The old fireplace had a rusted out heatilator, that although originally of an interesting design (it forced outside air through a hollow grate and then back out into the room) it was now a glorified fire starter, as the fan just blew into the fire through all of the rusted holes in the grate. We have an old Earth Stove in the back room, but it takes a bit of wood before it starts to radiate heat out, and none of the heat reaches the front room, dining room (Diane's office) or kitchen.
Anticipating that heat would be a necessary thing, we contacted Chimney Kraft, a local fireplace merchant and installer. After perusing several different designs, we opted for a Revere cook-top model with the optional fans.
Brian and Robert showed up at 8:30am, cleared out the old fireplace, and removed enough brick for the new insert to fit. They also removed enough brick from the top of the chimney to allow a new cap to be fitted. They were quick! They were already cleaning up by 11:30am! They hauled off the old grate, but at my request, left us the old brick - I have already found uses for some of them, during our recent storm as hold downs for tarps.
The stove works great! We can have a nice fire going all day, put in 4 partial logs at night, and the blower may still be going the next morning when we get up. This makes the cats exceedingly happy :)
The stove has two controls, one for allowing air to go straight up the chimney in a "starting" position, or to force the air through a re-burner, which acts a bit like a catalytic converter on cars, removing nasty stuff from the fire's exhaust before allowing it up the chimney. The other control sets how much fresh air is allowed into the stove. With it all of the way out, a fire burns hot. Once going, this can be closed part way, forcing logs to burn longer. At night, we push it all the way in, allowing for the long burn times.
The optional fan unit kicks on once the stove has reached a sufficient temperature and pulls fresh air from the room around the hot stove and back out into the room nice and warm. The cats have figured out that if they do not hear the fans, their humans must not be keeping the stove hot enough and they let us know it in no uncertain terms!
This recent weekend (December 2nd & 3rd) we had a major storm come through that knocked out enough utility polls that our county lost power. Thanks to the cook top surface, I was able to boil pots of water and keep caffeine headaches at bay with nice, hot cups of tea, and coffee for my father-in-law. Additionally, the house stayed nice and toasty!