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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Middle of Nowhere, TX
    Posts
    51

    Gas insert questions

    I am considering having a gas insert installed in my wood burning brick fireplace. It is already plumbed with a gas line and has a gas starter.

    I cannot tolerate wood smoke, so I don't burn wood fires. I have only used the fireplace about 5 times in 4 years, and only used a dura-flame fire log.

    The fireplace is in a very large open family room/dining/kitchen area which is just over 500 sq. feet, and is all tile, with some area rugs with good carpet padding under them in the winter. This part of the house is the most difficult to heat.

    I am debating about the cost of converting my fireplace with a gas insert, possibly with a variable speed blower, and possibly even an adjustable flame.

    My bedroom connects directly to this family room area.

    My uncle has a gas insert, and says that he rarely has to use his furnace.

    Can the gas fireplace be used while sleeping?

    Are there any issues with occasionally using the furnace at the same time as the gas fireplace? I could not find any info that says that they cannot be used at the same time, but I wondered if there would be any issues with safety in using them both at the same time.

    Will a gas insert be more, or less, expensive to operate than my OLD furnace which is probably not even 70% efficient?

    I am certainly no expert, but it would seem to me that a gas insert fireplace with a blower would deliver heat more efficiently than my old furnace, especially when factoring in the distance the heated air from the furnace must travel through the ductwork, plus the fact that the registers are in the ceiling. It seems to me that the warm air delivered from the gas fireplace, at approximately 4 feet off the ground, would heat the room(s) much faster/more efficiently.

    Thoughts, advice and opinions appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Middle of Nowhere, TX
    Posts
    51
    I forgot to mention that one other reason I am considering this insert idea, is because, even with a new top-mount damper closed (the old original damper above the firebox is always open due to being about to fall apart from age), I still lose tons of warm room air through the fireplace.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Middle of Nowhere, TX
    Posts
    51
    I could sure use some input on these questions.

    As I said above, and in my other recent thread, I am just trying to decide if the investment in the insert is a good idea, and if it might mean I won't have to use the gas furnace much.

    If I were to install a gas insert, it would further delay replacing the HVAC. However, the only real issues I have currently with my old system is the gas furnace part. The air handler, coil, etc, as well as the AC unit outside, are working just fine. The compressor in the AC unit was replace prior to my purchase of this house in 2006. In addition, the blower motor in the air handler/furnace was just replaced this week!!! (Thank God for my home warranty! Between the furnace, and several other issues with the house, I have been really glad I renewed the warranty after the first two FREE years.)


    I hope I am explaning my thought processes in even considering the insert. If an insert can keep me warm without much use of the furnace, as well as save a little money on natural gas use, it will buy me even more time to save up for a new system....or, until I am forced to sell the house, whichever comes first.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Posts
    1,213
    Properly installed, a gas insert will do a good job of area heating. Shop for a quality unit with a fan & thermostat, & a QUALITY install.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    1,078
    It would be safe to use while sleeping if you get a Direct Vent insert.

    An insert will zone heat a space much better than a whole house furnace will. You heat just the area you are mostly in, and you do not have any heat loss in ductwork.

    The furnace can run at the same time as long as the gas lines in the house are properly sized. Most gas pipe systems are over-sized when the house is built to accommodate add-ons later.

    Just remember gas inserts are designed to be zone heaters, not whole house heaters.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Middle of Nowhere, TX
    Posts
    51

    Thank you......

    ....to both of you, for replying.


    Obviously, I can only take the word of any potential installer of a gas insert that the pipes are sized properly. How can I know for certain?

    On last Thursday, the day I posted this thread, I called the company who did the inspection and cleaning of my fireplace when I purchased the house in 2006, and installed the top-mount damper in 2007, to get them to come out and talk to me about an insert.

    His response on the phone was kind of flaky.

    We shall see if he calls me back to set up a time to come talk to me.

    I do understand that the gas inserts are designed to be "zone"
    heaters.

    Yes, I was interested in knowing whether I could sleep with a direct vent insert (I forgot to say that that IS the type I would get, if I get one).

    I guess what I was asking (and I thought I was clear) was whether running the insert for X-number of hours, would be more energy efficient that running the furnace for the same number of hours.

    For example, when I am awake and, let's say, watching TV in the family room with the fireplace, or on the computer in the nearby office, I keep the thermostat set at about 72 to 75 degrees, depending on weather conditions, in order to be comfortable.

    When I go to bed, I set the thermostat back to 68 degrees.

    So, that is why I was asking if I get an insert with at least a variable speed blower, and possibly an adjustable flame, if the insert would use less gas for a given number of hours, than my old inefficient furnace would.


    I realize, I guess, that it would take an actual real-life test, to learn the answer to this, but given the close proximity of my family room (with the fireplace) to my bedroom, it just seemed logical that the insert would be more energy efficient.


    I never got the opportunity to ask my uncle if he used his insert at night when sleeping. I imagine, however, that he meant that he did not need to use the furnace when using his insert, during WAKING hours, in order to be plenty warm.

    I can recall a particularly bitter cold Christmas at his house, when during Christmas dinner, somehow it came up how warm it was (almost TOO warm) in the sunroom/dining room.

    Now this room was a converted patio on the Northeast side of the house. It had been enclosed with a wall of French doors on the North and the East sides, with a French door to the outside on the NE corner.

    The South wall of this sunroom/dining room was the brick of the former-outside of the house, and included the back side of the fireplace in the SW corner, with a french door that could be closed/opened to the living room in the SE corner.

    The West wall was the former wall into a former bedroom, and consisted of 1/2 brick, and another set of french doors that could be closed off.

    When the comment was made about how warm the room was, he told us that he not only did not have the furnace running, but pointed out that the sunroom/dining room was not ducted for central heat anyway.



    Anyway.....

    ....I tried to upload an image of my floor plan to give an idea of where the fireplace is in relation to my bedroom, and other info about the way the rooms connect to the family room where the fireplace is.....but I am obviously not smart enough to get the image or the file size small enough to post.

    Oh, well, it's probably TMI, anyway!!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    1,078
    If you really want to get into it, you could check the BTU input on your furnace, as well as the gas insert you are considering.

    I can tell you most furnaces are between 80k - 120k BTU. A gas insert will be around 30k BTU. The furnace will cycle where you may run the insert constantly.

    It sounds like this is what you would want to do. Instead of setting the thermostat on the furnace to 72F+ when in the office you would instead run the gas insert and leave the thermostat at 68F. This sound use less gas, that is what zone heating is all about.

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