Can I just cover up Prefab Majestic ZC Fireplace with heat shield, then put wood stove in front?

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earthbelowus

New Member
May 12, 2016
7
Massachusetts
HI all,

We just moved in to our new house, and we're ready to convert our zero clearance wood burning fireplace insert to a nice radiant soapstone wood stove.

I'd really like to avoid removing the insert, because from what I can find online, that's a HUGE project that could involve ripping apart the walls, sometimes removing studs, sometimes cutting through the exterior siding, etc...

Here are some pics of our setup:

Front:
ch9c2PD.jpg

Side:
BkbPNve.jpg

Model of Prefab Fireplace:
cmGqZQH.png


Here's my dream scenario. Tell me if I'm truly dreaming, or if something like this is actually possible:

1. Remove the glass doors from the fireplace.
2. Drop a class A stainless flex chimney liner down the existing 7 inch B-Vent chimney.
3. Cover the fireplace with a heat shield of some kind (cement board, sheet metal, tin cieling tiles?).
4. Cut a hole in the heat shield, and run the pipe from the back of the stove to a bend going up to connect with the new chimney liner.
5. Put down a heat shield on the floor.
6. Place the wood stove in front.
7. Enjoy warmth on cold winter nights.

Illustration of concept:
r4k3U0L.jpg

Here are a few questions about this scenario:

1. Are you going to tell me I need to remove the fireplace? Please don't tell me I need to remove the fireplace.
2. Do you think I need to remove the mantle from the wall, or should I put a heat shield over it?

Info that might be helpful:
  • I want the stove as close to the wall as possible to reduce the foot print it occupies.
  • I'm thinking of the Woodstock Progress Hybrid, which says you can reduce the rear clearance to 7 inches if you add a heat shield accessory directly on the back of the stove.
  • The existing chimney goes up a wood chase built on the side of the house.
Thanks for your help!
 
Last edited:

webby3650

Master of Fire
Sep 2, 2008
11,133
Indiana
When it comes to a pre-fab fireplace like you have things can get complicated. Many people on here say it's a bad idea to alter a fireplace like this in any way. And will tell you not to.

You can drop an insulated liner down to a Tee and hook a stove to it. You will need to extend your hearth first though. Make sure it's ok with your insurance company before you do anything.
For the record, you don't have B vent chimney on that fireplace. If it were B vent then you could not do this.
 

madison

Minister of Fire
As above, plus you are going to end up extending that hearth way more than your photoshop picture tends to portray.

I would at least get a reputable installer to estimate the removal and consider potentially a wood burner insert or fireplace which there are some recent conversations here.

ie: http://www.regency-fire.com/Products/Wood/Wood-Fireplaces.aspx
http://www.pacificenergy.net/products/wood/fireplaces/fp30-arch/
http://www.fireplacex.com/ProductGuide/ProductDetail.aspx?modelsku=98500113

I had at one time considered removing a prefab similar to your current situation and it was not (to him) such a big deal, "...sledge hammer and crow bar..." it received a gas insert per my wife's desires.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,254
central pa
Well I will start off by saying that the manual for your fireplace clearly states that you cannot modify the fireplace in anyway and cannot use any components with the fireplace not designed to go with the system. That being said I think you can safley install an insulated liner in it and set a stove infront of the fireplace as long as.

1. You fully inspect the entire system making sure it is in good working order and it was installed to manufacturers specs (many we inspect were not)

2. You do not block the airflow around the firebox or through the air cooled chimney in any way.

3. You extend the hearth and make sure it meets the required r value for the stove you will be installing.

4. You meet all required clearances to combustibles for that stove


And no you absolutely cannot put an insert in that fireplace. And what you have is not an insert it is a prefab fireplace commonly known as a zero clearance fireplace (which is very misleading because it does need clearances to combustibles)
 

earthbelowus

New Member
May 12, 2016
7
Massachusetts
Update:

Thanks for the helpful replies. I called a few installers in the area, and they all said that my idea (adding a hearth pad, running a flex liner down existing chimney, then putting in a tee connector, then some double-wall pipe to back of wood stove in front of the existing fireplace) was technically fine, but none of them would do it for me due to liability issues, since technically it would constitute "altering a tested and listed solid fuel appliance and changing it into and unlisted and un-tested installation".

So it looks like we have to remove the prefab fireplace altogether, and get to a clean slate before installing a wood stove.

I've searched all over this forum, and only found a few instances of users successfully removing a prefab fireplace. It seems like this would be a more comment job. Why is it so hard to find information about how to dot his properly? Can anyone offer me advice?

