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Gas Fireplace (Ultimate Design Guide)

Welcome to our gas fireplace ultimate design guide including popular types of inserts & vent systems, cost and features.
Living room with gas fireplace, white built-in shelving and high ceilings As fireplaces become an integral part of the house, many homeowners look for better alternatives to a traditional wood burning fireplace. One of the best options in the market is a gas fireplace which can provide enough warmth and give a cozy ambiance to a home — minus all the work involved in operating and maintaining a wood burning model.

Below, we give you our very own ultimate guide to gas fireplaces with everything you need to know about its types, installation, cost, maintenance and features. Our guide also comes with design ideas which you can get inspiration from in building your own gas fireplace. 

Read on to know why gas fireplaces make a worthy investment for your home.

Table of Contents

What is a Gas Fireplace?

Luxury living room with gas fireplace and stone pillars Gas fireplaces use natural gas to produce heat, unlike traditional fireplaces which burn wood. They are built into the wall  and come in a variety of styles. Gas fireplaces come in different types, namely gas fireplace inserts and gas fireplace logs. 

Advantages of a Gas Fireplace

Here are some of the general advantages of installing a gas fireplace 

  • Constant Heat. Gas fireplaces provide a more efficient source of heat and maximizes the warmth supplied to a house. The heat that you can get from it is more constant as compared to a wood burning fireplace. As long as your gas fireplace is connected to a gas line, it can give you heat.
  • Energy saving and efficient. Gas fireplaces are very energy efficient and can help you save 25% of your energy and heating bills.  It also costs less to run compared to other alternatives.
  • Easy and convenient to use. With gas fireplaces, you get the warmth and comfort of heating with just a push of a button. It is much easier than operating a wood burning fireplace which requires you to haul wood, or change the logs to keep it working.
  • Safe to use. Gas fireplaces provide cleaner heat because they emit no smoke. It does not produce fumes or particles which can be harmful to one’s health.
  • Low maintenance. Gas fireplaces are easy to use and require little maintenance. Gas fireplaces do not produce soot, debris or ash, so there is little cleaning needed to keep it in good shape.
  •  Gives a homey, cozy and inviting feel to a home. Gas fireplaces can help improve the coziness and ambiance of a space.

Types of Gas Fireplaces

Here are the most popular types of fireplaces:

Gas Fireplace Insert

Gas fireplace insert A gas fireplace insert is an “insert” that is placed into an existing masonry fireplace or an opening hearth to convert and upgrade to a gas fireplace.

Gas inserts sit inside a metal box that is contained within a larger metal box. This box is retrofitted  into an existing fireplace to generate radiant heat and a steady stream of warm air. Basically, it is a “log and burner” set. 

Gas fireplace inserts produce heat by warming the room air in the gap between the boxes. The heat produced is then radiated from the firebox. It uses a chimney to run the venting out of the home. 

Gas fireplace inserts come in vented versions , which typically have a fixed glass panel in front of the flames, or ventless models with fixed metal screens.

Benefits of a Gas Fireplace Insert. Gas fireplace inserts are typically used to upgrade an existing fireplace, preserve a chimney or to improve a home’s heating.

It is more efficient and convenient compared to a traditional wood burning fireplace. Inserts are also very reliable heat producers and can keep your home warm when needed.  

Gas Fireplace Logs

Gas fireplace logs Gas fireplace logs are a stack of ceramic logs that sit in existing, open fireplaces. They come with a gas burner — so basically, they are a “log and burner” set, but the logs are incombustible. Gas fireplace logs can either be vented or ventless.

Vented gas logs vent up an  existing chimney, whereas vent free gas logs  do not require a chimney and exhaust all the heat into the house. With the vented gas fireplace logs, the damper is propped open at all times to prevent CO from building up and to make sure that the heat goes up the flue. 

Gas fireplace logs are more for looks than warmth. While they emit heat, they do not discharge as much heat as a gas fireplace insert. Similar to a wood burning fireplace, most of the heat generated from gas log sets go up the chimney.

Benefits of a Gas Fireplace Logs. If you want something which will improve the aesthetics of your fireplace, gas logs are your best bet.

They are a more decorative option compared to burning wood. When it comes to cost, gas fireplace logs are less expensive compared to inserts, which makes it a perfect choice for homeowners with a limited budget.

Types Of Gas Vent Systems

Fireplace gas vent system Gas fireplaces can be divided into three main categories: vented, direct vent, and vent free. With each gas vent system, you have a choice between fireplaces that vent the gas and fumes outside or vent-free versions that dispel heat into the house.

While each gas vent system has its own benefit, choosing the best one will ultimately depend on one’s preference and your house’s existing conditions.

Direct Vent Gas Fireplaces

Direct vent gas fireplace exhaust flue Direct vent gas fireplaces vent directly to the outdoors. This type of gas vent system takes in air from the outside, uses it for combustion and discharges the emissions back outside using a dual vent system. 

During installation, direct vent fireplaces need to be placed on an exterior wall — simply because they directly vent to the outdoors.

They require a glass door to ensure that they work properly. Design wise, direct vent gas fireplaces resemble the look of traditional fireplaces the most, as compared to other types. 

How it works: This is typically constructed using a two layer pipe that directly connects to the fireplace unit and the exterior of the house.

The pipes serve dual purposes, (1) to draw air in from the outside and (2) to expel the flame’s fumes and gas directly outdoors.

Benefits of a direct vent gas fireplace: Direct vent fireplaces are considered to be some of the safest fireplace systems because they do not allow carbon monoxide to enter the home and it ensures that all the waste and fumes flow outside.

In addition, it helps keep the air quality in your home healthy. Direct vent fireplaces can also be used without electricity.

Vented Gas Fireplace 

Vented gas fireplace chimney system As its name suggests, a vented gas fireplace requires a vent where the gasses produced from the firebox can travel up and out of the house.

It is constructed much like a traditional wood burning fireplace which is vented through a chimney. The use of a chimney prevents any smoke from flowing back into the house.

Vented gas fireplaces are typically used when you want to convert an existing fireplace from wood to gas. It is also the best option to use if you have an existing chimney at home.  Just like a direct vent gas fireplace, it can be used without electricity.

How it works: Air is pulled from within the home for combustion, comes in through the chimney and the emissions are expelled outside through the same ventilation system. 

