Is your Fireplace drafty? Maybe a little smelly, and extremely messy? Or just cost way too much to Burn?
A gas insert may be an easy resolution to your issue.
First off, let’s not confuse a gas log for a gas insert. There is a pretty big difference from one to the other.
A gas log set is really nothing more than a decorative 1/2″ gas line dumping, not well regulated amounts of natural gas through a tube with holes in it. On average approx. 100,000 BTU. When using these there is a big open door with a slightly smaller hole, going straight up and leading to the outside, aka the chimney. Average cost per hour is about $2.00. A fairly inexpensive product to use every now and then; like holidays and special events, but not a good choice for daily usage, and extended periods of time. This way just ends up being very costly with little to no return.
I think we all learned in 4th grade science that heat rises. When burning a fire, stand a foot in front of your fireplace, and hold a match in front of the opening. You will typically see the flame be drawn toward the fireplace. Better yet blow it out and watch where the smoke is drawn. Right into the open hole in your room, you call a fireplace. This is the negative efficiency that is a typical wood burning fireplace with or without a gas log option.
Don’t get me wrong there are some logs that will hold and radiate a bit more heat than the average, but all in all a typical fireplace, without some sort of full gasket sealed door, and or hi efficient combustion system, is on some level inefficient.
Now then, when you have a system that can control all the aforementioned negatives, you will find yourself looking at a gas insert.
Gas inserts are boxes, which slide into an existing fireplace. These units burn a controlled amount of gas, with a sealed glass panel on the front opening, with 2 small diameter vents for exhaust and intake air. These units will commonly draw in air through one 3-4″ vent liner and then dump left over gasses out a second liner of similar diameter. This liner runs all the way through the original existing chimney. When installing these liners, they also install a top plate which stops cold air from dropping down the flu. This cold air dropping is usually what is causing the chilly drafting that is common for fireplaces.
All of this control, gives us efficiency ratings nearing 80%. In turn giving you a customer anywhere from 1000 up to 2500 sq. ft. of heat being returned into a home from the gas being burnt. Many manufacturers tout saving of 20% on heating cost when using a system like this for zone heating, and you will see hourly gas usage at approx. 35-50 cents per hour, substantially less than a gas log set. Approximate gas usage is 30-45,000 BTU, being dumped into a gasket sealed firebox.
Many insert manufacturers do not test for installing into an old, drafty, zero clearance or prefab fireplaces. This is because you are limited by the existing prefab dimensions. One manufacturer has taken gas inserts to a whole new level. In turn giving us the option of making all those basic builder grade wood burners, installed in the late 80’s and earlier 90’s, an efficient option without having to tear everything out and reinstall new. HHT has tested for cutting out most of the interior, on a wood burning prefab box. This in turn allows us to fit our gas inserts into almost any application. They have also tested these at a Maximum vent run of 50’, this is approx. 20 feet taller than the average insert manufacturer. This will in turn allow for a system to be added to a basement fireplace and still be inside of the maximum requirements.
You will often times find other suppliers recommending things like ventless fireplaces and logs when they can’t make a vented product work for the application …. Google it, form an opinion. I can’t help if you choose this route, and it would absolutely be my last option for you. Frankly anything would be safer. Try a space heater first. Please.