Shopping for an Efficient Direct Vent Gas Fireplace
Nothing’s nicer than relaxing by a cozy fire, which David in Iowa wants to do. And how can we help you do that?
DAVID: Well, what I’d like to know – I have a townhouse and we have a Preway zero clearance fireplace in here. And we’ve had some problems with it and like to know what’s the best way to replace it and keep the cost down as low as possible.
TOM: What kinds of problems are you having?
DAVID: Well, just this last fall – this is about 18 years old now we’ve had this. And we built (inaudible) this fall – a fire this fall and we had some strange odor coming out. It smelled like it was kind of getting hot. Funny smell. And I had it – I’ve had it cleaned and I have it cleaned periodically with a chimney sweep. And they didn’t find anything like a small hole or we’re having some problems with, you know, rust or something like that. And you know, we’re just looking like what do we need to do with this and try to replace it but I don’t want to have (inaudible).
TOM: Well, you know, you may have come to the end of the useful life on that. Do you have gas in this house?
DAVID: Yes, we do.
TOM: Because the most efficient fireplace today would be a direct vent gas fireplace. If you use a standard fireplace, whenever you use that fireplace you’re basically using all of the combustion air inside your house and it would be air that you paid to heat. It’s getting sucked up through the fireplace and sent outside.
You know, I saw a new, very high tech fireplace at the remodelers’ show this year in October that I was very impressed with. And it was made by Rinnai. You may know Rinnai because they’re the world’s largest manufacturer of gas appliances and they’re best known for their tankless water heaters, which are – which are very efficient.
DAVID: Right, right.
TOM: But now they have combustion – sealed combustion gas fireplaces that have a seven stage gas burner, which is pretty cool because it basically operates off of a thermostat and only delivers as much heat as the thermostat calls for. And they’re very, very efficient. They cost about $4,000 but they’re completely sort of a package deal. They’re zero clearance. They’d probably fit in pretty much the same space. You’d have to have a pro install it. Because it’s zero – because it’s direct vent, you probably don’t even have to go up through the chimney or through the vent pipe all the way to the roof. You can go through an exterior wall, which is – if there’s one to the back of it.
But I thought that it was really well done, very high efficient. The burner on it – I was looking at it. It looks much like a condensing furnace, which is the 90-plus efficient furnaces that are used to heat homes.
DAVID: With a fireplace like I’ve got now, would it – could (inaudible) be put in that be as efficient or not?
TOM: It’ll be more efficient.
TOM: It’ll be far more efficient because it sounds to me like you have a standard wood burning zero clearance fireplace right now, which means every time you light that it takes the heat from the house and uses it as the combustion air.
DAVID: Well, it does have – does have an outside exit that draws in cold air from the outside.
TOM: Well, that will help. That definitely helps. But the sealed combustion direct vent units are the most efficient gas fireplaces out there.
DAVID: They work with a fan that puts the heat (inaudible)?
TOM: Yes, they do. Yep. And they have a thermostat that controls them. So you basically set it and then walk away.
DAVID: Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.