Does anyone have much experience with wood stove inserts?


Newly Enlightened
Jan 15, 2020
Admins - I am not sure if this is the right place for this topic, feel free to move.


With the crowd that is on the forums here I am hoping some have experience with wood stove inserts - the kind of wood stove that "slides in to" an existing fireplace/hearth.

We had one in the house I grew up in. My dad sold it separately when he moved out of the house and gave me some information on how it functioned. That one, apparently, was literally just "slid in to" the existing brick hearth. There was no flue liner pipe, the stove exhausted in to the hearth and went up the chimney as if a fire was burning directly in the hearth with no stove. I found that odd as it appears all the ones I've looked at require a flue pipe attached to the stove top (usually 6", our flue pipe is 8" and per the install instructions of a few I've looked at the 6" "liner" simply drops down inside the existing 8").

Where I have most of my questions is how to deal with the fireplace and fitment of an insert. We don't have a "masonry hearth". We have a brick-lined engineered sheet metal framed "fish tank" - Lennox CST-38, specifically.

The width of the brick will allow a good size stove. The door frame height will only allow 17" or so of "slide in height". I have yet to find a stove that is short enough to clear.

So that brings up the questions. If I open up the "fish tank" sheet metal framing on top (base brick is pretty much the same level as the bottom door frame, so that isn't a concern) that would give a few more inches of clearance. I can do that - but it would require cutting the "fish tank". Then the question is if the stove is taken back out down the road - how easily can the removed material be put back in?

I am not concerned with the side/top paneling - it would most likely not be used as it is cosmetic. The height of the fire box fitting is the dimensional challenge to try and work through.

There are 2 other options that we're looking at:
1. Stand alone stove (lots more challenges come with that, but in theory would heat better than an insert)
2. Entirely remove "fireplace fish tank" and rebuild with a hearth that can work with a stove insert. That makes it a complete rebuild, again, down the road putting things back the way they are today.

Has anyone faced similar challenges/decisions? What knowledge can you offer that may help to guide? Is there a bit of knowledge that might seem off-topic but that was important in how you tackled this scenario and is worthy of being mentioned in the initial thought process?

So it is said up front - yes I have a wood supply. Multiples. I would have to cut it and split it, but we own wooded properties, in short, and don't have anything prohibiting using the wood (it will all be removed soon anyway, better to get something out of it - like heat).