How to Install a Fireplace Insert

We believe most people would agree that a fireplace makes a house feel like a home. We love the character and architectural detail that a fireplace adds to a room. While installing a fireplace may seem like a project you do not want to tackle, yet there are many elements that a DIYer can do on their own and save money! And you know we love to save money! This week we will share part 1 of our 4 part series of how to install a fireplace insert. Each Saturday for the next 3 weeks we will share the process of our fireplace installation.

This project was not a quick weekend DIY, but as you follow along with each step in our process, you can see that it is doable. Not only will we share how to install a gas fireplace insert, but we will also share how to build a faux wood beam along with building the surround and tiling.

When Steph & Dan built their home nearly 5 years ago, the extra cost of adding a fireplace was not in their budget. However, they knew they wanted a fireplace. So, they had the builder rough it in and planned on installing a fireplace at a later date. 

Well, the happy later date is now.  You will see that many elements of installing a fireplace can be done by the novice DIYer. As well as that the addition of a fireplace transformed their living room.

I love the look so much, I’m considering adding one to my bedroom now.

coastal Christmas decorations
coastal Christmas decorations

Here are a couple views of the room prior to the installation of the fireplace. It’s a lovely room, yet it lacked that WOW factor. Knowing that they would eventually add a fireplace, they did have the builder rough in for the fireplace. The builder had the 2 x 4  framed perfectly for the size of the fireplace they bought. 🙌

We found the fireplace insert at “Restore” for $100, such a bargain! It looked like it was in good condition and it had the features we were looking for. There are often fireplaces for sale on the online classified or Facebook marketplace.

Once the fireplace was purchased, Steve got online and downloaded the manual and installation guide for this particular model. This gave us all the information we needed for installation.

Determine Placement Fireplace Installation

Begin by locating where the fireplace should be installed. You will want it to be visually pleasing. Is it important to be symmetrical in the room. In Steph’s living room we felt that it should be centered between the 2 windows.

Find the studs

First, begin by locating where the studs are in the exterior wall. Once all the studs are located, measure the dimensions of the fireplace, centering it between the 2 windows.

Use a level to ensure that all the marks are straight and level.

With all the marks on the wall, we are now ready to cut the drywall.

Cut Out for Fireplace Installation

An oscillating multi-tool with a straight blade works perfectly to cut the drywall. This tool easily cuts through the drywall. However, if you do not have one you could also use a drywall saw or utility knife.

Once the entire area was cut from the drywall, another small square was cut out. This gave us a place to grab onto the drywall to pull it off.

As you can see, this was a pretty exciting day for the 2 little ones too. They were so eager to jump in and help! 😉 I know that when we were in the demo phase at our house everyone wanted to be part of taking out the wall. There is something so exciting about taking down a wall!

These two thought the fireplace key was the coolest place to play. 😂 So glad that we can provide so much entertainment!

Once the drywall is removed, cut and remove the baseboard. The reciprocating saw made easy work of this job. The last inch or so, we used the hand saw just to be sure we didn’t cut into the flooring.

The 2 x 4 base plate was then cut and removed with the reciprocating saw.

Finally, to get the opening ready to install the fireplace, measure and cut the 2 x 4’s to the height necessary for the fireplace. This information was found in the installation manual.

A 2 x 4 was cut to fit the opening and secured into place with screws.

Wiring & Gas Line Fireplace Installation

The fireplace has a blower, therefore we needed a power line run to the fireplace. We were able to run the power lines up from the basement. A television will also be installed above the fireplace, so a power line was run for that as well.

This is the perfect time to also add an ethernet cable (blue cable) as well.

The brown wire is for the igniter on the gas fireplace.

We hired a professional to come in and run the gas line over to the fireplace. The basement is unfinished, so this was relatively easy, at least for a professional. 😉

Install Fireplace Direct Vent Pipe

We are now ready to attach the direct vent pipe. This is a double wall pipe, the inner pipe sends exhaust fumes outside of the home while the outer chamber brings in fresh air from outside for the combustion. This type of operation is very efficient much more so than a traditional gas fireplace.

We purchased the pipe from a local fireplace supplier. It is installed simply by aligning the notch, sliding the pipes together and twisting to secure. Screws were also added to hold each pipe in place.

The pipe was placed and secured onto the fireplace insert before it was placed in the fireplace key.

Once the pipe was secured onto the fireplace insert, we slid the fireplace into place to find the location of where we needed to cut through the exterior wall. We dry fit the framing for the fire stop as well.

All required clearances are found in the installation guide.

The next step is to cut the hole through the exterior wall. Begin drilling a hole in each of the 4 corners. Using a jig saw cut out the block, it’s like connect the dots. 😉

Create a framing block for the fire stop out of 2×4 lumber. Apply construction adhesive to the frame and mount into place with screws.

Connect the fire stop to the pipe, then attach to the framing. We are getting so close now, we can hardly wait. 😃

The final piece to connect is the termination cap. The installation of the fireplace insert is now complete.

Fireplace installation

This completes the first part of installing a fireplace into Steph and Dan’s home. Are you curious to see how we’re going to build the mantle and surround? Then, please follow along for the next 3 weeks as we continue to complete this project.

Next Saturday we will share how we plan to add a beam as the mantle. Steph wanted to incorporate a little natural wood element with a wood beam. You will for sure want to see this post!

We will also share how we restored vintage corbels mounted them to the mantel surround.

Be sure to follow along each week as we continue with this fireplace installation.

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Thanks again for stopping by!

And as always here at Sunny Side Design

WE HOPE TO BRING YOUR HOME TO THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET!

Would you like to see more ideas for installing and building a fireplace mantle and surround? Just click here to see more.

Do you love the look of built-in bookcases? Find our complete tutorial with measured plans here.

Are you looking for more storage and organization for your mudroom. See our step by step tutorial here.

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