Buckley Rumford Fireplaces
Converting a Zero to a Rumford
[Condo Project] [Outdoor Zero]



B.Vezelis Co.
PO Box 16355
Rochester, NY 14616
585 732 4618
Brian Vezelis - Masonry, Concrete, Building and Remodeling, Inspections and consultation


Hello Jim,

Thought I would send some of my latest work. This 36" stone rumford replaced a 36" gas unit that smelled every time the customer used it, lucky for me the Mfg. refused to replace it, what a beauty!

Brian Vezelis
B.Vezelis Co.

Back to Vezelis Page

Expanded Shale, Clay and Slate Institute, ESCSI
National Ready Mixed Concrete Assoc.
More links to lightweight concrete

"...we specified that we wanted a big fireplace for burning logs, as we've got a lot of woods to draw from, and something that would give us a bit of heat in return. We had seen Rumford fireplaces but did not know what they were called, unfortunately, and so thought we could get the same effect from a manufactured firebox. What we've got is a Superior Factory-Built Estate Fireplace that is 48" wide and aside from the fact that it accommodates logs splendidly, it is a piece of garbage. It does not radiate heat efficiently into the room and it consistently smokes..."

To: Beth
From: Buckley
Subject: Further info on the fireplace


Thanks Beth. As I said earlier, I have been working on an economical way to convert "zeros" to Rumfords. My plan has to do with using a light weight insulating concrete made with perlite. I think we could remove the insides of your fireplace - the firebox and chimney - build the Rumford through the fireplace opening, stacking the throat, smoke chamber and clay flues and pour the light weight concrete around them as we go within your existing frame and stone veneer chimney.

In my mind, at least, it would be a fast, easy and economical process. Because the concrete would be in contact with the frame chimney we'd have to do some engineering to show that the insulation value is equivalent to the code requirement for solid masonry and clearances. Depending on the construction of your foundation, we may also need to address that issue. The clay lining components would be wrapped with ceramic fiber paper to create a bond break. The end result is that you'd have a full masonry Rumford fireplace and chimney that should last 100 years.

We built a full masonry fireplace and chimney recently in Japan and used a similar process only we built the stone chimney (that you already have) as we went. See http://www.rumford.com/KonosuConst.html and note how we wrapped the clay lining components. We used regular concrete since we didn't have a combustible frame chimney to insulate from.

If this is of interest, let me find a contractor for you and I'll arrange for all the engineering and do all the code work for free since it might lead to a UL listing for us and another market for our Rumford fireplaces.

Jim Buckley

PS. You can't use you existing metal chimney for anything other than the fireplace it was tested and listed with.

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Hello Jim,

Thanks for your email. It took me a day or two to get these pictures and then load them into email. Yes, it is a zero-clearance appliance that we have. You are also correct about the chimney, that we have a wooden structure onto which faux stone has been attached. Inside is the metal flue for venting the firebox. We went this route thinking that it would withstand earthquakes a bit better and be easier to repair afterward if necessary, given that we"ve had several good earthquakes on the island. But this may work against us as regards a Rumford fireplace. The same thing is true for the mantel and stone surround in the livingroom, that they are on a wooden substrate. The hearth itself is flush with the floor, which is concrete. One thought we had is that if it would be possible to knock out the firebox and rebuild that with masonry, then attach it to our existing flue and chimney, that would be substantially easier than taking the whole chimney down. I don"t know if this is even a possibility.

Let me know if you need more photos or specifics about the firebox or chimney. Any workarounds to our current situation would be welcomed; it would be great if you have a solution.

Thanks much,

From: Jim Buckley [mailto:buckley@rumford.com]
Sent: Sunday, January 28, 2007
To: Beth
Subject: Re: Retrofitting a fireplace to Rumford


The fact that you have what is called a "zero-clearance", or metal appliance fireplace, you probably do not have an adequate foundation for a masonry fireplace. And your lovely stone chimney may just be a veneer over a wood frame chimney. Maybe not, but this would be the worst (most expensive) case. Could you send pictures and describe your fireplace and chimney in more detail?

However, I understand that there is a market out there for real masonry Rumford fireplaces to replace older, unsafe or just plane ugly or unsatisfactory "zeros". In fact I have been taking pictures and coming up with economical ways to do that. Since you are so close I would love the opportunity to see if we can make this work for you.

