a number can meet the depth but not rear width, or vice versa. It seems that the Montlake 230 is the best option - Jotul Winterport could fit but these guys won't install what they don't deal :( and I'm frankly tired of looking for dealers that will handle masonry work as well.

The Montlake 230 is definitely smaller than I originally envisioned but not the end of the world considering we're going for supplemental heat. It calls for 6" flue diameter - I gather that insulated liners are much preferred on this forum, especially for exterior masonry chimneys. My quote is for uninsulated and I'd like to know if I should just get a quote for any insulated liner, or if there are specific questions I should be asking.

Also, regarding block off plate - I do not believe this company would do this work. Is it a horrible idea for me to consider doing this after the fact? Or do I really want to have it in place before unit slides in?
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,556
central pa
I'm revisiting my post from nearly a year ago with updates and just a few more questions. Finally got a competent mason who is signing off on removing firebrick from the sides and back. He says max depth we can get is 16", and rear width is 23.5". Front width can be enlarged without altering lintel. I'm left searching for inserts (sorry, not gonna visit the freestanding stove route) that could fit - a number can meet the depth but not rear width, or vice versa. It seems that the Montlake 230 is the best option - Jotul Winterport could fit but these guys won't install what they don't deal :( and I'm frankly tired of looking for dealers that will handle masonry work as well.

The Montlake 230 is definitely smaller than I originally envisioned but not the end of the world considering we're going for supplemental heat. It calls for 6" flue diameter - I gather that insulated liners are much preferred on this forum, especially for exterior masonry chimneys. My quote is for uninsulated and I'd like to know if I should just get a quote for any insulated liner, or if there are specific questions I should be asking.

Also, regarding block off plate - I do not believe this company would do this work. Is it a horrible idea for me to consider doing this after the fact? Or do I really want to have it in place before unit slides in?
Will you still have enough masonry left between the inside of the firebox and any combustible material? Of course some brick can be removed to give you more space. But that doesn't mean it will be safe to use after you do that.
 
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DetroitReds

New Member
Nov 16, 2018
8
Detroit, MI
Will you still have enough masonry left between the inside of the firebox and any combustible material? Of course some brick can be removed to give you more space. But that doesn't mean it will be safe to use after you do that.
Hmm. I'm not sure how to determine this. 16" is from front of wall to rear brick structure (w/o firebrick). My best understanding is from this appliance specifications sheet: http://ironstrike.us.com/system/document_files/files/000/001/778/original/900937-02_NC_IRN_Montlake_ML230GL_Wood_Insert_SPEC.pdf?1560265505

It says minimum depth for masonry fireplace is 15.5" -does the rear of a masonry fireplace INCLUDES firebrick? I was informed that we can get 16" after removing firebrick (14.5" before). My understanding was that firebrick can be removed and unit slid all the way back (well, with 1/2" to spare)> Are you saying that regular brick is a combustible material and I need more clearance behind the unit?
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,556
central pa
Hmm. I'm not sure how to determine this. 16" is from front of wall to rear brick structure (w/o firebrick). My best understanding is from this appliance specifications sheet: http://ironstrike.us.com/system/document_files/files/000/001/778/original/900937-02_NC_IRN_Montlake_ML230GL_Wood_Insert_SPEC.pdf?1560265505

It says minimum depth for masonry fireplace is 15.5" -does the rear of a masonry fireplace INCLUDES firebrick? I was informed that we can get 16" after removing firebrick (14.5" before). My understanding was that firebrick can be removed and unit slid all the way back (well, with 1/2" to spare)> Are you saying that regular brick is a combustible material and I need more clearance behind the unit?
No I am saying the masonry structure of your fireplace still needs to be a certain thickness to protect the combustible material past it. I believe the thickness is 8" with a firebrick lining or 10" without. Did he check the thickness of the walls before telling you this could be done?
 

DetroitReds

New Member
Nov 16, 2018
8
Detroit, MI
No I am saying the masonry structure of your fireplace still needs to be a certain thickness to protect the combustible material past it. I believe the thickness is 8" with a firebrick lining or 10" without. Did he check the thickness of the walls before telling you this could be done?
Ah, I believe I understand. No he did not check wall thickness - but there will still be at least 18" clearance on the sides. As this is an exterior chimney, in the rear is outside, as far as I understand.

Let me rephrase an earlier question in terms of how a supplemental heater is approaching the question of sealing a drafty fireplace while adding some heat. In your collective wisdom, in an insulated liner and block off plate essential for maximizing value when installing an insert? If it's too expensive/complicated given install perimeters, what is the likelihood we'll be disappointed with this unit? I know, completely subjective question but I thought I'd ask.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
4,321
Downeast Maine
I think it would be very disappointing compared to cost without a liner or block off plate, especially on an exterior fireplace/chimney. Is it OK if I ask why you won't consider a free standing stove? Morso and Jotul both make very small beautiful cast iron stoves. I have one myself.
 

DetroitReds

New Member
Nov 16, 2018
8
Detroit, MI
I think it would be very disappointing compared to cost without a liner or block off plate, especially on an exterior fireplace/chimney. Is it OK if I ask why you won't consider a free standing stove? Morso and Jotul both make very small beautiful cast iron stoves. I have one myself.
To note- we'll definitely be installing a liner- the question is the necessity of it being insulated. I am going to explore the stove route - I had mostly looking at flush inserts because our living room is small and I don't want anything protruding, but now I am reconsidering, especially if I can figure out a proper unit that will work without doing masonry work.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,556
central pa
To note- we'll definitely be installing a liner- the question is the necessity of it being insulated. I am going to explore the stove route - I had mostly looking at flush inserts because our living room is small and I don't want anything protruding, but now I am reconsidering, especially if I can figure out a proper unit that will work without doing masonry work.
Do you have the required clearance to combustibles from the outside of the chimney? If not you need insulation for safety and code compliance. And the performance gains are well worth it
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
4,321
Downeast Maine
I have noticed most new folks on this forum don't know that you can put a metal chimney pretty much anywhere. This really opens up the freestanding stove options.
 

DetroitReds

New Member
Nov 16, 2018
8
Detroit, MI
Well, another winter come and gone (and spring, and nearly summer). Here we are in Michigan still in the throes of a pandemic that won't be going away anytime soon. So it's time to revisit this thread!
You all are very right - bad, bad idea to do any masonry work, and makes much more sense to put in a rear venting free standing stove. Since I last checked out the forum, I missed the whole to-do with 2020 EPA regs, and apparently a bunch of stoves that might be good fits are off the market.
A brief recap: ~1600sqft victorian home, fireplace on first floor, southern Michigan, hoping to get as much supplemental heat as possible. I'm not sure if anything will fit inside existing opening, limited by 23.5" opening. Lintel is about 31"; I understand some free standers might be too tall where the rear vent is located, but those specs seem hard to come by. Plan to either block off around damper or steel plate in front of fireplace; will likely need to extend hearth in front, possibly heat shield under mantel as well.

Are there some good options that jump to mind that anyone might suggest? Jotul F500 is a contender, if the specs fit.

Is it 'safe' to assume that manufacturers' websites are up to date with options that meet 2020 regs?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,934
South Puget Sound, WA
The F500 got a pretty radical internal remodel for 2020. It is unknown how well this stove will stand up at this point. Early owners seem to like them, but we have no history on how the full-width cat is going to stand up. I'd be more inclined toward the Jotul F45 which had less major changes. The Woodstock Fireview would work if the Victorian styling is ok.
 
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