Fireplace Inserts

   / Fireplace Inserts #11  

EddieWalker

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If I understand this correctly, you want a traditional, open fireplace added to your log cabin?

One of the biggest issues with this is what it will weigh and having a footing under it that can handle the weight.

If you go with faux stone, and a double wall stainless chimney, you can probably get by with an existing concrete foundation. This means boxing in the chimney and covering it in wood or Hardie. Or you have an exposed chimney pipe.

Will the fireplace be inside the room, or outside the house with a hole cut in the wall?

I would be very hesitant on a metal kit for something like this. The ones that I've seen are pretty thin and appear to be something that wont last very long.

I've seen a couple of precast concrete fireplaces that looked like they would last forever. You just stack each piece on top of each other. Then you cover the concrete with manufactured stone. I've never done it, but it looked simple enough when looking at it.

I have a wood stove for heat, but I want a traditional looking rock fireplace because I really like how they make a room look. My plan is to frame out the corner of the room in lumber, buy a wood insert with a big glass door and then run stainless steel pipe up through the roof. The fireplace and chimney will be covered in manufactured stone inside the room, and the pipe would be exposed when it goes through the roof. This makes it a very simple DIY project that I can easily do on my own.
 
   / Fireplace Inserts #12  

dodge man

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My insert, of course by the manufacturers claim, say they test them by burning coal, which is much hotter. The instructions for the installation are pretty specific on spacing to keep framing and stuff away. Ours is boxed in with drywall and faux stone.
 
   / Fireplace Inserts #13  

Creamer

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My question was in regard to various levels of inserts. And after a bit of digging it is not as simple as you suggest. The expensive and genuine part is correct. But there are apparently inexpensive fakes and extremely expensive fakes. I'm seeing open wood burning inserts for $5000+. They look very nice in the pictures and other than the "fire brick" linings very obviously being panels they are hard to tell from a masonry fireplace.

So my question stands: Are higher priced inserts better than the cheap ones like I have experienced? I'm not sure there will be an easy answer to that question or an easy way to find out. And if I were to pay $5-6K on an insert I probably wouldn't be making much of a dent in the estimate for a full masonry unit. And that would leave the question unanswered but moot.



I agree that getting an open fireplace is not the most practical or pragmatic decision. And if heat was the only issue then a freestanding wood stove with a pipe exiting through the wall would be the most pragmatic. But my wife and I and our grown kids just enjoy a standard wood burning fireplace. Call it romantic or silly. Whatever.

So I can't defend the decision in practical terms but most of the reasons you cite do not have to be a real issue. Also, insurance is not an issue. It will go up a very small amount.

1. Sparks are something you have to be concerned about. But not much. A good screen, a little common sense and burning the right wood is all that is required. The only real limitation there is that you cannot walk away (leave home) with a roaring fire going. I've been enjoying open fires my entire life and this has never been a real issue.

2. True. No precise control. But anyone who has experience and knows his fireplace (and in this case I do) can easily regulate an open fireplace enough to avoid extremes. As mentioned, our house has 4 fireplaces. All four are extremely well designed and draw very well. I can keep a room quite comfortable. Of course it requires more attention and active participation compared to a stove.........but that's part of what I enjoy.

3. Most chimney issues come from not burning the right kind of wood. My house is nearly a hundred years old. It was my grandparents home so I've known it all my life. The fireplaces were well used all my life. When we moved in we had them inspected. The chimney sweep said they were clean as a whistle and in excellent shape. Knowing how to build a fire and what wood to burn will prevent chimney problems....along with regular inspection.

4. Keeping weather out is no problem with a proper flue. We do not live up north so heat loss is not a big issue.

5. A proper cap keeps critters out. No problem.

Now, if the fireplace I end up is poorly done, draws poorly, has a bad flue or no cap, then yes, these things could be an issue. But any system that is poorly done can cause issues.

Anyway, thanks for indulging my thinking out loud.

I'm not at all convinced about the inserts. Even the expensive ones. Even on the makers website they don't tell you why one insert is $750 and the next one is $6000.

