Taking out insert and hearth for a freestanding woodstove

Lasagnafordinner

New Member
Apr 28, 2020
18
Virginia
Hey all,
We have an old 1989 woodstove insert with heatilator in our new home. We'd like to replace it with a more efficient freestanding woodstove. We're do it yourselfers and don't want to spend the money to have a professional rip out and redo the hearth, although we'll hire a professional to install the new one to make sure it's done right. alittle nervous about the process. Has anyone done this before, and is it something we could figure out?
 

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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
83,681
South Puget Sound, WA
One option would be to replace it with a modern version of this insert. The Regency 2100 Hearth Heater projects out onto the hearth like the old Englander for very good heating and a nice fire view. That, together with a full liner may be the simplest route. Otherwise ,the determining factor is going to be the fireplace opening size.
 

Lasagnafordinner

New Member
Apr 28, 2020
18
Virginia
We've thought about that, but with everything we read, it seems the freestanding woodstoves radiate so much more heat. And get rid of the heatilator fan, it's so rackety and noisy. Maybe the newer ones are better? Still not sure if it'd be worth it.
There may be some smaller woodstoves that fit in, not as an insert, but the chimney cleaner who came out from the woodstove shop here said we'd *probably need to extend the hearth floor to do that.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
83,681
South Puget Sound, WA
The Hearth Heater is very radiant because much of the stove body projects out onto the hearth. Yes, the insert fan will be quieter, especially on low speed, but the stove is radiant enough that the fan may not be needed during milder winter weather.

The sweeps point is well taken. Hearth depth will present another challenge to fitting a freestanding stove there in addition to the flue height. Do you know the height of the fireplace opening?
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,908
central pa
The hearth heater is no longer available anyway.

Hey all,
We have an old 1989 woodstove insert with heatilator in our new home. We'd like to replace it with a more efficient freestanding woodstove. We're do it yourselfers and don't want to spend the money to have a professional rip out and redo the hearth, although we'll hire a professional to install the new one to make sure it's done right. alittle nervous about the process. Has anyone done this before, and is it something we could figure out?
When you say remove the hearth exactly what do you mean? Just the hearth extension infront of the fireplace or more?
 

Lasagnafordinner

New Member
Apr 28, 2020
18
Virginia
The fireplace opening height is about 27" high, so not very large. We are anticipating needing to rent an angle grinder, maybe a hammer drill, and ripping out the fireplace.
She said take out the hearth, as it may need to be extended. I imagine if we go at the fireplace bricks, we'd need to do the hearth anyway.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,908
central pa
The fireplace opening height is about 27" high, so not very large. We are anticipating needing to rent an angle grinder, maybe a hammer drill, and ripping out the fireplace.
She said take out the hearth, as it may need to be extended. I imagine if we go at the fireplace bricks, we'd need to do the hearth anyway.
Again what are you planning on removing? The hearth extension? The firebox? The whole fireplace?
 

Lasagnafordinner

New Member
Apr 28, 2020
18
Virginia
The whole fireplace, remove it all, then place a freestanding woodstove piped into the chimney. I think that's correct, thanks for asking for clarification, I'm just learning all the terminology.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,908
central pa
The whole fireplace, remove it all, then place a freestanding woodstove piped into the chimney. I think that's correct, thanks for asking for clarification, I'm just learning all the terminology.
To remove the whole fireplace you need to start at the top of the chimney and work your way down. I have removed quite a few. Some are pretty straight forward. Others mean major restructureing of the house.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
83,681
South Puget Sound, WA
The hearth heater is no longer available anyway.
Yes, it would take calling around asap and seeing if any Regency dealers have one they want to sell.
The whole fireplace, remove it all, then place a freestanding woodstove piped into the chimney. I think that's correct, thanks for asking for clarification, I'm just learning all the terminology.
Ok. That is another deal entirely. We did it in our house. The fireplace had no structural ties. It was messy and took a little planning, but my son and I did it in a few days.
 

moresnow

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
1,200
Iowa

Lasagnafordinner

New Member
Apr 28, 2020
18
Virginia
Yes, it would take calling around asap and seeing if any Regency dealers have one they want to sell.