Send me pictures. I look forward to working with you.

Jim Buckley


Hello Jim,

I've just been prowling the Buckley Rumford website and realized that I need to ask some basic questions before going too far down the fireplace path.

My husband and I live on Vashon Island in a house we built in 1995. Not knowing much about these things, we specified that we wanted a big fireplace for burning logs, as we've got a lot of woods to draw from, and something that would give us a bit of heat in return. We had seen Rumford fireplaces but did not know what they were called, unfortunately, and so thought we could get the same effect from a manufactured firebox. What we've got is a Superior Factory-Built Estate Fireplace that is 48" wide and aside from the fact that it accommodates logs splendidly, it is a piece of garbage. It does not radiate heat efficiently into the room and it consistently smokes and lets you know that the fireplace is being used. We've had the doors worked on to improve performance but it is far from satisfactory. Wanting to use the wood resource from our property and reduce our heating bills (propane-powered subfloor radiant heat), we thought to put in a good wood-burning stove or insert such as a Vermont Castings, and to this end had someone from Sutter Hearth and Home come out and look at our situation. Our current fireplace and firebox are one unit and are too shallow to accommodate any stove or insert that meets EPA standards, meaning the catalytic converter. To retrofit our fireplace, which has a lovely stone surround and slab walnut mantel, would have required pulling out everything: the firebox, the stone surround, the mantel, as well as the flue itself and its exterior stone surround. When the Sutter technician invoked the cherry picker that would be required to get up on the roof to work on the chimney, we cried uncle and put the project away.

Now are revisiting the issue, having learned more about Rumford fireplaces and seen them in action. Given that Rumfords are shallow in depth, is there any chance that we could pull out our Superior firebox and put in a Rumford, without having to reinvent the wheel? We would be happy to pay for a consultation from either your company or someone that you could recommend in the Seattle area, to help us determine what we might be able to do.

Thanks so much for your time.


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Information about Rumford possibilities, please.

I am about to begin refurbishing a condo. It currently has the basic fireplace insert. Black metal box. fire brick, chain screen, slide in, throw some tile around it, call it a day, mass condo building. It's about as efficient as an open window. Needs replacing due to age, disrepair and neglect from previous renters before my purchase.

Is there such a thing as a Rumford firebox insert plus gas logs? If such exists could you please tell me about it. Where I can see your info? Prices, etc?

Many thanks,

    To: Rick


    We think this could be a big market for us and we are working on a way to update/convert these "open window" fireplaces to Rumfords.

    Our hope is to turn them into real masonry efficient and clean-burning fireplaces that will be safe and last 100 years. My approach is to pull out the old metal appliance, stack up our Rumford components (firebox, throat, smoke chamber and clay flues) and pour lightweight insulating concrete around them within the existing frame chimney chase. We think it could be done in a day and be very cost efficient. You could leave the frame chimney or pull it down for the firewood and veneer the concrete chimney with any of many available masonry products. Problems will be with inadequate foundations and clearance to combustibles code issues, both of which we think may be easy to solve with a little engineering and testing. I've already contacted some lightweight concrete industry types and I have a prototype fireplace to convert that I will go see to evaluate on Thursday this week.

    Send me some pictures of the fireplaces, chimneys and foundations and tell me what you know about them. I will come up with a plan.

    Unfortunately, up to now, there are no Rumford inserts or "zero-clearance" Rumfords. Perhaps the easiest way to go with currently available products is to replace what you have with more of the same. There are more choices - mostly in looks - these days but I don't know of any products currently on the market that wouldn't be as inefficient and unsatisfying as what you have now. Being new, they would just give you another fifteen or twenty years without burning the place down.

    Jim Buckley

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I currently have a fireplace in my great room that shares the wall with my back patio. The current firebox sticks out about 2' onto the back patio and is 5' wide. Would it be possible to add a fireplace on the back patio that connects to the existing chimney?

Thanks in advance for the advise. If you have any additional questions, I can be reached at 623-872-6327 during the day.

