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Of all the non-renewable fossil fuels (Gas, Coal, Oil), Natural Gas is the cleanest burning.

Environmental Outlook—Gas

Of all the nonrenewable fossil fuels (Gas, Coal, Oil), Natural Gas is the cleanest burning. The United States’ supply of Gas is mostly homegrown and the production and distribution of this fuel is quite clean. On the down side, there is only a limited amount of Natural Gas on the earth, so we should use it efficiently and leave some for the future generations.

Image courtesy of graur codrin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Types of Gas Products

Gas Stoves-Freestanding

Who would have ever thought that we’d have Gas stoves that look AND heat just like wood stoves? The biggest difference is that they turn on with the flick of a switch or the turn of a thermostat. These stoves are available in many sizes, styles and colors. Three venting options are available, Direct-Vent, B-Vent and Unvented.

Gas Fireplace Inserts

These are decorative units which install into your existing masonry or pre-fab fireplace. They have large glass viewing windows with glowing ceramic logs that simulate a wood fire. A substantial amount of heat is produced which can help to heat your living areas. Most newer gas inserts are Direct Vent, which means that a two-pipe system is used to vent the exhaust gases and also bring fresh air into the unit.

Gas Logs

These are decorative logs with burners and safety controls that are designed to convert a wood burning fireplace to gas. They are available in different sizes and styles. Most gas logs are designed for style and convenience and are not used as room or home heaters. An exception are unvented gas logs. These logs are extremely efficient and can act as a temporary backup source of heat.

Gas Fireplaces

Hearth Retailers carry a large selection of gas fireplaces. They are available in all three basic types, Direct Vent, No Vent and Natural (B-Vent). Direct vent gas fireplaces need no...
by Ken Rajesky, Hearth Industry expert

Proper Wood Stove, Fireplace, and Gas Stove Glass Door Cleaning

Before you start any procedure involving your glass door, its important to fist check your manufacturers instructions to ensure that the cleaner or the method that you plan to use complies with their requirements. This is especially important if the glass is still under warranty. Second, always make sure that you have the proper safety equipment such as gloves or glasses. Cleaners may be caustic to your skin, and your eyes are irreplaceable.

There are two ways to clean your glass. The first way is to clean the glass with the glass still attached to the door. I recommend using a cleaner specifically designed for removing the brown and black stains (carbon) from the glass. Cleaners such as Glass Plus do not do a good job when it comes to carbon. There are several brands available, and the cleaner I have had great success comes in the form of an aqua colored paste. Typically the cleaner will come in a 12 oz. Bottle, and say Fireplace Glass Door Cleaner or Woodstove Glass Cleaner. You must clean the glass while its cool for best results. All youll need is a few paper towels, or cloths.

Leaving the Glass in the Door

1. Open the door(s), and if possible, remove the door for easier access to the glass. If access is easy while the door is still attached, then leave it on.

2. Apply an amount of cleaner about the size of a 50-cent piece onto the paper towel.

3. Rub the paste onto the glass in an elliptical pattern. Be sure to clean the edges and corners.

4. Allow the cleaner to dry for a few seconds, and then rub off the paste and carbon with a clean cloth.

5. If carbon still remains in a few spots, repeat steps 2-4.

Removing the Glass to Clean


If you need to remove the glass to clean, and/or you feel you need to replace the glass gasket, then you follow the steps outlined below. If you have a digital or...
Troubleshooting Direct Vent Products
Like Flying into the Bermuda Triangle!

By Ken Rajesky
Note: This article is technical in nature and intended for mechanics who are knowledgeable regarding the service and operation of gas and hearth appliances.

The call comes in from a longtime customer - his year-old direct vent starts up but within minutes the flames disappear. Your chest tightens because you know that severe weather is heading your way and his stove will be a major source of heat should the power go out. Your service guy is straight out with new installations and other service calls. And, if you leave the shop, it may take hours to solve his problem because you are just not sure about troubleshooting direct vented products. So, what do you? The answer is education.


