Gas fireplaces are notoriously easier to maintain than traditional fireplaces, but you may be wondering, even though it’s gas, how long can I keep my fireplace running? This question has a few variations depending on what type of gas fireplace you own. Let’s start with that first.
Gas Fireplace Inserts
These are very popular because they can be installed in practically any fireplace area. The inserts have a pipe that allows the smoke and fumes to be released to the outside world using the existing chimney. It’s safe to say that these inserts are ok to operate continuously with less concern regarding chimney fires. The front of the insert should be completely sealed preventing toxic gases from entering the home if it was installed properly. (Inspections are always a good rule of thumb).
These gas fireplaces do not vent the exhaust fumes through the chimney. It sounds a bit alarming “where do those gases go?” The design of the product allows it to burn much cleaner and produce less of the toxic gas people rightly fear. Many of these units have built-in carbon monoxide detectors that will cause the system to shut down if high levels are detected. Though ventless fireplaces have been tested and are deemed to be safe it is still not recommended that they be used for more than a few hours at a time.
Direct Vent Fireplaces
These units have vents that are built into an exterior wall. The plus side is that a fireplace can be created without having an existing chimney or masonry work. Harmful fumes are vented directly to the outside and this makes it possible to keep a fire going continuously with very little risk. Fumes can leak through the front glass so making sure this area is completely sealed is paramount.
Gas Fireplaces and Safety
Although there are different types and styles of gas fireplaces some of which burn more safely and efficiently than others, the general rule is to NOT allow your fireplace to burn through the night. For safety, all fireplaces should be monitored properly to prevent fatal accidents. The biggest risk of leaving a gas fireplace burning all night would be a house fire or gas leak. A gas leak due to failing components would mean toxic and deadly fumes pouring into the house and this is why each family that owns a fireplace should have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Monitoring a fireplace is also crucial to operating these units safely. Chimney fires are the most common consequence of unmaintained and unmonitored fireplaces.
There are gas fireplaces that can be left burning for long periods. If the glass is properly sealed and the fireplace is fully vented this fireplace should run continuously without incident. HOWEVER, if you want to err on the side of caution, it is much better to only leave your fireplace burning, no matter what type it is, for two to three hours at a time. If you are older, if you have small children, or if you simply don’t want to leave anything to chance, following this rule can give you peace of mind. As always, consult the manufacturer/manual for the care and guidance of using your particular fireplace.
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