Design & DIY

How to make your fireplace more efficient


Before the cold weather hits, consider making your wood-burning fireplace more effective with an insert, which fits inside an open fireplace and keeps more heat inside the cottage. If you’re a confident DIYer, there’s no need to have a pro install it—just grab your tool box and a helper. (Remember to have a WETT-certified inspector check your work afterwards.)

1. Choose your insert based on the type of fireplace you have, and its dimensions, keeping in mind that inserts can’t be used with all fireplaces. Measure the depth, width, and height of the existing fireboxat the front and back. Consider that the insert’s metal caisson will expand when heated; the manufacturer should list the required clearance. When you go to pick up a stainless steel flue liner and the insert itself, make sure you check that the liner is longer than the height of the chimney, and that the insert will still fit in the firebox even after heat expansion.

2. Remove the damper and sweep the chimney. Verify that the firebricks are intact, and clean the hearth with a steel brush. Slide the insert into the firebox and level it so it’s nearly flush with the hearth.

3. Go up to the roof, and attach the flue collar connector to one end of the liner and feed it down the chimney to the insert. Have a buddy below pull out the insert slightly to attach the flue collar connector to the flue collar on the insert. Cut the excess liner, leaving only eight centimetres above the chimney crown. Secure the liner with a top plate that attaches to the chimney, and fit with a rain cap.

4. Return inside and pull the insert out a bit from the firebox (the flue liner will allow for some flex). Screw in place the top and side surround panels that come with the insert. Slide the insert back into the firebox so the surround panels are flush with the fireplace front. Now you’re ready to call in the inspector.