- What is a fireplace insert?
- Can I convert my wood burning fireplace to gas?
- Do I need a chimney for a fireplace?
- How do I decide between a wood, gas or electric fireplace?
Q. What is a fireplace insert?
A. An insert is a heating appliance that gets inserted into an existing fireplace or a new structure built to contain it. Inserts are available for all fuel types (gas, electric and wood), although the widest selection is in gas. Gas and wood inserts require appropriate venting via a natural chimney. Inserts with a glass front are efficient because they are completely enclosed, thus preventing drafts. Gas inserts work by pulling fresh air into their venting system from outside, and then venting fumes back outside, preventing indoor pollution.
Q. Can I convert my wood burning fireplace to gas?
A. The answer is a clear, "yes" if you go with a gas insert and an appropriate venting system (natural vent or direct-vent installed in or through your existing chimney). Installing a gas log set is an option if you have a safe chimney (use a qualified chimney inspector to determine this). Vent-less gas logs could be an option, depending on the size of your room, air considerations, and the integrity of your firebox. Of course, all gas fireplace options require a gas line installation by a qualified professional.
Q. Do I need a chimney for a fireplace?
A. It depends on the type of fireplace. Neither electric, vent-less gas, nor direct-vent fireplaces require chimneys. So a gas fireplace insert does not need a chimney if it is direct-vented through an adjacent wall. It does if it is naturally vented. Traditional wood burning and natural gas fireplaces both require a chimney in safe condition (use a qualified chimney inspector to determine if repairs are necessary.
Q. How do I decide between a wood, gas or electric fireplace?
A. Wood offers you the benefits of building, starting and tending a fire yourself. A wood burning fireplace can effectively heat a room and is most efficient with glass doors and an electric blower. Gas and electric fireplaces offer the convenience of instant operation and no need to tend a fire. Gas is more realistic with its live flames, whereas electric simulates a fire with light and sometimes heat. Gas inserts with glass fronts and vent-less gas fireplaces can be very efficient, heating well and consuming little fuel. An electric fireplace is sometimes the only solution in apartments and offices, and an easy, less expensive solution for old, very small or damaged fireplaces.