Gas Inserts for the Old Fireplaces February 27, 2009

Like many of the old houses I come across here in San Francisco, the fireplaces are non functional. This is due to a number of reasons. Lack of upkeep which leads to safety issues, bad landlords or past owners, or disinterest in dealing with San Francisco’s Spare the Air days. For those of you not in the know, if you have a wood burning fireplace and you use it during a Spare the Air day, you can get fined. This means you must turn on the news or go online to find if you can use your fireplace.

Anyway, when we moved into our place all three of the fireplaces were not working. We are still unsure of how original they are but when I find out I’ll provide updates. What I do know is that there was only one original fireplace as there is only one real brick chimney. At the time it burned coal. The other two, the top parlor and bottom parlor, were just framed in “bump outs” with vents in them. The strange thing is, the bottom parlor only had a vent and no gas line at all, but the top parlor had both.

The two wood mantle and tile fireplaces we are keeping as they are very old and are very fitting of the time period regardless of their originality to the house. Those are in the front parlor and guest room, which was at one point the dining room? The white one you see is a craftsman style brick that resides in the top parlor. That’s the one we demolished and are having replaced with a Carrera marble mantle and gas insert. They should be completed in the next few weeks and I’ll update as that happens.

Newer posts regarding the fireplaces:


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Joannee Molnar September 10th, 2009

We really love the fireplaces. They are beautiful. We were extremely excited to see what you have done with them, as we also have an old coal burning fireplace and would like to replace it with a Valor insert (Senator model), similar to the President one you used. We are having difficulty finding a decent framing plate that will cover our existing opening (24 inches wide, 30 inches tall) and were excited to see the framing plates shown behind the President mantel in your pictures. Are the framing plates you show a Valor product or another brand ? Can you tell us how to reach the manufacturer? Are they available in Canada ? Does the manufacturer have a website?

John Clarke Mills September 11th, 2009


Honestly, my guys at Warm Solutions here in San Francisco took care of all that for me. I would say find an authorized Valor installed in your area and chat with them. Hopefully there’s more than one and you will have more options.

Good luck with your project! I’d love to see some pictures when its done.

Nicole September 25th, 2009

Your project is turning out beautiful. I’m glad to hear you found a solution for the old fireplaces. I’m looking to add heat back in my coal-fire burning fireplace. I’m curious about the Carrera marble mantle you installed? Any resources for that?

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Tom June 22nd, 2012

Hi, I have the exact same fire place mantel as shown in the very top pic in my 1902 Victorian in Downtown San Jose…..The chemney is in excelent shape and I would like to use the fireplace but not sure who to contact or where to get an insert?

Thanks for your time but if you know anything please let me know…..

John Clarke Mills June 25th, 2012

Tom, I used a company called Warm Solutions. Here is their address:

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