Benefits of a vented gas fireplace: With vented gas fireplaces, you have a variety of choices when it comes to burning elements. You can use ceramic logs, artificial logs which mimic the appearance of real wood. In addition, it provides the easiest way to convert an existing fireplace from wood to gas. 

Disadvantages of vented gas fireplace: One downside to vented gas fireplaces is it has lower efficiency compared to its ventless counterparts because heat can get out of the vent. 

Ventless Gas Fireplace

Ventless gas fireplace While direct vent gas fireplaces need to be constructed in an exterior wall, vent free gas fireplaces can be literally put anywhere in a home — from interior walls, to exterior walls, upstairs or downstairs, the corner of a room or even the middle of it.

This makes it very easy to work with because you can enjoy the freedom of being able to design and install it anywhere in your home to fit its design. 

Ventless gas fireplaces cannot be used without electricity because they have sensors and automatic shut off valves. 

How it works: Uses air from within the home and releases the emissions within the home. Does not use a duct or a chimney, but instead uses a catalytic converter to clean the air. 

Benefits of a ventless gas fireplace: In addition to its design flexibility, ventless gas fireplaces offer maximum warmth. Because there is no exterior vent, no heat is lost outside.

Disadvantages of ventless gas fireplace: One of the downsides to ventless gas fireplaces is the increased risk to poor air quality in the home which can lead to potential health risks. Another disadvantage is its expensive price. Appearance wise, the lack of venting can lead to a less realistic looking flame, which can in turn lessen your fireplace’s visual appeal.

Vented Vs Ventless Gas Fireplace

Aside from the configuration, there are other aspects which make ventless gas fireplaces different from vented gas fireplaces. 

Their most significant difference is that ventless gas fireplaces are more energy efficient compared to vented gas fireplaces. Because no heat escapes up the flue or chimney, the warmth coming from the fire is most likely to stay in your space.

Vented gas fireplaces also use up more gas to keep constant heat. With such, you are more likely to save on gas utility bills. 

Gas Fireplace Features

Traditional living room with gas fireplace Gas fireplaces include special features which can’t be found in traditional wood burning models. These features enable them to perform better, make them easier to use and more energy efficient.

Electronic Ignition 

An electronic ignition provides a much simpler way to start the flames in your fireplace. Also known as a non- standing pilot, this gas fireplace feature eliminates the use of matches or a lighter to ignite or start a fire in your fireplace.

With an electric ignition upgrade, you can adjust the settings of your gas fireplace easily using a wall switch, a remote control or a timer. So in just a push of a button, you have the flexibility to turn the fireplace on or off, adjust the flame’s height and control your gas fireplace anywhere in your home.

An electronic ignition requires a battery operated connection or a power line installation. Routing a gas fireplace to a power line typically costs more because of the additional parts, wiring and electrical work.

On the other hand, a battery operated connected is cheaper and much easier to install but will require you to replace the batteries over time.

An electronic ignition is better than a match lit and a standing pilot ignition system because it is not only convenient, hassle free and easy to operate, but it is also safer to use.

Electronic ignition systems come with a flame sensing pilot feature. This special feature is activated when the fireplace is in use and when there are no flames detected, the electronic ignition system automatically shuts off the gas flow, and attempts to reignite the flame. 

The only downside to an electronic ignition system is it costs more to install than a match lit or a standing pilot ignition system, but otherwise, it proves to be a very worthy investment for a gas fireplace.

Modern living room with linear gas fireplace Turndown Range and Turndown Ratio

By definition, the turn down ratio compares the maximum heat output to the minimum heat output within which a burner will operate. It indicates the minimum output a fireplace can handle before turning off then cycling on and off frequently. The turndown ratio varies depending on how a burner is designed. 

Gas fireplaces typically have a turndown ratio of 25:1, meaning its burner can modulate from 25% to 100% of full fire or load. There are however some flexible models which can adjust down their full heat output to 20%.

For example, a 30,000 Btu/h gas fireplace that has a 20:1 turn down ratio, will allow the user to consume energy at a turndown rate of as low as  6,000 Btu/h.

When looking for a gas fireplace, choose  a model that has a wide turndown range because they are more efficient. If you have a gas fireplace and only need to use around half of its capacity, this means you’ll spend less to keep it running.

Heat Distribution

Gas fireplaces have a wide range of heat output. Typically, heat distribution can go from about 7,000 to 60,000 Btus.

For a house that is well insulated and has tight windows, a 40,000 BTU fireplace would be more than enough to distribute heat to a large living room or family room.

Automatic Thermostat

Most gas fireplaces feature automatic thermostat that controls the real time temperature and humidity of the fireplace.  It automatically turns on, turns off and adjusts  the gas fireplaces firing rate when a specified temperature or humidity range has been reached. It is also sometimes called a programmable thermostat, humidity and temperature receiver.

An automatic thermostat is very useful in terms of keeping the room temperature at a constant level. Nowadays, you can easily upgrade an existing gas fireplace with an automatic thermostat as most of these products are widely available online.

Pilot Light

A pilot light is a small flame that is kept lit in a gas fireplace and other gas fired appliances. Its main purpose is to provide ignition when gas is released to the main burner in order to turn on your appliance and create heat.

Old gas fireplaces also rely on standing pilot lights to ensure that the burner ignites.  A pilot light is usually blue in color, but sometimes it burns yellow or orange. 

Many gas fireplaces have a standing pilot light which burns even when you aren’t using your fireplace. This makes it much quicker to start a fire when the weather is very cold.

However, most homeowners prefer not to keep them on during warm months in order to conserve gas. It is important to remember that as long as your pilot light is active, it always consumes some gas, which can translate to added operating costs of a gas fireplace. 

Gas Fireplace Blower

A fireplace blower can be added to most existing vented or ventless gas fireplaces. Gas fireplaces use blowers to heat up cold air from your home, heats it up into warm air, before driving it out into the room through front vents. 

The main benefit of having a gas fireplace blower is that it makes your fireplace more efficient. Typically, some heat coming from the fire is lost out of the chimney, but with a blower, the warm air is efficiently expelled out into your home. As a result, it helps your fireplace produce more heat.

Gas fireplace blower kits are readily available in the market. When buying one for your gas fireplace, make sure to get a model that is designed for your fireplace.

However, if the specific model you need is unavailable, you can also try using a universal blower kit as it works equally the same as an original. On the average, it costs around $100 to install a blower and fan in a gas fireplace. 

