CUTTING/GRINDING BRICK IN FIREPLACE FOR BUCK 74 INSTALL

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Yakim

New Member
Nov 20, 2018
8
Ann Arbor
Greetings! Wonderful to discover this great forum. I've found a couple of threads dealing with my challenge, but it appears most of these other explorations of cutting/grinding brick were smaller in scope.

I have fallen in love with the Buck 74 as an install for the 15' masonry fireplace in our 1,600 sq foot Michigan house. Problem is, it is too big. The Buck 74 is 21-1/2" H x 27-5/8" W x 22-3/8" D. My fireplace is 27" H x 30" W x 21" deep.

The problem? My fireplace tapers toward the back, where it is 24" wide. The Buck is 26-3/8" wide at the back. My bricks also start to curve upward at the back, gently angling inward after reaching 18 inches in height. The Buck is 21-1/2" H. I've attached a couple pics.

My installer thinks he can cut out the bricks in order to insert the Buck. However, even flush with the back of the fireplace, it will extend out over the hearth, and the hearth itself is 3/8" higher than the floor of the fireplace. I assume I will need to put a steel plate or risers on the bottom of the insert so that it is flush with the hearth.

My hearth extends out 27" from the fireplace, so I think I have a little room to work with in terms of distance from combustibles.

My questions for the experts:
1. Is this even worth pursuing? I don't anticipate ever going back to a brick fireplace so am not concerned about aesthetics. I am concerned about the structural integrity of the chimney and/or lighting my house on fire.
2. I can't find any clear language in the Buck manual, but the website seems to imply that the minimum depth for the fireplace is 15". Perhaps this means that one can let the stove jut out onto the hearth? My fireplace is 26-3/8" wide at about 5 inches from the back. Could I simply jam the stove in as far as possible and build the trim around it? By my measurements, even sticking out 10" onto the hearth, the stove is 17" from the combustible wood floor.
3. If this is simply a bad idea, I'm looking at either the Enviro Venice 1700 or the Pacific Energy Super insert. Any one with experience of both want to weigh in on the one they prefer?

Thanks!
John
 

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Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
12,223
Southern IN
I think the 94 is similar, if not the same, as the 91 I had at my MIL's house (except the cat of course.) I took out a few bricks, and ground (with an angle grinder) the row below, at the back/top where it curved in like yours does, but I think you can just mount the surround at a different depth if you wanted, if you don't have front floor clearance issues. You would just have to drill some other pilot holes for the sheet metal mounting screws.
https://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/the-buck-stops-here-91-bay-heater-install-under-way.92228/
 
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Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
12,223
Southern IN
But since the sides of the stove angle in as you go further back, the sides and top of the surround may not match up along the outer edge if you move the surround back from the standard depth..you'd have to adjust or modify it somehow.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
88,845
South Puget Sound, WA
To level up the fireplace floor a sheet of cement board can be cut and fitted.

The alternative stoves are excellent options.
 

Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
12,223
Southern IN
The alternative stoves are excellent options.
Can you describe your house layout (open or chopped up with small rooms,) sq.footage to be heated (all of 1600,) levels, air-sealing and insulation to give a better idea of what your needs may be?
 
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Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
12,223
Southern IN
Looking at the manual, you need 16" floor protection in front of the door opening, if the hearth is up to spec. Not sure how you determine that, though..?
 

Yakim

New Member
Nov 20, 2018
8
Ann Arbor
Thanks for the feedback! It's a good thing I never pursued architecture, as the attached drawing demonstrates. But this rough sketch gives the layout of my house. It is a 1600 ft one-story ranch with a small front living room (200 ft) and three modest bedrooms. Built in 1956. The back bedroom and living area are a poorly insulated (and poorly built) addition with lousy windows. I've done what I can with draperies and a caulk gun. Given the choice between replacing the windows and getting a wood stove (something I've always wanted), the choice was easy.

I have good insulation in the roof and am saving up to replace the front door. We don't have central air, so no AC, just a gas boiler that heats radiant baseboard heaters in the main rooms. The boiler is old, but still runs well, and I have it cleaned annually.

The back bedroom and living area clearly draw all the warm air from the rest of the house. But we have little kids and even less space, so I've opted against a stove in the back living area. Plus, I'd really like to get heat down that hallway to the front two bedrooms, where my kids sleep. If I've learned anything at hearth.com, it is to look for as big a firebox as I can find, ideally one that takes logs both east-west and north-south.

My handyman skills are about on par with my drawing skills, but as I measure the back of my fireplace looking to match the 26-3/8" width of the Buck 74, it looks like that width goes all the way up to match the height of the stove at 21-1/2". In other words, the tapering toward the back is pretty uniform along the sides of the fireplace, and mostly right where it meets the back.

Because the living room is so small (and part of a popular racetrack for my kids), I was really hoping for a flush insert. When it started to look like the Buck 74 wouldn't fit, I started looking at the Enviro Kodiak and PE Super insert. But both of those protrude a good 8-9 inches onto the hearth.

Maybe the room (and my house) are small enough that a smaller firebox will still serve? Enviro's flush insert Cabello 1200 has a 1.85 ft. firebox. I was hoping to get overnight burns (one day, after lots of practice), and figured a 2.5 firebox was the only way to go. Maybe I should just go with a smaller insert?

