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Letters From Vent-Free Gas Fireplace Owners
Page 2 - Letters 26-50

Page 1 (Letters 1-25)     Page 2 (Letters 26 - 50)    Page 3 (Letters 51 - 75)    Page 4 (Letters 76 - 100)    Page 5 (Letters 101+)

Sweepy If you're considering a vent-free (aka ventless, unvented or room vented) gas stove or fireplace, you should first read these letters, excerpts and E-mail postings written by unhappy vent-free owners. We've corrected spelling and grammar where necessary, and edited out some of the harsher language from the original text.


#26: Saving lives

Thank YOU for this outstanding website. People need to know the truth about vent free heating appliances.
You are saving lives.
Donald Dyall


#27: The tobacco companies say these new cigarettes are less poisonous, so let's light up!

Can you please post an update [on vent-free fireplaces], given recent advances in manufacturing and technology? I understand that models built in the last two years are much better, release next to no CO or other gases, and are much more efficient than older ones, and the information on your site appears somewhat dated.
[email protected]

SweepyHi Rache,
Thanks for the inquiry! We update this page as new letters come in and time allows: we received your letter today, and as you can see, it is already posted above. If you look further, you'll find that well over half of the letters on this page were written within the last two years, and they indicate that the newer "less-poisonous-than-before" vent-frees are still causing sooting, odor, moisture and health problems.

As to the other pages in the vent-free section of our Sweep's Library, there has been no cause to update them. Consumer Reports Magazine has not rescinded its 1998 cautionary statements regarding vent-frees; in fact, they published the same warnings on their website as recently as January, 2008. Air quality scientists like Jim White have not changed their stance regarding the potential hazards of "living in a chimney." Canadian health codes still prohibit installation of vent-frees in that country. The websites of the American Lung Association (ALA), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Mayo Clinic still caution against the use of vent-free products.

Also unchanged are the ongoing claims by vent-free fireplace manufacturers that their newer models are less poisonous and troublesome than their earlier models. We view these claims with some skepticism, as those same manufacturers have always maintained that their products, even the earlier models, are completely safe and trouble-free, while our observations and the feedback we get from vent-free owners provides much evidence to the contrary.

The bottom line from our perspective is, why should you accept any level of room poisoning from your gas stove or fireplace? The direct-vented gas products we choose to sell consume no oxygen from your breathing space and introduce no carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, unpleasant odors, moisture or soot into your house. They cause no headaches, nosebleeds, mold spores, or soot damage. As hearth product retailers who feel we have a responsibility to be concerned about the safety and well-being of our customers, that's the only standard we find acceptable.


#28: Legislation needed

I was doing research on these products and found your site. I too have a vent free that has sooted my entire house before I figured out where all this black dust was coming from. My curtains, my carpet, my clothes, you name it, it's black. I think the time has come to unite together and get legislation passed to eliminate these health hazards. Less than 6 months after my vent free was installed, I developed a thyroid disorder. Can I attribute it directly? No, but I can attribute this sooty black dust to my coughing and feeling ill when I use it. The question here is, how many of you posting at this site agree and would be willing to participate?

I am tired of the service man coming to my house and checking this heater and pronouncing it perfectly safe when I know it's not. I am compiling a notebook of all the health issues associated with these products and documenting case histories. I am not a lawyer, but I know when something is unsafe and needs to be changed. Please have your site visitors let me know if they are interested in trying to get a resolution to this issue. Please contact me via email at [email protected]


#29: Ready to sue

I wish I could have found this site before. I too bought a set of nonvented fireplace logs from a dealer that sold [Manufacturer] products. A couple of months later my whole house and contents need cleaning. Black soot is everywhere. The installer came back and double-checked, and said he installed them correctly and that I must have got a bad set. After both he and I contacted [the manufacturer] with no satisfaction he said I might as well get a lawyer. That's what I'm in the process of doing right now. How can this be? How can a company like [Manufacturer] sell me something and after it ruins my house tell me that it is not their fault, that it is the layout of my home or that it was not installed right, when it was installed by one of their licensed dealers? Any suggestions would be really helpful. I am out over $15,000 for cleanup and repainting.
[email protected]

Sweepy Hi Kevin,
All I can do is suggest you contact an attorney.


