Vent Free Gas Logs--Questions???

love2weedNovember 27, 2005

I am going to replace my gas logs because my current set is a cheapie. I stopped at a local fireplace shop and the salesman showed me some vent-free logs. I was really impressed with the heat these produce. After doing some research though, I am finding mixed opinions. When I run my vented logs now, it seems very drafty in my great room. I was wondering if I ran the vent-free logs with the damper partially open, could I still get heat and eliminate the worry about fumes. Also, what about the soot and vapor? Is this really a big concern? We have natural gas and the logs would really very seldom be used. May once a week, it that. Like I said earlier, I was going to replace my gas logsno matter what, but I like the idea of having some heat when I am running my gas logs. Right now I feel like the room actually gets colder when I run my vented gas logs. Is nyone else doing this?

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If you haven't read this web page yet, you should.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ventless products

    Bookmark   November 27, 2005 at 10:09PM
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How many hours per day do you intend to use the gas logs? Unvented logs are ok if you only plan to run them just briefly each day - not intended to heat your home with them. The rule of thumb I have heard is that if you plan to run it between 1 and 2 hours each day, it's ok, but it really depends on the size of the space you intend to heat. I have used an unvented set before too, and only used it for an hour or two in the evening. They provide great heat, but your eyes will burn if you run it for 3 or 4 hours straight.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2005 at 12:04PM
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I probably won't even run them on a daily basis. Probably just a couple of times each week when we finally have time to sit down in front of the fireplace. I would like to have them for heat on those occasions when we do When I run my vented logs now, I feel like it actually gets colder in the room.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2005 at 5:50PM
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Your best best is to have a direct-vent gas insert installed. That way you can use it 24 hours a day if you desire and it will actually heat your home.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2005 at 10:12PM
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Realize that you really stepped into a hornet's nest when you bring up the subject of "vent-free" gas logs or fireplaces. There is a huge anti vent-free sentiment among some folk...quite a few of them being gas dealers that sell and install direct vent :) Hoo boy, I know I just created a flaming post there!

We have a pellet stove in our great room of our home that pretty much runs 24/7 when it gets cold - and it does a great job - we love it. But downstairs in our basement, we use a vent-free gas fireplace. It was quick, simple to install, and reasonably priced. We ~could~ have installed a vent for a gas fireplace or a pellet stove...but it would have entailed drilling through 8" poured concrete walls, or moving hvac ductwork...neither would have been easy or cheap.

The vent-free gas fireplace works great - we only use it when we're downstairs in the basement family room, which is usually just weekends. It warms up the area VERY quickly, and we don't notice any fumes or weird smells. Just to be safe, we have the plug-in digital carbon monoxide detectors - one in the room with the fireplace, and another one in the basement hallway - and they have never gone off.

So...for the $500 or $600 bucks that we spent (we got the stuff on clearance at Lowes last year), plus the install of the propane tank - it was a relative bargain.

By the friend that owns a local hardware store sells a ton of the vent-free propane wall-unit heaters. They are even less expensive - and a couple of my neighbors use them and have told me they like them...for what it's worth.

Good luck, whichever you choose....

    Bookmark   November 29, 2005 at 1:01PM
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brad bring up some interesting points.

We have two brick woodburning fireplaces in our home (family room and living room). The plan is to convert the living room fireplace to gas logs. Both fireplaces were built with venting for outside air supply. We have debated and researched vent vs vent-free and understand the concerns involved carbon monoxide poisoning. Here is a website on CO poisoning from the EPA:

That being said, we are looking for the best of the two, vented or non-vented gas logs, for our living room fireplace. Either way, we are planning to allow both to vent out the chiminey...or to at least allow and entrance of fresh air to the logs and a place any CO to go, like up the chiminey.

The second part is: do we buy and insert the combines the logs and glass doors ...or do we purchase the gas logs and glass doors seperately?

Thanks for any thoughts,


    Bookmark   November 29, 2005 at 9:29PM
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Well...not that I'm an authority or anything, but from what I understand, the reason for glass doors on the vented gas logs is that they burn "dirty" - in order to get that nice, warm yellow flame...they have to burn rather inefficiently - and therefore, you HAVE to use the glass doors and vent them - no question about it.

The vent-free logs are very clean burning. The flame that is produced is actually a blue then heats up the ceramic log set, which sort of glows yellowish/red. I guess you could use glass doors with them if you really wanted to; but it seems to me like you'd be blocking a lot of the heat that they produce! They do produce trace amounts of CO...and they do put out some water vapor into the home. Our home tends to be rather dry in the winter time, so some additional moisture is actually good for us. And like I say...we have CO detectors and they have never gone off.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 8:42AM
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That makes sense to me....about the glass doors with the vented logs. I wonder if those who would like the efficiency of the ventless, along with the heat, but wanted to eliminate some of the CO and water vapor...if it would make a difference if (in a brick fireplace like ours) the damper was left slightly open to allow water vapor and CO to travel up the chimney. There could be the possibility that there would not be enough heat to carry up and out the chimney causing the water vapor to condense inside the chimney. This may not be a good idea either.

