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Converting A Wood Fireplace To Gas

January 09, 2021

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Don't use your wood burning fireplace as much as you'd like? Tired of chopping wood and cleaning out ash?

Why not turn that rarely used asset into a feature you'll use every day by converting it to gas. Here's what it involves and how it works. 

Real Fyre Logs Catalog

The house we live in now, was not our first.

Yes, we lived in this neighborhood, in another even tinier cottage, if you can believe it.
But this love was not my first.

The first was across the street.  Literally.

We'd moved there a year into our marriage.

We were young and just starting out and took all the money we could scramble together to buy the smallest house in the most charming beach neighborhood.

The house was so sweet and we absolutely adored it, DIYed it and lived in every inch of it, until we were literally bursting at the seams.

Enter our current cottage.

Drawing of 1920s Beach Cottage

We'd looked for a long, long time and couldn't find anything we loved as much as our first charmer. We knew we wanted to stay in the neighborhood, but houses rarely came up for sale.

And homes that were on flat property in our hilly area, with room for a pool, were almost impossible to find. As a matter of fact, we'd made a list of the few yards we'd love have on our daily walks.

Built in the 1920's, with a flat yard and plenty of space, this one was number one on the list.

We never dreamed it would come up for sale and certainly not be in our price range, as the real estate market was on fire.

We also never dreamed that the inside would be as good as the outside.

So you can imagine our surprise when we walked in and were greeted by this.

Living room with stone fireplace beams on ceiling and a fall table set with flowers and pumpkins

Our jaws dropped immediately.

Ok, so it didn't look like this back then, but even surrounded by the lime green shag carpet and cold white walls, we fell hard. The stone that met the beams, the rough opening, that traditional cottage style.

We didn't even have to look at the rest of the house, we were sold.

And so was the house. We signed on the dotted line that night.

We didn't even have an inspector come.

While I don't recommend this, my DIY guy could leave his day job to be a contractor tomorrow. He's that good.

Plus, we knew we were going to renovate, so as long as thought the structure and foundation was sound, we were good to go.

Stone fireplace at Christmas with toys and wreaths

Unfortunately, that meant we didn't have anyone inspect the chimney. Couple that with the fact that my lungs and wood smoke don't get along at all, we never lit a fire. Not once in the first few years.

Then one day, while brainstorming ideas for our anniversary, I said, Why don't we forget a trip and gifts, and convert that fireplace to gas. Make it useful.

And he said, Ok.

The next day we went shopping for the log kit at the fireplace store, which by the way, I was shocked to find out existed.

I was also surprised at how many log set ups there were to choose from...goodness. We were there for hours.

There were many decisions to be made. We were putting in a vented burner system, but you could use them with natural gas or propane. There were also ventless options.

You could choose systems behind glass, ones for open fireplaces like our or totally enclosed ones, like those between rooms and styles for rustic, traditional or modern homes.

We ended up with a Real Fyre set up. We chose their Charred Split Oak logs.

Real Fyre Charred Series page in catalog

And about a week later, we were sitting in the living room in front of a roaring fire that went on and off with the flick of a remote.

No smoke, no ashes, no wood to buy or chop, no waiting for it to light and more importantly, no waiting for the last embers to go out before we went to bed or left the house.

Fabulous.

Now, whenever I tell people this, or mention the fireplace in a post, they ask a ton of questions. So I decided it was high time to answer a few of them.

Stone fireplace lit and decorated for Christmas with a snowflake banner

Converting A Wood Fireplace To Gas

Ok, so first things first, this is not a DIY job.

Yes, I suppose anything can be, but since it involves running a gas line and potentially permits from your village or town, I don't recommend it at all.

We don't hire out a lot around here, but this is one job we didn't even discuss.

We went pro all the way and it was money very well spent.

One of the biggest questions I get is about the price. Honestly, there are a ton of factors involved, but I think all in it cost us about $1500.

Of course, that was back in 2005. I believe the log system was about half of that. Installation may have been around $150 and plumber fee rounded out the rest.