#30: Vent Free Safety Alliance website on the way

Greetings fellow Consumer Advocate! I am John Galloway of Hearth Services. We are gas heating systems service and maintenance company serving North and South Carolina.

I am a founding partner of the soon to be public Vent-Free Gas Safety Alliance. I have a special request of you as well as an invitation to join our new association.

We are finished with basic structure for our web site. We are now organizing our content, and the site is not open to the public at this time. We admire your position on vent-free heating appliances and would appreciate your permission to publish various letters from your site onto our web site.
John D. Galloway
Hearth Services Fireplace Experts

Sweepy Hi John,

Thanks for the invitation to join your association, but a visit to your website-in-progress reveals that your members will be companies that service and repair vent-free products. Our company's gas service technicians don't work on vent-frees, mostly because they don't want to inherit the barrage of complaints listed in the letters on this page, and also because of potential liability issues (notice how many of the letter-writers are considering lawsuits?).

Here is our mission statement regarding vent-frees:
If you're buying a gas stove or fireplace, buy a vented model, not a vent-free.
If you already have a vent-free stove or fireplace, replace it with a vented model.
If you can't or won't replace your vent free, don't use it.
If you must use your vent-free, open a nearby window ALL THE WAY, limit fires to a maximum of two hours per day, and get MONTHLY tune-ups from a qualified professional.


#31: Many, many thanks for the information

Thank you for all the info on vent free products. I was planning on buying a 30,000 btu vent free stove that was on an internet website as a close out. All the vented products seem to start out higher, so I got so excited when I found this stove.

I am now not going to buy it. Thank you for your information. I do not want to take a chance with my health. When I called the manufacturer, I asked if there was any additional info that he could provide for me. He said that many customers open a window. I thought that to be strange because then all the heat is going out. After reading your info, I now understand. Thank you thank you thank you. (I may have to save for another year to get heat in my basement, but it will be worth it).
Thank you again,
Freezing But Healthy In California.


#32: Can we vent our vent-free fireplace?

Wondering how we can vent our ventless fireplace. We are experiencing odor. It's a brand new home and we never realized that they installed a ventless system. We are told that a chimney could not be put in because the pipe on the roof would not be 8 feet from an existing bedroom window. (Which is building code.)
Any suggestions?
Diana Haake

Sweepy Hi Diana,

Thanks for the inquiry! There might be a way to vent your vent-free: consult with your dealer or manufacturer and see if your fireplace is cross-approved for partial or total outside venting. If so, you might be able to vent the exhaust to the outside, unless the only technique available would also violate your thru-the-roof code. If your fireplace isn't cross-approved and the fireplace is located on an outside wall, you could replace it with a direct vent fireplace: these vent out the backwall instead of through the roof, as shown in diagrams #1 and #2 on our
direct vent info page.


#33: Can we vent our vent-free fireplace?

Hope you can help us. Have a beautiful Amish-made ventless fireplace. Can not use it. Everything yellow. This year we could smell gas, so we haven't used it at all. Too afraid. Is there a way to convert it to be vented outside?
Thank you.

Sweepy Hi Herkywings,

Thanks for the inquiry! As you can see in our answer to the letter immediately above, there might be a way: consult with your dealer or manufacturer and see if your fireplace is cross-approved for partial or total outside venting: if so, you might be able to vent the exhaust to the outside. Prepare to sacrifice heat, as once you vent a vent-free, it can no longer deliver the heat into the house with the exhaust gases, the way it was designed to do. A better choice would be to replace your vent-free with a direct vent model, as these are designed to maximize heat transfer into the room while at the same time venting their exhaust outside.


#34: Other airborne poisons

We bought a house with a vent-free gas fireplace already installed, and felt pretty safe with it because we studied the owner's manual and were always careful to open a nearby window and limit the duration of our fires. However, we soon encountered a problem that doesn't appear on your website (that we can find).

We painted our living room, and when we lit the fireplace soon after, the whole house was filled with the most awful smell that made us both sick. We called the manufacturer, and were told you can't paint, because anything airborne in the house (like paint fumes) gets drawn into the fireplace flames, where it burns and creates its own nasty emissions! They told us this also applies to the fumes that come off new carpet, room deodorizers, hair spray, household dust, pet hair, spray cleaners, candles, etc. etc. etc. Pretty much anything in the air gets sucked into the flames and stinks up the house.

