Warmer, Safer, And More Energy Efficient – What’s Not to Love About Gas Fireplaces?
We understand that a wood-burning fireplace looks beautiful and smells great. Unfortunately, it is not the most practical heat source when you need to get through a chilly Canadian winter, which is why so many people are electing to switch to gas fireplaces.
The spring and summer months are perfect for fireplace renovations in Ottawa since fireplaces won’t be in use. But before you switch out your wood-burning fireplace, you have to decide on what kind of fireplace fits your tastes, as well as what your home can accommodate.
Gas inserts, gas logs, and gas stoves all have different requirements for installation and different looks. You also have to consider your budget. Once you’ve chosen your ideal gas fireplace solution, it’s time to go about the installation.
You can buy a gas fireplace insert that easily slides right inside your existing wood-burning fireplace so that you won’t be changing the look of your house too much. You’ll need to hire professionals for this one – unless you’re a contractor – because vents and gas lines are not easy to install. Even though gas inserts can be expensive, they are an elegant, permanent solution to switching from wood to gas.
If you’re working with a tighter budget, gas logs can be used in place of wood logs. They’re less heat-efficient than a gas insert but still cleaner and safer than a wood-burning fireplace. And whether you use a gas insert or gas logs, you still need to vent your fireplace properly.
For those who already own gas and are hoping to update their space, a gas stove can add warmth and rustic charm to your home. Though they have the vintage appeal of a freestanding wood-burning fireplace, they operate using gas, which is cleaner, safer, and more efficient. You can also control the heat: unlike wood, a gas stove is optimized for ensuring you get the right amount of heat circulating into your home at all times.
Hassles of Wood Fireplaces
Wood-burning fireplaces tend to lose their charm over the years as homeowners get tired of all the work involved in maintaining wood fireplaces. While the sound, smell, and rustic appearance of wood-burning fireplaces are unmatched by no other, these hassles tend to outweigh the romantic appeal:
- Loss of heat through the chimney;
- Ordering, unloading, splitting, and storing wood;
- Buying and storing kindling;
- Storing piles of newspaper;
- Carrying firewood;
- Building and tending to the fire;
- Fire safety issues from flying embers;
- Cleaning the fireplace of ash and remaining charred logs; and,
- Cleaning the chimney.
If you’re tired of all these hassles of a wood-burning fireplace, consider upgrading to a gas fireplace.
Determining If It’s Possible to Convert Your Wood Fireplace
Before buying a gas fireplace, have your chimney inspected to make sure it is clean, functional, and that it will accommodate a gas unit. You will also need to hook up a gas line to your home if you don’t already have a gas line connection.
What Are My Options?
When shopping for gas fireplaces, you will come across several options, including gas stoves, inserts, and gas logs.
A Gas Log Set
Gas log sets replace wood logs and provide the look of an open fire. But for ventilation, gas logs installations require that your damper remains partially open at all times, which leads to the loss of heated and cooled air. To reduce the amount of air lost from your chimney, you can also install air-tight glass doors on your fireplace.
A Vent-Free Gas Fireplace
Vent-free gas fireplaces retain all the heat, so no heat is lost up the chimney. And they also provide the look of an open fire. But since there is no venting, the moisture and combustion exhaust will end up in your home, reducing your indoor air quality. Because of this, vent-free gas fireplaces are not recommended for those with respiratory problems, such as asthma, allergies, or heart problems.
Since these fireplaces should only be run for three or four hours at a time to reduce exhaust buildup, vent-free gas fireplaces should not be used as the main heating source for homes.
A Gas Fireplace Insert
As the name implies, a gas fireplace insert fits into your existing fireplace. So instead of having an open fire, you will have a tidy, glassed-in fireplace. The glass remains closed at all times since the firebox is sealed. And all the combustion is exhausted outside of your home, helping to maintain your indoor air quality while not losing any heat from your home.
With the flip of a switch or the push of a button on your remote control, you can ignite the fire in your gas insert. And you won’t have to clean up any ash afterward.
A gas fireplace insert is the most energy-efficient option because you can keep it burning for as long as you wish without worrying about heat loss or poor indoor air quality.
Benefits of Gas Fireplaces
A gas fireplace upgrade will improve the heating efficiency of your fireplace while updating its look. Gas fireplaces have many of the benefits of a wood-burning fireplace without any of the hassles.
You can still enjoy the warmth and view of a real flame, but you don’t have to build your fires or clean up afterward. Instead, you can simply push a button, and your fire will start consistently heating your home.
Here are some of the many benefits of gas fireplaces:
- Safe—no sparking or flare-ups;
- Consistent, controllable heat;
- Clean burning; and,
Gas Fireplace Upgrade Cost
The costs for gas fireplace upgrades vary and typically range from $500 to $5,000. But this cost will depend on your existing fireplace, its location, the layout of your home and proximity to a gas line, and the model of gas fireplace you want to buy.
So the best way to figure out the cost is to get a quote from the experts in gas fireplaces.
Will There Need to Be Structural Changes?
Converting your wood fireplace to a gas fireplace doesn’t require any structural changes. Inserts simply fit inside your existing fireplace. Structural changes are only made when homeowners decide to upgrade their fireplace masonry or mantle as well.
Along with installing the gas unit, the basic installation also involves hooking up a gas line within 10 feet of the fireplace.
Once you’re ready for your gas fireplace upgrade, choose a reliable gas fireplace installation expert to do the work for you to ensure you have a safe, high-quality installation.
Vented fireplace inserts are your safest option since these won’t emit combustion exhaust into your home and reduce your indoor air quality. But as with all types of gas and wood fireplaces, you should install a carbon monoxide detector in a central location in your home.
You can also opt for gas fireplace models that have a battery backup. So in the event of a power outage, you can still use your fireplace to stay warm.
Switching from a wood-burning fireplace might seem like a big ordeal, but in a city like Ottawa, gas fireplaces are what your home needs to get through our cold Canadian winters. With benefits like better heating, energy efficiency, and safety, there’s really no reason to hang onto that wood-burning fireplace. Spend your spring converting to a gas fireplace and be happier – and cozier – next winter.