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Anyone Have a Gas Fireplace Insert Installed?
Old 01-16-2010, 04:14 PM   #1
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Anyone Have a Gas Fireplace Insert Installed?

We have a wood-burning fireplace that we never use. I've started doing a little preliminary research on having a gas insert installed (we have gas heat). Has anyone here gone through this process? If so, would you mind sharing approx. cost for unit plus installation, and any issues/maintenance/cleaning/repairs that you've run into?

From what I've seen on the internet, it looks like cost of unit plus installation might run $1000-1500, is this in the right ballpark?

I'm especially interested in hearing about any issues that can arise during or after installation. I'm going to drop this idea like a hot potato if it turns out there is a lot of maintenance/upkeep involved. Thanks.
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Old 01-16-2010, 04:25 PM   #2
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I had one installed in my previous house maybe 10 years ago. At that time it cost about $1500. I got a gas fireplace with a fan that had both low and high speeds. It really heated the room well compared to the fireplace. The big difference in a gas fireplace is that the heat is more constant, and there is no mess with dealing with wood.

My current house has a gas fireplace without the fan, and I'm going to have a fan installed to circulate the heat. The fan makes a huge difference if you want to use the fireplace to help heat the room. I mostly use the fireplace when it's a colder day, instead of turning up the heat to the whole house.

When I wash my dogs, I turn the fireplace on so they can dry themselves in front of it. They love to sleep on their dog bed in front of it.

I've had no issues with either fireplace. I've been in this house 6 years, and had the other house about 4 years after installing the fireplace. No issues cleaning it either. I've never had any maintenance done except for cleaning the glass inside and dusting it outside.
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Old 01-16-2010, 04:39 PM   #3
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In my prior house we had a free standing gas fireplace/stove put in about 12 years ago. Never a problem, always worked perfectly. Very nice to have. You will want to have at least a galvanized pipe liner if your chimney isn't lined and you vent it through the chimney. We vented through a chimney that came up into the room and dropped the pipe in pretty easily ourselves. We had a plumber do the final connect.
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Old 01-16-2010, 04:39 PM   #4
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We had two installed in a previous house. Ours weren't inserts, just gas log sets. Open to the house. We bought the logs and paid to have them installed. I can't remember how much, but since it was so long ago it wouldn't help anyway.

As far as usefulness, I think they are great! The one fireplace used to be really smokey when we burned wood. Obviously no problem with that when we switched over to gas. I really liked being able to just shut it off and leave or go to bed or whatever. Also, a couple of times when we had winter power outages it was nice to have the heat and light. With the logs we could either close the flue to keep the heat in, or open it to let it out and just have the ambiance.

We currently have a fireplace insert, and it's pretty nice too. But I preferred the log set.
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Gas Log Insert
Old 01-16-2010, 05:54 PM   #5
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Gas Log Insert

Quote:
Originally Posted by ksr View Post
We have a wood-burning fireplace that we never use. I've started doing a little preliminary research on having a gas insert installed (we have gas heat). Has anyone here gone through this process? If so, would you mind sharing approx. cost for unit plus installation, and any issues/maintenance/cleaning/repairs that you've run into?

From what I've seen on the internet, it looks like cost of unit plus installation might run $1000-1500, is this in the right ballpark?

I'm especially interested in hearing about any issues that can arise during or after installation. I'm going to drop this idea like a hot potato if it turns out there is a lot of maintenance/upkeep involved. Thanks.
We had the gas line run for our logs about 6 years ago. I do not remember the cost, but I am sure it was at least $300. We are on our second set of logs. I installed both of them myself. Make sure you get a good set of gas logs. They are very useful when the weather is cold. A good set of logs will run from $200 to $500. We have enjoyed our logs.
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Old 01-17-2010, 07:46 AM   #6
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I put a nice set of gas logs in our living room fireplace. We don't use it often and a few times when I wanted to set a fire I didn't have any wood. The gas logs are instant on and look nice. I use it a bit more frequently now than before -- but not much.
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Old 01-17-2010, 09:08 AM   #7
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We had two put in our present house. They replaced electric baseboard heat. The house could not be easily converted to central heat.

We are absolutely delighted with them. They can heat the house even with the power off (not as well, but it works). Try that with central heat. We have leaned that furnaces only fail when you need them most. Ours have fans, by the way, but they are designed to send heat into the room by convection in case the power is out.