Since then, whenever we have a fire we're almost afraid to move, lest we stir up some dust or something that will hit the flames and raise a stench. The dog is banished to another room, so he doesn't scratch himself in front of the fire (burnt pet hair is the most sickening smell you can imagine).

You're obviously up on the chemicals contained in the gas exhaust, but do you know what emissions you get when you burn the vapor from spray cleaners or any of the other stuff that floats around the air in a typical house?
Ray & Eileen

Sweepy Hi Ray & Eileen,

Sorry, we're not aware of any studies that have been done about health problems deriving from breathing the emissions from burned vapors, fumes or pet dander. However, we're sure your description of the bad smell these things generate will help dissuade some people who are considering vent frees, and thank you for sharing your experience.


#35: Poisoned over time

When we were told by many people that vent free units were dangerous and malfunctioned, we would always come back with that fact that our family had a unit that was excellent. Compared to electric heat, we saved a ton of money and had a WARM house.

However, we had no idea that we were being slowly poisoned by carbon monoxide. I always react extremely to kerosene and wood stoves, but this unit never seemed to bother me much when we got it, so I assumed that it was okay. BIG MISTAKE.

After becoming violently ill at a restaurant a few weeks ago, we determined it was the flu. It took only a week before I collapsed and my three year old laid on the ground lethargic- FINALLY it dawned on me that it was our heater.

Carbon monoxide detector showed reasonable low levels (under 50 ppm) but the damage done by this unit to my body in particular and to that of my family can not have a price on it.

After only a week without any heat, I am still suffering greatly from the poison. I wish that we had gotten rid of our heater when we were warned a few years ago, but we did not.

PLEASE, if you are thinking of having a unit like this, or any other vent free unit, PLEASE LISTEN TO THE WARNINGS. The CO levels will accumulate in your body and it might be too late before you discover how much damage it is doing to you. Believe me. Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is something you do NOT want to experience. I know from personal experience.
Feel free to email me at any time about this. I would be glad to talk to you about it.
[email protected]

Posted at


#36: Telephone Inquiry: Why should a healthy, non-pregnant young adult be concerned?

Q: In your answer to Rache [see letter #27 above] you mention that the websites of the American Lung Association, the Center for Disease Control, the Emissions Protection Agency and the Mayo Clinic all warn against the use of vent-free products on their websites. I had a look, and it seems to me that most of these cautions are directed primarily at young children, small animals, pregnant women, the elderly and people with diabetes, asthma or cardiovascular problems. I don't belong to any of those groups, so I don't think those warnings need concern me.

I've been looking at two identical gas stoves made by the same company: one is direct-vented and one is vent-free. To me, the only difference is the vent-free is $150.00 cheaper, and doesn't require a $200.00 vent kit! A net savings of $350.00 is a powerful incentive. I see no reason why a healthy young adult like myself shouldn't go vent-free.
What do you think?
A Long-Distance Runner in Vermont

Sweepy Hi Marathon Man,

We think there's a flaw in your reasoning. Just because certain groups are at greater risk from exposure to gas exhaust, it doesn't mean that others are at no risk whatsoever. Example: when the AMA warns seniors to be extra careful walking on icy streets because they're at greater risk of breaking a hip should they slip and fall, that doesn't mean you won't break your hip should you hit the same patch of ice.

Even allowing your unsupported contention that a healthy young adult with runner's lungs isn't as likely to experience severe health problems from sharing his breathing space with the poisons contained in gas exhaust, you might want to take the following Vent-Free Purchaser Quiz:

1) Do you think exposure to gas exhaust will have no adverse affect on you at all? Isn't it logical to assume that if the very young, aged and health-impaired are at serious risk from exhaust gas inhalation, even a healthy set of lungs might be adversely affected?

2) What about the other problems vent-free fireplaces can cause? Wouldn't you pay $350.00 to eliminate any chance of the unpleasant odors, blackened walls, moisture damage, mold and mildew vent-free owners complain about?

3) Vermont Winters are mighty cold. Are you sure you'll be willing to open a window, as vent-free manufacturers say you must, every time you have a fire? And are you sure you'll be willing to limit your fires to the mandated couple of hours a day?

