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Letters From Vent-Free Gas Fireplace Owners
Page 4 - Letters 76-100

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.


#76: Another Hearth Product retailer drops vent-frees

It is great to come to your site and read all of the customer feedback!!! I have worked for a retailer in the hearth product industry in Maryland for about five years now. Before working here I had no idea how much was involved in fireplaces, between getting the right look to getting the right amount of heat there are just so many options.

My boss decided to discontinue selling vent free appliances about two years ago. My thoughts were mixed. I had read many things about the adverse affects of vent free, but it wasn’t until I read the negative testimonies of so many consumers that I became thoroughly convinced that vent-frees are not products I would want to sell.

Thank you for your web site and thank you to the consumers for their statements as well.

Sales at FiresideStone


#77: Has "gotten sick" from vent-free gas logs: do they have to remain vent-free?

Q: I have a vent free gas log set installed in an existing wood burning fireplace with a chimney. Will opening the flue all the way eliminate the health risks associated with vent free products? I have gotten sick and will not run it again unless there is a safe way. I am not worried about heat loss either.

Carl Johnson

Sweepy Some vent-free gas log sets are in a metal enclosure that blocks the flow up the fireplace chimney. If yours is one of those, opening the damper won't do you much good. If your gas logs are open at the top, however, and there's a clear path through the fireplace damper, it would be a great idea to open that damper every time you burn the logs.


#78: Brown walls from occasional vent-free use: a call for a class action lawsuit

In the end of 2000 I purchased a vent free gas logset mainly for power outages. We have bad ice storms and power outages lasting sometimes 5 to 7 days. We had an outage for 5 days, and we used the gas logs 24 hours per day, as they were our only back-up heat source. All the ceilings in the rooms that were opened are destroyed. When I wipe the walls the towel is brown. I am positive the gas logs did it, because the closer you get to them the damage is worse. Right over the mantle that the logs are in the ceiling is almost brown. This home was completely remodeled in 2000 and now over half of it has to be redone.

Has anyone on this site gotten any satisfaction from the manufacturers of these products? When I called them, they asked me what did I want them to do and in the same breath told me there was nothing they could do about it. So the gas logs are now boxed up. The cost was over $1000.00 for a product that was destroying my home. Not to mention the repair bills I will have. Seems like someone would have started some class action lawsuits.


#79: Moist heat, funny smell, possibly causing headaches: are the dogs safe?

I am really glad I stumbled on this site. My husband installed a ventless propane fireplace in the spring. We only used it a couple times in the spring and just recently had it on for about 4 hours one evening.

I told my husband in the spring that it had a sort of funny odor, but not really propane, he said it was nothing to worry about. We have a digital CO detector just a few feet away from it (which has never gone off). We have another one in the kitchen which is also just a few feet away (it has never gone off). We have this fireplace in a room that is approximately 12 x 22 (small room). This fireplace is just for the ambiance of it all, not a heat source even though it heats up the room quickly unless kept on low.

I always feel as though it is a moist kind of heat with a funny smell. I have gotten a headache once or twice, but am not sure it is the fireplace. I am more worried about my two 9 pound dogs. Do you think that using it occasionally (once or twice a weekend, with the door to the outside slightly cracked open for ventilation, this door is a few feet away from the fireplace), would be a problem for our health. I am so frightened now that I do not want to use it. It seems like such a waste. My husband said to run a small fan pulling air out of the door with a window slightly cracked in the kitchen, which would be pulling air right past the fireplace. We would still have the ambiance of the fire, but maybe not the dangerous fumes. I don't know what to think, do you have any thoughts on this? Thanks so much.

New York

Sweepy By all means, open the door and the window, but take care that the resulting breeze doesn't disturb the flames in your vent-free: air disturbance is one of the hide-behinds vent-free manufacturers use to excuse sooting.


#80: Open damper to stop wall stains

I have a set of "ventless fireplace logs" installed in a regular wood-burning fireplace. This was for convenience. I am experiencing the wall stains as mentioned in so many of the letters on your site. Would simply opening the flue solve this problem? Or would this cause other problems being that it is designed to be ventless? I heard that possibly there is some "gizmo" to hold the flue open partially. Would this be something you can advise on? Thank you for your help.

