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Although adding a traditional fireplace to an existing home sounds daunting, gas log systems have been developed to add fireplaces to nearly any home quickly. Read on to learn more about the benefits of vented and vent-free gas log fireplaces. 

Built-In vs. Freestanding Gas Log Set

Unless you plan to build a new addition to your existing home, adding a traditional brick fireplace and chimney can be a costly upgrade. Fortunately, there are plenty of other options for adding a gas log set to your living space. One option is a prefabricated fireplace, which is more energy-efficient and easy to install than a traditional fireplace. 

There are two types of prefabricated gas log fireplaces: freestanding and built-in. 

  • Built-in. Fireplaces that are built-in look similar to traditional fireplaces. 
  • Freestanding. Freestanding units have a lightweight construction and are incredibly simple to install. They also come in plenty of sizes, shapes, and finishes. 

Both built-in and freestanding fireplaces vent through metal chimneypieces that run the exhaust through ceilings, walls, and roofs. Always check with your local building municipality to build a fireplace under the correct codes and regulations before purchasing. 

Gas vs. Wood Fireplaces 

Those who prefer traditional fireplace methods may believe wood-burning fireplaces are the best way to heat their home in the winter. However, wood-burning fireplaces come with plenty of drawbacks. They can be messy to clean and come with plenty of fire hazards. Wood-burning fireplaces are not convenient for most people, as you need to have dry firewood handy if you want to heat your home. Unless you live somewhere remote in the woods, it may be challenging to acquire readily available dry lumber. 

This is where gas log fireplaces offer advantages. Gas log fireplaces can be easily maintained and come in plenty of different styles and shapes. Additionally, gas log fireplaces are simple to install and pose much fewer risks than wood-burning fireplaces. They also put out twice as much heat as wood-burning fireplaces. Gas log fireplaces are one of the best options to heat your home during the winter months. 

Vented vs. Vent-free Gas Log Set

When deciding which gas log fireplace you want to purchase, you’ll need to consider whether you want a vented fireplace or vent-free options. There are many decisions to be made when it comes to choosing vented or vent-free options including:

  • Looks vs. efficiency
  • Local building codes
  • Fireplace location

When it comes to vented logs, you can enjoy a large and realistic-looking flame made from an open chimney flue or damper from the burner. Vented gas logs are created to simulate a wood-burning fireplace and are much more decorative than they are at heating your living space. The heat exits your home from the chimney or flue. 

Ventless gas log fireplaces operate with a closed chimney flue and won’t give you a classic crackling fire effect. The flame might not look as realistic or tall compared to vented options. However, ventless gas log fireplaces are incredibly efficient, as nearly all of the heat that is generated from a ventless fireplace remains in your home. You may also see vent-free fireplaces with thermostat controls that help regulate a consistent temperature in your living room. Ventless fireplaces add moisture to the air, so make sure you install proper ventilation into your room to avoid mildew. 

Ventless heaters are typically not permitted in bathrooms, bedrooms, and other home locations because of health and safety. They need to be installed in areas where curtains, clothing, furniture, or flammable objects are at least 3 feet away from the perimeter of the heater. Ventless gas log fireplaces are typically not installed in windy, high-traffic areas. Heavy drafts can be dangerous for homes that use ventless gas log fireplaces. 

Gas Log Fireplace BTUs

British thermal units (BTUs) are used to measure the healing power of your gas log fireplace. BTUs will vary for different model homes, so be sure to do extensive research before purchasing. To measure how many BTUs is appropriate for your home, you’ll need to multiply the area of your room (in square feet) by your ceiling height (in feet) and your BTU zone. 

Natural Gas vs. Liquid Propane Gas Heat

There are two primary models of gas log sets: natural gas and liquid propane. 

Natural gas is a lighter gas than air and dissipates when it is released into the air. Natural gas does not burn as hot as liquid propane or other gases. However, the benefit of natural gas is that it costs much less. Natural gas log sets have to be installed into a pipe system from buried gas service lines. 

Liquid propane has more carbon than natural gas, and it also burns much hotter than natural gas. To get liquid propane logs heating your home, you need a tank to be positioned outside the home. If you decide to purchase a liquid propane gas log fireplace, a tank may be installed outside your home. 

If you have a natural gas water heater, clothes dryer, or other similar appliances, it is easy to set up a gas log fireplace. If you do not have a natural gas line already installed, check your local natural gas company to see if installation is the best option for you. If natural gas services are not available in your location, choosing a liquid propane gas log fireplace is the best option for your needs. 

Additional Safety Considerations 

  • Always keep a fire extinguisher in near reach of your fireplace 
  • If you have a wood-burning fire, properly dispose of ashes in a disposable container
  • Do not use gasoline or lighter fluid to start your fire; only use a match light as needed.
  • Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home
  • Never leave flammable or combustible objects near the fire

For additional information on gas log fireplaces, contact a Watson’s expert. Our customer service representatives are more than happy to help you find the best option for your home and your budget. 

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