4) What about the other folks who occasionally share your home? Wouldn't it be nice to be able to have a cheery fire when Granny visits, or your friends with infant children? How about your buddies who come over every week for poker night who have never mentioned they have diabetes or asthma?

Scoring: Buy the vent-free if your answer to all the above questions is "I don't care."


#37: Sooting, chronic lung condition

We have a 4000+ square foot home that now has soot all over it. Our insurance company states this happened over time so will not cover it and have attributed this problem, after calling in several experts, to our unvented gas fireplace. We are now faced with the task and expense of cleaning and repainting our entire house. We have 18 foot ceilings in places and this will be no easy task. Additionally, I quit my job in 2001 due to respiratory complaints and started a different job. I thought I had environmental allergies at the workplace but now find the culprit is in my own home. I have been told that I have bronchiectasis, a chronic lung condition caused by irritants. They assumed it was due to measles and pneumonia I suffered as a young child, however, now I am questioning whether it was the fireplace. We only used it rarely and for no more than 2-4 hours, maybe 15 times per season. The house was built in 1997 and the fireplace is installed in a large open room with an open floor plan that far exceeds the cubic foot requirement. Our beautiful house, in which we took so much pride, is now a sooty dingy mess. I am ashamed to have anyone in our home and now am experiencing chronic lung problems. Is anyone having any success in collecting damages from the manufacturer?
Thanks for your prompt response.
Carole Foster
[email protected]

Sweepy Hi Carole,

Thanks for sharing your experience. Several of the others whose letters appear on this page mention lawsuits, but none have written back to share the results. If any of you are revisiting this page, will you please click our E-mail link at the bottom of this page and fill us in on the outcomes of your lawsuits (and CC a copy to Carole)?


#38: Sooting, who do I contact?

I have been reading all of the emails on your web site concerning the black soot that the unvented stove gives off. I have had a problem with my stove for 3 years and I always thought it was from something I did wrong while installing. I have changed the connections numerous times with no change. Who can I contact to check my stove? Also, for safety reasons should I go to a different type of stove?
Tom moon
Damascus, MD

Sweepy Hi Tom,

If you've read the letters above, it should be obvious that your healthiest and least-sooty solution will be to chuck your vent-free stove and replace it with a vented model. If you choose to keep your vent-free and want to try to tackle the sooting problem, your first step should be to contact the manufacturer and see if there's an authorized service technician in your area. Observe how he tunes up your stove carefully, as most manufacturers require that vent-frees be serviced at least once per month during the heating season, and you'll want to save the expense of bringing in a pro in the future.


#39: Retired Hearth Products dealer refused to sell vent-frees

Thanks for having the courage to address the serious issues of vent free products and refusing to make a quick buck on it. I was part owner of a chimney sweeping/stove sales business for 10 years and we also refused to sell anything ventless. It never made any sense to me that if anyone would actually research it and read the owners manual, why they would still decide on buying one. (stubborness, most likely. they always think they know more than the professionals) If it is dangerous for most types of people, it's dangerous for them too. But I know that you have heard from many a customer, like we did, who said something like "it hasn't killed me yet" regarding their dangerous situations. We quit our business partly for that reason. We had a good company and were consciencious about the work we did. We did not sell anything that we wouldn't use in our own homes, and we tested out many different stoves in our home. But, we would NOT sell anything ventless and always warned our customers about it if we heard them talking about possibly buying them.

Not many businesses will forego profit for the sake of protecting the people because many dealers & manufacturers do not have a conscience. It's all about what sells and lines their pockets.
Xanndra Boehler
[email protected]


#40: Can we make our vent-free gas logs safer?

We purchased a propane vent free gas log set for our house last weekend. I just discovered your website today. I should have seen it BEFORE I bought the logs! We have a central heating system that is new and works well. We burn wood in our basement fireplace in the winter for supplemental heat because the basement gets cold. The upper main floor is where we have installed our vent free logs. We wanted them for ambiance and for occassional supplemental heat. Sometimes that room gets chilly when the fire is going in the basement because the furnace doesn't kick on as much. The basement gets very warm and the main floor cools down. I thought we could use the vent-free gas logs to balance out the heat a little. Now I am worried that we bought the wrong thing.

