Want to put gas insert into wood-burning fireplace

by Cathy
We have a "heatilator" vent system and big brick surround, and I'd like to remove what I can and make it smaller and more modern-looking. Has anyone dealt with this kind of fireplace?
  10 answers
  • Hannah V Hannah V on Aug 27, 2014
    I think @Woodbridge Environmental Tiptophouse.com and @South Cypress might have some good ideas and insight for you! :)
  • @Cathy Gas inserts are designed to fit right into the opening of your fireplace as its currently built. If you wanted to you can remove the grills on the vents and replace with a nice decorative tile of sorts. But any heat that the gas unit creates will still come out of the vents. Just not as hot. You can purchase insert type fireplace units that are smaller and then brick it in. Follow by using a fancy tile over the front. A brick mason can remove the brick hearth on the front, but you will need to fix the floor in that area as the sub floor will be exposed. This will make the fireplace appear to be about a foot off of the floor. No need for hearth with gas system. Make sure that the gas pipe install is inspected and approved. If its piped wrong you risk a fire. Very common with the DIY types of contractors that are out there these days.
  • Cathy Cathy on Aug 27, 2014
  • LMR LMR on Aug 28, 2014
    We didn't have a heatilator but this is our before and after picture. I kinda messed up. I got aggravated with the brick, and busted out all of the brick and the hearth. Turns out that the brick can be tiled over. However, I did want the sleeker looking tiles flush with the wall; it needed to have framing supports installed first since the brick was gone. We already had the gas line (start wood fire with gas, once logs got burning, turned it off). The glass rocks are so pretty. Whether or not the fire is burning. Costco everything ... tiles, and marble tile flooring/hearth. We still need a mantle.
  • LMR LMR on Aug 28, 2014
    @Cathy Oh, we didn't go with the "insert" because it is very costly. But we are in San Diego as opposed to Canada so there is no real NEED to install something specifically for heat. It does heat the living room (14x17) but we don't need heat on a regular basis.
  • Cathy Cathy on Aug 28, 2014
    @LMR It sure looks better. Thanks for your info -- I'll have to investigate ours further before breaking out the brick.
  • Depending upon the type of fireplace removal of the brick front can be easy and not so easy. Heatilator fireplaces often have steel fire boxes where the vents for the heatilator is attached. To remove this you need to support the chimney as its built on top of this. You need to research how your fireplace is constructed before you simply start whacking at it. However the hearth in front can be cut back flush with the front of the brick surround. This should give you the look your trying to achieve.
  • Colimbia1 Colimbia1 on Aug 28, 2014
    We had an insert installed and after two winters we love it. Ours has a fan and we also got the remote and it can be set for temperature or time (it was a promo or we probably wouldn't have spent the extra money). Sometimes brick painted white can look very nice. I also like glass tiles. Another source for ideas for what to do with your brick can be found on HGTV.com. Just a little advice about the insert: Be sure to have a reputable plumber install it and insist that they get county or city permits. We used an installer for the insert that came highly recommended by the plumber. The two worked closely and the plumber pulled all permits and set up inspections by the county permit office. The plumber put the gas hookup in and it was inspected. Then the insert was installed and he installed the door. The plumber returned to hook the gas pipe to the insert. Then final inspection. I can't remember the name of the company that manufactured the insert. I will look it up and add it tomorrow. It provides heat when the electricity goes off and even without the fan it keeps us warm.
  • Cathy Cathy on Sep 02, 2014
    Thanks to everyone who responded. I now know what I have to do!
  • Taffetal Taffetal on Nov 23, 2015
    If you can find an insert of the same dimensions of your fireplace opening, all you have to do is move the thing - they are very heavy- and push it into place. I am searching myself. I have the Heatilator box structure. My neighbor found one and she is very happy with the result.