Problems with Ventless Gas Fireplaces

Although they seem like a good idea, you may wonder if there are problems with ventless gas fireplaces. Using propane, or natural gas, ventless fireplaces have no chimney or venting to the outside. While this creates an inexpensive unit, there are health concerns to consider.

Are There Problems With Ventless Gas Fireplaces?

Ventless gas fireplaces work by burning natural or propane gas in specially designed burners that promote efficient combustion. Unlike traditional fireplaces and vented gas units, ventless gas fireplaces have no way to move combustion byproducts out of your home. Although manufacturers insist ventless gas fireplaces are safe, many fireplace industry experts have voiced concerns. Here are some issues that may cause you to rethink a ventless gas fireplace:

Combustion theory. A gas fire produces more than just heat. The combustion of gas produces carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. Although the amounts of these gases produced by a ventless unit is smaller than a traditional fireplace, the gases can still build up to unsafe levels in rooms and homes that are don't allow for proper air filtration. Today's tightly insulated homes typically don't provide enough air filtration for use with a ventless fireplace, requiring that a window or door be opened to provide airflow.

Where'd the air go? The combustion of gas in a closed room has another effect-the consumption of oxygen. As the fireplace takes oxygen and turns it into other gases, the oxygen needs to be replaced from other sources. Without proper ventilation in the room, suffocation is very real concern.

It's not the heat… Another byproduct of combustion is moisture. A ventless gas fireplace can create as much a one half gallon of water vapor in the course of an hour. This excess water vapor can condense on colder surfaces like windows, but can also condense in attics and behind walls, creating mold and water damage issues that may go unresolved until they lead to costly repairs.

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