We installed the vent free system in an existing vented fireplace. Do you think the health concerns, soot concerns, etc are minimized if we open the flue an inch? I tried it and we are still getting heat from the system with the flue open a crack. I don't want to use this vent free if we are going to be sick from it, but if opening the damper would minimize the health risk, I would keep it.
Your opinion is appreciated!
Nicole Gallagher

SweepyHi Nicole,

By all means, open your damper enough to vent as much of the poisonous exhaust as possible. Had you bought a vented set, it would have come with a clip to hold the damper open about an inch, so yours sounds like a reasonable plan.


#41: Vent-frees compared to cigarettes and asbestos

I am a fireplace dealer in Ohio. Over and over people come in with the thought of placing a ventfree appliance in their home. Over and over I explain the problems associated with the vent free units. I lose many sales because other companies tell the client that vent free fireplaces are no more dangerous than a gas range (except that you don't have a big exhaust fan over it). I would rather lose the sale now than have suffering, unhappy customers forever. I want my customer to be as happy with their purchase 5 years from now as they are the day they bought it and, unfortunately, that will not happen if they purchase a vent free. If that makes me a bad businessperson, so be it.

We, as an industry, need to educate the consumer as to the best possible products for their needs. A direct vent or electric fireplace will give them all they need and want without compromising their health or the health of the family. Please keep up the good work with educating the consumer. I will recommend your website to anyone contemplating ventfree and will continue to fight the good fight here in Ohio. Just remember, there was a time when people thought cigerette smoking and asbestos were good for you too!
Thank you,
Donerae Testa
The Place
North Royalton Ohio


#42: Gas Service Technician wouldn't even consider a vent-free fireplace

Hi, I have been a HVAC service tech for almost 30 years and when I was going to purchase my fireplace, vent free did not even enter my mind. I knew of the potential hazards but I did not realize the extent until I stumbled upon your website. Why contractors actually sell this stuff amazes me. Have our morals dipped this low, to knowingly endanger lives for a buck? They know the potential dangers when they sell [vent frees] but still continue. They won't stop until they are forced to stop. You are carrying the torch in the battle against vent frees.
Keep up the good work!
Bob Kirr

SweepyHi Bob,

Thanks for the support! Please note that we don't carry the torch into people's houses.


#43: Decided to go with direct vent stove

I was about ready to purchase a vent-free gas stove, but still felt a little uncomfortable with the concept. It was hard to buy off on the fact that the system burns so efficiently that there is no substantial exhaust. After reading the horror stories on your web site, my wife and I have decided to go with the direct vent stove. Thank goodness I was able to stumble onto your web site.
Thanks so much for making it available.
Michael R. Sylvain, P.E., R.L.S.
Phoenix, AZ


#44: HVAC dealer warns cunsumers against vent-frees

My husband and I own a heating and cooling business and occasionally we are asked about vent free fireplaces. I always tell everyone to avoid vent free because of the many problems associated with these vent free units including condensation on windows and noxious gases venting directly into the home. If homeowners have small children, health problems (asthma etc.), pets (vent free will kill birds fast), they will regret ever installing a vent free fireplace. From the letters I read on your website the health risks are not limited to people with health problems.

Also, I wonder if people read the instructions that are included with the vent free fireplaces. The one I read clearly states that windows must be cracked open and units have a maximum operating time.

If homeowners want to enjoy a fireplace, the only way to go is with a VENTED unit. Homeowners, do not try to save money by purchasing vent free fireplaces!

I will direct all further inquiries about vent free fireplaces to your website. Hopefully these vent free units will be recalled and outlawed in all 50 states in the near future.
Beth Koesterer


#45: Vent-free Owner: much maintenance, vigilance required

Vent-free doesn’t mean maintenance free. Operation of a vent-free gas fire place requires regular cleaning and dusting of the unit and its surroundings to keep the CO levels down. Average CO levels of both CO monitors in my home are around 5-10 ppm max. year round. Peaks are more notable after getting out of a car after a few hours in traffic, as clothing will hold in a number of different compounds including CO. When peaks are noted above 10 ppm, during the winter season when the fireplace is in use, a good cleaning and dusting of the unit brings the levels back to 5-10 ppm.

