You Ask, We Answer! Reface Fireplace

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Our chimney is 27″ wide by 25″ high by 23″ deep. The chimney is in a relatively new home ( 4 years ). We have a special air system installed by the builder. There is a vent under the grate that we keep open when operating the fire. The fireplace working really, really well and we use it a lot. If we could make one wish, it would be to make the opening to the fireplace bigger.

All of what I am reading is that “if” this is even possible, it would be a big job and quite expensive. We are just about to reface the fireplace and wanted a firm answer from an expert on whether such a change is recommended and safe, and also the cost involved.

Thank you,


Clay Lamb’s reply to Ann

Because all of our homes are so darn airtight, this could be a complex re-design situation.
There are many factors that can effect the draft as well as the air balancing in our homes today.  Design factors must be taken into consideration for the fireplace to draft properly.  The height and shape of the flue tiles will all draft differently (round, rectangle or square) also, the location of the fireplace (on an outside wall or in the center of the room), ceiling height and the shape of the room that your fireplace is located in all can play a factor.

Location of HVAC supply and return vents can be crucial, as well as the location of staircases or whole house attic fans. Proposed changes to the fireplace opening must be able to pass your local building codes in your area.  Other fireplaces located in your home and how they might function after the modifications have also been made need to be considered. Also, that “special air supply” you mentioned located under the grate may also need to be evaluated.

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There are way too many variables for me to give you a firm answer and estimate of cost here online.

The original home builder may provide insight, or your HVAC contractor may also shed light on this project. I would consider speaking with a designer or architect as well and, you may find a reputable chimney contractor who might find interest in your project in your area and , you can use this link to the National Chimney Sweep Guild locator:
It is very important to go online and read their customer reviews from Google, BBB and Angies List.

Also, I personally love taking on projects like this and I have successfully completed many of these projects, but I have walked away from just as many as well.  Yes, it would be “a big job and quite expensive,” but I’ll bet this a is very do-able.
Please send me some pictures (when) this project comes about.


Clay Lamb
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2 thoughts on “You Ask, We Answer! Reface Fireplace

  1. I have a 35 year old home with original fireplace and wood burning stove insert. It has been inspected and cleaned consistently every year for the last 10:years and every other year before that. The most recent inspection revealed 2 and 3 rd stage creosote buildup. 2 separate professionals suggested a cleaning with Poltice creosote cleaner, liner, and new insert. If the cleaner will eliminate most of the buildup, and if the fireplace has been safe for the last 35 years, why do I suddenly have to comply with current building codes?
    I have land and only burn with oak that has been seasoned for a year or longer. I keep it covered and the word pile is always positioned so it receives cross wind for drying. I also use a moisture tester.

  2. Number one sounds great but somethings apparently has changed within the system, the fuel supply, or burning techniques because you didn’t have stage 2 or 3 creosote prior to this. As far as what you can and can’t do, it’s up to the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), that is your local building code department. If you have any questions with that we don’t engage with local jurisdiction disputes, I’ve had enough of mine. As far as creosote poltice remover we use it and I highly recommend it, don’t hesitate to bring a third or fourth opinion in on this.

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