Want to replace Vent-Free Fireplace, need suggestions

bjsbuds1November 15, 2010

My house was built 12 years ago, and a builder grade fireplace was installed with a B-Vent since the fireplace is not against an outside wall. We hated the fireplace as it didn't provide any heat, and actually made the whole house much colder. We use propane heat, as natural gas is not available in our area.

Upon the suggestion of a co-worker, I installed a vent-free fireplace and re-tiled the surround. We have had it for about six years now, and have had to have it serviced three times. It sure does kick out the heat, but I just can't stand the smell. When I walk past it when it's off I can smell gas all the time, yet the carbon monoxide detector has never gone off.

The vent-free box and logs were relatively inexpensive, and I completed the whole project including a wireless remote for under $1,000. We have always loved the open look, which is why we shyed away from a closed glass unit. Our fireplace gets heavy use, as one of us lays in front of the fireplace almost every night from Nov - Feb.

I am ready to replace the unit with a vented fireplace. I do not see anyway to install a vented fireplace out the side, as it would have to go thru another room to get to an outside wall, so I think I would have to use the existing B-Vent, up the roof.

My current unit is 36" W x 36" H x 20" D. As I recall, there was more depth available, but I an not sure it is another foot. The most important features to me in order of importance:

- Heating capacity

- Realistic Look

- Safety

- Efficiency

- Price

Can you please offer some recommendations?

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The gold standard is a gas fired direct vent insert, the safest, most energy efficient system. But it is not an open fireplace. it is a sealed firebox fitted into your existing firebox equipped with two vents that go up the chimney -- one to exhaust the fumes, the other to bring in fresh air from outside to feed the combustion. Indoor air quality is never affected -- hence the safety. And it puts out heat like a blast furnace. You need a remote thermostat that turns the thing on and off to maintain the heat setting. These units are not inexpensive and are not a DIY installation. But they are the best. And many come with a propane adaptor. Unvented system are considered a health and safety hazard and are a vilation of building codes in many communities. See Consumer Reports discussion about that.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 10:13PM
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