What Insert to fill in 4x6 feet wide Fireplace?

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Hya

New Member
Aug 1, 2021
31
CT
I’m new to forums and wood burning and looking for advice from you. We bought an estate built in 1930 with many updates along the way. Our biggest issue is the fireplace. The fireplace is less than 30 years old and I’ve had it checked and cleaned. It was hardly used and in great shape. During the past winter we attempting to use it but resulted in smoky room and heat lost from our radiant oil heat. I think the house has ok insulation and with the Reno’s I’ve done, the insulation have gotten even better. On my second attempt to lighting the fire, my wood delivery guy offered to help me with the fire due to me telling him my issues. (All my new wood from 40 cut trees are unseasoned) We lite the fire and with his experience got a well balanced airflow and no smoke. Our biggest issue we all noticed was our heat lost during the fire. We have 1000sq feet open living, dining & kitchen area. Fireplace in 2ft drop living room. The fireplace is so large with double chimney and baffle that you can actually feel air coming towards the fireplace once you open the baffles. The opening is 52” tall by 72” wide. I’m in Trumbull CT with 7 months of chilly to cold temps. We are not looking to use wood as our main source of heat but we spend most of our time in area and would like to prevent heat loss, use space more comfortable and utilizing 5 years worth of cut logs. At first we were interested in the 2021 biomass tax credit qualifying units but after visiting 4 hearth stores we are even more undecided. We are aware we have to reduce the size of the opening and will do so with masonry work, seal and cancel one chimney. Our help needed is to decide which wood insert to purchase. We would like a very big one but need it to push good heat. We do not like free standing stoves especially the wife. We have visited our friends with them and have decided too dangerous for our active family and lifestyle. As of now our last 2 visits we’re about the biggest Blaze King insert and Regency CI2700. Currently we do not mind the unit sticking out a few inches onto the hearth if it’s worth it. Our budget is not an issue. I’d really appreciate the feedback and opinion. Please bare with me as I learn this process. Moisture meter ordered. Thank you.

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Ctwoodtick

Minister of Fire
Jun 5, 2015
1,615
Southeast CT
Not a pro here, but a couple things I can tell you. Smoky room can be bc chimney isn’t tall enough. About how tall is yours?
To reduce heat loss, definitely specify to your installer that you need a block off plate that will provide a good fit in your current fireplace’s firebox/damper area.
Also, ensure that the installer insulates the new stainless steel liner that will need to be installed for either an insert or freestanding stove. Pre-insulated liners may also be available. The insulated liner is a safety measure needed in most installations. Some installers insulate as standard, others try to avoid it. If you’re talking to installer saying it’s not needed, get a different installer.
Dry wood is your friend. If you only have semi-seasoned wood at first, it will run sluggishly with reduced heat. Just make sure to inspect your new liner to make sure your not making too much creosote. Maybe check once a month until you get the hang of how your setup is working. If you can safely check out the top of new liner yourself, feel free to post pics on here and we can give you some insight into how you’re doing.
 

Hya

New Member
Aug 1, 2021
31
CT
Not a pro here, but a couple things I can tell you. Smoky room can be bc chimney isn’t tall enough. About how tall is yours?
To reduce heat loss, definitely specify to your installer that you need a block off plate that will provide a good fit in your current fireplace’s firebox/damper area.
Also, ensure that the installer insulates the new stainless steel liner that will need to be installed for either an insert or freestanding stove. Pre-insulated liners may also be available. The insulated liner is a safety measure needed in most installations. Some installers insulate as standard, others try to avoid it. If you’re talking to installer saying it’s not needed, get a different installer.
Dry wood is your friend. If you only have semi-seasoned wood at first, it will run sluggishly with reduced heat. Just make sure to inspect your new liner to make sure your not making too much creosote. Maybe check once a month until you get the hang of how your setup is working. If you can safely check out the top of new liner yourself, feel free to post pics on here and we can give you some insight into how you’re doing.
Thank you for asking the heights chimney and making really important pointers. My chimney is currently 22ft tall but will be going up to 37ft after next year renovation. Since I will be installing insert prior to Reno I will need to ensure new insulated liner is capable of extending. Looking to purchase 40ft liner but cut to fit now and extend later. Definitely will be supervising and documenting. I’m a home flipper, realtor, do all my plumbing, electrical and all aspects of Reno myself. I’d prefer not to install myself (first time with insert) but wife thinks I should do it due to my capabilities. All permits will be pulled and spoke with inspector about it when he visited last week.
I’m also a big fan of dry wood so that won’t be an issue here.
 

Ctwoodtick

Minister of Fire
Jun 5, 2015
1,615
Southeast CT
Ok, going up to 37 ft is very tall. Draft will be strong, maybe needing a flue damper. I’ll let the pros chime in about extending a liner.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,380
South Puget Sound, WA
Have you considered putting a nice freestanding stove in there like a Jotul F55 or Hearthstone Manchester?

