Zero Clearance to Insert conversion

ericmc Posted By ericmc, Dec 16, 2011 at 8:46 PM

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  1. ericmc

    New Member 2.

    Dec 16, 2011
    Glou. Ma
    Please excuse me if I utilize terminology that is incorrect or inaccurate.
    I have a 5 year old home with a "zero clearance" fireplace. Looks nice, but does not give off much heat. I realize it is engineered that way.
    I had been playing with replacing it with a wood stove. However, I am also considering an insert. From what I gather, a wood burning insert will give off much more heat than the existing zero clearance. I assume it is because there is something there (metal / stone) to actually heat up, whereas the zero clearance has nothing but sheet metal.

    My question is: would it be easier to replace the zero clearance with an insert, or a wood stove? I would like to keep construction to a minimum, as well as cost. I would like to get this done for $3000 or less, including the insert or stove.

    Intention is to heat up that side of the home, 1st floor only. It is about 700 sq. feet or so (maybe 1000).

    I have attached photos of the existing zero clearance fireplace.

    Any feedback would be appreciated - thanks!

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  2. mellow

    Resident Stove Connoisseur 2.

    Jan 19, 2008
    Salisbury, MD
    Can you provide some measurements on your fireplace, that mantle looks pretty close.
  3. madison

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Sep 12, 2008
    41.33°N 74.18°W and 44.67°N 111.0°W
    IMHO, You will be hard pressed to due this for less than $3K. And by the looks of it not happy with an insert shoe horned into the zero clearance FP, appearance, heat output would not be great. There are many considerations, take your time and do some searches here for others that have had the same question.

    you will get some other opinions, hearth clearance in front seems short as pointed out by Mellow.

    I would personally, save up some $$, and consider removing the zero clearance, and look into the options of a FPX ( or other wood burning fireplaces. Which will set you back a good chunk of change.

    I would hazard a guess that it would cost double what you are considering as your max. Unless you are handy sawzall and sledgehammer....
  4. 26.2OrNothing

    New Member 2.

    Dec 14, 2011
    Good evening to all, Happy Holidays!!

    I am under the same situation as EricMC. I have a FMC fireplace that is more for decorating than actual heating. In fact I have the same set up as a chimeny as he does, but I am considering removing the existing unit and closing the opening and or trying to place a wood stove in front and just relining the chimney. Is that even feaseble?
    I am aware the ($3000.00) will fall short to what I want to do. Any sugestions would be apreciated.
  5. fossil

    Accidental Moderator 2.
    Staff Member

    Sep 30, 2007
    Bend, OR
    26.2, please start your own thread with some pics & descriptions & we'll get to working with you. It's too hard to work on two folks' different projects in one thread. This thread belongs to the OP (original poster), ericmc. Thanks! Rick
  6. wkpoor

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Oct 30, 2008
    Amanda, OH
    Thats look very much similar to my E36 Heatilator. I'll give you a heads up on the show stopper. You have an SL300 8" double wall pipe, stainless inside wall and galvanized oustide wall rated at 1700 degrees. If you like most need it to be per code and pass an inspection then be prepared to rip it all out and start completely over. No other way around it. I called Heatilator, chimney sweeps and liner people. No one has tested that pipe lined therefore no rating therefore no worky.
  7. Dirtsurgeon

    New Member 2.

    Jun 11, 2011
    Mojave Desert
    Wow eric, your fireplace and mantel setup looks very similiar to what I replaced in my house.
    I started out thinking exactly what you are asking.

    And then I stumbled onto this site. Sheesh!
    A couple weeks of reading/listening/watching I eventually took a hammer and chisel to my wall

    My previous remodel experience consisted of patching a hole in the drywall.(It looked terrible.)
    I had no clue what lurked behind something as simple as a light switch, nevermind a frikken fireplace stuck in my wall.
    I started out thinking insert and wound up going freestanding.
    Every house and situation is different.

    At first I thought you could easliy do a conversion for under 3k.
    I forgot about having to buy stove and chimney pipe.
    Don't make that mistake.

    Long story was soooo worth the effort and price.
    My cold season is way shorter than most on this site but my house will be cold no longer.

    Here is what day one looked like at my place, Ha. Kinda feaked me out at first.

    Good luck sir.

    Attached Files:

  8. Lighting Up

    Lighting Up
    Feeling the Heat 2.

    Jan 30, 2010
    Roc City NY
    My ZC was only 10 years old bought a Avalon insert RATED for my ZC. IMHO…best thing I could of done. The ZC was like having a window open with cold air coming in, needed to light a fire just to off set the cold air. You’ll be surprise how much heat these inserts give off, even with a small box..yes I have to tend to the stove more but not near as much as when I burned in the ZC…and I don’t mind because that's part of burning. I did it around $3000 stove, liner and install.

    I would search the form by putting in Zero Clarence and ZC in the box. I think I'm the only one here that has this set up but like you I had no need to spend more money, the thought of construction was not a option. I install the ZC 10 years ago with my builder and knew the install was to code and inspected. I will agree the look is not like the ZC but the heat warms my 2200 sq ft house just the way I like it and the wood savings is unbelievable... My avatar is what it looks like installed. Again...research...know what you want and go to a stove store for helped me.
  9. chimneyguy

    New Member 2.

    Dec 16, 2011
    SLC, UT, USA
    As a previous poster said, you need an insert RATED for use in a zero clearance installation. The issues are related to the greater amount of heat the insert will make- ZC fireplace clearances and chimney are not generally designed to handle actual wood heater temperatures. The ZC rated inserts are designed accordingly (don't run as hot), and also many (most) ZC chimney is not UL 103HT rated, which a "normal" insert or free standing stove requires. Also, many ZC fireplaces have large diameter flues, and some inserts don't work properly unless they have the proper size exhaust pipe. (modern engineering relies on a "tuned exhaust" to ensure a clean, efficient burn) If your Inspector and/or Insurance company have a glimmer of a clue, they will put you and such an installation through a very fine seive before they will approve your job. For safety's sake, as well as getting a good return on your investment, make sure you have these concerns thoroughly addressed before you proceed...
    Stay warm and safe,
  10. Fechmup

    Member 2.

    Oct 10, 2010
    Southeastern DE
    You have the same setup I had two years ago; the builder fireplace on the floor. My installer built a up an 8" hearth and installed our Kozy Heat z42. We use it to heat an 1800sf ranch and it has no problem doing so.

    Good luck!
  11. pastera

    Feeling the Heat 2.

    Sep 8, 2008
    SE Mass
    I got a different response from Heatilator for my E36 - their tech support said no problem with my Hampton HI200 with 5.5" liner (Regency was also fine with a reduced liner on a 32' interior flue)

    Currently heating my house with 1.4 cubic feet of raging inferno!
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