Jotul Rockland Installation in too shallow of a fireplace and with small flue

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justymikey

New Member
Jan 7, 2020
2
Minneapolis
Good evening Hearth community.

First, I want to thank you all for being such a wealth of information as I have been trying to figure out logistics of converting our fireplace into a wood insert. While I always wanted a wood burning fireplace... the practicality of how inefficient they are coupled with significant needed chimney repairs has made us consider an insert.

Where to start... How did we arrive at the Rockland? We went to several dealers and received all of the documentation for what each of them carried. I also read extensively on this forum for what people appreciate in inserts/stoves. Our main purpose in having an insert is to have it most closely resemble a regular fireplace while providing much more heat. This led us to look into flush mount inserts. That narrows the choices down considerably. Now given our shallow depth of fireplace (18" at 20" height), that further limits our choices. I gravitated toward the look and reputation of Jotul, and then also Lopi. Within those two manufacturers there are strictly only two flush mount inserts that will work: the wintperport, and the small hybrid. I kind of want to steer away from needing a catalytic converter so that left us with the winterport. Aye! but the fireboxes are sooooooo small and along with that the viewable area. We also considered the Kennebec as it can be placed on the hearth... but at its fullest extension we are short 0.5" on our hearth (along with not liking the aesthetics as much).

Ok so now my real questions pertain to how to make the Jotul Rockland work with our fireplace. I will go through each dimension and describe the challenge and then I am hoping that some of you might provide your insight on whether or not it will work.


Fireplace Depth
Required Fireplace Depth at 21 3/4: 18"
Existing Fireplace Depth at 21 3/4": 16" on right and 17" on left
How to make it work: Extend it onto the Hearth by 3" and use soapstone slabs to take up the extra room. I have a supply of soapstone that I can cut into the correct dimensions and refractory mortar them to essentially extend the firebox.

Concern: I only see people discussing how to cut out the back of their firebox and no real discussion about simply putting the insert onto the hearth a bit. Admittedly it does change the aesthetic a bit from being strictly flush mount, but I feel like it is a good option. I did see that one person had about a 1/2" to take up and somebody simply suggested putting aluminum in there or even leaving it open. I am curious what you all think.


Fireplace Width:
Required Fireplace Width: 33"
Existing Fireplace Width: 31"

My reading on this has indicate that the 33" is to accommodate the plug for the blower. I have seen that it sticks out by 1.5 inches, which would indicate that it would not quite fit into the space even if it was pushed all the way to one side. Now if I have it extended onto the hearth and I could have a cutout to accommodate this additional plug. However, what I would really like to do is to hardwire the blower fan instead of having it be a removable power cord. I can imagine there might be code issues with this or warranty voiding but really besides giving a potential buyer the ability to choose left or right, there is no reason it should be removable. Having it hardwired could save inches... Thoughts on all of this?

The hearth is 20" deep so even with eating up 3" of it, there is still sufficient hearth for the unit. The other dimensions have no problem.

Ok so then for the installation.

The guy who I had come out to give me a quote on installation said they would break out the damper ring to make room for the liner. I can understand this if you are trying to get it in place in an afternoon, but if you have some time to do things with finesse I feel like you should be able to guide it through. It is 7" wide so a 6" pipe shouldn't have a problem getting through. I have seen variable angle fittings that seem pretty slick. I have also looked to see that the insert connection would be in a position that would be amenable to directing a pipe through the damper opening. When the insert is 3" out it would align quite well, if it had to sit flush there would be no way not to break up the back of the firebox. I would like the option of returning to an open fireplace if I ever wanted to so not breaking up the back would be nice. Is your experience such that given enough time, you can get a liner through without breaking things out?