Most gas fireplace blowers have features like fan speed adjustment which allow you to balance the blower speed and reduce the noise level. It usually takes about 10 to 20 minutes for a fireplace blower to turn on.

Gas Fireplace Accessories

Living room with gas fireplace and wood mantel There are several accessories that help enhance the design and the look of a gas fireplace. Most of these accessories do not only serve an aesthetic purpose but also help your gas fireplace perform better. Here is a look at the most common gas fireplace accessories:

Gas Fireplace Mantels 

A mantel , sometimes referred to as a mantelpiece for fireplace mantel frames the opening of the fireplace and enhances its appearance. Aside from visual aesthetics, it also serves a functional purpose — which is to prevent smoke from entering the room and divert it back into the chimney. 

Gas fireplace mantels can be made from many materials, like wood or stone and they typically add around  $500 to $5,000 to the cost of the installation.

The mantelpiece design that you choose will ultimately depend on the existing style of your home and your taste.

Design options may be endless, but make sure to pick a mantelpiece that will suit your home’s style — whether it may be traditional, transitional, modern or contemporary. It will also tie the decor of your room together so put extra thought into its design, finish, color and material.

Gas Fireplace Surrounds

Open concept living room with gas fireplace and gray tile surround Similar to a fireplace mantel, the surround is a decorative piece that is placed in the wall to surround your fireplace opening. Fireplace surrounds add more character to your gas fireplace and make them more appealing. Adding a fireplace surround to a gas fireplace can instantly transform it into a stunning focal point of a room. 

Gas fireplace surrounds come in an extensive range of styles, sizes and materials and make an attractive focal point in your room.

There are several materials which you can choose from when designing it — from natural stones like marble, granite, travertine, limestone and slate, to ceramic tiles and porcelain tiles.

Another material is brick , which is one of the most common materials used in traditional gas fireplace surrounds. Other options include wood and paint. 

The simplest finishing treatment for a fireplace surround is paint. If you consider using it, make sure that the paint you use is an interior latex paint that is heat resistant. You can opt for either gloss, semi gloss or flat finish, depending on the look you want to achieve.

The cost of adding a surround to a gas fireplace will depend on the material used.  Adding a tile surround to an existing gas fireplace is an affordable option as it only costs around $20 to $35 per square foot installed for the ceramic type.

Natural stone has a bit higher price range at $25 to $40 per square foot installed.

Gas Fireplace Hearth

The hearth is the part of the fireplace where the fire burns. It is found underneath the fireplace mantel and is typically made of non combustible masonry materials like bricks, stone, tiles or concrete.

If the fireplace has doors that open and expose the flames to open air, a  fireplace hearth must project to a clear space of at least 36 inches in front of the fireplace. Whereas modern gas fireplaces that have sealed fronts or a fixed glass front do not require a hearth extension.

Some direct vent gas fireplace models also require a much less hearth space depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations. 

Recommendations for constructing the hearth of a gas fireplace must be followed exactly because they help prevent injuries and fire hazards.  

Gas Fireplace Enclosures, Doors and Screens

Covered patio with gas fireplace with glass screen and stacked stone accent wall The majority of gas fireplaces have glass doors which help give the fireplace a more “finished” look. Aside from the added visual aesthetic, glass doors help the fire burn better. By enclosing a fireplace, the fire burns greater and produces more heat.

Compared to a gas fireplace with no doors, an enclosed one will absorb and radiate the heat into a room far more better. 

The glass used for gas fireplace doors and enclosures come in a lot of styles and finishes, and may be customized in any size. Adding a glass door to a gas fireplace usually costs around $300 to $500, depending on the size and style. 

When choosing the right gas fireplace door, make sure to opt for a design that will compliment the earth, mantel and surround of your gas fireplace.

Lava Rocks

Lava rocks are a type of fire media suitable for use in indoor or outdoor propane or natural gas fireplaces and fire pits. It is a porous, light , dry or moisture free naturally occurring rock that absorbs heat. because it is a very good conductor of heat, it is an efficient medium to increase the combustion in a gas fireplace 

Lava rocks do not only help with efficiency but they also give a gas fireplace a more rugged look. They come in a variety of size and colors and are practically maintenance free.

However, to ensure that they last, it is recommended that lava rocks must be removed from the gas fireplace and rinsed off with clean water, at least once a year.

In a gas fireplace, the lava rocks may be added before or after the logs are placed. They can be used as a base for the fireplace or a filler around the burner pan. Typically, a depth of 2 to 4 inches is the recommended amount of lava rocks for most gas fireplaces. 

Standard Gas Fireplace Dimensions

Living room with gas fireplace and stacked stone surround Gas fireplaces can be anywhere from 20 inches to 60 inches, but the size of the gas fireplace you choose will ultimately depend on the area of the room and the height of the wall you plan to put it in.

For example, if you have a wall that is 8 feet or 96 inches tall, you wouldn’t put a 60 inch fireplace in it since it will be taking up most of the space.

Make sure to consider the room dimensions, scale and proportion when choosing the right gas fireplace size. But along with aesthetics, also keep in mind practical factors like the climate and the number of windows in the room to provide adequate heating in the space. 

Standard Gas Fireplace and Firebox Dimensions

Fireplace Opening Width – 24 inches to 48 inches (sizes vary in increments of 4, meaning 24 inches, 28 inches, 32 inches and so on)

Fireplace Opening Height – 24 inches, 29 inches, 32 inches

Firebox Depth – 16 inches, 18 inches

Rear Firebox Width – 11 inches, 15 inches 19 inches, 23 inches, 27 inches, 29 inches, 33 inches

Rear Firebox Wall Vertical Height – 14 inches, 16 inches 

Typical Fireplace Opening Dimensions

Sizes are in the format of (fireplace opening width x fireplace opening height x fireplace opening depth)

24 inches W x 24 inches H x 16 inches D

28 inches W x 24 inches H x 16 inches D

32 inches W x 29 inches H x 16 inches D

36 inches W x 29 inches H x 16 inches D

40 inches W x 29 inches H x 16 inches D

42 inches W x 32 inches H x 16 inches D

48 inches W x 32 inches H x 18 inches D 

Typical Gas Insert Sizing

Mid century modern living room with linear gas fireplace Choose the right size of gas insert that fits your fireplace’s opening. Below are the standard sizes of small, medium and gas fireplace inserts. Sizes are in the format of (opening front width x height x depth)

Small gas insert  – Approximately 26 inches width x 17 inches height x 14 inches depth

Medium gas insert –  Approximately 29 inches width x 20 inches height x 14 inches depth

Large gas insert –  Approximately 32 inches width x 24 inches height x 16 inches depth

 Standard Size of Fireplace Mantels 

Most fireplaces, whether gas or wood burning, typically have openings that are nominally 36 inches or 42 inches wide. 