Elizabeth Beach

Sweepy No need to prop your damper open permanently: just be sure and open it all the way whenever you fire up the gas logs.


#81: Direct Venting Options

First off...thank you for this great site which confirms to me what I have preached to friends and family for years. Vent-free on the surface sounds too good to be true but as usual there are serious drawbacks.

I'm currently looking to put a direct-vent NG stove or fireplace into my finished basement which serves as family room / playroom for kids. The problem is that there's no room on the only exterior facing wall due to built-in closet, cabinets and computer desk. Is it possible to have a horizontal (or angled) run of vent to get to this exterior wall? If so how far a run? I've been unable to find a description of this type of installation and hope you'll have some experience or advice.
Thanks in advance,

Rob Noll
Wallingford, PA

Sweepy Some direct vent stoves can go quite a distance sideways if you can give them a little vertical rise first.


#82: Thought the vent-free was great (except for the filmy windows, yellowing walls, fatigue, memory loss & respiratory infection)

Q: We have heated our home for four years with an unvented gas log heater. The winters have been mild so we didn't have to turn on our furnace which is thirty years old. We thought the heat was great, although I hated the film on the windows and the yellowing or orange on all the walls.

But then it started to affect our health (I can see that now). For over a year I was so tired and fatigued and couldn't figure out why, and every time my husband sat down in a chair he was falling asleep. Then in Jan. 2006, I had a respiratory infection which left me with a cough. I have been doctoring for six months and every test came back okay, even had an angiogram, and it was fine. My husband has suffered with a loss of short term memory. The day I was taking him to the neurologist, our unvented gas log heater started to put out a smoky, sooty smell. I couldn't stand it, so we turned it off. When we came home I found your site on the internet.

We haven't turned the gas log heater back on and both of us feel 100% better. I have had a hard time getting people to believe me. I called our state health department and they shoved me off on our county health department. The woman had never heard of any problems with gas log heaters, told me they were safe. She told me to call poison control and the woman I talked to there would not even listen to me. Told me gas log heaters are completely safe and I shouldn't believe everything I read on the internet.

The only person who believed me was the woman at Service Master, when I called to find out what their price was to help me clean the house. They sent two woman to help me wash walls, ceilings, woodwork, everything.

Has anyone complained about stirring up the stuff that is on the walls and ceiling? One of the women started coughing and the other one got a headache.

I do plan to paint everything and I'm hoping that it will seal the walls and ceilings. Can anyone give me any suggestions about clean up?

Thank you again for your site.
Judi VanMeerten

Sweepy Go easy on your health department and poison control personnel, it is likely they haven't had much experience with vent-free gas appliance problems: direct vent gas products are a fairly recent idea, and there are relatively few of them in service as compared to vented gas products. I called our County health department about vent-frees a short while back, and nobody in the office had even heard of them. Most consumer complaints go to the vent-free dealers and manufacturers, who understandably have little motivation to publicize them.

Gas exhaust soot contains super-tiny particles called PM 2.5's, which are so small it would take a couple hundred of them to cover the period at the end of this sentence. These particles are lightweight enough to be airborne, and small enough to bypass the upper respiratory system and lodge deep in the lungs. When cleaning up after a sooting incident, the safest way to limit inhalation of these particles is to work wet. Damp sponge, don't vacuum. Once you get the soot cleaned off, a good coat of paint should stop any remaining particles from entering your breathing space.


#83: Hearth Product Professional cites seller misinformation and consumer inaction as biggest vent-free problems

Our company has now removed well over 350 vent-free (room vented) products and replaced them with direct vents.

It seems no matter how many vent-free products that get replaced, and no matter how many complaining vent-free owners there are, the consumer is still being misled about room-vented gas appliances. Between "Loewes knows" and the popular conception that the gas company would not sell anything that would hurt you or your home, there is so much misinformation out there it is hard for the consumer to know what to do.

