Converting a Wood-Burning Fireplace to Gas
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Converting Wood Stove Fireplace Insert to Gas Logs
We live in Richmond North and East and currently have a wood stove fireplace insert. We would like to convert to a gas fireplace. Any recommendations for someone who does this? Gabriele
We are currently having ours done by Kidd Fireplace & Spa in Oakland. They have a website but you really need to go to the show room to see the different models. They did a great job at our neighbors' house. They can also install an earthquake safety shutoff valve at the same time (for your whole house). http://kiddfireplaceandspa.com/ Mary
Repair wood burning fireplace or convert to gas prior to sale?
We are trying to decide whether to repair our wood burning fireplace or replace it with a gas insert. I have been hearing rumours about a law being passed that would mandate that wood burning fireplaces be sealed or converted to gas upon sale or transfer of property, which has me leaning towards replacing now with a gas insert (we are thinking of leaving the bay area in the next 3-5 years) and reducing the environmental impact of a wood burning fireplace. Our realtor has advised us to repair the existing fireplace because there is a cachet to listing/showing a house that has a 'real wood burning fireplace', even though with all the winter spare the air days there is not much legal use to having one. Can any other realtors weigh in on this? The cost of repair is in line with the cost of conversion to gas, so it is not so much a cost factor but a long-term salability factor that is clouding our decision. Pro Gas
I recommend you do NOT convert your wood burning fireplace to gas. In fact I have no idea why would want to do that! Yes, the BAAQMD is proposing tighter restrictions, saying that wood burning devices will not be allowed in new homes anymore, also that selling your home would require a clean-air retrofit. There's some misconception that fireplaces are out here, and it's quite the contrary. A very California thing here. Many of us use woodstoves and are not about to give them up. However, they have been talking about this for quite some time and it has not yet passed. I, for one, would not buy a house without a fireplace, and I treasure my woodburning stove, that is EPA approved. For those of us with older homes, our fireplace is a treasure. The new owner can get rid of it if they so choose, or alter it as preferred. Once you convert, it's gone. It's the character of your home, changing it loses something. It's going to add value, not detract. happy wood stove owner
I can't answer the question about installing an insert before selling a home, but I can tell you we installed a gas insert into our existing fireplace last year and we LOVE it. We were toasty warm all winter while our neighbors couldn't light a fire because of all the spare the air days. We didn't have to do any physical changes to the existing fireplace other than install the gas and electrical connections, so I imagine you could remove an insert if someone really didn't want one. I can't imagine why you would, though! With the press of a button, we have a beautiful warm fire. It's really awesome and everyone who comes over to our house thinks it's awesome, too. No regrets
Fireplace conversion, wood to gas
We want to convert our traditional, wood-burning brick fireplace into a gas fireplace, and perhaps add a mantle or update the brick fireplace.
I'd welcome any advice on how to do this. How do you judge inserts, how much does this cost, and any recommendations for a business that will organize everything, from advice on design, to working with electricians and those who run the gas lines?
We know nothing and while we want to be informed consumers, I also don't want to organize all the separate pieces myself. hearth and home
Call Martin Pendergrast in Oakland. He can do it all and coordinate a plumber for the gas hookup. Super nice guy too. +15105626400 Happy customer
I love my fireplace insert (Regency brand) that I bought from Kidd Fireplace in Oakland. I recommend Kidd to my customers. I used a plumber for gas, electrician and for electric.... Pendergrast, that others recommended is a good guy and installer. I recommend my customers to Kidd and never had a complaint. Oren
Considering replacing my fireplace with a gas fireplace
I'm embarking on a design/remodel project for my living room and am considering replacing the wood burning fireplace which has never worked well with a gas fireplace/heater. I like 'authentic' fireplaces but realize that wood burning is environmentally destructive and that gas fireplaces are convenient and provide real heat. Would a change enhance or detract from the value of my house if I were to sell it? Testimonials? Mary in Oakland
One thing you might want to consider in your decision is that all wood-burning devices (including pellet stoves and EPA-certified wood stoves) are banned for use during winter Spare the Air days, whereas you can still use a natural gas fireplace on Spare the Air days. So gas might add a tiny bit of value to to your home and/or be more useful to you. If, like me, you're squeamish about the gas line safety or cost, you might look into the new-ish biofuel fireplaces that burn ethanol or gel - I haven't seen one up close yet to know how much heat they give off, but they make a cozy-looking fire with less hassle, and are approved for use on Spare the Air days (most burn so cleanly they don't even need to be vented to the outside). JP
Depends. Gas-burning fireplaces are fine. It is what you do with the surround that will determine the value. Select the materials, finishes and colors well and you'll have a lovely living room - for yourself or for re-sale. .
