Old decrepit fireplace(s); Want to Replace w/ Freestanding Wood Stoves

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New Member
Sep 9, 2022
Washington State
Hello all,

First post - long time lurker! I have done my best to research my question. @msb91932 seems to have a similar situation in replacing the fireplace with a wood stove installed inside of it. But in reading this forum and others, and talking to multiple install companies, I have been inundated with too much information that I'm now unable to make much of what I've researched.

House Context:
I had my fireplaces inspected and came across a number of issues from the inspector; he believes they cannot be operated safely. The house is a solid brick house from the 1940s that's NOT open at all. Lots of doors, etc. Currently only has sawdust insulation in the attic (to be replaced). One fireplace is on the main floor (approx 1300 sq ft,) and one is in the basement (approx 1300 sq ft).

The house is located in a colder area for my state with the coldest month having an average high of 34, and an average of low of 25. There are 120 days on average with a low below freezing. 2.4 days per year the low is below zero. Keeping the house at 65-73 degrees would be fine by me as I run hot.

Fireplace Inspection
The findings from the inspection were:
1. The flue for the downstairs fireplace is 50 percent obstructed by an immediate offset above the top of the insert. The brick has not been sealed.
2. The transition from the damper to the smoke chamber is excessively restricted
3. The upstairs fireplace had gaps in the mortar.
4. The smoke chamber is corbelled
5. The chimney is too short to meet current safety standards.
6. The chimney cap had moderate to severe deterioration which should be repaired to avoid moisture intrusion of the chimney structure.

What I'm looking for
He recommended an insert, and that appears to be the most common suggestion. However, I do NOT want an insert. I'm just not a fan of them. Additionally, the property struggles with power outages so I want a freestanding stove for the cooking potential as well as for aesthetic reasons. I'm looking to install Hearthstone freestanding stove(s) as the primary source of heat for the house.

My Questions:
1. I'm wondering if I can install the freestanding wood stove either (i) in the fireplace(s) (ii) in front of the fireplaces (and if so, will I need to seal the fireplaces, brick over the fireplace opening, remove the wood mantel, etc.?) or (iii) in a different location and the old fireplaces will be decorative.
2. In the event that the freestanding wood stove is installed in the fireplace or in front of the fireplace, is there a preferred method of installation? Above the damper for instance.
3. Will I need to use a blower for clearance issues/heat distribution?
4. Given the information provided by the inspector, will the freestanding stove be able to use the chimney for output?

Many thanks!

IMG-1958.jpg Chimney 1 (1).jpg Chimney 3 mortar gaps (1).jpg


Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
SE North Carolina
What is the height of the fireplace, and chimney for the fireplace you want the stove?


Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
SE North Carolina
Height of the fireplace as in the firebox? Total chimney height including off the roof?
Fire box floor to lintel (the opening height). And yes the total height including off the roof.


Dec 16, 2021
I have basically your exact fireplace, and installed a wood stove in front of it last winter. Here's my experience/what I found while looking into it:
- You can't put a wood stove in the actual fireplace. If you want a wood stove that can do that, that's basically what an insert is. Those have blowers because (a) they need one to get the heat into the room and (b) they need to get the heat away from the back and sides of the stove to keep it from overheating/heating unevenly

- You want a stove that vents from the rear and isn't too tall.

- You may need to set the stove into the room by about a foot, and/or set up a heat shield for the combustible mantle

I installed a Woodstock Fireview, and I couldn't be happier with it. The installers put in a block off plate at the top of the fireplace firebox, so I didn't have to do any additional sealing for heat/air sealing reasons, but the sad black cavern behind the stove didn't look great, so I wound up making a cover for it out of tin tile. I'm really happy with how it turned out, and it wasn't that complicated of a DIY project (I'd never done anything with tin tile before). I think people also sometimes use porcelain tile to make a similar setup. I actually posted about this setup with pictures, since I'd had a hard time finding photos of what it looked like: https://www.hearth.com/talk/threads...ve-in-front-of-fireplace.192288/#post-2583973