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fireplace_sleeve(MCT)—Q: Our house was built in 1898. I am told we cannot use our fireplace unless we install a sleeve that would cost $3,000 to $6,000.

As an alternative, is there such a thing as a gas-fired Franklin stove-type insert that could be put in without venting or, perhaps, with an exhaust pipe up the chimney?

Since the fireplace is smack in the middle of the house, an insert could provide a true heat benefit. But I would prefer not to risk asphyxiation.

Your guidance will be greatly appreciated.

A: First of all, who said you could not use the fireplace, and why? Was it the same person who provided the fireplace-sleeve estimate? Did you get a second opinion?

The estimate is about correct. For several years, I’ve been asking real estate agents and remodelers who handle older homes with flues lined with tiles or pargeted with mortar about the cost of installing stainless-steel sleeves, and the answer has always come back “about $4,000.”

Would it be a good idea to spend the money on the sleeve? It depends on how long you are going to live in your house. If you plan to move in a few years, be advised that today’s buyers want everything in perfect condition, and that a nonworking fireplace could kill a deal.

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