Changing wood fireplaces into Gas Fireplaces

gas fireplace installation

Whether you just moved into a home in Washington DC with a wood-burning fireplace or you’re looking to modernize your fireplace in a house that you have owned for years, it might be time to explore the options to convert it into a gas fireplace.  A professional chimney sweep company like ours can assist you.  In this article, you will learn more about the available options for converting your wood-burning fireplace into an energy efficient gas fireplace. 

There are quite a few options to consider.

How will gas reach your fireplace?

You have to consider how the gas will reach your fireplace. If you have natural gas at your home, you can have a gas line run to the fireplace. If you don’t have natural gas and do not want to have it run, then your option is to use a propane tank. Either will work, so it’s a preference based on what you already have at your home.

Gas Fireplace Kit

A gas fireplace kit is something that is relatively simple to install. The damper is locked into a partially open position, which has pros and cons. It means that no one can forget to open the vent, so you won’t have to worry about carbon monoxide threatening your home.  However, you will lose some of the heat. Tight-fitting glass doors can be installed to help counteract that problem.

Some kits are more advanced than others, providing you with various features:

  • Remove controls
  • Thermostats
  • Decorative hearth

You can choose a kit that works for you and stay within your budget.  At first glance, gas fireplace kits appear to be a great low-cost option.  However, the heat loss can kill the energy efficiency of your home. 

Vent-Free Gas Fireplace

You may also want to explore a vent-free gas fireplace. Your chimney would be for show from now on because no exhaust goes up the chimney. The benefit to this is that you get to have all of the heat inside of the room while still having an open fire. One thing to know is that the combustion exhaust stays inside, so you would either have to create a vent in the home or deal with the exhaust, which could be problematic of people who have asthma or allergy problems. If this is your primary heating system, you will probably want to find an alternative because it’s not recommended to run for more than three hours at a time.

Many installation companies consider vent-free gas fireplaces to be dangerous. The risks presented by gas exhaust entering the home represents a potential health risk that outweighs any benefit of having the stove installed.  We do not recommend this option.

Gas Fireplace Insert

One of the best options is a gas fireplace insert. It is the more expensive option out of the three, but it also allows you to enjoy a fire without the worries present with other options. The insert goes behind closed glass doors. However, you can still see the flame and feel the warmth of your fireplace.  You won’t have an open fire, and you can leave it running for as long as you want.

There are a few benefits to be aware of:

  • The look is tidy
  • Glass doors provide a good seal
  • Exhaust is piped out
  • Gas fireplace inserts energy efficient.
  • You enjoy good indoor air quality

A complete insert goes into the opening of your existing fireplace.  Only professional installers should be trusted to install gas fireplace inserts.  You may want to check out this article that describes the steps in the installation process.

Deciding the Best Gas Fireplace Option for You

Converting from a wood-burning fireplace to a gas fireplace can be a great option. There’s a convenience with gas that you don’t get out of wood. You can quickly press a button, flip a switch, or point a remote at the fireplace to get the heat going.

You have to decide what’s right for your home based on cost, aesthetics, and overall function. We recommended that you work with professionals who can talk to you about the pros and cons that apply to your unique needs.  They will also help identify options for the gas lines.

Take the time to explore your options so that the next fire you enjoy can be free of any problems. Making the switch from wood to gas could be the best thing you do for your home this year.

Complete chimney rebuilding project in Ellicott City

before chimney repair

Before rebuilding the chimney 

after chimney rebuild
After rebuilding the chimney

We were called to do an estimate for chimney repairs in Ellicott City, the home of Mrs. Whelan . Before we got there, she had already received 2 or 3 other estimates from other companies. The estimates she received had differing opinions on what was needed to be done. Needless to say, I’m sure she was expecting to get more confused with what we were going to find and was probably a little skeptical about the whole process.  