Hello, We just purchased a 1910 bungalow in Berkeley and unfortunately, the fireplace is in pretty bad shape. Not only is the surround and hearth crumbling, the smoke shelf seems to be collapsing as well. We'd like to convert the fireplace to gas and luckily have a gas line already installed underneath. Does anyone have a recommendation on an installer and where to buy? Thanks in advance! Diana
I like the guys at Kidd Fireplace in Oakland. Of course, every situation is different, but these guys will come out and work with you. It can be complicated and you mention the surround is crumbling... so this is a big project and won't be cheap. Talk to Kevin and mention my name. Oren
Please be sure to check out The Irish Sweep. They are now located in Alameda. They're on the web and have Yelp recommendations. After the horrible earthquake I really needed some help with my 1910 fireplace and chimney. The Irish Sweep came in and repaired the chimney and placed an insulated flue up the old stack. This modernized and made safe the fireplace without damaging the character of the original structure. We then installed a wood-burning Lopi. This fall I had them come out and do the usual excellent job of cleaning and maintenance. While they were there we went over switching to a gas fireplace now that there are so many Spare The Air days. They carry a beautiful line that I chose called Valor along with some more modern fireplaces by Morso and others. They will let you know exactly what you will need done...a plumber for the gas line, etc. I highly recommend them for complete satisfaction. suzymc
We are looking to convert the fireplace in our Rockridge bungalow to a turn on/off gas one that hopefully won't look too tacky (as realistic as one of these can look anyway). Our chimney also needs to be anchored to our roof and possibly repaired? It isn't in working condition now. Does anyone have a recommendation for someone for the gas conversion and chimney repair? or perhaps two separate recommendations? Thanks! Karen
Martin Pendergrast will do it all. He is super nice and honest. Just a lovely fellow. (510) 684-4969 Good luck
We are in the process of converting our fireplace to gas. We decided to go with fire glass instead of a fake looking log set. Do a google search for fire glass or check out www.Moderustic.com.
We are buying a house with a brick chimney, and the inspector recommended that we remove it for seismic reasons. We want to 1) have it removed, and 2) convert the wood-burning fireplace to a gas fireplace instead. Are there contractors who do both parts of this project, and if so, whom would you recommend? I have seen recommendations for chimney removal and for conversion to gas fireplaces, but no one who does both. Also, can the same contractor seal up the hole once the chimney is removed? EastBayMom
Hi, I'm not surprised that you could not find one person to do both. Taking down the chimney is hard labor, while replacing a wood burning fireplace with gas requires quite a bit of knowledge and skill.
I should mention that you may not want to take down the whole chimney if you want to save the fireplace. Most people take the narrow part of the chimney down, and where it widens out at the shoulder, they transition to the original brick. Otherwise, it is very difficult to preserve the lovely interior fireplace.
