Tuesday, November 24, 2009


This post will be about fireplaces, but I thought I’d start with a quick update on things…

We finished the stucco work.  We were very lucky to have some warm weather in the last few weeks and the mason who did the stucco work made good progress.  We decided to not press our luck with painting the finished work (we’ll do that next year), but he did manage to fix all but 3 panels that were too difficult to reach without moving the scaffolding (which we didn’t have time for).  I’ll post pics shortly.

We met with our architect who is helping to design our renovation to the rear school buildings.  He came up with some good design ideas regarding our kitchen and how to open up some walls while keeping true to the historic elements of the house.  We’re going through some revisions now, but when we are further along, I’ll post the plans (or a portion of them).

We also finally had the plumbers back to hook up three radiators that have been disconnected for a year.  They managed to gouge one area of our dining room floor, leave a radiator leaking (it still is), rip one wall-mounted radiator off the wall, and come close to destroying another one by tightening the vent too tightly.  Not a great experience.

Now, back to fireplaces.  Our house originally had four fireplaces.  Two coal inserts, and two electric fireplaces.  That’s what we’re guessing.  There was one remaining coal insert in the parlor, and one electric in the 2nd floor den.  All that’s left of the other coal insert is the hearth tiles in the bedroom it was originally located in, and all that’s left of the living room electric is a very obvious patch in the hardwood floor which more or less matches our neighbour’s location of their electric fireplace.

Our eventual plan is to have five fireplaces when we’re all done our renovations.  One in the parlor (existing), one in the den (existing), one in a 2nd floor bedroom (hearth remaining), one in the master bedroom suite on the 3rd floor (at least a few years away), and one in the rear building’s renovated area. 

We had hoped the existing coal insert could be converted to wood and had mixed opinions from the W.E.T.T. certified inspectors we had come look at it.  Well, after getting smoke coming out of the bedroom floor above the parlor, we’ve decided to forget about wood (it’s just too expensive to repair the 40’ of flue) and are now looking at gas models.  Here is one we’re considering:


The styling is older that our house (more Victorian), but it’s the closest we’ve found that looks like our old coal insert.  We are still looking into pricing and it won’t happen until at least January, since all the fireplace installers are booked until at least Christmas.

The electric fireplace in the den was wired with knob and tube and we can’t find bulbs for it so we’ve decided to replace it as well.  We’ve been looking into electric and gel fireplaces and even ordered a cheap gel insert (from Costco!) that roughly fits the space, but after two fires with the gel fuel, we’re thinking electric.  The gel fuel gave off a weird smell and both of us had head-aches the next day.  Not ideal.  Here’s the electric fireplace we’re considering:


This is the closest we could find that will fit and has a coal-bed and looks reasonably realistic.

If anybody has any suggestions/ideas for gas and/or electric fireplaces that look/fit the era of our house (c1914) I’d love to hear from you.

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