Everything You Need to Know About Gas Fireplaces
If you’re in the process of building a new house, there’s never been a better time to install a built-in gas fireplace. Even if you already have a home but are considering upgrading from central heating, you will be amazed at the different gas fireplaces available. Whatever your budget, you will find a variety of fireplaces that provide comfort and many options these days. It’s no wonder they are getting more and more popular, especially with the rising price of other fuel alternatives such as home heating oil and electric heat.
You can’t beat the convenience and cleanliness with gas fireplaces, which may be the main reason you retire your chainsaw for good and switch from wood to gas. They provide a nice ambience with very little effort, and can be installed in a variety of places. Fueled by either natural gas or propane, fireplaces can make a nice addition to your home. Still, we will outline both the pros and the cons of gas fireplaces so you can make the right choice for your family.
Pros of Gas Fireplaces
First, let’s go over the benefits, of which there are many.
- Versatility: As long as you have a natural gas connection or available propane, you may install a gas fireplace pretty much anywhere in your home. Underneath windows, in a wall, at the floor level, or even in the middle of a room.
- Variety of styles: From traditional to ultra-contemporary, there are many styles available in the unit you choose, whether you are interested in a fireplace or a gas insert to be inserted into your existing wood-burning fireplace.
- Performs just like wood: Looks and acts just like real wood without the mess. No cleanups and no smelling like smoke, like you would with a campfire. What could be better?
- Convenience: You can turn the fireplace on and off with the touch of a button or use a remote control. No need to chop and gather wood, stoke the fire, add wood to keep it going, deal with the messy ashes, etc. This is convenience at its finest.
- Improved energy efficiency: According to HGTV, natural gas fireplace inserts, fireplaces and free-standing stoves can maintain indoor air quality and keep your home cleaner, plus they create less outdoor pollution than wood-burning fireplaces. Utility bills tend to be lower because you can use the fireplaces only in the zones in which you need them. For example, highly efficient natural gas units are able to heat up to 1,000 square feet of living space at a very low cost.
- Immediate ignition, with complete control over the heat output.
- No need to split, stack, season, or haul logs.
- No ashes to bag, no smoke-filled home.
- No fire to constantly tend to. Will never die out due to neglect!
- You can use a wall thermostat to control the flame size to keep a specific temperature setting in the room.
- Excessive heat loss is not incurred as with an open wood fire, gas units may retain 75% to 99% of that fuels energy back as heat, compared with the 10% to 30% for an open wood burning fireplace.
Cons of Gas Fireplaces
You should consider all aspects of gas fireplaces, and just like any other fuel source, there may be some drawbacks for you.
- Propane is an expensive heating fuel, so don’t think you’ll save a ton of money heating your whole house with a gas insert, points out House Logic.
- It’s more expensive to buy gas or propane over wood or pellets to produce the same amount of heat.
- If you enjoy the snap, crackle and pop — not to mention aroma — of a real fire, you may not enjoy gas fireplaces. Lack of ambience, at least the ambience you may be used to, could be a deal breaker.
- Line Installation and venting. No, you don’t need a masonry chimney, but for your most efficient gas units you will need a venting system though it does not always require venting through your roof. You will need run a gas line to the new fireplace location, and in some cases electricity if you want ambient lighting and or a blower, which costs additional time and money to set up.
- Faulty Gas Line Hazards: If you experience a faulty gas line connection or a gas leak, your family could be put in danger quickly. Always have a professional install your gas fireplace and get it inspected every year to mitigate this risk.
Take a look at our selection of gas burning fireplaces!
Types of Gas Fireplaces
From vented to non-vented, there are many types of gas fireplaces to choose from depending on your style, preference, and location.
- Natural vent: AKA B vent, this uses your existing chimney or a factory-built metal chimney. Exhaust is sent to the outside via a flexible liner or one pipe within the chimney.
- Direct-vent: Being the most efficient on the market, this type draws in outdoor air for combustion, and then sends that spent air to the outside through a dual venting system, thus creating minimal heat loss. The air can be vented through the roof or through an outside wall using the proper unit specific venting system. They feature a sealed glass door to enhance proper combustion and ensure indoor air quality. This is the safest type of gas fireplace and can be used regardless of allergy, sinus, or lung conditions.
- Vent-Free: A non-vented gas fireplace unit doesn’t come with a flue, which means installation can take place virtually anywhere. From the factory they are expected to burn with 99% efficiency with a maximum of 40,000 BTU. Only units 6,000-10,000 BTU are approved for use in bathroom and sleeping areas. These units come with an oxygen-depletion sensor that automatically shuts off when the oxygen level dips too low. They are designed to burn clean since they are venting into your home, but most be serviced regularly for optimal function. Some states, like California, have banned them.
- Gas Fireplace Inserts: Available in vent free or direct vent capabilities, these units are a great way to enhance your existing fireplace. Most units come with a blower.
- Log-Sets: If you are interested in converting your wood-burning fireplace to gas, you will find many styles varying in fully vented to vent free designs to suit your needs.
- Glass: Find your design style with glass or a ceramic wood and glass mix for a contemporary, rustic or any style your hearth desires.
- Coal: Featuring ceramic lumps, coal look fireplaces give off a rosy glow that reminisces back to the Victorian era.
- Stone and or Spheres: Something unique! Calico-colored ceramic rocks are available in several types of fireplaces. Or go artsy and clean with the Sphere style available thru various manufacturers.
Gas fireplaces can be installed just about anywhere, depending on the type. From bedrooms, bathrooms and basements to living rooms, dining rooms and patios, gas fireplaces are extremely versatile additions to any home or business.
Below is just an example of the approximated BTUs for heating, keeping in mind that the area in your home you wish to heat will determine the type of fireplace unit and BTU restrictions:
- 14,000 to 20,000 BTUs: 400 to 700 square feet
- 15,000 to 22,000 BTUs: 500 to 700 square feet
- 17,000 to 25,000 BTUs: 600 to 900 square feet
- 19,500 to 27,500 BTUs: 700 to 1,100 square feet
- 26,000 to 50,000 BTUs: 1,300 to 2,100 square feet
- 30,000 to 58,000 BTUs: 1,500 to 2,400 square feet
- 36,000 to 65,000 BTUs: 1,900 to 3,000 square feet
Gas Fireplace Cleaning
Like with any other fuel source, you’ll need to ensure you keep the fireplace clean and working at its best! We recommend enlisting the help of a gas fireplace technician to handle this job. It can be very messy, complicated and unsafe if you don’t know what you’re doing. Some companies offer regular annual gas fireplace service and inspections at a discounted price so on that first chilly night you can feel confident that you are good to light that first fire of the season.
When using gas logs that venting using the original masonry fireplace flue be sure to consider the integrity of your chimney as with burning wood. Each day, without any visible signs, acid produced by your gas appliance can actually eat away at the inside of your masonry chimney, resulting in damage that can compromise the safety of your family and the value of your home. That’s why a thorough annual inspection of your chimney, recommended by the National Fire Protection Association and the Chimney Safety Institute of America, can bring any potential problems to your attention before they become dangerous or costly.
Routine maintenance will add to the safety and efficiency of your fireplace and increase the life of your gas appliance.
Contact Chimney Pro
Chimney Pro LLC, is available to answer your questions and help you choose the right fireplace or appliance to meet your needs. Whether it’s a complete fireplace to an upgrade, Chimney Pro LLC can assist you sales, installation, servicing and repair. Contact us at 256-845-9814 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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