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convert gas fireplace to open fireplace

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  1. #1
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    Default convert gas fireplace to open fireplace

    I am purchasing a property that currently has a gas fireplace (not working). My plan (I think) is to pull this out, convert the fireplace to an open fireplace for aesthetics only, and also install ducted gas heating.

    The property was built in about 1959-1960. I was wondering if anyone knows if this type of gas heater would have been installed at the start or if it would have originally been an open fireplace. And what should I expect when I rip out the heater? Also any ideas of what I can do to make the facade a bit nicer rather than painted brick (and yes, the kitsch knic knacks will go with the tenant which will help!) I quite like the timber of the mantle as it is.

    Photo attached.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails img_1222.jpg  

  2. #2
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    Kind of hard to tell... Is there a chimney outside? It doesn't look like this is the original heater regardless because of the trims around the edges of the heater.

  3. #3
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    img_1560.jpgimg_1240.jpgyes, there is a chimney in good condition.
    Attachment 84259Attachment 84259Attachment 84259Attachment 84259

  4. #4
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    Looks like it can be done. Cost will be dependant on how much gutting was done to fit the gas unit it in... More than likely, a chairback will have to be re-installed. Tough job with a lintel in place but by no means impossible. I've done one before, and it worked a treat!! Good luck!

    P.S. make sure you use a plumber to disconnect the gas before removing heater!!!!

  5. #5
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    Thanks Pete,

    Um... what is a chairback? Does it have another name, am trying to google it, but can't find it... Is it doable as a DIY? Would the chairback have to be installed if the fireplace was never used, but was just for looks?

    Thanks for the plumber tip- I would never mess around with trying to do this myself where gas is involved!

  6. #6
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    A lot of chimneys in that era were very poorly made. some even lack a smoke shelf; despite the fact that I love an open fire I'd say that the best bet would be to istall something like a Coonara or Heatcharm insert

  7. #7
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    A chairback is the wall at the back of the fireplace that is angled or rolled forward to deflect heat out of the fireplace. If you chase up some bricklaying trade school books, it will tell you exactly how to do this. There is a bit of a science to it though, your throat and smoke shelf have to be a certain size for your fireplace to be able to draw efficiently. As to whether it is a DIY job... probably not, but worst come to worst, if it doesn't work, you can always pull it down and get a bricky in. Your best bet would be to get an older bricky in too, as fire places are a bit of a dying art.

  8. #8
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    Thanks again Pete and thanks moondog.

    I think I'll rip the heater out (with plumber for gas disconnection of course!) and see what I've got to work with. Moondog, thanks for the info on the chimney, but I don't need it to be functional as I am installing ducted gas heating, just want it to look pretty when unlit to add to the room rather than detract from it as it does now. Considering putting in a few candles in the open space, am assuming I don't actually need it to be functional for that? Will just make sure it doesn't ever have an actual fire in it.

  9. #9
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    Candles are no dramas!! Maybe take some photos once heater has been removed so we can see what needs to be done to return/make it into a useable condition?!

  10. #10
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    Thanks again Pete and thanks moondog.

    I think I'll rip the heater out (with plumber for gas disconnection of course!) and see what I've got to work with. Moondog, thanks for the info on the chimney, but I don't need it to be functional as I am installing ducted gas heating, just want it to look pretty when unlit to add to the room rather than detract from it as it does now. Considering putting in a few candles in the open space, am assuming I don't actually need it to be functional for that? Will just make sure it doesn't ever have an actual fire in it.

  11. #11
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    Just make sure that you block off the chimney if you are using it for ornamental purposes. Otherwise you will be paying a fortune for heat that gets sucked up the hole you have made (not to mention birds nesting in it, rain falling down at inconvenient moments and other fun things ...)

  12. #12
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    Hi. Here's my suggestion: you could install a wood heater with insert. Use stone veneer on the bricks after etching them. Have an exposed flue or get a frame made up to hide the flue and cover in cement sheeting as a base and whatever you like for aesthetics. A normal ducted airconditioner, when its return air grille is near the heat source and used in fan mode, would distribute the heat to the other rooms.

  13. #13
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    Sorry for the double post- don't know what happened there and can't figure out how to delete it.

    I will take photos once it's removed and post them thanks, won't be for a while as the property doesn't settle till June.

    Blackcat, thanks for the tip re blocking off the chimney, will do so.

    vvandgm, if it was my place of residence that's exactly what I'd do too, but it's a rental property, and I (and especially my husband) don't want tenants dragging wood in over our floors etc!

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