Looking To Upgrade Your Hearth? Have Mr. Smokestack Install a Retrofit Fireplace!

When the leaves begin to turn from green to golds, reds, and deep oranges, apples ripen on trees, and the scent of pumpkin spice fills the air, there are few pleasures in life better than snuggling up on the sofa with a warm mug and basking in the warm fire’s glow.

…but before you can unwind and relax after a hard day’s work, you must first stack the wood, light the fire, stoke the flame, and monitor everything to make sure it’s burning properly.

You love your hearth and mantel and the satisfaction of a cozy ambience created by your own two hands, but you’re sick of all the work involved… and the fact that your system doesn’t even seem to produce that much heat. There’s got to be a better way, right?

You bet. Perhaps you’ve been thinking about converting your wood-burning system to one fueled by gas. Or maybe you’d like to stick with wood, but would love an increase in heat efficiency. Regardless of the specifics, if it’s an upgrade you’re after, a retrofit fireplace might just be the answer.

If you’re a homeowner in the greater Raleigh or Durham, NC area, Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service has both the products and expertise to help you get just what you’re looking for. Set up an appointment with us right here through our website, or give us a call at 919-747-1859 to learn more about us and what we can do for you.

What Is a Retrofit Fireplace?

First things first, what even is a retrofit fireplace?

It’s a great question, and one that we get all the time. Across the board, the chimney/venting/home heating industry is actually a lot more complicated than most people think, so if some brief Googling sent your head into a little spin, we don’t blame you.

The simple answer is this: a retrofit fireplace – “retrofit” commonly also used as a verb, such as “retrofitting a fireplace” or a “retrofitted fireplace” – is a self-contained fireplace unit that is installed directly into an existing hearth.

But here’s where it gets a little confusing – in order for a new fireplace system to be considered a “retrofit,” the existing fireplace must first be completely demolished and gutted. If a new unit is simply installed into the open hearth, and all the bones from the previous fireplace – the walls of the firebox, the smoke chamber, etc. – remain intact, you’re looking at a fireplace insert as opposed to one that is retrofitted.

What’s the Difference Between a Retrofit Fireplace & a Fireplace Insert?

Now, both systems are so similar it can be a challenge to really discern what distinguishes one from the other.

Think of it like this: a retrofit is a full replacement of the system and all its crucial components. Installing an insert, on the other hand, is simpler, thought of as more of a quick upgrade.

In the same way that you likely wouldn’t consider painting your kitchen cabinets a new color a full remodel, the same is true for your fireplace – having a new fireplace insert installed directly into your open-hearth fireplace is not considered a full remodel/replacement, but rather a fireplace upgrade.

However, if your fireplace is looking worse for wear and perhaps has even suffered some damages, you might consider a more intense remodeling project where walls are torn down, the smoke chamber is reformed, and the liner is replaced. (Think as if your kitchen project involved tearing out your kitchen cabinets to replace the whole structure with something new – more than just a fresh coat of paint.) In your hearth, this demo work makes it possible to install a retrofit fireplace, as opposed to its insert cousin that is designed to work with the structures and components already in place.

Clear as mud? Don’t worry – that’s where we come in. The team at Mr. Smokestack is highly trained and well-versed in these products and their requirements, so if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have. Give us a call at 919-747-1859 to get started today!

Why Should I Upgrade My Fireplace?

Whether you’re simply tired of the way your current open-hearth fireplace has weathered in appearance over the years, or you simply crave a system with much higher efficiency levels, there are a handful of reasons you might wish to remodel your hearth.

  • Efficiency: While there is something to be said for the multi-sensory experience inherently enjoyed during a wood-fueled fireside experience – the crackling sound of fire licking at wood, the way the flames dance before your eyes, the sweet smell of burning timber – they are not known to be very efficient or produce a lot of warmth.
  • Maintenance: For as much ambience and aesthetic appeal traditional masonry fireplaces have to offer, they are a lot of work for little reward if it’s a good quality heating system you’re after.
  • Coding/Regulations: Perhaps you love everything about your existing hearth in terms of style and design, but you’re worried it’s not up to code. Investing in a retrofit fireplace is the perfect opportunity to ensure your entire system has been properly updated for safe and care-free enjoyment.

