Frequently Asked Questions

We get a lot of questions about fireplaces, gas logs, and all sorts of other things. Here are the most common ones we get. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, give us a call or send us a message.

Are they dangerous?

This is one of the biggest myths of gas fireplaces. Gas fireplaces are not dangerous in the least! In fact, they can actually be safer than conventional wood burning fireplaces when it comes to carbon, smoke, and fine particulates that are released into the air. There are a number of safety precautions built directly into gas fireplaces that come standard. The first is the the fact that gas fireplaces burn 100% of the fuel they are fed. Most gas fireplaces have a safety back-up that is a sensor that detects if any gas is being leaked into the home. If it detects any at all, it immediately triggers a “clamp-down” on the gas fireplace, stopping all gas from being fed to the fire. Thus, no gas can ever leak into your home.

Are they expensive to run?

In the long run, gas fireplaces are not expensive to run. They are much like using a gas stove top, in that they are incredibly efficient. All of the gas that is fed into their system is transferred into heat and ambiance. Compared to conventional wood burning fireplaces, gas fireplaces have a number of advantages. They don’t
require any storage for fuel- they use fuel pulled directly from the main gas line. As well, they are much more efficient in providing heat. Since the heat does not escape up the chimney or is absorbed uselessly into the hearth, gas fireplaces are much more efficient in transforming their fuel into radiant, and convective heat.

Can you use propane?

Yes! Gas logs and fireplaces can use propane gas. If your home uses a propane gas unit, you can fairly easily hook your gas logs directly into your gas flow. As well, if you want to use propane just for your gas fireplace, you are free to do that as well. However, we do recommend that you just use whatever gas (natural or propane) your home normally uses. This helps with simplicity and ease of use- that way, you don’t have to worry about constantly refilling your gas logs. It just uses fuel out of the main gas line that heats the whole home.

What type of gas do they use?

This question comes up quite a bit and is actually pretty simple. Gas fireplaces use whatever kind of gas is normally used and lined into the home. This can be either natural gas or propane. There is no need to use a special kind of gas. When purchasing a gas fireplace and log system, however, be sure to check if the logs you are purchasing have a special requirement. While most log units can work with either natural gas or propane, there are still some that require one or the other.

Is a gas fireplace expensive?

Not really. There is of course a whole range of gas fireplace units that vary in size, type, and features. When weighing the cost of a fireplace, you should also take into account the long-term expense of time, energy efficiency, and construction. In all of these areas, gas fireplaces have a huge edge on wood-burning fireplaces. In terms of time, gas fireplaces allow you to turn on warmth and ambiance with the touch of a button. No longer do you have to trudge outside to retrieve wood, making a mess in the process. Instead, your gas fireplace is hooked directly into your normal gas line. Just turn it on and you can adjust the height, heat, and look of your fire with your remote. Clean-up is effortless as well: there is none! A gas fireplace does all the work for you. In terms of energy efficiency, a gas fireplace is a smart investment. Gas units convert all of their fuel directly into heat and ambiance, at a rate exponentially better than wood-burning units. No longer do you have to buy and store large heaps of wood that are wasteful in terms of energy efficiency, heat, and space. In terms of construction, a gas fireplace does not have the same limitations and costly requirements of a chimney-based wood fireplace. Instead, you only need to worry about the hearth and determine your system of venting. If you already have a chimney, you can easily and painlessly convert over to a gas system.

Are gas fireplaces environmentally friendly?

One of the major advantages of a gas fireplace system is in its energy efficiency. Wood-burning fireplaces have a very poor fuel-to-heat rate. That is, they need large amount of fuel (wood) to produce only a moderate amount of radiant heat. As well, they produce sooty carbon by-products that are bad for the environment. Gas fireplace systems, however, are incredibly energy efficient. All of the fuel they burn is directly converted into heat and light. This means that gas fireplaces need only a small amount of fuel to produce a large amount of radiant heat. As well, many gas units are equipped with fans that direct the warmth straight to you and the room- no more heat and fuel being wasted and absorbed into the chimney or places you don’t need it. Outside of the efficiency of gas, fireplaces also work off the very environmentally friendly idea of “zone heating.” Zone heating is based off the principle that you should only heat the areas in your home where you most inhabit.

are gas fireplaces safe for pets?

