Do Gas Fireplaces Need a Chimney?

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If you’re considering purchasing or having a gas fireplace installed, you’ll need to know if you must have a chimney for it to work correctly. Can you utilize your chimney if you have one? How can you vent a gas fireplace properly? Keep reading to determine how and if you need to your vent a gas fireplace.

Do you need a chimney for a gas fireplace?

No, you do not have to have a chimney, but depending on which type of fireplace you have, it may be able to be used. There is more than one type of gas fireplace that you can install, the majority of which will require some time of venting.

How do you vent a gas fireplace without a chimney?

This will depend on which type of fireplace you have. There are mainly three types of fireplaces: direct vented, naturally vented, and ventless. Which one you have will dictate how it must be vented.

Direct vented fireplace

A direct vented gas fireplace will require the fumes to be vented out of your home and the combustion air to be brought into the fireplace from outside. This will be accomplished with a fan within the exhaust piping. These gas fireplaces are completely sealed from your home and will contribute nothing to your indoor air other than heat.

For these reasons, a direct vented fireplace cannot vent through a chimney. It must utilize a proper vent piping designed for its specific use. It will need to have a metal vent pipe or pipes, depending on the model, that vent the exhaust outside while pulling fresh air into the firebox.

Natural draft fireplace

A natural draft fireplace can use the existing chimney without alteration. The exhaust of a natural draft fireplace will not be pushed by a fan but will utilize the stack effect to allow exhaust to escape from the home. The chimney will first need to be inspected for damage to ensure that it will not leak fumes into the house or attic space.

Ventless fireplace

Ventless gas fireplaces are designed with the concept that they will burn efficiently enough not to need to be vented outside. Therefore, they will not have to be or even have the capability of using a chimney.

Do I need a flue for my gas fireplace?

If you have a direct vent gas fireplace, then it will not be able to utilize a flue unless you run the vent designed for a direct venting gas fireplace through the flue. A direct venting gas fireplace will have to have the vent pipe designed; no other option will work.

If you have a natural venting fireplace where the exhaust is not forced out but naturally drafts away from the fireplace, you will be able to use a flue if it has been proven safe.

If you have a non-venting gas fireplace, you will not need or be able to use a flue.

Do gas fireplaces need to be vented?

Depending on which gas fireplace style you have, it may need to be vented. If your gas fireplace is a vented style, it will have to be vented.

Natural vent vs. direct vent

Natural venting fireplaces will rely on your home to provide the air to burn correctly. Once the fire has burned, the exhaust will flow out of your home through whatever type of vent you are utilizing due to the stack effect. It will have no help from a mechanical source such as an exhaust fan. This type can use a chimney, flue, or metal exhaust piping.

Direct venting will require a fan to push the air out of your home and draw air in with the help of a fan. A direct venting fireplace will be entirely sealed off from your home, drawing outside air in for the burning and pushing exhaust out through a proper and approved venting pipe designed for a direct venting fireplace.

What are ventless fireplaces?

The idea behind a ventless fireplace is that the fireplace is burning the fuel so efficiently that it can release what fumes are left after the ignition into your air without causing you harm. This is an option if you do not have any feasible way to be able to vent a fireplace. However, this option should be chosen cautiously as it has the potential to be quite dangerous.

Vented vs. Ventless

Vented fireplaces will have to have a properly designed metal vent pipe installed or use a chimney or flue in the case of a natural vented fireplace. This may be the downfall for some people who cannot have a vent installed on their property. However, either option is very safe if the vent is sealed correctly.

On the other hand, a ventless fireplace vents the fumes into your home into the air you are breathing. Which significantly reduces the indoor air quality. The idea behind it is that it has burned so efficiently that it can do this without causing any harm.

However, some places outlaw ventless heaters, such as Canada and California, for safety concerns. It would be best to research the safety of ventless fireplaces before purchasing one. It is also highly recommended that you maintain a low-level carbon monoxide meter and only run a ventless heater while you are at home and able to monitor its condition.

Why are gas fireplaces often installed in traditional fireplaces?

People often grow tired of buying, splitting, stacking, and carrying wood as well as the additional cleaning that a traditional fireplace requires. A gas fireplace is often an attractive alternative because you can achieve the ambience and heat of a fire without the hassle. By installing a gas fireplace within an existing traditional one, you will be able to maintain the fireplace look. When it comes to venting, having access to the chimney will make venting your natural gas fireplace much more straightforward.

If you have a direct vented gas fireplace, you can also utilize the chimney to run your direct vented designed venting through the chimney and to the exterior of your home without drilling through any walls.

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Can a gas fireplace be run all day?

If you have a vented gas fireplace, then it will be entirely safe to run your gas fireplace all day if you want to. However, if you have a ventless gas fireplace, it is recommended only to run the fireplace while you are home and able to monitor it.

It is also highly recommended that you have a properly working low-level carbon monoxide alarm to ensure that your home and you are not in any danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Can a gas fireplace cause carbon monoxide poisoning?

If you have an adequately vented gas fireplace, you should not worry any more than usual about carbon monoxide poisoning. However, you should maintain a properly installed low-level carbon monoxide alarm to ensure your safety.

If you have a natural draft fireplace that is drafting through a chimney or a flue, you will need to be sure that the chimney/flue is safe and does not have any way of leaking. Condensation caused by gas fireplace exhaust can cause the inside of the chimney to begin to break down and possibly leak carbon monoxide if not properly inspected.

Ventless gas fireplaces should only be run whenever you are home with a properly installed low-level carbon monoxide alarm. Under normal circumstances, a ventless gas fireplace should not cause carbon monoxide to be released into your air in an unsafe quantity.

However, suppose there is any problem with the burner assembly. In that case, it could cause the ignition to become less efficient, potentially putting carbon monoxide into the air. This would be extremely dangerous, so you should have a low-level carbon monoxide alarm in your home.

Do you have a gas fireplace? Tell us about your experience with it below.

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