If you are looking to improve your heating efficiency or add ambiance to a room by installing a gas fireplace, there are some things that you should take into consideration when making your choice; local codes and permits required, vent type, fuel type, style, efficiency, maintenance, and installation.
Gas fireplaces offer the look and appeal of a wood burning fireplace, without all the work involved in maintaining a wood burning fireplace. There is no need to cut, haul, split, and stack firewood and there is no ash to clean out after the fire is out. Gas fireplaces also take up a fraction of the space that a wood burning unit requires, providing more options for installation in tight spaces and smaller homes.
There are three types of gas fireplaces, Direct Vent, B-Vent and Vent Free. Each having unique requirements and specifications. Before deciding which type of fireplace you want to install, you will need to check with your local building codes for approved applications in your area. Not all gas fireplaces can be installed in all locations. It is highly recommended that you have a plumber or heating and cooling specialist install the gas lines. To prevent voiding your warranty manufacturers usually require professional installation of appliances and gas lines.
Direct Vent Fireplaces
Direct Vent Fireplaces use direct vent chimney pipe made of two parts, a small pipe inside of a larger pipe. Combustion air is drawn in through the outer pipe while the inner pipe vents the exhaust. The appliance is completely sealed with a glass face to prevent leaks, and does not allow air from the house to be used for combustion. A direct vent fireplace can be safely vented through a sidewall or through the roof.
B Vent Fireplaces, also known as Natural Vent, use B vent chimney pipe and must be installed through the house and terminated above the roof. A minimal amount of room air is used for combustion and exhaust fumes are vented outside. B-vent gas fireplace are generally installed for decorative purposes, with many styles and options available to suit your decor. A more realistic looking yellow flame, makes this a great option if you want the ambiance of a fireplace, but you don't need it to generate that much heat.
Vent-Free Fireplaces, also known as Ventless fireplaces, provide supplemental heat, but do not require any venting. They burn inside air and put off a very minimal amount of fumes. And because there is no venting needed the installation cost is much less expensive and the unit can be installed virtually anywhere.
When selecting your gas fireplace you will need to make sure you choose a unit with proper gas outlets for your fuel type. Your home may already have existing natural gas lines to provide fuel to a furnace, dryer, stove, or water heater, therefore, you would choose a natural gas appliance. Natural gas is usually a preferred fuel because it burns cleaner and provides a more natural looking fire. However, if your household appliances run solely off electricity, you may have to choose a liquid propane fireplace. Propane will burn with equal efficiency to natural gas, but a propane tank will need to be installed on your property. With either fuel type you will need to check the local codes in your area and see which permits may be required.
BTU Information and Calculation
Gas fireplaces are rated using BTU's (British Thermal Units). BTU ratings measure the amount of heat produced per hour. The less fuel used to generate usable heat to attain the perfect BTU rating, the more efficient the fireplace will be. To calculate the approximate number of BTU's you're space will require use the BTU calculator provided, and enter the requested information.
A standard style fireplace is a traditional one-sided application, that offers endless installation possibilities. Most gas fueled fireplaces have a smaller footprint, so they take up a lot less room. A standard gas fireplace could be placed in any room in your house to supplement an existing heat source or add a romantic setting for an intimate gathering.
A peninsula style fireplace offers a multi-sided view, which allows for a variety of installations. They are rectangle in shape, relatively compact in size and visually appealing. A peninsula style fireplace could be a unique way to separate two rooms, such as a dining room and family room, still allowing for an open feel.
An island style fireplace is four-sided, which allows for a beautiful view from just about every angle. Heat radiates from all four sides of the unit, providing warmth and comfort to multiple areas at once. The island fireplace would be a wonderful center piece to a great room, where several types of living areas are incorporated into one space.
A see thru fireplace is open on two sides, opposite of each other, allowing you to see from one side through to the other. A popular installation option for this style fireplace is between the master bedroom and bath. This type of installation is beneficial as a heat source as well as for ambiance.
An open-end or corner fireplace is open on two sides, the end facing out to the room and the left or right end, depending on where it will be installed. This style fireplace works great in rooms with limited wall space. Installing this in an office or library space, would still provide wall space for your desk and shelving units.
A contemporary fireplace offers a sleek modern design, that can accommodate even a small home or condo. Installation options with this style fireplace is infinite. This unit would work great installed in a wall above the tub in your bathroom, providing a warm and aesthetically pleasing environment.
An outdoor fireplace provides ambiance and warmth that can be enjoyed outside of your home. This fireplace can be installed virtually anywhere because it does not require any venting. With outdoor living spaces becoming increasingly popular, this unit would make a great addition to your backyard patio.
Before you choose on a fireplace, you should check the installation instructions and local building codes. Deciding on the appropriate location within your home is a very important step, you will need to make sure that where ever you install the fireplace, fuel lines are accessible. A plumber or heating and cooling specialist is recommended to install new or update existing gas lines. Once the gas lines are in place, follow the manufacturers installation instructions to complete the installation process.
Make sure that any gas valves have been shut off before beginning any maintenance on the unit. Although not as messy as a wood burning unit, maintenance is still an integral part of owning a gas fueled fireplace. The glass will become cloudy and will need to be wiped down, as well as a slight build up of soot on any gas log set you insert into the fireplace. If you have vent pipe, you will need to make sure there are no obstructions or damage to the pipe, which could cause a back up of exhaust fumes into your home. If you follow the manufacturers recommended maintenance, you will be able to enjoy your gas fueled fireplace for years to come.