Considering Fireplace Options Before Switching to Gas

Question Icon
Posted by: from Ottawa
2/21/2013 at 12:51:30 PM

I live in Ottawa. My house was built around 1954. It has a brick chimney and wood fireplace in the basement. I am in the process of re-finishing the basement. When I bought the house 3 years ago, I had a chimney guy come in to sweep the chimney so I could use the fireplace. He had a look and he told me there was no point sweeping the chimney since the fireplace was an old metal heatilator insert (with four vents on brick hearth on the front of it) that was rusted out and it wouldn't be safe to build a fire in there. His advice was to a) get a new insert or b) convert to gas since we have a gas line to the house anyways for heat and kitchen stove.

I put the project on the backburner (had twins and have been busy) but am ready to move forward now. I have decent general home improvement knowledge but have never had a fireplace so I don't know the options available to me - nor the cost of them. I know I could go to the nearby fireplace store and ask them to send someone over, but I think that would be more helpful if I had a better idea what my options were so I could ask better questions.

I assume the size of my existing firebox will limit my options. I've seen inserts online but I don't know how to measure my firebox/fireplace to know what will fit (i.e.: measure from what to what? Just height and width? Depth? chimney size?). I also don't know what is behind the rusty metal heatilator I have: is this kind of thing installed on to of an original masonry fireplace or not? How would I take the heatilator out or do I even have to if I wanted to put in a new insert?

I'm not sure yet if I want gas or wood. I love the ease of gas but the romantic-ness of wood - but I only really like wood if it can be an open fire - not a small glass window on a big steel door (maybe there are wood inserts I would like?).

To help me make up my mind, I thought about cost: Is there any way to know what the price of my options would be?

Thanks in advance

considering fireplace options before switching to gas
User Icon
Andy in Ottawa
Date/Time2/21/2013 at 12:52:19 PM

Another pic.

Considering Fireplace Options Before Switching to Gas
User Icon
Andy in Ottawa
Date/Time2/21/2013 at 12:52:40 PM

And one more.

Considering Fireplace Options Before Switching to Gas
User Icon
Nicolas from All Source Mechanical in Limoges
Date/Time2/21/2013 at 2:58:31 PM

There are many options, both are fisable. The wood insert is a cast stove put into your fire place old and a liner (chimner) is run to the roof through the existing hole. The gas fire place is about the same but with a better control and require a gas line and power.

If you want the blower (fan) model the price are similliar. A basic model is about 1200$ plus the liner is around 650$ for wood and 400$ for gas, plus the cost of a instal.

Normally I do for around 600 to 800 $. Those price are a idea and can depend one I see the place and chose the model and brand.

Best Regard


All Source Mechanical

User Icon
Date/Time2/21/2013 at 3:10:16 PM

You will also require a building permit in the city of Ottawa to install a wood burning insert. They are quite vague on the application requirements but know exactly what they want after you have applied.

User Icon
Date/Time2/22/2013 at 5:26:28 AM

Hi Andy

After looking at the pictures i can see that it is a very small heatilator and by the makings on the face it shows a lot of smoke stains which mean the it was not done very well to start with. Your chimney flu is probably a clay flu, and it is probably to small for the new requirements for wood burning fireplaces. The amount of work involved in to keep wood in that fireplace would be quite costly as compared to gas. Looking at the size of the opening you might have to make the opening bigger to even get a zero clearance gas fireplace installed, but then you could do a nice wood facing to compliment the rest of the reno.

Your main problem will be to find somebody with enough knowledge about brick fireplaces to covert it over to gas if the brickwork has to be removed to get enough room to install a new one. My advice is do some searching for a qualified contractor and get advice from him when he can show you dimensions of different units and describe how this all will be done. Your fireplace is about the smallest I have seen and it also looks not very deep, all these factors come into play.

If you still have questions after you talk to contractors post the finding here again to see if you can get additional advice.



User Icon
Andy in Ottawa
Date/Time2/28/2013 at 3:35:13 PM

Thanks for the replies.

Guess I have to have someone come in and have a look. Just to give me some idea - how much should I expect to pay to either return to wood (with insert or not) or convert to gas?

User Icon
Terry from TMT Mechanical in Dunrobin
Date/Time3/4/2013 at 9:08:10 PM

Andy you just had twins? If so the last thing you want in you house is a wood fire place not good for small children, and very dusty, dirty.

I have a wood stove and every week you need to dust the house. Also you bring bugs dirt in with the wood. After one year bringing wood down to the basement you will not think its so great.

A gas masonary insert is what you want. Gas insert will increase the value of the house by 5,000. A wood any thing has 0 value if you ever go to sell down the road.

Search the TrustedPros directory and discover the best contractors in your area.

Find your home service pro
Great renovations start with a great contractor.

Since 2004, TrustedPros has been helping homeowners find the right contractor for their home improvements and repairs.

Post Your Project

Within hours you'll be comparing offers from top-rated professionals. It's free to post and you're under no obligation to hire.

Trustedpros Inc. does not warrant the accuracy, completeness, safety, legality or usefulness of any Content, or Whether Content is Current and up-to-date, and TrustedPros Inc. Shall have no liability whatsoever with respect to your use or reliance upon any content or for content being removed or otherwise ceasing to be available. Please refer to the terms and conditions of use of this websites for more details.

Get Free Estimates

Post your project and compare offers from top-rated pros.