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What Is a Ventless Gas Fireplace? | Pros and Cons

What Is a Ventless Gas Fireplace? | Pros and Cons

What is a ventless gas fireplace? Is there a benefit to using one? What do they cost? If you’re asking any of these questions, you’re in the right place. Read on to learn all you need to know (and more!).

What Is a Ventless Gas Fireplace?

Image of a ventless gas fireplace in a huge living room with shrubs on either side of the center piece and with no mantle

holub/Shutterstock

If you’re at all interested in modern homes, you might be wondering, “what is a ventless gas fireplace?” While fireplaces are popular with many homeowners, many have never had the pleasure of enjoying a ventless gas unit.

Ventless gas fireplaces are popular in many states. However, unlike other fireplaces, this type doesn’t need to be vented, as it produces fewer fumes by design. While convenient, be aware that this type of fireplace is illegal in some states because it does not have a vent.

How Does It Work?

Ventless gas fireplaces are also called vent-free, or simply unvented fireplaces. Ventless fireplaces work differently than other kinds of fireplaces. If your home cannot accommodate their features, then you should consider other methods of indoor heating. 

Ventless Gas Fireplaces Don’t Need Chimneys

Image of a ventless gas fireplace to the right of a large leather sitting chair

holub/Shutterstock

When you have a ventless gas fireplace, you don’t need a chimney or flue, meaning that they won’t take up as much space as a standard fireplace. This explains why it looks so different from a traditional fireplace.

A ventless gas fireplace has a gas-burning unit that can run on both propane or gas, with these gases being transported throughout the unit using pipes. When this kind of fireplace is properly designed and utilized, it creates less gas overall, making them exceptionally efficient compared to standard fireplaces.

However, you should be aware that although these fireplaces create less gas, there is still some level of fumes being produced. Because there is no direct passage outside, the fumes they produce will stay inside your home. Another minor drawback is that this kind of fireplace does not have particularly realistic-looking flames.

Keep Windows Open During Operation

When operating your ventless gas fireplace, you should keep at least one window open nearby. This can be inconvenient when it’s cold outside, but experts state that having a window open will alleviate concerns about dangerous gases building up in your home.

Why They’re More Convenient

Ventless fireplaces are quicker, easier, and, best of all, cheaper to install than traditional fireplaces. Installing traditional fireplaces can involve heavily renovating your home, but ventless gas fireplaces are not anywhere near as troublesome.

They may also cause discomfort, however, as they increase your home’s moisture levels. This occurs because your fireplace generates water vapor that will become trapped inside. With a higher humidity level in your home, you’re more likely to end up with mold growing in your walls and other types of problems.

Ensure that Ventless Gas Fireplaces are Legal in Your State

As mentioned previously, there are some states where this kind of fireplace is illegal. If you live in one of those states, you’ll have to consider alternative methods of heating your home. Ventless gas fireplaces are illegal in states like California and Massachusetts.

Even if these fireplaces are legal in your state, you should be careful. Carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and follow them closely. Another danger of ventless gas fireplaces is their ability to build up carbon monoxide in your home. We highly recommend purchasing a carbon monoxide detector with any kind of fireplace you purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about ventless gas fireplaces. 

Is it Dangerous to Use a Ventless Gas Fireplace? 

Ventless gas fireplaces pose several dangers. Most dangerous of all is how quickly these fireplaces generate carbon monoxide. An odorless and invisible gas, carbon monoxide is almost impossible to detect normally and can be lethal to humans in high amounts. 

Make sure to get a ventless gas fireplace that has a built-in carbon monoxide detector. In addition to that, you should consider getting extra carbon monoxide detectors in your home – place at least one of these near your fireplace. 

However, the danger these kinds of fireplaces present can be easily avoided. Just remember to follow the manufacturer’s directions when using it and prepare your home with carbon monoxide detectors.

Do Ventless Gas Fireplaces Smell?

Yes, some ventless gas fireplace owners find that there is a smell in the room. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent the odor – remember, you are burning gas. 

However, your home’s air quality may worsen the smell. Your ventless gas fireplace draws in the air in your home, along with any contaminants present within it. When this happens, the contaminants will also burn, producing more smells from your fireplace. 

You may notice that your ventless gas fireplace produces a lot of odor for a few weeks after installation. Some people consider this a “breaking-in” period. You should find that this odor will fade after the fireplace has been used a few times. 

If you notice that the smell persists, there could be some other factors contributing to the smell. This may include: 

  • Recently applied wall paint
  • Perfumed candles
  • New furniture
  • Chemical cleaning solutions that were recently used
  • Pet dander 
  • Smoke from cigarettes

Will a Ventless Gas Fireplace Keep You Warm?

While a ventless gas fireplace will give off heat, it isn’t as warm as other kinds of fireplaces. Also, because you should be keeping the window open while using the fireplace, the cold air from outside may prevent you from staying warm. 

Are Ventless Gas Fireplaces Attractive? 

Yes, a ventless gas fireplace can be an attractive addition to your home. Don’t expect it to produce flames as realistic as other kinds of fires, though. It will be obvious that the logs aren’t real wood. Otherwise, the pleasing aesthetic of a ventless gas fireplace can make it an attractive addition to your home.

Can You Put Wood Logs in a Ventless Gas Fireplace? 

No, you cannot put wood logs in this kind of fireplace. The logs you see in ventless gas fireplaces are artificial, made from ceramic fiber. These logs must include holes and aren’t combustible. The holes in the logs are where the flames arise.

How Do You Install a Ventless Gas Fireplace? 

Ventless gas fireplace installation should be done by an experienced professional. Plumbers often do this job.

Can You Control Your Ventless Gas Fireplace? 

Yes, most ventless gas fireplaces have control panels that run the gas unit. This is what you use to control your fireplace’s flames and pilot lights. Make sure you know how to manage your ventless gas fireplace before installation so that you can get started right away.

So, What Is a Ventless Gas Fireplace?

As we’ve seen above, ventless gas fireplaces can fulfill particular needs for homeowners. There are some disadvantages to this kind of fireplace, so these are factors you will have to keep in mind before making your final decision.

Choosing another kind of fireplace might be better if you have the space and other facilities necessary for it. However, if your primary desire is an aesthetically pleasing piece of furniture that is easier and cheaper to install, a ventless gas fireplace might be the right choice for you.

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