More and more homeowners are looking into vent-free fireplaces and stoves for supplemental heat, but wonder how to maintain them. Natural gas is an economical and 99% efficient heat source. Any home that has access to gas lines can have at least one vent-free appliance. No chimney or vent is required, so it’s easy to install and can go nearly anywhere.

The good news is that vent-free heaters are easy to maintain. Here are answers to frequently asked questions:

Q: How does vent-free maintenance compare to maintaining a wood-burning/pellet burning appliance?
A: Wood or pellets need to be stored properly; if they aren’t, they can get wet or attract insects into the dwelling. The fuel for vent-free appliances comes in through the gas lines when needed. Ashes and soot from burning wood must be removed frequently and if they are spilled, they create a dirty mess. Natural gas produces no ashes. Wood-burning appliances need more frequent, vigorous cleaning than gas appliances.

Q: How do keep the chimney for a vent-free appliance clean?
A: Vent-free appliances have no chimney or vent, so there is no chimney to clean. Appliances that have a chimney must be maintained by a professional to prevent fires and stop too much smoke from coming into the room. Vents must also be cleaned regularly. Vents can be clogged by animals, debris, or bugs. It is a favorite trick of small animals to seek shelter in vents, and even establish nests. Insects can invade during the summer, causing a dangerous surprise when the fire is lit in the autumn. Blocked vents make fumes back up into the airspace of the building, and reduces efficiency. Caps and screens can help, but the also need to be checked regularly for damage. A determined and dexterous animal, such as a raccoon, can pry off barriers and walk right in.

Q: What kind of regular maintenance does a vent-free appliance need?
A: The answer depends on the make and model of vent-free appliance you choose. Read the manual that comes with the appliance, and make calendar reminders. Expect to vacuum the accessible parts every few weeks to get rid of dust and hair. Clean the exterior as needed, according to directions. This takes minutes and will just be part of your regular housekeeping. The manual will also indicate how often you need the unit inspected by a professional — at least once per year — to ensure safe and efficient operation.

At Mr. Vent Free, we are happy to answer your questions. Just give us a call or fill in our contact form.