What is the flue size? I suspect the ratio of fireplace opening to flue cross-section is wrong. There is a 24 sq ft. opening and if it has a 12x12" that is a 1 sq ft flue. The ratio should be around 10:1 so it would need a 2.4 sq ft flue to draft properly. Hopefully, that large ceiling beam is false and not running through the fireplace and adjacent to the flue.
 
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Hya

New Member
Aug 1, 2021
31
CT
Have you considered putting a nice freestanding stove in there like a Jotul F55 or Hearthstone Manchester?

What is the flue size? I suspect the ratio of fireplace opening to flue cross-section is wrong. There is a 24 sq ft. opening and if it has a 12x12" that is a 1 sq ft flue. The ratio should be around 10:1 so it would need a 2.4 sq ft flue to draft properly. Hopefully, that large ceiling beam is false and not running through the fireplace and adjacent to the flue.
We prefer to stay away from free standing. Kids are still very young and extremely active. Wife wants room converted to a more contemporary looking space. It won’t be our primary source of heat. The 2 flues are 12”x12”. There are four 2x10” beams sitting up there (covered with cedar boards) but at least 1ft away from flue. Fireplace is offset and 36” deep. These beams will be remove during Reno and replaced with LVL joist going opposite direction of room.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,955
central pa
We prefer to stay away from free standing. Kids are still very young and extremely active. Wife wants room converted to a more contemporary looking space. It won’t be our primary source of heat. The 2 flues are 12”x12”. There are four 2x10” beams sitting up there (covered with cedar boards) but at least 1ft away from flue. Fireplace is offset and 36” deep. These beams will be remove during Reno and replaced with LVL joist going opposite direction of room.
The stove would be sitting in the fireplace. Really no difference at all with regard to space used or safety in any way.
 

Ctwoodtick

Minister of Fire
Jun 5, 2015
1,615
Southeast CT
Not that children and dogs are the same, of course, but It may be likely that your kids naturally noticed a safe distance from that stove. I don’t have kids, but I can tell you the dog seem to have a natural understanding of what is too hot to be around.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,955
central pa
I grew up around stoves and my kids have as well. When it's burning kids know to stay clear. It really is not much of an issue
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
2,941
Long Island NY
Same here. And if you are concerned nonetheless, an insert is as hot as a stove. Just place a gate around it to ease your mind.
 

Hya

New Member
Aug 1, 2021
31
CT
I grew up around stoves and my kids have as well. When it's burning kids know to stay clear. It really is not much of an issue
I totally understand the reliability of a standing stove but we are also taking into consideration our resale in 10 years. Yes I can simply replace later but doing once is my goal too. In my experience as a realtor, almost everyone of my clients (except 1 in 2019) have requested removal of standing stove before closing. As much as I try to tell them the value of the stove it just doesn’t appeal to some and my wife falls exactly in that group. I’m in the happy wife happy life. In 2018 at my brother’s wake my son burnt his face at the fire pit. Another one of my brothers was in charge of that area and he blinked. Since then my wife freaks out around anything with a visible flame. What makes things worst is my son likes fire. So we just need to fill the open fireplace with a valuable insert keeping fire and kids safer.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
2,941
Long Island NY
I agree with the happy wife argument. I can see the realtor argument. So, an insert it is.

(But where I think your thinking does not make sense is that an insert would be safer. An insert is a stove stuck in a hole. Its surface is as hot as that of a free standing stove. There is no safety gain with an insert as compared to a stove. Hence: kiddie gate.)
 

Hya

New Member
Aug 1, 2021
31
CT
I agree with the happy wife argument. I can see the realtor argument. So, an insert it is.

(But where I think your thinking does not make sense is that an insert would be safer. An insert is a stove stuck in a hole. Its surface is as hot as that of a free standing stove. There is no safety gain with an insert as compared to a stove. Hence: kiddie gate.)
You are totally right about the safety cause they both get really hot. Knowing my kids the stove looks so inviting vs the insert. When I took my kids to visit my 2019 client with the free standing stove, they were attracted to the unit. (Fire eyes) when they visit their uncle house with the insert it was like out of sight out of mind even though his unit runs all winter long. And they visit every weekend. For some reason we feel like it’s a better fit for our needs. When kids are off to college and we move to another home in CT it will be free standing stove and my book reading time.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
2,941
Long Island NY
Understood.

I have my stove in the basement. Comfy chair nearby. Reading time ☺️
And my daughter then comes and lies in front of the stove (like @Caw s dog...) and reads too. Good times.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,955
central pa
I totally understand the reliability of a standing stove but we are also taking into consideration our resale in 10 years. Yes I can simply replace later but doing once is my goal too. In my experience as a realtor, almost everyone of my clients (except 1 in 2019) have requested removal of standing stove before closing. As much as I try to tell them the value of the stove it just doesn’t appeal to some and my wife falls exactly in that group. I’m in the happy wife happy life. In 2018 at my brother’s wake my son burnt his face at the fire pit. Another one of my brothers was in charge of that area and he blinked. Since then my wife freaks out around anything with a visible flame. What makes things worst is my son likes fire. So we just need to fill the open fireplace with a valuable insert keeping fire and kids safer.
Fair enough but I have pulled more inserts out of fireplaces for resale than freestanding stoves. And you are talking about modifying the fireplace face to fit the insert. (Which can absolutely be done btw) that means the insert can't just be removed and fireplace used as an open fireplace anymore.