When we arrived I just simply went on to do my evaluation of the chimney and fireplace as I normally would. Throughout the process as I found issues and defects in her chimney and fireplace I would go over them with her, so she fully understood what the situation was and how we needed to correct them.  I quickly discovered that this was going the chimney was in need of more extensive work than an earlier job that we did in Ellicott City.

chimney smoke chamber

smoke chamber
The first issues we found were in the smoke chamber and the flue liners for the fireplace. The smoke chamber was corbelling and not parged smooth as required by the NFPA 211 and the IRC. The second issue was that the first flue liner was cracked. I explained to her that the smoke chamber needed to be parged smooth with Chamber Tech 2000 and that the flue needed to be relined to correct her issues.

smooth parged chimney smoke chamber

stainless steel chimney liner
Here is the new stainless steel liner installed and the smoke chamber after it has been parged smooth with Chamber Tech 2000. This will allow for better air flow in the chimney and minimize the amount of creosote buildup in the chimney.

before floating cast chimney crown repair
Before floating cast crown installation

after floating cast chimney crown repair
After Floating Cast Crown Installation

The top 21 courses of the chimney had bricks that were starting to spall. The hairline cracks were already visible, and it was only a matter of time before the faces of the bricks would start to pop out. A lot of the damage started from the crown and worked its way down the chimney. Once we rebuilt the chimney, we installed a new floating cast concrete crown with a 1.5″ overhang that sits on a stainless steel plate to allow water to run off the drip edge if it ever penetrated the 5″-6″ on concrete. With this crown, the water will never run down inside the chimney from the crown. All Pro Chimney Service understands that the crown can make or break the chimney that why now we only install floating cast concrete crowns on chimneys we rebuild to ensure that it will last for years to come to protect your investment.  You can learn more about floating chimney crown installations here. 

B-Vent Installation

before chimney b-vent installation

chimney b-vent installation

Mrs. Whelan, also wanted us to look at the B-Vent chimney for her gas boiler and water heater. She had several companies tell her that all she needed to do was replace the top section of B-Vent above the roof and replace the chimney surround (fake metal chimney). Upon my inspection of the situation, I found that the existing B-Vent was disconnected and did not meet the proper clearance requirements needed to combustibles.

chimney b-vent in Ellicott City, MD
chimney pipe in ellicott city., MD

The B-Vent at some point got disconnected and as a result had the vent leaning against the top plate framing. It should maintain a 1″ minimum clearance to combustibles per the manufacturer’s specifications. Also in the attic, the chase cavity did not have a fire-stop installed. I also determined that the B-Vent could just go straight up through the roof instead of having an off set in the attic which just meant more materials and more restrictions in the venting. I explained this to Mrs. Whelan and her family, and we determined that the best option was just to have the B-Vent terminate straight up. We patched up the hole for the old vent location and installed new flashing for the new B-Vent.

*The roof will be getting replaced next.

Chimney Repair and Relining in Ellicott City, MD

Before Chimney Repair and Rebuilding

failing chimney crown This home in Ellicott City, MD needed chimney repair due to problems with their concrete chimney crown.  This chimney is the perfect example of why having a solid crown and maintaining it is so important on the stack. The bricks on this chimney were good solid bricks.  The crown failure being left alone without being repaired or rebuilt for years resulted in the deterioration of the mortar joints.  Chimney crown failure is a common cause of chimney leaks.  In this case, the crown failure led to a more extensive chimney repair.  We rebuilt the chimney and relined the chimney for their wood burning fireplace. 

During Chimney Repairs and Rebuilding

deteriorated chimney mortarThe mortar was so badly deteriorated that we were able to take the chimney apart by hand and clean off the bricks to reuse them. The only good thing that came from this is that we were able to reuse the bricks and didn’t have to worry about matching them. 

rebuilding chimney

We also ground out the remaining mortar joints below the rebuild and tuck pointed it because they had started to deteriorate on the surface. This also made the completed job look better because the mortar matches throughout the chimney.

We also relined the fireplace on the main floor because the flue liners were cracked and shifted further down below the area we rebuilt. We removed the existing flue liners to make room for the stainless steel liner we installed. 

Finished Chimney Repair and Rebuild

completed rebuilt chimney

This is the completed chimney rebuild. We resealed the flashing, flared out the top 4 courses, rebuild the concrete crown, installed a multi-flue cap, relined the fireplace, and waterproofed the chimney. 

repaired chimneyBecause we were able to reuse the bricks and tuck pointed the remaining courses below the rebuild, we were able to make it look like the original chimney. 

repaired chimney with tuck pointingCompleted chimney rebuild and tuck pointing!

Fireplace Liner and Smoke Chamber Repairsfireplace smoke chamber linerThis is in the smoke chamber of the fireplace. We parged the smoke chamber to correct the corbelling bricks and seal the bottom of the liner.