It seems like I have three options:

Option A: Removal from living room

1. Take a pry bar to the mantle and pull it off the wall
2. Take a hammer to the wall tile surrounding the fireplace
3. ???
4. Remove prefab fireplace

Option B: Removal from outside:

1. Cut hole in exterior siding
2. ???
3. Remove prefab fireplace

In both scenarios, what's that missing step? Is the fireplace typically bolted to studs? Can I just unscrew the thing or will I have to remove the studs its attached to? Will I need special metal cutting tools to literally cut the thing out?

What do I do with the existing chimney? Do you think the weight of it is supported by the fireplace, and will it fall down if I remove the fireplace? It's 7 inches. Can I add a liner to that chimney, or will I need to take the whole thing out and put in a new one?

I'm trying to stay optimistic about all this. We'd really like to have wood stove heat in place before winter comes, and I'm eager to get cracking with whatever plan we come up with, but I'm hitting a wall in what I'm able to research myself. There seems to be a serious lack of information about how to do this online. Would really appreciate any help! If it's sledge hammer time, I'm ready!
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,254
central pa
I've searched all over this forum, and only found a few instances of users successfully removing a prefab fireplace. It seems like this would be a more comment job. Why is it so hard to find information about how to dot his properly? Can anyone offer me advice?

we do a few a year in fact we just did one last week. As far as how to do it there are many different ways and it will depend on what your final plan is. If you are going to do an alcove with a freestanding stove in it then I would just remove the mantel then cut out the drywall. From there you will be able to see how it was attached and just remove it by disconnecting the chimney and pulling it out the top. Then detach the box from the studs and pull it out. Then you need to figure out what size alcove you need ect and alter the framing to suit. If you are installing a new zc unit the existing one can be taken out piece by piece from the from or the chase opened up from the back it all depends on your specific situation. And it is hard to tell what would be right for your situation without seeing it in person. What is the finish on the outside of the chase? If it is vinly siding then pulling the siding and cutting a hole from the back is probably the easiest and cleanest option.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
96,417
South Puget Sound, WA
You might try to have a certified sweep install the stove instead. This is not an uncommon installation. But first figure out what will work. The limiting factor to be concerned about is height of the lintel. The stove flue outlet needs to be a bit below this which limits options in stove choice.

Otherwise, turning the ZC cavity into an alcove is another possibility. This does not need to disturb the exterior, except possibly for the crown cap if the chimney diameter is much smaller than the current fireplace's. Search on alcove installation here for some examples of this type of installation. For an alcove installation the primary factor to watch out for are clearances. Often a squarer, less wide stove is an easier fit. How wide is the exterior chase for the ZC fireplace?
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,254
central pa
You might try to have a certified sweep install the stove instead. This is not an uncommon installation. But first figure out what will work. The limiting factor to be concerned about is height of the lintel. The stove flue outlet needs to be a bit below this which limits options in stove choice.
Well technically if a certified sweep is following the recommendations of csia or nfi they should not do it. We have done a few in certain situations but in general we will not do that type of install at all. The only way we will is if we can fully inspect every part of the system and verify proper clearances of every component and be sure that all of it is in good shape. And even then we are very cautions about it. I can only think of 2 such installs we have done and one of them was inside a masonry structure.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
96,417
South Puget Sound, WA
Seems to be a personal choice. I know of at least one local Jotul dealer that does this type of install in prefabs as long as they are not modifying the ZC. Of course all of the normal stove hearth and clearance requirements still apply.
 

webby3650

Master of Fire
Sep 2, 2008
11,133
Indiana
Seems to be a personal choice. I know of at least one local Jotul dealer that does this type of install in prefabs as long as they are not modifying the ZC. Of course all of the normal stove hearth and clearance requirements still apply.
We have dozens and dozens of these installs out there working just fine.

I would find someone with common sense that would do the install.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,254
central pa
Seems to be a personal choice. I know of at least one local Jotul dealer that does this type of install in prefabs as long as they are not modifying the ZC. Of course all of the normal stove hearth and clearance requirements still apply.
Yes but you are modifying it when you take the damper out and that in and of it self voids the ul listing unless it is allowed in the manufacturers instructions. And just because some dealers do it does not make it right. I know a harman dealer that will still do slammer installs
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,254
central pa
I would find someone with common sense that would do the install.
Common sense tells me if the manufacturer of the fireplace forbids it and my certifying organization forbids it by doing so I am opening my self up to a huge mess of liability. Which is why we do so few. And if it was all up to me we would do none.
 

webby3650

Master of Fire
Sep 2, 2008
11,133
Indiana
But the manufacturers of the liner and the stove say it's ok? Just speaking in general terms here.. Ya, the fireplace manufacturer didn't spend the money to test their product to be used along with other products that they don't profit from. The stove/insert manufacturer tests it and approves it to be used in a pre-fab fireplace and the liner manufacturer approves their liner to used inside a prefab chimney. But all of this still isn't approved by sweeps and the CSIA? It makes sense that the fireplace manufacturer wouldn't "approve" it, there's no money in it for them. I think is referred to as "bureaucratic bs"
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,254
central pa
The stove/insert manufacturer tests it and approves it to be used in a pre-fab fireplace and the liner manufacturer approves their liner to used inside a prefab chimney.
And do they test them in all zc units? Do they test them in 20 year old units? And if you notice all of them require their products be installed in a ul listed appliance. Well as soon as you violate the installation instructions of that zc unit by removing the damper of grate it is no longer a ul listed appliance. This means you are not following the instructions of any of the products and if anything happens every bit of liability will fall directly on you. If you are willing to take that risk it is up to you but I for one am not.

