According to the WHO, 3.2 million deaths occurred due to indoor air pollution in 2020. So, it’s vitally important to take harmful emissions into account when you’re upgrading your fireplace or considering installing one in your new build. With this in mind, it makes sense to inquire, ”Do I need a chimney?” when you buy a gas fireplace, even though they’re one of the safest choices for your home. The answer is a little more complex than simply ”yes” or ”no”. Keep reading to discover why.
Types of Gas Fireplaces
Gas fireplaces do not need a chimney to operate efficiently. Yet, depending on which one you choose, you might want to make some provisions for mitigating the harmful gasses these fireplaces produce. In most cases, choosing a vented fireplace ensures improved safety for your family. Although fireplace vents act like a chimney, they cannot handle high temperatures like chimneys. Step one is following the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. Studies show that unvented gas fireplaces can cause unsafe emissions when homeowners don’t follow the manufacturer’s usage guidelines. There are three main types of gas-powered fireplaces:
Gas log sets are a cost-effective, easily installed option for homeowners. Each type has different maintenance and inspection requirements. You may use some types of log sets in masonry fireplaces only. Others require installation in an approved factory-built wood-burning fireplace. Some ventless gas fireplace cabinets and gas stoves require no venting at all.
Ventless Gas Fireplaces
Despite having nowhere to expel their emissions apart from into your home, ventless fireplaces do not require a chimney or a flue. You can position a ventless gas fireplace anywhere that you can install a gas supply line, such as alongside a wall or inside a masonry fireplace. They do emit some combustion gases into your home’s interiors, but these are well below the levels that pose any danger to your family. As long as you choose an approved, modern ventless gas fireplace and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, you have nothing to fear from installing a ventless gas fireplace.
Vented Gas Fireplaces
Most newer gas appliances are direct vent appliances. These fireplaces draw air for combustion from outside your home and exhaust their fumes to the outside, too. That means these fireplaces can’t emit harmful gases into your home, making them a safer option than ventless or B-vent fireplaces. Older appliances use a B-vented system. These systems pull the air they need for combustion from the inside of your home and exhaust fumes to the outside. Due to this, they may compete with other appliances for available air. Any pressure issues inside your home might affect its operation and force carbon monoxide into your home.
Can You Use a Vented Fireplace in Your Chimney?
Although installing a vented gas fireplace will require a little construction, you don’t need to build a chimney for safe fireplace operation. Most gas fireplaces come with highly effective venting systems. A fireplace installer will complete the necessary amendments to an exterior wall of your some to install the correct venting system for your new gas fireplace. If you have an existing chimney, you can use it for your gas fireplace, without making any major alterations. It’s important to clean your chimney before installing your gas fireplace and make sure it’s big enough to accommodate the gas fireplace insert you want. Your fireplace installer will complete the following basic steps when setting up a gas fireplace in your chimney:
- Run necessary electrical and gas supplies to the fireplace
- Remove the chimney cap and damper
- Drop exhaust and airflow intake liners down the chimney flue
- Secure the top plate to the chimney top and weatherproof it
- Insert a new chimney cap into the flue
- Complete the fireplace installation and test it
Maintaining Your Gas Fireplace Chimney
You won’t need to hire a chimney sweep to maintain your gas fireplace flue, but you should still check your chimney at least once a year for damp patches and damage caused by condensation. Hiring a service technician for this task can reveal issues like:
- Cracks in the chimney
- Deterioration of the glass doors and logs
- Problems with the gas ignition
- Cleanliness issues
During this inspection, the technician will also check your carbon monoxide detectors to ensure your ongoing safety.
Wood burning vs Gas Fireplaces
Modern gas fireplaces offer many of the aesthetic benefits of traditional wood fireplaces. However, wood fires create many more harmful emissions than gas fireplaces do. Gas fireplaces are easier to operate and require less maintenance than wood fireplaces, and natural gas is a readily available fuel type. Depending on where you live, you might find it challenging to secure enough affordable wood supplies to see you through winter and lack the space to store it all. If you love the look and feel of a wood fireplace, and you have an abundant wood source, keeping your fireplace and chimney well-maintained will limit the harmful emissions produced by burning wood.
Finding the Ideal Gas Fireplace for Your Home
You can enjoy the benefits of a gas fireplace safely if you follow the above guidelines for removing noxious emissions from your home. Newer model gas fireplaces also boast increasingly safe and efficient operations, making them one of the best choices for space heating for your home. If you have any concerns or questions, speak to a qualified fireplace installation professional to put your mind at ease and help you choose the best heating solution for your needs. Pop into one of our stores to view our range of high-quality, efficient gas fireplaces, or get in touch for more information on choosing the best gas fireplace for your home.