Many folks who are looking for an energy efficient gas log fireplace immediately prefer a vent-free model over a vented model. The former features clean burning and generates heat with 99.9% efficiency. A vent-free model does not require any chimney or hole for ventilation and thus helps keep all the heat inside your home, ensuring no or nominal heat loss. However, there are some disadvantages to vent-free fireplaces which you also need to consider.
In this article we will take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of vent-free fireplaces.
The benefits of a vent-free fireplace
Vent-free gas fireplaces boast numerous benefits:
- Purchasing and installing these fireplaces requires a comparatively low initial investment.
- You don’t have to break any holes into your property’s walls or ceiling, or purchase expensive pipes to install them.
- Furthermore, you can install these fireplaces almost anywhere inside your home, even in places where a vented fireplace could never be installed.
- With no heat loss through the chimney, you also save a lot on your energy bills.
Now, here come some of the disadvantages…
Almost completely clean burning? Why ‘almost’?
Unlike vented fireplaces, vent-free models burn gas cleanly and do not require a chimney or vent to release the exhaust. So, where does the exhaust go? Is 99.9 percent efficiency enough for you and your family? Why is it said that a vent-free gas fireplaces provide almost completely clean air inside your home? Why not 100 percent clean?
The truth is that vent-free fireplaces release the exhaust back into your home. Unfortunately, this exhaust includes traces of chemical residues, including the harmful carbon monoxide!
Of course, many homeowners are very pleased with their vent-free fireplaces, but that does not mean this variety will also suit you and your family. If you are on a mission to adopt a healthier lifestyle, you may not want to allow your vent-free fireplace to pollute the air inside your home, no matter how small the amount of pollution is.
What other substances does the vent-free fireplace exhaust include?
The exhaust released by a vent-free gas fireplace contains not only carbon monoxide, but also some other chemicals that produce a distinctive odor. Some people may notice a very slight odor when the fireplace is turned on, while others with a better sense of smell may detect the odor more strongly. Some may even compare the odor with the smell of a kerosene heater.
People with a history of respiratory diseases or asthma may not be able to tolerate the odor produced by vent-free fireplaces and may suffer health problems such as asthma attacks, severe headaches and congestion. In fact, most vent-free gas fireplaces come with a warning for heart or lung patients. People suffering from anemia and expectant mothers should also avoid environments where vent-free fireplaces are used.
Excessive use could lead to mildew growth
Another common problem with the vent-free systems is that they introduce excessive moisture into the environments where they are installed, which could lead to mold and mildew growth. If you use a vent-free fireplace excessively, you may begin noticing a yellowish film in your home.
Keeping the above potential problems in mind, it may be a good idea to limit your use of your vent-free fireplace, or – better yet – only use it as a source of emergency heat. Even manufacturers do not recommend using one around the clock or as your main heat source. Alternatively, you may also consider using a special type of vented fireplace called ‘direct-vent’. This is an airtight gas appliance that comes sealed with gaskets and clamps.