At Mr. Vent Free, we get asked a lot of questions about the safety of vent-free gas heating units, fireplaces, and stoves. Natural gas is a very safe fuel, when handled properly. Here are some of the questions we hear most frequently.

Q: Does natural gas exhaust need to be vented, in order to be safe?
A: Vent-free natural gas appliances are 99% efficient. Therefore, only a very small amount of exhaust is generated. The government is charged with setting guidelines for the safety of vent-free natural gas heating devices in the US. All the vent-free units we sell at Mr. Vent Free meet these guidelines. Most other forms of heating fuels require a vent or chimney; but our vent-free appliances are specifically designed to safely heat the room without needing a vent. This makes them more flexible to place, easier to install, and simple to maintain.

Q: Do vent-free appliances increase the danger of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning?
A: No. Every vent-free gas unit we sell comes with an ODA (Oxygen Depletion Sensor). This shuts off the unit if the oxygen levels in the room drop too low. In the US, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has not documented any case of carbon monoxide poisoning from an ODA-equipped vent-free gas heating unit. Every homeowner should install a CO sensor in their homes, regardless of whether they have any vent-free gas heating appliances.

Q: It is safer to have a chimney?
A: No. Chimney fires from wood-burning appliances and fireplaces are a risk – especially at the beginning of the cold season. Soot and creosote build up, and must be cleaned by a professional regularly. Animals and insects love to set up house in chimneys and vents, given half a chance. This presents an unnecessary pest problem and health risk (not to mention the risk to the animal when it must be flushed out). Care must be taken to try to discourage pests from getting into vents, using wire mesh and caps. However, these can be damaged or pried off, inviting trouble. Modern vent-free gas appliances, such as the ones we carry at Mr. Vent Free, reduce the number of holes into the house, discouraging unwanted guests and risk of chimney fires.

Q: How are vent-free gas appliances regulated in the United States?
A: The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) oversees appliance development and safety standards. In the US, all vent-free appliances are safety-tested by ANSI. In addition, the manufacturers of vent-free units must get them tested by independent safety laboratories.

Q: How unsafe is it to neglect my vent-free fireplace or stove?
A: Vent-free appliances require so little maintenance, there is really no excuse for neglect. Simply get it inspected by a professional once a year. Depending on your unit and brand of vent-free appliance, specific cleaning and maintenance instructions will be slightly different. Be sure to consult the owner’s manual for instructions, and follow them. You will know something is wrong if you detect an odor when the unit is on. If this happens, make sure it has been cleaned and maintained, then call the technician if the problem isn’t cleared up.

Q: Does a vent-free gas appliance put my home at additional risk of fire or explosion?
A: No more than any house that has gas appliances. An odor is added to natural gas so you can detect a potential gas leak. Care must be taken around any gas appliance to prevent burns. Most of the units we sell are enclosed to cut the risk of fire.

Safety is a top concern for all home-owners. Vent-free gas appliances have an excellent safety record, and are safer than some other options. Contact us if you have questions.