Gas to Wood Fireplace Conversion: Mistakes to Avoid

A traditional wood-burning fireplace with a roaring fire inside.

Converting from a gas fireplace to a wood-burning one is becoming popular nowadays because of the simplicity it can offer to homeowners. Gas fireplaces provide all the aesthetic of a real fireplace, minus some of the operating hassles of a wood-burning fixture. An authentic flame can be easily achieved at the push of a button, and ceramic logs convincingly imitate the look everyone loves. However, there are still some advantages to wood fireplaces that are driving people to make the switch.

Nothing can beat the experience of seeing, hearing, and smelling an amazing crackling fire during cold winter nights. These sensations are very therapeutic to some, and while this ambiance can be simulated, it usually still pales in comparison. A wood fireplace can also be more environmentally-friendly if it isn't used excessively. Gas fireplaces need propane or natural gas to light up, and ultimately this isn't a perpetually sustainable resource. Wood can be easily replenished, on the other hand, so long as we're conservative about it.

However, regardless of your exact reasons for replacing your gas fireplace, there are some mistakes commonly made in this process that you should learn about and watch out for.

1. Not Getting a Permit or Checking Building Codes

Always check with the local building regulations to get a proper permit for converting your fireplace to wood burning. While your home may be properly set up for a gas installation, you may be missing a thing or two for a wood fireplace; there are rules to be followed when installing fireplaces but these will still apply for making a conversion. It is vital to check before you put in the time, effort, and money; otherwise, you can end up paying a hefty fine and even more to fix your code violations.

2. Not Lining the Chimney

Making sure you have a chimney is obvious for owning a wood-burning fireplace, and since it's very expensive to get one built, you likely won't even consider this conversion if you don't already have one. However, since not all gas fireplaces need a chimney to function, it's very possible yours has been unused for a long time and is not properly lined anymore.

Always get a professional to inspect the chimney, and then arranged to have a new liner put in if needed.

3. Not Having the Flue Inspected

The flue has an important function because it draws fumes and smoke from within the fireplace to vent outside. If the flue has not been installed properly, toxic gases from the combustion may flood your home. According to studies, the ratio of death between smoke inhalation and burn is 2:1, meaning for every three victims of fire, two die from smoke inhalation long before anything else. Additionally, around 60 percent to 80 percent of fire victims die from smoke inhalation. So, it is highly encouraged that you have your flue inspected by a professional as well, long before you begin the switch.

In conclusion, converting from gas to wood offers many advantages, including a lowered risk of fatal gas leaks in the home, a slightly more sustainable fuel source in some cases, and a more natural aesthetic for those who enjoy it. However, it is extremely important that you undertake this conversion with care to keep any accidents from happening. The foremost concern for fireplace users should always be the safety of everyone in the home.