Gas fireplaces are a popular choice for homeowners due to being relatively low maintenance and providing a clean burn. Since gas fireplaces don't produce smoke, soot, or ashes, they do not need to be cleaned as often as wood-burning fireplaces, but they still require maintenance. As a rule of thumb, gas fireplace chimneys should be cleaned once a year.
Types of Gas Fireplaces
There are three different types of gas fireplaces: inserts, built-ins, and logs:
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- If you're looking to turn your wood-burning fireplace into a gas fireplace, an insert is a good choice. A metal gas fireplace insert can be placed inside your existing wood-burning fireplace. You'll need to drill holes to attach gas and electrical lines.
- If your home doesn't have a fireplace, you'll want a built-in unit. Built-ins are similar to inserts, but they don't require you to have an existing fireplace.
- The last and least expensive option is using a set of gas fireplace logs with a gas burner inside your existing fireplace. While this is often an easier and more cost-effective solution, it still requires some drilling to set up the gas and electric lines as well as proper ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home.
With each type, you can choose between a vented or vent-free option. Vented gas fireplaces push the air out of your home via an exterior opening. In contrast, vent-free fireplaces, also called duct-free fireplaces, boast up to a 99 percent efficiency rate and push the heated air into the room where your fireplace is located.
Vent-free fireplaces pose some concerns. Though they're marketed as burning and releasing less harmful gases, they still vent byproducts directly into your home. If you choose to go with a vent-free fireplace option, choose a reputable manufacturer and installer and have a reliable carbon monoxide detector turned on at all times. If possible, it's best to keep a window open while using a vent-free gas fireplace.
No matter what type of gas fireplace you choose to install, it's always a good idea to have a carbon monoxide detector installed nearby for your safety.
What Maintenance Does a Gas Fireplace Require?
Since gas fireplaces do not require wood to burn and do not produce soot or smoke, they're easier to take care of than wood-burning fireplaces. Even though they require less maintenance, you'll still want to have your gas fireplace chimney inspected and cleaned annually.
If you notice that the inside unit of your gas fireplace needs a good cleaning, you can do this yourself as long as you're comfortable and aware of essential requirements and protocols when working with gas. If you choose to vacuum the fireplace unit yourself, make sure to turn off the gas before you start to clean. If your gas fireplace has a glass covering, you can also clean this often with a nonammonia glass cleaner for a spot-free shine.