Bath Yellow Fireplace

Q: Jason, My wife and I recently bought a fixer-upper and are almost ready to move in. We knew that we had to do some work to our brick wood burning fireplace, and have been really swaying toward putting in a gas direct vent insert. When I looked up into the flu I was surprised to see that we don’t have a damper AT ALL. The previous owners had removed it leaving us with a 1′ x 2′ opening going up into our flu. My question is, will the Chimney Balloon work for me if I want to convert my existing fireplace into a directly vented gas log? -JD

A: Dear JD, Considering the outside temperature isn’t getting any warmer at this time of year, I would suggest you get a Chimney Balloon in this fireplace very soon so you won’t be loosing your interior heat up the flue.

It could be that the previous owner had a vented gas log in this fireplace when he lived there (he must have taken it with him) and that is why the damper was removed. Building code states that a vented gas log fireplace must have the metal damper removed or clipped open regardless if the fireplace is in use or not.

The reason for this code is to keep people with vented gas logs from accidentally asphyxiating the occupants of the home by burning the gas log with the damper closed. The side effect of this building code is wholesale heat and A/C loss 24/7 through the flue.

Many vented gas log owners opt to use a Chimney Balloon in the flue to stop the heat and A/C loss. If they accidentally light the gas log before manually removing the Chimney Balloon it is designed to shrink and burst and still allow the fireplace gasses to escape. This saves the occupants of the home but sacrifices the Chimney Balloon.

When you install a direct vent fireplace insert I suggest you have it vented through the wall and have the flue plugged with a Chimney Balloon. Even if you decide to wait on upgrading the fireplace get that balloon in right away. If you decide to vent the new direct vent gas fireplace up the chimney, you will still have to work out some way to plug the rest of the flue around the vent pipes. – Jason