#1 CAN I CONVERT MY WOOD BURNING FIREPLACE TO A GAS LOG SET?
In most cases, yes, both vented and ventless gas logs can be installed in a fully functioning wood burning fireplace. There are some scenarios that will not allow for the installation of a gas log set in your fireplace. For example, if the fireplace is a high efficiency wood burning unit, a gas log set cannot be installed. It's important to check the manufacturer's installation requirements before installing a gas log set in your fireplace. The installation of the gas line and gas log set will need to be done by a licensed gas professional.
#2 WHAT ARE GAS LOGS MADE OF?
Most gas logs are made of a ceramic or refractory cement mixture that has been designed to withstand high temperatures.
Sometimes steel reinforcement bars are added to the inside of the logs to increase their strength and to prevent them from bending or cracking under extreme heat.
Some ceramic logs may change color slightly with extended use while refractory ceramic logs will retain their color and details much longer.
#3 WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VENTED AND VENTLESS GAS LOGS?
Vented gas logs are designed to be used in an existing wood burning fireplace with a fully functional chimney. They produce tall, golden flames and are a very realistic-looking replacement for real wood logs.
Vented sets require the chimney damper to stay open at all times to prevent the buildup of harmful combustion by-products, so almost all of the heat produced is lost through the chimney. This makes them inefficient sources of heat.
Ventless gas logs are designed to achieve a clean, smokeless flame, so they don’t require the use of a chimney and can be used with the damper closed.
Since they don’t require a chimney, 100% of the heat produced is circulated back into the room, rather than escaping up the chimney.
This makes ventless gas log sets very efficient supplemental sources of heat. The fire produced by a ventless set, however, may not be as realistic as a vented set.
#4 WHAT TYPE OF MAINTENANCE OR SERVICE IS NEEDED FOR A GAS LOG SET?
Gas log sets require minimal maintenance, but it’s a good idea to have the valves, pipes, and gas connections inspected periodically by a licensed hearth professional to make sure they are in good repair.
Ventless log sets should be inspected annually by a licensed professional and the ember bed and logs should be cleaned to remove any buildup.
If you have vented gas logs, you’ll need to have your chimney inspected and swept once a year. Your gas logs will also need to be cleaned periodically to remove soot buildup, especially if your logs are fueled by propane gas.
Over time, some parts may need to be replaced on your log set, but there’s virtually no daily maintenance.
Read more about the advantages of gas logs here.
#5 DO GAS LOGS SMELL WHEN THEY BURN?
Some gas logs may release an odor and possibly some smoke during their initial burn. If your fireplace is vented, then the odor will escape up the chimney and won’t be very noticeable.
It's recommended that ventless gas log sets be vented during their initial burn period to remove any odor or smoke produced. After this initial period, they may continue to have a slight scent during use.
#6 DO PROPANE GAS LOG SETS NEED A SAFETY PILOT?
Yes, a safety pilot will eliminate the potential risk of propane gas pooling up in your fireplace if you ever have a gas leak.
Propane gas is heavier than air, so it'll settle at the bottom of the firebox, rather than escaping up the chimney.
A propane gas leak can easily go unnoticed and if enough gas pools up, you could have a potentially hazardous situation.
The safety pilot will ensure gas can’t accidentally pass through the burner while it’s not in use, eliminating the risk of gas buildup.
#7 OUR NEW HOUSE HAS NATURAL GAS; CAN WE STILL USE THE PROPANE LOG SET WE USED IN OUR OLD HOUSE?
It depends on the type of log set. Some vented gas log sets can be converted from propane to natural gas, but ventless gas log sets cannot.
You may use a gas conversion kit to convert your vented propane log set to natural gas, however, the conversion kit you use must be approved by the manufacturer first to ensure a safe installation.
Please note, when you purchase a gas log set the warranty is only valid for the original owner and for the original fireplace the log set was installed in.
Gas logs can become brittle and may break after extended use and would not be covered under warranty if this occurs outside of the original conditions.
#8 CAN I ADD A REMOTE-CONTROL SYSTEM TO MY GAS LOG SET AFTER IT HAS BEEN INSTALLED?
Yes, you can add a remote to your gas log set after it’s been installed and the log set is already equipped with a millivolt valve.
You may even be able to completely convert your gas log set to a remote control system with variable flame and thermostatic controls.
Read more about the different gas log control options here.
#9 HOW DO I KNOW WHAT SIZE GAS LOGS TO GET?
You’ll need to measure the firebox in order to determine what size gas log set will fit your fireplace properly. Simply measure the front width, rear width, depth, and height of the firebox.
Always check the manufacturer's sizing requirements and recommended clearance to combustibles before purchasing a log set to ensure you get the proper size.
Improperly sized logs can overheat your firebox and gas valves, which can cause permanent damage to your log set, fireplace, or home.
#10 WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MANUAL VALVE AND A MANUAL SAFETY PILOT IGNITION?
A manual valve, also known as a key valve, is used with match-lit ignition systems. Manual valves are either located within arms reach of the firebox or they can be an inline shut-off valve located on the inside of the firebox.
A manual safety pilot ignition is a gas valve that incorporates a safety system with a flame-sensing thermocouple. The safety pilot stays lit, just like the standing pilot on a hot water heater, so you can simply turn the control knob to light the fire.
If the flame ever goes out, the safety system will shut off the gas keeping you and your home protected.
Read more about gas log valves and controls here.