I would like to applaud you for converting to gas. Wood fireplaces are very polluting and provide little if any heat to the home. When the smoke goes up the chimney, it takes heated air with it, sometimes actually cooling the house. Kinda weird, isn't it? Good luck with your project! Anon
There are many fireplace stores who can help you out. There are many businesses that sell both wood burning stoves AND gas inserts also. There is Buck Stove in Walnut Creek, O'Kell's in San Francisco, and numerous others. If they will not do work on your brick chimney, they can refer you to a subcontractor who will do that. I have had O'Kell's install my wood burning insert a year ago and they know the whole business well. Oh, by the way, when you have a wood burning insert, you do NOT lose heat through the chimney. It's highly efficient. Not like a typical fireplace. That's the whole point of an insert. I wouldn't go to a gas insert, but that's just me. Good luck insert/fireplace user
Converting to gas fireplace
Hello BPN-ers. I wonder if anyone has any recent experience with converting a traditional fireplace to a gas-powered one, and can recommend a reliable and reasonably priced outfit to do the work. Thank you in advance for your recommendations (and I'd love to hear if there's someone I should avoid.) hoping to be warm this winter Meredith
After getting a couple of bids from plumbers at $2K plus to do the fireplace conversion--way more than I wanted to spend--I did it another way, part unskilled DIY. Total cost: about $600.
Here's how. I bought the gas log fireplace insert at OSH. I cleaned the existing fireplace box of ashes, swept it down, and hired a chimney sweep to clean the chimney. I hired a plumber to run the gas line into to the firebox and to install the off/on valve in the floor next to the fireplace (city permit required). Then I placed and connected the gas log insert in the fireplace myself with a flex gas line and tested it for gas leaks. That part doesn't require any special skill to do and only basic tools. In my case, it was 10-12 feet for the plumber to extend the gas line through the chimney. Done.
For the occasional cozy fireside gatherings, the gas 'fire' is oh so pleasant, trouble-free and non-polluting. If you have a fireplace damper, it MUST be open when you use the gas 'fire' due to carbon monoxide danger, and you should put in a carbon monoxide monitor down low on a wall near the fireplace. OSH sells a nice variety of gas log fireplace inserts seasonally.
Mind you, trying to heat a house this way is not the best, as fireplaces are not efficient, even if gas fired. Much heat is still lost up the chimney. Fireside & Cheap
Where to buy fireplace insert
Does anyone know where to buy a fireplace insert now that Tubmakers has closed? There are some recommendations for installers, but not stores. Has anyone ordered a fireplace insert on-line? Thanks Judy
I have had two inserts now. The really only way to do it is to buy the insert from a wood stove store and they install it for you. I would not separate the two. you buy it from a wood stove store, they install it. There are only a few around; there's Buck in Walnut Creek and O'Kells in San Francisco; those are the main ones. fireplace insert owner
We went into Blaze Fireplaces after reading some good reviews elsewhere . . . and were delighted to find Ivan, the wonderful sales person from Tubmakers, who had recently started work there. Smart, knowledgeable, friendly, helpful. There were at least 20 working fireplaces to see, and many more in catalogs. We found exactly the insert we wanted. Blaze can do the installation, but Ivan connected us with a man who used to do theirs, but works independently, and did a great job at a lower cost. http://www.blazefireplaces.com/ John
Blaze Fireplaces in San Francisco. They have a big showroom and that is where the top salesperson from Tubmakers now works.
Hoffman Construction in Walnut Creek specializes in gas inserts that provide a good amount of heat - they did a good job for us and we no longer have to run our furnace as much as before. The fireplace heats the area of the house we use most and uses less than half the gas of the furnace. Jim - Finishing Rooms Construction, Inc jon
We have a working fireplace in my home and I love a good fire on a cold day but I'm also aware that it's probably the least efficient setup for getting the heating potential out of the wood. I recently heard that it's relatively easy to install a wood burning stove into an existing fireplace. A good stove can heat more effectively, for longer, and with less wood than an open hearth fire, and with less air pollution too! Plus, you could boil a pot of cider on the top of it. So anyway, I'm clearly sold on the idea but I don't know where to start. Has anyone in the area done this? Can you recommend a contractor and/or a stove dealer? I'd love an antique one, but I'll take whatever is reasonably priced. shoshana
Go to Tubmakers on Ashby. They sell spas AND fireplace/wood stove equipment. I had a great experience there a few years ago. I first went browsing, since I was interested in a gas fireplace insert for an aged fireplace that was no longer safe to use. I spoke with the sales person. I explained I was considering a gas fireplace insert AND I wanted to remove a deteriorating chimney. First off, they had the perfect fireplace insert. But how to install it? Tubmakers referred me to a contractor called Fog City Chimney which did a fantastic job both of installing the insert and removing my chimney and framing/patching the roof where the chimney was removed. It was very, very easy.
