Fireplace mods (repost)

I need more height to install a gas f/p so I was thinking of removing the top 2 rows of bricks where they jut out in the center. The current height is 20" but I need about 24" for the vent pipe to connect inside the chimney. Other possibilities include drilling a hole thru the f/p but this would not look good if the gas f/p was ever removed.
My question is: How can I remove the 2 rows safely? The iron bar would have to come out which could cause the bricks to collapse. Will there be similar bricks behind the ones I remove?
Thanks
http://www3.telus.net/martik/fireplace1.jpg angle showing jut out
http://www3.telus.net/martik/fireplace2.jpg iron bar under the bricks
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<< thinking of removing the top 2 rows of bricks >>
No way would most people, including me, ever mess with a decent fireplace. IMO, your best recourse is to make the appliance fit the space instead of hacking up the space to fit the appliance. A well drawing fireplace is likely to be severely compromised by changing the opening relative to the flue. HTH
Joe
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Pretty much what I said yesterday. Guess he didn't believe me.

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Thanks, I will never use this as a regular f/p. A liner will be installed all the way to the top of the chimney. There are no gas f/p's that will fit this opening so I have no choice.
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Ok if you are talking about an insert it takes 2 stretchable tubes going up the chimney. You first need to check to see whether they will fit. If they will fit then you will need a mason to cut the opening with a diamond blade. It is a bitch and will make a mess. You also have to hope that the front doesn't collapse before he installs a new lentil though there are ways to prevent that. Do not underestimate the dust to be made by cutting the opening and the expertise it takes. There are some companies that specialize in doing that for adding doors and windows but they are more into absolute straight lines, level and plum. What you want is cutting to a full brick. Look for a mason in the phone book who speciailizes in repairs.

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Future resident(s) may want to. Meanwhile, removing support for front of firebox is potentially stupid and dangerous. Masonry is dense, needing support- lots of it. Maybe crashing down while you're chiseling away. If not, what're you going to do to support it afterward- hang some steel from the bricks? And hope it doesn't crash down onto the gas unit? You really should find another option (direct-vent, maybe?) or have a competent pro look at things.
John
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Thanks for the replies, You have convinced me to leave it alone.
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pack your non use fireplace with insullation and wall up the opening. put a nice plant there and purchase another gas unit with a side vent for somewhere else in your home.
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