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Schuylkill Trail Bum
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a traditional brick hearth fireplace.

It's fun to have fires, but I'm not keen on all the work that goes along with wood fires.

So I'm thinking of putting in a gas insert and hooking it to the house gas which would be easy to do from a gas piping perspective.

Have any of you done this? Any advice?

Thanks, brohams and brohamettes.
 

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Boobies!
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If you need to line the chimney anyways (which I think is code), you might look at a pellet insert as an alternative.

We were looking at a house on the weekend that had a pellet stove running in the main room--it was very slick. The nice thing about pellets is that you can load them a few at a time, so it less taxing than lugging big chunks of wood around. Cost is probably a wash for install, and pellets are more "green"...

My mom got gas inserts in her fireplaces--they are convenient, and warm the room, but they are not cheap to run, even where she is--the land of cheap natural gas.
 

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My parents got one and are really happy about it.

Now that he's not splitting and stacking wood all the time my Dad can focus full time on the war he's waged against squirrels that take his birdseed.
 

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I have owned a total of 4 houses in my life, the last 3 having gas log fireplaces and I've hated every single one. The only one that provided any heat was a ventless set, which I think is somewhat dangerous in anything but a very large open room. The others were standard and provide little heat when I'm able to get them lit. They are temperamental and fussy and require a certain degree of electrical expertise to repair and maintain on your own. Mine mostly sit dormant - I'm considering converting them to just a gas burner to use to light conventional wood fires.

My $0.02 - maybe a new system would be better.
 

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I got an insert a few years ago, and it's awesome. The biggest problem is, it puts out so much heat I can't keep it on as much as I'd like. It was about $3K though, not a cheap little kit. The kits probably send most of the heat up the chimney.
 

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We have a fireplace insert/wood burning. Gets the first floor up to 80+ degrees, but the heat doesn't migrate upstairs, unfortunately. We tried a fan mounted on a stool, we tried circulating the air with our forced-air system- nothing works. :mad:

So we have to let the fire burn out a couple of hours before bedtime, and crank up the heat for a while to warm upstairs. But we do enjoy the fires, and John loves collecting firewood from downed trees in the area with his other two passions, his pickup truck and chainsaw. I love the rare times I get to split logs. We city folk like to pretend we're in the mountains :rolleyes:
 

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Seat's not level
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Haven't converted one from logs to gas, but we have had a gas fireplace for 20 years.

It's been turned on about 5 times.

It looks nice, but since it's used infrequently it smells like burning dust. Burning dust is much less satisfying than the smell of burning wood.

It heats up the living room great, but the thermostat for the rest of the house is in the same room so it effectively keeps the rest of the house from being heated while it's on.

YMMV, but I don't think we would pay to convert from wood to gas. Think if we had a wood fireplace we would use it more often (when the local government doesn't delcare a bad air day)
 

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my parents had two 'gas log' fireplaces in their home.

even on the lowest flame height, they put out a ridiculous amount of heat...

they also seemed to suck the oxygen out of the room. always seemed stifling when they were on.

they loved them, old people are always cold...
 

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gazing from the shadows
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I have family and friends with both, and have spent time with both over weeks of rentals. Lived with a gas log fireplace as a main source of heat for a couple of years (basically it heated up a huge stone mass 24/7 all winter in an old hippy built place).

If you 95% want heat and 5% entertainment, go direct vent gas.

If you want 95% entertainment and 5% heat, stick with wood.

Gas logs (or fake coal, or glass, or rock) is kind of the worst of both worlds, imo.

Wood fires are primal, people gather and stare, they are ever changing. And a PITA more than a few times a year. Gas can look ok (much better now than in the past), but people don't really respond to it in nearly the same way. Five minutes, an occasional glance, but that's pretty much it.

But for a daily thing, to curl up with a pet/loved one for an hour a night, or a drink, and provide good heat whenever, likely good enough.

I think it comes down to what you want out of the experience.
 

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We city folk like to pretend we're in the mountains

Ironically, I live in the mountains and "split logs" with my credit card :p. I think we paid $500 for two cords, cut, chopped, and delivered the last time we got firewood.

I've never lived in a house without a wood burning fireplace. When I was kid, splitting oak logs was the ultimate suck. When my girlfriend and I moved to MT and into our first place together, wood heat was the ONLY option affordable for us but we burn pine out here - I was the total macho stud blasting through that stuff with a maul every fall...

Until about 8 years later when tendonitis in both elbows (and the benefit of gainful employment) made me soft.

Now the woodstove in our house is nice for ambiance and the rare power outage but I actually think it's a wash $-wise considering how cheap natural gas is. We CAN heat the whole 2 story house with it and actually prefer to when it's in the single digits outside, I hate the sound of the forced air cycling on/off all night. We like to sleep cold so keeping the downstairs in the mid-70s allows upstairs to be pleasantly chilly for bedtime.

I do like scavenging scrap lumber from construction sites though. About half of the fires I'll light this year will be fed with 10" long 2x6s.
 

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We have a dual sided gas fire place and never use it.

We have a pellet stove in our basement. It is used as supplemental heat and works well. While it does have a nice glass window, the fire is hardly inspiring. The pellets are much cleaner to deal with than wood.
 

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Ironically, I live in the mountains and "split logs" with my credit card

Ha, maybe it's b/c we pay through the nose just to live in the city, we can pretend we're saving money by "living off the land." You know, with the sprawling vegetable garden that produces a handful of grape tomatoes every summer, that sort of thing. :D

John had his eye on a tree that was trimmed down the block, and the remnants left on the curb- fairly small tree. This morning, he noticed another guy scavenging it, and I think he was a little disappointed. He won't get to play lumberjack on his day off.

Guess it's all about the grass being greener elsewhere!
 

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Ironically, I live in a house without a wood fireplace yet own a log splitter...


It is actually a hydraulic attachment bought cheap and run off a sub-compact garden tractor. It was bought with this project in mind:

View attachment 317696
The 40" oak netted almost 2 cords. It was a great workout, but rolling and splitting 36"+ rounds is no picnic. My sister-in-law heats her house with wood so it went to good use. Wifey is happy that I helped her Sis. Saved $2k from having a pro drop the tree and haul it away.
 

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Schuylkill Trail Bum
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
We've had a relatively warm winter thus far in southeast pennsylvania.

But we like to have fires on weekends while watching movies, hanging out, drinkin, etc. My wife was working at home over the holidays (she teaches at drexel), and during some cold spells and I made all-day fires for her to work by. That put a large dent in my wood pile.

So... I'm at the point where I need to order another load of wood (1/2 cord is the least I can get, I think), or take the plunge to a gas insert. Since my fires are sporadic (just for fun, not for heating), it takes a long time to go through a cord or half cord.

I dunno. Based on all this good info in this thread (thanks loungers!), I think I may put off the gas insert next year, and get another delivery this week of hardwood and fruit tree wood logs from my wood guy.
 

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I've lived in L.A. all my life. I enjoy wood fireplaces a lot, and I really didn't have a problem finding a source for cut logs in the city of Angels. That being said, when me and Sogno bought an old house and saw that the chimney needed to be replaced, we said hell to tradition. We tore down the chimney, ripped out the wood fireplace and put a gas fireplace in its place. Fifties Modern styling. We love it.
 
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