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gas fireplace?
Posted by: davemchine
Date: June 05, 2006 10:52AM
I am considering converting a wood fireplace to gas. It is a small fireplace, not intended to heat a house, mostly for looks. I was told this could be as simple as punching a gas line thru the wall and dropping a small gas log into the fireplace. Is this accurate? Also, can this be done with propane?

Thanks,

Dave
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Re: gas fireplace?
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: June 05, 2006 11:04AM
I would NOT do this. With the price of natural gas, you may find yourself wanting to heat the house with the wood some day.

However- the specific answer to your question is 'yes'- all you need to do is run a gas line, and a shutoff 'switch' or 'valve' that runs to the outside of the fireplace so you can turn it on or off. And yes, any plumbed fuel can be used- the orifice or burners may need to be adjusted for propane vs. natural gas. Don't forget to open your flue.

Also note that it will suck more warm air out of your house than the reflected heat replaces, so they tend to be a net loss.
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Re: gas fireplace?
Posted by: davemchine
Date: June 05, 2006 11:08AM
I'm anticipating that my wife would want to run this ALOT during the winter. She will like the way it looks. Is there a way to minimize the heat loss from the house?

Thanks,

Dave
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Re: gas fireplace?
Posted by: davemchine
Date: June 05, 2006 11:11AM
Oh ya, and what kind of money do you think I'd spend on this project?
Dave
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Re: gas fireplace?
Posted by: Jim Williams
Date: June 05, 2006 11:12AM
I have two systems with ventless logs and blowers. They don't have the drawback (pardon the pun) of net heat loss.
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Re: gas fireplace?
Posted by: LaserKun
Date: June 05, 2006 11:22AM
Dave,

I think you are on the right track by researching this; I am in almost the same situation it seems. Except that I don't think I will be changing my wood fireplace, a pre-fab metal unit that was installed when my house was built in 1980 (still works great), into a gas unit soon. I have thought about it though. I live in the woods, with plenty of firewood available to me free, so that's what's keeping me with wood for now. Still have to work a lot to cut and stack, split firewood, but at least it's free.

My advice is to really find out the net loss or gain from swithcing to gas, then see if you are willing to live with that. For me, it would definitely have add at least some heat and not cost too much in the process. Gas is expensive now though; do your research and let us know how it goes.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/05/2006 11:24AM by LaserKun.
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Re: gas fireplace?
Posted by: davemchine
Date: June 05, 2006 11:30AM
So far I have learned that with a gas log installed the vent must be permanently open. This is a bad thing for normal heat of course. I'm not sure I want that.

Dave
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Re: gas fireplace?
Posted by: DaviDC.
Date: June 05, 2006 11:35AM
My house has a small coal burning fireplace in the living room & the 18" propane gas logs I used in a Franklin Stove fit perfectly. I ran a line down from the hearth, under the house & up to the front porch with a shut-off valve & a T connector with a shut-off on each arm. I keep 2 gas grill size propane tanks connected & when one runs down, I switch over to the full one. I built a wooden box to cover the tanks, just to make it look pretty.

I made a heat reflector out of copper sheet & put it in the fireplace to direct heat out into the room & it works great. The logs have to be placed at the very front of the hearth, otherwise the heat goes straight up the chimney. When not in use, I push it back out of the way.

I went through about 5 or 6 tanks of gas last winter.



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Re: gas fireplace?
Posted by: davemchine
Date: June 05, 2006 11:38AM
Davidc, how large of a propane tank?

I'm starting to lean towards an insert as it could actually provide heat and wouldn't allow the air from inside the house to escape up the chimney. It is quite a bit more money though.

[www.chimneysweeponline.com]

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Re: gas fireplace?
Posted by: shadow
Date: June 05, 2006 12:02PM
There really are only two options if you want safe, efficient heat from a fireplace for an interior space:

(1) Wood insert
(2) Vented gas unit

In the first case, once you have a good bed of embers, you only need a very slight draw through the dampers to keep the unit really hot.

In the second case, all the source and combustion air is external to your home - there is no loss of indoor heat.

This is not to say that other types of fireplaces are bad. They just don't do their job as efficiently.

Personally, I have a wood-burning fireplace and a vented gas unit.

While I like the wood fireplace, it just doesn't compare (in most cases) to flipping a switch for a roaring fire. When I do get bit by the fire bug, I use our outdoor firepit - no worries about "loss of indoor heat" or "that fireplace smell".

