Installing a pre-fabricated fireplace instead of a traditional fireplace offers many benefits like energy-efficiency and a lower price point. There are two types of pre-fabricated fireplaces to choose from: built-in and freestanding. Once that choice is made, it’s time to choose what type of gas logs to use. Here are the questions you need to ask yourself before you buy.
To vent, or not to vent? That is the question.
Vented logs produce a flame that is similar to a wood-burning fire. With this type of log, you’ll need an open chimney flue or damper. Vented logs are less efficient, but produce luxurious-looking flames.
On the other hand, vent-free logs operate with a closed chimney flue, thereby producing smaller flames. The perk of vent-free logs is that 100% of the heat generated stays in the home. If you plan on using this type of log, make a note that it adds moisture to the air and needs proper ventilation to avoid mildew growth. There are certain restrictions on where you can use vent-free logs: your fireplace needs to be 36 inches away from anything flammable and not in bedrooms or bathrooms.
The safety pilot guarding your home: natural gas or propane?
Natural gas can be used without a safety pilot if the damper is permanently left open. Leaving the damper open is a safety precaution that allows the gas to escape up the flue in the event that someone turns on the gas without lighting the logs. If you already have natural gas appliances, it’s easy to hire a professional to run a line to the fireplace. Make sure to note the BTU input of the logs you bought so the correct size line can be installed.
Liquid propane is heavier and for this reason all gas logs that use propane require a safety pilot to prevent gas from filling the home if someone mistakenly turns the gas on without igniting a fire. Liquid propane is a great option when natural gas isn’t available. Be sure to check for any code violations before going with natural gas or propane logs.
Does size really matter?
It’s important to know the size of your fireplace. The most common mistake in buying gas logs is purchasing the wrong size. Buying the largest log that fits in your fireplace isn’t safe.
Measure the front, back, width at center, and the depth. If you don’t have a pilot light, deduct 2 inches from the width to allow for log placement. For instance, in a fireplace that measures a 42″ front, 28″ back, 20″ depth, and a 37″ width, you would buy logs equal to or less than 35 inches. If there was a pilot light, smaller logs would be recommended.
Are your logs legal?
There are three divisions of logs: Non-Certified, RADCO, and ANSI. Non-Certified logs are large and rank high on the BTU scale. RADCO logs feature some restrictions but are generally accepted. ANSI (American National Standards Institute) has very strict qualifications to receive their certification, so they are most commonly allowed.
As far as state restrictions, California accepts both RADCO and ANSI logs while New York and Massachusetts require all gas logs to be ANSI approved. In general, ANSI logs are accepted, but be sure to check your local laws regarding this issue, especially when buying logs online.
Buying gas logs isn’t as simple as it sounds. Of course, if you have any other questions regarding this topic, ask us! We are happy to help.