How to Install a Ventless Fireplace

  • 10-20 hours
  • Advanced
  • 2,000-4,000
What You'll Need
Fireplace kit
Natural gas, propane, or gel fuel

The glow of a fire is mesmerizing, and you can add this mystique to any home with a ventless fireplace. Before heat pumps and radiators, every household depended on fireplaces to stay warm during cold seasons. Families warmed themselves and shared memories around the hearth. Many homes today have no chimneys, hence no hearths. You can return to that age old tradition though, with a ventless fireplace.

Step 1: Choose a Fuel

Ventless fireplaces are limited in the fuel they can burn because of the fact that they have no exhaust for fumes. The choices are natural gas, propane, and gel fuel. Both gas and propane require a system of piping to bring the fuel into the house. Natural gas flows from a grid of fuel lines, while propane is delivered and stored in a tank outside the house. A gel fuel fireplace burns gelled alcohol or petroleum, like canned heat, that last only a few hours before needing to be replaced. A gel fuel fireplace is easier and less expensive to install, because it requires no pipes and permits. Natural gas has a continuous flow, but is more complicated to install. Propane is constant, but must be refilled periodically.

Step 2: Shop for Style

Ventless fireplaces consist of a fire box with burners and a mantel. Units come in hundreds of descriptions from antique styles to custom designs. You can shop for one to fit your décor or special order one to your specifications.

Step 3: Select a Location

A ventless fireplace fits anywhere in the house with no special renovations. The only things needed are a source of gas and an electric outlet. Most fireplaces are fan forced to provide more heat, and the fan uses electricity. The fireplaces sit against a wall, or they can be built into a corner.

Step 4: Build a Hearth

Fireplaces are usually standalone fixtures, needing no additional construction; however, you can make it cozier by building a hearth on which it can stand. The hearth makes the fireplace a stronger centerpiece for the room and can provide a raised area on which to sit. It can be wood or masonry, to match its surroundings.

Step 5: Apply for Permits

Gas connections to the fireplace, whether propane or natural gas, will need to be inspected by city or district officials for safety purposes. Installers will also need permits to work on the fuel lines. For that reason, you need to find a licensed contractor to actually connect the gas lines.

Step 6: Finish the Fireplace

Many ventless fireplace mantels are self contained and need no additional finish work. Others are roughed out to be connected to the wall. After the gas is installed and the fire box burns safely, make any alterations to the room or finishing touches on the fireplace unit. The burners are designed for efficiency, with the perfect mix of air and gas to burn away by products, including toxic carbon monoxide. They also have a sensor that will shut off the flow of gas if carbon monoxide gets to dangerous levels. It’s safe and comfortable; relax beside your new ventless fireplace.