October 2004
Instant Heat at the Flip of a Switch

It's 8:30 p.m. You just finished your warm cup of soup and sit down to relax and enjoy your favorite TV show. There's a chill in the air, but it's too much trouble to start a fire. You don't have any chopped wood or wood chips and dread cleaning out the ashes.

But how can you get the pleasant, cozy warmth without the hassles of starting a fire? With natural gas you can have instant heat at the flip of a switch. Forget about the wood, ashes and heavy smoke; heat your home with a more clean-burning fuel using a natural gas fireplace.

Whether you're building a new home or already have a fireplace, as long as your home is equipped with a natural gas connection, you can enjoy the benefits of a natural gas fireplace.

Most importantly, take your time selecting a natural gas fireplace and shop around. Every dealer has a different selection of fireplaces to choose from. Dealers' prices may vary, as well as any special offers or sale prices.

First choose the type of gas fireplace you want. Select from two basic types, freestanding or built-in units. If you have an existing fireplace unit in your home, a built-in unit is the solution.

Freestanding units come in a variety of styles including hearth, wall-mounted and fireplace stoves. You also have several venting options: through the wall, roof or an existing chimney.

A direct-vent fireplace is generally the best option for safety and energy efficiency. This system uses two separate pipes, one for outdoor combustion air to flow directly into the unit, the other for releasing combustion products.

Other types include natural draft venting, power venting and vent-free. Be cautious of vent-free fireplaces. These units release combustion byproducts, like carbon monoxide, into your home.

Now determine the size of the area you want to heat using the gas fireplace. Be aware that most units advertise a square footage of heating area. But often times the square footage on the label doesn't consider all the specs of your home, such as vaulted ceilings, so the figures may be inaccurate for your application.

Ask the dealer about a modified heat-loss calculation. It's the most accurate calculation, measuring the actual cubic footage of the area you want heated, and also considering your home's insulation, windows and any other energy-related features.

Make sure the fireplace you choose is an efficient model. Many gas fireplaces require a pilot light, which uses the gas produced by the unit and causes your unit to consume more energy. Ask about an automatic electronic ignition system.

Several features contribute to the efficiency of your unit. The glass front even makes a difference in transmitting infrared heat. Ceramic glass most often works better than tempered glass.

Some units have a secondary heat exchanger that transfers more heat into your home. Consider the temperature control. Is it automatic or adjustable?

Don't forget about accessories. Popular accessories like a fan and remote control can add to the convenience of your gas fireplace.

Visit your local home improvement stores or search natural gas fireplaces on-line. Learn what your options are and find the unit that suits your style best. This winter, you can finally relax and enjoy the pleasurable benefits of a natural gas fireplace.

Remember Safety & Proper Maintenance:

  • Have your fireplace inspected by a licensed heating professional before the unit's initial use.
  • Read the manufacturer's instructions before operating your new unit.
  • Service your fireplace regularly. A licensed heating contractor should inspect the burner, operation of the blower, venting, pilot light and thermostat.
  • Stay away from the hot surfaces during use.
  • If your unit has a pilot light and it goes out, wait several minutes be re-igniting.
  • Keep the glass, fans and air passageways clean.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector close to the fireplace.
  • If you smell gas, call Atlanta Gas Light immediately.