Much of this misinformation originates on the showroom floors of vent-free dealers. It seems to me that the training for vent-free sales clerks must include the following instructions:

Don't mention that there are 3 types of gas products; vent-free, gravity vented and direct vented. Our pitch is all about vent-frees.

Keep stressing the 99.9% heating efficiency, which deflects attention from the fact that vent-frees are not supposed to be used as primary heaters.

Gloss over sizing guidelines and room ventilation requirements. The consumer might be smart enough to figure out that an open window is not too bright when you're trying to heat your home.

Address moisture issues on a positive note: "In dry Winter months, a little humidity is good for you." Never mention water running off windows and walls, mold, mildew, rot, or moisture-related health problems.

Don't mention that you can't install a vent-free product too close to a ceiling fan or a window, or a return air duct, or an outside door, or in a bedroom or bath. If you do, the consumer might figure out a vent-free product is not the best choice for their family and home.

What the buying public SHOULD be made aware of is that when the vent-free product creates a problem it will always be the fault of the consumer. If the vent-free product is used to heat, the manufacturer can call that abuse and misuse of the product. If the vent-free product is too large for the area in which it is installed, it is the consumer's fault, even though the consumer was not told about proper sizing. The list can go on and on.

It seems because we don’t have a room full of body bags, nobody wants to listen, as if it's not a big problem. I believe that sooted-up homes, water running off windows and walls, headaches and sinus problems, burned-up mantels, discolored walls and film all over windows are a big problem. If anyone with a vent-free has had any of these problems, email the consumer safety product commission at Also email and let the code guys know about your vent-free issues. Then call your newspaper and tv station. Let’s get the truth out.

Perry Bumpers
Fireplace creations by BMC
[email protected]


#84: Upright citizen no longer leaning towards vent-frees

So glad to find you and the information you have about vent-frees. I was leaning toward a vent-free until I read about the subject on your website. I guess for the amount of time I would use the gas fireplace I don't want to take a chance on all the unsavory things that could happen.

Thank you for the information.
S Voorhees


#85: Pregnant friend feels "tired" when using borrowed vent-free

I own a 30,000 btu Comfort Glow vent-free LP heater. I used it to heat a small studio apartment for over a year. I went from a $150 a month (winter) electric bill to a $20 electric + $50 LP monthly cost. Less than half the cost of electric alone.

I did smell an "odor" and so did my guests but I got used to it after a week or so. It smelled faintly like a bbq but was not offensive. There was no soot and I had no excess moisture around my single pane windows. I had a CO alarm installed right under the unit and never once did it go off from the heater. I set it off once with a lighter and a jar to make sure it worked so I am confident there was not an elevated level of CO in my apartment due to this heater.

Since then I have bought a house and use a free standing gas log fireplace vented through the existing chimney and I am positive it is no where near as efficient as my old propane heater. I am considering installing the unit in my house but would like to be sure it is safe for my family and I. The only reason I am alarmed is I have a pregnant friend who claims to feel tired when using my heater which is on loan due to the recent storm power outages. I went to look for info on this subject and came across this site, and [the manufacturer's website, where I learned that my model has been discontinued]. There is no reason listed on the [manufacturer's] site [as to why my model has been discontinued] and they still sell different models but not mine. I see you have no letters from happy owners of the vent free heaters. Am I the only one?

Lon Jasper
Enumclaw, WA

Sweepy Lon, you mention you've been to our website, but I wonder if you actually read all the pages in our vent-free section.

If you had, you'd be aware that The American Lung Association, The Center for Disease Control, The Environmental Protection Agency and The Mayo Clinic all caution pregnant women against exposure to vent-free exhaust.

You would have learned that lethargy and fatigue are common symptoms of low-level CO2 poisoning, which might give you an insight as to why your friend feels "tired" when she uses your vent-free.

You would have learned that your CO detector is designed to warn you of life-threatening levels of CO in your breathing space, but that health professionals warn against regular exposure to much lower levels.