Direct vented products are not the mystery that many service people feel they are. First, what is a direct vented product? Direct vented products are basically sealed systems. That means that combustion air is provided via a sealed intake duct. A separately sealed channel evacuates exhausts from the product. You may a vent system that has the exhaust channel within the combustion air channel. This is called a co-axial vent. Or, you may have two fully separate, sealed channels. A third option is a system that uses both a co-axial and co-linear system. Regardless of which system is used, the product must breathe in, and breathe out. If the product cannot breathe in, it will not have sufficient oxygen to sustain combustion. If the product cannot breathe out, the newly developed exhausts will contaminate the combustion zone not allowing combustion to continue. The advantage of direct vented products is that they are installation flexible, and supply their own combustion air. Another advantage of direct vented products is that they are unaffected by home negative pressures that may cause exhaust...
In my opinion, turning off the pilot is better for the appliance in a number of ways.
Below Article is by the “Gasman”
Here is my reasoning:
1. The thermocouple which monitors the pilot flame has a limited life expectancy, being in the flame constantly.
Turning the pilot off at the end of the heating season will prolong the life expectancy of the thermocouple or thermopile, as the case may be.

2. Contrary to the popular myth that pilots will keep a system dry, at roughly 1000 Btu’s per hour, they do not generate a lot of heat, certainly not enough to keep both the chimney and the appliance dry.
In fact, the opposite is true in many cases.
A constant pilot under cooler conditions will cause condensation to form on the inside of the firebox or the furnace heat exchanger, the condensation is acidic and will cause corrosion of any parts it comes into contact with, over time.
In the case of a gas fireplace with a glass front, the minimal amount of by-products of combustion will quickly condense on the glass under certain conditions and will leave behind that white residue that gas fireplace owners are so familiar with.
So, in addition to burning approximately 20,000 btu’s of gas per day for no good reason, you are shortening the life expectancy of the thermocouple or the thermopile, and you could be shortening the life of the appliance through corrosion.
With fireplaces, I see an increase in those hard to remove deposits, on the glass which require a special ceramic glass cleanser to remove.
My experience has been that homeowners who regularly turn off the pilot (and I recommend turning off the main gas supply to that appliance, as well) save money on gas, the appliance will last longer, look better and components such as the thermocouple will last years longer.
As for bugs that find their way into the burner compartment. It’s usually a good idea to have the appliance cleaned and checked at the beginning of each heating season.

I’ve actually seen a few...
NOTE: This article is meant to provide an overview on operation of gas appliances and valves. It is NOT meant to be used as a field service guide. Only qualified service persons should attempt work on gas appliances. Vent-Free appliances are factory adjusted and should NEVER be tampered with in the field.

Definitions: (Note, more definitions at our glossary)

B-Vent Appliance - An appliance that usually uses natural draft to vent byproducts of combustion up a metal chimney. These chimneys terminate above the roof line of the home. Most B-Vent appliances use room air for the gas combustion.
Direct-Vent Appliance - A gas appliance using a two pipe system which takes combustion air from the outside(one pipe) and then exhausts out the other pipe. These system do not use room air for the combustion process.
Thermocouple: A thermocouple is a device made of two different metals which creates a small electrical charge when heated at one end.
Thermopile: A thermopile is a probe that contains multiple thermocouples, therefore it can produce a larger electrical current. Millivolts: 1/1000 of a volt - thermocouples and thermopiles typically produce from 25 to 600 millivolts of power.
Piezio - a spark producing device often used to ignite gas pilots and burners.

Gas Valves Types:
A. Single Thermocouple Only - Used on some gas logs
B. Valves with Thermocouples and Thermopiles - Used on most hearth appliances and gas logs with switches or remote controls or thermostats.
C. ODS Systems - Used on Mostly Vent-Free. Available in manual control or thermostat/remote/switch (combination) valves.

Typical Gas Valve
A. Thermocouple-Only

Found in: Most gas log sets with standard safety pilot knob control. Also found in certain gas space heaters and construction-site portable heaters.

