Stove for existing fireplace

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New Member
Sep 20, 2023
Eastern Washington
Hello all,

I have found some similar threads to the question I am posing but nothing that quite addressed my questions.
We have an old fireplace with some sort of odd angles and I am trying to figure out how to convert it so we can put a stove, either freestanding or potentially an insert with the surround off (we lose power a lot in the winter).
The front opening is 36” wide, 25.5” tall, at the back it is a little wonky since the back wall angles towards the front. So it is 23” deep at the bottom but only about 12” deep at the top (about 21” deep a foot up and about 18” deep 1.5 feet up).
There is also, I believe (hard to tell at this point), a smoke shelf and a damper.
There are no masons in my area so I am limited somewhat in that regard.
Main questions:
Thoughts on best way to get up the chimney? Right now leaning towards trying to remove at least the smoke shelf, potentially the damper as well, but not sure about the feasibility.
Thoughts on free standing versus insert? I am okay with have an insert or free standing stove that sticks out a bit, and it feels easy enough to tear up some carpet and extend the hearth (currently it’s 17”)
I have some photos for reference, fireplace and one of the smoke shelf.
Thanks in advance for any thoughts, advice, opinions!

Stove for existing fireplaceStove for existing fireplaceStove for existing fireplaceStove for existing fireplace
At only 25” high there aren’t many stove choices. An insert is your best option.
When I installed my insert I chose to remove the damper and the damper frame. Neither have chosen to remove the damper and cut a bigger hole in the metal damper frame for the liner.
This is definitely insert territory. The damper can be removed or just notched to clear the liner. The smoke shelf will likely stay intact.
My concern is that even in removing just the damper the throat seems to only be about 4 or 5 inches. Would there be any harm in removing a row or two from the smoke shelf to make more room for the liner?
Is a blocking plate always recommended for inserts?
In that case yes, it may take notching the smoke shelf too. A block-off plate and some insulation behind the insert can notably improve heat output, especially with exterior chimney installations.
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