And that is exactly the reason CSIA says not to do it.
 

webby3650

Master of Fire
Sep 2, 2008
11,133
Indiana
Even down to the grate? Wow...
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,254
central pa
Even down to the grate? Wow...
Read the instructions and the ul listings. I agree it is silly but it is in the listings and almost all of the instructions.
 

webby3650

Master of Fire
Sep 2, 2008
11,133
Indiana
And do they test them in all zc units? Do they test them in 20 year old units? And if you notice all of them require their products be installed in a ul listed appliance. Well as soon as you violate the installation instructions of that zc unit by removing the damper of grate it is no longer a ul listed appliance. This means you are not following the instructions of any of the products and if anything happens every bit of liability will fall directly on you. If you are willing to take that risk it is up to you but I for one am not.

And that is exactly the reason CSIA says not to do it.
I know all this stuff. It just does not make sense to tell someone you can't do it a lot of the time. But in a sue happy world you gotta cover your ass.

I've been on 2 that burned a big hole in their house with the ZC fireplace, a stove would have been safer for these folks!
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,254
central pa
I've been on 2 that burned a big hole in their house with the ZC fireplace, a stove would have been safer for these folks!
In some cases yes it may be. But if you installed a stove in them and there was still an issue who do you think their insurance company would be going after? I am positive it would not be the liner or insert manufacturer. I am not willing to risk my business or my reputation on something that I know is a huge liability risk. I also am not willing to risk the safety of my customers on a system that is not properly tested. I agree it may be fine but I am not in a position to make that determination. The zc manufacturer who says not to do it is on the other hand.

http://www.manualslib.com/manual/1000370/Majestic-Rc36.html?page=2#manual

Read page 2 of the manual that covers the zc in question and tell me how you can justify completely disregarding those very clear instructions saying you cant do this.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
96,417
South Puget Sound, WA
I got the same arguments with direct emails to csia. The primary concern was litigation. Lawyers trump common sense.
 
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webby3650

Master of Fire
Sep 2, 2008
11,133
Indiana
I got the same arguments with direct emails to csia. The primary concern was litigation. Lawyers trump common sense.
I could only get emails answered if they wanted more money from me...
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,254
central pa
I got the same arguments with direct emails to csia. The primary concern was litigation. Lawyers trump common sense.
I agree it is all about liability but being a pro and a partner in the business I need to be very aware of
the liability we are exposing our self's to. And this just is not worth the risk.
 

webby3650

Master of Fire
Sep 2, 2008
11,133
Indiana
We were sued last year after a customer had a flue fire that spilled out onto the roof. Inspectors said the installation met and exceeded clearances. Called it a lack of maintenance. Insurance still paid out on it! Our insurance went up!
Another job the insulator blew in cellulose over the insulation shield burrying the pipe 3' up, they had a flue fire that caught the insulation on fire. We were sued and insurance paid out... Moral of the story, you will be sued at some point in this line of work. Each time, everyone involved was sued, everyone's insurance paid out and raised rates.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,254
central pa
We were sued last year after a customer had a flue fire that spilled out onto the roof. Inspectors said the installation met and exceeded clearances. Called it a lack of maintenance. Insurance still paid out on it! Our insurance went up!
Another job the insulator blew in cellulose over the insulation shield burrying the pipe 3' up, they had a flue fire that caught the insulation on fire. We were sued and insurance paid out... Moral of the story, you will be sued at some point in this line of work. Each time, everyone involved was sued, everyone's insurance paid out and raised rates.
Yes but if it is found you were negligent you will get dropped by your insurance and good luck getting another company to cover you. And by the way we are very careful about what liability we expose our selves to and is 42 years of business we have been sued once. And the judge found in our favor.
 

webby3650

Master of Fire
Sep 2, 2008
11,133
Indiana
We do 300-400 installs a year. Typically a liner or a full chimney system with each install, either gas or wood. After 47 years, 3 times isn't bad I don't guess.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
30,254
central pa
No 3 times after 47 years is not bad either the way you said it it sounded like you were sued more than that my apologies for assuming that. We do roughly 200 liners or chimney installs and many more cleanings a year.
 
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