Ventless gas fireplaces are heating devices that use natural gas or propane to heat air in a living space. These appliances do not use venting mechanisms such as flues, chimneys or ducts to remove the exhaust fumes from indoors. Ventless gas fireplaces are highly beneficial and also cost less than traditional furnaces and heaters. However, the working mechanism of these devices exposes people in the vicinity to some dangers and health concerns.
1. Depletion of Oxygen
During the operation of a ventless gas fireplace, oxygen from the room is used up for combustion of the fuel. Most ventless gas fireplaces can only be operated for 6 hours at a stretch and are only recommended for use as a secondary source of heat. If you operate these appliances for extended hours of time, your surroundings will be depleted of oxygen, which can be dangerous. Some models of ventless gas fireplaces have sensors that detect depletion in oxygen levels and warn you of the same. However, failure or malfunction of the sensor increases the risk associated with operation of the appliance.
2. Carbon Monoxide Buildup
Because of the absence of a venting mechanism, a ventless gas fireplace will release exhaust fumes into the room. Prolonged operation of the device can cause dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide which can be lethal. It is therefore important to install a ventless gas fireplace in a room that is large enough to provide the required amounts of air and oxygen for combustion. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause unconsciousness and even death. This is why the use of ventless gas fireplaces is banned in places such as Canada and in some states in the U.S.
Overheating of the appliance or a gas leak can trigger a fire. If there is a gas leak, a spark could quickly get out of control and endanger people in the room. The lack of ventilation also increases the danger of suffocation due to accumulation of gas and fumes.
4. Suffocation and Respiratory Problems
Carbon monoxide buildup and lack of oxygen can cause problems with respiration. Air quality can deteriorate and create adverse reactions in people suffering from respiratory illnesses such as asthma. Operating a ventless gas fireplace for longer than the recommended amount of time can be dangerous, because the fumes can cause suffocation and unconsciousness.
5. Moisture and Mold
As the ventless gas fireplace produces heat, it also generates a considerable amount of moisture. The absence of a venting mechanism results in indoor moisture accumulation. This can cause problems in the building’s structure, peeling of paint and excessive humidity. The moisture also provides the ideal breeding ground for mold, mildew and other microorganisms. Mold and mildew can reproduce and spread quickly. These organisms can also invade and deteriorate furniture, paper and upholstery. In addition to structural damage, mold spores can cause allergic reactions, respiratory problems and asthma in people.