Since for us the gas logs are for looks only we should go with the vented and glass doors. Thus we should be able to not go with an insert and research the purchase of the gas logs alone then find a glass door we like. (?)

CO detectors are a good thing anyway. We have gas heat, gas cooktop and use the CO detectors. We have one close to the cooktop and have used the gas burners forgetting to turn on the vent fan and the detectors have never gone off. Must not of been enough CO.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 11:57PM
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brad theres a chance your CO detectors do not even work!
buy a COexperts and see what happens. it reads down to 10 ppm. alarms at 15ppm

the only thing I use ventless is my cooking stove!

    Bookmark   December 2, 2005 at 9:58PM
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If you would like to see what lung-vented fireplaces would be like before you buy, just go out to your garage, shut the door, turn on the car, roll down the windows, and enjoy.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2005 at 4:00PM
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    Bookmark   December 5, 2005 at 11:46PM
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I have 2 10k BTU (only size allowed in code for sleeping area) vent free units in two of my bedrooms. They are there more for aesthetic reason. However on occasion, like gift wrapping the other night I turned it on to take the chill out of the spare bedroom while working in there. They are nice to use before going to sleep while in my chair reading. The longest I have used them is for 2 hours or so, I have never had any soot, unpleasant odor, nor has the CO2 detector gone off in the room even with the door closed!! That "anti-ventfree" website listed above list negative comments from over 8 years ago!! I believe technology has come along way with the burn rate etc. One thing to be careful of is to stack the logs exactly where they should be, and do not use embers. Just think of how long your gas oven burns unvented cooking a large meal!!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2005 at 3:00PM
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My CO detectors are brand new, just installed them this fall. Both have digital readouts, and both read "O". They automatically monitor the air and display the highest level of CO ever reading "zero" is pretty good, I guess. We use a pellet stove in our great room, and a non-vented propane fireplace in our finished basement. We run the propane fireplace maybe 6-8 hours on the weekends...sometimes more, sometimes less. And the detectors have never registered above zero.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2005 at 3:53PM
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Casey WA
My 2 cents (though slightly off topic): Be sure to have your chimney swept before installing and using your new gas log set (whether you go with vented or un-vented). Many people think that if they have vent free logs they don't need to have the chimney swept before they start using them because they aren't vented. But, the logs still give off heat and if there is creosote build up in the chimney there could still be a potential of the creosote igniting.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2005 at 5:09PM
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The website link is proof that there is always someone out there against anything, especially somewhat new technology. While I don't doubt that there can be exceptions, those cases are certainly not the norm. And, as one reply says, there have been tremendous improvements in the operation, efficiency and safety of gas logs over the last ten years.

For me, I've been using a set of vent-free logs in a masonry fireplace (damper closed) as my primary heat source once the weather gets cold for almost 10 years. I have been heating over 2100 sq. ft. (2 story) without any issues. I have a name brand CO detector from a "big box" store and the 1st thing I did was compare it to a $2500 industrial meter from work. Using my garage and a vehicle for the test, the relatively inexpensive meter works as good as the expensive one, providing increased readings and alarms in a timely manner. I also check the meter each Fall.

While the vented logs can be much more realistic looking, most do not provide near the heat value as the vented type. So, one must answer the question of using the logs a reliable heat source that looks OK, or a great looking fire with very little heat. For me, I was looking for an emergency heat source, but found it to work well as the primary as well.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 5:38PM
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...if your still around, how did you vent free set work out? We just went thru what you did. They tried to sell us and insert which does have the benefit of not dumping moisture in the home. Still we just wanted a pretty flame to look at a few times a week with out the mess and smell of wood. $450 vs $3000. We almost got a vented set but leaving the damper open on a vented log set seemed as though I'd either be letting hot air out or cold air in. We just ordered a vent free set. It says in the manual that it CAN be operated as a vented set by opening the damper. This works for me! We might not get as big a flame as with the vented but I can close my damper when not in use and if my power ever fails I'll have some backup heat. We, like you, may even try leaving the damper partially closed to let a little heat in. I would think if moisture was going to be an issue it would be apparent. We do have an open floor plan as well. So if you out there, how did you make out---any problems, smeels, allergies etc.?


Someone mentioned eyes watering after the unit runs 4+ hours. Is this appicable to vent free units only or any type of fire. I never heard this before. If applicable to vent free only...why would this occur? I doubt we'd ever use the thing more than an hour or two at a time.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 2:54PM
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Our direct vent fireplace smelled awful. I removed the sealant around the flue collar(black Mill pac) and the smell went away. problem is you need to seal the flue so i will try to use it much much more sparingly but still accomplish it's intended purpose. we'll see...

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 9:55PM
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