Note: The HEARTH Education Foundation (HEARTH) has generously allowed HearthNet to reprint the first chapter of the HEARTH Gas Appliance Specialist Training Manual. HEARTH is an independent, non-profit agency that promotes safe and responsible use of hearth products through professional training and public education. HEARTH maintains a web site and a list of certified specialists who have received training and passed exams in 5 areas of hearth products expertise: Fireplace, Gas, Pellet, Venting, and Woodstove.


Origin and History of Gas Fuels

The search for ways to keep one’ s hearth warm and inviting has been an age old quest. The products of this quest have included a variety of solid fuels such as wood, coal, coke, peat, and charcoal. More recent discoveries (in terms of their practical or commercial value) have included the use of natural gas (NG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Their flammability, high energy value, and convenience have resulted in a historically rapid rise to extensive use as a fuel today.

The composition of natural gas varies in different localities. However, it is always a colorless, highly flammable gas consisting primarily of methane. Methane usually makes up from 80 to 95 percent of its volume (commonly listed as 81.1%). The balance is composed of varying amounts of methane, another hydrocarbon compound, and other gases carbon dioxide, nitrogen, helium, argon, hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and sometimes, hydrogen sulfide.

Origin and Location

The most accepted theory of the origin of natural gas assumes that natural gas hydrocarbons come from organic matter (the remains of land and aquatic plants and animals) that was captured in sediments and changed over long periods of time into their present form. Some geologists believe that natural gas is a byproduct or an end product of the...
Webmasters Note: Consumer Reports Nov, 1998 issue did a small story on their testing of Vent-Free appliances. Based on their findings, they conclude “our tests confirm that these heaters contribute significantly to indoor air pollution. If you are planning to buy a gas fireplace, a vented model should be your first choice”. They also give recommendations if you do buy a vent free, such as keeping a window open TOP AND BOTTOM when you are using the appliance. All in all, not a very complete test, however it represents one of the first independent opinions on these controversial products.

Another article on these controversial fireplaces is presented below. The Vent Free Industry also has a web site which discusses their views:

Canada should not change its regulations preventing unvented gas appliances.
Reprinted with permission from Mechanical Buyer and Specifier magazine.
By Lance O’Hearn

I wonder how many cavemen (cavepersons?) died from smoke inhalation before the tribe elders banned the practice of in-cave fires without adequate ventilation?

Anyone following the debates raging in the United States regarding ‘vent-free’, ‘ventless’, or ‘unvented’ fireplaces has to wonder how long the people on the pro-side of this debate have been inhaling the fumes from their own unvented fireplace. Whatever name you choose to call these appliances by, I call them “wit-free”, “witless” and “unwitting”. In fact, I can not believe there are grounds for a reasonable debate on this matter at all.

Here in Canada, we currently sit smug in the knowledge that we prohibit such products. But do not be lulled into a false sense of security. The push is on, in some small but powerful circles to lobby the IGAC/Interprovincial Gas Advisory Council to consider the acceptance of unvented hearth products, as AGA/American Gas Assn and GAMA/Gas Appliance Mfrs Assn have done in the...
Questions and Answers About Gas Fireplace Appliances

By Mary Carson, WE Associates (ed. note: Mary is a spokesperson for the Gas Industry)

Concern About a Shortage of Natural Gas ?
Can I use Propane instead of Natural Gas ?
Which burns hotter—Propane or Natural Gas ?
How many BTU’s are Hearth Appliances ?
What does AFUE mean ?
How much will it cost to burn my Gas Appliance

Q. I remember the seventies when there was a concern about running out of natural gas and homes could not be installed with gas and gaslights had to be turned off. If I buy a gas fireplace, will there be enough gas to keep it burning?

