Company Blog

What Does “Vent Free” Really Mean?

The latest fad in fireplaces, the vent free unit, has hit the market with a splash. Many people are raving over the high fuel efficiency and ultra low emissions. While vent free fireplace options do have a number of benefits, including these, they are not without their own challenges and setbacks. In fact, sometimes these units can pose serious danger to the health of the family in the home. Learn the truth about vent free gas sets.

Gas Fireplace - Spartanburg SC - Bless Your HearthVent free gas logs are specially designed to burn in a fireplace constructed for them. The design allows the fuel to burn at nearly 100 percent efficiently, which greatly decreases the amount of harmful emissions. Along with the low levels of emissions produced by the fire, a vent free gas log set also benefits the user by producing high levels of heat.

A number of safety features have been installed into vent free gas logs and fireplaces to ensure safe use in the home. The oxygen depletion sensor, or the ODS, measures the amount of oxygen in the room and shuts off the gas supply if the oxygen concentration ever falls below 18 percent in the room. Shutting off the gas supply then extinguishes the fire, allowing the oxygen levels to replenish to safer concentrations. In newer, more airtight homes, keeping up the oxygen level with this safety feature may require opening a window.

The safety pilot is another feature in which the gas supply is shut off if the flame ever goes out. First, this feature prevents highly flammable gas fuel from filling up the entire house, which creates a fire and explosion risk in the event of a spark. The safety pilot also saves the homeowner money by only allowing the flow of gas when a fire is lit.

While vent free gas log sets do have many advantages, they are not ideal for every home. They should never be operated for more than four hours, so homes needing long term heating from the fireplace should not rely on vent free options. Otherwise, the house will have low oxygen levels and excess humidity. For this reason, vent free sets should not be relied on in power outage situations either. Prior to vent free use, a new set must burn for three to five hours with an open vent to allow the set to properly cure. After this initial burn, the set can burn safely with the vent shut.

Choosing to invest in a vent free gas log set is a big decision. If you are unsure or if you have questions about the benefits and risks, get in touch with an expert to discuss your options. Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps, located in upstate South Carolina, can provide a professional consultation and guidance on making the best decision for your fireplace.

Draft and Your Chimney

Smoky fireplace? There might be a problem with your chimney's draft.

Smoky fireplace? There might be a problem with your chimney’s draft.

While we all have hopes for spring weather approaching, it looks like we will still have a few winter nights. When the warmth does come in and fireplace usage drops, that does not mean that it is time to neglect your chimney maintenance. It is important that one has a yearly sweep and inspection to make sure the unit is safe to use. This is usually done before the burning season starts. However, when you need to schedule your appointment or have any other chimney related questions call Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps.

What is chimney draft?

It is important that your chimney’s draft in unharmed so that the toxic air can be removed from the home. As the air in your chimney gets hotter, it begins to pull air through the firebox. This is called draft. The force of the draft can be varied by increasing or decreasing fire levels and adjusting temperatures, or by building a taller chimney.

What happens to change the draft?

There are many things that can occur to disrupt a draft’s flow. One common reason is an excessive amount of creosote buildup. Creosote is released during the burning of fire and clumps together inside of you chimney. This is why you should have an annual chimney sweep by a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) professional. CSIA has created a set of guidelines to make sure that the job is done to leave you safe and getting the most out of your appointment! Other things that could cause problems with the draft are clogged dampers and dirty chimney caps, and structural damage and building issues.

What happens when the draft is changed?

When there are draft problems, the air filled with gases such as carbon monoxide from the fire are not able to escape the home properly. Since CO is colorless and odorless, you cannot tell when it begins to fill a room. For many people this means they begin to feel symptoms before realizing anything is wrong, which could be anything from mild to fatal depending on the level of exposure. If you feel you are in an area that is questionable, you should evacuate the area and seek medical help immediately.