Thanks again for your counsel here.
John
 

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Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
12,223
Southern IN
Sounds like you will need a fair amount of BTUs, until you can get the place tightened up. The PE Super looks like the smallest box. Would the Neo 2.5 fit? Looks flush. The Buck 94 fire box may be bigger than the 91, since it doesn't have the cat heat shield etc. I measured the 91 at about 3 cu.ft...they claim it is 4.4 but I guess that's with all the cat stuff taken out. ;lol I'm not sure how closely the PE boxes' usable space is to what they claim on the website..
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
88,845
South Puget Sound, WA
The OP is talking about the 2.6 cu ft Buck 74, not sure how the bigger Buck got into the conversation. As for the hearth, we'd need to see a picture of the fireplace. There may be a simple solution, TBD.

The PE Super would do the job and the Enviro Kodiak 1700 (or fancier Venice 1700) would also work well. A little carving of the brick to fit is ok. I wouldn't worry about the flush aspect if there is a solution to extending the hearth. An insert that projects a bit onto the hearth will convect better.
 

Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
12,223
Southern IN
The OP is talking about the 2.6 cu ft Buck 74, not sure how the bigger Buck got into the conversation.
I'm pretty sure that was due to a minor brain malfunction on my part. DOH! :rolleyes: Looks like it kicks out about the same heat on high, obviously for a shorter time at 2.6 cu.ft.
6" chimney, which is nice..
 
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Yakim

New Member
Nov 20, 2018
8
Ann Arbor
Thanks everyone for your feedback. Yes, I checked the Neo 2.5 and it is too big. I have a stone hearth that is 27" deep. Looking underneath from the basement, the stones appear to rest on white firebricks. So it looks like I can go 11" onto the hearth and still meet the minimum clearance, which is a good thing as the Kodiak 1700 extends 10" from the fireplace.

I think if given a choice between protruding wood stoves, I would pick the Buck 74 over the Kodiak, both for cost and personal aesthetics. But maybe if I can chip out even 2-3" from the back of the fireplace, I can bring the Buck within about 5 inches of the front of the fireplace.

I'll try posting a couple of pics this afternoon. Thanks again for your considered responses!
John
 

Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
12,223
Southern IN
I think if given a choice between protruding wood stoves, I would pick the Buck 74 over the Kodiak, both for cost and personal aesthetics.
Well, I'm guessing a lot of spouses across the land may have different aesthetic tastes than you. ;lol The Bucks do look pretty basic.
But I think a lot of people may be missing out on a good stove line. The 91 is really a masterpiece of simple, thoughtful design (leak-less welded-seam steel box, controllable boost air in addition to air-wash, good ash dump-hinged lid, large and off to one side, no bypass gasket, quality door latch, and so on.) It's also built like a tank. I would have a smaller Buck cat in this house in a heartbeat, if only they rear-vented for our masonry fireplace. :( I would guess the Buck non-cats would have similar quality but we haven't seen a lot of reports here so far..
 
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Yakim

New Member
Nov 20, 2018
8
Ann Arbor
I know! I was as surprised as anyone when she picked the buck over several fancy flush mounts I showed her. And the price played a big role, and mostly positive reviews on this site.

I remeasured the hearth and it is only 23”. But if I can get the 74 within 7” of the front, I should be okay. I’ve attached pictures of hearth and the white firebricks below it.

Installer comes later this week to see how much it will take to cut/grind bricks in such a way that we can get it nearly flush with the back.

Thanks again for the insights.
John
 

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Yakim

New Member
Nov 20, 2018
8
Ann Arbor
And am I correct in assuming that it is ok for the stove to rest flush with the brickwork? In all the manual pictures, there are a couple inches between the unit and the surrounding bricks.
Thanks.
 

Fordfam

New Member
Jan 19, 2019
2
45750
Hi, new here.. Any chance anyone can tell me how much clearance is needed behind the Buck 94? We are building a brand new home, and are trying to decide between the Buck 74zc or the 94nc. Major difference is the size... we like the 94nc best but after looking at the instructions online, it seems like it says the 94 needs to set 23" from the back wall, which would put it way out into the room. We are brand new at the wood insert life, so any help is appreciated. We do know we want Buck brand and non catalytic. Thanks!
 

Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
12,223
Southern IN

rwhite

Minister of Fire
Nov 8, 2011
1,800
North Central Idaho
I always find it hard to tell from a pic what can be removed and still maintain the structure. Not sure of the qualifications of your installer but my advice would be to make sure they know masonry or to have a Mason come look at it.
 

Yakim

New Member
Nov 20, 2018
8
Ann Arbor
Hi, new here.. Any chance anyone can tell me how much clearance is needed behind the Buck 94? We are building a brand new home, and are trying to decide between the Buck 74zc or the 94nc. Major difference is the size... we like the 94nc best but after looking at the instructions online, it seems like it says the 94 needs to set 23" from the back wall, which would put it way out into the room. We are brand new at the wood insert life, so any help is appreciated. We do know we want Buck brand and non catalytic. Thanks!

Hi Fordfarm,
Sorry so late in responding! Our clearances were tight too, with what I think I remember as 21 inches depth from the front of our fireplace to the rear, and narrower in the rear than the width of the Buck 74 by several inches at least. Our installer basically shaved out deep groves in the back corners. I trusted his judgement and it just looked visually like he was having no impact on the structure of the fireplace itself. The Buck still extends a good two inches onto the hearth (and the blower another four beyond that) but it really doesn’t feel intrusive, and getting as close to flush was a top priority for me. The main thing was making the hearth clearances and we have inches to spare thanks to a big hearth. I’ve attached a couple pics here and good luck! John
 

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