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How To Measure For A Fireplace Insert

By Lawrence Macmillan October 25, 2021

A fireplace insert is an additional piece of equipment that is installed into your fireplace to increase the efficiency. They are typically made of steel or cast iron and insulated glass.

This creates a fireproof box that essentially functions as a closed combustion system. Some inserts will also have a blower function. This is used to push the hot air out of the fireplace and into the room from some vents on the front side. 

How To Measure Your Fireplace 

Image Source

You will need to record a number of different measurements to ensure you select an appropriately sized fireplace insert. Below is a diagram to help you understand which measurements to record.

The first and second measurements are of the width and height of the front opening of your fireplace. The third measurement is the width at the back of the interior of the fireplace and the fourth measurement is the depth. 

Measurements 5 and 6 are the width of the hearth and the depth of its extension. Measurement 7 is the height of the fireplace to the underside of the breastplate, and measurement 8 is the height to the underside of the mantle. 

We then get into more specifics. Measurement 9 refers to the mantle. While taking these measurements it is also important to note the material that your mantle is made from. 

Measurement 11 refers to the hearth. Is it raised or flush with the ground? If it is raised, take a note of how high. Measurement 12 is the interior width between the legs of the mantle. 

For measurement 13, you will need to go 10 ½ inches deep into the fireplace and measure the width from this point.

For measurement 14, measure 22 inches up the interior wall of the fireplace, and then work out the depth at this height from the front to the back. These are vital measurements to have for flush and flush hybrid inserts. 

Thermal Output

As well as selecting the correct size of fireplace insert, you will need to ensure it is powerful enough to heat up the room. The thermal output of these inserts is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units).

Typically, fireplace inserts range from 30,000 to 80,000 BTU per hour. The larger the room, the higher the BTU you will need. 

Fuel Source 

Electric fireplace inserts will give you the look and feel of a real fire without the downsides. All you need to do is plug it into a nearby electrical outlet and allow it to heat up.

There is no need for vents or permits and you do not need to be concerned with combustion or airflow. These fireplace inserts typically have the images of the fire displayed on the front, to give it a more realistic feel. 

Gas fireplace inserts do require adequate venting, but will also put out the largest amount of heat. The easiest way to do this is to purchase a venting kit from the manufacturer.

There are a few vent-free options. These tend to be made from granite, slate, or brick - non-combustible materials. They are best suited to large rooms but they have to be connected directly to your gas supply line.

The other option is a wood-burning fireplace insert. These give the traditional look and feel of a fireplace with no need for a live gas line or electricity.

This is a great choice for areas prone to winter storms or power outages. You will need to properly ventilate the region as well as insulating it. It is also recommended to incorporate a chimney lining to increase the safety. 

There are also coal and pellet fireplace inserts. Pellet inserts tend to combust more cleanly, but coal often produces more heat for the same cost.

Many people can often struggle to source coal briquettes for their insert, making pellets the more convenient fuel choice. Coal is also a lot harsher on the environment, releasing a large quantity of carbon into the atmosphere.

It also produces a lot of acid when burnt, which can make cleaning your fireplace insert a lot harder to clean. It ultimately comes down to a matter of personal opinion as to which fuel source you opt for.

What Are The Benefits Of Installing A Fireplace Insert?

A fireplace insert can be kind of like a facelift for your fireplace, at a hugely reduced cost. Remodeling the old stonework surrounding the fireplace can quickly become very expensive, easily into the thousands of dollars.

It is also a very slow process and can take weeks to complete. The inserts can just be slotted into place and are a fraction of the cost. 

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, fireplace inserts can make the fireplace much more heat efficient.

Less smoke and pollution is released through the chimney, making it a more environmentally friendly option too. In past studies, it has been shown that up to 95% of the residual heat from a wood-burning fireplace is sent outside.

In contrast, fireplace inserts can have a heat efficiency rating of 80% or more. The use of a fireplace insert will also prevent drafts from the chimney from entering your home. 

Fireplace inserts are much easier to clean and keep on top of the maintenance. All you really need is a wire brush. Use this to scrub off the black creosote residue as well as the debris and dirt from the surfaces of the insert. 

Fireplace inserts are also up to 50% more energy efficient than traditional fireplaces. This is predominantly seen when the insert is EPA-certified, but all inserts will increase the energy efficiency.

This means that it can reduce the overall costs of heating your home. The extra insulation will help to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

There are a number of different fuel sources available for fireplace inserts. They will commonly come with a built-in thermostat that allows you to more accurately control the temperature of your fireplace. 


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