Can You Vent A Wood Fireplace Horizontally? -Detailed Answer

A fireplace is always a fantastic addition to your home. They can take up quite a lot of space, though, so in some cases, it would be ideal to vent your wood-burning fireplace horizontally. But can you actually do that?

You cannot vent a wood fireplace horizontally because it will not have enough proper airflow for the fireplace to run efficiently. Your fireplace also will not vent properly, as smoke rises and barely moves horizontally.

Below we share more about how venting works in your wood-burning fireplace and what alternatives you can consider if you need to vent your fireplace horizontally! Read on to discover what option will suit you the best!

Can A Wood Fireplace Be Vented Horizontally?

A wood fireplace cannot be vented horizontally. Horizontal venting prevents proper airflow in the fireplace, which causes it to be inefficient and may become a fire hazard.

There may be a few reasons why you would want to vent your wood stove away from the roof; improper space, the roof is too high, or it could be a safety concern.

We understand those reasons, however, your wood fireplace requires direct to the ceiling venting to burn properly and efficiently!

Let’s break down how your wood fireplace venting works so that this all makes sense.

How Does Vertical Venting Affect My Wood Fireplace?

Wood-burning fireplaces need to draw air from the outside (from the top of the chimney) to feed the fire. The vent controls how much air is being fed to the fire. A horizontal vent will reduce the airflow to the fireplace, causing it to burn inefficiently and vent incorrectly.

A few things we know already about fires are that they need:

  • A fuel source
  • Oxygen
  • Heat

When we make a fire inside a wood fireplace, the ventilation supplies oxygen by drawing it in from outside. At the same time, the carbon dioxide and other gases are then ‘vented’ to the outside, creating this cycle.

There must be continuous airflow to keep the fire burning and to also prevent creosote from building up in your chimney/flue (Creosote will build up faster if the fireplace/venting is continuously at a lower temperature).

With a vertical vent, the gases can move out of the fireplace and move the oxygen to the fire without restriction.

If you don’t have a classic chimney set-up and are installing the venting for a new woodstove yourself, it is not recommended to have more than four angles in your venting to ensure proper airflow. By angles, we just mean deviations from a straight vertical chute.

To conclude; a horizontal vent does not have enough airflow to properly feed a fire and pull the produced gases out, causing a wood-burning fireplace to be too inefficient and become a fire hazard.

If you need to have a horizontal vent, there are a few alternatives to a conventional wood fireplace that you can consider!

Alternative Fireplaces For Horizontal Venting

The best and closest alternative to a wood-burning stove would be installing a pellet-burning stove which can utilize horizontal venting out the side of your home.

Wood-burning fireplaces are the only type of fireplace that requires vertical venting. Luckily, there are several options for fireplaces that can be vented horizontally!

  • Pellet-Burning Fireplace
  • Gas/Propane Fireplace
  • Electric Fireplace

All three styles can utilize horizontal venting, or don’t need to be vented out at all! Let’s take a look at these alternative fireplace choices and pinpoint which type would work best for you!

Pellet-Burning Fireplace

A pellet-burning fireplace will be the most economical option of the three. They burn renewable energy pellets that fluctuate little in cost, have potential tax credits (in the US) from the municipal and federal levels, and can be installed with an existing chimney.

Additionally, a pellet-burning stove can also vent out through the side of your home.

This is because pellet-burning stoves and pellet inserts use a different system for venting their off-gases and don’t require the same airflow or heat required to burn their fuel!

If you haven’t heard of or looked into a pellet-burning stove before, this is the closest alternative to a wood-burning stove that you will be able to find!

Gas Burning Fireplace

Another option that you can pick from is a direct vent gas stove, which also has the flexibility to vent both vertically and horizontally. Not ALL gas-burning stoves can be vented this way, so you will need to consult the manufacturer’s requirements on any models you are considering purchasing.

Direct venting fireplaces have proven to be safe and very efficient and give you the ability to control the temperature in your home. Unlike the wood-burning alternative, which requires manually adding wood to the fire to burn hotter or longer, a gas-burning fireplace simply needs the temperature on the thermostat raised or shut off if you no longer want it running.

 We recommend having a professional come in to install your fireplace if you go this route to ensure a safe and secure installation.

Electric Fireplace

This last option does not require any venting at all, which gives the electric fireplaces the advantage of being able to be placed anywhere you want. Electric fireplaces don’t have as high of output as the other stoves and will not be your best option if you want to use them to heat your home. However, an electric fireplace is a great option for heating an individual room.

Another pro for electric fireplaces is that they give off no emissions, making them a very safe alternative to a wood-burning fireplace.

Although an electric fireplace isn’t quite a full house-warming option, it will suffice in a smaller space and saves you from the installation costs of installing a hearth and venting, etc. Of course, it also comes with the aesthetic features of a fireplace!

Wood Fireplaces Cannot Be Vented Horizontally

If you need to vent your fireplace horizontally because of space requirements (or for personal preference), unfortunately, a wood fireplace won’t be an option for you.

The option we recommend in place of a wood fireplace for a similar feel is a pellet-burning stove for the dry heat it provides and the flexibility it provides for venting out of your home!

Dan Westfield

Hi everyone! My name is Dan and I currently have two fireplaces, a wood-burning and a gas one. I cannot live without them and love to share my passion with you all!

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