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Replacing a Conventional Wood Burning Fireplace with a Vent Free Gas Fireplace

Fireplace Safety, Gas Fireplaces, Log, Wood Burning Fireplace

If you are planning toremodel your family room or living room that has a wood burning fireplace you may want to consider replacing it. Are you tired of the hassles of getting firewood and cleaning the messy ashes from the wood burning fireplace? Or would you like to add a new fireplace in your home without having to make major changes to add a chimney to the exterior of your house?

A vent less gas fireplace may be an alternative even if you want to do it yourself. I was planning to replace my 22 year old Superior fireplace with a natural gas type. At first I looked into installing gas logs into the existing fireplace as I knew some friends that did this. As I became more educated about the different types of gas logs and gas fireplaces available, I realized that just installing a gas log in my existing fireplace was not what I wanted. Installing just a gas log would eliminate the need for firewood but would not be as heat efficient as installing a complete vent free gas fireplace.

A new vent free gas fireplace is a good choice if you want the look of a real wood burning fire and the benefits of gaining energy efficient heat from the fireplace. These types of units are available in many sizes to retrofit into your old fireplace opening. If you have a masonry fireplace you can install the complete unit within the existing opening. You will need to run a gas supply line, natural gas or propane, and a 110v circuit if you want to add a blower fan to circulate the heat for larger rooms.

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I replaced the complete existing vented wood burning fireplace and also removed the vent/flue pipe, in the exterior chimney chase that went up through the roof. You can leave the existing vent pipe if you support it from dropping after the old fireplace is removed and before the new one installed. I wouldn’t recommend leaving the existing flue pipe because of the possibility of roof leaks that could damage your new fireplace.

I compared a few popular brands- Napoleon, Monessen, Heatilator, Heat & Glo, Vanguard, Lennox and Empire. I decided to buy the Monessen #DFS 32c- 26,000-38,000BTU unit, 37″wide x 34 ½” high x 16″ deep, with the optional integral blower fan. This is a zero clearance firebox that can be recessed into any interior or exterior wall or built out into the room and requires no hearth in the front on the floor. Monessen has been manufacturing vent free fireplaces since 1993. This model is also available for propane gas. Monessen is made in the USA and replacement parts are readily available. The fire logs looked the most real of any other brands and there are different colors of interior fire brick offered. The fireplace comes with a safety screen included, which is great protection if you have small children in the house, and does not require glass doors although they are available. Other options include-automatic thermostat, remote control, and 3 color choices of front trim kits- black, gold and pewter.

I installed the fireplace in the existing recessed opening and made a new custom wood fireplace surround with a mantel and open shelves above. After the unit was installed, I hooked up the gas, electric, programmed the auto thermostat and started it up. The gas logs looked like real wood burning and gave off a lot of heat, much more than my original wood burning vented fireplace. When the fan came on automatically, the heat output from the unit increased and warmed the entire room and 1st floor within minutes without the draft near the fireplace I was used to feeling from the old one. My wife and I both loved the new fireplace and would definitely enjoy not having to go outside anymore for firewood and clean up the messy ashes.

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After using the new fireplace for about a week and seeing how carefree it was we decided to get another Monessen vent free fireplace for our master bedroom. Monessen makes a smaller natural gas vent free fireplace unit approved for bedrooms, it is model DBX24. This fireplace is rated at 10,000btu and offers the same options and thermostats as the larger fireplaces. This fireplace is perfect for installing in a corner of a bedroom diagonally. It measures 24 ½” wide x 26 ½” high x 10 ½” deep with basically a zero clearance installation clearance from walls.

I installed a natural gas supply line and electric circuit to the master bedroom for the new built in fireplace. Again I made a custom wood fireplace surround matching our bedroom furniture. This time I installed the fireplace 6″ above the floor giving it a floating appearance. I purchased the optional circulating fan and wall mount automatic remote thermostat. This fireplace when set on its lowest setting, heats up our entire 18′ x 26′ master bedroom. It is capable of heating all four upstairs bedrooms.

Another nice benefit from natural gas heaters is that if there is an electrical power failure you will still have heat in your home as no electricity is needed to use the fireplace. Nothing makes a room more cozy and comfortable than a fireplace and in a bedroom it adds a romantic ambiance. Whether you are looking to create a sleek contemporary look or traditional theme, designing a rooms decor is simplified with a vent free fireplace because there few restrictions of where to install the unit within the room.