Jim Oros

Here is what I can tell you. The current fireplace is a 36" Marco. From talking with the builder, it is piped up through the stucco with a heat tempered metal pipe. I have included the following pictures:

1 - Front view from outside patio
2 - Side view from outside patio
3 - View from roof
4 - Vent on top
5 - Inside view before remodeling
6 - Current fireplace
7 - View of damper and pipe

I hope these help.

Thanks for the input,

Jim Oros

    In a message dated 2/15/2007 9:15:03 P.M. US Mountain Standard Time, buckley@rumford.com writes:


    Anything is possible. This might even be easy if that big chimney has some space inside for another flue. what more can you tell me about it? Can you send me a picture of the outside, inside and the top of the chimney? Do you have any construction pictures or can you contact the mason and find out how the flues are laid out?

    If it looks as if there might be room for another flue, worst case is you pop off the top of the chimney and see what's there.

    Jim Buckley

Feb 24, 2015

Hi Jim!

I have gone through your website after coming across a Rumford fireplace online. I love wood burning fireplaces and my first thought was to install a zero clearnace insert type in my home. However, after going through your website and doing research I have completely changed my mind and want to go with a fully masonry Rumford! I currently have a zero clearance in my home and am looking into getting rid of it and replacing with a Rumford. I would like to have a masonry contractor do this. You list quite a few masons in Ohio on your site however I am looking for a recommendation for the Northeast Ohio area (east of Cleveland). It is always nice to have a specific name of someone who I know does good work and can trust! Is there anyone you can specifically recommend? Any thoughts/ideas much appreciated. Thanks again for the great website. It has inspired me to put a Rumford in my home!

Eric Bloom


    Good. I would make the same decision.

    In hiring a mason, however, I would ask for referrals from our dealer (where you would get the Rumford components) listed at http://www.rumford.com/dealer.html They see masons (their customers) daily or weekly whereas we are lucky to talk with them once a year to see if they still want to be listed.

    Also, in interviewing and selecting a mason contractor consider the points we try to make at http://www.rumford.com/training/cost.html

    But way more interesting to me is how you might go about replacing your zero clearance fireplace, probably in a wooden chase and without a proper foundation. Tearing it down and starting from scratch with a new code-compliant foundation may be the best way to build the Rumford fireplace but maybe there are alternatives.

    See our discussion about Converting a Zero to a Rumford at http://www.rumford.com/zeroR.html and send me some pictures of your zero clearance fireplace and chimney and let's think about this together.

    Warm regards,
    Jim Buckley

Feb 26 (8 days ago)


Thanks for the quick response. I am waiting to hear back from a mason whom has been highly recommended. I hope to get him out soon to go over the feasibility of doing this project. My existing fireplace is in a central part of my home with a wooden chimney chase built all the way up through the attic. Currently my concerns are determining the max flue size for the rumford (and even if this is possible to get rid of the metal flue and build a masonry chimney). Also, below the fireplace is a basment and even though the joist are doubled up and their is extra structural support below, I am sure something needs to be done to ensure a proper 'code permitting' foundation. Also, in the same great room where the existing fireplace is, I do have an exterior wall with windows. By removing the windows and building all new, I may find out it to be much easier.... Once i get the mason out to take a look hopefully I can shed some more light on these questions and continue to move forward on this project.

Eric Bloom


    You cannot use the chimney for the metal zero-clearance fireplace chimney for a masonry fireplace. That chimney is probably air cooled and pretty lightweight and maybe already at the end of it's life but the main thing is it was tested with the manufactured fireplace to UL127. You need a masonry chimney or at least a Class A insulated metal chimney tested to UL 103 for all fuels.

    You also need a foundation. Even your beefed up joists are probably insufficient and an engineer to calculate the loads probably will cost more than putting in a code-compliant foundation.

    Send me pictures. Sounds as if our scheme to install the Rumford firebox, throat, smoke chamber and clay flues, wrapped in ceramic fiber paper and poured solid within the existing chase might work. Since my remarks at http://www.rumford.com/zeroR.html were written in 2007 the code has changed to allow solid masonry 8" thick to be in contact with combustibles. So, with a real foundation this may be easier than we first thought.

    By all means talk with the mason but really pouring concrete is another trade and you may be better off talking with someone who is familiar with form building and concrete work.

    Jim Buckley

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