One of the greatest perks of having a gas fireplace is that it is low maintenance—you don’t have to clean ashes out of the hearth or worry about the accumulation of creosote and soot in the chimney. Even though it require significantly less maintenance than a wood burning fireplace, it is still important to have a certified NFI professional inspect your fireplace every year.
Gas fireplaces are complex systems that are susceptible to malfunctions and damage that can lead to lethal problems. To understand the importance of having your gas fireplace regularly inspected, it helps to understand the risks associated with each kind of gas fireplace.
Vent Free Gas Fireplaces
Vent free gas fireplaces are not permitted in some areas because their greatest advantage also comes with significant risk. The advantage of a vent free gas fireplace is that it can be installed in any room of your home because, as the name implies, it does not require a vent to the outside. Vent free gas fireplaces are designed to burn fuel completely. They draw combustion air from your home and vent the little exhaust that they produce back into your home. The risk is that misplaced ceramic logs, and other issues, can lead to the production of high levels of carbon monoxide (CO). It is extremely important to have an operational CO monitor in the room with a vent free gas fireplace and to change the batteries routinely. These types of fireplaces should be installed and annually inspected by a factory trained or NFI certified professional.
“Direct Vent” Gas Fireplaces
“Direct Vent” gas fireplaces are the most popular because they produce a more vibrant flame and reduce the risk of CO poisoning. “Direct Vent” fireplaces draw combustion air from outside and vent outside so that they entirely isolate the combustion process from your home. Along with these advantages, they have extremely high efficiency. It is still wise to have it inspected annually or bi-annually to ensure that it continues to operate smoothly and prevent the vent from becoming blocked by animal nests or debris. If the vent is block, exhaust may be expelled into your home.
“B-Vent” Gas Fireplaces
If you have an older gas fireplace, it is most likely a “B-Vent” fireplace. This type of gas fireplace preceded direct vent and vent free gas fireplaces. While it vents exhaust outside, it draws combustion air from your home. Since the venting process is not entirely isolated from the home’s interior, if it malfunctions it is more liable to leak exhaust into your home. A NFI certified or factory trained professional should service this fireplace on a regular basis to assure it continues to operate correctly. You may want to consider replacing it with a newer gas fireplace model.
If you do not know what type of gas fireplace you have, you can consult your owner’s manual or ask an NFI certified professional. Remember to prioritize the safety of your home and family by regularly changing the batteries in your CO monitor and fire alarm along with keeping up with your fireplace’s maintenance.