I just had a meeting with a professional gas fireplace installer who came highly recommended. I was not inspired with his advice.
I have a gas fireplace that's had nothing but problems since it was installed new over 12 years ago. When it's windy, I get a lot of ghosting and the flame goes out. In addition, the fireplace will “pop” every 10 minutes when it's windy (fireplace is not on when this happens). This popping sound is caused by the metal of the fireplace itself flexing. In addition, as you can see from the enclosed picture, we've had some melting on the vinyl siding.
I'm not looking to repair any of this myself. I realize a lot of issues could cause ghosting. However, the professional installer said he cannot guarantee the ghosting will not occur with a new install. He did not mention any potential issues such as the intake and exhaust vents being improperly connected or an improperly sealed bump out. He suggested I fabricate an enclosure around the exhaust vent to block some of the wind gusts (not safe in my view). As to the replacement fireplace, he pushed real hard for a vent-free fireplace but said he would install a vented fireplace for $1700 labor but wouldn't guarantee anything.
So my question is, how can I find a professional installer who is competent? What questions should I ask him? And finally, is it just a fact of life that vented gas fireplaces aren't usable in moderately windy conditions?
BTW, I live in Northern Virginia.