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The concept behind the vent-free fireplace is quite straightforward.  When you burn gas instead of wood, you create a "smokeless” heat - - one that does not require ventilation, plus all the heat stays inside the home.  A consequence of burning gas in the home however includes, among others, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide.
Vent-Free Fireplaces and Other Appliances.  So, are vent-free fireplaces safe to operate in the home?  Those of us who have gas stoves and ovens are already burning gas in the home.  But no one is calling for the outlaw of gas stoves and oven ranges. 

Consider this:  if you ran your high capacity oven range on high for many hours a day, you might have a toxic gas problem.  But, if you properly size a vent-free fireplace and only run it on an infrequent and short amount of time (and according to manufacturer’s specs), you should not have problems with toxic gases.  Even so, many homeowners will refuse to permit any level of hazardous gases in the home.
Carbon Monoxide and Other Dangerous Gases.  As has been well established, carbon monoxide is the most dangerous and most notorious of the hazardous gases.  The dangers of this odorless and colorless gas have been reported far and wide.  Mild headaches to death are associated with carbon monoxide.  If you opt for a vent-free fireplace, do yourself and your family a favor by installing multiple carbon monoxide detectors in your home.  Be sure to place one near the fireplace, and check the detectors on a regular basis.
Vent-free gas fireplaces can emit water vapor.  Water vapor can cause your wallpaper to peel, even cause structural damage.  Gases other than carbon monoxide can trigger respiratory issues—if they are present in sufficient quantities. 
Homeowner Safety and Fireplace Alternatives  Major safety issues can result from improper installation, improper fireplace sizing, improper use, and appliance failure.  Some counties and states in the United States have banned vent-free gas fireplaces due to the concerns of health issues.  However, the low installation and operating costs of the fireplaces have prompted many homeowners to desire to continue to use the fireplaces on a limited basis.  If you want to continue to use your fireplace, be sure you to find a contractor/manufacturer who will assume the responsibility for product failure—in case something goes wrong.  And be sure to question them about health concerns.  If they minimize these concerns, you need to find another contractor.


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