Just remember – like so much else in the general home improvement realm, the decision to upgrade your fireplace – or not – is entirely subjective. The most important thing is to make sure that you’re following proper maintenance and care protocols, no matter the system. This means keeping up to date with those preventive services like annual chimney sweeps and inspections to ensure that your appliance is operating as safely as possible.

Can I Convert My Wood-Burning Fireplace to Gas?

Absolutely! In fact, this is perhaps one of the most common reasons homeowners will choose to retire their old masonry fireplace and upgrade with something a bit more modern – and a lot more efficient.

Gas is a clean-burning fuel source that has been proven to outperform wood in a number of ways when it comes to heat production, efficiency, and overall system maintenance requirements. It’s no wonder so many are eager to make the switch.

That said, it’s always crucial to work with a professional chimney service company when it comes to any kind of fireplace upgrade. Here at Mr. Smokestack, our chimney technicians are highly trained, certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), and know how to properly and safely install and hook up a gas line.

All you have to worry about is igniting the system whenever you want to enjoy a fire. Call or schedule an appointment with us today to get started.

What Are the Benefits of Retrofitting a Fireplace?

Considering the fact that a retrofit fireplace falls into the category of an upgrade, regardless of what struck your attention in the first place, you can rest assured there are additional benefits to having one installed in your home:

  • Improved air quality. Despite the fact that wood is a renewable resource, it is not known to burn cleanly. In fact, when wood burns, it emits particulate matter that can cause air pollution and breathing problems for people with asthma or other respiratory conditions. A properly installed retrofit fireplace, however, has been found by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce this air pollution by roughly 70%. A win for you and Mother Nature.
  • Increased efficiency. Traditional, open-hearth masonry fireplaces may be rustically beautiful, but the trade off is that a significant amount of heat escapes up and out of the chimney. Actually, did you know that approximately 80-90% of the warmth created from wood combustion is lost this way? Having a retrofitted fireplace installed in place of your open-facing system can restore this loss by redirecting more heat back into your living space where it belongs.
  • Money savings on energy bills. If you’re currently utilizing a traditional fireplace to heat your home in those chilly North Carolina winters (or attempting to anyway), odds are you’re still spending a pretty penny running your home heating system. But with a new retrofit fireplace, you can spend less to receive more…and you have a variety of fuel options to choose from.
  • Easier to maintain. Because retrofit fireplaces are fully contained combustion units, there is virtually no mess and very little work required in order to enjoy a fire – depending slightly on what fuel you choose: gas, wood, or pellet. Regardless, the general maintenance and upkeep will still be significantly less involved than an open-hearth wood-burning fireplace.
  • Added home value. A beautiful, well-kept fireplace is all the rage these days on the housing market. However, even if you don’t plan to sell your home soon (or at all), investing in an appliance that fits the vibe and aesthetic of your living space only adds to your own enjoyment. And doesn’t everyone deserve to relax in a space they totally love?

Interested in learning more? We’d be happy to chat with you about all of our retrofit fireplace options and help you decide which one would best suit your needs and lifestyle. Simply fill out this appointment request form through our website, or call 919-747-1859 to get in touch with someone from the Mr. Smokestack team.

What Are the Maintenance Requirements for a Retrofit Fireplace?

Great question. We’ve learned that they’re less maintenance than their open-hearth predecessors, but it’s important to note that they do still need attention, care, and a bit of regular maintenance.

If there is one thing that is true about all flame/heat-producing appliances (think open-facing fireplaces, gas fireplaces, fireplace inserts, stoves, retrofitted fireplaces, etc.), it’s that they all require annual, preventive maintenance services like chimney cleanings and inspections.

But why are these things so important?

Well, firstly, because regardless of specifics, any type of combustion creates byproducts that can harm the internal parts of your chimney. Over time and regular/frequent use, the toxic fumes and gases produced in a fire can accumulate on the walls and, if left unchecked, can lead to obstructions or clogs in the flue. When this happens, the exhaust has a hard time exiting the system (and your home) the way it is supposed to and can actually blow back into your living space, exposing you and your family to harmful, dangerous, life-threatening chemicals like carbon monoxide.

Having your chimney swept annually not only keeps you in line with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommendations, but will ensure that your chimney is as safe as possible when the burning season comes around.

