How to Measure a Fireplace Insert
Fireplace inserts can burn natural gas, propane, wood, pellet, coal and even run on electricity.
They are popular because, according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, they are more efficient than a regular fireplace, they are easy to clean, and unless they rely on electricity, they can provide heat in case the power goes out. The measurements for a fireplace insert are usually taken in inches. When you are considering the size you need for your opening, there are zero clearance models that can fix exactly with no clearance. In order to install a fireplace insert, you must have an existing fireplace with a working chimney.
Measure the height of the fireplace insert at the point that it enters the existing fireplace and in the back and compare the measurement to the height of the space that you have for the insert. If the fireplace insert is too small, a licensed installer can pad it with insulation to make it fit better.
Measure the depth of the fireplace insert from the point that it enters the existing fireplace to the back. This measurement needs to be less than the depth of existing fireplace. If it is less, insulation can be added.
Measure the width of the fireplace insert at the front and the back. If it is smaller than the existing fireplace, insulation can be added.
Measure the diameter of the flue. Almost all chimneys for fireplaces are significantly larger than the flue size of a fireplace insert so there is very little chance your existing flue will be too small. However, a larger chimney cannot effectively vent a smaller flue so building regulations require you to have a chimney liner installed that fits your fireplace insert that runs from your insert to the top of the chimney.
The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association recommends that you have your fireplace insert professional installed so you can be sure it is installed correctly and meets all building codes. If you will be relying on your fireplace insert to generate heat for the home, consider purchasing a model that has a fan to better circulate the heat throughout the room. Some natural gas burning fireplace insert will not have a flue so you do not need to worry about measuring for it.
Before you start measuring it would be beneficial to clean out your fireplace to make sure your measurements are accurate and to avoid getting dirty while taking your measurements.
Mark Kennan is a writer based in the Kansas City area, specializing in personal finance and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by "Quicken," "TurboTax," and "The Motley Fool."