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Vent Free Gas Heater

Post in 'It's a Gas!' started by G6 at Snook TX, Oct 18, 2011.

  1. G6 at Snook TX

    G6 at Snook TX Member

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    I am looking for a vent free gas heater to heat about 900 sq. ft. It would be LP and used in the daytime when present. Does anyone make a decent looking heater with the soapstone or such? I have an old Dearborn space heater, but I am looking to move on.

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  2. Hass

    Hass Minister of Fire

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    People really buy these stupid things?

    I guess if you live in a drought area, all the moisture that LP puts in the room is welcome.
    I'm sure all the mold and everything else that goes along with it is lovely.
    You won't find a whole lot of helpful advice here about vent-free.

    You know, aside from how dumb it is... how it's going to kill you, your family, your pets, ruin your house, etc...
    But since you already are using one, I guess it doesn't make a difference -.-

    Unless it's for heating a garage, or a tent... Then I retract my previous statements.
    Even heating a garage with it is iffy...
  3. maplewoodshelby

    maplewoodshelby Member

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    Loc:
    WV
    Vent free is a great way to go. efficient burn and heat for quick room warmups but not something you woud want to run all the time as it will consume more gas than a wall mount. Ive never had any moisture issues or know of anyone having any. There are an array of models and styles out there.
  4. snowleopard

    snowleopard Minister of Fire

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  5. Hass

    Hass Minister of Fire

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    thanks snow... I was trying to find a good link but just found places to buy them instead

    This right here sums it up pretty good.
    Unless you're the type to think that the government is just trying to get more money out of us because the 99.9% efficiency of the unvented heaters decreases fuel sales, which decreases their tax dollars.

    "At this writing, unvented gas stoves, gas logs and fireplaces have been outlawed altogether in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In the US, vent-free products are illegal in California, Montana, Wisconsin, and New York City, as well as several counties in Arizona, Colorado, Washington, Kansas, Wyoming, Ohio, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nevada, New Mexico, Alaska, Minnesota, Texas and New Hampshire. Most states that do allow vent-frees prohibit their use in bedrooms, bathrooms or as the sole source of heat in any room."
  6. G6 at Snook TX

    G6 at Snook TX Member

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    Hass,

    We don't run the things when we are sleeping or away. We know what problems they can potentially have, but I clean them and keep a close eye on them while we are present and awake. I maintain them. Also, due to the vent free bit, I periodically open windows to vent the house. The mildew and slime from the LP is something I have never seen in my life, in fact, I cannot get natural gas where I live and LP is the only choice I have. Electric is too expensive to run, and we do not like they way they cook. I like gas to cook on. I like being able to back my rear over a Dearborn on a cold night. Finally, the central heat, which I have for night time, will quickly drain a five hundred gallon tank. In fact, that is why I have moved to the Jotul Castine for the main heating; we have plenty of wood to burn. But there are risks there too: lacerations, accidents, fire, and so on.

    I understand the concern, but I did not appreciate the condescending sarcasm from Hass.
  7. maplewoodshelby

    maplewoodshelby Member

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    I can provide you many links touting their safety just as he has provided a link touting their downfalls. There are pros and cons to everything. For me it works very well and no issues. It is safe and my house is not damaged. I have done the research also. They are outlawed in many areas and states and the main reason is money. This is something the average homeowner can install and maintain for very cheap. Hass is probably a chimney installer or works in some part of the industry that these appliances take away from business. That link was from a store that sells heating equip so there you go. I would not use this for primary heating (mainly because cost) and because open flame at night while I'm sleeping I dont like. however, for quick room warmups, aesthetics, supplemental heat this is number 1 by far
  8. snowleopard

    snowleopard Minister of Fire

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    One of the things that impresses me about the Chimney Sweep Online is that the site owner has his opinions, built over a lot of years of experience with a lot of different heating systems, and yet he gives equal time to dissenting voices. If someone disagrees with him, they get their say. If he disagrees, he explains why with logic and courtesy. I don't sense that he is threatened by the the loss of income from these gas units; I do sense that he's not selling them because he thinks there are too many potential problems there, and he doesn't need the business.

    It sounds like the folks in this thread who are using them are happy with the outcome. My intent in posting that link was to share information. Several posters on that link said they wished they'd known beforehand about the problems that they could experience. You've done your homework already so you didn't need the link, but someone else reading this someday might find it useful. Couchburner, your offer to provide links presenting the other side of the story sound like a constructive contribution to the conversation, and may also be found useful. That's what this site appears to me to be about. No-one asks that we all agree, but the expectation is that we can maintain some dignity in the process of exploring differences.