Now the liner is yet another conundrum. We have flue tiles that are 7x11" and to most properly install everything, I would like it to be insulated. I would like the piece of mind that my liner was a true zero-clearance liner so I didn't have to worry about my 100 year old chimney not being up to modern code. So this necessitates a oval liner. I have read and looks into duraliner and it seems like a pretty good option. I have 8 flue tiles (16") and then there is a jog to the right to come down into the firebox. I can look straight up the chimney, but there will still need to be bends to get the liner centered. I believe any installer will simply put in a 6" uninsulated liner and call it good and they do this all the time and pass inspections so it seems like it might be somewhat fine. I also know that installing liners yourself can void their warranty (whatever that useful warranty is). I would kind of like to pay somebody to install it and then they will have to ensure it passes inspection, but I would also like to make sure they install it to my liking... (block off plate, insulated liner, not breaking up firebox) but it seems like that could be very costly. Doing some of it myself would be nice. I think I could figure out a block off plate and adapters to get through the damper, but when it comes to things that require inspection, it would be nice to have somebody else be responsible. I am not sure how an installer would deal with any of this. How would you all approach the installation? Like mechanics, I can imagine installers like to supply all of the parts as this is part of how they make money so I am not sure anybody would be too keen on my buying and installing some part of it while they come in to do the rest. The other thing is that dropping some liner down and riveting sections together really doesn't seem like rocket science either. Do you all have your installations inspected? If you do your own install do you think the inspector is more scrutinizing? When I had to get some recent electrical work inspected, the inspector knew the company that did it and then pretty much didn't look at much else so it was quite easy.

Ok.... way too rambly... if I had more time I would read through it, edit it, clarify things, and pare it down... Alas, it is bed time... Thank you all so much.
 

jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
5,283
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
It sounds like you went into picking an insert using mostly cosmetic considerations, but then picked one that will require some cosmetic compromises (in the form of a 2" thick stone shim) to get it installed. It sounds like your process may have gone off the rails a little bit there? Then again, maybe your stone shim will be very pretty!

If you are on an exterior wall, you might want to leave room for some insulation behind the insert too. 3.5" will let you squeeze in a batt of R13ish Roxul. 0.5" will let you squeeze in a board of R1 Micore, which is better than nothing.

Power-wise, I drilled a hole in a mortar joint and dropped a handybox inside the fireplace behind my insert. I don't think it's code compliant, but it's safe and you can't see it.

It seems like most installers won't install block off plates. Ask for a quote on getting your tiles broken out to make room for the insulation- that should cheer them up. ;)
 

jatoxico

Minister of Fire
Aug 8, 2011
4,335
Long Island NY
If the unit sat 3" proud of the fireplace front you would actually gain a little heat. I have mine out about an extra 1" for that reason. Now depending on the room layout and your view that may or may not be aesthetically ok, couldn't say.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,720
Northern Maine
Short of getting into a lot of smashing and cutting I really think you are trying to put 10 pounds of crap into a 5 pound box.
I love my Rockland but you may have to either drop down a size or come up with something else you like.
 

justymikey

New Member
Jan 7, 2020
2
Minneapolis
Thanks for your input. I have not been known to necessarily be the most practical person in the world... I see your point on going for aesthetics and then compromising. No matter what there will be a compromise, I guess. Either we have a tiny insert and it sits flush or we have something that doesn't ultimately sit flush but fits the space better. I am not sure what the better answer is, but I guess I am trying to figure out how the latter might work.

Maybe more pointed than a 10 page essay on my situation: If your hearth is deep enough is there a problem with having it sit on the hearth? It isn't to the manual specs so I am not sure if there is a problem there.

The width is only a problem because of the cord, and to me it seems like that doesn't need to be a removable cord. Has anybody hardwired their stove? I see that Lopi has a kit for high temp wiring for instance.

Can you install a block off plate after an initial install? or do you have to get it in place before the insert is in place? I am now showing my naivety in how things work in practice. I see that people pull their inserts out every now and then and I am not sure if this is common but it seems like they are pretty heavy to be rearranging. Good to know that a block off plate is almost necessarily a DIY effort.

Ok. So the list of stoves we considered and maybe you can chime in on others we might be forgetting:

Jotul winterport
Jotul Kennebec (Would require extending hearth)
Jotul Rockland

Lopi Small Flush Hybrid Fyre
Lopi Cape Cod (was told by the installer it would fit... but I don't quite see how that would work out)
Lopi Freedom (actually know where I can get one used for a very small amount of money... but our hearth might be 0.5" too shallow. Definitely a different aesthetic but for <1/10 the cost of the Jotul it might be nice to try out)
 

SculptureOfSound

Feeling the Heat
Sep 9, 2017
372
Wisconsin, USA
check out the Vermont Castings Montpelier (not the Montpelier 2 which is a sungle burn rate stove and also bigger). it is shorter depth wiseand also not as wide so should fit without modifications, but actually has a larger viewing area and deeper firebox (almost 16" from back to glass. i think the 550 was like 13" )