The use of ventless fireplaces has become very popular in new homes and when rehabbing older homes. The reasons for their popularity are many. The primary reasons though have to do with ease of installation and the flexibility that you get when you don’t have to worry about flues and chimneys. For multi-unit buildings such as condos, being self contained is a real advantage and very cost effective. It makes individual fireplaces practical when you don’t need chimneys and flues for each unit.
They are also very popular when remodeling or rehabbing a home. They can easily be added to bedrooms, studies, dens or other rooms. But there are potential hazards that should be considered. We all know that when natural gas burns carbon monoxide is generated. That’s why all gas furnaces and water heaters are vented through a chimney. So how is it that we can burn the same natural gas in a ventless fireplace and not worry?
Well part of the reason is that the technology of the burners is much better and burns cleaner than in your furnace or water heater. The amount of carbon monoxide is far less with a ventless fireplace. Nonetheless, since the fireplace is ventless, carbon monoxide and other gases are vented directly into the room instead of up a chimney to the outside.
The burning of natural gas has as a by-product the production of water. The water that is produced when a gas ventless fireplace is in use is released into your home in the form of water vapor. Most of us won’t complain about added humidity in the dry winter months, but too much of anything can cause problems. In this case mold and mildew can form. If this warm air comes into contact with cold surfaces such as in the attic or behind walls other hidden damage can result.
There is a way to protect your home and family from these hazards and still have that ventless fireplace anywhere you want. There are two types of ventless fireplaces that eliminate the toxic carbon monoxide and the excess water. The answer lies in the gel fuel fireplace or the electric fireplace. Both of these are safe, clean fireplaces that give the look of a real fire without all the potential hazards.
The gel fuel fireplace burns an alcohol based fuel in a can. It is clean burning and odorless. It will give you a real flame and the sound of a crackling fire. The best part is that this fireplace is portable with easy installation and very little maintenance. The fire while real won’t give off much heat so don’t count on this as an alternative heat source.
The electric fireplace is another great choice. With easy installation and little maintenance they are perfect for any room or office. Most models will come equipped with a heating unit and fan or blower for circulating warm air throughout the room. While that won’t replace your primary source of heat they will warm a small room. The biggest disadvantage with these is the lack of a real flame. If you miss the crackle of a real fire, this probably is not the type for you. But they do come in a wide variety of styles and finishes making them a truly spectacular addition to the home.
With all these alternatives why risk the potential hazards of the gas ventless fireplace. Protect your home and family and enjoy that fireplace you’ve always wanted. These fireplaces will look beautiful and give you years of care free service.