How to Turn Your Wood Burning Fireplace into a Ventless Fireplace

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If you’ve got a wood-burning fireplace in your home that you just don’t want to deal with anymore, you might want to consider turning it into a ventless fireplace.

Ventless fireplaces are much easier to manage. You don’t have to mess with bulky fuel, no need to deal with soot or ash, and there isn’t any smoke!

First thing’s first, though. If you want to make this change, you’ll have to start be closing up that old fireplace.

 

Making the Conversion

This is actually a fairly easy process, though it’s going to take a little time and a few materials. You’ll first want to climb onto your roof to inspect your chimney for decay or loose brick. If there are signs of either of these, you should consider calling a professional to have it inspected and cleaned out.

Once you’re ready to seal it up, you’ll need to remove your chimney cap, then measure the size of the opening. Cut a piece of sheet metal to the size of your chimney opening, then use it to cover the opening, sealing it with some rubber caulking. Be sure not to make it airtight, as this can cause moisture to build up in the house. This plate’s main purpose is to keep rain from coming into the chimney when it’s not in use.

After that’s done, put the chimney cap back on and head inside the house. Close the fireplace damper and measure the opening of the chimney directly below the damper. Using those measurements, cut a piece of sturdy foam insulation and place it inside with more rubber caulking. Since you’ll be using the fireplace, just with a different type of fuel, you’ll want to consider using either a fireproof insulation or adding fireproof material between the flame and the insulation.

 

Choosing the Right Product

Without running gas lines and such, there are three types of fireplaces which will work for what you’ve got planned: electric, gel fuel and ethanol. Each have their advantages and disadvantages, so let’s take a look at a few.

 

Electric

Electric fireplaces work like an electric heater without looking like one. The Real Flame Electric Firebox, for instance, is designed to be placed into a wall. Inside it are fake logs illuminated by LED lights. This particular unit has a remote control and an adjustable thermostat. I have one much like this and it’s easy to forget it’s not a real fire.

If you’re missing the look of smoke, you might consider the Dimplex 600 mm Opti-Myst Cassette Fireplace Insert. This unit actually uses a combination of lights and water vapor to simulate smoke, something I’ve never seen before.

 

Gel

Since there isn’t a real fire, electric isn’t for everyone. Gel is one option, as seen with the Real Flame Gel 18” Log Set. This would be one of the easiest ways to get a fire back into your fireplace without having to deal with old fireplace issues. Not only does it include realistic logs to give you that fireplace feel, it burns using gel fuel, which comes in easy-to-use canisters. In this way, setup is simple, and you get a real fire without a whole lot of trouble.

 

Ethanol

The last, classiest and likely most customizable option is ethanol. Ethanol is very environmentally friendly as it is made from renewable resources and burns completely clean. It’s also fairly easy to refill, which is a plus when you’re trying to escape the trouble of a wood-burning fireplace. Some of the most versatile ethanol burning fireplaces are inserts, such as the EB2100 - Ignis Ethanol Fireplace Burner Insert. This can be easily placed into a converted fireplace and has very little mess or maintenance. It simply is what it is.

If you’re looking for something a little more flashy, you might consider the Eco-Feu 1.5 L Insert. This would also fit well into any fireplace, but has a bit more style to it with its curved, black top. This particular one can also be used outside, should you so desire. It also has an adjustable burner, allowing you to set the flame height to your preference.

Another option that’s a little different, but will still work to replace a fireplace, is the Ignis EBG1400 Ethanol Fireplace Grate. While similar to the previous inserts, this device has a more rugged style. It holds three liters of ethanol, which can result in anywhere from nine to 15 hours of burn time.

If this were a project I was doing myself, I would almost certainly end up with the Design Table Bio-Ethanol Fireplace Insert. This fireplace is the best of all worlds, in my opinion. It is designed to fit snugly into an old fireplace while still being able to maintain it without any fuss. The front glass panel is designed to be easily removed to allow for easy cleaning and refueling of the fireplace. It also has an adjustable flame so I can have the fire exactly how I like it. Its design even allows for putting fake logs in to really help give it that fireplace feel.

 

Safety First

When done correctly, sealing up a fireplace and installing a ventless solution is an excellent way to keep the rustic feel of a wood-burning fireplace with having to deal with all the fuss and muss. Getting rid of the wood pile is a lifesaver and not having to deal with the ash and smoke put off by a fire is just healthier. You may end up missing the comforting crackle and pop which accompanies a wood fire, but I can guarantee you won’t miss all the chopping and cleaning you had to deal with before.

 

There are so many options out there for a quality ventless fireplace experience. Finding the right one to match your style and home just takes a little bit of searching.

Is this a project you’ve done before? Which fireplace did you end up choosing? Tell us in the comments section!

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  • Candace Osmond