So if you are really set on an insert. Just pick one you like most and have the fireplace modified to fit it.
 

PaulOinMA

Minister of Fire
Oct 20, 2018
1,133
MA
Just saw Trumbull. I grew up in Huntington.

I think Lopi will do a custom surround for an insert.
 
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Ctwoodtick

Minister of Fire
Jun 5, 2015
1,615
Southeast CT
There’s a popular book about Scandinavian wood burning that something like 90 percent of final stove decision are made by the person In the house with the most aesthetic sense (code word for wife). Don’t worry, the same happened in my house, lol
 
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Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,846
Northern Maine
Custom surround is easy these days with everyone on the CNC craze. Water, plasma or whatever is easily made around the largest insert you can find.
I personally would put a very large wood stove in the space with fire viewing and front loadable.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,732
SE North Carolina
A few thoughts based on what you have provided. No insert with a surround will fill that large of a space and look intentional. My personal theory is to work with design elements that are that large. It was designed to be a showy visual element (not efficient heating appliance). How can you work with that size of fireplace?

Second kids and fire if you want it safe you should think about putting a fence around it. Seen it done well and not so well. Match your decor. Install in a manner that’s downstairs leave much evidence of its previous presence. It should be sturdy. Now you are not just limit to inserts.

Third. Future resale thoughts. Do you want it more for now or resale in the future. Any stove you buy now you can take with you and install in almost any future house. Any insert can only be installed in a masonry fireplace.

Fourth, catalytic converter or not is a decision you should make.

Fifth and unsolicited. A really big custom gas log set could look good. Modern looking versions exist.

Stove recommendation….. maybe big soap stone stove. Maybe Woodstock with soapstone panels. Insert look at regency. Blaze-king sirracco?

The fireplace is so large with double chimney
I do think the double flue flue will make an install with out a surround look asymmetrical. I’m a really symmetry fan.

Just some thoughts.

We did ethanol burners for a few years for ambiance. They work and throw some heat. But fuel is expensive. But way cheaper than a new install.

Evan
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,380
South Puget Sound, WA
Any insert that goes in there will need a custom surround to fill that big hole. Take a look at the PE Summit while shopping around.
 
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Hya

New Member
Aug 1, 2021
31
CT
Fair enough but I have pulled more inserts out of fireplaces for resale than freestanding stoves. And you are talking about modifying the fireplace face to fit the insert. (Which can absolutely be done btw) that means the insert can't just be removed and fireplace used as an open fireplace anymore.

So if you are really set on an insert. Just pick one you like most and have the fireplace modified to fit it.
Thank you. I will be buying a Lopi Large flush. I walked in to look and inquire with owner of store and coincidently 2 minutes later the Lopi Rep walked in. My options
 

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Hya

New Member
Aug 1, 2021
31
CT
Any insert that goes in there will need a custom surround to fill that big hole. Take a look at the PE Summit while shopping around.
I have made the decision to modify the fireplace to this.
A few thoughts based on what you have provided. No insert with a surround will fill that large of a space and look intentional. My personal theory is to work with design elements that are that large. It was designed to be a showy visual element (not efficient heating appliance). How can you work with that size of fireplace?

Second kids and fire if you want it safe you should think about putting a fence around it. Seen it done well and not so well. Match your decor. Install in a manner that’s downstairs leave much evidence of its previous presence. It should be sturdy. Now you are not just limit to inserts.

Third. Future resale thoughts. Do you want it more for now or resale in the future. Any stove you buy now you can take with you and install in almost any future house. Any insert can only be installed in a masonry fireplace.

Fourth, catalytic converter or not is a decision you should make.

Fifth and unsolicited. A really big custom gas log set could look good. Modern looking versions exist.

Stove recommendation….. maybe big soap stone stove. Maybe Woodstock with soapstone panels. Insert look at regency. Blaze-king sirracco?


I do think the double flue flue will make an install with out a surround look asymmetrical. I’m a really symmetry fan.

Just some thoughts.

We did ethanol burners for a few years for ambiance. They work and throw some heat. But fuel is expensive. But way cheaper than a new install.

Evan
You’re correct especially about resale and moving insert. The modifications I intend to do will give me and the next owner the option of utilizing both flues. I will seal the left flue on the bottom giving the option of using it upstairs in master suit for a smaller insert and use right flue downstairs for current insert. Opening will be about 33”x 41”
 

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Hya

New Member
Aug 1, 2021
31
CT
There’s a popular book about Scandinavian wood burning that something like 90 percent of final stove decision are made by the person In the house with the most aesthetic sense (code word for wife). Don’t worry, the same happened in my house, lol
So true. I’m about to pay for the unit and the owner gave me the brochure and said to show the wife then call him after she have decided the faceplate design. He will only take the deposit now until wife approves. Lol