Similarly, a chimney inspection is a diagnostic overview of your chimney, fireplace, and all its many parts and pieces that serves to ensure everything is in safe, operating condition year after year. There are different levels depending on a variety of circumstances, but the purpose is always the same – to check for damage or deterioration and make sure no needed repairs are in order.

No matter if you’re investing in a new retrofit fireplace system or your hearth serves no purpose other than being a nice focal point for decoration, these regular chimney maintenance procedures are an absolute must. For nearly two decades, our dedicated team of chimney experts has been providing the highest-quality hearth appliances – like retrofit fireplaces – and fireplace, venting, and chimney maintenance services to homeowners throughout the community.

Call o book online today.

Fireplace Retro Fit Before with square black insert, stone surround and hearth, and wood mantle


Fireplace Retro Fit After with new black arched insert with same stone surround, wood mantel and upgraded smooth heath


How Long Will It Take To Have a Retrofitted Fireplace Installed?

Well, just like any other dimension-specific project, it really just depends. Without someone from our team coming to your home, taking a look at the exact specifications and condition of your existing fireplace, or having an idea of which specific retrofit fireplace you’re interested in, it’s hard to say. In addition to these logistics, there are factors like fuel type and whether you’re switching from one to another that also will play into how long an installation service will take.

But remember, in order for a fireplace replacement to be considered a retrofit, there is a certain level of demolition required in order to properly prepare the system for a new combustion unit.

For this reason, a retrofit fireplace installation will be a lengthier, more involved process than simply having a fireplace insert installed directly into the already existing firebox.

A retrofit fireplace requires new firebox walls and material, a new smoke chamber, and a new liner – all of which take time and industry expertise to ensure the job is done correctly and will set the homeowner up for success.

Fireplace Retro Fit Before with Black Insert and white surround


Fireplace Retro Fit After with New Arched Insert and stone surround


How Much Does It Cost To Install a Retrofit Fireplace?

If you’ve spent a fair amount of time perusing our site, you’ve likely noticed that we don’t really advertise the pricing of our products and services. That’s because the nature of our work is dependent on so many different factors, and we value each and every one of our customers too much to provide any false information.

What do we mean by this? Well, just like every home is a little bit different, so, too, are their accompanying chimney and fireplace systems. Things like size, condition, home location, and more can all influence cost estimates, and we strongly believe in expectation transparency.

For this reason, we always like to encourage our customers (or those soon to be) to reach out and speak with someone from our team directly. If you’re curious about purchasing and installing a retrofit fireplace – or simply want to know more about our other products, chimney repair or maintenance services, and price quotes – please, get in touch.

Schedule online or give us a call at 919-747-1859 to ask all your money-related questions, or get info on our financing program.

Can I Install a Retrofit Fireplace Myself?

Can you? Technically, sure. But should you? Absolutely not.

Despite their no-nonsense, straightforward appearance, fireplaces – and their attached chimney/flue system – operate according to scientific principles and (in the case of prefabricated systems) manufacturer instructions and regulations. Meaning that there is actually a lot going on to ensure that your fireplace is not only operating properly and efficiently, but safely, too.

For this reason, it is never recommended to attempt any kind of DIY project as it relates to your fireplace. Remember that your fireplace and chimney are designed to literally maintain and effectively vent a living, breathing fire inside of your home. The results of any negligence from a DIY attempt can not only harm your appliance and result in even more damage, but can subject you – and those in your household – to significant dangers as well.

Trust us. It’s so much better to call on a team of trained professionals – like the crew here at Mr. Smokestack – right from the start. Plus, when you work with us, you’re guaranteed great service and an easy process. After you schedule with us, all you have to do is kick back and relax – we’ll take care of the rest.

Ready To Book Your Spot? Call Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service Today

If you’re tired of drafty, smoky, inefficient fires, it might be time to invest in a retrofit fireplace upgrade. After all, what’s the point of even having a fireplace if you can’t (or don’t) enjoy using it?

You can get in touch with us right here through our website or by calling 919-747-1859. When it comes to all things fireplace and chimney, there is no one better than Mr. Smokestack in the greater Raleigh/Durham area. See for yourself why all your neighbors choose us as their preferred chimney service company. We look forward to working with you.


If you’ve decided you are ready for all the benefits of a gas fireplace, we can handle it. Restorations and installations are a major part of our expert services.