All gas fireplace units, vented and unvented, are completely safe for pets.

Where can I put my fireplace?

Anywhere. This is one of the great advantages of using a gas fireplace system. Wood-burning units have a lot of architectural and building requirements. Gas-burning units have none of these limitations. Your gas fireplace can be along any wall, internal or external. As well, gas fireplace units have been developed that can be inserted within a wall, so that you can enjoy your fire on either side, in two different rooms. Units have even been developed that act as a kind of “island” in the middle of a large space, allowing a panoramic view of your fire and all of the warmth and ambiance it brings. However, we highly recommend that you check your local laws, as many regions have specific requirements about where you can place your unit. For example, many regions do not allow a gas fireplace in the bedroom.

What are gas logs?

Gas logs are the heart of the gas fireplace system. When we talk about gas fireplaces, what we are really talking about is a gas log plus its system of venting, the hearth box, and its fuel system. The gas log unit is where the gas is ignited and turned into a realistic looking flame, dancing warmly over logs made of flame resistant materials. They come in a huge variety of styles, textures, and sizes. They can be either vented or vent free.

What is the difference between a vented fireplace and an unvented fireplace?

There are two main types of gas fireplaces: vented and unvented. They are so named because of their venting technique. Vented gas fireplaces are much like traditional wood-burning fireplaces. They require a vent to filter air in and out. This vent sometimes is a traditional chimney that has been converted. Other times, this vent is built specifically for the fireplace, and runs out the side of the house. A vent free fireplace doesn’t need any venting at all.

Is it true that I don’t need a chimney?

This is one of the biggest questions people have about gas fireplace systems and the answer is quite surprising. No, you don’t need a chimney! Note that this only directly applies to an unvented gas log system, not to a vented gas log system. A vented gas system still requires some sort of vent, but it doesn’t need to be a chimney. Rather, it can be any sort of vent- many people run a vent through the side of their house, much like the exhaust of a drier.

In a Direct vent gas system, the fire is safely behind a glass door, where the gas is burned cleanly and efficiently, much like the flame on a gas stovetop. No gas, fuel, fumes, or toxins are released into your home. You only have the warmth and ambiance your fire provides.

are there benefits to utilizing gas logs rather than wood?

Gas logs are more convenient and serve as a constant source of heat, they are also not as messy as wood logs.

When installing my mantle, what is the typical and safest distance between the mantel piece and fireplace?

When installing a mantle the most common measurement is to place it 12″ above the top of the fireplace system, and for every additional inch that the shelf protrudes out, add an additional inch. Example; a 6″ mantle would be 18″ above the opening. It is always best to consult the manufacturer’s manual for their EXACT specification.

What is the purpose of having glass doors on my fireplace, rather than a screen or mesh curtain?

The purpose of having a glass door is for heat loss. It is like closing a window when you are not using the fireplace. To operate a glass door when you build a wood fire, leave the doors open so you can feel more heat using a backup screen for sparks. When it is a low fire or when you go to bed at night close the doors to keep the heat in the house. When not using the fireplace, always close the doors.

What are the key elements in designing and maintaining a safe fireplace system?

Functionality is always considered first. The other design elements in the room also influence the look and feel of the fireplace system and its accessories. Additionally when designing the system it must be determined if the fireplace system will be burning wood or using gas logs and the size of the fireplace opening. If it is wood burning, you would want easy access for building and stoking the fire. If it is gas it won’t need mesh necessarily, although viewing gas logs through a decorative screen always adds to the ambience.

What are the reasons a fireplace may smoke?

A fireplace may smoke for the following reasons:

  • The fireplace opening is too large in relation to the width and height of the flue/chimney
  • Your chimney may be obstructed or clogged and needs a professional sweeping, if there is more than 1/4” of soot in the flue, that’s a sign its time for a cleaning
  • The spark arrestor may be clogged (most commonly occurs in wood stoves)
  • If you have trees growing around your flue, it could change the air current. By trimming these trees the smoking may be alleviated
  • If the smoking is only occasional, it could be what is called a “downdraft”, which comes straight down the chimney, in many instances a “cap” may fix this problem
  • Your fire may be built too far forward in the opening of the fireplace

What is the best way to build a fire in my fireplace?

