getting started with gas logs for existing wood burning fireplace

lauriecMarch 2, 2010

Hi, need advice for getting started - we have an existing wood burning fireplace. We have just brought gas to the house and want to convert the wood burning fireplace to gas- what are the things we need to consider?

thanks,

L

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haus_proud

First, DO NOT get a ventless system. Many building codes actually outlaw them. I think they all should because the build up of fumes can be dangerous.

Therefore, the choice is between a VENTED gas log system and something called DIRECT VENT system. A vented system works pretty much like your present conventional wood burning fireplace. It will provide some heat, but most of the heat will go up the chimney. It is not an energy efficient system.

A direct vent system is comprised of a sealed firebox equipped with 2 vents that go up the chimney -- one to exhaust the fumes and the other to bring in fresh air to feed the combustion. It is very energy efficient, and can give off some serious heat. Direct vent systems are costly and take close to a whole day to install, assuming you already have a gas line in place. You really should consider this option if you want more than just the pleasant appearance of a flame. One more consideration: Since direct vent system can get very hot, it's a good idea to get one with a remote thermostat. Otherwise you'll wind up turning the thing on and off over and over again.

But if you live in a climate zone where a kit of heat is not the primary consideration, for instance in Florida, a vented gas log system would be a reasonable option. If a really DRAMATIC dancing flame is what you're looking for, I think the Eiklor brand is the gold standard. But it will use a LOT OF GAS, and most of the heat will go up the chimney. So you're almost literally burning money with that one. I'm partial to direct vent. We have one here in North Carolina, and we love it.

Make sure you find someone with a good local reputation to do the installation. Otherwise you'll wind up with buyer's remorse.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 2:45PM
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lauriec

thanks so much- this is really helpful! we are not getting ventless - but thanks for that tip.

what about gas logs vs gas inserts - are gas logs sold just as replacements for folks who already have gas stoves?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 8:36PM
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haus_proud

Gas logs can be installed in an existing wood burning fireplace, possibly ANY such fireplace, provided of course that the chimney is in good condition and clean and certain clearance standards are observed to make sure that combustible material is far enough away from the fire so that it will not get hot and burn. But that should not be an issue if you have a well designed wood burning fireplace.

Gas inserts these days usually refer to direct vent systems, but there may be others that do not meet that standard. I do not know about them.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 7:57PM
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moonwandrr

One caution on a vented gas log set...if the chimney had a habit of spilling smoke into the home (look for black stains on the brickwork above opening) you will have problems with a gas logs as well.
If the chimney vents well...go with the gas logs for ambience and a seperate source of heat to the room for general warmth....it will be more satisfying and less expensive to install and operate than most directvent gas inserts. Inserts also cut your fireview but about 1/3 to 1/2 the area. Rinnai makes an easily installed directvent high efficiency heater, it can even mount under most windows. Check with your local gas supplier.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 11:37AM
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jsr156

I plan converting my existing masonry, wood-burning fireplace and will be using the Eiklor 5-burner gas logs. I'm not sure whether to get the "old-fashioned" valve that has the pilot light constantly lit (unless it's turned off), which means (a) the damper always has to be open a few inches; (b) potential "hissing" noise; (c) carbon monoxide potential. Or, get the electronic ignition, which means the pilot light is out when not in use (and no manual lighting of the pilot), and the damper does not have to be open when not in use.
My fireplace has the damper on top of the chimney, not in the throat of the chimney.

With the electronic ignition, my installer tells me that there is a potential that the flames will eventually "fry" the ignition box (which is located inside the fire box).

I'm wondering what others have done.

Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 10:00AM
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