    To answer OP's original question, the only soapstone gas stoves I know of are made by Hearthstone and Woodstock. Both manufacturers are committed to venting their gas stoves. I think they're all good looking, but none of them run cheap if you're looking for an economical solution. Although most of them appear not to require hearths, by installing the stove on a high-mass hearth, you've created a heat sink that will help level out temp swings and hold the heat into the night. I find my granite hearth works well with my soapstone stove to keep the house warm long after the fire is gone.

    Good luck in finding the right answer to your heating problems--that's why we're all here.
  9. maplewoodshelby

    maplewoodshelby Member

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    Maybe I came off a bit harsh or all knowing and that was not my intention. Bottom line for me is that I have one, it works great for me, and no damage or safety issues in 15 years
    Just bought a new one and it is performing as expected
  10. G6 at Snook TX

    G6 at Snook TX Member

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    Snowleopard,

    Thanks for your remarks; I appreciate them.
  11. peedenmark7

    peedenmark7 Member

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    Loc:
    wisconsin
    Our summer home had a vent free lp heater . 20 years ago my folks thought it was the greatest thing not having to vent into the masonry chimney... After they both passed away, my wife and I spent nearly a week cleaning the blue/gray film off of about 700 sq ft of finished cedar tongue and groove woodwork.

    We figured maybe my parents weren't cleaning as they should... We found out quickly the next season that vent free heaters are filthy forms of heat. Our patio doors developed the blue film almost immediately and it eventually made us and our dogs sick.. I also could not figure out why the house was so damn humid [window condensation] even with the fireplace running...How my parents lived with this form of heating as long as they did is beyond me.

    I bought a lopi berkshire to replace it ripped the masonry chimney out and never looked back.


    The only upside to vent free is that they are 100% efficient.
    Unfortunately efficiency sometimes kills.

    Advice ? Spend the money and do it right...
  12. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    I absolutely love my free standing, vent free's.
    (Mine are NOT 20 years old.)
    Great new technology.

    Kenny
  13. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    Loc:
    Averill Park, NY, on Burden Lake II...
    Vent free or NOT vent free. That's the question.
    It's kinda like politics & religion. Never argue the
    point, because you won't win.There are those of us who
    have seen the bad consequences of using them, They are mis-labeled...
    Technically they are NOT VENT FREE (VF). The more correct
    description would be ROOM VENTED (RV). Everything they
    vent stays in building they are burned in, unless a window
    is opened. That seems kinda pointless from a heating standpoint
    up here in the chilly Northeast...
    Yet, there are others who maintain that nothing bad has EVER
    happened in the many years that they've used products. More
    power to them. I had one customer looking for a new thermocouple
    for his unit. I tested it & proved it was generating the correct mV.
    I asked what unit it was from & he told me a newer vent free unit.
    I explained that he had to either replace the entire pilot assy, or
    attempt to totally clean the ODS, because there was nothing wrong
    with his TC. I told him that was just one of the reasons we didn't
    recommend, sell or service that type of appliance.
    He then got totally P-Od at me, & his informed comeback was
    "I have a gas burning kitchen stove that's not vented & I've never
    had a problem!" When I asked him if he ever tried to heat his home
    with it in a power outage & pointed out how many folks die from accidental carbon
    monoxide poisoning by heating that way, he sputtered & stormed out of the store...
    From my own installation experience, I've replaced them with DV units
    & had to fight to open swollen unfinished wooden doors that had absorbed
    the excess moisture, & I've seen the haze left on the walls & I've seen rotted
    wooden skylight window frames because the moisture had nowhere to go...
    Bottom line? Your home. Do your research & make your call.
  14. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    Three homes within 5 miles of us have already burned this year from woodstove fires.

    Kenny
  15. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    Happens here too, KC. Happens a LOT.
    Some folks should not have fire of ANY kind in their homes.
  16. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    Ok, I'll tell you our personal experiance.

    When we bought our old house, it was heated with a gravity heater, no central heat. Not enough room for a wood stove. Couldn't afford a DV stove. So, we broke all the rules and heated for about 2-3 years with a vent free stove. Never had condensation on the windows and never had the CO2 detector go off, and us, our dog, cats and parrot never seemed to be ill effected by it. We replaced it with a DV stove eventually, but we use a lot more NG now.