You might have figured out that the odor you finally got used to was the smell of the poisonous Carbon Monoxide, Carbon Dioxide and Nitrogen Dioxide emissions you (and now your friend) are breathing whenever the vent-free is in use.

You also say you've been to Comfort Glow's website. Did you miss the warning on Page 2 of Comfort Glow's Owner's Manual that reads: "Some people are more affected by carbon monoxide than others. These include pregnant women, people with heart or lung disease or anemia, those under the influence of alcohol, and those at high altitudes."?

In the same owner's manual, same page, Item 3, Comfort Glow states that "This appliance shall not be installed in a bedroom or bathroom." which means your vent-free isn't even on the menu for a studio apartment.

This is free country, and you're perfectly entitled to disregard safety warnings and expose yourself to whatever health dangers you choose: but if you're truly a friend to your pregnant friend, advise her to stop using that vent-free ASAP.


#86: Educated Consumer wants to vent

Q: I have just finished reading most if not all of the posted letters and responses regarding vent free gas logs. Thank you for the forum, it has been an education.

I now understand it is necessary to open the damper when a vent free system has been installed in a wood burning fireplace. For those of us who have wood burning fireplaces, is there any reason not to replace burning wood in favor of installing a vent free system? It seems to me that gas vs. wood in a traditional fireplace (damper open) would favor gas. In my case, the fireplace is not used for heat, just for ambiance. My wife has been asking for this conversion for a while now and I was about to make this her big Christmas gift until I came across your forum during my research.

Thanks for your insights.

Happy Holidays,
Joe Gugel

Sweepy If you're going to vent your logset anyway, why not buy a vented set? Vented sets provide MUCH more realistic logs, flames and embers than vent-frees do.


#87: Why don't vent-free manufacturers give us more information about safe operation?

Q: I've had a 99% efficient (as I'm told) gas burning vent-free fireplace for over 5 years. In my 6th year, I started feeling sick; headaches, coughing, lots of fluid in my lungs. I thought I had a cold or flu and went to the doctor.

When do people get sick from the flu?

When do people predominately use their fireplaces?
When it's cold.

Do you think it occured to my doctor to ask, "How's your vent-free fireplace feeling?"

After three visits, what I found out was the IRON level in my blood was rising! Wow. [Only then did I consider that my vent-free might be the culprit].

In a vent-free system, black residue (looks like smoke from a wood fire), means there is a problem, as it is a sign of improper or incomplete combustion. I finally noticed that the yellow bricks in my fireplace were turning black, and my gas flame was not blue but starting to turn yellow. That told me the fireplace was not adjusted correctly, so it was not burning at 99% efficiency and, as a result, causing my lungs and liver to work overtime. This was after three months of breathing all that good stuff.

I went back to the owner's manual and read all of the mumbo-jumbo legal stuff. But nowhere in the manual did it talk about the flame, which has got to be the 2nd most important thing the consumer should know about (exploding being #1). I could find nothing in the manual about the two major signs of improper combustion or how incomplete burning might affect the (99%) efficiency claim. I went to several vent-free manufacturers' web sites, downloaded the manuals in .PDF format and found nothing.

This issue could easily be resolved with a little customer education. The intelligent thing to do would be to publish information about the black residue and flame color in the owner's manual. The way I see it, the manufacturers don't want to increase their call volume, would rather let the local service tech figure out the problem. Meanwhile, the consumer suffers from the sickness and pays the medical bills.

Got any thoughts? Yes I have a Carbon Monoxide tester, down to 60ppm and working, tested it on my car.

Fairfax, VA
Go Raiders!!!!

Sweepy Hi John,

First, you need to get clear about vent-free efficiency claims, and the difference between combustion efficiency and heating efficiency. Vent-free manufacturers do not claim that their products burn the fuel at 99% efficiency. Their claim is about heating efficiency, which is just another way of saying that, when you burn a vent-free, you not only get the heat from the flames, but also the heat from the exhaust, because it vents right into your living space.

No matter how carefully you adjust your burner, you're never going to approach 99% combustion efficiency.