This is all going to come down to whether we can justify the cost for our romantic notions about ambience etc. The only thing I can say is that the cabin will belong to my kids (who helped us build it). They are very attached to it and it will probably stay in the family for at least 2 more generations. In that regard doing things right, even if expensive, might be worth it.
You obviously understand fireplaces and wood well. I just wanted to make sure you were not jumping into this blind. Since i use my fireplaces differently I do not have much I can add to this conversation - I will sit back and learn.
 
   / Fireplace Inserts #14  

gasman1075

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I have a log cabin where I spend most of my weekends. I built it myself from a kit with the help of friends. It is about 20 years old and when we built it we could not afford to put in a fireplace. It has had central heat and air for about 12 years. Now we have the money to put in a fireplace.

The purpose of this fireplace has more to do with enjoying a fire than as a primary heat source.

One contractor was a no go and we're having to go to court to get our money back. I posted that saga in another thread.

The contractor we are talking to now is legit but wants $30,000 to put in a full masonry fireplace. Inflation I suppose.

We are able to afford that but it just seems extremely high to me and I am inclined not to do it.

Some folks in the other thread suggested an insert as did the contractor. He can do that without hiring a specialized mason which is a big part of the cost I'm assuming. That and the fact that we're in the middle of nowhere and it is hard to get carpenters and masons to drive out to us.

Anyway, in the past I have lived in a couple of homes and apartments with fireplace inserts. To be clear, I'm not talking about a wood stove insert. I'm talking about a pre-fab metal firebox. Anyway, I did not like the ones we had. They were cheap. The firebrick lining looked fake and did not fit properly. They pinged and rattled when they heated up and cooled down. I am assuming these were low end units but I know nothing about them.

Our desire for a full masonry fireplace is based on those experiences combined with out positive experiences with traditional masonry fireplaces. My current home, which is over 90 years old, has four. They all draw great and put out a ton of heat.

So I'm interested in folks experience with fireplace inserts, good, bad and otherwise and would appreciate some guidance here. We have not gotten an estimate from the contractor on one but he implied that it would be much less expensive.
different manufacturers offer zero clearance wood burning manufactured fireplaces and some are better than others as you know. a decent hearth shop should be able to help you. no footings required but as with any natural vent appliances a good draft is required.
 
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   / Fireplace Inserts #15  

Snobdds

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I, like you wanted an open fireplace for the ambience for our place in Steamboat. If you research good fireplaces, the rumsford style is at the top of the list. They now sell kits to make this happen. You will still have to do some masonry stuff, but they work awesome. The draft is what makes a rumsford so great, they draft and keep all the some out of the houses. Plus, they reflect all the heat in.

A very good design.

 
   / Fireplace Inserts
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N80

N80

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I am familiar with the Rumford style fireplace and even have a book about its history etc. That's what I've always wanted but finding someone to build one is another story.

The guy we are thinking about going with said he would not install an engineered masonry fireplace. He said they are fine for outdoor fireplaces but he did not recommend them for indoors. He did not say why and since I'd just met him I did not go into it with him. I don't even know if he is familiar with the different brands. To me they look ideal. But, they are not necessarily inexpensive either. I may talk with him more about it later.

After a lot of deliberation my wife and I have decided to bite the bullet and let this guy do it. We are hoping and expecting for this cabin to be in the family for generations and being close to 60 I want some time to enjoy it too. We are also concerned that building a real fireplace is becoming a lost art. The mason that the contractor is hiring is several hours away and the only one he knows and trusts to do it right. So we feel like we should get it done while we can. The expense is shocking but if the work is done right it should last for generations.

@EddieWalker, he looked at the footing the original guy put in and said he was going to remove it and do a better job.

This contractor claims that this mason can do anything in regard to fireplaces and builds them in high end homes to the owner's specs. So I might ask if can or if he will do a Rumford. However, I'm surprised sometimes how many builder and contractors are not familiar with them. The big issue there is that my wife has her heart set on a raised hearth. I think a Rumford would look odd on a raised hearth.
 
