Many older homes have coal burning fireplaces that are beyond repair, but you can bring back its luster with a ventless gas fireplace insert. Through the years, many homeowners have covered over the shabby chimneys that once kept the family warm. Modern heating systems made the coal fireplaces obsolete in many areas. The mantel may still be standing, though, and the glow of flames would literally and figuratively warm the house. Adding a ventless fireplace is a project you can tackle on your own.
Step 1: Prepare the Old Fireplace
An old fireplace can sparkle anew with a thorough cleaning and minor repairs. Inspect the hearth and mantel for damage, cracks, or other problems. Caulk or use masonry filler for any areas of loose tiles or rough concrete. Clean all dust and debris from the fireplace. Wear a dust mask when cleaning the old ashes and cement. Seal the chimney with a chimney plug if it is not already capped off. A ventless fireplace should retain 100 percent of the heat inside your home.
Step 2: Apply for Permits
You will likely need permits for the gas piping, and it will need to be done by a licensed professional. Have the gas lines installed according to the specifications provided with the fireplace insert. Alert the installer to be available for testing and any final inspections necessary when the job is completed. The fireplace can operate on either natural gas or liquid petroleum (LP) gas, however, the burner units are different for each. Be certain to purchase the correct unit for your fuel supply.
Step 2: Add the Insert
Using a level, check the floor of the fireplace and adjust the legs of the insert to even the height on both sides. Slide the insert into the fireplace opening. Connect the gas lines to the control box with the pilot light and thermostat. Place the simulated logs over the burners. Secure the unit with the provided fasteners. If necessary, drill and install masonry anchors to keep the unit in place.
Step 3: Trim the Fireplace
After setting the new unit, you may need to do additional caulking or add trim to close cracks around the fireplace. This will be more efficient in keeping the heat from escaping.
Step 4: Test the Unit
As mentioned before, the gas fittings will likely need to pass inspection from the city or district in order to finalize any permits required. The burners installed in the insert have special attachments that measure the amount of dangerous carbon monoxide around the unit. If the level gets too high, the burners will shut off.
The problem with gas heaters in general is that water vapor is a byproduct of the combustion, and you might see condensation on walls and other cool areas around the room. If left alone, it could cause mold and mildew, but a dehumidifier can alleviate the situation. Overall, your ventless gas fireplace insert will add to the ambiance of your home.