A gas fireplace might be quite practical and gets the job done right. However, there’s a certain quality and charm that make wood burning fireplaces favored by most people. For instance, wood burning fireplaces produce a flickering light with a special crackling sound that gives you an unmatched level of coziness and elegance.
While the conversion process is possible, you’ll have to check the validity of the process and whether your chimney is built for handling wood burning.
Let’s dive in to find out more about converting gas fireplaces to wood burning ones!
Can You Convert Any Gas Fireplace to Wood Burning
The process of converting a gas fireplace to a wood burning stove is a possible one. However, not all fireplaces are built equal, and therefore, some of them can be converted directly while others might require much more work or can’t be converted altogether.
To be able to convert your fireplace, your home should have an actual chimney and liners that work properly to lead the smoke out of the house. If your property is originally built with a wood fireplace that was replaced with a gas one, it’s easy to turn it back to wood burning.
In other words, the process isn’t as simple as removing the gas fireplace and burning some wood logs in there instead.
Things You Need to Check Before Converting Your Fireplace
The process of converting a fireplace from gas to wood logs carries a lot of safety concerns because natural gas produces toxic carbon monoxide odorless and undetectable.
On the other hand, wood burning releases smoke that needs to be vented out safely, so here’s a quick checklist of the essential steps to take before converting:
1. Your Fireplace System
As previously mentioned, the first step in the conversion process is to check your house and understand its fireplace system.
If your fireplace already worked as a wood burning one before installing gas fireplaces, expect a relatively smooth process.
On the other hand, if your house is built with a gas-only fireplace, such a conversion process can be quite labor-intensive and pricey.
2. Getting Legal Approval
After understanding your situation and the possibility of the conversion process, you first need to check with the local authorities if there are any codes or permits required to make such changes.
This is because some buildings and houses are considered historic monuments, so they have strict renovation guidelines and codes that you need to stick to.
Getting this step done before investing in the process is essential to save yourself money, time, effort, and legal troubles.
3. Venting System and Thorough Chimney Inspection
Since venting is more critical for wood burning, you’ll need to do a thorough inspection of your chimney, even if it did house a wood burning stove before.
In this process, there are various parts that need to be checked before conversion to make sure that they’re in working condition, such as brick and mortar, the flue (chimney liners), damper, cap, and crown.
After making sure that no parts need renovations or replacements, a quick cleanup to improve ventilation is essential before starting with the conversion process.
How the Conversion Process Goes
Step1: Removing Gas Fireplace and Inserts
The first step of the conversion process is, of course, removing the old system. For that, you should seek a professional fireplace technician to safely disconnect the gas system and inserts.
Some people might try to do that themselves, but carrying out any project that includes dealing with natural gas is risky and unrecommended.
Step 2: Making Necessary Adjustments to the Chimney
After removing the gas system, this should be a suitable time to carry out any changes necessary before installing the wood burning stove.
For example, chimney liners might need extra protection to handle the extra heat produced by wood burning.
Additionally, you should make sure that the chimney has proper ventilation in terms of oxygen supply to keep the wood burning and proper channels to release the smoke.
Finally, the old gas logs and inserts are removed from the fireplace to make room for the wood burning alternative.
Step 3: Converting to Wood Burning Fireplace
With everything ready, the gas liners are capped or converted to gas log lighters and you can safely replace the gas with wood.
Keep in mind that wood burning requires a lot more care and maintenance to ensure safety and avoid fire and smoke hazards.
Ideally, you’ll need to hire a fireplace technician every year to inspect the flue and chimney lining for any damage or flammable creosote traces.
How Much Does it Cost to Convert Your Gas Fireplace to Wood Burning
It’s quite tricky to name a price for the conversion process because it depends on a wide range of variables.
For example, the type of chimney you have and being already wood burning friendly can dramatically reduce the costs of the conversion process.
The condition of the chimney and flue lining will also have an impact on the price. However, in most cases, a suitable chimney that is in good condition will cost you anywhere between $200 to $300 for the conversion process.
Essential Tips While Operating Your New Wood Burning Fireplace
Here are some tips you need to keep in mind as a wood burning fireplace owner:
- Make sure that you hire a technician to clean the chimney every 3 to 6 months to remove soot buildup
- Perform a full professional inspection every 12 months
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
- Use suitable dry wood only and avoid burning painted and stained wood because it can spread toxic chemicals in the air
- Always keep a fire extinguisher close-by to stop any accidents before it develops into a serious problem
The process of converting a gas fireplace to a wood burning one is possible in many cases. However, you need to make sure that you have all the proper conditions met to make it a reality.
Remember that such a project requires careful inspection and taking maximum safety precautions because you’ll be dealing with the risks of both natural gas and smoke from wood burning.
Even if you’re leaving the job to a professional, make sure that you maintain proper ventilation at all times and report the authorities if you suspect a gas leak.