DIY Network

Install a Gas Fireplace Insert

DIY Network expert Paul Ryan shows how to upgrade your drafty old wood-burning fireplace with an energy-efficient gas fireplace insert.

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Step 1: Attach the Vent Pipes

Use sheet metal screws to attach the two supplied vent pipes to the fireplace insert’s mounting plate. Be sure the exhaust pipe connects to the outlet marked "exhaust."

attach vent pipes

Step 2: Prep the Fireplace Opening

Remove the existing fireplace damper, and test fit the vent pipes into the chimney flue (Image 1).

Also remove the ash cover (Image 2) on the floor of the "old" fireplace if it will obstruct the placement of the new insert.

Step 3: Install the Firebox

Attach the insert’s leveling legs, and set the firebox in place.

Adjust the leveling legs so that the firebox is centered in the hearth at top and bottom.

Step 4: Run Gas and Electric Lines

If your existing fireplace was not fueled by gas, or has electric connections for a fan, branch lines for these services must be installed. Working with both gas and electricity are hazardous and closely regulated by building departments. If you are not qualified to do either of these jobs, call in a professional for this part of the project.

Step 5: Install the Insert

Position the insert close to the firebox, but do not install it yet.

Pull the house wiring to the insert and connect it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Extend the gas line to the insert and connect it.

Slide the insert into the firebox, being careful to avoid kinking or damaging the gas line.

Position the mounting plate with the vent pipes on the insert, but before you connect them, insulate the damper opening around the pipes.

Slide the mounting plate into the slots on top of the insert, lining up the vent pipes with the holes on the insert. This unit has a handle that makes it easy to pull the plate into place.

Secure the sliding plate to the insert with a self-tapping screw.
Adjust the firebox leveling legs so the unit is level from side to side and front to back.

install insert

Step 6: Position the Accessories

Unhook the retaining clips at the bottom of the glass front panel and remove the glass.

Place the "glowing" embers inside the fireplace about a 1/2" apart. Larger pieces can be placed at the base of the burner plates to make the flames look more realistic.

Scatter the "mystic" embers that look like firewood ash. These should be placed loosely around the edges of the burner plate.

Position the ceramic fire logs according to the instructions provided (they typically fit only one way).

Replace the glass panel and reconnect the retaining clips.

position the accessories

Step 7: Install the Remote-control Receiver

Following the manufacturer’s instructions, install the receiver for the remote control. Position the receiver outside the firebox to protect it from the heat. The remote has built-in a timer, as well as a thermostat so you can start the fireplace from across the room.

Do a test burn to make sure the components work.

Step 8: Install the Fireplace Surround

Slide the surround over the two tabs on the top of the fireplace unit. Use screws to attach the surround at the base of the insert.

Install the screen over the surround’s glass front. This is not only decorative -– it protects anyone from touching the hot glass.

install the fireplace surround

Step 9: Install the Mantel

Typically, mantels are not supplied with a fireplace insert, but they often can be purchased where inserts are sold. Solid oak mantels, such as the one shown, are also available from a number of suppliers.

Remove the existing fireplace mantel (Image 1). In older homes, mantels frequently were built onsite by local carpenters, and it may be necessary to destroy the mantel in order to remove it.

Test-fit the new mantel above the surround. Be sure it sits level and flush with the wall.

The mantel is attached to a ledger board installed on the wall surface. The top of the ledger is angled upward, and the back of the mantel has a corresponding ledger strip angled downward. Mark the finished height of the new mantle on the wall, then measure down to where the two ledgers meet and use this dimension to mark the ledger location.

Use 3" drywall screws to attach the ledger board to the wall (Image 2), making sure the screws embed into wall studs.

Lift the new mantel into place on the ledger board. The ledger will carry the mantel’s weight. Secure the mantel to the wall with 10d finishing nails into wall studs.