First things first, we had to make sure the chimney was clear and in good condition. So when we had our heating system converted from oil to gas, we had the chimney inspected, as well. 

Next up, we needed the gas. As I said, our home is heated by natural gas, so it was easy to supply the fireplace with it, since it was right there.

We hired a plumber who drilled a hole in the back of the fireplace floor, that went to the utility area below and tied into the existing gas line.

Next, the gentleman from the fireplace shop showed up with our log set and got to work. I have to say I was a little taken aback by the bones of the system. It was basically the same thing you'd find in the bottom of your gas grill.

Exactly.

Vented Burner System photos in catalog

The gas line the plumber ran the day before was hooked up to the fireplace burner. There was a valve to turn the gas on and off and a pilot light, same as any other gas appliance in your home.

When the mechanics of the fireplace were all connected, he placed a metal grill to hold the logs on top of the burner.

The art came into the picture when he started arranging the ceramic log set we had purchased in place.

The log sets are made so that they can be put together in different ways, like a puzzle. You can play around with the logs to achieve the look that suits your style.

I stood very close by and he asked me what I thought after each piece went down. He was obviously very experienced and I didn't have much to say. It all looked very good to me.

The next step was to add the lava coals to cover the bottom of the fireplace.

Gas Fireplace Lava Coals in catalog

We also opted for the glowing embers which create the appearance that there's actual embers burning below the logs. More artful arranging.

He also added a small remote control base unit, disguised in a tiny log slice, near the opening of the hearth.

The final step was to add a clip on the fireplace flue to keep it propped open a very small amount so the pilot light would have a vent.

I didn't love this, but being the daughter of a plumber who owned his own heating business, I know you don't mess around with gas.

It's also the reason I was thrilled that the system came with built-in safety that shuts the gas off if the pilot goes out. Something that happened to us this fall.

Additionally, my husband has the gas line labeled in the basement, so if there is ever an issue we all know exactly where to find the main line shut off valve.

As a homeowner, knowing how to do these things is very important.

I think it took our fireplace installer about an hour to get it all done. 

And when the mister got home from work that night, there was a roaring fire in the living room.

We stayed there all night curled up. Staring at the stunning focal point we fell in love with all those years ago.

Gas Fireplace decorated for Christmas near a lit tree and stocking banner

It looked wonderful full of fire, the flames rising and falling with the touch of button, according to our whims.

And when we were finally ready to retire, we just pointed the remote clicked it all away.

Like magic.

And completely magical like we knew it would be all those years ago.

Do you have a fireplace.


Convert Your Wood Burning Fireplace To Gas Real Fyre Catalog

  1. Gorgeous fire!
    In another lifetime ago, i too had a fireplace with wonderful gas logs..
    and it was beautiful! Had it installed when building the house..
    My reasoning..I have allergy issues..wood smoke/odor sets them off!

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    1. Thanks so much Loui!! And yes, I have terrible lungs and wood burning is nothing something I am able to tolerate either, so this solution solved two problems.

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  2. I had a beautiful fireplace in our first home and loved it. I do miss having a fireplace in the house we are in now. There is nothing better than a beautiful fire going in a fireplace. I think gas logs is the way to go. No mess and you can control the beauty of the fire like you said. I love the stone around your fireplace. Have a wonderful weekend. xoxo Kris

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    1. Thanks Kris...and I agree, the gas logs are amazing. I do love your mantle with the candles, though. That's another fabulous way to enjoy a cozy fire!! xxoo

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  3. I would love to gift something like this to my daughter and SIL. They bought their first home last year and one of the main reason was the fireplace. Sadly, they soon learned when moving in that it was unsafe and condemned for use. I didn't know you get open flame versions like yours that look so realistic. We have a Fireplace Store here and I'm going to look into this maybe for a Christmas gift this year.

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    1. It really worked out so well for us, Marie! I would say that it's worth looking into.Hope it works out...and what a great gift. 🙂

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  4. Such a wonderful plan. We added a gas fireplace in our family room and love it. A remote and we are set. Enjoy staying cozy and not carrying in wood.