It seems vent-free manufacturers universally tend to avoid getting too specific about things like incomplete combustion and sooting (and the warning signs thereof), presumably because full disclosure might negatively impact sales. For example, if you dig down way deep in your manual, you might find that the manufacturer recommends a monthly professional cleaning and adjustment of your vent-free system throughout each heating season (which, if followed religiously, might have spared you at least two months of your high-level exposure). If this caveat were moved to the front page of the brochure, prospective buyers might just decide that the annual expense for this monthly service would negate any savings from going vent-free in the first place.

CO detectors are designed to protect you from a one-time exposure to lethal levels. If your CO detector is UL listed and manufactured after 2000, it won't register CO levels below 30ppm, and won't sound an alarm unless levels rise to 100ppm, or remain over 70ppm for an hour. In recent years, medical health professionals have become increasingly concerned about repeated or chronic exposure to much lower levels; OSHA, for example, prohibits CO levels over 35ppm in any workplace. If your home CO detector constantly registers 60ppm now that your vent-free is tuned up and burning properly, try to put in all the overtime at work you can: you'll be healthier for it.

And Carbon Monoxide (CO) levels don't tell the whole story. Chronic exposure to some of the other constituents of vent-free gas exhaust, such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), can also cause the symptoms you're experiencing. And this is when your vent-free is in proper adjustment.


#88: A "vent-free victim" tells her story

Wow, has your site been helpful! I've been having breathing and respiratory problems lately, much more than usual even though I have been treated for allergies all of my life. Today I was feeling especially bad and wanted to sleep all afternoon. Instead, I got out my Windex and started cleaning glass and windows inside my house. The cloth turned black where it wiped the window. I was puzzled so I cleaned another--same black residue. Hmmm. What was happening? We've had non-vented (propane) gas logs for about 3 years but had problems getting them adjusted so only this year started using them to supplement the central heating on really cold days. Someone else cleaned my house this past winter, so I had not seen the black residue. Had the gas logs caused the soot on the windows?

After a rather extended Google search, I found this site. I am now convinced that not only had the gas logs caused the soot, but, most likely, my respiratory problems, headaches and lethargy also. It's somehow reassuring since at least the problems won't get any worse now that we've turned off the gas. But I'm afraid that my lungs will never be the same. I plan to notify several entities--including our propane supplier, who recommended the unvented logs, our Texas Environmental Quality Commission, the gas log manufacturer and other appropriate agencies. Thank you so much for letting vent-free victims tell their stories.

Nan Rentz
Waco, Texas


#89: Thanks for the heads up

I was considering getting a vent free fireplace, and thanks to your message board, I feel relieved I never ever ever made the choice. Thank you everyone who gave me the heads up!!!



#90: Can I switch to a Direct Vent?

Hi, I have a vent-free fireplace and like so many others, found you guys when researching the smell [and other issues].

Can a Direct Vent insert be placed on my existing hearth and can I use my existing surround and mantel??

Roger Wilkerson

Sweepy Hi Roger,
The answers to your questions will depend upon the dimensions of your existing setup. To compare, click the thumbnail photos on our
Direct Vent Gas Fireplace page, then click the INSTALLATION SPECS button on each model's page for framing dimensions, venting info, etc. Tip: the fireplaces on our Gas Fireplace page are arranged by size, so if you determine that a given model won't fit your situation, check the one above it, and so on.


#91: Chronic bronchitis, sinus infections and soot: Charlotte has had enough

Just finished reading the many letters on your [vent-free] stoves page. I have one, and it's the only heat I have in this old house. I can't begin to tell you how black things get in just a few days... my clothes are black , my tv screen, my windows, walls, and ceilings.

I get bronchitis often and have been sick with sinus infections for over 2 months now. I ran out of propane and said that's enough. Now I have to figure out another source of heat, since this old house never had a furnace of any kind. I never thought about [the vent-free stove] making me sick, but now that I look back it makes sense. I have been breathing all this soot for over 4 years! These terrible products need to be taken off the market.

