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Fireplace FAQ's

General Questions

Remote Controls

Natural Gas / Propane Gas Conversion

Piping, Damper, and Flue

Terminology

General Questions

What is the difference between Direct-Vent, B-Vent (or Natural-Vent), and Vent-Free?

See our Venting Options page for a detailed explanation of the differences between the various venting configurations.

Can I install a cabinet around any type of Fireplace?
  • Cabinets are boxes that extend about 18" from the wall.
  • Mantels are wood frames that only extend about 4" - 6" from the wall.
  • B-Vent: No. A B-Vent Fireplace must be installed in the wall, allowing the piping to be hidden. Mantels may be used with B-Vent Fireplaces.
  • Direct-Vent: Yes, if the piping vents out the back of the fireplace.
  • Vent-Free: Yes.
Can I use Vented Gas Logs in a Stove, Wood Burning Fireplace, or Coal Burning Fireplace?
  • Stoves: Not recommended due to safety concerns.
  • Wood Burning Fireplaces: Yes.
  • Coal Burning Fireplaces: No, Coal Burning Fireplaces are too shallow.
I am remodeling my home. Should I go with a Direct-Vent Fireplace or a Vent-Free Fireplace?
  • Direct-Vent Fireplaces look great because the gas can be burned at a lower temperature, producing a more realistic yellow, dancing flame.  These fireplaces produce a decent amount of heat and emit very little moisture.
  • A Vent-Free Fireplace emits lots of heat because the gas is burned at a very high temperature and all heat from the fireplace enters the room.  Because of this, we sometimes hear complaints that a Vent-Free Fireplace "works too well" and emits "too much heat".  However, if the size of the Vent-Free Fireplace corresponds correctly with the size of the room, heat and moisture will not be an issue.
What is a "Chase"?
Which is more efficient, a Direct-Vent Fireplace or a B-Vent Fireplace?

Direct-Vent is more efficient than B-Vent .

  • A B-Vent Fireplace is the least efficient venting option and can be vented horizontally or vertically. 
  • Direct-Vent is the most efficient; some are even “heater rated” and can be vented horizontally, vertically or both.
What does "Remote Ready" mean?

When a unit is listed as Remote Ready you can turn the unit on or off via a wired or wireless remote control.  Remote Ready units come with a millivolt valve that uses a tiny amount of energy (millionths of a volt) to control the valve.  Remote Controls aren't included with Remote Ready units because many are universal and there are lots of different kinds to choose from.

Remote Controls

Can I use a pre-existing wall-switch or thermostat to control variable Gas Logs or Fireplaces?

No. You must use a remote control that is designed for the high-lo variable logs or fireplaces.

What is a "High-Lo Valve"?

A High-Lo Valve allows you to remotely raise or lower the height of the flame on your Fireplace or Gas Log set.  Remotes are generally adjustable as either "on", "off", or by thermostatic control.

Should I buy a Remote-Ready Vented Log Set?

No, we do not recommend buying a remote ready Vented Log Set. With a Vented Log Set, you must open the damper when in use and close the damper when not in use to keep heated air inside your home and save energy (leaving your damper open at all times can result in up to a 60% increase in heating costs!) Because the damper is located near the valve of the Vented Log Set, you can open the damper and turn on the gas logs at the same time, eliminating the need for a remote control.

Should I buy a Remote-Ready Vent-Free Gas Log Set?

Yes, we recommend buying a remote ready Vent-Free Gas Log set.  There is no damper to open or close, so utilizing a remote can be very convenient.  We also recommend buying a thermostatically controlled remote so that you can automatically keep your room at a comfortable temperature.

Natural Gas / Propane Gas Conversion

Can I convert my Vent-Free Fireplace to another fuel type?

No, national code prevents anyone from converting any Vent-Free products.

Can I convert my Vented Gas Log Set to another fuel type?

Yes, you can convert your Propane Gas Vented Logs to Natural Gas, or vice versa. In most cases, you will need to buy a new valve to accomodate the conversion.  The manufacturer can provide conversion instructions.

Piping, Damper, and Flue

Can I close the damper on my Vented Gas Log Set while in use?

No, the damper must remain open on a Vented Gas Log Set while in use.

How can I completely seal the damper on my Vent-Free Gas Log Set?

We recommend closing the damper as tightly as possible and using a "Lock-Top" damper that seals at the top of the chimney.

After installing a Direct-Vent Insert, do I need to re-line my chimney?

No, you will not have re-line your chimney.  However, you must use the piping that is recommended by the manufacturer to fit into the existing chimney.

