New Insert and Hearth/Surround Re-do

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mas956

New Member
Oct 1, 2021
20
Northern CA
Hi All,

We are in the process of replacing our old Heat Tech wood insert with a PE NEO 2.5 wood insert. In that process we will also be re-doing the hearth and surround. As the picture shows, we are working around an old heatform which is “Miller” branded but I can’t find much about it online. The firebox dimensions are 41” W at front x 20” D x 28” H and about 31” W at rear. The old insert had a 6” liner that does not go all the way up the 15 foot masonry chimney, so I assume that will need to be rectified.

As a newbie to this process, I have tons of questions, but for now, I’d really like to know about framing options above the heatform. We’re putting in a non-combustible mantel and the installation instructions call for anchoring it to 3 vertical studs. Question: Can I use wood framing immediately above the heatform or would it need to be steel studs?
FPSmall.jpg
Thanks!
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,831
central pa
Hi All,

We are in the process of replacing our old Heat Tech wood insert with a PE NEO 2.5 wood insert. In that process we will also be re-doing the hearth and surround. As the picture shows, we are working around an old heatform which is “Miller” branded but I can’t find much about it online. The firebox dimensions are 41” W at front x 20” D x 28” H and about 31” W at rear. The old insert had a 6” liner that does not go all the way up the 15 foot masonry chimney, so I assume that will need to be rectified.

As a newbie to this process, I have tons of questions, but for now, I’d really like to know about framing options above the heatform. We’re putting in a non-combustible mantel and the installation instructions call for anchoring it to 3 vertical studs. Question: Can I use wood framing immediately above the heatform or would it need to be steel studs?
View attachment 285188
Thanks!
Is that drywall above the heat form now?
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,831
central pa
Yes, there is drywall on the interior face of the framing joists - original construction.
The original construction was very unsafe in that case you need 8" of masonry all around that box unless you can find the instructions saying otherwise
 

mas956

New Member
Oct 1, 2021
20
Northern CA
The original construction was very unsafe in that case you need 8" of masonry all around that box unless you can find the instructions saying otherwise
Thanks for the reply, bholler. The original insert was completely rocked in but only had cinder blocks on the front sides beneath the rock veneer. Did that satisfy the 8" masonry rule? Here are a couple of mid-demo shots for perspective.

FPDemo1.jpg FPDemo2.jpg
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,831
central pa
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,831
central pa
Well, that's scary. It's been like that for 36 years (this is our first year in the house). Guess I've got more research to do. Glad I asked now.
Yes now is the time for research. Unless you can find the original instructions for that heat form fireplace you would need to build the masonry around it like the heat form didn't exist.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,708
SE North Carolina
Are you working with a contractor? If I had started this DIY I probably at this would be bringing a professional at least for quotes to figure out what options they suggest.
 

mas956

New Member
Oct 1, 2021
20
Northern CA
I started this journey with a chimney inspection. This guy is/was an installer for a local stove shop. The place I bought the new insert from has an installer who is a GC. He has not come to estimate the job yet (this is all happening real time) but we'll likely have him do anything structural required for a safe/code-compliant install. It's a lot more involved than we thought when we started chipping rock off the wall.

I appreciate the advice and expertise of this forum.
 

john26

Minister of Fire
Oct 27, 2008
697
Wildwood MO
Did you already purchase the PE NEO 2.5 wood insert? If not a PE FP25 or FP30 might be a better fit for this project.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,831
central pa
Did you already purchase the PE NEO 2.5 wood insert? If not a PE FP25 or FP30 might be a better fit for this project.
Only if they completely removed the entire masonry chimney.
 

mas956

New Member
Oct 1, 2021
20
Northern CA
My wife would really have liked a "real" fireplace but given the cost to remove the chimney and re-build, we decided on a newer insert.
 

john26

Minister of Fire
Oct 27, 2008
697
Wildwood MO
Only if they completely removed the entire masonry chimney.
That was my thought but would have to weight out cost of masonry chimney removal and a new class a vs making the heat form work
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,831
central pa
That was my thought but would have to weight out cost of masonry chimney removal and a new class a vs making the heat form work
Don't forget all of the patching and repair that will be needed after removal of the masonry chimney. Fixing the heat form will most likely cost about the same as finishing off a zero clearance units face.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,831
central pa
My wife would really have liked a "real" fireplace but given the cost to remove the chimney and re-build, we decided on a newer insert.
You have a real fireplace. What is wrong with it?
 

mas956

New Member
Oct 1, 2021
20
Northern CA
You have a real fireplace. What is wrong with it?
It'll be great. Eventually. Had I known how scarce inserts are in Norcal right now AND that it would take a stone mason three weeks to return my call, I would definitely have held off on demo. It felt like we were stuck with a massive stone wall, so I "fixed" that situation.

The only hard cost I've been given beside the insert cost is $2k for 15' of 6" liner installed. Does that make sense? The damper is still in place, so that will have to be addressed. Oh, and I did have a tile guy say he would tile the new hearth (just labor to apply the tile) for $3200. No thanks.
 
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EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,708
SE North Carolina
When I had a stove installed three years ago liner was 1k and labor to clean, remove damper install stove and liner was another 1k. I’m in a beach town but not much market for wood heat here. 2k is ball park. With inflation that might be a deal;)

Your “fix” found a serious issue. I’m guessing not everyone you hired would have realized the seriousness of the issue. I be got a couple of fixes that are still being fixed going on 18 months later. Life is a highway. Mine is paved with incomplete home renovation projects.
 

mas956

New Member
Oct 1, 2021
20
Northern CA
When I had a stove installed three years ago liner was 1k and labor to clean, remove damper install stove and liner was another 1k. I’m in a beach town but not much market for wood heat here. 2k is ball park. With inflation that might be a deal;)

Your “fix” found a serious issue. I’m guessing not everyone you hired would have realized the seriousness of the issue. I be got a couple of fixes that are still being fixed going on 18 months later. Life is a highway. Mine is paved with incomplete home renovation projects.
Thanks for the confirmation on liner install pricing. I guess the quote wasn't necessarily out of line.
 

Kentucky Greg

Member
Nov 6, 2012
8
Thanks for the confirmation on liner install pricing. I guess the quote wasn't necessarily out of line.
I am very new as well but I installed my own liner. I think the part was about $300 at Menards. It was wild pulling it down from the roof but it really wasn't hard if you have someone inside helping. It would likely be more difficult if you have to insulate the liner but it seemed like a good DIY task even if you were outsourcing other parts of the job.

IMG_1908.jpg
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,831
central pa
I am very new as well but I installed my own liner. I think the part was about $300 at Menards. It was wild pulling it down from the roof but it really wasn't hard if you have someone inside helping. It would likely be more difficult if you have to insulate the liner but it seemed like a good DIY task even if you were outsourcing other parts of the job.

View attachment 285250
If it's an easy install yes it is fairly easy diy. But many are not easy installs. How did you determine you didn't need insulation?
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,831
central pa
How is the insulation threshold defined?
Insulation is required unless you have the required clearance to combustibles from the outside of the chimney structure. For an external chimney that is 1" internal is 2". Most do not have the proper clearances.
 

mas956

New Member
Oct 1, 2021
20
Northern CA
Insulation is required unless you have the required clearance to combustibles from the outside of the chimney structure. For an external chimney that is 1" internal is 2". Most do not have the proper clearances.
Good to know . This may be a ridiculous question, but what Is considered “combustible” within the chimney? Creosote on the chimney walls? I have heard about chimney fires…..