Debating installing Regency i1150

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New Member
Jan 11, 2024
Lansing, Michigan
Hello everyone, brand new here and really just seeking advice to help me make a decision. I live in a small (1280 square foot, 2 floors) 1920s house that I bought in the late 90s. One of the things that most attracted me to the house when I bought it was its beautiful arched brick fireplace with a floor-level (open) hearth, and I love having fires. I've been having the same company sweep my chimney all this time and at one point they even rebuilt the top of the chimney and installed a chimney top damper. At no point did they ever tell me it was unsafe! I knew it was unlined brick but thought that was normal for an old fireplace if not ideal. But recently they came out to sweep, it was a newer guy and he told me my chimney can't be used since it's unlined and he declared my fireplace condemned! He said it was very unsafe. I was shocked. No one had ever told me this before and I'd had it for 20+ years! I asked about installing a liner and he said it was a bad idea. He then tried to sell me a ventless gas insert which I did not want. I told him I had to have wood, but he said the smallest wood insert would not fit my chimney.

On to Act 2. I called a different company to ask to get the chimney lined, and the guy who came out spent a lot of time carefully considering it and measuring things and eventually said it could be done but because of something about how my chimney was constructed originally (I don't quite understand what he told me about it), it would be difficult. He almost tried to talk me out of it; I could tell he didn't think it was my best choice. What he thought I should do instead was install a woodburning insert. I told him the other guys told me that was impossible and he said they were wrong, and that he could fit a Regency i1150. He strongly recommended this, said it would be safer than the liner and "it'd probably heat your house. " I knew nothing about woodburning inserts and have never seen one in use. But when he showed me the brochure and explained how it would look I told him "no way" because it would cover up my beautiful arched bricks. He then said that he could cut a custom arched surround to allow the arch to still show. That made it more palatable so I said I'd think about it.

I ended up with two estimates, and the one for the insert is a little less expensive. At first I was attracted to this idea because the old fireplace admittedly brought no heat into the room. I LOVE the vibe of having a fire and feeding it wood all day on a cold day, but you have to sit right in front of it for it to feel warm at all, plus I have to open the front door for the first 10 minutes to start it drawing and during that time I'm obviously letting a bunch of cold air into the house so I know it's actually costing me in terms of my (gas) furnace. I also really like knowing that the insert is much more efficient and produces less air pollution. So I was leaning toward that, but then my dad immediately freaked out and started trying to talk me out of it. He thinks it will ruin the aesthetics of my fireplace, that it won't be like having a real fire, and that it will make the room too hot. For context, my Dad has a freestanding wood stove in his house which he installed because he couldn't have a fireplace, and he just about never uses it anymore, so I can tell he was disappointed by it. I've found it perfectly pleasant to look at when I've been there but I admit it does make the room too hot.

Now, I'm under no illusions that the little insert I can install would actually heat my house. The brochure says 600-1200 square feet, which is a little short of my 1280. However, I figure that it would at least mean my main furnace could do less work while the fireplace is going. I'd need to do something about my thermostat though, as it is currently right next to the fireplace. I don't want to end up with one hot room and the rest of the house icy cold.

So I've been going back and forth on liner vs. insert for a week or so now and need to decide soon. I miss having a fire!! The main things that I'm thinking of are, the insert would be a better/safer installation and would be much more efficient and warm up the living room; but the open hearth is so pretty, and I love a big cracking fire. Also, I can find almost no reviews of the i1150 online and have not been able to see one on display to get a sense of what it would actually look like. The few comments I can find about the i1150 are all about how obnoxiously loud the blower is. Since it's going to be in my living room near my TV, I don't want something that is going to annoy me like that. If it's about as loud as listening to my gas furnace blowing then that's fine but if it's overpowering the room that would probably mean I'd never run the blower, which then makes it kind of pointless.

I know this was very long but I've been chewing over this like crazy in my mind and any thoughts you have would be appreciated, especially if anyone has this Regency or a similar one.