With many types of gas fireplaces on the market, you might ask yourself, what type of fireplace is right for me? While we have already written an in-depth guide for understanding gas fireplaces this article will explore 5 things you need to know before purchasing a direct vent gas fireplace.
- direct vent flue collars on an insert
How is a direct vent fireplace different from the rest?
A direct vent fireplace can best be described as a vented gas fireplace with a sealed glass firebox. Because of its venting and setup, it is super efficient for heating. Coaxial pipes draw air from the outdoors for combustion instead of sucking air, and heat, out of the room you're sitting in.
- coaxial venting diagram
Direct vent fireplaces are a great option for people who need a venting system outside of the typical vertical chimney. Direct vents can be made vertical, horizontal, or a combination of the two.
As of 2015, all manufacturers were required to put a barrier screen on all direct vent fireplaces to act as a shield between the viewer and the glass. This safety measure helps prevents unnecessary burns for children, pets, and the occasional clumsy guest. Though, if you're feeling risky, the barrier screen can be removed.
Is it expensive?
A direct vent fireplace can be less expensive than a B-vent fireplace. Coaxial pipes are more expensive than galvanized piping found in B-vent. However, B-vent chimney systems require vertical venting through the roof that ends along the roofline. Since direct vent piping can terminate horizontally on an outside wall, you may end up spending less on more expensive materials because you use less of those materials than you would if you installed a B-vent system.
- direct vent flue collar and pipe
So, keep in mind, that though direct vent chimney pipes are more costly than B-vent, it is possible for your bill to come out lower because the installation of direct vent piping is more flexible.
Will it heat as good as other gas fireplaces?
B-vent fireplaces may appear to heat better because the open firebox allows for more flame visibility. Though, it is actually worse than a direct vent gas fireplace because it sucks the air out of the room for combustion. So, with a B-vent fireplace, all you end up with is radiant heat that warms up the objects in your room.
The other option, vent free fireplaces, heat efficiently and release limited by-product into the air around you. Though, they have limited output and are banned in many states due to concerns about exhaust fumes being released into the room. So, direct vent fireplaces are a great happy medium where you get heat efficiency and good air quality.
Is there more than one style?
While some consider fireplaces fueled by gas to be fake fireplaces, the benefit to the artificial flame models are a wide variety of styles. So, if you have to give up the authentic look of a wood burning fireplace, you won't have to scrimp on the overall aesthetics of your appliance.
Like the Empire 35 inch Tahoe the traditional fireplace style usually has a square opening with a cement log set and the appearance of real flames. They range from 32 to 60 inches in size. Most have fake brick, stone or porcelain liners, but don't let this fakefireplace fool you, it will put off beautiful, realistic flames.
- traditional direct vent fireplace
Linear / Modern:
You won't have to compromise flame visibility with this one. Linear models range from 36 to 100 inches wide because of their unique rectangular shape. Fire glass, stones or pebbles often complement modern models like the Superior 60 inch DRL4000 instead of traditional logs.
- linear direct vent fireplace
The Napoleon GDL19 is the perfect example of a specialty fireplace. The narrow width allows it to squeeze into tight spaces in kitchens and smaller rooms where fireplaces aren't usually available. These models are also handy for condos and or small apartments (where regulations allow).
- kitchen direct vent fireplace
How do I care for my new fireplace?
While the owner's manual will give you invaluable tips for maintaining a direct vent fireplace, you will need to contact an electrician to run a gas line and help you complete the installation. There are clearances required for installing a venting system as well as specific framing dimensions to be aware of when creating the opening for your new fireplace. This is not a job you want to tackle alone unless you have significant experience in home renovation.
Thankfully, cleaning a gas fireplace isn't as hard as installing one. Exhaust fumes that escape through the chimney from a gas fireplace aren't nearly as tough on the flue as gases that release from a wood burning fireplace. So, you won't have to worry about creosote build up in the chimney and only need to inspect the system termination occasionally. You'll want to check for yard debris or bird nests in the venting system about once a year. Don't forget to clean the glass 1-3 times per year with water and a soft cloth.
I can't stress this point enough. You are responsible for checking for damages when your fireplace arrives at your home via a freight carrier. Before you allow the driver to leave, take a few moments to unwrap the package and look for cracks or dents. Freight carriers do tend to heavily wrap these products and strap them down for extra protection, but at the end of the day, it is up to you to make sure you receive a fully intact fireplace.
Direct vent fireplaces are a happy medium between, cost, efficiency and air quality. For more info on direct vent fireplaces and comparisons between b-vent and vent free click here for a full-length article or contact our NFI certified technicians.