Wood-burning fireplaces are known for drying out the air. After all, they need oxygen to keep the fire going. But is that the same for gas fireplaces? Do they also dry out the air?
A vented gas fireplace burns up the moisture in your home causing it to become a much more dry environment. They also draw in the dry outside air, leading to drier air inside your home. Vent-free gas fireplaces do not dry out the air.
There are ways that you can mitigate this from happening which I cover in this article! Read on if you are struggling with this problem!
Does A Gas Fireplace Dry Out The Air?
A vented gas fireplace dries out the air. It requires oxygen to feed the fire, which it draws in from the outside. A vent-free gas fireplace, on the other hand, can actually add moisture to your home. By burning natural gas, you create water, and since it’s vent-free, there’s no connection to the outside air.
A vented gas fireplace is known by a couple of names. Both a natural vent fireplace and a B-vent fireplace are names for vented gas fireplaces.
The way vented gas fireplaces work is they essentially draw in the oxygen of a room to feed the flame. The oxygen keeps the flame going, and the fireplace vents out the by-products through a chimney or flue, etc.
But since this type of gas fireplace is connected to a chimney, there’s essentially a hole in your wall. This hole pulls in the dry outside air, which leads to the air inside your home being drier as well.
The weird thing is that when you’re burning natural gas, you’re actually creating more water. There’s a complicated chemical process behind this, but it comes down to this:
By burning natural gas, you create two by-products; carbon dioxide and water. Yes, actual water.
But despite creating more actual water and moisture, most of that will just escape up the vent and not make its way into your home. The moist air is then replaced by the oxygen pulled in from the outside, leading to the inside air being drier.
Is there anything you can do to prevent your vented gas fireplace from drying out the air?
Unfortunately, the only thing you can do to reduce the amount of moisture the fireplace takes from your home is to use it less often.
This likely isn’t an option for most, so instead of focusing on the fireplace, you can introduce something else that adds moisture to the air!
Add a Humidifier to Replace Lost Moisture
You probably landed on this article because you’re already noticing some of the effects of dry air. This can include things like dry skin, a sore throat, or maybe even some eye irritations.
The list of symptoms of prolonged exposure to dry air is extensive. One of these symptoms alone probably had you start questioning why everything was so dry in your house.
Now that we know that your gas fireplace can dry out your house, what you need to do is add some more moisture to it. We can do this by running a humidifier.
A humidifier is often an electrical plug-in device that emits steam/mist into the air, adding moisture to a room or the house. They aren’t that expensive of an item to purchase and are a simple fix to the problem you are having.
Depending on how dry your fireplace leaves your home, you might need to invest in more than just the one humidifier, or you can try moving the first one you purchase around to see if that adds enough moisture for the areas affected the most!
Now adding a humidifier will definitely help, but what would ensure that your house doesn’t get too dried out is to actually replace your standard style gas fireplace with a ventless fireplace.
What is a ventless fireplace? We dive into that in the next section.
Replace Your Vented Fireplace With a Ventless Fireplace
A ventless or vent-free fireplace is much more efficient than a vented fireplace and runs in a completely closed-off system meaning it doesn’t utilize the air in the room it is running in.
A lot of newer homes are opting to have a vent-free gas fireplace instead of the older vented style. They run much more efficiently, at nearly 100% efficiency (this means it utilizes almost 100% of the gas used to create the flames) because they don’t lose the gas from being vented out.
The benefits of installing a ventless gas fireplace are:
- More energy efficient – Saves money on energy bills
- Produces more heat
- Cost-effective and easy to install
- Increases humidity in the home
Of the benefits listed above, the most common reason someone switches from their vented system to a vent-free fireplace is to save money on their energy costs.
Additionally, a vent-free gas fireplace actually adds humidity to your home. The main issue with vented gas fireplaces was the fact that it draws in the dry outside air. With a vent-free gas fireplace, you essentially get a closed-off box that is not connected to the outside.
This allows the fireplace to run without drawing in outside air, and as we discussed a little earlier, burning natural gas actually creates moisture! This moisture will find its way into your home, leaving you with more humid air quality.
Switching to a ventless gas fireplace sounds like a no-brainer now doesn’t it? There are a few drawbacks to the ventless fireplace.
- Still produces some (very little) exhaust into the home
- Cannot be upgraded or customized
- Typically the produced flame is only blue
- When not maintained, releases a sulfur-like smell
There are several states that restrict and/or ban the use of ventless fireplaces due to safety concerns of unvented gases entering the home. However, with there being so little of the gases entering the home and with most homes having carbon monoxide detectors now there is little concern for any major harm.
Should I Switch To a Ventless Fireplace?
Depending on your current situation, switching to a ventless gas fireplace could be a great idea!
Switching from the standard vented style is mostly painless and isn’t too expensive, typically ranging between $800-$2600. This is very low in comparison to the cost of a vented gas fireplace which ranges between $1700-$10000+.
In the long run, a ventless system will also save you money as it’s more efficient, and it also adds humidity to your home.
Before making a decision, you should check with your local building code office to see if there are any restrictions on ventless fireplaces and whether or not there is any grants or incentives for installing one!