How to Install a Fireplace Insert


A fireplace insert can transform an existing, traditional wood-burning fireplace into an efficient and environmentally friendly heat source. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your heating system or enhance the aesthetic appeal of your living space, installing a fireplace insert is a rewarding project that requires careful planning and execution.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of installing a fireplace insert, ensuring that you achieve a safe, functional, and beautiful addition to your home.

Things You Need to Know Before Installing fireplace insert 

  • Installation of a fireplace insert typically requires a building permit and should be done by a professional or experienced DIYer.
  • The cost of a fireplace insert can range from $1,000 to $5,000 or more.
  • Electric fireplace inserts are also available and can be easily installed without the need for a chimney or venting system.

Selecting the Right Fireplace Insert

Before you embark on the installation process, it’s crucial to choose the right fireplace insert for your needs and preferences. There are several types of inserts available, including wood-burning, gas, and electric options. Consider the following factors when making your selection:

1. Fuel Type

  • Wood-Burning Insert: If you enjoy the traditional crackling sound and ambiance of a wood-burning fire, this type of insert is ideal. It requires a steady supply of firewood and regular maintenance.
  • Gas Insert: Gas inserts offer convenience and efficiency. They provide consistent heat and can be controlled with a thermostat or remote control. A gas line connection is necessary.
  • Electric Insert: Electric inserts are hassle-free and require minimal installation. They create a visual flame effect and can be plugged into a standard electrical outlet.
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2. Size and Style

Consider the dimensions of your existing fireplace and the style of your home. Choose an insert that fits snugly into the fireplace opening and complements your interior décor.

3. Heat Output and Efficiency

Different inserts offer varying heat outputs and efficiency ratings. Determine the heating capacity you need for your space and select an insert with the appropriate BTU (British Thermal Unit) rating.

4. Venting Requirements

Installing a fireplace insert is no small task and venting requirements are a critical part of the process. Like a seasoned detective, your fireplace insert installation adventure will involve a fair amount of investigation and understanding of your home’s existing venting system. 

Here are the key factors you should consider: 

  • Chimney Condition: Before you even think about installing a fireplace insert, you need to assess the condition of your chimney. If it’s not in good shape, you’ll need to repair or replace it.
  • Venting Type: Not all fireplace inserts use the same type of venting. You’ll need to identify whether your insert requires direct venting, natural venting, or vent-free. Direct venting pulls air from outside and releases the exhaust back outside, natural venting uses your existing chimney, and vent-free doesn’t require any venting.
  • Venting Size: The size of the venting required will also depend on the type of fireplace insert you’ve chosen. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s requirements.

5. Installation Costs and Budget

Installing a fireplace insert isn’t just a matter of aesthetics or warmth. It’s also a matter of dollars and cents. To make sure you’re not burning through your budget, let’s take a look at some of the potential costs associated with this project. 

ComponentsEstimated Cost
Fireplace Insert$1,000 to $2,500
Professional Installation$500 to $2,000
Chimney Liner$250 to $500
Additional Materials (ventilation, hardware)$100 to $500
Total$1,850 to $5,500

Now, these are just estimates, and every project is unique. You could save some money if you’re the handy type and feel confident in your DIY skills. Just remember, certain aspects like the installation of a chimney liner, are best left to the pros due to safety concerns. 

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Preparing for Installation

Once you’ve chosen the perfect fireplace insert, it’s time to prepare for the installation process. Proper preparation is essential to ensure a smooth and successful installation.

1. Gather Necessary Tools and Materials

Before you begin, gather the tools and materials you’ll need for the installation, including:

  • Fireplace insert
  • Venting components (if required)
  • Chimney liner (if required)
  • Fireproof insulation
  • Flashing and sealant
  • Vent cap (if required)
  • Hearth extension (if needed)
  • Safety gloves and goggles
  • Power drill and appropriate drill bits
  • Screwdrivers
  • Measuring tape
  • Level
  • Wrenches
  • Fire-resistant caulk

2. Ensure Safety Precautions

Safety should be a top priority throughout the installation process. If you’re unfamiliar with working with gas lines or handling heavy materials, it’s recommended to hire a professional installer. If you’re comfortable with DIY projects, follow these safety guidelines:

  • Wear appropriate safety gear, including gloves and goggles.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area.
  • Turn off the gas supply and disconnect any electrical connections before starting.

3. Measure and Assess the Fireplace Opening

Accurate measurements are crucial to ensure a proper fit for your insert. Measure the width, height, and depth of your fireplace opening. Take note of any obstacles, such as mantels or protruding bricks, that may affect the installation.

4. Clear the Fireplace

Remove any debris, ash, or leftover wood from the existing fireplace. Clean the interior thoroughly to create a clean and safe surface for the insert.

5. Check and Repair the Chimney

If you’re installing a wood-burning or gas insert that requires venting through the chimney, inspect the chimney for any damage or blockages. Repair any cracks or issues before proceeding.

Installation Steps

With the necessary preparations complete, it’s time to dive into the installation process. Follow these step-by-step instructions to install your fireplace insert:

1. Positioning and Placement

  • Carefully position the fireplace insert in front of the fireplace opening. Ensure it’s centered and level.
  • If required, attach the hearth extension to the front of the insert. This provides additional protection for your floor.
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2. Venting Installation

For Gas Inserts:

  • If your gas insert requires venting, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to connect the vent pipe to the insert. Use appropriate connectors and sealant to ensure a secure connection.
  • Install the vent pipe through the chimney or direct vent, following the recommended guidelines. Attach the vent cap to the exterior of the chimney.

For Wood-Burning Inserts:

  • Install a chimney liner if your wood-burning insert requires it. The liner helps improve draft and safety by preventing the buildup of creosote.
  • Connect the vent pipe or liner to the insert and secure it using the provided hardware.

3. Insulation and Sealing

  • Use fireproof insulation to fill any gaps between the insert and the fireplace opening. This helps improve efficiency and prevents heat from escaping.
  • Apply fire-resistant caulk or sealant around the edges of the insert to create an airtight seal.

4. Secure the Insert

  • Depending on the model, use brackets or screws to secure the insert in place. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper attachment.

5. Connect Gas and Electrical Components (if applicable)

For Gas Inserts:

  • Hire a licensed professional to connect the gas line to the insert. Ensure all connections are secure and leak-free.
  • Test the gas line for leaks using a gas leak detector solution.

For Electric Inserts:

  • Plug the electric insert into a nearby electrical outlet. Conceal the cord if desired.

6. Test and Finishing Touches

  • Test the insert to ensure it’s functioning correctly. Turn on the flames and adjust the settings according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Attach any trim or decorative elements provided by the manufacturer to enhance the appearance of the insert.

7. Regular Maintenance and Safety Measures

  • Schedule regular inspections and maintenance for gas inserts to ensure safe operation and optimal performance.
  • For wood-burning inserts, clean the chimney and remove creosote buildup annually to prevent chimney fires.


Installing a fireplace insert can significantly enhance the comfort and aesthetics of your home while providing an efficient heat source. By carefully selecting the right insert, preparing for installation, and following the step-by-step process outlined in this guide, you can successfully complete the installation and enjoy the benefits of a beautiful and functional fireplace insert. Whether you choose a wood-burning, gas, or electric insert, the warmth and ambiance it brings will undoubtedly make your home a cozy retreat during colder months.

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