Gas Fireplace Cost 

Master bathroom with gas fireplace and freestanding tub The price of gas fireplaces vary depending on its type. The cost of prefabricated models typically range from $1,000 to $8,000. Here are the typical costs of fireplaces depending on the type:

  • Ventless gas fireplace: $2,000 to $3,500.
  • Double-sided or multi-sided gas fireplace insert: $1,000 to $8,000.
  •  Two-sided ventless gas fireplace : $1,000 to $2,500.
  • Gel-powered ventless, no gas fireplace: $300 to $700.

How Much Does It Cost To Install A Gas Fireplace?

The average cost of installing a gas fireplace is around $4500. Most projects run from $2300 to $10,000 depending on different factors like the design, style, ductwork and extra gas plumbing. 

The type of gas fireplace also significantly affects the total costs. Before installation, you have to decide whether to choose a vented or a ventless gas fireplace. 

The typical costs for installing a direct vent gas fireplace runs between $3500 to $7500 depending on the brand, appliance and venting requirements. On the other hand, installing a ventless gas fireplace usually costs between $200 to $3,500. Master bedroom with gas fireplace and water views

Labor Costs and other Factors 

The labor cost for installing a gas fireplace depends on a number of factors, but primarily this is affected by the scope of work of the project. If your house does not have an existing gas line, the labor cost is greater because you need to install one.

Direct vent models also have higher labor costs because they require a vent pipe to be installed. Using a built in unit also costs more compared to fireplace inserts. 

The average installation cost for a gas fireplace typically includes $750 for the vent pipe, $600 for the firebox installation and between $150 to $800 for the gas line (depending on the length). $2750 goes to the full installation and finishing work. 

Cost of Gas Log Installation

The typical cost for gas log installation usually runs between $200 and $350. This usually requires a permit which costs an extra $100 or less. Artificial or faux log add around $100 to $400 to the cost of the installation, but some log sets may run up to $1000 depending on the brand.

Gas Fireplace Insert Cost

The cost of gas fireplace inserts usually range from  $3,000 to $6,000, excluding the installation. Double sided or multi sided gas fireplace inserts may run anywhere from $1200 to $8000, excluding the labor and installation.  

Cost To Run A Gas Fireplace

Family room with gas fireplace and white mantel The cost to run a gas fireplace also depends on a number of variables, such as the heating capabilities of your fireplace, the cost of propane and the cost of natural gas. The costs change considerably based on one’s location, the season and current market conditions. 

How do you calculate the cost per hour to run a gas fireplace? The energy consumption of a gas fireplace is measured in BTU or British Thermal Units.

One BTU is equivalent to the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. The cost of gas is measured in “therm” units, which is the equivalent of 100,000 BTUs. The more BTUS your fireplace releases, the more it costs to run.

Gas fireplaces have a much larger range of BTU outputs compared to log fireplaces. They heat more effectively at about 10,000 to 70,000 BTUs.

To calculate the cost per hour of operating a gas fireplace, you need to determine the (1) local cost of gas in therm units and (2) the firepalce’s fuel consumption in BTUs per hour. The latter information can be obtained from the label of the fireplace’s box and is also usually specified in the user’s manual. 

To get the cost per hour, simply multiply the per therm cost of gas by the fireplace’s BTU rating. Divide the product by 100,000 and the resulting number is the per hour cost of running the fireplace.

For example: A fireplace that has a BTU rating of 20,000 with the cost of gas at 90 cents per therm will have an operating cost of 18 cents per hour. Using the formula (20,000 x 90) / 100,000.

Cost to Remove a Fireplace

If you need to take out a fireplace, the cost for removing it will typically run anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000.

Gas Fireplace Installation

There are different factors that you need to consider when installing a gas fireplace in your home. These things will not only help the gas fireplace installation process go smoothly but it will also ensure that you get the best of what your fireplace unit has to offer. 

  • Choose the best location for your fireplace. Where you put your gas fireplace is very significant because proper location will equate to maximum benefit. Take some time to plan the installation and select a location that is not only visually appealing but also equally practical.Choose a room where you and your family will benefit more from its warmth, while also making sure that is convenient for hooking up to an electrical line, for installing a gas line and for creating ventilation through an exterior wall.

The typical location of a gas fireplace is usually on the ground floor and the central hub of the house where families spend most of their time, like the living room, family room, dining room or kitchen.

The type of gas fireplace that you plan on installing will also help you determine the best location where you can put it. Direct vent fireplaces are recommended to be placed on an outside wall, while ventless or vent free fireplaces can be placed practically anywhere.

If you are building a new house, consider your fireplace in your lay-out sa it will affect your fireplace’s ability to provide heat all throughout your home.  Make sure that your layout focuses on your fireplace, like an open design, where there are no partitions or walls to allow the heat to move freely.

  • Ensure that your gas fireplace is installed by a professional. Make  sure that your gas fireplace is installed by a qualified technician. Some fireplace dealers offer full installation services, but you can also look for different independent contractors so you can get several estimates and have a basis for comparison. 
  • Secure the necessary permits for installation. In most areas, installing a gas fireplace will require a special permit before you can start. Aside from the permit, an initial inspection is also required. 
  • Before installation, check the manual that comes with your gas fireplace. We cannot stress enough how important it is to read the manual that comes with your gas fireplace. Check the manufacturer’s instructions on the requirements for installation — such as minimum clearances before adding a mantle or surround, ventilation, electrical lines, etc.

After your gas fireplace is installed, you also have to read the manual before you operate your unit for the first time. 

  • Do a test fit of your gas fireplace. Before permanently installing your gas fireplace in your chosen location, test it out first and see if it meets the look you envisioned and the position requirements stated in the manual.

In some cases, specific gas fireplace models need to be elevated for safety. With such, you’ll need to construct or purchase a platform which will fit your gas fireplace model’s standards.

