Autumn is almost over; the orange leaves are falling and the crisp air of winter is settling in. It is the season of cuddling with blankets and sipping hot cocoa by the fire to keep out the cold. But turning on the fireplace may cause more harm than good this holiday season. Making sure your home is equipped with, at the least, a vented fireplace will keep your family safe and warm this winter.
Let’s delve into the specifics of a vented fireplace. Vented fireplaces draw air from the outdoors for combustion into a sealed firebox. This sealed firebox assures high air quality for burning in a gas fireplace. Then, the exhaust expels the combustion products through a separate vent into the outdoors. The result is a heated room that keeps warm air in and cold air out.
Ventless fireplaces, however, obviously do not have a venting system. To tell the difference, put your head into your fireplace when it is turned off and look up. If there is a hole, you have a vented fireplace. If there is no hole, but instead a covering of some kind, you happen to have a ventless fireplace. Despite being covered, and seemingly able to contain the warm air a fireplace produces, ventless fireplaces produce and trap large quantities of water vapor in your home. Ventless fireplaces also trap the dangerous fumes produced by burning gas or wood, and although ventless fireplaces may be “sealed” in order to contain the fumes, keeping the fumes in one area inside the house may pose risks. There have been several reports by homeowners who have ventless fireplaces that complain of headaches and other health-related issues.
Now that we’ve decided that a vented fireplace is better for your home than a ventless, it is time to discuss the types of fuel to burn in your fireplace. Although most BPI consultants agree that fireplaces in general create drafty, energy-deficient homes, if you happen to have a fireplace in your home the next best option is to burn gas over wood. Gas fireplaces, for the most part, burn cleanly and are safer to use than wood fireplaces. They also keep a room warm, while wood burning fireplaces emit harmful smoke into your home, even with a vented system. Go ahead and enjoy your fireplace this holiday season. Hopefully now you will enjoy it even more with the understanding of which fireplace is best for your home and health.
“A Ventless Gas Fireplace Doesn’t Belong in Your Home” from greenbuildingadvisor.com
“Venting Options” from mendotahearth.com