   / Fireplace Inserts #17  

Hughman

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We had a majestic wood burning insert and had lots of issues with the house smelling like smoke every time we burned. An early pandemic project was to rip it out and replace it with a pellet stove.
 
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   / Fireplace Inserts #18  

Raul-02

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I have a log cabin where I spend most of my weekends. I built it myself from a kit with the help of friends. It is about 20 years old and when we built it we could not afford to put in a fireplace. It has had central heat and air for about 12 years. Now we have the money to put in a fireplace.

The purpose of this fireplace has more to do with enjoying a fire than as a primary heat source.

One contractor was a no go and we're having to go to court to get our money back. I posted that saga in another thread.

The contractor we are talking to now is legit but wants $30,000 to put in a full masonry fireplace. Inflation I suppose.

We are able to afford that but it just seems extremely high to me and I am inclined not to do it.

Some folks in the other thread suggested an insert as did the contractor. He can do that without hiring a specialized mason which is a big part of the cost I'm assuming. That and the fact that we're in the middle of nowhere and it is hard to get carpenters and masons to drive out to us.

Anyway, in the past I have lived in a couple of homes and apartments with fireplace inserts. To be clear, I'm not talking about a wood stove insert. I'm talking about a pre-fab metal firebox. Anyway, I did not like the ones we had. They were cheap. The firebrick lining looked fake and did not fit properly. They pinged and rattled when they heated up and cooled down. I am assuming these were low end units but I know nothing about them.

Our desire for a full masonry fireplace is based on those experiences combined with out positive experiences with traditional masonry fireplaces. My current home, which is over 90 years old, has four. They all draw great and put out a ton of heat.

So I'm interested in folks experience with fireplace inserts, good, bad and otherwise and would appreciate some guidance here. We have not gotten an estimate from the contractor on one but he implied that it would be much less expensive.
It appears that you want, not an insert, but a free-standing stove that can double in some sense as a fireplace. I've had an insert in a masonry fireplace with a glass door. Looked nice when It was clean but in a few minutes, the glass was all smoked up.
There are wood stoves that are supposed to double as a fireplace but they have the same problem as my insert. The glass will get smoked up. I think there are models that direct the incoming air up against the glass to protect it from the smoke but I doubt they work terribly well.

So maybe your search should be for a free standing wood burning fireplace. Or maybe it's a great excuse to buy a plasma cutter and a welder.
 
   / Fireplace Inserts #19  

Egon

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A Rumford insert should be no different than other fireplace inserts as to insurance and safety aspects. There should be no problem with a certified steel built insert. The installation should be no different than any other zero clearance insert. The construction requirements of a brick/masonry type fireplace &chimney would be quite different.
 
   / Fireplace Inserts #20  

Larry Caldwell

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I am familiar with the Rumford style fireplace and even have a book about its history etc. That's what I've always wanted but finding someone to build one is another story.

The guy we are thinking about going with said he would not install an engineered masonry fireplace. He said they are fine for outdoor fireplaces but he did not recommend them for indoors. He did not say why and since I'd just met him I did not go into it with him. I don't even know if he is familiar with the different brands. To me they look ideal. But, they are not necessarily inexpensive either. I may talk with him more about it later.

After a lot of deliberation my wife and I have decided to bite the bullet and let this guy do it. We are hoping and expecting for this cabin to be in the family for generations and being close to 60 I want some time to enjoy it too. We are also concerned that building a real fireplace is becoming a lost art. The mason that the contractor is hiring is several hours away and the only one he knows and trusts to do it right. So we feel like we should get it done while we can. The expense is shocking but if the work is done right it should last for generations.

@EddieWalker, he looked at the footing the original guy put in and said he was going to remove it and do a better job.

This contractor claims that this mason can do anything in regard to fireplaces and builds them in high end homes to the owner's specs. So I might ask if can or if he will do a Rumford. However, I'm surprised sometimes how many builder and contractors are not familiar with them. The big issue there is that my wife has her heart set on a raised hearth. I think a Rumford would look odd on a raised hearth.
A friend of mine built this one himself.

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