- Shadow
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Re: gas fireplace?
Posted by: DaviDC.
Date: June 05, 2006 12:33PM
Quote
davemchine
Davidc, how large of a propane tank?

20 pound tanks, the same size used with BBQ grills.



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Re: gas fireplace?
Posted by: davester
Date: June 05, 2006 01:25PM
I put a gas insert into one of our fireplaces. Both the intake and exhaust are through the chimney and it keeps the room toasty warm. Yes, they are more expensive than gas logs but the gas logs are going to cool down your house (by sucking out the warm air and sending it up the chimney), not warm it up.



"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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Re: gas fireplace?
Posted by: msglee
Date: June 05, 2006 01:42PM
Have you looked at the pellet stoves?



Bowleys Quarters MD
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Re: gas fireplace?
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: June 05, 2006 03:12PM
I have a gas 'fireplace' in our house- one of those tack on the side of the house units that builders put in because they don't need a chimney. We used to run it, but I watched the waste heat just radiate off the back of the damn thing outside one winter, looked at the gas bill, and shut it off. Period.

Let's face it- burning wood if you have woods available is the most economical way to heat your home. Enough dead trees, catalytic converter, an insert, etc. and you've got a nice toasty house. Sure, you need to cut, split, stack, season, and haul wood. It's still tons cheaper.
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Re: gas fireplace?
Posted by: samintx
Date: June 05, 2006 03:14PM
In Texas 90% of the wood fireplaces come with gas to lite the wood so installing a gas log fireplace is simply a matter of screwing on a connection. I got tired of the expense of wood, too hot here for fireplaces really, and the mess inside and keeping outside with all the bugs we have......Love the gas logs altho I have not turned it on in 5 years and will probably not turn it on again as long as I live here.

East Texas doesn't get that cold. Only when the electricity goes out for days do you need a fireplace. In Colorado I burned wood constantly.
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Re: gas fireplace?
Posted by: Racer X
Date: June 05, 2006 04:18PM
You need to differentiate between a gas forced air insert, and a gas log set. The forced air insert will actually heat a fairly large area, and the log set will just look nice, and add a wee bit of heat to the immediate area.

Depending on the installation, you may need to line the chimney. The exhaust gas will erode the mortar. Minimum will be pipes out the side of the chimney.

I have looked into these a bit, and want to put an insert upstairs, and just a log set in the downstairs TV room (it is about 12x15, so just a log set with the door almost closed will heat it a reasonable amount after a while)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/05/2006 04:19PM by Racer X.
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Re: gas fireplace?
Posted by: AlphaDog
Date: June 05, 2006 04:36PM
If anybody wants a nice gas log set, just let me know. We put one in about 10 years ago, but with the cost of gas as high as it now is, I don't use it anymore, because it does cool off the entire house. Glass doors are needed when the logs aren't operating, but they have to be open when it's lit. That sucks heat from the rest of the house, so either the far corners become cold or your furnace works almost non-stop. I replaced an old wood stove with a gas burning heating stove this past January. As soon as I save up enough $$, I'll be replacing the gas logs with a gas insert.

When I was doing my research before replacing the woodstove, I considered a pellet stove. I decided against one, because they require electricity to operate. The gas heating stove had been in only three weeks before a windstorm knocked out the power for a day. It was 20 degrees and windy outside, but I had my room at a toasty 73. And I had unexpected company when people realized I had a warm place to hang out all day.

By the way, the gas logs do not require a chimney liner, although my gas heating stove does both air intake and exhaust through insulated pipe run through the old masonry chimney.
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Re: gas fireplace?
Posted by: Racer X
Date: June 05, 2006 05:07PM
yeah, the East Coast got all our cheap natural gas when the trans-canadian gas line went in.
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Re: gas fireplace?
Posted by: shadow
Date: June 05, 2006 05:08PM
Quote
cbelt3
I have a gas 'fireplace' in our house- one of those tack on the side of the house units that builders put in because they don't need a chimney. We used to run it, but I watched the waste heat just radiate off the back of the damn thing outside one winter, looked at the gas bill, and shut it off. Period.

That's because builders always do the absolute minimum: open studs behind the unit.

A proper installation would have the bump-out insulated and drywalled - that way the unit is inside the heating envelope and the heat is directed inward.

- Shadow
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