What’s a gas log fireplace?
Photo credit: CISA
Most wood burning fireplaces are pretty simple. You have a firebox, damper and a chimney to direct the smoke the fire makes up and out of the house. If starting a wood fire is something you like to do, you’re in good shape. But what if the hassle of burning wood gets old? One option is to install a gas log, which is basically a tube with holes in it, and some fake logs. The gas is lit, the logs glow and you have a fire that burns without needing fresh wood.
So what’s the problem?
The problem comes when the damper is closed, and carbon monoxide gets into the house.
With a wood fire, you know the damper is closed, because smoke comes out. If the damper is closed with a gas fire, deadly carbon monoxide can enter the room. Because CO is invisible, you don’t know about it. There is supposed to be a clamp attached to the damper to keep it from fully closing. The problem with that is that the conditioned air now goes up the chimney, which wastes energy.
Because natural gas produces moisture, the folks at the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) have also expressed concern about high levels of moisture entering the home.
The bottom line is that for energy savings and personal safety, I recommend replacing the gas log with a gas fireplace insert.