How to Install Electric Fireplace Insert in Existing Fireplace

Why bother with the mess and expense of a wood fire when you can have instant comfort and realistic flames with an electric fireplace insert? If you have a fireplace in your home but you’re tired of scooping out ashes, then it’s time to consider the electric fireplace heater alternative.

Today’s electric fireplaces provide all the warmth and ambiance of a real fire but with a few notable advantages:

Timesaving
No gathering or chopping wood, no taking time to lay a fire with paper or kindling. Just turn it on for instant ambiance and heat.

Safer
Drastically reduce the risk of fire and burns. No sparks shooting up the chimney or onto the hearth. No singed fingers while lighting matches or shifting burning logs around the fire. Most electric fireplaces feature cool-touch glass to protect against contact burns, too.

Cheaper
Depending on electric rates in your area, it’s probably cheaper to use an electric fireplace heater than to purchase enough wood to feed your fire all winter long. Choose an insert that features LED lighting to reduce electricity consumption even further. Plus, you’ll never need to pay to have your chimney cleaned again.

Cleaner
No soot or ash to clean out of the fireplace. The air in your home will be cleaner, too, without the pollutants carried by wood fire smoke.

Flexible
Control the flame size and heat output with a touch of a button. Get hours of consistent fire without ever touching a fireplace tool. You can even enjoy the look of a fire without heating your room at all.

Fireplace Insert Installation Steps

How to install electric fireplace insert in existing fireplace is quick and easy.

Read the instruction manual that comes with your unit cover to cover. Each make and manufacture will have unique specifications you will need to be familiar with.

Step #1 Close the damper in your chimney to prevent drafts. If this is going to be a permanent electric fireplace insert installation, you might want to install fiber-free insulation around the interior of your firebox.

Step #2 Remove the grate from your existing fireplace and clean out all the ash and soot.

Step #3 Check the nearest outlet. Make sure it matches the electric requirements of your purchased electric fireplace insert. In most cases, that will be:

  • 120v
  • 15 amps
  • 60 Hz

Your electric fireplace heater will probably require a dedicated circuit. If it’s necessary to use an extension cord, make sure it is rated properly (see your manual).

Step #4 Unpack the fireplace. Remove and discard all packing materials from inside the unit.

Step #5 If your electric fireplace insert comes with a glass front, slide the glass panel into place and secure it according to the instructions in your manual.

Step #6 Put the electric fireplace insert into the fireplace opening. It may be necessary to tilt it slightly to fit it through the opening. Make sure it is upright, and the feet are resting evenly on the bottom of the fireplace.

Step #7 Draw the cord under or around the fireplace insert, across the hearth, and plug it into the nearest outlet. Make sure the cord isn’t pinched or rubbing against sharp edges. Plug it in.

That’s it! Except for cleaning up all the mess of your old wood fires, basic electric fireplace insert installation in existing fireplace is a snap. Of course, they’re always a few extra steps you can take to customize your fireplace insert installation. Keep reading!

Electric Fireplace Installation Options

Electrical wiring

If you don’t like the look of a cord running across your hearth, you can hire a licensed electrician to:

  • Install an electric outlet inside your fireplace, or
  • Hardwire the fireplace directly to the electricity in your home.

Both of these are fairly permanent solutions, so make sure the electric fireplace insert is something you’re going to be happy with.

Trim Kits

Many electric fireplace inserts come with trim kits and decorative moldings that enhance the look of the fireplace (and fill any gaps between the fireplace insert and the edges of your fireplace opening).

If you’re big on do-it-yourself projects, you can build your own custom firebox around your fireplace insert. One of the big advantages of electric fireplace inserts is that they don’t require any clearance from mantels for safety reasons, so you can build with wood right up to the edge of the insert.

Glass Ember Beds

Some models of electric fireplace heaters include glass ember beds that simulate the look of real glowing embers. Once your insert is in place, you will need to pour the supplied glass rock media into the front tray of the firebox.

We covered step-by-step electric fireplace insert installation instructions in an existing fireplace. Please refer to your product manual for the complete set of instructions for your particular fireplace model.

Worked in IT for 10 years, specialising in computer measurement, resource and performance management and complex problem solving. Changed careers to HVACr in 2015.

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