Can I Replace a Hearth with a Wood Stove?
LESLIE: Matt in California is on the line and needs some help with a fireplace. What can we do for you?
MATT: Our hearth is ugly and we want to replace it. We want to take it out and replace – it has a fireplace insert but we want to replace it with a wood stove. And our question is: does that – by removing the hearth, will that effect the flue – the integrity of it – when we put in a wood stove?
TOM: Well, I mean it depends, structurally, how it’s constructed. You know, generally speaking, with a fireplace, the chimney rests on the fireplace. So, structurally speaking, you need to make sure that that is still the case.
If you’re going to leave the fireplace in place and essentially just convert it to a wood stove, then what you’ll probably do is break into the chimney and the flue above the fireplace, kind of with a 90 degree bend and straight in, and you’d seal the bottom of the chimney or certainly put a clean-out door there or maybe just leave the damper in place.
It won’t affect the structural integrity as long as you leave it structurally intact. You can’t start just taking apart the fireplace and expect the chimney not to fall, though. Does that make sense, Matt?
MATT: Yeah, alright. OK. And I’m glad I asked. Didn’t want to take that out and have it all fall apart on me.
TOM: I would – if it’s just the hearth down on the bottom that sticks out, you can probably take that out. But you’re really going to have to have somebody with structural common sense take a look at that and answer this question for you, because I can’t see it from here, obviously.
MATT: Right. Exactly. That’s what I thought. OK. That helps. I appreciate that.
LESLIE: But are you open to just changing the hearth and changing the look of the fireplace itself? Because that’s not terribly difficult.
MATT: Yeah. The fireplace itself is not good, economically, even with the insert that’s in there. It’s not economical at all. So then we want to go with a wood stove. So, if we put a wood stove there, that would look not very pleasing with the – with it – with the hearth sticking out like it is and then having a wood stove. So we thought we could replace that, all the way up to the wall, and then kind of design it so it’d look attractive with a wood stove within there.
TOM: Well, you might be able to remove that hearth but you’re going to have to hire a mason or a contractor to look at it. If the hearth is – the hearth is there to, essentially, help make use of the fireplace safer. So if the hearth is not lending any structural contribution to the overall fireplace, you may be able to break that part out and leave the rest in place.
MATT: OK. Yeah. I’ll have someone look at it, because I think that’s what we want to do.