Converting a Wood Burning Fireplace into a Gas Fireplace? Read this First

Everyone loves the coziness and warmth of a crackling wood-burning fire in the fireplace. As wonderful as wood is, there may come a day when you’d like to convert to gas. It means no more stacking and hauling wood. No more ash to clean up. No more strategy required to start a fire – a remote control or wall switch magically ignite the flames. Gas is convenient. So much so that many people find they “make” more fires and enjoy their fireplace more often after converting to gas.

If you are contemplating converting, consider your options. If you have a standard masonry-built wood-burning fireplace, you have three options:

  • Have a direct vent gas insert installed
  • Have unvented gas logs (a.k.a. room-vented or vent free) installed
  • Have vented gas logs installed

Of the three, a direct vent gas insert most closely replicates the experience of wood-burning. It also provides the most heat, is the safest, and is by far the most energy efficient.

To help you consider your options, the chart below clearly lays out the facts.

Converting a Wood-burning Fireplace to Gas?
Direct Vent Gas InsertsRoom Vented,
Un-vented, Vent Free Gas Logs
Vented Gas Logs
Legal in all 50 statesYesNoYes
Meets current Green Building codes and standardsYesNoNo
Vents all gas by-products to the outside of the home, including carbon monoxide, nitrous dioxide, sulfur/soot, dioxide, and water vaporYesNoYes1
Increases heat outputYesYesNo
Stops cold draftsYesYesNo
Uses only outside air for combustionYesNoNo
Approved in all zero clearance wood burning fireplacesYesNoYes
Adds excess moisture to your homeNoYesNo
May need to open a window when in useNoYesYes
Has restrictions on recommended length of continuous useNoYesNo
Run by a thermostatYesYesYes3
Good option for people that are pregnant, suffer from severe allergies, respiratory problems, or asthmaYesNoYes1
Endorsed by the American Lung AssociationYesNoNo
Can be installed in any room of the houseYesYes2No
Has an option to add a blowerYesYesYes3
1 Depends how well the fireplace is venting 2 Bedrooms less than 10,000 BTUs, Bathrooms less than 6,000 BTUs 3 But not all units

After converting to a direct vent gas insert, expect your love affair with your fireplace to be rekindled. There are many styles and options to choose from – see for yourself here!

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