While homeowners are usually more familiar with wood burning fireplaces, a gas fireplace is an ideal alternative if you prefer less work when lighting your fire. Several different types of gas fireplaces are available, but direct vent models are one of the more interesting options because they are known for their versatility and convenience. However, if you are considering a direct vent fireplace, weigh both the pros and cons to determine if it is the right fit for your home.
Pro: No Chimney Required
Unlike a traditional vented fireplace, a direct vent fireplace does not require a chimney. Instead, carbon monoxide and other combustion emissions are vented through the wall directly behind or above the fireplace. As a result, you can place a direct vent fireplace in virtually any room of your home that features an outside wall. You can even install your fireplace beneath a window.
Pro: Easy Installation
Because a chimney is not required for a direct vent fireplace, installation is relatively easy. You do not have to worry about building a chimney or chase, and the fireplace does not need to be vented through the ceiling. The walls do not have to be broken up either, so installation is fast and less expensive as well.
A direct vent fireplace's vent pipe actually contains two pipes, one inside the other. The outer pipe draws air from outside your home into the fireplace to help ignite the gas while the inner pipe directs exhaust fumes outside. Because the entire system is tightly sealed, a direct vent fireplace does not utilize any air from inside your home to fuel the fire, making it one of the most efficient types of fireplaces. In fact, some direct vent fireplace models are efficient enough for use as a furnace.
Pro: Air Quality
The airtight design of a direct vent fireplace also helps ensure the air quality in your home. With a traditional vented fireplace, carbon monoxide and other harmful exhaust emissions can enter the room and pose a health risk to you and your family. However, with a direct vent fireplace, the exhaust is directed outward, and there are no openings or gaps where it might escape and back up into the room.
Con: Can't Burn Wood
A direct vent fireplace is only suitable for gas fuel, such as natural gas or propane. The design does not allow for wood burning. If you prefer the sight, sounds and smell of a wood fire, you may not enjoy a direct vent fireplace.
Con: No Direct Access to Fire
Because a direct vent fireplace features airtight construction, you do not have direct access to the fire. As a result, you cannot roast hot dogs, toast marshmallows or cook other items in a direct vent fireplace. You may find that the lack of direct access also affects the amount of heat generated by your fireplace.
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