Why You Should Make the Switch and How to Do It
So, you have a wood-burning fireplace, but are starting to think you may prefer an alternative fuel to heat your home, such as gas. Although it’s nice to snuggle up next to a cozy wood burning fireplace during a cold winter night, they require quite a bit of upkeep – not to mention the cost of wood and the negative environmental impact.
Luckily, it’s possible to switch from wood to gas without the hassle of installing an entirely new fireplace.
This article will explain what this process entails and go over the different ways it can be done, while exploring the benefits of switching to a gas fireplace.
What Does it Mean to Convert a Wood Burning Fireplace to Gas?
If your home already has a wood burning fireplace and you’re looking for a safer, cleaner and more efficient way to heat your home (or even just to provide that incomparable ambiance that a fireplace provides without the upkeep), you may decide to switch to a gas fireplace instead. This can be done relatively easily, and there are multiple ways in which you could do it.
When making the switch, you can choose between a vented gas fireplace insert, a vent-free insert, or gas logs to use with your existing fireplace. Each has a different installation process, price point and aesthetic – the one you choose will ultimately depend on your budget and what your home can accommodate.
Fireplace inserts (both vented and vent-free) slide easily into your existing wood-burning fireplace without compromising your home’s existing aesthetic and style. Unless you’re a contractor, we don’t recommend making this a DIY project, as vents and gas lines are not easy to install and can be dangerous if installed improperly. It’s better to just hire a professional. Opting for a gas fireplace insert can be pricey, especially once you factor in the cost of installation, but they are an elegant and permanent solution to switching from wood to gas.
If you’re looking for something a little more temporary or are working on a budget, you can simply switch to gas logs instead of using wood logs. Although they are a little less heat efficient, they are still both cleaner and safer than a wood burning fireplace. Don’t forget that you must still ensure your fireplace is properly vented when using gas logs.
Reasons Why You Should Convert Your Wood Fireplace to Gas:
Unlike a wood burning fireplace (which requires a significant amount of cleaning and maintenance to keep it in good condition), a gas fireplace is simple and convenient to use. It can be turned on and off with the flip of a switch and most even come with a remote control.
Say goodbye to checking the draft, collecting wood, constantly tending the fire to keep it going and then triple checking that the fire is completely out when you’re finished with it. Plus, you won’t have to worry about buying, collecting and storing enough wood to last through the winter. All you have to do is hit the ‘on’ button and settle in.
Cleaner Home and Air
If you’re tired of constantly having to clean that thick layer of soot off of everything in the surrounding area every time you light a fire, it may be time to consider switching to gas. Without the proper ventilation, soot and other particles from your wood burning fireplace can leave behind a sticky, greasy layer over everything in the room. Wood burning fireplaces also emit several pollutants and toxins like carbon monoxide, benzene, formaldehyde and more.
A gas fireplace emits no soot, debris or ash. Your home will be cleaner and so will the air you breathe, with little to no risk of indoor air pollution. There are no piles of ash to clean up after you put the fire out, and you won’t have to worry about cleaning the chimney on a regular basis.
Safety is the most important factor to consider whenever fire of any kind is involved. When installed properly by a professional, gas fireplaces are much safer to use than their wood burning counterparts. Gas fireplaces have a safety shutoff system that prevents leaks, especially when not in use. When in use, the gas level remains stable, keeping the size of the flames from getting out of hand.
Statistically, wood burning fireplaces come with a higher risk of accidents, whereas gas fireplaces minimize that risk. However, it’s still important to ensure that your new gas fireplace is properly vented, and you should always schedule an annual inspection from a certified professional. Unvented fireplaces of any kind can be extremely dangerous and it’s critical to check regularly that your gas fireplace is still functioning properly.
Not only does a gas fireplace have a higher heat output than a wood fireplace, but it is also more energy-efficient for the environmentally conscious. Although they are manufactured to mimic the aesthetic and appeal of a wood burning fireplace, gas fireplaces are manufactured with energy-efficient technology and materials.
This means that you get anywhere from 75 to 98 per cent of energy from the fuel as heat. This is a stark contrast to wood fireplaces, which operate at around 30 per cent efficiency due to the fact that they lose around two-thirds of their heat up the chimney.
So, What Does the Process Look Like?
Gas Fireplace Log Kit
Maybe you’re looking for an easier and less expensive way to convert your wood fireplace to gas, or maybe you just want to try it out and are looking for a temporary solution while you ease into it. If either of these sounds appealing to you, try investing in a gas log kit.
Gas logs provide the same look as an open fire, although they don’t have quite as much heat output as a traditional wood fireplace. This is because, in order to install gas logs, your damper must be partially open at all times, leading to a slight loss of heated air. However, you can reduce this by installing a set of airtight glass doors on your fireplace.
Gas Fireplace Insert
Although a gas fireplace insert is the more expensive option, it’s absolutely worth it if you’re looking to make your gas fireplace a permanent fixture in your home. These vented inserts fit into your existing fireplace, giving you a sleek and glassed in but natural-looking fireplace instead of an open fire.
Since the combustion chamber is sealed, the glass will remain closed at all times to maintain your home’s indoor air quality without losing any heat. Since a gas fireplace insert can be kept burning indefinitely, this is also the most energy-efficient option.
Vent-Free Gas Fireplace
If you’re worried about losing heat up your chimney, you could always opt for a vent-free gas fireplace. However, these come with their own set of risks and should not be used if you suffer from any respiratory conditions such as asthma, allergies or heart problems.
Since there is no venting, the moisture and combustion exhaust will end up in your home, reducing the air quality. For this reason (and also because exhaust buildup can accumulate extremely quickly) vent-free gas fireplaces should never be used as the primary heating source for your home.
If you’re looking to ditch your wood burning fireplace for a safer, cleaner and more efficient alternative, then why not upgrade to a gas fireplace? Making the switch may seem like a hassle, but a professional installation can be done in no time, and you may discover that a gas fireplace is just what you need when winter comes around in a few months.