Any smell of natural gas will indicate a problem with the unit not igniting completely. A single blocked hole in the manifold can create a delay in the firing of the rest of the unit leading to the smell of natural gas; you should turn off the unit and have it inspected for a possible blockage. The smell of kerosene when the unit is burning has also been noted when the gas company installs or upgrades a gas main in the area. This is a rare occurrence in some areas, but for newer developments it might not be as rare, as the welding of the new line and the cleaning process to remove the slag sometimes leaves a residue in the line.

Yes, I have to wash the windows in my home on a monthly basis, but the problem is not as bad as a neighbor who burns a lot of candle in her home. I do have to run a dehumidifier on occasion in the winter but I’ve always had to do that to keep the moisture levels down in an older home that doesn’t have an automatic venting system now required.

Also how many people have their CO monitors calibrated on an annual basis or replace the CO unit annually (much cheaper)? Read and understand the entire instructions with any CO monitoring system before you set it and forget it. People who trust their lives to their CO monitors, at home or place of business have the units calibrated regularly and test their units before each use. How many people fill a bath tub with hot water and just hop right in without testing the temperature?

Every source of heat requires some amount of maintenance, some just require a little more. Maintenance wise I would place a vent-free fireplace halfway between a wood fireplace and electric base board heat. Cost wise vent-free is the lowest price per BTU, but what are the other costs in your time and health?
Ed Scholfield

SweepyHi Ed,

Thanks for the comments! You seem extremely well educated as to the maintenance and operation of your vent-free fireplace, and we agree with most of your points, but would take exception to your statement that "vent free is the lowest cost per BTU". We have long maintained that, when you factor in the hidden expenses associated with vent-free usage you mention, such as the monthly cleaning and servicing of the logs and burners, monthly window cleaning, annual CO detector calibration or replacement, operation and maintenance of a dehumidifyer, etc., and then consider that vent-frees can only be used 2-3 hours per day, the advertised maximum annual heating savings of 3% to 7% over a direct vented gas heater totally disappear.

What doesn't disappear is the long-term exposure to low level CO gases and other gaseous emissions associated with vent-free use, and the harmful health affects that result. Despite your unusually diligent best efforts to keep your vent-free fireplace tuned to minimize harmful emissions, you report that the CO level in your home fluctuates between 5ppm and 10ppm,, a level that an increasing number of medical professionals consider unacceptable. If you haven't done so yet, please read about the study entitled "THE EFFECTS OF CHRONIC EXPOSURE TO CO", sponsored by the British non-profit organization CO Support (you'll also find a link to the text of the entire report on the same page).


#46: Soot, Soot, Soot

We purchased a vent free gas log unit 3 + years ago, and now have soot, soot, soot everywhere. Ceilings, walls, inside cabinets, refrigerator, and on everything plastic we own. Western Natural Gas installed the units and has been the only company to service them. We noticed the soot back in March, they came and picked up the logs, "fixed" them saying they would take care of the soot damage, today we learn that their insurance company denied our claim. Has anyone had luck going after the manufacturer "Vanguard"?
Kelly and Doug Stephens
Jacksonville, FL


#47: Your website saved me today

In my search for pros and cons for vented vs vent-free, I came across your site. Enticed by the promise of increased heat distribution, I was leaning towards a vent-free gas log set. After reading the letters on this site, I can honestly say your website saved my life today.
Thanks and have a great day!
Melissa in Dallas


#48: Any way to vent these fireplaces?

Hi - I've been reading your site concerning the dangers of vent-free fireplaces and accounts by those who have suffered health issues due to their ventless fireplaces. I was hoping you might be able to offer some advice. My parents are just about finished building their home and I recently learned the fireplaces they have installed are all ventless. I was actually trying to find a smaller, bedroom model that my Mom was interested in for their bedroom and it was during this search that I ran across a lot of disturbing opinions on the use of vent-free fireplaces.

