How do you maintain vent-free fireplaces and vent-free stoves? These gas appliances are significantly different from traditional wood-burning stoves and fireplaces, so they need a different type of maintenance. And vent-free appliances do not have chimneys or vents like other gas appliances. So a specific type of care is needed. The good news is that maintenance of vent-free appliances is much easier than other supplemental heating systems.

Wood-burning fireplaces and stoves, and pellet burning stoves produce waste in the form of ashes, smoke and soot. Ashes must be removed frequently and can ruin carpets if spilled. These types of appliances are definitely high-maintenance and messy.

The chimney from wood or pellet burning appliances must be cleaned by a professional at least once per year or even more often. Creosote and soot build up in a chimney, causing clogging and chimney fires. Flues must be inspected and kept in good working order.

Any appliance vented to the outside runs the risk of clogging from insects, animals and debris. This includes wood burning appliances, pellet burning stoves, b-vent stoves and other gas appliances vented to the outside. Animals and insect nests can invade chimneys and vents, causing blockages that make fumes back up into the building. The appliances may malfunction or run less efficiently. If a bee’s nest or wild animal is disturbed, fauna and people are at risk of injury. This problem can be partially mitigated by adding screening and caps, but the barriers themselves need frequent inspection.

Vent-free appliances have no vent or chimney. There is no risk of vent blockage. Vent-free appliances operate at 99% efficiency, so there is no wasted material (ashes), nor is heat going out the chimney. The air in the room is re-circulated through the stove or fireplace with virtually no air pollution.

Like all gas appliances, vent-free appliances should be inspected once per year by a qualified service agency. The technician will clean the unit and check the burner. This professional will also inspect the ignition systems and other key components of the vent-free appliance. The entire unit will be fine-tuned, and damaged or worn parts will be replaced.

The specific on-going care of a vent-free appliance varies by the type of unit and brand; therefore, the owner’s manual is an excellent source of tips for exterior cleaning, day-to-day operation and any user-serviceable parts.