Charlotte Ames

Sweepy Hi Charlotte,
Until the US adopts an indoor air quality standard, I'm afraid it is unlikely that vent-free products will be taken off the market. But whoever sold you a vent-free stove as the sole source of heat for your house should be run out of hearth product business. Even the vent-free product manufacturers themselves will tell you vent-frees are ONLY for supplementary use a couple of hours per day with a window open.


#92: Loves having a gas fireplace; not so keen on odor, headaches & sooting

We have been having some of the problems as described in your library. We just bought this house and Love having a gas fireplace. However, we have noticed an odor coming from the fireplace and I have been suffering from headaches. Not to mention all of the Soot all over the place.

Could you direct me to someplace where I can find information on the fireplace to see if it is able to convert to a vented model? My husband seems to think this is possible. Here is the make and model of our fireplace:

CFM Harris Systems Inc. Model UE-241L S/N 8365

Any information you could give us would be helpful.

Carol Hastings
Rising Sun, MD

Sweepy Hi Carol,

Good news! You don't have a vent-free fireplace. What you have is a model UE-241L vent-free LOGSET. These were designed to be installed inside an existing fireplace, to convert the fireplace to vent-free operation.

The UE-241L vent-free logset was manufactured by a division of CFM Corporation, which markets vent-free products under several brand names. Assuming the fireplace your vent-free logset is installed in has a chimney, it might be possible to vent the exhaust by opening the fireplace damper. Consult with CFM to see if that option is allowed. If it isn't, you can always remove the vent-free logset assembly and install a vented logset.


#93: Home Inspector involved in mold spore litigation; suspects vent-free fireplace is at fault

Thanks for the amazing amount of information on your website regarding unvented heating equipment. I appreciate the work and time you put into it.

I am a home inspector with 10 years experience and probably 4000 or more homes inspected, and your views precisely match the advice I give to clients whose prospective homes include any unvented equipment.

To get to the point, I am involved in litigation with a client that purchased a home that included an unvented propane fireplace. The fireplace is not the problem as such, but resulting excess humidity that resulted in potential mold growth is the issue. Are you aware of a web source for information regarding more the humidity/mold risk rather than the combustion by-products issue? I am aware of how closely related the symptoms of CO and CO2/NO2 poisoning can be to mold sensitivity.

Thanks for any help you can offer me in this regard. And again, thanks for the time and trouble you invest in this area for consumers.

Steve Kaple

Sweepy Hi Steve,
Thanks for the kind words! You'll find a good overview of the causes and symptoms of household mold spore poisoning, along with dozens of links to other sites with pertinent information on the
Health and Energy website.


#94: Sooting, coughing, headaches lead to decision to replace vent-free

Oh, boy does this this information hit home! I cannot tell you how many times the walls and ceiling have been done; they're a sooty mess. I thought we had the black mold! Now I know differently. After experiencing constant coughing and headaches, we're contacting the fire department to have them investigate CO poisoning. I believe this [vent free fireplace] should be replaced immediately. THANK YOU.



#95: House covered in black soot, won't use vent-free gas logs again

I have been reading your emails concerning vent free logs. I too have had ny whole house covered in black soot and will not burn my vent-free gas logs anymore. But I understand vented gas logs are not very efficient. Doesn't most of the heat go out the vent? And with the cost of propane it could be very expensive? If I am incorrect please let me know while I am deciding what kind of heat to use.

Terry E Thompson

Sweepy Hi Terry,
There is a difference between
vented gas logs, which are installed in an existing fireplace primarily for looks, and vented gas inserts, which are designed to heat. Today's direct vent gas inserts achieve efficiency scores up to 86%, and are designed to heat the entire house.


#96: A Gold Star for the Sweep!

I have read all the letters regarding vent-free logs and am convinced I need to rid our home of this product. I have a wood burning fireplace in which I placed the aforementioned vent free logs (mine are propane). Question: Are there direct-vent products that are adaptable to a woodburning fireplace? If not, are there any advantages to changing to a vented model versus using the vent-free model with the damper open? You deserve a "Gold Star" for the extremely informational and very helpful website!