  • Build the piping.  Once the location is settled, start constructing the piping from the stove collar to the wall. Sketch a line on the wall around the piping, so you can also locate the place where you will be cutting the ventilation hole. Secure the first piping with stove cement. 
  • Create ventilation. On the wall where you marked the place of your ventilation hole, draw the actual size of the hole that you need using the wall-pass-through component that comes with your gas fireplace unit. Make a shallow cut first, to see if there are any wires or pipes which may obstruct the space. Make sure that it is also placed in between the wall studs. 

Mark the exterior portion of the wall using a drill, then cut the ventilation hole from the outside. Frame the inside part of the cut out using lumber.

  • Start installing the piping and the pass through. Using a high temperature caulk, line the ventilation holes’ lumber frame and slide the pass through component in place. Secure it with screws and connect the rest of the piping. Seal the pipe to the firestop using a high temperature caulk. Then install the outside firestop and secure the drip cap. 
  • Hook up your gas fireplace to a gas line. Install the gas line with the help of a professional. If there is any electrical work required, make sure to contact an electrician. 
  • Add the finishing touches. If you are planning on adding accessories to your gas fireplace like a mantel, surround or frame, install them. You can buy these accessories pre-made or you can build one yourself. These will make your gas fireplace look more attractive and realistic.

Before starting your gas fireplace:

  • Do not operate your gas fireplace until the area where it is placed is totally cleaned. Make sure that it is free from any dust which can harm your gas fireplaces parts like the burners, motor and fan. 
  • Have it inspected before use. 
  • During operation, keep combustibles away from your gas fireplace and the hot surfaces. 
  • If the pilot light goes out, make sure to wait five minutes before relighting it.  
  • Make sure that the fireplace is thoroughly keep clean and free from any form of obstruction. 
  • Watch out for any unusual smell and flames. This could be signs that your gas fireplace is not working properly. In the event of such, make sure to contact a professional. 

Gas Fireplace Maintenance

Living room with gas fireplace with dark mantel and green built-in cabinets To ensure that your gas fireplace works properly and to keep it at its best condition, you’ll need routine maintenance and periodic servicing, along with proper installation.

No Daily Upkeep Required. Gas fireplaces require less maintenance compared to traditional wood burning fireplaces. In fact, they do not need any day to day clean up. Unlike wood, it does not produce soot, debris or ash even after being operated for a long time. 

This is also one of the primary reasons as to the rising preference of homeowners for this type of fireplace. There is no hassle involved in maintaining a gas fireplace — no messy work like getting your hands dirty or blackened and no bending over to collect ashes and debris.

Servicing and Annual Inspection. While there may be no day to day cleaning involved in keeping a gas fireplace, there are still a few periodic maintenance procedures needed to ensure its top performance.

Annual Safety Check and Inspections – Gas fireplaces need to be serviced by a professional once a year to inspect its parts like the fan, burner, venting, thermostat, pilot glass and other accessories.

During annual servicing, the glass and decorative pieces also get cleaned by the technician. Part of the cleaning process also involves removing any build up like pet hair or dust using a vacuum or a soft bristled brush. 

Also, anything flammable needs to be assessed yearly to ensure safety. During The inspection, your gas fireplace will be checked for any natural gas leaks like carbon monoxide , which is extremely harmful. They will also examine if it vents out properly through the chimney and that there are no obstructions. Read more about the types of chimneys here.

The entire process of inspections for gas fireplaces usually takes less than an hour. Routine check up is very important because it keeps your fireplace in its best condition.

In addition, gas fireplaces can show signs of wear and tear over time. Parts like connectors or valves may eventually malfunction, so an up to date inspection is really needed to keep it up and running perfectly.

How to Clean Your Gas Fireplace

Gas fireplace chimney sweep If you plan on cleaning your gas fireplace, here are some things that you need to consider to make sure that everything goes well smoothly. Below are some tips on how to clean your gas fireplace:

  1. Check the manual first. Take some time to read the manual to make sure that you follow the steps correctly before doing anything. 
  2. Turn off the gas before doing anything. Make sure that the gas is turned off before starting. Remember, safety first! 
  3.  Use a handheld vacuum to clean your fireplace. Carefully glide your vacuum around the gas fireplace logs, lava rocks, the front of the fireplace and the fireplace surround to remove any dust build up. 
  4. If your fireplace has lava rocks or, make sure to check them from time to time. Examine them for any sign of breakage, damage or wear and tear. Replace them if needed.  
  5. Keep an eye out for the surrounding walls and ceiling of your gas fireplace. Check the surrounding walls of your gas fireplace for damp patches, white stains, cracked paint, damaged mortar joints, crumbling bricks or peeling wallpaper.If you have a chimney, examine if there are any stains on it. These types of damages are common indications that something is not working correctly with your chimney. It could be a sign of corrosive condensation or potential carbon monoxide build up. If you see any of these, make sure to contact a professional and schedule a safety check.
  6. Hire a professional. Maintaining a gas fireplace is best left to the pros. Not only will it make the process much easier, but they can thoroughly inspect and clean your fireplace and chimney to ensure your safety.

Gas Fireplace Q & A

Modern living room with gas linear fireplace with wavy tile design Here are some of the answers to the most common questions about gas fireplaces:

Which Type Of Fireplace Is Best?

The answer to this question really depends on what you are looking for. Each type of fireplace has its own strengths which make it better than the rest. Deciding on which is best varies depending on different factors like efficiency, convenience, ease of use, cost, aesthetics and ambiance.

  • Best Ambiance: Wood Burning Fireplace. Nothing beats the cozy ambiance and natural warmth that a wood burning fireplace brings. Curling up by a wood burning fireplace is truly relaxing — you can hear the crackling sound of burning wood as you stare at the bright orange flames.  

Although they have an edge over its electric and gas burning counterparts in terms of beauty, it falls short in a few other factors such as efficiency and upkeep. Wood burning fireplaces require a chimney and demand more frequent regular cleaning.

  • Easiest to Install: Electric Fireplace. In terms of ease of installation, electric fireplaces offer ultimate ease. You do not need a chimney or venting and no gas line is required. All you need is a wall outlet. Simply set it in a wall and plug it in an outlet, turn on the switch and you’re all set.
  • Easiest to maintain: Electric Fireplaces Electric fireplaces are the clear winner when it comes to the level of maintenance needed to keep them in their top shape.Electric fireplaces require no maintenance at all. You do not need to worry about constant cleaning or refueling that comes together with a wood burning fireplace. There is also no debris and embers produced. 

