Convert freestanding stove to insert?

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This is an idea I'm toying with for the future, and yes I know this is opposite from the usual scenario, but has anyone converted a masonry hearth/chimney with a freestanding stove to accept an insert? I'm going to renovate the living room in the future and also the hearth area. I was thinking about saving some space with a flush mounted insert but no idea how crazy of a job this would be. The arched storage areas are 18 inches deep and the actual chimney extends to the base of the hearth and there is an old clean out there (hidden behind pedestal in pics). So it's already partially hollow behind the stove and I'm pretty sure I have the space for an insert. The other thing is that I have a short chimney and an insert would eliminate the 2 90 degree bends I have (elbow and the tee section) so I could go straight up and have better draft. Plus I gain additional floor space and like the clean look of the flush insert.

Here's a few pics:



 
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Grisu

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2010
4,121
Chittenden, VT
When you say "masonry hearth" do you mean a masonry fireplace? Could you maybe post some pics? That should help tremendously.
 

bag of hammers

Minister of Fire
Jan 7, 2010
1,447
Northern ON
I dunno - this is of course no help to you, but IMHO there's so much character there now - not sure I would change a thing.
 

Dave A.

Minister of Fire
Mar 17, 2013
614
SE PA
I dunno, I have these photos saved from when you originally posted them, because this is one of the nicest looking settings for a freestanding woodstove I've ever seen. This was designed by an artist. And you want to tear out the niches and the semicircular hearth and put in a fireplace, with an insert which won't heat as well. Each to their own taste.
 

Nick Mystic

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2013
1,119
Western North Carolina
I suppose it could be done with enough money, but with such an elegant set up for your stove it would be a shame to mess with such a beauty.
 

becasunshine

Minister of Fire
Dec 10, 2009
706
Coastal Virginia
If you put a soapstone stove there I promise to come back to this thread and sit here in utter, unmitigated envy. (We are in the early planning stages for a soapstone stove in the house to which we hope to retire.)

That's a gorgeous hearth.

Redo the whole room. Leave the hearth. :)
 

becasunshine

Minister of Fire
Dec 10, 2009
706
Coastal Virginia
Coming back to this, with a little more time at this moment:

If you are looking to "update," swap out the brass coach light fixtures for more modern sconces. Or, you could eliminate the light fixtures completely, and place art either hung above the two mantels, or sitting on the mantels. Track lighting with spots aimed at the art on the mantels would look sharp. Paint the cabinets on either side, or swap out the doors for a more updated design, or both. You could paint the brick if you are looking for a more contemporary look. I don't know what sort of style change you seek, but I'm hearing you say that you like the clean lines of a flush insert. If you simply want more floor space, nothing is going to fix that except tucking the wood burner back into the hearth/fireplace. I don't know much about wood stoves or wood stove inserts, but pellet stove inserts are more difficult to maintain. If it's a matter of getting cleaner lines, you can work with what you have for a more modern, contemporary look without a lot of demolition.

Those brick arches can speak to a lot of different styles.

If you really need the floor space, perhaps a niche for the stove would allow you to keep a free-standing stove and also free up floor space. I don't know how wood stove niches work with clearances and building code, though.

i r in yr hoouzz, decorating yr rooom... :)
 

Grisu

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2010
4,121
Chittenden, VT
Thanks for the pics; that is really an "one-of-a-kind" hearth setup. I am wondering, too, whether just putting a nicer stove there in cast-iron or soapstone will improve the look of it. Or changing the whole setup to a custom-made masonry heater?! Just dreaming. :)

Anyway, I think it would be good to first get a (chimney-) mason in to evaluate whether your plan of just putting a big hole and base for the insert behind the stove works. It may interfere with the structural integrity of the chimney. Then I would probably wait until spring, remove the stove and do some photoshopping of inserts in there to see if the look is really what you want. I have the feeling an arched insert may work best like this one: http://www.fireplacex.com/ProductGuide/ProductDetail.aspx?modelsku=99800177
In the same way you can also look if another stove (T5 Alderlea, maybe?) will already improve the hearth enough for your taste. Worst case, you can just put the Super back there.

I am curious how it will pan out. Please keep us posted if you do any changes.
 

Hogwildz

Minister of Fire
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Cynnergy

Feeling the Heat
Oct 15, 2012
451
Coast, BC
If it were possible, and not compromise the structural integrity of the masonry, I would put a nice flush insert higher up say 2' to 3' high.
+1.

I also like the suggestion of a nice rear-vented enameled cast iron stove there. Nick Mystic's is a beaut.
 

Hogwildz

Minister of Fire
The links I posted are actually the new PE fireplaces. The do have the same firebox as the Summit insert & freestanders. But it is a fireplace.
 

becasunshine

Minister of Fire
Dec 10, 2009
706
Coastal Virginia
Grisu: "Or changing the whole setup to a custom-made masonry heater?!" OOOH! Nice idea! We just saw a couple of these at the Wood Stove Decathlon- we were quite impressed. Sooo waaarm...

Hogwildz: "If it were possible, and not compromise the structural integrity of the masonry, I would put a nice flush insert higher up say 2' to 3' high. Would look cool with the insert appearing to float up on the wall." Also a great idea- quite unique, would make a statement, and would also be easier to maintain, I would guess, than a stove at floor level.