Ok. That is another deal entirely. We did it in our house. The fireplace had no structural ties. It was messy and took a little planning, but my son and I did it in a few days.
Exactly-behind the brick and behind the tongue and groove above the fireplace is a cinder block chimney. I think we can safely assume the cinder block behind the brick is the structural part, and the brick and heatilator vents on the top (also on sides) are just facade/decorative. So we want to remove all the brick you can see in the picture (I guess hearth and fire box?) and then stone or tile where the hearth was, and up the wall, over the cinderblock, and pipe a freestanding into the chimney.

Do you have any pictures of what you did?
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,908
central pa
Exactly-behind the brick and behind the tongue and groove above the fireplace is a cinder block chimney. I think we can safely assume the cinder block behind the brick is the structural part, and the brick and heatilator vents on the top (also on sides) are just facade/decorative. So we want to remove all the brick you can see in the picture (I guess hearth and fire box?) and then stone or tile where the hearth was, and up the wall, over the cinderblock, and pipe a freestanding into the chimney.

Do you have any pictures of what you did?
Ok so you want to remove the face and hearth extension. And probably the metal fireplace as well. That is possible yes. But allot of work.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
83,681
South Puget Sound, WA
Exactly-behind the brick and behind the tongue and groove above the fireplace is a cinder block chimney. I think we can safely assume the cinder block behind the brick is the structural part, and the brick and heatilator vents on the top (also on sides) are just facade/decorative. So we want to remove all the brick you can see in the picture (I guess hearth and fire box?) and then stone or tile where the hearth was, and up the wall, over the cinderblock, and pipe a freestanding into the chimney.

Do you have any pictures of what you did?
We completely removed the entire fireplace, chimney and hearth, then patched the floors and ceilings, then put in a hearth, stove and chimney in an entirely different location. I think Highbeam did the same but installed the freestanding stove in the same location.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,489
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
We completely removed the entire fireplace, chimney and hearth, then patched the floors and ceilings, then put in a hearth, stove and chimney in an entirely different location. I think Highbeam did the same but installed the freestanding stove in the same location.
Yes, did the same. It was super easy and a great solution to a crappy old masonry fireplace. It’s just a stack of blocks after all.

Of course, in my case, the masonry didn’t support the structure of the home.

Framed in the old fireplace opening, roofer patched the hole, Sheetrock, floor repair and then it’s like the fireplace never existed. Ready for a real woodstove with an ideal vertical pipe.

Sorry about the head turning. The original fireplace had a modern Lopi Freedom Bay insert in it. Noisy blowers suck! and I don't think inserts heat as well. We first put a nice looking hearthstone on the new hearth and then upgraded to a higher performing (but less nice looking) blaze king cat stove since we heat 100% with wood.

Another benefit is that it is easier to flash a metal chimney pipe than a masonry thing so that they don't leak water. We get lots of rain and wind here.
 

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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,908
central pa
Yes if you consider taking down and hauling away quite a few tons of masonry easy it isn't hard at all.
 

BKVP

Minister of Fire
There are quite a few threads on the topic. Check out "Blaze King Alcove". The members provide excellent detail on the removal process, tips to avoid major issues (such as having a chimney collapse on you) ladder safety, supporting a chimney etc. Some are very, very detailed.

BeGreen is correct. Some inserts are not flush but sit on the hearth. Our Princess insert, as an example is 12.5" on the hearth and the remaining 12.5" sits behind the shroud. There are certainly other brands that have the same design.

Sitting on this side of thousands of phone calls by consumers over the past 25 years, freestanding installs are great for the radiant heat. Inserts, of which there are many designs, are popular for those not wanting to tear apart a perfect good chimney system.

Does tearing out the fireplace you have now reduce home resale value? Does it matter? Ask these questions too as you move forward.