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    1. Yes! I was never a fan of any of those cutting or carrying or cleaning ash kind of chores. This way has been wonderful!

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  5. We bought a home built in mid 50s with original fireplace in the front living room and another in the den. When we bought it in 2013 we did not have certified chimney sweep expect it....something I have regretted. Both chimneys were bad shape..... so the den fireplace we repaired 2 years ago to the tune of $6,000. We probably would have financed the repairs of both in with the mortgage. We love burning a fire and hopefully can get the front fireplace going....

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    1. I totally get it, Molly. We hung back from having the chimney inspected, because I knew my lungs couldn't handle wood smoke and the gas option never occurred to us. It was only after we had the heating system converted and they needed to look at the chimney that the ball started rolling. But yikes, $6k per chimney is a lot. It's great that one is going, but wow, two sounds dreamy!! Thanks for sharing your story with us.

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  6. I absolutely adore fireplaces and hate that I do not have one currently. We've had both - wood and gas fueled, and by far, gas is the best.

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    1. I agree, Ann, it certainly makes having a fire on a whim a lot easier!

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  7. Kim, when I first saw your beautiful fireplace, I knew right then and there I would have chosen the house for that reason too. The warm coloring of your walls and your signature red was all it needed to make it magnificent. We have had wood burning fireplaces in other homes, and I always started out loving them and the idea of them, but after awhile got really tired of the mess and the work. Here, we had no fireplace at all , or no other heating for that matter, so we installed the stove in the sitting room and the master bedroom both gas, and the little one in the kitchen which is electric. We keep warm in our drafty old cottage and it is so nice to just click a switch and there is fire. The one in the sitting room is on a thermastat so that works well. Your home is so cozy. I just love it and your tree was beautiful too..I sent you the info about picture, did you get it, as am not always sure that I do it right..Stay well..xxoJudy

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    1. Thanks Judy!! I can't wait to check out the sign and yes, wood is a pain. Your fireplace stove in the kitchen is amazing. I never would've guessed it was electric. I was sure it burned wood. I guess you never can tell...which is all the more reason why wood in not necessary anymore! xxoo

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  8. Oh its my dream to have a working fireplace! I'd love any kind! Yours is perfect! I love that rough cottage fireplace!

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    1. Thanks Deanna, we got so lucky with this one. I love the look of faux fireplaces, too. Mantles with candles tucked underneath are so charming!

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  9. Didn't you do a post about this last year - or am I thinking about someone else?

    We have a wood burning fireplace. I would love to convert it to a gas one but we were quoted several years ago by two different contractors of at least $3000. It's not a high priority for us, as we need so many other things done in the house first. So doubt we will ever have it done. If $$ weren't an object, sure! ;-)

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    1. Hi Melanie, yes, I did recently share a little about this before Christmas in a post about adding my mom's old electric stove to my kitchen. I received a lot of questions about my gas fireplace following it, so I decided to outline the process and share the whole story. I do remember your comment about converting to gas. That is a lot, we were lucky that we had gas in the house, right below the fireplace. I know that kept the cost down. And, as I said it was many, many years ago!

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  10. Your fireplace is so beautiful, I love each time you share it with us. We have a gas fireplace in our living room, I do love to be cozy reading while it flickers.
    Stay cozy my friend,
    Carla

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    1. Thanks Carla, it really does make that room extra special during the chilly months. xx

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  11. Yes Ma'am, we have a beautiful fireplace and had it changed to gas logs about two years ago. I love it, and have had it going all week! We had snow all day on Sunday...it has been lovely around the old home place. When you live in Texas, ANY snow is beautiful, and 6" was a dream come true (I know you are laughing :-)
    Blessings to you, J

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    1. I saw the snow in Texas, J!! My online friends were sharing it on Instagram. Everyone looked so happy…perfect kind of day for a fireplace. And yes, THAT’S the kind of winter, I’d like. (wink wink!) Enjoy!!

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  12. I would love to do something like this at home for the two days in the year where it gets really cold in South Africa :D There's just something so magical about a fireplace.

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