Ventless fireplaces are an alternative to installing a regular fireplace for homeowners. They are realistic looking, and have minimum installation requirements. However, a vented fireplace is really a non-vented fireplace. A ventless or gel fireplace does release emissions, and is vented into a room inside the home. It is critical that homeowners follow simple safety rules when using a ventless fireplace. The two primary concerns with ventless fireplaces are carbon monoxide and oxygen depletion.
Buy the Right Size Ventless Fireplace
Buy the right size ventless fireplace; this will prevent issues with oxygen depletion and carbon monoxide build-up. Measure the square footage of your room prior to shopping for a ventless fireplace. Purchase a ventless fireplace designed for a slightly smaller room that you have measured.
Ventless Fireplaces With ODS
Consider purchasing a ventless fireplace that contains ODS (oxygen depletion sensor). The sensor detects levels of oxygen in the room containing your ventless fireplace. This sensor will disable your ventless fireplace prior to the room reaching any unhealthy levels of oxygen.
Carbon Monoxide Detector
Purchase a carbon monoxide detector and install in the room the ventless fireplace is placed. Ensure it contains an auditable alarm and not just a color changing strip, this prevents having to check it constantly for high levels of carbon monoxide. A carbon monoxide detector is recommended in each room there is a ventless fireplace.
Ventless Fireplace Operation Time
Ventless fireplaces should only be used for six hours or less a day or whatever is recommended by the manufacturer. If possible, purchase a ventless fireplace with a timer or a timer install on the gas line leading to the ventless fireplace.
More Safety Tips
• If your carbon monoxide or ODS alarm sounds, shut down the fireplace, open a window, if possible, get out of the home, and call 911.
• Never operate a ventless fireplace when no one is home; even it it’s within the six hour operation time frame.
• The downtime should be equal or greater than the amount of recommended time in use.
• Check often for recalls for your ventless fireplace unit; and if you use a gel unit, also check for recalls for the gel fuel.
Public Affairs and Life Safety Education Section
Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department
12099 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
703-246-3801 or TTY 711