The best way to build a successful fire is to roll up three balls of newspaper and put it under the grate with any kind of kindling. Light it and wait approximately three minutes, then place larger pieces of wood on top.

are wood burning stoves safer than the typical fireplace system

Wood stoves can be locked closed and are typically an airtight system, allowing for controlled combustion.

What is the industry standard for the depth and width of a fireplace to ensure a safe and effective system?

It’s all about the relationship between the size of the fireplace opening, the size, and the height of the flue. The ratio is the flue diameter needs to be 10% of the opening.

What is the safest type of wood to burn?

The best type of wood to burn is kiln dried wood. If that is not available make sure it is seasoned wood that does not have much moisture. You can purchase a moisture meter to test your wood.

What is th safest method of spark protection

It is recommended that on top of the chimney flue, you need 5/8” mesh. Inside the house the best protection is a flat wire mesh screen.

Is it safe to burn paper and trash in your fireplace

It is recommended to use a couple of pieces of paper to start your fire, but never burn trash. It burns too hot and could damage your flue. There are several products on the market that can be used in lieu of paper. A few to mention would be the electric looft lighter, or starter blocks

hHow often should I clean out my fireplace and have my chimney swept

If you burn wood it is recommended to have your chimney and fireplace system checked once a year. You can tell if it is time for a cleaning by looking up inside the throat of the fireplace, if there is more than 1/4 inch of soot, it needs to be cleaned. If it is shiny, you have glazed creosote and should schedule a cleaning immediately, as it could cause a flue fire.

When installing my mantle, what is the typical and safest distance between the mantel piece and fireplace?

When installing a mantle the most common measurement is to place it 12″ above the top of the fireplace system, and for every additional inch that the shelf protrudes out, add an additional inch. Example; a 6″ mantle would be 18″ above the opening. It is always best to consult the manufacturer’s manual for their EXACT specification.

What is the purpose of having glass doors on my fireplace, rather than a screen or mesh curtain?

The purpose of having a glass door is for heat loss. It is like closing a window when you are not using the fireplace. To operate a glass door when you build a wood fire, leave the doors open so you can feel more heat using a backup screen for sparks. When it is a low fire or when you go to bed at night close the doors to keep the heat in the house. When not using the fireplace, always close the doors.

What are the key elements in designing and maintaining a safe fireplace system?

Functionality is always considered first. The other design elements in the room also influence the look and feel of the fireplace system and its accessories. Additionally when designing the system it must be determined if the fireplace system will be burning wood or using gas logs and the size of the fireplace opening. If it is wood burning, you would want easy access for building and stoking the fire. If it is gas it won’t need mesh necessarily, although viewing gas logs through a decorative screen always adds to the ambience.

Will a stove fit in my fireplace?

There are two basic designs of wood burning and multifuel stove: the “insert”, and the “freestanding” stove. Insert stoves are designed to be ‘built in’ using brick, stone, granite, marble or some similar non-combustible material to surround them, and they often incorporate internal air channels and heat exchangers to transfer heat back into the room by convection. So long as the fireplace recess is marginally larger than the dimensions of the stove firebox, such a stove can usually be built into an existing or specially prepared opening. Freestanding stoves, however, are designed to have air circulating all around them, and it is especially important that there is as much space above a stove as possible. See manufacturer’s manual for clearance to combustibles.

Which material is best for a wood burning stove- steel or cast iron?

From a practical viewpoint, cast iron will take longer to warm up than steel but is more heat-retentive, Steel will heat up and cool down faster. From an aesthetic viewpoint, because molten iron is cast in molds, it is the best material if a decorative finish is desired: steel plate cannot be molded, but lends itself well to more modern stove designs with clean lines. Both materials thus have their specific advantages; however overall, with well-designed and engineered modern stoves there is really not much difference in performance, and in our showroom you will find examples of stoves made from both materials.

How easy is a wood burning stove to light?

Some people have distant childhood memories, or perhaps more recent personal experience, of an open fireplace which was notoriously difficult to light. A modern wood burning stove is in fact very easy and quick to get going, and the best materials are freely available: balled-up sheets of yesterday’s newspaper, pieces of cardboard, and a few handfuls of dry kindling wood. One match should be all that is needed, and within a couple of minutes the fire is roaring away and small logs can be added.

I have a mantel is it compatible with a stove

What are the reasons a fireplace may smoke?

