November 2007
So You Want a Gas Fireplace?
Here's What to Keep in Mind

Gas fireplaces have lots of options. These are some things to consider before choosing which options are best for you.


  • Gas fireplaces should not be installed in chimneys that are unsafe. If your chimney is dirty or damaged and unsuitable for wood, it's unsuitable for gas logs, too.
  • If you want to convert a wood-burning chimney to a gas fireplace, be sure to have it professionally cleaned before doing so. Failure to clean it could damage the new equipment.
  • Be sure there is adequate clearance on all sides of the fireplace - most manufacturers suggest at least six inches. Some models are zero-clearance models, meaning they can be placed against or even recessed in walls. Be sure that the model you choose is zero-clearance if you plan to place it against or within a wall.
  • Check to see if a permit to install your fireplace is required by building codes in your area. Failing to get the necessary permits can void your homeowners' insurance policy in the event of a fire.
  • Have fireplaces professionally installed by a licensed contractor.
  • Be sure that a shutoff valve is installed (it's required) at the fireplace so that the flames can be immediately extinguished in case of an emergency.


  • Some models are made to heat a room or even multiple rooms, while some are made for aesthetic purposes only. Many of the models are rated by AFUE, annual fuel utilization efficiency, like furnaces. The higher the AFUE, the more efficiently the unit burns.
  • If choosing a model for heating purposes, be sure to have one properly sized for the area you want to heat. Keep in mind that, while some units may be sized and advertised to heat your entire home, this option may not be feasible. Often, the room where the fireplace is located will become extremely warm before the rest of the home reaches the desired temperature.
  • Some units may not quite heat their advertised square footage. That's because this number is often based on eight-foot ceiling heights and a certain level of efficiency in your home. If you have high ceilings, vaulted ceilings or minimal insulation, it's not always a good idea to go by the number on the box. The best way to get a unit that will fit your needs is to have a dealer conduct a modified heat-loss calculation of your home. This takes into consideration cubic footage, insulation, windows and other factors. Don't forget, though, if you plan on making energy efficient improvements to your home soon, do so before having a modified heat-loss calculation done.
  • Hate having to move from the couch once you've gotten comfy? You can now choose models that adjust the temperature by remote control. Other models are controlled by a thermostat or manual control.
  • If you choose a model that is intended for decorative purposes rather than to heat your home, only about 10 percent of the heat created by the flames stays in the room. Be sure to install glass doors to ensure that the warm air that your heating unit produces stays in your home and doesn't escape through open dampers. Be sure to close the doors when the fireplace is not in use.

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Gas Up the Stove uses recipes from Walton EMC Natural Gas customers. Our customers are encouraged to submit their favorite and unique recipes to us throughout the year. Each month, one recipe is published in The Walton EMC Gasette for other customers to enjoy. The customers who get their recipe in the newsletter also receive a $25 credit toward their next Walton EMC Natural Gas bill.

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