Breathing New Life into a Midcentury Fireplace
This discovery was followed by a quote for more than $3,000 to repair it! Double-yuck. Time to explore some options.
The first suggestion was gas logs. The idea of fake wood didn't really thrill us. We decided to go with a more modern-style burner called Loft made by Empire Comfort Systems. These can be spruced up with fire glass, beads or even stone. They are available in various sizes with heat outputs ranging from 8000 to 40,000 BTUs. But we soon learned the most important decision isn't the size or look.
Fireplace inserts like this are available in vented and non-vented styles. The cost and installation involved vary widely between the two. Vented models are essentially self-contained boxes that require venting to the outdoors and a supply of fresh air. Non-vented (also called ventless, vent-free or unvented) install more like a set of gas logs that just sit inside your fireplace. There are advantages and drawbacks to both.
We were interested in the "look" of a fire, but also wanted to gain some warmth benefit. I learned the non-vented burners run so clean there is no need to open the damper. So the warmth stays in the room instead of rushing up the flue. Plus the installation is a breeze compared to the enclosure and vent pipes required for a vented unit.
Once lit the heat can be felt in the room almost immediately.
The unit has a pilot so turning on/off is merely a flip of a switch. Optional remotes and thermostats are also available for the gadget hungry. But so far we haven't found it that burdensome to walk over and flip the switch.
Shop for a Loft Vent-Free Burner on Amazon.