Understanding Gas Fireplaces & Inserts

Understanding Gas Fireplaces & Inserts - Appolo Heating

Gas fireplaces can be an efficient source of heat and a convenient alternative to traditional wood, while still adding a cozy element to your living space during those colder winter months. Considering a new gas fireplace installation in your home? Or, maybe you’re just interested in understanding the one you already have? If so, look no further, we’ll discuss what you need to know about gas fireplaces and inserts: how to choose one, how they work, and what to expect from your existing or new installation.

How does a gas fireplace work?

Unlike wood fireplaces, gas fireplaces don’t rely on a constant supply of logs, stoking, and flammable materials to keep them going. Gas fireplaces work the same as any other gas appliance in your home and can be controlled through external means that will allow you to adjust the level of gas output. This gives you better control over the flame and heat output in your home. Rather than warming part of your home and leaving the rest of your home cold like most wood fireplaces tend to do, most gas fireplaces offer consistent radiant heat that can spread evenly throughout your home.

What types of gas fireplaces are there?

  • Direct Vent Fireplaces – These are very much like your traditional fireplaces in the way they function. These operate by using outside air in the combustion and exhaust process.
  • Vent Free Fireplaces – Unlike vented fireplaces, a vent free fireplace can be installed anywhere in your home and does not require structural changes or retrofitting to operate. Vent free fireplaces usually have air quality detectors that can turn the system off depending on the oxygen levels within your home. It is highly recommended that you introduce a continuous flow of fresh outside air into your home if you are going to use one of these units.

Aside from their vent type, gas fireplaces come in four main model types:

Freestanding Gas Stoves – A freestanding gas stove fireplace is versatile in its application and can be installed in tight corners and basements to add convenient radiant heat and warm air wherever it is installed.

Zero Clearance Built-ins – These types of fireplaces can exist in any home type. They can be retrofitted into your current home setup if one doesn’t already exist and they can also be installed into new home builds. A zero clearance gas fireplace is a perfect choice for both warm and radiant heat.

Gas Inserts – Gas inserts are installed into your existing wood fireplace and provide higher energy efficiency and more convenience than traditional fireplaces. These units, like built-ins, will provide reliable heat, while also filling your room or home with a mix of warm air and radiant heat.
Log Sets – Usually purchased more for decoration than for practical heating applications. These sets are retrofitted into an existing wood fireplace and provide the look and convenience of a gas fireplace, but without the efficiency or warmth that a built-in or insert will provide.

Why should I own one?

Not only are gas fireplaces more versatile in their application and design, they also provide efficiency ratings that are far superior to that of your conventional fireplace. Your average gas fireplace will give back anywhere from 75 to 99 percent of its fuel’s energy as heat rather than 10 to 30 percent produced by wood-burning fireplaces.

How do I choose the right one for my home?

Choosing the right gas fireplace can depend on your current home setup and what your preference is:

  • If you’re looking to install a new unit in a tight corner or your basement, consider a freestanding unit. These units come in various sizes and styles and can be vented either through a side wall or through a roof to give you the look of a conventional wood stove.
  • For the look of a traditional fireplace in a room or space where one doesn’t currently exist, consider a zero clearance unit. These units also come in various sizes and styles, with multiple finish options and accessories to match the décor of your home. These units use sealed combustion technology which introduces combustion air from outside the home and can be vented through a side wall or roof as needed.
  • To make your existing masonry wood fireplace more efficient, consider a gas insert. These units also come in various sizes and styles, with multiple finish options and accessories to complement the décor of your home. These units also use sealed combustion technology and are typically vented through the existing masonry chimney.
  • Or, for the classic look and feel of a wood burning fireplace without all the mess and maintenance in your existing masonry fireplace, you can purchase a standard log set. These units vent through the existing masonry chimney.

How do I keep my gas fireplace clean?

Gas fireplaces require less upkeep than your traditional wood-burning fireplaces but they should still be cleaned on a regular basis to ensure maximum efficiency. Once a month, perform a visual inspection of your fireplace area. After making sure your fireplace is off, wipe away any dust and debris, wipe down the glass door, and make sure to remove any spider webs that may have collected around the control area at the base of the fireplace. An annual inspection, cleaning, and adjustment of your gas fireplace is also recommended, be sure to contact your local heating professionals to ensure a proper inspection takes place.

Modern gas furnaces will provide you with a high-efficiency heating solution, a cozy place to curl up to on a cold winter night, and versatility in how and where you can install them. If you’re considering upgrading your current fireplace or want to install one where one doesn’t already exist, speak to a heating professional today.

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