BKVP
 
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Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,489
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
Yes if you consider taking down and hauling away quite a few tons of masonry easy it isn't hard at all.
Sure do think it's easy. Heck, we process 10-15 tons of firewood every year and lift it several times. A little work is good for the body and this is low skill like processing firewood.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,489
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
Does tearing out the fireplace you have now reduce home resale value? Does it matter?
That's a very smart question. If it is a valuable feature for art or whatever, you could maybe leave it be and install a freestander elsewhere in the home. Also consider the negative value an unsafe masonry structure can have on a home. It will be one of those things found during inspection where the buyer wants a 10,000$ credit!

Single story, not supporting the building, can be on the ground in a day and then you can either bury it or take it to recycle or even landfill at your leisure.

I wonder if there are any youtube videos of just how freakishly easy it is to knock a masonry chimney apart.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,908
central pa
Sure do think it's easy. Heck, we process 10-15 tons of firewood every year and lift it several times. A little work is good for the body and this is low skill like processing firewood.
Why are you processing that much firewood? I move the rubble as many times tearing down a chimney as I move wood. And most of the moving of wood is done with equipment.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,908
central pa
That's a very smart question. If it is a valuable feature for art or whatever, you could maybe leave it be and install a freestander elsewhere in the home. Also consider the negative value an unsafe masonry structure can have on a home. It will be one of those things found during inspection where the buyer wants a 10,000$ credit!

Single story, not supporting the building, can be on the ground in a day and then you can either bury it or take it to recycle or even landfill at your leisure.

I wonder if there are any youtube videos of just how freakishly easy it is to knock a masonry chimney apart.
Why would you assume it would be unsafe?

Yes many chimneys can be down in a day. And taking them apart can be really easy or they can require a demo hammer to remove every single brick. And if they are built with rebar through the cores they are an absolute nightmare. It all depends on the circumstances.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,489
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
Why are you processing that much firewood?
Totally off topic but since you asked. I actually move many more tons.

Those of us that heat full time with firewood use that much wood every year. In my house I burned 4.5 cords in the house and 1 in the shop this year. 5.5 cords of green doug fir which weighs 3319 lbs per cord. Plain old green maple weighs 4685.


So 5.5 cords of fir is 18255 lbs of finished wood. Which is 9.13 tons. 5.5 cords of maple is 25768 lbs of finished wood which is 12.9 tons. I split every bit of that on Sunday and threw each pound into a pile. I will lift it all again into the wheelbarrow, then lift it again into the stack. Then again when I move it to the house and then again when I load it into the stove.

The shed holds 5.5 cords in each side. One side per year gets burned. Chainsaw and splitter is the only equipment since I get logs delivered.

You think that's bad, there are lots of folks burning way more wood per year in those boilers.
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,908
central pa
Totally off topic but since you asked. I actually move many more tons.

Those of us that heat full time with firewood use that much wood every year. In my house I burned 4.5 cords in the house and 1 in the shop this year. 5.5 cords of green doug fir which weighs 3319 lbs per cord. Plain old green maple weighs 4685.


So 5.5 cords of fir is 18255 lbs of finished wood. Which is 9.13 tons. 5.5 cords of maple is 25768 lbs of finished wood which is 12.9 tons. I split every bit of that on Sunday and threw each pound into a pile. I will lift it all again into the wheelbarrow, then lift it again into the stack. Then again when I move it to the house and then again when I load it into the stove.

The shed holds 5.5 cords in each side. One side per year gets burned. Chainsaw and splitter is the only equipment since I get logs delivered.

You think that's bad, there are lots of folks burning way more wood per year in those boilers.
Yeah with pole wood I just cut it to length pick it up onto the splitter toss it into a pile next to the splitter and push that pile over to my stacks with the plow. Bringing it in I load it in the bed back up to the wood room door and push the dump button.

Taking down a chimney the bricks go in a bucket down the ladder or lowered off the scaffold then carried to the truck. Unless you can back up to the chimney which is surprisingly uncommon. If you are lucky you can find someone looking for fill. If not it usually costs us about $500 to dispose of that much weight for an average single story fireplace. But someone doing it themselves probably wouldn't have a dump truck so they would have to unload by hand as well.
 
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BKVP

Minister of Fire
I sold my bricks (250) for $1.50 each.
 
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