A fireplace may smoke for the following reasons:

  • The fireplace opening is too large in relation to the width and height of the flue/chimney
  • Your chimney may be obstructed or clogged and needs a professional sweeping, if there is more than 1/4” of soot in the flue, that’s a sign its time for a cleaning
  • The spark arrestor may be clogged (most commonly occurs in wood stoves)
  • If you have trees growing around your flue, it could change the air current. By trimming these trees the smoking may be alleviated
  • If the smoking is only occasional, it could be what is called a “downdraft”, which comes straight down the chimney, in many instances a “cap” may fix this problem
  • Your fire may be built too far forward in the opening of the fireplace

Are wood burning stoves safer than the typical fireplace system?

Wood stoves can be locked closed and are typically an airtight system, allowing for controlled combustion.

What is the safest type of wood to burn

The best type of wood to burn is kiln dried wood. If that is not available make sure it is seasoned wood that does not have much moisture. You can purchase a moisture meter to test your wood.

Is it safe to burn paper and trash in my fireplace?

It is recommended to use a couple of pieces of paper to start your fire, but never burn trash. It burns too hot and could damage your flue. There are several products on the market that can be used in lieu of paper. A few to mention would be the electric looft lighter, or starter blocks.

How often should I clean my fireplace and have my chimney swept?

If you burn wood it is recommended to have your chimney and fireplace system checked once a year. You can tell if it is time for a cleaning by looking up inside the throat of the fireplace, if there is more than 1/4 inch of soot, it needs to be cleaned. If it is shiny, you have glazed creosote and should schedule a cleaning immediately, as it could cause a flue fire.

Does the grade of pellet matter?

If you burn wood it is recommended to have your chimney and fireplace system checked once a year. You can tell if it is time for a cleaning by looking up inside the throat of the fireplace, if there is more than 1/4 inch of soot, it needs to be cleaned. If it is shiny, you have glazed creosote and should schedule a cleaning immediately, as it could cause a flue fire.

What are pellets made of?

Pellets are made of compressed sawdust, recycling surplus material from lumbering and furniture making operations. The sawdust is formed into pellets under many thousands of pounds of pressure. Pellets are typically sold in 40 lb bags, about the size of a bag of dog food. Pellets need to be stored in a dry area; if soaked by rain or snow they swell up back into sawdust and cannot used in your pellet insert.

What should I use to vent my insert

Pellet inserts use 4” stainless steel flexible vent up through the chimney. Be sure not to use lower temperature rated flexible gas vent; doing so both violates building code & can be unsafe.

Can I use a thermostat on my pellet insert

Most pellet inserts can use a millivolt thermostat to regulate room temperature; some cycle between high & low heat output, others shut down entirely & re-light themselves when the thermostat calls for heat.

Is electricity required?

Although they use very little electricity, power is required for operation. The auger has to feed pellets into the burner, and air must be blown into the burning pellets. Without that air, burning pellets will simply smolder and produce very little heat.

Can I burn regular wood in my pellet insert

Pellet inserts are fuel specific; that is, they are designed and intended to operate only on wood pellet fuel.

How often should I have my fireplace cleaned and chimney swept

If you burn wood it is recommended to have your chimney and fireplace system checked once a year. You can tell if it is time for a cleaning by looking up inside the throat of the fireplace, if there is more than 1/4 inch of soot, it needs to be cleaned. If it is shiny, you have glazed creosote and should schedule a cleaning immediately, as it could cause a flue fire.

When installing my mantle, what is the typical and safest distance between the mantel piece and fireplace?

When installing a mantle the most common measurement is to place it 12″ above the top of the fireplace system, and for every additional inch that the shelf protrudes out, add an additional inch. Example; a 6″ mantle would be 18″ above the opening. It is always best to consult the manufacturer’s manual for their EXACT specification.

What exactly is a pellet insert?

Somewhat like a traditional gas or wood fireplace insert, a pellet insert installs into a fireplace and burns wood pellets. On top of the insert is a hopper which holds the pellet fuel. An electric motor drives a screw auger that feeds the pellets slowly into the fire. A fan blows air under the burning pellets so they burn hotly just like air blows underneath a blacksmithing fire. Another fan draws room air through a heat exchanger and back into the room.faq_pellets_banner