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Is vent free ok? Need opinions from the experts

Post in 'It's a Gas!' started by ash bucket, Nov 4, 2009.

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  1. ash bucket

    ash bucket New Member

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    So, I'm looking for a gas (propane) fireplace insert to be installed in my fireplace opening. I'm looking for something to heat my living room and kitchen only (probably 600 sq. ft.) for a little while when I get home after work until I get my woodstove fired up and cooking. This will not be a primary heat source for my house. Just for looks and a little temporary heat when needed. I was wondering what your thoughts are on vent free units. I know they are efficient but do they give off any harmful or discoloring stuff I need to worry about? Im looking for an easy install and of course keeping costs down. Thanks in advance!

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  2. trafick

    trafick Member

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    You are opening a HUGE can of worms by asking that question on this forum. I personally wood not have a vent free heating appliance in my house but I have heard and know of people that have them and have no problems with them. They put off a lot of water and I think you can smell something. I'm not sure what, but something.

    That being said, I have a vent free propane heater for my pop-up camper. Go figure.
  3. ash bucket

    ash bucket New Member

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    That's why I asked it here...want to see what both sides of the fence says. I've went through other topics since posting this one and get mixed opinions...which in turn really messes me up. I'd like to see what you all have to say being that this would only be used occasionally and not for an extended period of time.
  4. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Do you run your car in your garage with the door shut to warm it up?

    No petroleum burning appliance attains 100% perfect combustion. This means that you will get byproducts. These byproducts are poisonous and can accumulate in your body. Carbon monoxide is one that is colorless and odorless, people die from it every year.

    Just like running your LPG oven for heating, the manufacturers tell you not to do it because you can die.

    It's bad mojo. The poision gas is bad enough but the tons of water vapor being dumped into the house is another problem.

    Check out this article. His site has an articles section with several articles about this very subject.

    http://www.chimneysweeponline.com/hovntlss.htm
  5. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    I have a ventless gas heater, 30K BTU on the wall in my workshop. I also have a digital carbon monoxide meter on the wall nearby. It has never read above zero, except when I test it once yearly. So even though it is stated over and over that the ventless units "must" be spewing carbon monoxide into the house, I have yet to actually measure any.

    I suspect the CO produced is simply too low to even be read by a modern meter meant for homeowners. I don't see how this can be harmful.

    I think the more real issue is the amount of moisture the ventless units produce. You must make sure you have a proper source of fresh air and a certain amount of air exchange with the outside, especially if your house is very tight. Otherwise, you risk moisture condensing against cold surfaces, and then causing rot or mold, etc. This is especially problematic when it happens out of sight, behind walls, etc. But the install instructions that come with the units are usually very specific about the air requirements. If you follow these, and install properly, you should be fine.
  6. ash bucket

    ash bucket New Member

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    I have located a nice ventless insert that just does fit my existing fireplace opening (I guess it may be a standard size 33W x 24H) for $1500. This is about the max I would like to spend on this. Does anyone know of a nice DV insert that would fit this opening at about the same price? If I could find a DV in my price range, I think I would lean toward that side. I'm trying to weigh out my options. Thanks
  7. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    That sounds a little high to me for a ventless insert, which are usually much cheaper than vented, though I haven't priced them for several years. But you likely won't find a direct vent unit in that range. You will also need to buy the vent pipes and cap, and have that installed. I paid $2000 for mine, including the vent pipes and cap, though I did the install myself. And then you don't need to worry at all about moisture build-up and air exchange. I think it's worth the extra money and peace of mind.
  8. ash bucket

    ash bucket New Member

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    That price is total for the insert, remote, and surround. How do you like your Empire? I looked them up and they seem nice. Can't find an efficiency rating though.
  9. Fsappo

    Fsappo New Member

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    I cook in my kitchen (ok, I make messes, my wife cooks) with all 4 burners going at the same time for an hour or two at a time. I have a vent free fireplace in the living room where my wife and new born baby spend most of the day. We use it a few hours here or there to take the chill out of the air or for romance (not since she was 4 months pregnant)

    I would not use a vent free appliance 24/7 or as a primary heat source, just because of the moisture that can build up.

    Not endorsing anything, just telling you what I do in my own home
  10. Later

    Later New Member

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    Since none of the exhaust exits the house it has to be close to 100% efficient. Not my cup of tea however - Id put a couple hundred more into a direct vent.
  11. iceman

    iceman Minister of Fire

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    buy a gas log that will work as vented or non vented....... i have glass doors on my fireplace so it was suggested that i use logs rated for vnted -non vented and crack my damper anywhere from 1/2 =2 inches ... it will let a lot of moisture out but keep most of the heat in... when done close the glass doors to cut back on any air coming in...
    i know a guy who made his own "fan" he cracks his ash clean out so it pulls a draft ... gets bigger flame and swears no moisture ...!!! but i told him wait till its off and a chipmunk or squirrel comes in!
  12. jimmy dean

    jimmy dean New Member

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    Since you are willing to buy a ventless gas appliance.. I am making a line of drainless sinks. You live alone? fine go ahead, but having the lives of others depanding on your judgment.. well you get the picture.
  13. raiderfan

    raiderfan Feeling the Heat

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    I have an Empire (30,000 BTU) vent free propane wall heater in my basement. I know longer use it, as I now have a Jotul 602 wood stove. But I did use it for two winters and it heated my basement (which can get as low as 56* in the winters) up to around 70*. I have an old house, with a stone foundation, so its pretty drafty down there. Fresh air coming in was not a problem. I, too, had a carbon monoxide detector right there and it never registered over 0. It also has an oxygen depletion sensor which would shut it down if the oxygen level got down to a certain level (never happened). Overall, I had no issues with it, however, I'm glad I have a wood stove now instead. It does a much better job of heating the basement and I don't have to worry about the possible issues that come with moisture.
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