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Are There Two Sided Wood Inserts For See-through Fireplaces?

Q: We have a two-sided fireplace between the den and the kitchen; that is, you can see the fire from both sides, or look through the fireplace from one room to the other. We love looking at the fire, but would like to get some heat while we do. Do you carry any wood fireplace inserts with glass doors on two sides?

Sweepy A: I'm afraid there's no such beastie. See-through fireplaces are not uncommon, but there are no inserts for them with two-sided views of the fire. There are functional reasons: the "air wash" engineering that keeps the viewing window from turning black will only work in a limited area on one plane, so one or both windows would soot up almost immediately. Further, firebricks are needed on three sides of the firebox to create the thermal mass necessary to maintain the secondary combustion temperatures required to pass EPA testing. Removing the firebricks to install a glass panel would drastically cool the firebox, resulting in a smokey, inefficient burn.

An insert with glass on one side and insulated doors on the other side could presumably be made to work, but, since the size and shape of the two openings and the distance between them are entirely up to the Mason or manufacturer who builds each fireplace, it would be impossible to design an insert that would fit the thousands of resulting shapes.

The solutions available include installing two wood inserts, back-to-back, or installing an insert facing the main room and putting curtain mesh or a glass firescreen on the unused side to hide the rear view of the insert.

P.S. The same rules apply to L-shaped fireplaces (open in front and on one side). The most popular solution is to install the insert facing the front opening and close off the side opening with curtain mesh, masonry or metal.

 

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