A ventless fireplace is one of the most convenient options for residential use. Ease of installation, affordability, cleanliness and low maintenance are some of the benefits of this fireplace. It doesn’t use a chimney or duct system as traditional fireplace installations do. The fireplace may be fuelled by propane, natural gas or gel. Since the fireplace doesn’t require vents, it can be used to warm rooms individually which gives you more flexibility in household heating. For all its benefits, the use of this type of fireplace isn’t without dangers.
1. Risk of Flames
Gas leaks or inefficient burners can cause a fire in your home. This can result in fatal injuries, even death as well as extensive damage to property. In the event of a fire, the risk of suffocation is greater due to a higher amount of toxic by-products released indoors during the combustion of gas.
2. Carbon Monoxide
This is one of the by-products of the combustion of gas in ventless fireplaces. Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas. As such, it can slowly poison without your awareness. Some of the health conditions associated with inhalation of carbon monoxide include nausea, dizziness, asphyxiation and loss of consciousness.
3. Oxygen Depletion
Vent-free fireplaces tend to deplete the oxygen supply within a room. Many fireplace manufacturers have designed models with a higher safety level in the event of oxygen depletion. These models incorporate an oxygen depletion sensor. It detects the oxygen levels in the room where the fireplace is installed. The sensor disables the fireplace before the oxygen levels get to an undesirably low level. This helps to prevent health related complications that have been a concern with the fireplace. It should be noted, however, that like all electronic devices, the sensor may fail. This exposes you and your family to danger. Besides, oxygen depletion can also result if you run the fireplace beyond the recommended period. The rule of the thumb for ventless fireplaces is not to exceed 6 hours of continuous operation. However, it is best to adhere to the time stipulated by the manufacturer.
4. Moisture Release
One of the by-products released by the gas as it burns in a vent-free fireplace is water vapor. This comes about because of the absence of a venting system. As a result, the water vapor is released within the house. An increase in the moisture content indoors is not without its problems. Fungus, bacteria growth and mold all thrive in high moisture environments. Water vapor also has the capacity to damage your walls, siding, floors and furniture, especially if made of wood. The growth of bacteria poses a serious hazard to your health and that of your family.
5. Respiratory Complications
Unfortunately, vent-free fireplaces do produce other potentially harmful by-products besides carbon monoxide. These include sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and un-burned hydrocarbons. It doesn’t help matters that these by-products are released indoors rather than outside as vented systems do. When inhaled, these products can cause serous health complications. Research studies have shown that some species of mold trigger respiratory problems and compound allergies or asthma. If you have an existing respiratory condition, you may be more susceptible to the by-products of combustion produced by these fireplaces.