So many cool ideas. :)

We r all n yr houuzz, decorating yr room... :) :) :)
 

Oregon aloha

Feeling the Heat
If it were mine and I had to make more floor space. I would have the mason put a third arch between the two you have now and place the new stove in the cavity. Replacing your currant free standing stove for one that is built to be an insert or a freestanding stove, so the projection of heat is more forward. Codes are to constables. A wood stove/insert can touch brick and still meet code.

My insert/freestanding stove sits back in the old fireplace fire box with the damper/smoke shelf removed. The chimney liner is going almost straight up. With all the thermal mass around the stove it heats even past the fire, I haven't felt the need to ever use a fan as most on this site with inserts do.
 
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Thanks for all the replies everyone. A few of you touched on what my wife and I are after with the living room - we like the country feel it has but want to update things to be more contemporary. We plan on tearing out the carpet and putting down laminate, replacing the brass lights with track lighting, updating the built in pine cabinets and I'd like to redo the brick semi circle hearth pad on the floor and replace with some flush tile and not so big. I liked the idea of a flush mounted insert for the look and space saving but I never considered making a hole and getting a rear vented stove...that's a good idea.

I looked at the fireplace that Hogz posted above but it's huge! I've seen one in a local shop and it's massive...you can tie into existing ductwork with that fireplace...very cool. PE has some new stoves and inserts called the NEO line and I really like the clean look of those inserts.
 

bag of hammers

Minister of Fire
Jan 7, 2010
1,447
Northern ON
I'd like to redo the brick semi circle hearth pad on the floor and replace with some flush tile and not so big.
Sounds like you guys are really thinking through to something that ends up being your own 'personal" space. Just a word of caution on the above point i.e. "not so big" - my hearth is a lot more contemporary - almost looks like it came out of an SBI stove brochure / pic. Now the one regret I have is that it's too small and not really functional as I'd like. It's all up to code, looks nice IMHO, etc. - I do like it a lot, but it sure would be nice to be able to just drop a pile of splits near the stove without worry, spill some ash (not intentionally but it does happen), have some room to run the stove without worrying about dropping a split or a poker, shovel, etc. on the floor, or otherwise making a bit of a mess. Having room to park my butt right on the edge of the hearth, right by the stove, with a cold beer (maybe spill that too, not intentionally, but it does happen ;lol) - that would be great. You have that going on now. Not saying any changes (or the suggestions so far) are bad at all, just really liking what the current hearth has to offer in terms of all the above points, which I miss having here. All without being an eyesore by any stretch.

I'm sure you guys will do it up awesome. Take your time to find the right balance. Good luck with everything....
 
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becasunshine

Minister of Fire
Dec 10, 2009
706
Coastal Virginia
Oregon Aloha, that's a very attractive dog you have in front of your stove. :) <:3~
 
Hey guys! I'm posting an update on this for more advice...and please see my first post and pics above.

I called a local stove shop (very reputable place) and talked to them about what I wanted to do (above) and what my options are. First they said the same as some of you already - get a mason in there to look at things - admittedly I have not done this yet but it's in the works. Basically they told me that with regard to selling my house, I can't really use an insert because someone might expect an actual fireplace to be there if the insert was removed? As I said in my first post - I want to flush mount an insert or ZC FP at the bottom of the chimney. They told me I could definitely put a ZC fireplace there (like the PE FP30) but not an insert. I said I didn't care about the fireplace resale thing because I would simply disclose it if I ever sell. But they said it still might not work for building code..anyone ever hear of this? They did say that an insert is designed to be put in a fireplace with brick behind and on all sides and no combustibles....and I was trying to say that's what i would have if I had a mason open up a hole! Of course I understand that a zero clearance is insulated and would be more suitable....and please don't get me wrong I'm not opposed to the zero clearance thing either. It's just a money thing to be honest....insert is much cheaper. Any further thoughts? Or maybe I'm missing something?
 

BrotherBart

Modestorator
Staff member
I do know that around here when you sell a house you end up having to bring things up to building code compliance. My neighbor has been trying to bring his 30 years of DIY stuff up to where he can put his house on the market for a year now. While making two house payments.
 
Thanks BB - I talked to my local dealer again and a fireplace insert is "certified for installation in an existing code compliant fireplace"...which I don't have so the insert idea is out. I still like the look of a ZC model the best but this requires a really big reno plus I'll get better heating from a freestanding and the ability for more heat when the power goes out. So at this point I'm having the structure looked at to see if we can create some type of alcove for the stove and still get it moved back and out of the room a bit, then we can upgrade stoves in the future to something that fits the decor better when we reno the living room.
 

Grisu

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2010
4,121
Chittenden, VT
So at this point I'm having the structure looked at to see if we can create some type of alcove for the stove and still get it moved back and out of the room a bit, then we can upgrade stoves in the future to something that fits the decor better when we reno the living room.
I like that idea. Something similar to this, just with a stove on one side? http://www.parsegallery.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/traditional-family-room-with-brick-wood-burning-prefab-fireplace-and-chocolate-sofa.jpg
 
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