Do Gas Fireplaces Contribute to Dry Air?

Wood-burning fireplaces are notorious for drying out indoor air due to their need for oxygen to sustain the flames. But do gas fireplaces have the same effect?

In the case of vented gas fireplaces, they do indeed contribute to a drier indoor environment by burning up moisture and drawing in dry outside air.

This leads to a decrease in humidity levels within your home. On the other hand, vent-free gas fireplaces do not have this drying effect.

In this article, we’ll explore methods to mitigate this issue. If you’re facing this problem, read on!

How Gas Fireplaces Impact Indoor Humidity

A vented gas fireplace operates by drawing in oxygen from the room to fuel the flames. This oxygen sustains the fire, while the fireplace expels by-products through a chimney or flue.

However, since this type of gas fireplace is connected to a chimney, it essentially creates an opening in your wall. This opening brings in dry outside air, contributing to lower indoor humidity levels.

Interestingly, burning natural gas generates water as a by-product. Despite this, most of the moisture escapes up the vent and doesn’t add to the indoor humidity.

Instead, the moist air is replaced by oxygen from the outside, leading to drier indoor air.

Addressing Dry Air: Adding a Humidifier

If you’ve already noticed symptoms of dry air, such as dry skin, a sore throat, or eye irritation, it’s time to take action. Adding a humidifier can help restore moisture to your home.

These are typically electrical plug-in devices that emit steam or mist, effectively increasing humidity levels in a room or the entire house. They are reasonably priced and provide a straightforward solution to this problem.

Depending on how dry your fireplace leaves your home, you may need more than one humidifier or experiment with relocating it to areas most affected.

Consider Switching to a Ventless Fireplace

A ventless or vent-free fireplace operates in a closed-off system, not relying on the air in the room it’s installed in.

Many newer homes are opting for ventless gas fireplaces due to their high efficiency. They use nearly 100% of the gas for flame production, as there’s no loss through ventilation.

Switching to a ventless gas fireplace offers several benefits:

  • Increased energy efficiency, leading to lower energy bills.
  • Higher heat production.
  • Cost-effective and easy installation.
  • Boosted humidity levels in your home.

While there are some minor drawbacks, such as minimal exhaust into the home and limitations in customization, the benefits outweigh these concerns for most homeowners.

Is a ventless fireplace right for you?

Considering the potential cost savings and improved indoor air quality, switching to a ventless gas fireplace could be a smart move.

The transition from a standard vented style is generally straightforward and relatively affordable, ranging between $800 and $2600. This is significantly less than the cost of a vented gas fireplace, which can range from $1700 to $100,000 or more.

In the long term, a ventless system can save you money due to its higher efficiency and the added humidity it provides.

Before making a decision, it’s advisable to consult your local building code office to check for any restrictions or potential incentives for installing a ventless fireplace.