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Question DetailsAsked on 7/30/2016

Can I convert a freestanding gas stove w/flue into a gas insert?

Looking into buyin a home and a number come with gas stoves that have a flue going into the wall. I've never personally owned one and know little about them. One of the houses we are planning on making an offer on has one and the living room is quite small as it is. We would like to do something to condense down the size. Gas inserts seem like a cool idea, but we are not sure as, again, we know very little. It is possible to do and how much would the cost range be? Thank you for any help!!

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Here is an AL article on that -

A gas stove out in the room is most likely a direct-vent unit - venting directly through the wall outside, not using the fireplace chimney at all. You can replace the gas stove with a gas insert in an existing fireplace if not a small one, or build a new gas fireplace insert with either direct vent outside, or a free-standing or framed-in flue chase to the roof. These can be built into a bumpout, so the face of the "fireplace" is near flush with the wall within a few inches, with the "fireplace" and "chimney" actually being added onto the outside of the house eitehr in a wood chase with fake chimney above roofline, or as a "fake brick" facade all the way up.

A direct vent unit (right through the wall) is likely to run in the ballpark of $1000-2000 from cheapo to decent unit - a vertical flue with true fireplace-looking gas fireplace more commonly $2000-3000 for run of the mill unit with one story chimney height - up to $6000 or so for large or fancy unit.

You would want to get a firm bid from a fireplace/stove vendor or Heating and A/C contractor, one which is "good" till say 3 months after closing date to give you time to get it done if closing is delayed, then use that bid in evaluating your offer price on the house considering that cost.

Note the efficiency of a free-standing gas stove can be fairly high (though not as high as a furnace) - 60-70% is a typical number. Gas fireplaces can have similar efficiency if B-vented (metal flue pipe in "chimney", and up to 70-80% range if direct-vented outside.

It is possible to get above 90% efficiency with ventless units, but my personal opinion (and that of most fire marshalls) is they should be banned - not only do they vent the combustion gases directly into the house so high risk of long-term carbon monoxide poisoning if not operating very cleanly, plus they discharge a LOT of water vapor (commonly a gallon per hour or more when operating) into the house, causing mildew and mold issues. They also tend to soot up a house - amazing how much soot and grime accumualtes on the walls of rooms with ventless units in them - can be as bad as in a house with a heavy smoker. And any unit not operating very cleanly also puts out significant amounts of nitrous compounds which are known to have quite dangerous long-term health effects. Also, they claim they have an automatic shutdown sensor - but all but a few highest-end units use oxygen sensors, which can allow carbon monoxide or notrous compound buildup to dangerous levels before the sensor shuts it off, and also oxygen sensors are notorious for long-term drift with age - OSHA and MSHA require replacement in 1 year or almost all uses in business, but not so in the building code for homes due to pressure from the manufacturer's. (Ventless units used to be illegal, but the manufacturers associations put pressure on the code writing organizations to allow them - but I sure would not have one in any house I lived in or designed or built.)

Of course, the highest efficiency units are the ones that bring in combustion air directly from outside (as most direct-vent units do) because you are not taking heated interior air and using it for combustion and then exhausting it right up the chimney - you can almost see the $ flying up the flue.

You should get some ideas on general costs before looking at homes so you know the ballpark you are looking at for your desired option, then before putting in an offer on a house (which might reqauire a real quick turnaround) have your selected contractor give you a firm bid on your desired house before putting in an offer on it - so pre-arranging with the contractor so he can respond quickly to give a bid is important to you to minimize the risk of losing the house to another buyer. Otherwise, just get a range for the desired type and BTU rating, and work with that. Pretty much any normal studwall installation will be similar cost - more for each additional story of roof height of course, but otherwise similar. Brick and concrete construction whole different story of course, as is basement construction through/in the house foundation.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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