Electric fireplaces also require far less rigorous annual inspections. Unlike gas fireplaces which need to be inspected by a professional once a year, an electric fireplace can be inspected by the homeowner to ensure that everything is still working properly.

The only annual maintenance that an electric fireplace needs are replacement of the bulbs, inspection of the exterior and cleaning of the fan. 

  • Most efficient: Gas Fireplace.  Gas fireplaces are considered to be 70% energy efficient — a rating much higher than the 15 percent efficiency of a wood burning one. 
  • Best heat output: Gas or Wood Burning Fireplace. If you are looking for a fireplace which will give you maximum heat and warmth, you can go for either a wood burning or gas fireplace. An electric model cannot match the heat output that you get from the two. 
  • Most affordable: Electric Fireplace. Electric fireplaces offer the most price flexibility and are cheaper than gas and wood bring fireplaces. You can find cheap electric fireplaces for as low as $100 — a perfect choice if you are working with a limited budget.Whether your budget is big or small, you will surely find an electric model which will suit it. Not only is it the winner in terms of initial costs, it will also save you alot in terms of installation and maintenance costs. 
  • Easiest to use.  Electric Fireplace. Electric fireplaces offer you the ultimate ease and convenience. With just a simple touch of a button, you can start a fire and even set it to a desired temperature, as opposed to a wood burning fireplace which would involve more steps to set up, like putting the logs, lighting the fire and keeping the wood burning.

Read more about gas vs electric fireplaces here.

 

How To Light A Gas Fireplace

The method that you use to light a gas fireplace will depend on the type of pilot light it uses — whether it is electronic or flame lit. The instructions for this can be found on the user manual that comes with your gas fireplace and the process is not that complicated.

We will outline the steps for you below, but first you have to familiarize yourself with what a pilot light is.

Gas fireplaces use a small flame which helps ignite the fire — this is called a pilot light. The pilot light is typically located at the bottom of your fireplace — behind a panel which can be removed.

The pilot light can be turned off if the gas fireplace is not in use so you can conserve gas and save money. 

Regardless of the type of pilot light, you have to use the same precautionary steps. First, check for any debris or obstructions and remove them to prevent them from getting in your way. You can use a flashlight so you can get a better view of your pilot light

If your gas fireplace uses an electronic pilot light, turn on the supply line to the gas fireplace. Set your desired temperature on the “electronic” setting (the setting which controls the temperature of the unit) and make sure that the electric switch is on.

Look for a control knob that is labeled “pilot ignite” or “ign” and turn the knob to this position. You may have to push down lightly to get it to turn, and hold it down for a few seconds to release a small amount of gas. Next, push the “ignitor” button.

When you hear a clicking sound, it means that sparks are produced to ignite the gas. Release the ignitor button while continuing to press the “pilot ignite” control. 

If it doesn’t light, wait for 10 seconds. Then push the ignitor button again while simultaneously pushing the “pilot ignite” button and release them once the pilot light is lit. Turn the knob to “on ” if you want the pilot light on continuously, while if you want to adjust the temperature, turn the knob to “electronic” setting.

If your gas fireplace has a flame lit pilot light, turn on the supply line in the gas fireplace. Then carefully light a match stick or a butane candle lighter, hold it near the burner of the fireplace. Turn the gas key or knob to release a small amount of gas to the burner.

Once the pilot lights light, pull the match or butane candle lighter away. If you want to adjust the flame height, you can do so by turning the gas key. This process is very much similar to operating a gas burner or stove.

What Do You Put In The Bottom Of A Gas Fireplace?

The material placed at the bottom of a gas fireplace also greatly depends on the  type of gas fireplace you have.

For vented natural gas fireplaces which use log sets, silica sand is used in the bottom of the burn pan. The sand helps the gas to disperse evenly throughout the burner pan and spreads it around before it is ignited.

If the gas is dispersed, then there will be more flame action in the gas logs. The silica sand needs to be replaced every few years to keep the flames of your gas fireplace burning. 

If you have a propane gas fireplace, it is not recommended that you put silica sand at the bottom of your fireplace because this will be too heavy for the propane.

How Many Hours Can You Run A Gas Fireplace?

The recommended duration of running your gas fireplace will also depend on what type you have. Fully vented gas fireplace with sealed glass fronts can be left running continuously.

If everything is working properly, there are no leaks and malfunctions, it is safe to keep it running for hours, provided that it is supplied with sufficient gas.

On the other hand, a vent free gas fireplace unit that is equipped with front doors that can be opened should only be operated for a maximum of three hours at a time. Since it is not fully sealed, it should not be left running continuously as it can be dangerous.

Does A Gas Fireplace Need A Chimney

Most ventless gas fireplaces do not require a chimney as an exhaust. Direct vent gas fireplaces also do not need a chimney as they can be vented directly through the wall to the outdoors and can be placed anywhere in a house.

However, some gas fireplaces with log sets may require an existing chimney system to expel the heat generated from burning.The chimney that gas log sets require must be properly maintained and code compliant. 

What If There Is A Gas Fireplace Smell?   

A smell or odor coming from a gas fireplace may be an indication of an underlying problem with the unit. An improperly maintained fireplace can pose a lot of dangers such as carbon monoxide, toxic gas which are are very harmful to one’s health.

It can also result in incomplete combustion and malfunction. If you smell gas, there may be a leak somewhere in your system and this had to be addressed immediately by a professional.

How can you confirm if there is a gas leak for sure? The first obvious sign is the smell of sulfur or rotten eggs coming from your fireplace. There can also be a whistling or hissing sound near the gas line.

In some cases a dust cloud, which is white in color, also forms. If your gas pipe is also damaged, houseplants inside your home start to die and wither. 

In the event of a gas fireplace smell, it is best to call a professional so they can thoroughly check your system and trace the issue. After your fireplace has been repaired, allow some time for the odors to clear out in your room. 

How To Turn Off Gas Fireplace

Whether your gas firepalce has a knob or key control, turning it off is very easy. Gas firepalces typically have knob controls which have “on”, “off” and “pilot” settings. You just have to turn the control knob to the “off” position and wait for at least 5 minutes. Also make sure that the emergency gas valve is closed as well.

