Why do Fireplaces Need to Have a Chimney?

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Why do Fireplaces Need to Have a Chimney?

Though it may seem like an obvious question and answer, newer technology in gas fireplaces may negate the need for a full masonry brick chimney in some cases. However, is it a good idea to nix the chimney in favor of a ventless heater or direct-vent fireplace system for your Rochester home? Here’s a deep dive into the question.

Why do Fireplaces Need to Have a Chimney?

Historically, fireplaces were simply one end of a room that a chimney was located on, and individuals would walk into it to add firewood or cook. As time went on, fireplaces became smaller and often fed into multiple flues in a single chimney as technology advanced. Today, with central heating typically handled with other appliances, a single fireplace often handles the entire home, and is not used as commonly as it would have been in the past.

Wood-burning fireplaces still require a chimney to vent smoke and fumes, but in the case of natural gas and propane heat sources, you may not need one per se. A direct vent system can go through a roof or wall to vent to the outside, while a ventless fireplace is another option, provided that safety precautions are taken.

The difference between these two types of venting are as follows:

  • Direct-vent gas fireplaces both draw in fresh air from outside and exhaust combustion fumes through a dedicated ventilation system. This should always be installed by a professional for safety’s sake, as should the ventless system mentioned below.
  • Ventless fireplaces do not require any outside ventilation as they are designed to operate without an exterior combustion air source, but must be finely-tuned to burn properly, as well as be located in a room with proper ventilation and a carbon monoxide detector.

Generally, direct-vent fireplaces are safer, and having these systems enclosed in a masonry chimney is the safest option of all. Whatever type of system you choose to go with, it’s important to have it installed and maintained by a chimney professional who understands the intricacies of these systems. If you have questions about adding direct-vent or ventless fireplaces to your Rochester home, the experienced professionals at Four Winds are always happy to help. Please reach out with any questions you may have!


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