Convert fireplace to gas?
We rarely use our fireplace and would love to make it a safe, easy-to-use source of heat. Did you convert your fireplace to gas? Did you buy the 'blower attachment' to push heat into the room? Are you happy with the results? Can you recommend a place to buy the parts? Any brand to buy, or avoid? Thanks for any advice... I see many cold days ahead! heidilee
We installed 2 gas fireplaces 5 years ago and have been very happy with them. Ours are manufactured by Valor (their Portait series) and we did install the blowers. If you want to use them for heat, I would highly recommend getting the blower. It does a good job of distributing heat, and the temperature of the room will rise 3 degrees AFTER the burner shuts off, just from the blower distributing the residual heat. The blowers turn on or off based on the temperature of the fireplace, so they start up a few minutes after the fireplace comes on (it has a programmable remote control thermostat) and shuts off a few minutes after the fireplace turns off.
The blower is fairly noisy, however, which reduces the ambiance, so you really have to decide what you want (you can always shut off the blower).
We got ours at Tubmakers on Ashby in Berkeley, and arranged for installation through them. Didn't have any complaints. Carrie
Hi, I want to put a gas fire place in our wood burning fire place... how much does that usually run? Cold Feet
The price will depend on how big your fireplace is, what kind of gas fireplace you choose, what kinds of accessories you get, and the details of the installation, such as how far gas piping will have to be run and what kind of electrical work is needed. However, all that said, we are buying a gas fireplace for about $3500, and have found a contractor (one they recommended) who will do our installation for $1880 (not the cheapest, but we think the difference will be worth paying for). The fireplace is on order from Tub Makers on Ashby in Berkeley, so we haven't had any results yet. We did a gas fireplace in another house a few years back, ordering the fireplace from the same place but using a different installer, and were very happy with the product but not with the installation, so it matters who you pick. If you go look at fireplaces, measure the opening of your fireplace first (height, width, depth). Hope this helps. ER
I don't know how much it costs because my husband had this done before we met and I moved in, but I can tell you where *NOT* to go to buy your gas fireplace due to our experience. I would strongly warn against going to Tubmakers on Ashby in Berkeley. Our gas hearth is from them and recently required repair. We called Tubmakers and hired the repair service they recommended, Kidd Fireplace Services. While the repair person was prompt, he was rude to the point of threatening (while I was home alone and very pregnant) and charged me by the minute, including the several minutes it took him to write up our bill. In the end the fireplace was exactly the same and I was left shaking. When I called Tubmakers to let them know, the *owner* of the store actually hung up on me. While I realize this might sound extreme and like I might be some crazy lady, I assure you this kind of thing has never happened to me before; I have had plenty of contractors in our home lately, and have not had any problems of this sort!
