Today I’m sharing my experience with converting my wood burning fireplace into a gas burning fireplace. I’m sharing why I made this decision, the gas fireplace insert I selected, and more!
Converting a Wood Burning Fireplace to a Gas Fireplace
Disclaimer: Before we get into my experience, I want to mention that I’m not a professional in this area. I highly recommend that you consult with an experienced professional that you trust – that’s what I did. There’s no room for error here. You’re dealing with fire, gas lines, ventilation, etc. I do not recommend attempting this yourself. In this post I am sharing my experience with the process; this is not meant to be a how-to guide. Do your homework. Hire a professional.
If you’ve been following along, I recently updated the cabinetry surrounding my fireplace in my living room. The installation is complete (see it here) and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. As part of this update, I decided to convert the fireplace from wood burning to gas.
I’m very lucky as I have three fireplaces in my home: one in my living room (that we’re looking at today), one in my family room, and one in my basement. All three fireplaces are wood burning. If I only had one fireplace in my home, I’d likely keep it as a wood burning fireplace. Nothing beats the heat, smell, and crackle of a wood burning fireplace. However, since I have three, I decided to change the one in my living room from wood burning to gas.
I have been in this home a little over two years and up until now, I have never used this fireplace. With the convenience and mess-free advantages of gas, I knew that I would get significantly greater use out of this fireplace.
Additional advantages of a gas fireplace include:
- easy on and off
- less maintenance
- no wood required.
How to Convert to a Gas Fireplace:
As I mentioned above, start by seeking out a professional. Initially I had planned to visit a local place that sells fireplace inserts / gas logs. However, a neighbor was kind enough to recommend a local fireplace expert that not only repairs and cleans fireplaces, but is someone who could assist me with the conversion of my fireplace from wood to gas.
From there the process was really simple. (Because I just had to pay the man and didn’t have to do any of the work.)
About my Gas Fireplace Set:
The system I used for the gas logs is called Real Fyre. I believe there are different systems out there, but this is the one my installer works with and recommends.
My set (G46 Burner) is vented; that means I will keep my chimney flue open when the fire is on. They also make vent-free options should your situation require that.
In terms of the actual unit, I selected the G46 which is a mid range model. This model gives me a variable flame which means I can adjust the size of the flame. My unit is controlled by a remote or through the control panel on the unit.
Speaking of the control unit, I’d have to say that this is the only disadvantage of a gas unit as it is a bit obvious that it’s there. They do provide a faux rock to place in front of it, but it’s still there.
When you are shopping for your gas fireplace unit, be sure to ask where these controls will sit. There are some models that require the unit to sit on the hearth of your fireplace which would be even more difficult to conceal.
You will also need natural gas for this type of fireplace. (I suppose that’s fairly obvious, but it’s worth mentioning.) I was fortunate in that my gas line comes into the house right below the fireplace, so running the line was fairly simple. My fireplace was also equipped with an ash dump, so it was even easy to install the gas line. (I believe there are some options available for propane if that’s what you have.)
My particular unit does not require electricity, so no electrical wires (or electrician) were needed.
Does a Gas Fireplace Produce Heat:
I was actually surprised at the amount of heat it produced. I would say it’s somewhat comparable to my wood burning fireplace.
About the Ceramic Logs:
There are a variety of log sets available. You can do everything from charred wood, to birch logs, to more modern options like spheres, cones, and even glass. There’s really something for everyone.
I opted for the Charred Oak. I love the look of the charred wood. The set also comes with glowing embers. The embers are the glowing bits below the logs. These really add to the realistic look of the fire. While the logs should last you a lifetime, the glowing embers may need to be replaced every year.
Another thing to note is that once you have your unit in place, you can buy new logs if want to change the look seasonally or just to try something new.
In addition to the logs and embers, my installer added some lava rock around the base of the fireplace. (This is not included in the kit.) I think this adds a really nice look, so it’s something I would recommend considering. You can find lava rock at home improvement stores or even on Amazon.
Other things to note:
- When they are installing your gas line, be sure it’s wide enough. Narrow lines can create a whistling sound when the flame / fire is on its highest setting.
- I don’t know what the requirements are for having a screen or doors on a gas fireplace. Be sure to check with you installer to see if you’ll need these. My installer told me I didn’t, though I may opt to add some sort of screen down the road.
- If you are considering a gas fireplace, install a carbon monoxide detector if you don’t already have one. This is a must.
- Plan on yearly maintenance and cleanings. It’s really important that you continue to have your system cleaned and inspected so that everything continues to function properly.
Alright, I think that’s it. I’m certain I missed something, so if you have additional questions please drop them in the comments below and I’ll be sure to answer them there and / or update this post.
I hope this was helpful. Overall, I’m incredibly pleased with this decision and would do it again in a heartbeat.