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  1. #1

    can I burn a real fire in here?

    Hi Folks,

    We're recently moved to a new house with 2 fireplaces. Well... one and a half since the one in the living room isn't vented at all so a ventless is the only choice there. The unvented one is currently empty of any gas log or anything and doesn't look like it's ever been used at all. The fireplace in the family room though does have a real flu. It's metal and looks clean. There is currently a ventless gas log in there that I am considering having moved to the living room fireplace and then Id like to burn actual wood in the family room one.

    Before I call someone in to move that gas log is it possible to tell if it's OK to have a real fire in there? Are there fire boxes and flues that are not rated for a real fire only a gas log? The house is only 6 years old so anything done should theoretically be up to a modern minimum code, but who knows... I dont want to move it if I can't keep using this fireplace.

    And while I'm chatting about ventless inserts, do you like them and trust them? I had one of those home depot ones at a previous place and it looked nice but the regulator made such a whine that it was impossible to use it without that becoming annoying. Is that common? Or should I just put flowers in that unvented fireplace and forget about it.

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Posts
    1,213
    I would'nt use a ventless - CO hazard for sure.. have the fireplace(s) checked by a professional who can certify the firebox, clearances & chimney for either wood or gas.. otherwise flowers are the best option.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    393
    Call a professional that can do a level II inspection of the vented fireplace and try to find one that also is knowledgeable on vent-free gas fireplaces. There are many out there that have negative opinions on vent-frees, but have never even seen one. Get a pro in and he can offer his opinion as to the best way to proceed.

    Oh yes, with your Home Depot gas logs, those two words "Home Depot" should be a clue as to the cause of your previous issues. Ya gets what ya pays for.
    Common sense is NOT common !!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    1,078
    As I said in the other post, need make, model, and owners manual for the wood fireplace as well.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    S.E. Pa
    Posts
    6,290

    Talking You can burn anything at least once....

    "can I burn a real fire in here? "

    Oh, yes, at least once!!!

    Level II. Get the rating plates with listing number and ANSI numbers. That will identify what you have and the inspection will tell the condition and if installed to the listed instructions or not.

    Any pics?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    25
    Im going to say no. But get it checked to be sure.

    Id say the firebox is probably and the vent is most definitely rated for natural gas/propane flue gas temperatures(B vent). Wood burns much hotter so usually needs stainless steel/double wall insulated vents(class A) or tile lined chimneys

    As for ventless, I would worry about Co issues, improper venting is one of the main problems in the gas trade. So no venting is just asking for trouble. My opinion of course.

  7. #7
    Thanks folks, I will get someone in to check them out for me before I do anything. The vented fireplace is a Heatilator model GR6 and/or E42 both model numbers are listed on the plate. The "fireplace number" is AH865417. The plate on it does say that it can have a gas log or "solid wood" fuel and searching on their website for the E42 model does say that it burns regular wood. I will have the chimney inspected to see what it's made of first to make sure it's OK. It's not exactly the fireplace season around here at the moment so there is plenty of time. There is a warning on it about not using a ventless log in it which I suspect this fancy electric start thing is, but I dont know if they mean just the log itself, or somehow connecting it up without a vent in the first place.

    fireplace insert is here:
    http://sentman.com/files/firebox/firebox1.jpg
    the controls for the pilot light on the gas log are here, but I dont see a plate on it obvious that has it's name or model number on it, I'd have to take the logs out I think to see it:
    http://sentman.com/files/firebox/firebox2.jpg
    The batteries for the remote control system are just in the firebox with it, do they make high temperature duracells? http://sentman.com/files/firebox/firebox4.jpg
    the back of that box does have a company logo type thing "Sit"? or "Fit"?
    http://sentman.com/files/firebox/firebox5.jpg

    And it looks to me that you folks dont actually care for ventless fireplaces The home depot ones at the previous house I picked up on sale off season and actually had them put into an outdoor fireplace, so venting or CO buildup wasn't much of a concern, but the noise from the regulator really put me off the things.

    Thanks so much!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    393
    Bad news, you have another Home Depot special. I believe your unit was made by DESA which is no longer in business. While I have never detected any carbon monoxide with this type of unit, I have had numerous problems with the remote control system.

    There are many people that do not like vent-free gas appliances because they can be dangerous, like anything else, if operated improperly and improperly maintained.With all of the dust accumulate on your logs, yours has not been maintained.
    Common sense is NOT common !!!

  9. #9
    heh, I guess thats not a surprise. And no, it hasn't been used in at least 3 years. The previous owners of the house claimed never to have lit it at all. The thing is full of cobwebs and dead bugs and is kind of nasty at the moment. I will have it checked out and if there is any question as to it's safety I will have them toss it out and replace it.

    Thanks!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    1,078
    The heatilator fireplace itself is made for wood burning. No heatilator units are approved for use with vent free gas logs. Hopefully the use of the gas log has not damaged the firebox at all from excess heat. If you get a really good inspection done on the Heatilator wood unit (and it passes) you should be able to burn wood in it.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    393
    Many vent-free gas logs have a dual rating. They can be used in a conventional vent-free firebox and they can also be used in it's vented configuration in a vented firebox by removing or blocking the fireplace damper open. The method of securing the damper varies according to manufacturer and by local code. If your vent-free is rated for vented operation and was used in Heatilator firebox in the vented configuration, your firebox may be ok.
    Common sense is NOT common !!!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    S.E. Pa
    Posts
    6,290

    Cool Level III inspection

    The reason Heatilator fireplaces are not approved for ventfree gas logs is because blocking the damper would negate the primary cooling system of the fireplace. You see, HL takes room air through side louvers, strips heat off the firebox and dumps it into the stack just below the damper. Close the damper and you block the cooling system.

    Now, if someone has been burning VF logs in a HL for any appreciable time at all, such as >1hr., you have the potential for pyrolysis of the nearby combustibles. Unfortunately, the proper course would be to conduct a Level III internal inspection to ensure the framing is not charred just waiting to ignite. Any exterior visible inspection would be inadequate in this case.

    The problem I have with dual listed logs in a HL or any other box not approved for them is eventually someone gets the bright idea to close the damper and capture all that heat.

    FYI, if the Level III uncovers occult signs of pyrolysis or charring, this would typically qualify as an unfriendly fire loss and be covered by insurance. The inspector should take tons of pics and preserve any evidence so as not to commit a spoliation of evidence.

    If you pass a code inspection, it means you scored a D minus.... Also, inspectors cannot minimize codes and stds. Just because an inspector overlooked a code point does not excuse it. The code still applies as do the product listing and industry stds., whichever is more restrictive.

    HTH,
    Hearthman

  13. #13
    ok, that makes the issue more clear. But if you burn vent free logs, but WITH a vent and the vent properly open then it sounds like there would be no problem? I'm still getting the inspection, (today the broken AC is taking priority for my attention and energy to call folks but I was having trouble why burning them with the flu would be a problem...

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