For gas firepalces have “key controls” , simply insert the key in the slot or keyhole and turn it clockwise until the gas supply is cut off, the  valve is closed and the flame is extinguished. 

Can You Burn Wood In A Gas Fireplace

The answer is NO because gas fireplaces are not design to burn wood. It does not have the same firebox, flue and type of ventilation that wood burning fireplaces have. It is also not designed to handle the smoke, soot and ashes that come from burning wood. 

Burning real wood in a gas fireplace could be a fire hazard and can be a safety issue. If you also burn wood on a gas fireplace, your house can be filled with smoke. 

Gas Fireplace Ideas

Aside from technical aspects like installation, venting and maintenance, another factor that you have to consider in planning your gas fireplace is its design.

Luckily there is a wide range of gas fireplace designs and ideas which all lend a strong impact to a space. Below are some of the best gas fireplace ideas which you can try out for your home.

Glass Gas Fireplace 

Modern glass corner fireplace Glass gas fireplaces are fireplaces that have tempered glass fronts. Unlike ordinary glass, tempered glass is tumbled and polished to create little pebbles which make them highly resistant to heat.

Tempered glass will not melt, explode or burn even when subjected to very high heat, soot or smoke. It is also resistant to discoloration when exposed to natural gas. 

Because of their stylish, streamlined and minimalist aesthetic, glass fireplaces are more commonly used in modern and contemporary interiors.

Aside from their stunning appearance, they are also very efficient and safe to use. One of the best benefits of having a glass fronted gas fireplace is that it keeps the room safe from fumes. Because it is airtight and sealed, combustion and any debris stays inside the fireplace.

Freestanding Gas Fireplace

Freestanding gas fireplace with ventless design As its name suggests, a freestanding fireplace is a stand alone unit that does not have to be built into a wall. Unlike traditional fireplaces which are permanently fixed to a specific location, a freestanding fireplace offers more flexibility as it can be used anywhere.

Sometimes referred to as a “freestanding gas stove”, these units offer the warmth of a fireplace, the installation flexibility of a stand alone stove and the convenience and efficiency of gas — all into one. 

They are practically maintenance free and very easy to install — in fact, they require no construction at all. Most freestanding gas fireplaces can be vented through an existing chimney, through the roof or out of the wall using a direct vent.

They can be set near a wall or put in a corner, depending on the homeowner’s preference. Because of its exposed sides, the amount of heat generated in a space is more amplified. 

The cost of freestanding gas fireplaces typically range from  $100 for a simple stove to $2,000 for more advanced models. 

Corner Gas Fireplace

Corner fireplace in living room As its name suggests, a corner gas fireplace is a small fireplace unit that can be tucked neatly in a corner. 

Corner gas  fireplaces are the perfect choice for those living in condominiums, pads or studios where space is often limited. Because of its compact size, it can comfortably fit in any vacant corner, unlike traditional built in fireplaces that take up a lot of wall and floor space. 

Corner fireplaces also work well in large spaces, especially if you want to leave more wall space open for decor or other furniture pieces. Alternatively, you can also use it to fill out an empty space or as a sub divider for a big room. In addition, it can be used to anchor a room’s look or balance its architecture. 

Small Gas Fireplace

Small portable glass fireplace In homes where space is at premium, a standard sized built in fireplace may not be a practical option.

Fortunately, there are a lot of small fireplaces which are available in the market which are ideal for studios, condominiums and small apartments.

If constructing a built in, one of the best designs for a small fireplace is a corner fireplace, but there are other ready made options which you can avail like compact freestanding fireplaces and wall mounts.

When designing a built in small gas fireplace, just make sure that you follow the recommended standards to make them efficient for use. The smallest dimension should at least be 24 inches for the fireplace opening and 16 inches for the firebox depth. 

Modern Gas Fireplace

Modern gas fireplaces have a more minimalist aesthetic. Their design is simpler, more streamlined, has sharper lines and most of the time, industrial looking. 

Modern gas fireplaces are typically made of glass, stone, concrete or metal. The color is neutral toned – – usually gray, black, white or brown. 

There are several accessories which are typically used in modern gas fireplaces which completes their updated look. 

Examples of these enhancements are glowing faux embers, blue, green, red, and yellow fire glass, charred wood style ceramic fiber logs set and colored fire stones, a bed of coal or birch ceramic log sets. 

Contemporary Gas Fireplace

Contemporary gas fireplaces are a bit similar to modern fireplaces in the sense that they both have simple designs and a more streamlined and  linear form. Inspired by European design, these fireplaces typically feature linear flames that flicker in unison and panoramic viewing angles.

The materials they use are usually stone, concrete, metal, but sometimes unique materials like black onyx are also used.

Most homeowners use contemporary gas fireplaces as a focal point in a space, often positioned at eye level – – much like a dynamic piece of artwork. 

Linear Gas Fireplace

A linear gas  fireplace is a rectangular fireplace that can be used both indoors and outdoors. Linear fireplaces usually feature one to two rows of flames in a display of fire glass.

A long shallow burner tube that spans the length of the fireplace produces this mesmerizing row of 2 to 12 inch tall flames. The height of the flames depend on the fireplace’s model. 

Linear fireplaces can be installed flushed inside a wall and are usually mounted  at eye level for most impact. Their shape and aesthetic make them highly suitable for contemporary and modern interior settings. 

The average cost  of linear fireplaces typically range from $2,200 to $4,000, depending on the style. 

Wall Mounted Gas Fireplace

Wall mounted fireplaces are designed for surface mounting in a wall. They expel heat out at the top or the bottom of the unit. 

Double Sided Gas Fireplace

Modern dining and living room with double sides gas fireplace design Double-sided fireplaces are fireplaces that can be viewed from 2 sides. Unlike a traditional fireplace placed against one wall and only displays the fireplace front, a double sided fireplace can be used as a partition in an open plan or a focal feature in the middle of a room.These gas fireplace designs are usually made with a thick tempered glass enclosing. 

Double Sided fireplaces offer double the warmth, however they also require double the space a standard gas fireplace needs. Because of this, they work best in open settings and very large spaces.

Often contemporary in style, double sided gas fireplaces are magnificent designer features that can certainly add a “wow factor” into a room. They offer a great way to break up a space, while maintaining light flow between two areas.

