Learn About Fireplace & Venting Systems

Fireplace venting can be a confusing topic once you start getting into the technical details of an installation. For this reason, we recommend you always work with an NFI-certified installer to make sure your appliance is safe and performing to its full potential.

Even if you’re working with an experienced installer, it’s good to have at least a basic understanding of the whats, whys, and hows of your project. That’s why we’ve put together this helpful guide to some of the most common questions we get about chimney pipe and fireplace venting.

Questions in This Article

Can I Use Any Kind of Venting in My Project?

No. Chimney pipe and fireplace venting do not have a universal design. In addition to the obvious differences like sizing and materials, you can only use manufacturer-approved venting with your fireplace. This is because manufacturers test their appliances with these specific parts to ensure safety and proper performance.

What Different Kinds of Venting Exist?

There are several different types of chimney pipe and venting options you’ll see on the market. We’ve discussed the different options available in a previous article, so to learn more about these products, be sure to check out our Chimney and Venting Pipe Buying Guide.

Can I Reuse Venting if I Replace my Current Fireplace?

Maybe, but likely not. For the same reason as above, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to reuse your fireplace venting due to the fact that different manufacturers will have different lists of approved venting components. In addition, your new fireplace may be more or less powerful than your old unit and may have different performance specifications.

You can’t mix and match components, either. Manufacturers test components together, and that’s the only way they’re approved for use.

Can I Change My Wood Fireplace to Use Gas Logs?

Yes. To use a wood fireplace with gas logs, you must have a fully functioning chimney. If it’s an old wood fireplace that hasn’t been used in several years, you’ll want to make sure you get your chimney inspected to ensure that everything is up to code.

Please note, there’s a difference between wood fireplaces and wood fireboxes, as well. If you’re using a manufactured wood firebox, then it must be approved for use with gas logs.

Why is My Wood Appliance Making the Room Smoky?

Your wood fireplace or stove may be smoky for a number of reasons. Some of the most common causes for smoky burns are a weak draft caused by a cold flue, wind effects creating positive pressure zones that don’t allow smoke to vent, or large temperature differences between the interior and exterior. You could also be experiencing the house stack effect.

What is the House Stack Effect?

The house stack effect is the name for the process where warm air rises in a house and cold air enters to replace it. When discussing wood-burning appliances, this effect causes backdraft, poor fireplace performance, and ventilation issues.

To avoid the house stack effect, always keep in mind the 3/2/10 rule: A wood chimney must be at least three feet high and two feet higher than anything within 10 feet of the chimney.

Are there Fireplace Options that Don't Require Venting?

Yes. If the cost of a vented fireplace is too high, your home isn’t set up well for an appliance or you just don’t want to deal with the hassle, there are other fireplace options available on the market.

Your first option is a vent-free gas fireplace. Vent-free units (also known as ventless or unvented) are designed for locations where venting is not possible or not desirable. One thing to note, however, is that vent-free systems are prohibited in some areas. You'll need to check your local building codes and regulations to ensure a vent-free system can be installed in your area.

For an even easier fireplace option, be sure to check out electric fireplaces. These units lack the realism and heat of a real fire, but the trade-off is a much simpler and more affordable installation process that can often be done on your own.

To learn more about the different types of fireplace options available, be sure to check out our fireplace buying guide.

Can I Get Some Help From an Expert?

Our team can help you find the perfect fireplace for your home. To speak with one of our product specialists, contact us today. They’re here by phone Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time, or you can send them an email whenever it’s convenient for you, and they’ll get back to you as soon as they can.