Fireplaces give homes a warmth and coziness that is hard to equal. Many homeowners opt for a gas fireplace that eliminates the need for buying and storing the wood needed for wood-burning fireplaces. Gas fireplaces might be designed or use liquid propane or natural gas and might be vented or ventless. Not all ventless units can be converted from one gas to another.
Vented and Ventless Gas Fireplaces
Gas fireplaces that operate on liquid propane or natural gas are available in both vented and ventless types. Vented fireplaces require a connection to the outdoors to remove odors and waste gases from the room where the fireplace is situated. Ventless units burn fuel almost completely and so do not require an outside connection. Though today’s fireplaces are highly efficient, they still emit a small amount of waste gases that can be toxic. If your home is highly insulated, ventless fireplaces might not receive sufficient airflow from the environment, which could cause a buildup of toxic gases that can affect the health of the home’s occupants.
Converting from LP Gas to Natural Gas
Occasionally, homeowners might need to convert their ventless fireplace from LP gas to natural gas, such as when recent piping of natural gas makes it more cost-effective to use than having liquid propane gas delivered. These two types of fuel use different sizes of lines, valves and orifices, according to the FireplaceChimneyStore website. Natural gas is supplied at a much lower pressure so using devices designed for liquid propane can lead to malfunction and dangerous conditions. Ventless gas fireplace generally come from the factory specially fitted for LP or natural gas.
Some manufacturers offer conversion kits for changing the fireplace from liquid propane to a natural gas burning unit. It is inadvisable to use a third party conversion kit. The ventless capability of the fireplace requires maintaining its specific design for safe operation. Any attempt to improvise materials can result in ineffective or even dangerous conditions. Some manufacturers might advise not converting the ventless fireplace at all or might require a technician to do the conversion.
Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is a byproduct of burning either propane and natural gas. Any appliance that burns these fuels releases carbon monoxide to some extent. When the buildup of gas becomes significant, residents of the home can experience headache, nausea, dizziness, confusion and ultimately unconsciousness. Homeowners with gas-burning appliances in their home should always install carbon monoxide detectors to alert them of a build-up of poisonous gas. This precaution is especially important with ventless appliances, such as fireplaces, stoves and space heaters.
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