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Newbie with ventless gas fireplace problem/odor

Post in 'It's a Gas!' started by cdnewton, Jan 22, 2008.

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  1. cdnewton

    cdnewton New Member

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    Well first of, what a great forum. I look forward to learning to browsing!

    Second, I have a ventless gas fireplace that when we use we get overpowered with smell. The odor begins with in 3 minutes of turning on the unit and quickly fills the house with an obnoxious, headache inducing odor. I removed the logs and left the fire on and no such smell occurs so I assume it must be coming from the logs when they are heated. Is there a way to get rid of the smell short of replacing the logs? I know new logs can be costly. The house is only 5 years old and the logs are like new. It would be nice if we could use the fireplace now that is cold out!

    Thanks in advance.

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  2. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    One of two things....

    either the logs are not positioned correctly.....that would make the flame hit them funny and a smell

    or

    as you say, the binders in the logs are starting to smell.

    So first thing is to make certain that the logs are positioned exactly right as per the owners manual.

    These vent-free units can be hard to diagnose or repair. Basically all you can do is look at the manual and the logs and try to get it exactly as designed, If that does not work, your only other choice is to get new logs...

    I think we can assume the burner is OK by your little experiment - if it works with the logs off, it should be fine.
  3. cdnewton

    cdnewton New Member

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    Thanks. So the flame should not contact the logs at all, correct? The owners manual is extremely short and does not talk much about positioning. When I try to reposition the logs so that the flame does not contact at all often times the pilot will go out? If I were to get new logs can you rec a good source. I assume I can get just logs and not a whole new unit.

    Thanks again
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    The flames are sometimes designed to touch the logs - but in a certain way. You need to have the owners manual....there is a metal tag on the unit which will state the brand and model.

    If you get new logs, the MUST 100% only be the exact replacement logs from the same manufacturer - nothing else will do. In a worst case situation, you can probably replace the burner and logs. The biggest brands were Temco and Desa. Check the tag.
  5. cdnewton

    cdnewton New Member

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    Okay so I double checked the manual and everything seems to be in the appropriate position. Perhaps it is the binders as you said. It is a Martiv VF18VD if that means anything to you. Perhaps I should just replace the burner and logs.
  6. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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  7. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    Please buy a few GOOD Carbon Monoxide detectors before we read about you in the newspaper.
  8. Fire Bug

    Fire Bug New Member

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    As noted; some logs are suppose to be lightly touched by the flames, if the flame contacts to much of the logs you will have flame impingement. Believe me this a very precise positoning of the logs.
    Bottom line, a ventless fireplace, stove, or insert is no better than bring your gas grill into the house and using it.
    Many states have banned such ventless products and many more I believe will follow suit.
    Anytime there is combustion to ignite a flame, there is also carbon monoxide present in the process. If this unit is unvented the carbon monoxide is spewed out into the living quarters for you to inhale. This will cause headaches, nausea, condensation in the living quarters, yellowing of paint, and in unchecked severe cases death.
    Do yourself and your family a favor and get a vented fireplace for your safety and theirs.
    John
  9. cdnewton

    cdnewton New Member

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    Alright then if I am planning on replacing the logs and burner might as well upgrade to a vented box. What do you guys think is reasonable to go from a ventless to vented box including installation and new burner? I am sure there is quite a range but on average. Thanks again.
  10. cdnewton

    cdnewton New Member

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    Anyone with thoughts or suggestions? Thanks.
  11. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    Depends n what you have now. Do you have a fireplace with a vent and its just blocked? Or is it a ventfree fireplace box.
  12. cdnewton

    cdnewton New Member

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    It is a ventfree box on an exterior wall that is faced with siding. I was thinking a direct vent would be the way to go. Is this something a DIY guy could (with exception of gas lines).
  13. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    Yeah I was thinking the same thing. Get a Direct Vent. If you have all the tools needed, know how to use them, and can follow directions it should nt be too much trouble.

    You already have a gas line there so that wont be a huge part of the project anyway.
  14. Detector$

    Detector$ Member

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    Where in NC?
    We were just outside of CLT, and our builder put vent-free gas fireplaces in all of his homes in 2002.
    I HATED them... same problem. They stank when brand new. Used them once for real heat during an ice storm.
    I was terrified of CO and an explosion (the smell was very similar to the propane scent) even though they weren't leaking.
    We turned them off at the primary and secondary valve and never used them.
    We sold the house in July.
    Knowing what I know now, I should have ripped them out and installed a zero-clearance wood-burning fireplace or freestanding wood stove.
    We were in a ranch and it would have been very easy. Besides, we could have used wood to heat the house and save $$$ on the gas furnace bill.
    I went into a fireplace shop today. Only 1 woodburning appliance in the whole place. I swear the gas company must be in cahoots with shops. It is obviously in the gas co's best interest to put these gas logs in everyones house. Given the current cost of Natural Gas I wonder how much it cost to burn the logs for an hour?
  15. cdnewton

    cdnewton New Member

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    Were in Winston Salem. I agree. I really miss my old wood burning fireplace. However, the wife does not. Says it is too messy! It would be really difficult to put a wood burner in our current place. Living room is on the middle level of 3 story house which does not have a chimney. I think it is quite expensive. I now friends of ours who have had bills in the hundreds of dollars after heavy gas fireplace usage!
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