Linda G.

Sweepy Hi Linda,
Thanks for the inquiry, and for the kind words about our website! One problem with vent-free gas logs is, they're designed to deliver the heat into the room via the hot exhaust: open the damper to vent the exhaust, and all the heat goes out the chimney.

If you want meaningful heat without breathing gas exhaust, your best solution would be a direct-vent gas insert. These draw their combustion air down from the top of the chimney through one pipe and send their exhaust back out with another pipe, so they don't affect your breathing air at all. And they deliver heat at over 80% efficiency!


#97: Installing company admits odors and sooting are "normal"

I have a question that no one has been able to answer yet. We have a gas fireplace that has been a miserable experience so far. The "exhaust" from the fire comes into our house instead of going up the chimney. When it is on the entire house smells of gas (esp.on the 2nd floor, the fireplace is on the 1st floor) and it has left our ceilings and walls with a black, greasy film. This can't be right yet the company who put it in says this is normal. It can't possibly be! We have not used it in a year because I haven't trusted anyone to give us a straight answer.

Thank you so much!!!
Hilary Coughlin

Sweepy Hi Hilary,
I hate to break it to you, but your installing company is (belatedly) telling you the truth: the fireplace they installed for you is a vent-free model, and if the other letters on this page are any indication, the odors and sooting you're experiencing are indeed normal. If you want to have a fireplace you can actually use, you'll need to replace your vent-free with a vented fireplace.


#98: Can you direct vent a vent free?

Moved into house year and half ago. Used to have wood burning as well as vented natural gas (old style chimney) fireplaces. This house had a vent free fireplace, never had one so figured hey there are so many must be ok. It is terrible. Used it once for a few hours and the room just smells so bad. Is it possible to convert a vent free fireplace ( looks nice) to a vented one , without having to go up.. can get to outside going right angle left about 10 ft.

Hope to hear from you when you have the opportunity.

Sweepy Hi Allan,

Sorry to say, even the very few vent-frees we know of that are cross-listed for vented installation need a vertical vent through the roof if you go for that option. If you must vent through a sidewall, you'll need to replace the vent-free with a direct vent model.


#99: Can I drill out my vent-free burner tube?

Hi, I replaced my wood burning fireplace with a vent free log set. The heat is wonderful but the smell is terrible !!!! And yes, it smells up the whole house. I thought it was the log set, so after two years replaced with another set and same problem!!! When I open my damper, of course the smell is gone but I don't get much heat. My question is, do vented log sets have more heat from them? My vent-free logs are rated 10,000 to 39,000 btu's. Or would it help if I drilled more very small holes in the flame tube? I'd appreciate your help. Great site you have, keep up good work,

Steve S
St. Louis, Mo.

Sweepy Hi Steve,

DO NOT alter the burner tube in any way. Vent-frees are finely tuned, and any change that drastic will almost certainly have dire consequences. Vented gas logs provide some heat, but are primarily decorative: if you truly want meaningful heat without the drawbacks of vent-free logs, you might want to consider a direct vent insert.


#100: New Vent-Free irritates wife

I recently purchased a Procom Blue Flame vent free heater (30,000 btu). My house is old and not very air tight at all. I have a natural gas furnace and use the vent-free as supplemental heat.

I don't feel any ill side affects but my wife is another story. Since we started using the vent-free she has had a burning sensation in her nose and throat. I'm thinking this could be caused by the heater as a result of the "acid rain" ?????


Sweepy Hi Russ,

One of the by-products of the combustion of gas is airborne nitric acid. Even in very small quantities, this powerful acid is known to irritate "wet" tissues like eyes, noses and throats. Reportedly, some vent-free users actually experience nosebleeds.

Some people are more sensitive to vent-free exhaust in the home than others. To see if your wife might be one of those folks, try discontinuing use of your vent-free for a week or so and see if her irritation clears up. If it does, it sounds like you might have to choose between a vented fireplace and a new wife!


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


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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