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On one of trips to the Mill Creek Lumber “bone yard” (overstock/returns store) Carri spotted a gas log fireplace insert at a very low price. Before I knew it, I was helping the store manager load the item into the back of Carri’s SUV. I didn’t want to spend any time or money working on the chimney, so it looked like the perfect solution for upgrading the fireplace. The insert was a direct vent unit so any chimney structural problems would not be a factor. I could simply knock out a hole on the back of the firebox and add a flue and cap on the back of the insert. In theory that was correct… in practice … well not so fast.

The insert turned out to be a little too big to simply slide into the existing firebox. It was about 2 inches too high and wide. The original tile hearth was poorly installed so I began by pulling it up. Before I was done the tile, subfloor, and first layer of firebrick on the base of the firebox was gone.after a few dry fits and grinding away the edges of the firebox opening, the fireplace was ready to rebuild.

After much consideration and debate “Carri” decided we would use travertine tiles for the hearth and surround with a to be decided accent. I began by framing the hearth opening, adding insulation, and new subfloor, and dry fit the travertine for the hearth. . My job was done. Time for Carri to do her decorating thing.

Carri took over tiling the surround and refurbishing the mantel. She started by finishing the surround with travertine and a decorative twist.

She compete the project by spending two weekend stripping the pealing paint from the mantel and repainting it with black enamel paint. The refurbished fireplace is the focal point of the living room.

Now for the rest of the story. The insert cost $150.00 which is a great deal. Unfortunately, the 18 inch length flue and termination cap to make it a functional fireplace would have cost another $600.00. Adding a blower would have been another $250.00. Once realized, that recurring voice in my head screamed out: “I can’t afford that.” To make a long story short. The fireplace at the moment is simply decorative. The rest can always be added later if I can ever get rid of that darn voice in my head.

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