Natural Gas Fireplaces
Buying, splitting and storing wood, and hauling ashes has lost its appeal for many. Clean, convenient, cost-effective, and easy-to-use natural gas ends the work (and the mess) of a fireplace. Providing warmth and beauty to almost any room, natural gas fireplaces are a popular optional feature in new homes.
The benefits of natural gas fireplaces
Offering so many benefits, natural gas fireplaces have become one of the hottest home features in recent years. They are:
Convenient. Natural gas fireplaces feature instant on/off operation with the flip of a switch or the touch of a remote control. There's no chopping and no hauling wood or waiting for hot coals to cool before going to bed.
Clean. Natural gas fireplaces provide a beautiful fire use after use with no soot, no ashes, and no messy clean-up.
Beautiful. Natural gas fireplaces enhance the appearance and marketability of any home. They add a focal point to almost any room.
Economical. Using a natural gas fireplace can cost as little as 25% of the cost of burning wood. Plus you can save energy by using your gas fireplace to warm the room you're in and turning down your thermostat.
Safe. With a natural gas fireplace, there's no need to worry about creosote buildup in your chimney or chimney fires. There are no sparks to burn your carpet, either.
Environmentally friendly. Natural gas fireplaces reduce by up to 99% the amount of pollutants and particles emitted into the air by wood burning units.
Shopping for a natural gas fireplace
Whether you are installing a natural gas fireplace in a new or existing home or converting your wood-burning fireplace to a convenient gas insert, there are a number of options and issues to consider. So when you are ready to start shopping, be sure to choose a reputable company that knows natural gas heating and can help you find the solution that is right for you and your home.
Natural gas fireplaces all include a gas log arrangement and choice of glass front and mantel styles to match any decor.
Some natural gas fireplace models have built-in blowers to increase heating effectiveness by circulating heat to a larger area.
Some gas fireplaces have electric ignition or a standing safety pilot light that burns continuously and lights the main burner whenever the gas is turned on. The safety pilot light prevents the main burner valve from opening if the pilot is not lit.
Many gas fireplaces with a standing safety pilot use a push-button piezo igniter so the standing pilot can be ignited without matches. Most fireplaces can be operated with an ON/OFF rocker switch on the fireplace or a wall switch.
- Remote controls offer the ultimate convenience in operating your gas fireplace.
Maintaining your gas fireplace
Before lighting the first fire of the season, keep these safety tips in mind:
- Have a technician check the gas lines and clean the burner, control compartment, fan and related air circulation passages.
- Ensure vents are unobstructed and able to do their job.
- Check the batteries in the carbon monoxide detector.
- Clean the glass and adjust the glowing embers and logs for best appearance.
- Be alert for unusual odors or flames, which are often a sign that the fireplace is not operating properly.
- Make family members and guests aware that the glass panel of a gas fireplace, stove, or insert can be very hot. Installing a safety screen or safety barrier is recommended to reduce the risk of serious burns by preventing direct contact with hot glass.
Source: Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association
Converting your wood-burning fireplace to gas
It's easy to convert a wood-burning fireplace to clean, convenient natural gas with a fireplace insert. Fireplace inserts are very popular, offering the same benefits as a newly installed natural gas fireplace.
- Complete fireplace inserts can be retrofitted into existing wood-burning fireplaces and usually they do not require additions such as glass doors, screens, or other decorative accessories.
- Gas fireplace inserts consist of a closed combustion chamber with ceramic logs and a glass front.
- Inserts offer the same conveniences and safety features as complete gas fireplaces, with gas logs, warm air circulation, remote controls and other features.
Installing a natural gas log for beauty
Many homeowners enjoy the peaceful charm of their wood-burning fireplace, but not the inconvenience of handling the wood and clean-up. Homeowners usually choose gas logs because they add an element of beauty to a room-- if efficiency and heat are priorities, a gas fireplace insert is a better option.
Venting a natural gas fireplace
Natural gas fireplaces are structurally similar to wood-burning fireplaces. They are complete units that include a ceramic log set contained in a combustion chamber with a glass front. Their venting system eliminates the need for a traditional masonry chimney.
- Direct-vent or sealed-combustion gas fireplaces can be vented either through the wall or roof. In some designs, outdoor air can be provided through the outer cylinder of a concentric vent pipe for proper combustion of the gas even with windows closed in a tightly sealed home. Figure 1 shows that room air can also be circulated within the fireplace to provide convective heating in addition to the normal radiant heating from the simulated logs, glass front and chamber walls.
- Figure 2 illustrates the venting options available with today's versatile natural gas fireplaces. A distinct advantage of a through-the-wall, direct-vent model is its flexibility — it can be located in almost any room without a chimney.
- Typically, natural gas fireplaces can be safely installed with "zero clearance," adjacent to wood studs.
Gas-fired hearth products sold and used in the United States are covered by a variety of certification standards, building codes and local requirements. Some states prohibit the sale or use of unvented fuel-burning heaters. Check the codes in your area before purchasing a gas fireplace.