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Advice Needed After Chimney Inspection on Gas Fireplace

Post in 'It's a Gas!' started by Eldemila, Dec 17, 2009.

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  1. Eldemila

    Eldemila New Member

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    New to not only this forum, but fireplaces in general - not much need for them down in SOFLA, but, will be moving to the Carolinas where we currently have a home under contract.

    Had the chimney inspected today-seems my realtor tells me I'm the first homeowner she's encountered who's ever had a chimney inspection done on a home their thinking of buying - really? Guess I'm lucky to do this since the chimney insp found some issues.

    This was originally a wood burning fireplace and somewhere along the way, made in to a natural gas fireplace.

    He said the flue tiles needed to be repaired, and while he doesn't do this type of repair, he guesstimated a new liner was something like $4K-$5K, but that was a guess, or half that amount to repair the liner. He called and found, without the company actually coming out to see it, to repair would be between $1500 on the low side and $2500 on the upper end of the spectrum. Also, the damper wouldn't open well.

    I'm not willing to put any amount additional out for the house and would rather walk than have to put that much money out for something we probably won't use all that much, though would use in case of emergencies.

    A little while after, my realtor called to say that the owners really want to sell but are running low on money to do repairs. They came up wtih an idea of having a vent free firebox insert with natural gas logs installed.

    Since I know absolutely NOTHING about a fireplace, I'm trying to find some information on this so I can give it a somewhat educated thought before I give an answer, one I don't want to make a mistake with.

    Is it correct that if I have them put in a vent free firebox insert with natural gas logs already set in (complete unit) that the damper wouldn't have to be cleaned out and repair and the few cracks that the insp. found in the existing firebox would not need to be patched due to the insert and the new firebox not being vented, thus not going up thru the chimney/flue and the original firebox not being impacted?

    Can anyone tell me what elements I should make sure I list the new unit to have? I see one with blowers and one without blowers but don't know what the blower does and which I would want, with, or without?

    How does a ventless unit differ in heat output compared to a vented natural gas unit? Is there any particular size to look at - would one size unit put out more heat than another? Are there any hazards in having a unit like this vs a vented unit? Is one more energy efficient than the other?

    How does a ventless unit start up? I see a remote control mentioned - is this a must-have feature? What about a trim kit, is this needed? The fireplace that's currently there now is pictured below:

    [​IMG]

    I was given the name of a guy who works on installing gas ventless fireboxes and he said the cost is around $1K -even though it's not my money, does this sound about right? It may not be my money but I don't want these people to be ripped off either. They'be been willing to make all needed repairs to have this sale go through and I just want to make sure I'm getting the right thing and they aren't paying too much for it.

    Can anyone give some much needed advice about this, I have to give my answer sometime tomorrow (Thurs)

    THANKS!!!

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  2. Eldemila

    Eldemila New Member

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    Did some searching and now even more confused than before...

    Vented seems better than non-vented, correct? With ventless you need to have a window open? Doesn't that somewhat defeat the purpose of trying to heat if not the house, the room? Somewhere I saw mentioned you could open the damper to let some heat out, but if it's a firebox, totally contained, how would opening the damper have any effect or help? Is it true that you'll have to worry about more moisture in the air doing ventless, thus the possibility for mold? You can only use a ventless for 2-3 hours at a time-is there a suggested time limit for using a vented gas fireplace? Geez, it's confusing seeing the pros and cons!

    I don't think I'll be ginving any kind of answer to my realtor today - too much to think about and look in to.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    THANKS!
  3. Eldemila

    Eldemila New Member

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    Allrighty then - I guess no one on here can give an answer, thanks for looking anyhow!
  4. seige101

    seige101 Minister of Fire

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    Just saw your post. I can't comment on anything about the chimney situation but i will give you my opinion about ventless or vent free gas fireplaces.

    I would not install one in my home ever. I am under the belief that burning any fuel in my home require the exhaust gas be vented to the outside world. There are also the issues of the moisture build up inside the house. If you poke around in this section a little more this topic has come up before, the debate can get more heated than a ford and chevy topic, or a mac/pc topic (though ford is clearly better :) )


    Perhaps a gas fireplace insert with a flex liner up the chimney? Sorry i don't know the proper term.
    Be patient one of the pros will be by and post here.
  5. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    Looks like there is a prob a gas log in thier now. Those are decorative as appliances, total waste of gas to even run them. The fix we always do is a direct vent gas insert, they are self contained and have thier own liner system. Don't have to worry about the bad flue tiles, etc... Going to run you $3000 min for the products we sell anyway.
  6. DannMarr

    DannMarr New Member

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    I bought a house to flip and encountered the same problem. I had the chimney guy come over to give it a cleaning. He said it needed a new liner and it would cost $$$! He recommended a vent-less insert for about $200. I went with the ventless because it was cheaper, but then again, I'm selling this home. For the money to fix your chimney, look into a wood pellet stove, it's more efficient.
  7. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Staff Member

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    Hopefully, the people who buy your house - or at least the realty folks showing it - are aware of the downsides of "Vent-Free" units.
    Smells, excess moisture & "acceptable (???) amounts of CO" to name a few...
    They are now illegal in at least 5 states & Canada...
    Also, Direct-Vent fireplaces are as efficient as pellet burning units & they do not require electricity to throw
    heat into your home.
    DV owners don't need storage for tons of pellets & don't require weekly, monthly, or even yearly maintenance.
    Properly adjusted, DV units don't give off a lot of soot, & there are no ashes to remove or 40 lb bags to lift...
    I'm not biased here, because & burn both LP & Pellets PLUS a DINO boiler (for now)...
    Just offering facts...
  8. DannMarr

    DannMarr New Member

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    I have a buyer and they are aware of the chimney flue. I left the damper intact in case they need to crack it open for venting (fresh air intake). I also intentionally did not hook up the unit, just in case they wanted to use it as a wood burning fireplace after fixing the problem. I don't believe it is illegal here in PA. They sell them at Lowes and Home Depot. Regarding the pellet stove, you are correct, It does require work. But some of use enjoy the fruits of our labor. ;-) Thanks for your words of experience!
  9. Eldemila

    Eldemila New Member

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    Thanks for the replies, much appreciated.

    We won't use this a lot, I think it will be more of a novelty at the beginning and probably only used if we are having guests or lose power. I really don't want to spend a ton of money fixing it up, but I do want it to be safe.

    Is there anything that can be done to make it more efficient? I was told it would be good to install a top damper?

    Trying to find out who will be able to tell me what size liner is needed. I'm so cluless, and that drives me batty!
  10. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    If you want it efficient when running, you need a direct vent insert, or a wood insert.
    If you want it efficient when running or off, with a gas log, you are SOL. Gas logs required the damper be fixed open a certain amount at all times. Usually equates to about 6x6 or a 7x7 hole for the min.
    If you were to use it for wood burning only, you could install a lock top damper which can help with heat loss when its not in use. Still totally inefficient when burning though.

    Lock top dampers are not permitted with gas logs, because if someone turns the log set on without opening the damper, invisible and odorless fumes will enter the home and kill people (mostly CO gas).
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