    That house was NOT "tight". It was built in the 20's, had older windows and not a lot of insulation. No house wrap or tuck taping, or all the things they do in a modern house to keep outside air out and inside air in. Which is probably why it worked fine for us.

    Now we have the Cottage, which is heated by wood. We bought but have yet to install a ventfree fireplace as back up. Also, this place is not tight and anyone that's heated with wood knows about how they dry a place out so I'm not too concerned about moisture build up. We don't have central heat here either as a back up, and don't want to press our luck running without something (what if...there's a bad storm and we can't make it home to feed the stove...or we have a car accident...or...well, who knows-it can get below freezing fast enough, and I dont want to freeze my dog or burst my pipes). I wouldn't use it as a primary heat source again, but I think they can be used, under the right circumstances, without issue.

    Get a good CO2 detector, make sure the stove is maintained, and I wouldn't suggest one in a modern ultra-tight house.

    Also, I think VC makes a nice looking VF stove. No soapstone though.

    Lastly-they do produce a certain distinctive smell, or so I've found. Be aware that might happen.
  17. firecracker_77

    firecracker_77 Minister of Fire

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    I wanted a backup space heater for the furnace. I put in that Woodstock Cottage Franklin. Today, furnace was out but house was warm enough because of that Woodstock. I am not sure about those vent free stoves. Humidity is bad for houses.
  18. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    There is a flip side to the "humidity problem."
    The extra humidity in the winter is very beneficial health wise.
    No more bloody noses, dry skin and scalp, static, etc..
    It also makes the heat feel warmer so you need to generate less.
    Great technology. There are many ways to control excess humidity
    problems as there are ways to control typical dry winter air.
    Would you rather seal a leaky storm window or cut your foot off with a chainsaw? LOL

    Kenny
  19. tfdchief

    tfdchief Minister of Fire

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    IF you install one, check the fuel gas code for the requirements. It is very specific. As a fire chief and inspector, I have seen ALL the bad, and therefore would not recommend them. They may have their place, but I really hate seeing them in a modern tightly built home, even when meeting all the code requirements.
  20. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    Would you mind elaborating a bit on the bad? What, mostly, were the problems, and were the mostly in more modern, "tight" homes? The only other person I've ever know to have a VF also loved it and had no issues with condensation, etc but they also have it in an older home.
  21. G6 at Snook TX

    G6 at Snook TX Member

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    I started the thread and my house is tighter than it was, but it was built in 1936. It will never have any trouble with mold because it breathes well. Also, it has modern insulation under the floorboards and in the attic--the spray in type. Also, it has modern vinyl windows; we punched out the wood framed windows when we remodeled.

    The modern homes may have the problems described in previous posts, but as I said earlier I have never experienced nor heard of the issues described earlier.
  22. tfdchief

    tfdchief Minister of Fire

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    Excessive moisture and Carbon Monoxide. The problems I have seen caused by these two issues, run the scale from minor to severe. In both new and older homes. Again, I don't get called when everything is going great, only when it goes bad. :-S
  23. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    I've read online people complaining about moisture build up, dirty walls, etc from VF's but each one had a new (er) build.

    Personally, I think ultra tight houses are a recipe for disaster (health wise)-whether or not the occupents have a VF stove/fireplace.

    So, G6, did you find a stove? Procom made a nice looking one a few years ago, but the current one looks like a cheap POS to me. The fireplaces are nicer...but I still like the ones Vermont Castings makes. I actually pondered just cleaning up our old Fisher and throwing in a set of vent free logs...but I'm still not clear on clearances when doing that so I opted to list it for sale instead since if I had to use the wood clearances for it, it would be in the middle of the room we need it in (or rather close anyway, lol).
  24. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I've had various problems over the years....everything from someone throwing Xmas wrappers on the log sets to mis-positioning of the logs making the entire house black.

    IMHO, vent free has it's place - but not as a full time or almost full time house heater. If I had to use one indoors, I would look hard at the catalytic models if they still make them (VC did at one time)....they were even cleaner than the others.

    Other than that, I would limit them to breezeways, shops and possibly in a fireplace where there is some exhaust - i.e., you could slightly crack the damper.......
  25. tfdchief

    tfdchief Minister of Fire

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    +1

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