How to Change a Gas Fireplace to Electric

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People living in warmer climates may consider switching from a gas fireplace to an electric one. Gas fireplaces may only see use a couple of months each year, but electric fireplaces can be used all year around because they make flames and heat separately. This lets you enjoy the ambience of a fire any time of the year, and use the fireplace as a supplemental heat source only when the weather is cold.

Things You'll Need

  • Electric fireplace insert
  • Groove joint pliers or wrench
  • Pipe wrench
  • Screwdriver
  • Pipe sealing tape
  • Safety cap for gas line
  • Remove the trim surrounding the gas fireplace. Turn off the shutoff valve on the gas line supplying the fireplace. Unplug the electric power to the fireplace. If the fireplace was wired directly into a junction box, disconnect the power at the breaker panel and disconnect the wires. Disconnect both ends of the flexible gas line connecting the fireplace to the wall gas line. Pull out the gas fireplace insert.

  • Apply pipe sealing tape on the threads of the gas line stub from the wall, screw on the safety cap and tighten it with the pipe wrench. Turn the gas back on. Spray a 50-50 solution of dish detergent and water to check the cap. If no bubbles appear, the cap is tight. Turn the fireplace gas line shutoff valve off again and leave it in that position.

  • Measure the fireplace opening. Get an electric fireplace insert and trim surround that fits the opening. If you have a vented gas fireplace, undo the vent connections. Seal off the air intake and exhaust vents with a plug or cap, or remove the venting apparatus and seal the wall openings. If the gas fireplace exhausted through an existing brick chimney, close the original damper if that is still operable, or block the bottom chimney opening with a piece of plywood or sheet metal cut to fit the opening. Install a chimney cap to seal the chimney at the top.

  • Slide the electric insert into the fireplace opening. Secure the insert in place and install the electric log set according to the manufacturer’s directions. Directly connect the fireplace to the house power supply at a 15 amp grounded junction box if directed by the manufacturer. Or plug the unit into a nearby 15 amp grounded electric outlet if the fireplace manufacturer provides for that connection. Install the fireplace trim surround according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some state and local codes require that all gas appliance removals must be done by licensed professionals.
  • If your gas fireplace supply line does not have its own separate shutoff valve, do not attempt to remove the gas fireplace insert yourself. Hire a licensed professional for the job.
  • If your gas line protrudes into the fireplace compartment far enough to interfere with installation of the electric fireplace, hire a licensed professional to remove the line.
  • If the electric fireplace installation project involves direct-wired electrical connections and you are not experienced in electrical repairs, hire a licensed professional for the electrical work.
  • Photo Credit George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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