After the cold winter we're having (yes, I know I'd perish in the Midwest snows), I would really like to have the front part of our home (a ''great room'' with a galley kitchen) heated by a gas fireplace, where now it is just an empty wood-burning heat vampire. We don't burn wood for obvious reasons and the little gas wall heater at the back of our tiny house is not good at heating the front living spaces. I have this idea that maybe we should investigate the GLASS fireplace inserts that consist of a gas line and burner, covered in tempered glass. Does anyone have any idea of someone I could call about this? Have you had one and how did it work for you? We need a gas line to be run from the gas main but it wouldn't be more than about 10 feet (little, tiny house in Albany). Any help is much appreciated! Jennifer AKA ''Frosty Paws''
My friend, who also has a tiny Albany house, had her fireplace converted to natural gas. It looks nice, the fake logs look fine, and it's still nice to watch the ''fire'' burn. My friend's was done by *Fireplaces Plus* in El Sobrante. I called them for a price quote, thinking I'd like to convert too, and was told it would be $1,500-$2,000 and up, depending on what model/features are selected. That price included running a 10 foot gas line into the existing fireplace and the basic fake log gas insert without glass doors. ^^maybe someday
Can anyone recommend someone who can convert our existing wood- burning fireplace into a gas-burning one? We are not looking to purchase an gas insert. I think we just need someone who can install a gas line in our fireplace. I checked the archives but the recommendations seem to be only for chimney cleaning and repair. Incidentally, if you're looking for a chimney sweep, I highly recommend Nick of Berkeley Chimneys. We hired him to install a damper and he did a great job and was a really pleasant person to work with. Thanks. Monica
We live in a 1100 square foot wooden house built in 1949. It only has one low wall- floor heater in the hallway, which we don't like to use. We had a gas insert installed in our fireplace almost a year ago and are very happy with it and the folks who did the work. Harold is the owner of Fireplaces Plus and he personally came out to measure and do some of the work. His two employees did a great job, cleaned up and were done in one day. Fireplaces Plus offers a wide selection of screens (which are glassed to protect people and animals from the heat) and inserts, depending on the size (depth, width) and type of fireplace you have. We chose a soft flame which has 2 setting. Harold gave us a thermostat control so we can set maximum heat, leave it on, or turn it off. Our fireplace now heats up our large living-dning room and is very cozy! Plus, it was less expensive than I expected, so I'm a very happy customer. His number is 510-223-8345 http://www.fireplacesplus.com/ Barbara
I'm looking to install some sort of insert in the living room fireplace, to seal it against the draft, for aesthetic purposes and for very occasional use. Does anybody have a recommendation on retailers and installers for this sort of thing? Thanks Aaron
Top Notch Energy and Spa in San Leandro. The actual process of ordering our insert was a little wild, but once the order was placed, it was installed within a few weeks and looks great. The other place you may want to try is the Fireplace in Oakland.
I recently got a Regency insert and it's great, Lopi was the other one I considered and there's hardly any difference. Tubmakers on Ashby can sell you one. The required stainless chimney liner and installation will add a fair amount to the cost. Get a quote, then call the other fireplace shops in the phone book (one in san leandro and one in san rafeal) then ask Tubmakers to match or beat the price. You can save hundreds this way. Sometimes the manufacturer is throwing in a free blower or surround so be sure to ask.
We found our gas fireplace insert at Tubmakers on Ashby in Berkeley. Don't let the name fool you - they specialize in both Spas and fireplace inserts. Per recommendation from Tubmakers, the insert was installed by Fog City Chimney (we also had them remove our brick chimney at the same time). We are extremely happy with the results and had good experiences with both of these companies. Work was done exactly 2 years ago. Tubmakers 510-843-2000 Fog City Chimney 415-383-2351 Linden
We had a very good gas fireplace insert installed last December by Fireplaces Plus. It gives a nice glow, heats the living/dining rooms, looks great and is energy efficient. The owner is Harold Sheats and he and his staff are terrific. 510-223-8345 http:// www.fireplacesplus.com/. We have been enjoying our gas insert fires a lot! Barbara
I would like to have a gas fireplace insert put in our fireplace. Nothing fancy, but able to heat our large living room-dining area. Thank you. Barbara
In 2005, We bought a fireplace insert from Tubmakers on Ashby for our 1905 Berkeley house, and used an installer that was recommended by Tubmakers - Fog City Chimney. Phone number is 415-383-2351. They were responsive, prompt, good at scheduling, did good work, and were friendly and courteous. I didn't get competitive bids, but their price seemed reasonable. It is a small company. Chris, who is the owner of the company, supervised the work. The work that we had them do was: remove our brick chimney, which was a bit of a challenge given the steep pitch of our roof, frame and patch the hole in the roof where the chimney used to be, and install the gas insert into our existing fireplace, including gas piping and venting. I would definitely recommend them to friends. Linda