Can A Wood Burning Fireplace be Converted To A Gas Fireplace
Wood fireplaces have become a thing of the past. With gas fireplaces offering so many benefits over wood, many people wish to convert their fireplaces. But what’s involved in converting a wood fireplace to gas? Does the whole thing need to be replaced? The truth is, you can switch from wood to gas, but you may need to swap out a lot of parts.
If you’re interested in converting your wood fireplace to gas, keep reading for a complete overview of what will need to be done.
Benefits of a Gas Fireplace
A gas fireplace doesn’t require wood to be constantly thrown in to burn. This saves on the cost of wood and the hassle of continually having wood ready.
It is very easy to start a gas fireplace with the flip of a switch. However, wood fireplaces require a lot more work to get fire running. Wood fireplaces also create a lot of pollution and are less efficient than gas ones, costing more money to run.
Gas logs require very little maintenance to maintain. Gas logs do require cleaning to remove propane gas build-up. Chimneys also need to be cleaned yearly if you use vented gas logs. Wood burning fireplaces require regular firebox cleaning and ash removal after every use.
How to Convert from Wood to Gas
First, you will require a chimney inspection by a licensed chimney sweep who will make sure your chimney is in good condition and fix any issues. This may include cleaning out any build-up and making any repairs. After getting a clear idea of the current state of your fireplace setup, you’ll be able to start discussing conversion options.
Gas Line Connection Options
You will need someone to install the proper gas line and connect it to your fireplace. A few different types of gas inserts can be installed into the fireplace.
Note that it’s not recommended to place ventless gas logs in existing fireplaces since they void warranties and are dangerous for those with respiratory issues.
A traditional gas insert fits inside the fireplace opening and surrounds decorative logs, requiring the chimney to be lined with stainless steel liner for safety reasons.
If there is the correct sizing, gas inserts can be installed into an existing wood fireplace. Inserts are sealed-combustion units that pull combustion air from outside. They also let out exhaust gasses and moisture.
Direct Vent Gas Insert
A direct vent gas insert has a sealed firebox and venting system. A vertical, collinear venting system will need to be installed, which is when two pipes are installed next to each other, and one pipe pulls in fresh air from outside that creates combustion.
The other pipe gets rid of combustion by-products. This creates a convection loop which is a consistent flow of heat. Cool air pulls through the convection air intake at the bottom of the firebox.
The air circulates before being released into the home as hot air. Installed blowers speed up this process. A heat dump system can also be installed. By pulling air from the fireplace, it can convert into another room in the house.
Direct vent inserts are the best for those with lung issues or respiratory issues. They operate with up to 85% efficiency and protect indoor air quality.
Vent-Free Gas Inserts
Vent-free free inserts can save a lot of money as they don’t require a chimney. A separate firebox goes into an existing fireplace, or a new unit with gas logs can be installed.
They also burn at almost 100% efficiency, which removes the need for a chimney.
Vented Gas Logs
Vented gas logs give a realistic illusion that there are actual flames present. By using a glowing ember bed, it simulates natural logs burning.
They aren’t the best at producing heat as they require the chimney damper to be open at all times, which loses heat. If the damper isn’t open, carbon dioxide will fill the house.
Gas logs are made from ceramic fiber or a refractory cement mixture that is designed to withstand the high temperatures that fireplaces create.
Steel reinforcement rods are placed inside the logs to prevent cracking or breaking. Refractory cement logs are the more durable option as they can withstand high amounts of heat for long periods.
Ventless Gas Logs
Ventless log sets burn at almost 100% efficiency and have a smokeless flame. Since they don’t give off any smoke, they don’t require any venting. This means that no heat can escape, allowing for increased heat production.
The flames produced will not be as large as vented versions. Condensation commonly appears on windows since ventless gas logs produce water vapor, which can eventually lead to mildew growth. Leaving a window open near the fireplace is recommended.
Ventless gas logs also enhance any odors in the air, including air fresheners, scented candles, and perfumes.
Coaxial or Collinear Venting
Coaxial is the most common type of venting and consists of either flexible or rigid pipes. The vent and intake pipe share the same axis. Airflow through the pipes prevents heat transfer surrounding the structure.
The vent and intake liners run parallel to one another for collinear venting. The materials are two aluminum chimney liners.
Control Switch Options
Here are some of the switch options that your gas fireplace can have.
These are the most cost-efficient and easy to control options. A match or lighter is required to ignite the gas. They are only available for vented gas log systems that use natural gas.
These gas valves use a thermopile that generates a large millivolt current, allowing connections for a hand-held remote, timer, wall switch, or thermostat. The result is an easily controllable fireplace.
Modified Safety Pilot Kits
This type of kit contains a motor that allows the use of remote control or variable control to turn the fireplace on and off easily.
An electronic valve features a gas-valve switch, wall switch, or remote control to control the fireplace. Most are battery-operated.
Converting a wood fireplace to gas is an expensive transition. However, it will bring many benefits and save you money in the long run. The efficiency and ease of operating a gas fireplace make it an intriguing replacement for any wood fireplace.