Gas fireplaces are a popular upgrade for many homes. They reduce the work needed to use your fireplace, burn cleaner and without as much buildup in your chimney, and have more customization options to complete the perfect look in your living room. Installation today is also much less expensive and complicated than it used to be, and gas fireplaces are becoming a popular upgrade for many homeowners.
However, there are some important things to take into consideration when you are looking at upgrading to gas logs. Black Goose Chimney is a leading expert in the Hampton Roads and Tidewater areas for gas log installation and maintenance. In this article we will discuss the important facts you need to know about gas fireplaces so that you can make an informed decision about whether one is right for your home.
First, let’s explore some of the conveniences and advantages to a gas fireplace. They are easy to start, some needing just a match and others turning on with the push of a button. Unlike wood-burning fireplaces, gas units do not require the constant adding and adjusting of wood logs as a source of fuel. The temperature is much more adjustable as you can turn the gas up or down with the simple turn of a knob or even with a remote control. Once turned on, gas fireplaces begin to heat the room immediately; with traditional fireplaces, you have to wait for the logs to really catch and start burning for several minutes before they begin to emit much heat.
Gas-burning fireplaces are more fuel-efficient and do not produce as much waste as wood, meaning that your chimney will have much less buildup of soot and creosote. And finally, gas fireplaces are considered by many to be a safer option than wood-burning units. They do not throw sparks the way logs can, and release fewer harmful emissions than wood does when it burns.
However, that does not mean that gas fireplaces are perfect! Different units will perform better or worse in certain homes, and some types of gas fireplaces are considered to be safer than others. It is important to consider why and how often you will be using your fireplace, your overall budget for installation, and safety factors to ensure you choose the right model for your home. At Black Goose Chimney we carry a variety of gas fireplaces to fit the exact needs of your house and your lifestyle. Continue reading to learn about the different types of gas fireplace and which one may work best for you!
Different types of gas fireplaces require different installation, safety precautions, and venting. This venting – how air comes in and goes out of the fireplace – is how gas fireplaces are categorized, and they are referred to as natural vent, direct vent, power vent, or ventless systems. There are also gas log inserts that vent up your existing chimney. Depending on what you want from your fireplace, your existing masonry, and the structure of your home, one venting option may be more suitable than another.
Often the most inexpensive option for those considering adding a gas fireplace is a gas log insert or a “log set”. This is a gas log grate that is placed into your existing firebox, where you once burned wood. Air comes into the fireplace from the room in the home, and exits up the chimney and out of the structure. Open-hearth gas log inserts are not very efficient as they lose significant amounts of heat up the chimney. However, you can retain that open-fireplace feel and enjoy an experience more similar to a wood-burning fireplace with this option. Gas log inserts typically do not need electricity to run, but due to how inefficiently they heat a space, this may not be much help in the event of a snowstorm and power outage!
A more efficient gas fireplace can also be installed using the existing chimney and firebox. These are called “natural vent” or “B vent” fireplaces and can be open front or sealed behind glass, but must vent vertically. This type of fireplace has a more sophisticated venting system that still draws air from inside the home, but vents up the chimney through a hose or pipe that runs through your existing masonry. They are more efficient and can produce more heat than a gas log insert, and can be safely used without electricity.
“Direct vent” gas fireplaces are a type of fireplace in which both the cool air coming into the firebox for combustion and the hot air carrying the emissions are piped to and from the outside of the home. Since none of the air from the fireplace will come from or exit into the inside of your home, this is a “sealed” system. These fireplaces always have a glass front and emit heat into the room very efficiently, as the inside can reach high temperatures without drafts from the outside.
Sealed systems are better for the air quality in your home as well as the efficiency of the heat produced and retained by the fireplace. These can also be used if the power is out, and are often great for “zone heating” certain rooms of your home without having to turn on the heat to the entire house. Because a direct vent fireplace does not depend on the existing chimney for its exhaust, it can be vented horizontally as well as vertically. That means that you can install this type of fireplace in many different areas of your home.
If your fireplace has to vent a long distance through your home to the exterior, some direct vent systems have a power assist in the form of an electric fan or “power vent” that drives air from outside into the fireplace and out the vent instead of relying on a natural draft. These systems allow gas fireplaces to be installed virtually anywhere in a building, but do require electricity to be run safely. However, you can reduce your overall power burden by turning off your central HVAC system and using your gas fireplace to efficiently heat just the area of your house that you are spending time in.
Some gas fireplaces are advertised as being ventless or vent-free, using technology and filtering to clean the hot air exiting the combustion area instead of venting it outside the home. However, there are increased health risks including exposure to carbon monoxide and an increased moisture buildup in the area around the fireplace. We do not recommend or install ventless fireplaces due to the risks, but do have many options for a closed system or natural venting fireplace to suit your home and your budget!