Which types of Burner Pans are available with Vent-Free Gas Logs?

There are 3 different kinds of Burner Pans; Sheet Metal, Black Pipe, and Stainless Steel.

  • Sheet Metal is less expensive, but has a high risk for rust because of little rust protection.
  • Black Pipe is slightly more expensive than Sheet Metal and is a heavier material. However, along with Sheet Metal, Black Pipe has little rust protection and may end up costing you more in the long run.
  • Stainless Steel is the mostly costly of the three options, but will not rust, corrode, or burn through.  We recommend Stainless Steel Burner Pans because, although they have a higher cost up front, they will most likely save you money in the long run.
How high should my Chimney / Vent extend beyond the roof?
  • Wood Burning: 3' above anything within 10'
  • B-Vent (Natural Vent): 3' above anything within 10'
  • Direct-Vent: 18" above anything within 10'
Which type of piping should be used with a Direct-Vent or Wood Burning Fireplace?

Manufacturer-approved piping must be used with Direct-Vent or Wood Burning products.

If I can't find the original manufacturer's piping, can I use another type?

No. If you use piping that has come from anywhere else besides the manufacturer and it creates a problem in your home (i.e. fire damage, smoke damage), insurance companies will not cover it. Also, by using piping other than the manufacturers, you will void the warranty and inspectors will not approve it for use.

Can I still burn wood if the brick is cracked?

If the crack is larger than the tip of a pencil, we do not recommend it.

Terminology

What is the difference between an Insert and a Gas Log Set?
  • An Insert is a large metal box that fits into the opening of a pre-existing Wood Burning Fireplace.  Inserts are used to increase efficiency (heat output into your home) and enhance the look of the fireplace.
  • Gas Log Sets consist of a replica log set and burner.  They are made to be hooked up to a gas line (either natural or propane gas) to simulate a real fire.  Traditionally, Gas Logs did not replicate the look and sound of a real fire.  However, in the past decade or so, technological advances have helped Gas Log sets look MUCH more realistic than they used to. 
What is an "Insert"?

Inserts are designed to enhance the operation and appearance of an existing Wood Burning Fireplace, whether masonry or factory-built. Categorized primarily by the fuel burned for operation (natural gas, propane gas, wood, pellet, or coal), a Fireplace Insert is installed directly into a pre-existing Wood Burning Fireplace. Fireplace Inserts are made from cast iron or steel and have self-cleaning glass doors that allow the dancing flames of the fire to be viewed while the insulated doors remain closed, making the fire more efficient. Many manufacturers also augment the operation of Fireplace Inserts by offering state-of-the-art features such as fans and thermostatic controls (depending on the fuel).

What is the difference between an Insert and a Fireplace?
  • Inserts: An Insert is designed to be installed directly into a pre-existing masonry or factory built Wood Burning Fireplace.
  • Fireplaces: A Fireplace is either a masonry (not zero-clearance) or factory-built (zero-clearance) unit built for burning wood or gas.
What does "Zero-Clearance" mean?

A Zero-Clearance Fireplace is a factory-built fireplace that is constructed so that it can be safely placed close to combustible material.

When it comes to Fireplaces, what is the difference between Natural Gas and Propane Gas?
  • Natural Gas is lighter than propane gas, contains 1000 BTUs per cubic foot, and takes about twice the amount of propane gas to reach an equivalent BTU rating. This type of gas comes into your home trhough a pipline froma local supplier. 
  • Propane Gas is heavier than natural gas, contains 2,500 BTUs per cubic foot, and is stored in a tank.
Which different types of Gas Logs are available?

There are two styles of Gas Logs: Vented and Vent-Free.

  • Vented Gas Logs vent outside your home and generally have a more decorative flame but are less efficient.  A chimney or other type of vent is required, along with a natural gas or propane gas source.
  • Vent-Free Gas Logs do not require a chimney and are therefore a much more versatile option.  Because there is no vent, all of the heat emitted from the gas log set goes directly into your room.  This, along with a higher burning temperature, allows Vent-Free Gas Logs to be much more efficient than Vented Log Sets.  However, because the gas is burned at a higher temperature, the flame will be less decorative.  Requires a natural gas or propane gas source.

Gas Log Sets generally include the logs, grate, and burner system.  Three kinds of materials are used to create the log sets: Molded Refractory Cement, Extruded Ceramic Clay, and Molded Ceramic Fibers.

  • Cement Logs are best on Vented units. 
  • Extruded Logs are cheaper but are also much less attractive and less realistic. 
  • Molded Ceramic Logs are generally more realistic and are best for Vent-Free.