Gas fireplace options - advice

Discussion in 'HVAC Heating & Cooling' started by Mazcar, Nov 23, 2021.

  1. Mazcar

    Mazcar New Member

    Jan 7, 2013
    Austin, Texas
    We froze our Tex-asses last year when the power went out. It was 8 degrees and I'm built for 100 degree Summers! We have a 24"-35" fireplace that we never used until this last Winter. We used the stand/grill/grate thing and put some logs on it. Under the stand, there's a gas manifold with a gas shutoff valve mounted on the wall. It uses a square key. The logs (and any wood we could scrounge) made a mess in there. The previous homeowner used logs, as the fireplace could use a good cleaning. The heat was okay, but nothing when the logs burned away. It was like comparing the heat from a stove vs. a stove with a pot of boiling water.
    So, we're thinking of forking out for some ceramic logs or a whole gas log insert set. There are a lot of options and I wanted to hear your take.

    * get ceramic logs and use the current manifold.
    * get a whole log/manifold set (I think those have a thermostat, too) and replace the manifold.
    * use wood logs and just keep a stock of wood around

    I've been told that the cheap big box store ceramic logs leave a headache inducing smoke inside the home.
    The whole set option has sub-0ptions that include "vent-free." Is that safe? Rasmussen sells a set of "vent-free" logs with a manifold. You just close the flue and enjoy all that sweet gas on ceramic heat for a paltry $500? Sheesh.
    Option three is a mess. Sure, it's good if the gas goes out, but I foresee the electricity going out, first. Besides, I will have a stock of logs as insurance.

    Thanks. I appreciate your advice. I apologize if this is not the forum to ask these questions.
    This forum has been great for plumbing knowledge; really great.
    Now, I"m learning about fireplaces; a task I had back-burnered for years.

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  2. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

    Oct 28, 2009
    Orlando, Florida
    That gas set up is used as a lighter for wood burning. I had two fireplaces with that device and they work. One was installed by pro's, the second one I did. One thing about log lighter is after the logs are burning on their own, I would lower the flame to a pilot light size. What it did was prevented a lot of smoke and kept a flame as the fire died down. FYI, they are not allowed in New York State and maybe some other states. Problem is there are no auto shut offs and some may use it as a heat source without logs. Since it is not designed to be used as a heater it can be dangerous.

    These types of fireplaces (box) use a cementitious type of wall and I see a little deterioration on the back corner. Replacements can be bought depending on the manufacture or generic replacements may be found. During the late 1980's to the 1990's there were mergers, buyouts and bankruptcies of these manufactures. Google "fireplace replacement panels". If you go with gas logs, replacements will make for a nice clean appearance. It also looks like there is no hearth outside of the fire box to protect the floor. One reason not to go with wood. If you ever had a log roll out of the firebox in flames, it makes for some anxious moments.

    In Texas, maybe it is like Florida, there are no firewood stands anywhere. Ideally you want hardwoods, oak and birch burn fairly clean with some odors. Pine is the worse. If you go with wood, it sure looks like it needs a cleaning especially the chimney. Clean the chimney no matter which way you go.

    Gas logs are nice, some look awesome and there are no odors, smoke and ash to clean up. Never heard of cheap big box stores gas logs smoke. You cannot burn ceramic. They may have been a coating of sort or the paint used was wrong and it burned off. DO NOT get gas ventless inserts. They should have oxygen sensors in them to flame out if the flame jumps off the burner. Google "oxygen depletion sensor for gas logs". Some states do not allow ventless gas anything other than the kitchen stove.

    Your fireplace has louvers on the sides. Most will have or optioned for a blower. It's to allow to fluff the air around the outside of the firebox to push heat into the room. Most are on the bottom and top with duct work inside to heat up so the blower can push the heated air out.

    Your second option is probably the best way to go. However, I think you need to get behind the wall to properly connect a log set.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2021
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  4. fitter30

    fitter30 Well-Known Member

    Feb 2, 2020
    Retired service tech
    Peace valley missouri
    Guessing you have a gas furnace. Portable generator set up for lp or natural gas then you have power for furnace, lights and won't run out of fuel.
  5. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

    Oct 28, 2009
    Orlando, Florida
    I wish I had NG for a whole house Kohler generator. A 14KW generator which is a good size to run AC or Heat can cost around $10K installed, maybe more. Getting gas log set installed maybe around $1K. Gas logs you can install your self and no permit. For a generator a permit and an electrician would be needed.
    I'm 100% electric. LP gets expensive and I would need to have at least 2-50 gallon tanks above ground. I'm on a small lot and not much room for a 100 gallon size.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2021
  6. Cuzzinred

    Cuzzinred New Member

    Nov 7, 2021
    Richburg SC
    What you have is stand alone firebox, you can put a set of gas logs inside the box.
    Unvented logs are the way to go, you’ll need to close the damper in the chimney so you want be sending heat out.

    Unvented logs and heaters utilize an ODS pilot, which means if the oxygen level get unsafe in the room it will put the pilot out and locks the main valve so no gas escapes.
    I’ve seen these type ODS pilot in many gas appliance over the years, very safe in my opinion.

    Another option you have is a zero clearance gas insert, you’ll have to remove the existing firebox but it’ll work in its place. Plus they normally come with a blower as an option, your firebox now can’t be equipped with a blower.
  7. Jeff H Young

    Jeff H Young In the Trades

    Feb 27, 2020
    Is NG service a given after major earthquake ? I'm thinking its iffy. then again we go years without a 30 minute loss of power but lots of close calls. we did have a car crash into a transformer knocked out power for several hours a few 4th of July's ago. and a few days ago Thanksgiving they shut down an area 1/2 mile away of power few hundred homes for 36 hours due to wind conditions supposedly
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