How to Convert a Wood-Burning Fireplace to Gas

Maybe it’s time to upgrade an ancient wood-burning fireplace, or maybe you’re tired of carrying heavy logs inside to start a fire. No matter the scenario you’re in, knowing how to convert a wood-burning fireplace to gas can be a wonderful idea.

But where do you begin, and what should you do to ensure that the conversion process is as safe as possible?

In this article, we’ll answer your questions as best we can. Let’s take a look at the steps you should take to turn a wood-burning fireplace to gas.

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Step 1: Get Your Chimney Cleaned

No matter what type of gas fireplace you’ll be installing, the first thing experts recommend you do is to make sure to clean your chimney. Chances are your old fireplace has been working for years, leaving debris that must be removed.

Also, there might be some damaged areas in the chimney that you may not be aware of.

The best thing to do here is to hire a chimney cleaning service to make sure it functions properly afterward. A professional may advise you to install a chimney liner to enhance its safety.

Step 2: Consider Your Options

Next, do your research on the types of gas fireplaces out there. Find out which one suits your needs while also keeping up with the laws of your city. Here are the models of gas fireplaces that you’ll have to pick from.

1. Vented (Direct-Vent) Fireplaces

A vented fireplace is the safest option out there because it releases pollutants produced by burning gas outside your home. While these fireplaces may not be as fuel-efficient as their ventless counterparts, they’re still favored by many for their safety.

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2. Ventless Fireplace

On the opposite, a ventless fireplace sucks the air from the room where it’s installed, heats it up, then sends it back. Yet, a huge downside to this fireplace is that it also releases exhaust fumes along with the warm air into the room.

For that reason, ventless fireplaces are banned in several states, including California.

Another drawback of vent-free fireplaces is that they don’t produce as much heat as other types of fireplaces.

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3. Log Set

Many people choose log sets for decorative purposes instead of for serious wintertime heating. The reason behind this is that log sets are the least efficient of all gas fireplace types.

See, when you put a log set to work, you’ll have to open the chimney damper to let all the fumes outside of your home. Still, it’s a valid option, especially since a log set is the most affordable option.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, you should also know one last thing. Since you already have a designated place for your new fireplace, you’ll likely need to purchase a gas insert, not a built-in.

Yes, both are available in vented and ventless models, but only inserts can be installed in existing fireplaces.

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Step 3: Think About Fuel and Aesthetics

It’s also important to make up your mind about the fuel you’ll be using in the fireplace. Of course, natural gas is more efficient. Yet, if it’s not available, propane is another worthy candidate for this role.

Plus, you’ll have to think about the appearance of your fireplace. Many homeowners go for ceramic logs because they look a lot like the traditional wooden ones. If you wish to go all modern, you could pick from stones, faux coal, pinecones, or glass pieces to put in the fireplace.

Step 4: Hire a Professional to Install Your New Gas Fireplace

While we’re sure some people are up for the challenge of installing a gas fireplace, we don’t recommend it. Working with gas lines should be left for the professionals so that the installation remains free of mistakes.

After you settle on a company to install your fireplace, the conversion process will go on like this.

  • You’ll buy a firebox that’ll fit inside your pre-existing fireplace
  • A professional will drill access to the gas inside the box and lay electrical wires
  • A hole will be created in the chimney to set up an air intake pipe
  • The expert will then connect the gas line, electrical cables, and ventilation pipes to the firebox
  • All these parts will go inside the existing fireplace

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How Much Will It Cost Me to Turn a Wood-Burning Fireplace Into a Gas Fireplace

Of course, the overall cost of the conversion will vary on the type of fireplace you’ll be installing. Besides that, venting, gas plumbing, finishing materials, and electrical work will affect the price.

In general, you should know that most gas plumbers will cost you from $100 to $150 per hour. The price could be a bit higher or lower depending on the city or state you live in.

Plus, keep in mind that log sets are much more affordable than inserts. Because they have fewer working parts, log sets also tend to last longer and cost less when it comes to maintenance.

How to Ensure the Safety of the Conversion Process

To keep your experience risk-free, here are a few guidelines to follow.

  • Don’t run a gas line or install a gas-fuel appliance yourself
  • Always hire a licensed professional to inspect and install a new fireplace
  • Make sure that the fireplace is installed according to city codes to avoid accidents
  • Get a professional to check your gas fireplace annually
  • Have carbon monoxide detectors installed throughout your home for safety
  • Test these detectors from time to time to ensure they’re working properly

Conclusion

How to convert a wood-burning fireplace to gas?

Well, after reading our article, we hope that you’ve found your answer. Just make sure that your chimney is free of damage, settle on a suitable model of a gas fireplace, then call the experts to install the new fireplace.

In no time, your living room should be ready for cold winter nights. Who doesn’t like to snuggle next to a warm fireplace with a book and a mug of hot chocolate?

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