Gas fireplaces seem simple enough. You flip a switch, or press a button, and the fireplace ignites, adding a gentle glow and a cozy heat to your living space. But how does your gas fireplace really work? We’ll explain the anatomy of a gas fireplace to help you understand your home-heating appliance a little better.
All fireplaces contain a firebox. In a gas fireplace, the firebox is a sealed unit, usually with glass doors to showcase the flickering flames and radiate heat from the fire itself.
The fire itself is the fireplace burner. Some burners are ignited by a pilot light, while others feature electric starters that light the fire quickly and efficiently. Logs usually sit atop the burner to add a decorative element, and they can be left out entirely or replaced with glass stones or river rocks for a sleeker, more contemporary look.
While it may look like your gas fireplace is firmly enclosed in your hearth, there is actually an area of dead space around the fireplace that allows air to circulate to help heat your home. The cooler air from your living space is drawn into the lower vent of the fireplace. It travels around the firebox, and as it does so, it picks up heat, rises and then exits through a top fireplace vent. In some gas fireplaces, an electric fan helps to circulate the warming air.
There are three types of gas fireplaces, and what sets them apart is how they are vented.
A direct-vent gas fireplace has grown to be the most popular type of gas fireplace. With a direct-vent gas fireplace, the fireplace has two vents that feed directly through a wall or roof to the outside. One vent pulls in outside air to fuel the fireplace’s combustion, while the other vent exhausts the fumes and byproducts of the fireplace. Direct-vent gas fireplaces are one of the most efficient types of home-heating appliances.
Traditionally, gas fireplaces featured a B-vent flue. With a B-vent gas fireplace, the air that fuels the fire is drawn in from within the home, and the smoke from the fireplace exhausts out of a B-vent flue through the top of the home. B-vent gas fireplaces have become problematic in newer, air-tight homes because there is not sufficient air flow within the home to adequately fuel the fire.
Vent-free gas fireplaces. As the name suggests, vent-free gas fireplaces have no flues. They draw in air from the living space to feed the fireplace’s combustion. Vent-free gas fireplaces are extremely efficient, meaning they emit very little byproduct. They do release safe levels of gases and water vapor into the home as they burn.
Many gas fireplaces are wired to a thermostat within the home. That means you can control the heat output of your fireplace to meet your home-heating needs.
If you have any questions about your gas fireplace, if your gas fireplace needs to be serviced or if you are considering adding a gas fireplace to your home, call FireSide Hearth & Home today! We can help you with any of your gas fireplace needs.