What To Bring With You

If you have an existing fireplace, it is helpful to know what type of fireplace it is, how it vents, and to have basic measurements of the firebox, hearth and mantel, if applicable. Our self assessment form (available here) can help guide you in determining what sort of system you have, and what the important measurements are. Not all measurements are needed for all types of installations.

Bringing photographs of your existing fireplace, or where you want the new product to be installed, as well as the exterior of the house where the product vents, is very helpful. Below are some examples of the types of photographs that are useful.

It is also useful to familiarize yourself with the terminology we use, to ensure that we identify the product that best fits your needs.

A masonry fireplace is what most people think of when they picture a fireplace. Constructed on a solid concrete foundation, they are massive towers of brick, stucco or stone usually seen rising up an exterior wall of a house. Some factory-built fireplaces are constructed to look like masonry fireplaces. The key difference is that a masonry fireplace will have a solid, laid brick and mortar side walls and back while the factory-built will have cast cement panels lining a sheet metal box.

A factory built fireplace (can be wood, gas or pellet) is constructed of metal, and is designed to go into framing. Sometimes they are called “zero clearance” fireplaces but this is something of a misnomer, as no fireplace is truly zero clearance.

A masonry thimble is a round, terracotta cylinder extending through the chimney wall into the flue. The hole is usually 6 or 8 inches in diameter and is designed to accept stove pipe.

A “Class A” thimble is also a 6 or 8 inch diameter hole in the wall, but projects several inches into the room, and has black metal trim and a smooth metal interior. It usually has a crimped metal flange for fitting the metal stovepipe.

A stove (can be wood, gas or pellet) is free standing and can vent out the top or the back. Some stoves have reversible flue collars, and can therefore vent out either the top or the back.

A direct vent fireplace, stove or insert is a completely sealed propane or natural gas burning heating appliance, with a glass front. Combustion air comes from the outside of your house, and the flue gases vent to the exterior of your house. It is not necessary to vent direct vent fireplaces up the roof line. There are two types of venting systems for direct vent appliances — one for a masonry chimney and one that can be put through walls and framing. A co-linear direct vent system must be in a masonry chimney and vents vertically to the top of the roof. A co-axial direct vent system can be vented horizontally through a side wall of the house or can be vented vertically through the roof.

A high efficiency wood-burning fireplace functions exactly like a stove except that it can go into framing. They are clean-burning, meet EPA standards for emissions, and are efficient as well. These fireplaces can be equipped with gravity or forced air kits to distribute heat to other rooms of the house. These fireplaces are nearly as efficient as wood stoves and can potentially be used as primary heat sources. They require Class A chimney that must vent vertically above the roofline. Code requires a minimum of 3′ above the roof line AND 2′ above any point within 10′. In some cases high efficiency fireplaces can be used in conjunction with masonry fireplaces and flues.