Adding A Fireplace To Any Room Is Easier Than You Think!
By RJ Blum
Photo courtesy of Monessen Hearth Systems
Fredo’s Deli, on Potomac Avenue in Dormont, can serve up some of the best deli food around. The owner, Freddie Shaheen, wanted to expand his business to utilize a large 30 x 35 foot room behind the actual eatery. He saw the potential for additional activities such as business luncheons, parties, and art shows.
Come winter, this large area would be tough to heat with its high tin ceilings and cold poured floors. Fredo’s required a supplemental heat source—like a fireplace—with the minimum of work or disruption.
“There was only one real appealing spot for a fireplace,” said Shaheen, “but I thought Fredo’s was shut out because we couldn’t put a chimney in. I found the answer was to install a fireplace that not only heats up the space, looks great with its own real oak mantel, has a roaring flame, ceramic fiber logs and is thermostatically controlled, but one that is also VENT-FREE.”
There was no restriction as to location, no expensive construction costs, and the heat – virtually all of it – was directed back into the room, right where it was needed.
HOW CAN THAT BE?
Homeowners and builders face the same considerations as businesses when it comes to additional heat sources such as fireplaces. And gas space heating has truly come of age. The unique, high-tech and clean combustion 99.9% heating efficient burner designs require no outside venting, so there is no heat loss up a chimney or out a vent. No chimney, no vent, no problem.
The technology that allows vent-free fireplace installation starts with vent-free gas burners that are precision engineered to produce the cleanest, safest, most complete gas burn there is. Virtually all the heat stays in the room. The result is a roaring fire meant for warmth, or a subtle, small flame meant simply for ambiance. Best of all, it’s all at your fingertips.
But with all those great flames dancing around in the fireplace, where does the “bad stuff” go—the smoke, the gases, the monoxides and dioxides? The answer is that they don’t go anywhere. By-products from vent-free fireplace emissions are well below the standards as specified by code bodies such as ANSI (American National Standards Institute). Simply put, those by-products are virtually not present in the burn! In fact, the only real by-product of vent free systems is water vapor. This makes it important to match it to the size and use of the room it is intended to serve. A 39,000 BTU fireplace in a family room that is 12 x 12 feet square might be too much heat in too little space. And further, this much heat in this little area, especially if the door is closed, can cause moisture (water vapor) to cling to the walls, not unlike a shower environment. You simply need to choose a unit with less output.
Fred's Deli on Potomac Avenue in Dormont
You can determine the best location in any room for a vent-free unit. Then, place it wherever you want to accommodate your décor and taste. All you’ll need is a gas line (either natural gas or propane).
Vent-free units are loaded with advanced safety features including auto shut-off systems (if the pilot extinguishes); igniters, which eliminate the need to use matches; and much more.
Actually, vent-free technology is not new. Originating in Europe, it has been successfully and widely used there for 35 years, carrying an outstanding safety record with it. In the USA, the technology has been employed since about 1980, with the same outstanding results and more recent explosive growth of this industry.
Vangaurd Vent-Free Cast Iron Stove, Black Porcelain Enamel Finish
Surprisingly, a handful of states still prohibit residential use of vent-free gas heating appliances. Often, that is because the state’s building codes haven’t caught up with vent-free gas technology. Pennsylvania, however, does permit the installation and use of these products, requiring code compliance to applicable building codes.
If in fact you have a source of gas—natural or propane—and you could use auxiliary heat, or just want a clean and trouble free fireplace, then vent-free gas heating is indeed right for you.
REMODEL WITH VENT-FREE
Try installing a vent-free fireplace as a remodeling project. First decide on the desired space for your fireplace and how you’ll attach to the gas line. In no time at all you’ll be enjoying the beauty of your new fireplace and mantel.
What if you already have a fireplace, an old wood burner with a chimney?
Forget about the hassle associated with the old fashioned wood-burning fireplace. How many times do you need to go to the woodpile and retrieve those dirty, wet logs? To clean up the mess those logs make? To clean out the ashes, soot, debris, and general mess of your old fireplace? How often do you have to sweep that pile of black junk down the little trap door below your log holder, to dispose of them in the dark void somewhere below? (My daughter once lost a hamster down that chute!)
Now you can actually enjoy all the conveniences of vent-free technology in your existing wood burning fireplace! All you need to do is install a vent-free log set of your choice. Names like Blaze N’ Glow Oak Logs, Split Oak, Glowing Oak, and Mountain Ash give some clue to the seemingly limitless selection of vent-free log sets that can be placed into your current fireplace. After purchasing your new fireplace, just close or seal the flue, attach to a single gas line, and just like that you have all the benefits of clean, hassle free, ceramic log, vent-free fireplace technology.
Before and After photos of an existing fireplace with new gas log insert.
Log sets come in various sizes and styles to fit any fireplace. There are also various add-ons such as dual burners for bigger flame patterns, BTU ranges, thermostats, glowing embers, remote controls and thermostats. There are even remote controls that double as thermostats (set the temperature for the room, and the fireplace will turn on and off to keep it there. Talk about an auxiliary heat source!).
Vent-free gas heaters and fireplaces come in all shapes and sizes, including: wall-mounted home zone and garage heaters; gas log sets only; vent-free log inserts for converting existing wood burning fireplaces; large and small complete fireplace “packages” with names like Classic Hearth and Mini Hearth; and even vent-free cast iron stoves that allow you to have that old world look with all the benefits of today’s technology.
The next time you are sitting in your favorite room, with the snow swirling outside, and you think it might be even more of a favorite place with the easy addition and benefits of a real, roaring fireplace—think vent-free. It’s easy, it’s affordable, and it works!
This article was written by R.J. Blum (Triangle Sales) who is a manufacturer’s representative in the heating and plumbing industry. For additional information, he can be reached at 412-257-2300 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.