Our fireplace was wood burning so we never used it since we don’t like the mess it makes. We also have regulations in our area that ban wood burning on certain days – usually the coldest ones. We don’t want to contribute to air pollution if we can help it so our fireplace was really only used for hanging Christmas stockings.
Then, we received notice from our air quality district that they would be offering grants to replace wood burning fireplaces as part of the Wood Smoke Reduction Incentive Program. I applied online as soon as the application window opened. Within just a couple of hours they had already received the maximum amount of applications:
We had to wait 2 weeks while they reviewed the applications. We were lucky and got approved but our rebate was only for $1,000. Not as much as I was hoping. We debated whether or not to do it but eventually decided to go for it.
We had to follow all the program’s rules and completely finish the project within 120 days before we’d see the money. We had to obtain a permit and use only licensed contractors. We also had to refund the money if we sold our house within 5 years.
After doing some research, we found a licensed fireplace company we liked. We picked out the gas insert (Enviro E33 with Ledgestone Liner) and scheduled installation of a new electrical outlet and new gas line. We used the fireplace company’s contractors so it made it easy. We started the installation process in early October so they weren’t too busy yet.
The gas contractor wanted to run the entire new gas line (50 ft) along the outside of our house but I didn’t like how that was going to look so he charged us an extra $250 to run it partly through our attic instead.
The new gas line off the main line:
The gas line going into the attic:
The gas line coming out of the attic near the chimney:
The gas line going into the fireplace:
The gas line and electrical box inside the fireplace:
We had to patch where the electrical work tapped into a nearby outlet:
It was kind of a pain dealing with the permit inspector since it seemed like we were the first homeowners to pull a permit for a gas fireplace. I was surprised since you’re dealing with gas, you should want someone to double check that it’s done properly. At one point the inspector asked the fireplace installers how many installs they do monthly in our area. They responded with about 15 and the inspector commented that he had never seen a permit for this company before – and the company is located within our city. That had me worried.
Then, the fireplace company owner actually got into an argument with the inspector (in front of us) over having to use a spark arrester. It was really awkward. I don’t think you should ever argue with an inspector. We ended up having to pay an extra $85 to add the spark arrester. It delayed our install but it’s an extra precaution that prevents sparks so we were fine with adding it.
Another issue was that the inspector had to be here at the exact time they were installing the vent pipe up the chimney. He had to see the vent pipe in the chimney and then see them attach it with sealant to the fireplace insert (he even checked the sealant bottle to make sure it was the correct kind). I’m not sure if he was just giving them a hard time but it was giving me so much anxiety!
Finally, with 15 days to spare, the project was completed:
Our new chimney topper:
A few weeks after submitting our receipts and permit documents, we received our rebate. During the first winter, we used our remote-operated fireplace often and loved it, especially Navi:
But then, we got our gas bill. OMG! I think I figured it cost somewhere around $5/hour in gas to run the new fireplace. So now we use it very sparingly and usually only on holidays. Ugh! On top of that disappointment, we didn’t realize we would be taxed on the grant. It was considered income on our taxes. Ugh!
So I’m not sure it was really worth it in the end but I guess at least it adds value if we ever sell our house.
FIREPLACE GAS INSERT PROJECT
Fireplace insert and install
TOTAL (9% SALES TAX INCLUDED)