They should be inspected once a year, just like your central heat furnace should be. Have it done at the same time. Our inspector comes from the place we bought them. He cleans the glass, which is necessary. (He broke the ceramic faux log on one once, but that doesn't bother us.)

Our installation was cheaper, but your numbers are probably good for today.

There is one thing to watch out for. We talked to 2 or 3 installers. One of them wanted to route the gas line in a very unacceptable way. We went with someone who did it the way we wanted. Have the guy explain exactly how he wants to plumb the insert, then be there when it is being done to make sure you get what you want.

There are two types of inserts (or were when we bought). One relies on combustion air from the room. If you have a tight house, this could be a problem. The other has the combustion air intake concentric with the flue gas duct and they both go up the chimney.

For the insert in the living room, we have a optional little hand-held cordless controller. My wife can turn it on and set the temp from her chair. Once, the receiver needed the batteries changed.

We like them.
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Old 01-17-2010, 09:23 AM   #8
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The house could not be easily converted to central heat.
No central heat in cowtown? Or did you mean can't convert to forced air?
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Old 01-17-2010, 09:26 AM   #9
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I absolutely love my gas log fireplace. I bought a spec house under construction about 6 years ago. and the builder gave me a choice of either a gas log fireplace or an entertainment center in the little den off my kitchen. I chose the former. In my previous house I had a wood burning fireplace and for me, this is much preferable. I just flick on a switch and voila, instant warmth. I use it several times a day in cool weather for heating the kitchen and den instead of turning up the furnace. It is a Monessen brand, unvented, with ceramic logs. I get it cleaned annually by a chimney company that specializes in these fireplaces as they installed it. The HVAC people around here refuse to service gas log fireplace for whatever reason. This cleaning of the fireplaces is a good business. The place I use will only come if they installed it, and they only clean them on Mondays and Tuesdays. I made an appointmen 3 weeks in advance in October. This last time they sent a kid with jeans falling off of his butt and underwear showing and was charged $113.00 for a 20 minute house call.
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Old 01-17-2010, 10:46 AM   #10
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I had a set installed with the fan and loved it while it worked. Unfortunately, they only lasted about 5 years and I haven't replaced them yet. Anyone have recommendations for a quality set?
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Old 01-17-2010, 11:21 AM   #11
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We have a very nice gas insert. One issue that we discovered after we purchased. The inserts are very efficient...essentially they are small furnaces. When we shopped we chose the insert that had the largest viewing area...and turns out it also had substantial heat output.

Our result is that we need to turn off fairly soon after turning on as it quickly heats up the room...even if we turn the forced air fan only on. Also, the other room get real cool as the thermostat is in the main living room where the insert is.

With hindsight I think we would have watch BTU ratings a bit more...so we could allow to burn longer. BTW...we are in Minnesota so it is plenty cool here...aslo, we have not installed the remote thermostat due to lack of plug in powere near the masonry fireplace...that would turn it off for us

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Old 01-17-2010, 02:17 PM   #12
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No central heat in cowtown? Or did you mean can't convert to forced air?
The inserts were for our house in Bellingham, Washington. A very mild climate. Our house was all electric baseboard heat when we bought it. The rooms, ceilings and floors were not arranged so that we could retrofit ducting, though we had a place for the furnace. We also replaced the old aluminum windows with modern double-glazed.

In Cowtown, even the garages have central heat.
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Old 01-17-2010, 03:09 PM   #13
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I don't have an insert, but I do have a gas fireplace as part of the original construction of my townhouse. I've only had to have a service person come once in 13 years. The pilot light went out—I think probably due to shifting of the logs during the Nisqually Earthquake—and I didn't know how to re-light it.

