Insert Options for Small Fireplace

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TheNolano

New Member
Nov 12, 2019
3
Lebanon, nh
Hello Hearthers,

Recently moved from sunny south Florida to the frozen north of NH. We bought a great little 1900s home with 1+acres of forest and oil fueled radiator heating. I have been felling trees and seasoning wood and starting looking into inserts to offset the cost of oil. The issue is that the current masonry fireplace is very small, and I wanted the experts opinions on options. To preempt some questions, the fireplace is on our main floor, 700sqft, centrally located. Not enough room for a freestanding stove, even right in front of the fireplace, though I am not opposed to an insert that sicks out a bit. The insert would not be our primary source of heat, but would offset the oil and use the abundant resources we have anyways. Myself and my better half are quite experienced at home remodels, but have not working with fireplaces/chimneys before.

So on to the fireplace (pictures attached).
Front opening is 27in wide and 25in tall (another 1in in the middle of the arch), and 20in deep. There is an aggressive taper and the back is 19in wide and 13in tall, with a long angle forwards. There is what looks to be a metal heatform in place contiguous with a metal damper. There is a second flue inside the chimney to the left of the fireplace for the oil burner in the basement, and it does not join the fireplace flue. There is what appears to be an oval/rectangular chimney liner with top cap that was inspected at the time of purchase and passed.

So obviously I am dealing with a tight space. Looking at inserts, I was leaning towards the Supreme Fusion 18. It would be tight, but I think it would fit, and if I need to shave off 1/2in on either side of brick I believe I can (though I do not know how far the lintel extends on either side). I am not sure if the firebox itself could be opened much, given the second flue on the L. I have no brand preference on inserts and simply found the fusion while looking for small ones. Another option I saw was the Alterra Ci1250, though that one doesn't seem to taper back like the Fusion, which may be an issue, unless I remove the heatform I suppose.

So my questions to you fine folks,

1. Do you think the fusion 18 could fit? Are there other inserts that might work.
2. Is it worth sawzalling/grinding out the heatform that is in place to maybe get some more width (I presume I need to remove the damper either way)
3. Would there be any possibility of extending the current firebox to accommodate a larger insert? I assume this is a bit outside of DIY territory. I mentioned it to the chimney sweep when the place was inspected, and he didn't think it was likely, but said his company did not do masonry work.
4. I presume with an insert there would be no way to keep the ash dump? I imagine they make less ash in the first place, but the basement ash trap is quite large and easy to clean currently.

Thank you in advance! Happy to answer any questions, and also happy for recommendations of contractors who may be interested in the upper valley NH/VT area.
 

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john26

Minister of Fire
Oct 27, 2008
544
Wildwood MO
look at the Lopi Answer and 1250I both small along with the Buck 18
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,580
South Puget Sound, WA
The IronStrike Striker (C160) insert also falls in this group.
Another alternative that might permit a larger heater would be to install a rear-vented, freestanding stove. The Hampton H300 with short leg kit) will fit.
 

TheNolano

New Member
Nov 12, 2019
3
Lebanon, nh
look at the Lopi Answer and 1250I both small along with the Buck 18
The IronStrike Striker (C160) insert also falls in this group.
Another alternative that might permit a larger heater would be to install a rear-vented, freestanding stove. The Hampton H300 with short leg kit) will fit.

Thanks for the advice guys, I really appreciate it.

The only issues I see with the units mentioned above is the very trapezoidal nature of my firebox. The above units all look like boxes, and require decent width at the back ( Lopi Answer 21-5/8, 1250i 23-5/8, The Buck doesn't list back width but it looks fairly rectangular, though shallow, Striker C160 23-1/2). I realize my original post doesn't really accentuate this. For reference this is a rough sketch of my firebox floorplan, from above


Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 5.48.19 PM.png


This seems to be the case with almost all inserts I've found (exception of the Supreme 18 so far), which makes sense since a box obviously maximizes firebox cuft

So my question is, how easy/practical would it be to remove the heatform and chisel out the masonry in back to make the box wider? That seems to be the only answer to get most of these inserts to fit. The chimney is exposed (ie I can see all 4 sides in my living room) so I think I would have plenty of room to expand the back of the fireplace, but is this safe? Is there any way to know for sure if those bricks in the back are essential to the structure of the chimney? Maybe that is a silly question, but I'd love your input.

Thank you again!
 
Last edited:

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,580
South Puget Sound, WA
Look at the depth of the stove. I think the Striker only has about 12? inches into the fireplace, The Answer is about 13".
 

TheNolano

New Member
Nov 12, 2019
3
Lebanon, nh
Look at the depth of the stove. I think the Striker only has about 12? inches into the fireplace, The Answer is about 13".

Thanks, that's a very good point. The Lopi answer says depth of 12 5/8. At 13in in, my width is about 22.5, so it looks like the answer should fit, if only just. Looks like that might be a decent option.

If I am already cutting out a hole in the heatform anyways at the top for the liner, would it make sense to go ahead and remove the whole thing to give me a bit extra room on the sides?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,580
South Puget Sound, WA
Without knowing how the fireplace was built I can't say. Some are built right and some masons cut lots of corners.
 
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john26

Minister of Fire
Oct 27, 2008
544
Wildwood MO
the Buck 18 is trapezoid shaped it tapers to the back not sure on actual size and the flu is pretty far back. My father and brother both stuffed them in small zero clearance fireplaces.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,580
South Puget Sound, WA
the Buck 18 is trapezoid shaped it tapers to the back not sure on actual size and the flu is pretty far back. My father and brother both stuffed them in small zero clearance fireplaces.
The 18 is the same size as the Striker and Answer. With the pinched rear end the Buck 74 could almost fit, but I think it is a bit too wide.