Q: Jason – I have an old vented gas log that is crumbling and needs to be replaced. What is better to replace it with, a vented gas log or a vent-less gas log?-NW
A: NW- If you go with a vented gas log install you will certainly have to commit yourself to having the chimney damper removed or clipped or disabled in the open position according to current code for vented fireplace install. This means you will have a gaping hole to the outside all the time. Many gas log owners are surprised to find that their fireplace flue damper has already been disabled when their original gas log was installed. The building fireplace code that states to disable the damper, is often an adequate enough reason for a homeowner not to go with any vented variety gas log.
In the vent-less model, you do get the benefit of retaining all of the heat if you keep the damper closed, but any of the CO, CO2, Nitrogen or moisture that it puts out will enter your living area as well. In the winter when your home is closed up you really want to minimize the extra pollutants you introduce to your already recycled inside air. This is not just with the fireplace, this goes for candles, sprays, paints and other pollutants. You obviously can’t avoid these items all-together, but do you want to introduce new contributors like a vent-free fireplace?
From our conversation on the phone, I am sure you have your heart set on a vented gas log, and you were just looking for brand-name references from me. But please take into account other options like electric fireplace inserts if you are looking for fireplace ambiance, or maybe even a candelabra with candles burned with the damper open as other suitable ambiance option that won’t cost you in heat loss. – Jason