My fireplace also puts out a terrific amount of heat. I also have central heating so I only use the fireplace if the weather is particularly cold or if I get thoroughly chilled working in the garden on a cold day or the like. Mine has electric ignition and turns on with a switch. IIRC it's possible to light it even when the power is off, but I've forgotten how to do it and obviously natural gas is something you want to be very careful with. I think if I were buying a fireplace or insert today, I'd look for one that you light manually. I have no idea whether such are available, but having a manual system would have eliminated my single service call and also made the unit something I could use for backup heat during a power outage. The central heat is gas forced air, so it needs electricity to work.
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Old 01-17-2010, 07:48 PM   #14
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I have a different wrinkle going. Recently bought this house with a very large living room. It needed something and DW, who is a frustrated interior decorator, came up with the solution. She initially found this faux limestone fireplace mantle on Craigs List. Had to have it. That led to a fireplace insert. The insert led to a fireplace chimney. Our insert is electric as we don't have any natural gas lines in the area. Would have had to install propane. Anyway, SIL is in the process of building a faux fireplace chimney which will have a hearth and an electric insert. Insert cost is $650, Faux mantle was $475 and faux chimney is free from SIL. Until recently here in Florida, there wasn't much need for a fireplace. Will send photo when finished.
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Old 01-18-2010, 09:34 AM   #15
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We went the simplist way. We have a wood burning fireplace. Just bought a set of ventless logs from Lowe's, had a local plumber run a gas line to the fireplace for about $200.

We use ours almost daily. Keep the flu closed. Does nice job of heating the living/dining/kitchen area while we keep the thermostat on the central system down. Live in NW PA (snowbelt area due to Lake Erie).

Maintenance primarily taking the logs out and vacuuming up any dust in the Fall. Occasionally will have a problem with the pilot light......but blowing through a straw to clear any dust out of the pilot orifice fixes that problem.
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Old 01-18-2010, 11:24 AM   #16
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For those operating ventless heating appliances: do your families a favor and be sure, as a minimum, you have a good (i.e. with a digital readout) , operational CO detector. Be sure you are introducing make-up air.

Ventless heaters are illegal in some US states and many countries (including Canada). They reduce indoor air quality by venting combustion products directly into the air in the rooms. At a minimum they introduce water into the air, which can cause mold as the water condenses on cold building materials in the winter. (20,000 BTU = 1 quart of water per hour)

These heaters were probably okay when houses were draftier. In a modern, tight home--maybe not.
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Old 01-18-2010, 12:55 PM   #17
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We have both a gas insert (in one chimney) and wood stove insert (in the other chimney). The wood stove throws at least 5x the heat of the gas insert (so we use it more). DW likes the gas since there's no mess; but operating costs are night an day (I get most of my wood fo free).
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Old 01-18-2010, 01:28 PM   #18
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I'm in the same boat. I just gathered quotes for adding a gas fireplace insert. Our house is too sealed to allow for successful use of the wood-burning one we have.

The prices here in Washington state must be quite a bit higher, because the best quote I got for installing a basic, no-frills gas fireplace insert -- on sale -- was $2,300 (plus tax, plus about $500 for gas piping and related permit). This model is a B-vent, which pulls in a small amount air from the room for combustion. From what I've read, the ideal is to go with a direct vent model (about $600 more expensive), which is an entirely enclosed system that pulls the air in from outside the home.

I like the idea of having a gas fireplace, but I'm undecided as to whether to go ahead, particularly in light of retirement financial planning. Besides the initial cost, which is substantial enough, I'd be increasing my monthly costs by adding the fireplace. And since we're about to get a new highly efficient, gas-fired furnace for our central heating (taking advantage of the federal tax credit), is it really wise to add a much less efficient gas fireplace?
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Old 01-18-2010, 02:04 PM   #19
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And since we're about to get a new highly efficient, gas-fired furnace for our central heating (taking advantage of the federal tax credit), is it really wise to add a much less efficient gas fireplace?
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Old 01-18-2010, 04:38 PM   #20
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For those operating ventless heating appliances: do your families a favor and be sure, as a minimum, you have a good (i.e. with a digital readout) , operational CO detector. Be sure you are introducing make-up air.

Ventless heaters are illegal in some US states and many countries (including Canada). They reduce indoor air quality by venting combustion products directly into the air in the rooms. At a minimum they introduce water into the air, which can cause mold as the water condenses on cold building materials in the winter. (20,000 BTU = 1 quart of water per hour)

These heaters were probably okay when houses were draftier. In a modern, tight home--maybe not.
+1 on the CO detector.

As far as the water added to the air,that has never been a problem. In both VA and MD (where we've lived), the heat dries the air enough that we often have to run a humidifier anyway. Adding a little moisture is a good thing. We were told that the moisture might also bring a little dust or dirt with it, but there's so much dirt in normal air we never noticed a difference.
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