Double-sided gas fireplaces provide a more even distribution of heat in two spaces, unlike in a traditional hearth where the heat can cluster up. 

Double sided gas fireplace inserts typically cost anywhere from $1,000 to $8,000, not including labor or installation. Two sided ventless gas fireplaces are less expensive and run around $1,000 to $2,500.

TV Above Gas Fireplace

Because television sets nowadays are more lightweight and flat, they can be easily placed anywhere in a home, and one of the most common locations is above a fireplace. 

 Hanging a flat-screen above a mantel serves dual-purpose – – it converts it to an entertainment center, while also serving as the room’s centerpiece. This set-up is very useful if you want to free up floor space for more furniture. 

If you consider mounting a TV above your gas fireplace, make sure to follow recommendations for installation. A few challenges line the high temperature from the fire, wire management, the right viewing angle, and a secure mounting technique must all be planned out well before trying out this configuration. 

Make sure to read your TV’s technical specifications to make sure that it does not exceed the recommended temperature. Too much heat coming from a fireplace can affect your TV’s lifespan and may eventually break it, so test out the surface temperature first. 

Also, invest in a secure mounting mechanism to make sure that your TV does not fall off. There are a number of mounting methods and systems that you can try out, but make sure to opt for the one suited for your TV’s weight and size.

In addition, consider hiding the wires as they can distract from your fireplace and TV’s design. 

3 Sided Gas Fireplace

Three sided gas fireplace in modern living room with ocean views Sometimes referred to as a peninsula fireplace, 3 sided fireplaces can be viewed on the front, back and one side. This fireplace design is usually used to  elegantly divide a space. 

Three sided gas fireplaces are very modern and unique. Their design is typically made of frame less glass and features robust flames. Most of these fireplace models include friendly controls which enable you to adjust the heat output and the flame height. 

Three sided gas fireplaces are quite expensive, with units starting at $4000. the prices go higher depending on the material and design of the unit. 

Stone Gas Fireplace

Stone is one of the most popular finishing materials used in a fireplace. Not only does it offer a classic and rustic look, it is also very durable and reliable.

There are several types of stone gas fireplaces — from natural stones like marble, granite, slate and limestone to engineered materials like Cambria and Neolith.

Granite gas fireplace Granite is one of the sturdiest natural stones that can be used for a stone gas fireplace. Because it is formed beneath the earth’s surface by extreme heat, it develops a resistance to it — making it very suitable for use in fireplaces. It will not get damaged from the heat coming from it, even for a long period of time. 

In addition to this remarkable trait, granite is also low maintenance, resistant to wear and tear and abrasion, thus making it also the perfect choice for a gas fireplace surround. It will not get stained from any debris which may come from a fireplace. All you need is a cloth, some soap and water to clean it.

Marble is another popular choice for stone gas fireplaces. Known as the most prestigious natural stone in the market, marble can offer a tasteful, refined and luxurious look to a fireplace.

In addition to its refined natural beauty and heat resistance, marble is also durable. Similar to the way granite is formed, marble is produced when limestone is subjected to enormous amounts of heat and extreme pressure.

This metamorphic process makes it naturally resistant to heat and suitable for use in applications constantly exposed to high temperatures, such as a fireplace.

Limestone is another quintessential choice for a stone gas fireplace. Considered to be the mother stone of marble, onyx and travertine, marble boasts of an old world charm and a soft and natural aesthetic which can lend a strong cozy, inviting feel to a home. 

Limestone works well for gas fireplaces because of its durability. Although naturally porous, limestone is ideal for fireplaces, because in this type of application, it will not be exposed to liquid and moisture.

It is highly versatile and can be customized for different gas fireplace designs and styles. To top it all off, limestone is also very cost effective 

Cambria Quartz is a type of engineered stone that is highly reliable for use in stone gas fireplaces. Cambria quartz is made of 93% natural quartz –one of the hardest minerals on Earth, mixed with 7% resin binders.

So basically, it levels up the natural strength of the most durable material on earth, making it even more sturdy and durable. In fact, Cambria quartz has a rating of 7 in the Mohs scale, which is higher than granite and marble. 

If you are looking for a long lasting material for your stone gas fireplace, Cambria quartz is one of the best choices, because it does not scratch, crack or chip. It is also heat resistant and whether you use natural logs or gas, it won’t discolor or fade due to the ambient heat of a fireplace. 

Lastly Cambria surfaces are maintenance free. Unlike natural stones which need to be periodically sealed and reconditioned, it does not need any special treatment. Cleaning it is also relatively easy and requires no more than a soft clost, some warm water and soap. 

Neolith Sintered Compact Surfaces is another type of engineered stone which can be used for stone gas fireplaces. Developed in Spain by company The Size, Neolith combines the very best natural materials with state of the art technology to create the most durable slabs in the market. 

To produce their product, 100% natural materials such as quartz, feldspar, glass, silica and natural oxides are subjected to high temperature and pressures, resulting in remarkable qualities.

Neolith slabs are very durable and heat proof which makes them an excellent choice for stone gas fireplaces. 

The three main groups of element which compose it gives it extreme durability — minerals from granite give it hardness and strength, minerals from glass and silica offer stability, and natural oxides provide chromatic properties

These slabs are stain resistant, scratch resistant, chemical resistant and UV resistant. It can stand up to harsh chemicals, can withstand wear and tear and require little to no maintenance.

Neolith’s Sintered Compact Surfaces are also lightweight, weighing only at 3.5 lbs per square foot with a 6mm thickness and 7 lbs per square foot with a thickness of 12mm.

Since the material is not bulky, it can also be used as a finishing material for a fireplace surround. It can be easily attached to a wall and won’t add a great deal of load to the existing weight of the surface.

Patio Gas Fireplace

Patio with gas fireplace and stacked stone The patio is one of the best places to put a gas fireplace because it can benefit from the warmth and radiating heat during cold seasons. Designed for outdoor use, patio gas fireplaces may be bought freestanding as premade kits or custom built like a fire pit by a contractor.

They come in a variety of designs which are readily available online and in local home improvement stores.One of its most popular designs is the gas fireplace table which is essentially a small piece of center table that has a fire pit in the middle.

 Most homeowners prefer patio gas fireplaces because they are easy to use and install and they provide efficient local heating. They are also very affordable with prices starting at $100 for outdoor gas fireplace kits.

See more outdoor fireplace ideas on this page.

Written by Brooke

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