Stûv 6 – How to Restore an Old Masonry Hearth to Its Former Glory
Does your house have a masonry hearth that leaves something to be desired, seeming like a gaping hole to the outdoors that drains the energy from your home and the money from your wallet? Are you torn between your enjoyment of wood fires and feeling duty-bound to condemn the fireplace that is part of your home’s history? Rest assured, there are several ways to add style to an old masonry hearth while making it more energy-efficient.
The origin of masonry hearths
Why does restoring a masonry hearth seem so complicated? First, it’s important to understand their history. Many years ago, masonry fireplaces in living and dining rooms were the sole means of heating the house and cooking food. Several ancestral houses have this type of fireplace in the kitchen, made with stones and fitted with a wood beam, to look like they are part of the house’s foundation. Which is true in a way. The hearths were built at the same time as the home, which is why they were made of brick or stone. They were built to last, by a master mason using specific know-how. Over time, with the emergence of other heating methods, these masonry fireplaces became an architectural element often placed in the living room to enhance the decor.
In the 1980s, prefabricated fireplaces replaced masonry hearths in newly built homes. These new appliances recreated the look and ambiance of a hearth without the complexity or cost.
Knowing this, it is worth exploring the possible ways of preserving the priceless heritage of these hearths, which would be nearly impossible to build today.
The solution: a wood-burning insert that will stand the test of time
Due to their old construction technique, masonry hearths have never been adapted to current standards. These fireplaces are in no way airtight and emit fine particles at a rate well above the requirements for North America. However, there is a simple solution within everyone’s reach: installing a wood-burning insert. This type of appliance has been designed specifically to make any masonry hearth energy-efficient. It consists of a combustion chamber made mainly of steel and materials with heat-accumulation capacities (like cast iron or vermiculite), which is inserted into an old hearth and connected to a flue pipe placed in the existing stone or brick chimney. It’s a simple solution and a reasonable investment. A professional working in the stove and fireplace industry will be able to help you choose an insert that is both efficient and in compliance with the standards in effect in your municipality. Also, if you’re a wood fire enthusiast and your hearth was converted to gas at some point, it can be reconverted to wood by installing such an insert.
There is a wide variety of wood-burning inserts on the market that can easily be installed in old hearths, including the Stûv 6, which boasts a sleek design that perfectly suits the look of authentic masonry fireplaces. It stands out from its counterparts due to its streamlined door frame offering a generous view of the fire and its small size, which makes it easy to insert in a masonry hearth.
A wood-burning insert like the Stûv 6 makes the fire the focus again, giving your old masonry hearth new life. Many new memories will be formed around this appliance, which offers a heating capacity adapted to the energy needs of today’s homes while creating an atmosphere reminiscent of the wood fires of the past.
This article is for information purposes only. We invite you to call a structural specialist or certified installer if you have any doubts about the solidity of your hearth or if you wish to make changes to it. They can tell you if the work would be feasible. In any case, by consulting a specialist, you will ensure that your fireplace is compliant with the applicable by-laws.