Thinking of changing gas fireplace to wood-burning...

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Silence, Oct 13, 2011.

  1. Silence

    Silence Active Member

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    Hi!

    We bought our home (our first!) at the tail end of 2009. It has a fireplace that's gas, but we were thinking about changing over to a wood-burning fireplace.

    I have so many questions I hardly know where to start., so I am coming here and hoping those of you in the know will share a bit of your knowledge.

    1. Is a gas fireplace cheaper to maintain than a wood-burning fireplace?

    (Our home has forced-air heating, but the furnace is over 30 years old. I am located in Colorado.)

    2. If we were to switch over, does anyone have any idea what we can expect for cost/time/effort for the changeover? Is this a relatively simple thing to do, or is it an ordeal?

    3. Were we to switch from gas to wood, is there anything special we would need to do with our chimney?

    4. How often do those of you with wood burning fireplaces have a chimney sweep do their thing?

    Thanks in advance for your input!
     
  2. ldc

    ldc Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I would think that a wood-burning fireplace would be cheaper over all. But you will need an insert or wood stove if you are trying to get an appreciable amount of heat from it. Fireplaces in general, let cold air in, and suck the heat out of the house up the chimney. However, they are beautiful, and bring people together.

    We used to get a chimney sweep once a year, and clean it a few times ourselves in addition. This was when I lived in a 12 rm Victorian house in NJ, w nary a stitch of insulation. We used up to 13 cords of wood/year with a wood stove inserted into the chimney, to get the inside temps up to 60 degrees. It only went down to zero the years I lived there.

    Not sure if it'd be an ordeal to switch over or not. Others will chime in! Good luck, ldc
     

  3. mnn2501

    mnn2501 Dallas

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    1. if you have access to wood, yes, its much cheaper
    2. takes about 15 minutes to do - remove gas logs, remove gas wand and replace with gas starter (if you want a gas starter) I had my chimney sweep do it when he cleaned my chimney
    3, just make sure its clean
    4. I do mine every other year, but then I am in TX and don't heat with it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2011
  4. Raven12

    Raven12 Well-Known Member

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    I have an old fashioned fireplace. One that plain ole burns wood. :) I have the chimney checked once a year. I can't tell you how much I adore it. A big plus is that when the electricity goes out during a bad blizzard, I have a back up heat source.
     
  5. jwal10

    jwal10 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Have the chimney cleaned and checked to make sure it is in good shape and appropriate for a wood stove/fireplace. Yes, get an airtight insert/stove not just a fireplace. Will use much less wood. Gas is good for clean heat, not much mess and easy. If you want to save money and have or can get the wood cheap you will be ok, otherwise with buying a new stove and paying for wood you won't make you cost back. If just an occasional fire, don't bother....James
     
  6. Silence

    Silence Active Member

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    Thanks, everybody- this is good information!
     
  7. vallyfarm

    vallyfarm Well-Known Member

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    WAIT WAIT WAIT Just removing the fake logs and start using real wood is a super way to burn the whole house! Many gas burners only use a thin single wall chimney pipe that isn't much better than a dryer vent hose. And unless you have an expert switch it over having a gas pipe leading to the wood fire is a great way of having the house explode befor it burns down. A chimney liner for a wood burner should be at least a double wall pipe rated for wood. I would at least have a real good talk with an installer befor I went any farther. Mike
     
  8. windblown

    windblown Well-Known Member

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    why couldn't you get a wood burning stove you could put it on the hearth and run a double walled pipe from the stove up the chimney to the top so no heat problems and no insert needed yes wood is cheaper but the ashes are dirty to clean up after, but they are good for the compost make sure you put a fireproof thingy under the stove we did this with our fireplace because all the heat went up the chimney and not in the house worked good even cooked on the stove some kept the whole house warm
    good luck
     
  9. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    What valleyfarm said!

    Some "gas fireplaces" even vent out the wall and have no chimneys.

    Silence, was your set up once a woodburning fireplace that was later converted to a gas fireplace? Or, was it originally constructed as a gas fireplace?
     
  10. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Don't mean to be an echo, but....

    Wood rated chimneys are very different & more robust than gas rated. You need to be sure you have a wood-rated one. The 'conversion' would likely be expensive.

    Fireplaces are terribly inefficient. They allow warm room air to go up out of the house, along with most of the heat the fire produces. To make heat, you would want a good insert that is basicly a little wood stove. You'd want one that is efficient & provides heat, not a decorative one that looks nice. Again, they are made differently.

    Unforutnately most things these days are madr to look pretty, and not offer much value. Shop carefully.

    --->Paul
     
  11. nancy237

    nancy237 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Because I have some chimney damage ...

    I am deciding between a gas log set up , a woodstove insert or just chimney repair and leaving it as an ineffiencient wood burning fireplace..To complicate the issue I may be selling soon so its not the same as if I planned to stay here, but makes me factor in what buyers would want over what I would want.

    The reason I explained this is I have found that having a few companies come and give me free estimates has been an excellent way to get educated about my options..I have learned the pros & cons of each..

    Just expect for the wood stove people to tell you the cons of gas & the gas log people to tell you the cons of woodstove..but its all educational.
    Then the best help comes from the companies that install both...
     
  12. cmtigger

    cmtigger Well-Known Member

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    I just converted from gas to wood. My fireplace had some damage from the previous gas installation, so since it already had a gas insert (that leaked, couldn't be used anyway), I had it replaced with a wood insert. As the chimney wasn't in that great of shape, I had to have a new liner installed rather than just taking out the gas one.
    Around here people change back and forth between gas and propane all the time. Generally as people get older and tired of tending to wood, they have propane put in, and then the younger people buy a place and put wood in to save money. I spoke to several companies and one was willing to help me find a used insert, and it has gone very well. I do agree that the places that sell both types are the best- they can tell you the pros and cons on both.
     
  13. Gianni

    Gianni Well-Known Member

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    If it is a gas fireplace it needs to be removed, the vent needs to be removed and a new liner or triplewall chimney will need to be run. A good shop might do it in 1-1 1/2 days depending on what is involved.
     
  14. Gianni

    Gianni Well-Known Member

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    Gas logs are rated as iluminary appliances. That means that their greatest benefit comes from watching the flames. As codes require that the flue dampers be permanantly open, the heat loss is often greater after installing a set of gas logs than before.
     
  15. Silence

    Silence Active Member

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    Wow...I am so glad that I asked this question. What terrific advice! I'd have never thought of half of this stuff.

    I will ask for free estimates and bone up on wood stoves vs. inserts. To compound the problem, we've got four cats that are very curious and have never experienced anything besides forced-air heat. The changeover project may have to wait for the kitten to outgrow his Curious-Georgeness.