Opening a Closed off Fireplace

celishiaJune 9, 2008

We just moved into our first home and we have a fireplace in the living room that has been boarded up. We would really like to reopen it and put one of those gel burning fire places in. While the gel fireplaces say they don't need ventilation I am wondering if that is completely accurate. Should we have someone come in and inspect the chimney just in case, for are the gel fireplaces really that safe? I did find a company (Condor Company) that makes a Flamenco log that you put gel in and it burns more realistically. The company replied to an email of mine and said you don't need ventilation...does anyone know about this?

Thanks!

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Kimberlyinva

Gel fireplaces have been around for a while. They are to used where you can't or don't wish to have a flue (but of course can be used if you have one as an insert). All in all they do a nice job but are pretty expensive to use. I looked at the Flamenco website, seems a bit pricey to me. Take a look at https://www.cartridgefireplace.com/index.html
Appears to be the same thing only half the price. I just have a plain one with a free standing mantel/box. I burn Sungel canisters in mine but I might switch to cartridges this fall if the room addition doesn't get built in time for the wood burning stove.
KAT

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 11:52AM
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haus_proud

I have never heard of gel burners, but I think that the precautions that apply to unventilated gas logs apply to them as well. I would read about that in Consumers Reports. It used to be available on their website at no cost (they charge if you want to see ratings of specific products.)

Basically, unventilated is no good. It harms indoor air quality by putting fumes into it (they may be invisible and odor free, but they're still there) and, more important, they consume oxygen. Building codes in many areas prohibit unvented systems in sleeping rooms.

If you want to take advantage of the fireplace in your new (to you ) home,and you want to do it at minimal cost, the gel idea may work, but only if you plan to use it on a very, very limited basis. Not for serious heating, but only for atmosphere, and you always leave a window open a crack or more than a crack.

If the fireplace is sealed over, it's probably because it needed expensive repairs a long time ago, when fireplaces went out of fashion, and the previous owner decided to do away with it. But sizing up the condition of the chimney might be a good idea if you can find a chimney sweep who is willing to give you a free estimate. You can probably retrofit a sealed direct vent gas fired unit that uses either natural gas or propane. They produce serious heat and give a nice flame, and do not affect indoor air quality. But they are expensive -- several thousand bucks.

Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 10:19AM
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heimert

Yeah, I'd start with a chimney sweep. Maybe it needed expensive repairs. Or maybe the repairs were just more than the previous owner wanted to pay, and you're willing to do it. Or they just never wanted to use the fireplace. Perhaps you can restore it, and then use gel, chemical logs, or real logs, and enjoy it.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 10:31AM
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marybeth1

I had one in my old house.I think it was called THE ANYWHERE FIREPLACE.I bought the firebox and had a carpenter build me a mantle. No they do not have to be ventilated. I remember the cans were kind of expensive and I had to burn three at a time to get a real looking fire. The cans are a gelled alchohol kind of like a sterno can. They do have a certain smell after a while if in a small room. I did find cheaper cans at a four seasons store instead of the place I bought it. It may be worth just buying a few cans to see if you like them.They are ok definily not like a real fireplace but much better than electric!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 10:11PM
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