A well-designed, beautiful fireplace not only provides warmth but also acts as a decor accessory for your home. Typically, a single fireplace can either burn gas or wood at one time, but it is not safe to use both on the same fireplace without prior modification.
A fireplace cannot be both gas and wood-burning at the same time, as it can be a severe fire hazard. However, it is possible to convert one to the other with just a minor modification. A complete safety check is required to ensure that the conversion has followed all the safety regulations.
Maybe you crave the feel and genuine warmth from burning natural wood in your fireplace. Or perhaps you want to switch to gas because you find it more efficient and user-friendly. Either way, this article aims to give you the information you require to achieve your goal.
Can I Burn Both Wood and Gas in My Fireplace?
No, you cannot burn both wood and gas in your fireplace as it is highly hazardous. Here are examples of how it might play out:
- Due to improper ventilation, the smoke can spread into the house, creating poisonous gas. If your fireplace venting system is not designed to handle burning wood, the smoke will end up in your room and contaminate the indoor air quality. This is dangerous because wood produces carbon monoxide that is colorless, odorless, and especially hazardous.
- It will likely lead to a house fire. Some only-gas fireplaces are not fitted with suitable hardware to accommodate the powerful heat produced by wood. Therefore, burning wood might cause fire to radiate from the fireplace and into your home.
- It may lead to an explosion. The heat from the wood can potentially transfer along the pipes and cause an explosion.
- Destruction to the internal fireplace mechanism. Burning wood in a gas fireplace can also cause damage to its inner workings due to the fire’s higher temperature.
Turning a Gas-Burning Fireplace Into a Wood-Burning Fireplace
So your new home has a lovely gas fireplace, but you would prefer to hear the crackling of wood burning instead. If you are an outdoor lover, nothing can beat the feeling of sitting in front of a real fire.
Whether you’re looking for a more natural approach or just want to save some gas money, you might wonder if it is possible to convert your gas fireplace into a wood fireplace.
Some gas fireplaces can easily be converted into wood fireplaces with minimal modification. If you’re unfamiliar with the setup, it is best if you get a professional to work with you. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Understand the situation. Some fireplaces might require more work than others. For example, you might find that the fireplace already has a comprehensive vent system that will work well with wood burning. But in some cases, it could mean a complete replacement project, needing a chimney and vents to be installed.
- Get approval from the area authority. For safety reasons, you can’t just go in blind on a project like this. After you have figured out what exactly you need, visit your local municipality and find out what the regulations for fireplace remodeling are. The last thing you want is to get in legal trouble for not following the proper guidelines.
- Inspect and clean the chimney. If there is already a functional chimney available, call a certified chimney cleaner to inspect and clean it before attempting to burn anything.
- Convert your fireplace. The amount of work needed is entirely dependent on the point above. If the chimney is in good condition, the process will be much simpler.
How To Turn a Wood-Burning Fireplace Into a Gas Fireplace
Believe it or not, many modern homeowners prefer gas fireplaces to wood fireplaces. A gas fireplace has almost no residue and, unlike wood, will not need constant cleaning. It also reduces the overhaul of sourcing for wood and feeding it into the fire and is environmentally friendly. Many have an instant start feature, meaning you don’t need to spend time trying to start a fire. With a gas fireplace, you can have a roaring frame at a flick of a switch.
Other than assessing the situation and getting the required permits from the local authority, here are the vital basic requirements needed to convert from wood to gas:
- Inspections and cleaning. Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean any creosote build-up and repair any damage. The chimney needs to be clean and in proper working order for the wood-burning to be considered safe.
- Leave it to a professional. Only a professional will know how to install the right size lines for accurate gas flow. For the project to be successful, both the gas line and the fireplace must be installed correctly, following the area regulations. You can never be too safe when installing gas-fuelled appliances. It is therefore advisable to leave this to the certified professional.
Remember that the gas inserts and the fireplace vents need to be inspected and serviced by a certified professional once every year.
Gas vs. Wood Fireplaces: Pros and Cons (Which Is the Best Choice for You?)
Many characteristics make gas and wood fireplaces different. When deciding which option to use for your home, you must consider all the factors and ensure that your choice meets your home’s needs.
Below is our comparative breakdown to enable you to make a quick decision.
A gas fireplace is much more convenient compared to a wood fireplace. All you need to do with a gas fireplace is flip a switch, sit back and enjoy the warmth and ambiance.
Wood, on the other hand, can be quite a challenge. You need to chop wood (or drive to the store to purchase some), sometimes manually light the fire, and manually feed the wood into the fire to keep it going.
Since the two options use completely different burning materials, it is not surprising that they are entirely different in terms of efficiency. A wood fireplace is limited in terms of efficiency when compared to the gas counterpart.
When heating a room, wood has a maximum of 10% efficiency depending on the room’s ventilation. On the other hand, a one-pipe vent gas fireplace has more than 50% efficiency. And this can go up to 70% and 90% if there are two-pipe vent and direct vent gas, respectively.
A wood fireplace requires constant cleaning to remove shoots and residual logs. The chimney also requires regular maintenance due to the creosote (carbonaceous chemicals caused by wood-burning), which builds up within the shoot. If this creosote build-up is not cleaned, it might reach and block the flue. It is, therefore, necessary to have a certified chimney cleaner inspect and clean your chimney often.
Compared to a wood fireplace, a gas fireplace has fewer maintenance issues. You only need to ensure that both your gas pipes and vent pipes are inspected and cleaned once a year. This will check for any dirt and debris and ensure any damage is promptly repaired.
The experience with a wood fireplace is superior to a gas fireplace – especially for outdoor lovers. For many homeowners, this is the ultimate essence of a fireplace – the crackling wood’s feel and the smell of smoke.
Although a gas fireplace burns with a glowing log and dancing flames, it doesn’t have the same romantic feel.
Though you can customize a gas fireplace to match the decor of your interior, it still barely beats the homey, elegant, and warm feeling that a wood fireplace brings. It significantly adds to the mood in the room – especially with the added box for storing wood.
How Do I Know the Kind of Fireplace I Have Before Converting From Gas to Wood?
The modification will depend on the kind of fireplace you have. Below are the different types of fireplaces most commonly found in homes today.
This kind of fireplace is designed to burn only propane or natural gas and does not have the ventilation, flue, and firebox that is suitable for wood burning. It also does not have the mechanism to handle the ashes and soot you see when burning wood.
Smoke and soot might be the least of your worries if something goes wrong. Hence, this kind of fireplace needs an expert to convert it into a wood fireplace.
Insert Gas Fireplace
A gas fireplace insert is a common product that was initially a wood fireplace. It is a metal housing with a gas burner and log set and is the easiest to modify by following a few instructions from a qualified professional. This is because the primary components necessary for a wood fireplace are still available and only need to be cleared and cleaned.
This type of fireplace has an artificial log set of heat-resistant ceramic or cement placed on an existing wood fireplace. It burns by producing a gas-powered flame. This is usually for aesthetics and decor.
It is very dangerous to burn wood in a gas fireplace. If you intend to use wood for your fireplace, it is crucial to ensure that the fireplace is appropriately converted and all the safety measures are in place.
But before you convert, you need to understand the advantages and disadvantages to make the right decision for your home. A conversion could cost a lot of money if your home is not set upright. Call a professional for advice if you have any doubts.
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