Gas fireplaces are an attractive and functional addition to any room in your home, be it the living room, family room, or outdoor living space.
Before choosing either type, it’s essential that you understand their differences so you can select the most appropriate type. Your location, style of home and other factors should all play into this decision.
Wood-burning fireplaces typically require chimneys or flues to vent smoke out of their fireboxes; however, modern gas fireplaces no longer necessitate this requirement for proper functioning.
Chimneys are constructed out of brick, clay or metal to isolate hot, toxic exhaust gas or smoke from places where people live and prevent build-up of harmful emissions from indoor fireplaces that could potentially threaten both their health and safety.
A chimney helps keep air flowing freely throughout a space, promoting adequate circulation to combat odors and pollutants, as well as prevent smoke from leaking outside the home.
While chimneys serve many functions, perhaps the primary one is protecting your family’s health and wellbeing by filtering airborne toxins out. This is especially essential if your outdoor fire feature is located within a closed patio that does not permit adequate natural air circulation.
Chimneys provide another important function by keeping rain, snow, wildlife, and debris out of your fireplace. Not only are these features functional but they’re also visually appealing and come in various styles to match the decor of any given home.
Some fireplaces don’t require chimneys, but you should still consider getting one for convenience and safety reasons. Some models feature a key that can be removed to ignite the pilot light while some models offer an optional cover that keeps rain or other outdoor particles out of your fire chamber.
There are various kinds of gas fireplaces, some requiring chimney or flue systems in order to function effectively. Below are the more prevalent models, along with any requirements they might have for such systems:
1. Direct Vented Gas Fireplaces These high efficiency fireplaces are popular with green building programs such as ENERGY STAR and LEED(r). For Homes.
Gas fireplaces can also be more cost-effective than their wood-burning counterparts, which require significant upfront investments for materials like firewood. Furthermore, as gas fireplaces require minimal maintenance costs while offering aesthetic benefits like saving on heating bills while enjoying its aesthetic value.
A gas fireplace requires venting due to emissions of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides that could pose health hazards if left unchecked; direct vent technology provides the safest and most reliable method for venting gas fireplaces.
Direct vent systems employ two pipes – one to deliver outside air into a sealed firebox and the other to vent out combustion fumes – for the most efficient combustion results possible. They’re up to 85 percent effective and can either be horizontally vented through walls or vertically via roof vents.
Direct vent hearth products differ from other hearth products in that their fireboxes are equipped with glass front and safety barrier screens to shield indoor environments from potentially hazardous emissions, while guaranteeing smooth operation of the unit. Tempered glass comes standard on most models while ceramic glass upgrades may be available as upgrades.
Small electric fireplaces tend to be less costly and maintenance requirements are generally lower, such as replacing glass panels or cleaning out burners.
Direct vent systems offer many advantages, one being they don’t rely on electricity to operate, giving you peace of mind during power outages and being free from emissions from conventional fireplaces. Both natural gas and liquid propane fuel sources used in direct vent fireplaces burn cleanly with less of an environmental footprint than traditional fire products.
As well, both types of gas fireplaces are easy to install and can easily fit into existing masonry chimneys. If you own such an installation, consult local building codes to establish the necessary clearance distance between venting your new gas fireplace and your chimney’s existing flue pipe.
Legal authorities for acceptable clearance distances between gas fireplace vent opening/hoods and building features vary, with manufacturers of individual gas fireplaces (see their I&O manual) and local building code inspectors being the ultimate authorities on these matters.
If you decide on a direct vent system, it is highly advisable to hire an electrician as the ideal way to complete installation and run all necessary lines. Faulty installation could cause performance and safety issues while an installed direct vent gas fireplace will outlive a ventless model in terms of longevity and economic considerations over time.
Gas fireplaces offer an ideal alternative to wood-burning fireplaces, being cleaner-burning with reduced ash production and no creosote buildup for easier maintenance.
However, like any appliance, gas fireplaces still need regular servicing by professionals such as chimney sweeps. Regular chimney sweeping will help your unit run efficiently while avoiding potentially hazardous build-up that could cost an arm and a leg to repair later on.
No matter whether your fireplace burns wood or gas, the Chimney Safety Institute of America advises having both chimney and vents inspected at least annually by professional chimney sweeps or carbon monoxide detector tests and maintenance personnel. Cleaning of creosote and debris must also take place and any carbon monoxide detectors tested and cleaned as part of this annual inspection process.
Some homeowners opt to clean their gas fireplace themselves, which can be done successfully provided that they read their owner’s manual carefully and follow its steps. But, for safety purposes or simply not wanting to put yourself at risk, professional help would likely be more suitable than trying it on your own.
Before beginning cleaning a gas fireplace, make sure that it is switched off and that there are no logs or coals present. A handheld vacuum can help remove any dust or dirt in the fireplace; just take care not to accidentally vacuum up any small logs or coals! Check with your manufacturer’s instructions beforehand as these could become dangerous hazards!
Once all items have been cleared from the fireplace, wipe down its interior with a damp cloth to remove dirt, cobwebs or other debris accumulated within. This will leave it looking cleaner while also giving off better smell. This step should make for a healthier fireplace experience!
Next, it is necessary to clean the glass panels on your gas fireplace using a non-ammonia glass cleaner mixed with water. Make sure not to use too strong of a cleaning solution as using too strong may damage the glass panels of your gas fireplace.
Reassemble and turn back on the gas after cleaning is complete, remembering to install back the burner assembly and any decorative pieces removed earlier – and enjoy your newly renovated fireplace!
Gas fireplaces provide warmth and can reduce heating costs in the cold winter months, but as with any appliance they require regular maintenance for optimal operation.
The National Fire Protection Association strongly suggests that homeowners with solid or liquid fuel appliances (e.g. wood stove, gas burner or propane gas tank) obtain annual safety and maintenance inspections from trained technicians. A certified technician can clean, check for leaks and identify potential safety concerns before providing repairs that ensure optimal operation of your system.
Your fireplace is an essential component of your home, but if left neglected it could start malfunctioning and lead to dangerous situations like a fire or explosion. As such it is important to understand what maintenance your gas fireplace requires and when to schedule it.
To maintain your fireplace, to begin maintenance procedures first turn the gas valve off at the wall adjacent to it allowing any excess gas in your pipes to safely flow out. Next, disassemble any logs or burner units as necessary if possible.
Use a soft brush to remove dust and debris from the burner unit, inspect the vent holes for build-up that might obstruct gas flow, and use your shop vacuum’s hose attachment on its hose to vacuum off glass rocks and stones for efficient dust collection.
As soon as your fireplace cleaning process is complete, return all logs and grate back into their places within it. Next, vacuum the interior of your fireplace in order to clear away any lint, dirt, dust or pet hair that has accumulated through normal usage.
Finally, test the carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they’re still operating as intended. If there are any issues with your gas fireplace, consult with a professional immediately so repairs can be completed before they become serious problems.
Maintaining your gas fireplace can save money on energy bills and prevent costly repairs; plus it keeps your family safe. With proper planning, your fireplace should last years before needing any major repair. And should something break, you will know you can repair it with confidence.