I've warned my parents about the dangers I've read about vent-free fireplaces, but I know they don't have the money to just replace their fireplaces with vented models. So, I was hoping you might offer some advice on whether it is possible to run venting to their existing fireplaces? One is located on an exterior wall, so I was thinking that a direct vent might be an option? The other fireplace is a 2-way that is not located on an exterior wall, but I thought that perhaps venting could be run from the fireplace down through the floor and then out to an exterior wall along the basement ceiling? Or maybe the 2-sided fireplace might vented up through the attic and roof. Do you have any thoughts on this? Can most/all models be converted, or is this not really a feasible option?

I appreciate any thoughts, advice, or additional resources that you might be able to offer to help. All of the research that I've seen discussing the dangers of these fireplaces has me very concerned. Especially as my Mother has a slight asthmatic condition.
Thank you for your time.

SweepyHi Rianna,

As mentioned in response to previous letters above, some, but not all, vent-frees can be vented. To find out if your parents' fireplaces can be vented, contact the manufacturer. You won't be able to vent the see-through downward, so you'll need to investigate a vertical location for that pipe. Note: even the people who sell vent-frees caution against use by asthmatics, so if the fireplaces can't be vented, you need to convince your folks to replace them with vented models.


#49: Vent-free owner saw doctors more than family & friends


I am so grateful to find your website. I had a vent-free fireplace installed in August, 2003, which never functioned properly. Over a period of 15 months, every part was replaced at least once. Eventually, a new burner was installed for the same model in 9/04. It too did not function (front row would light - not back row). Another model was installed in 11/05. This one would not light if the gas furnace was on!!

In the interim, I was constantly ill - eye, throat, blood pressure and heart problems - and was hospitalized four times. I had a pacemaker put in, felt fine in the hospital but once I came home, felt awful. I saw doctors more than I saw family or friends. I was practically an invalid. Eventually I called my local gas and electric company and who discovered I had a gas leak where the gas pipe joins the burner. It was leaking badly.

Here is my question: I want to sue these disgracefully incompetent people who assured me repeatedly that the installation was fine. But, I need expert medical advise as to the short and long-term effects of natural gas and carbon monoxide. My doctors tell me they have never had a patient who was exposed to natural gas, etc. Are you aware of anyone who has successfully won a lawsuit regarding a vent-free fireplace and what type of expert is needed. Toxicologist, industrial or environmental specialists? Or, can my doctors find out this type of information.

In the meantime, I am being treated by a pulmonary specialist for continued breathing problems.

Any help you can give me would be so appreciated. My advice to anyone is never, never get a vent-free fireplace. There is a reason why there are vents in the fireplace, I guess.

Thank you.

Sweepy Sorry about your medical problems, and thankful that you chose to share.


#50: MD switches out vent-free in new condo

Enjoy your website. We just moved into our new condo where all units but ours have a ventless fireplace unit. I changed out to an electric unit. This was a last minute change-out and there was no time for installing a vented fireplace. I'm concerned for my fellow owners. This same builder used ventless units in his previous condo project, also in Tacoma. The construction is tight, and in my opinion, these fireplaces should not be used more than the 2-3 hours recommended. What is the Washington State law regarding these units? Has anyone ever forced a builder to replace the fireplaces?
Terrel J Michel, MD

Sweepy Hi Doctor,

Thanks for the inquiry! Washington State has yet to pass any legislation regarding vent-frees, we're sorry to report. A few people have written to say they've "forced" their builders to switch to vented fireplaces during construction, but our impression was their hammer was more a matter of economics than of law (put in a vented fireplace or I won't pay you).

To our knowledge, there is no organized anti-vent-free lobbying effort at this writing, so our legislators probably see this issue as a wheel that isn't particularly squeeky. Since you obviously have strong feelings about this matter, we urge you to write your legislators and let them know. If enough concerned people make the effort, legislation similar to Canada's banning vent-free fireplaces might be forthcoming.


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Read about how much CO2 a vent-free fireplace exhausts into the breathing space

Read about a recent study of the effects of long-term exposure to CO gases

Read about respiratory irritation from vent-free exhaust in the breathing space

Read a posting about vent-free gas appliances from an indoor air quality scientist

Read what Consumer Reports Magazine has to say about vent-free products

Read letters in defense of vent-free products

Read our opinion about vent-free gas appliances

Read about a 2016 ASHRAE standard that could eliminate the entire vent-free product category in the US

Have a vent-free experience you'd like to report?  Here's a link to the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.


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