cut through the caulking, and the mantle pretty much moved with ease. Had to break the hidden wood bar a bit, thats ok, it probably only supports any major weight on the top. Luckily i just mounted my tv.
once removed, cleaned up the area and bam....
1. stop pipe was center in the hole!
2. cleaned area
3. applied High Temp silicone (Red) into the 1in gap
4. seal around the entire pipe
5. happy wife
6. put the mantle back (unfinished)
7. gotta caulk around the mantle to finish
thanx everyone for your help... now moving on to next project
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