Gas fireplaces are a welcome addition to many quaint living rooms. They add a rustic and familial aura while also allowing you to heat the room without burning actual wood. However, many people aren’t aware of the specific safety recommendations that go along with owning a gas fireplace.
You need 3 ft (0.91 m) of clearance around a gas fireplace for combustible objects, such as furniture, to avoid a fire hazard. For this reason, most regional fire codes contain provisions for how close furniture and other objects should be placed to a gas fireplace.
Keep reading to find details on how much clearance you need around a gas fireplace, as well as some specific information on various safety recommendations related to gas fireplaces.
Clearance Requirements for Gas Fireplaces
Gas fireplaces are convenient and easy to use once installed and relatively safe compared to their wood-burning counterparts. Most gas fireplaces require a clearance zone around them to prevent anything from becoming hot enough to cause a fire.
The clearance from the firebox opening on a gas fireplace is six inches (15.24 cm). In addition, any combustible materials should be two or more inches (5.08 cm) from the external face of the gas fireplace.
If there is 1/8 inch (0.32 cm) of combustible material protruding from around the clearance zone, then an additional inch of clearance will be required in that spot. This is to ensure any small protrusions of combustible material don’t create a fire hazard despite the buffer zone.
Framing and Hearth Materials
When framing a gas fireplace, combustible framing should be avoided within this recommended clearance zone. This includes the back surface of the fireplace, as well as the flue lining.
It’s also recommended to have a non-combustible hearth surface on the floor immediately in front of the fireplace.
The hearth should be around 20 inches (50.8 cm) long from the external face of the gas fireplace. The purpose of the hearth is to ensure that there are no combustible materials (such as carpeting or hardwood flooring).
One of the most common concerns with gas fireplaces is nearby furniture. If combustible furniture is placed too close to a gas fireplace, it could potentially create a fire hazard. However, the recommended buffer zone for furniture of 3 ft (0.91 meters) is relatively forgiving.
Other things that should be kept at least 3 ft (0.91 meters) from a gas fireplace include electronics, power cords, and other objects that may create a fire hazard.
Do Fireplaces Have To Be on the Outside Wall?
Fireplaces are typically installed on an exterior wall in order to make ventilation of smoke and heat more economical. But is this an absolute requirement, or is it possible to install a fireplace on an interior wall, instead?
Fireplaces don’t have to be on the outside wall. The technology and architecture of fireplaces has evolved significantly over the years, and there are many types of fireplaces that can be installed on interior walls.
If you want to install a fireplace on an interior wall, it’s best to go with a gas fireplace. Wood burning fireplaces can be installed on interior walls, but this usually isn’t recommended due to the greater ventilation requirements and safety concerns associated with wood-burning fireplaces.
Gas fireplaces, on the other hand, often require much less ventilation. The reason for this is that they burn gas rather than wood, creating less smoke and requiring less oxygen to stay burning.
However, care should still be taken to install and maintain a gas fireplace properly. This usually means hiring a trained professional for installation, as well as clearing the area around the fireplace so that it’s free of combustible material.
It’s also recommended that fireplaces of any kind be at least 36 inches (91.44 cm) from any bare walls.
Framing a Gas Fireplace
Installation of a gas fireplace should be done by a trained professional since there are several things that can potentially go wrong. And the consequences of a bad install can be devastating.
However, if you’re confident and skilled enough, it’s possible to make your own frame for a gas fireplace, even after a hired professional performs the actual installation.
Framing a gas fireplace begins with building the base. After the base is constructed, a wooden frame can be constructed to contain the vent. This will also provide support for things you wish to install on the frame, such as a mantle. The frame can then be covered to complete the structure.
For a visual walk-thru of this process, check out this video:
It’s of the utmost importance to follow all of the required safety recommendations (such as minimum clearance of combustible materials). Failing to do so could result in catastrophic fires or other problems.
If you’re at all doubtful about your ability to build the frame yourself, then there’s no shame in hiring a trained professional to do it. It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry.
Gas Fireplace Safety
Safety is one of the primary concerns with any gas fireplace, and it’s essential to always read manufacturer recommendations when using one. Although they’re low-maintenance compared to wood-burning fireplaces, they must still be properly installed and managed to avoid creating unnecessary safety issues.
The primary step for operating a gas fireplace safely is to not install it yourself, but rather, have it properly installed by a professional. Different makes and models feature different safety features and related concerns, and only a properly trained technician will have the skills and knowledge to handle the task.
What Are Zero Clearance Gas Fireplaces?
As an alternative to traditional gas fireplaces, there are now models designed to be zero-clearance.
Zero clearance fireplaces use materials and designs that regulate surrounding temperatures, reducing the need for a hearth. These fireplaces can be placed almost anywhere in the home, without requiring clearance of flammable materials from the interior or exterior parts.
You can purchase zero-clearance fireplaces from various retailers, including Fireplaces Direct, Home Depot, Wayfair, and more.
To learn more about these modern fireplace options, check out this video:
When using a gas fireplace, keep at least 3 ft (0.91 m) of clearance around it to avoid a fire hazard. Also, be sure to use non-combustible materials for the framing and hearth. With a properly installed gas fireplace, you should be able to enjoy a nice warm fire safely and comfortably.