A. The question is good, the answer is great…yes, according to the American Gas Association (A.G.A.) there are more than 60 years of proved gas reserves and an unlimited amount beyond this data. These reserves are located in gas fields that have been identified and can be accessed whenever the need arises. Both the Department of Energy (DOE) and this number. Also, because of new drilling technologies, wells can be sunk deeper into the ground to allow for the availability of more natural gas. At least 90 plus percent of all gas used in the U.S. comes from this country. Only about eight percent comes from Canada and 2 percent from other countries. For your information, gaslights are now allowed in 48 states. Unfortunately, the conservation movement devastated the gaslight market. Twenty-five years ago more than one million lights per year were sold. Today that number is under 75,000. Because of a new technology that allows for on-and- off controls on gas lights, consumers are installing them at their homes, country clubs, casinos, business offices, historic sites, city streets, developments, schools, restaurants, marinas and shrines. Back in the 1800’s the first competitor to the gaslight industry was whale oil. Times have changed!

Q. Can I use propane gas instead of natural gas in gas fireplace appliances?

A. Yes, most all gas appliances, except for the new...
Gas Fireplace Inserts are used to convert an existing wood burning fireplaces, both pre-fab (zero-clearance) and masonry, to a more efficient gas appliance. They consist of a Gas Log set installed into a Steel or Cast-Iron Heat Exchanger and are usually sealed on the front with glass - the exception being Vent-Free gas inserts which are usually open. Many of these units have fans to move the heat, and are also available with remote controls, wall switches or wall-mounted thermostats.

[​IMG]These Gas Inserts are much more efficient than the Vented Gas Logs, and the sealed fronts (glass) provide an extra safety factor. Quality Gas Inserts can provide BTU outputs ranging from 10,000 to 40,000 BTU and can burn as high as 80% (+-) efficiency.

Most modern Gas Inserts are direct vent, which means they use a two-pipe system, one which brings combustion air into the insert and the other which vents the exhaust. With a direct vent, it is usually mandatory to completely line the chimney to the top with two Flexible aluminum or Stainless steel pipes. This assures proper balance of the intake and exhaust and assures safe operation.

Some Gas Fireplace Inserts are B-Vent, which means they use a single pipe system. These units are often less efficient than direct vent because they use interior house air for combustion. B vented units must also be lined to the chimney top, although with only a single pipe in this case.

Vent Free Inserts use no chimney at all, and so consist of only a metal box with a vent-free log set inside. The existing chimney is not used in this case. It may be that a vent-free insert offers no advantage over a Vent-Free log set, so prospective Vent-Free buyers should study the options carefully and consult with their contractor or fireplace pro.

Gas Inserts sell for $1400. to $3500+ with professional installation adding another $800 to $1500 (approx) to the price. This is typical a job...
Gas Stoves and Fireplaces have become extremely popular in the last 10 years. There are literally hundreds of styles and sizes made, one of which is sure to fit any decor and budget. Gas Stoves and Fireplaces are designed to look like their wood burning counterparts, and modern design advancements have created simulated logs and flames that can’t be distinguished from the real thing! Gas Fireplaces are not only pretty to look at - they can also provide an increased sense of heating security since they don’t need electricity to operate. You might not have to abandon your home the next time the power goes out during a winter storm.

Note: Gas Fireplace refers to an appliance which is built into the wall while Gas Stove refers to a Freestanding unit.

Freestanding Gas Stove - Jotul

There are three basic types of Gas Fireplaces and Stoves:

Direct Vented - Can be vented straight out through the wall or up through the roof
Top Vented - These units need a chimney or vent exiting the roof
Ventless (Vent-Free) - Need no Vent or Chimney - these exhaust into your home

Direct Vent Gas Fireplaces and Stoves

Direct Vented Fireplaces and stoves offer a convenient option - No chimney is needed, just a hole through the wall behind or right above the appliance. This gives quite a bit of installation flexibility, such as locating the unit below a window. This direct vent pipe is really two pipes, one inside the other. The outer wall pulls in air from outside to be used in burning the gas fuel, while the inner pipe then returns the flue exhaust back outside. This “sealed” system is very safe and efficient because no air from inside the home is being used for combustion.

The installation finishes and options are many. A freestanding stove might only need a rigid pad underneath, while a built-in fireplace may be finished with many various combinations of...