Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions. If you would like to learn more check out these FAQs from the HPBA.
Gas Burning FAQ
Q: Are gas fireplaces safe?
A: All appliances are certified to safety standards and regulations set out by the American National Standards Institute and the Canadian Standards Association. Safety standing pilot ensures no gas flows to the unit when it is not being used. Every gas fireplace, inset and stove is equipped with safety features such as a 100% fail-safe shut-off valve. If the pilot flame goes out, the gas flow will automatically turn off. In addition, all models must meet strict safety certification requirements.
Q: Do gas fireplaces give off heat?
A: Yes, gas fireplaces are heater-rated and can be used for supplemental home heating. The heat output carries from model to model so be sure to discuss your heating needs with a qualified hearth professional before making a purchase.
Q: Can I control the amount of heat my gas fireplace gives off?
A: Yes. Almost every gas fireplace is equipped with a valve adjustment that allows you to turn the flame up or down, providing you with a wide range of heat for a wide range of temperature conditions. So if you want to enjoy your fireplace in the middle of the summer, simply turn down the valve so that you won’t overheat your room! They can also be controlled by a thermostat so you can heat your room evenly.
Q: Can I install a LCD or plasma TV above a gas fireplace?
A: Clearances to combustibles around and above fireplaces is not the same as clearances to TV’s and other electronic appliances. Televisions and electronics in general are manufactured and assembled using many variations of materials and are subject to damage from far lower temperatures than wood, etc. Many of these materials can be affected by temperatures far lower than those approved and considered “combustible”. To be safe when determining what clearances are required from a TV or other electronic device to a fireplace you should find out from the manufacturer/distributor of the component, not the fireplace. Clearances to combustibles around and above a fireplace can be well within certified specs but could still possibly be too close for TV’s and other electronics.
Q: Can I convert my existing wood-burning fireplace into a gas fireplace?
A: Yes. There are two ways to accomplish this. 1. The installation of a direct vent gas insert. Direct gas inserts are designed to fit into existing masonry and factory-built wood-burning fireplaces. They give off plenty of heat, can be set to a thermostat, and are highly efficient since they use only outside air for combustion and exhaust. You will no longer be losing heated room air up your chimney. 2. A vented gas log set. A vented gas log set is not heater rated therefore it is used mainly for aesthetic purposes. The damper in your fireplace must be clamped in the open position as a safety precaution to allow for exhaust of the burned gases. A gas log set can be operated by a remote control. It is recommended to have a glass door installed in conjunction with a gas log set to help minimize the drafts when not in use. We do not sell or install vent-free gas log sets.
Q: When should I consider a gas fireplace insert?
A: A gas fireplace insert is used for converting from a wood-burning fireplace to a gas fireplace. If you are looking for a unit to provide supplemental heating as well as the beauty of a glowing fire with the flick of a switch or the turn of a thermostat with no mess or fuss, then a gas insert is the answer.
Q: Can gas inserts be installed into an existing or factory-built fireplace?
A: Yes. A gas insert can be installed in an existing masonry fireplace or in a factory-built metal wood fireplace. Both masonry and factory-built fireplaces must be in good working condition before an insert retrofit can be performed.
Q: Does a direct vent need to be on an outside wall?
A: No. Direct vent gas fireplaces are approved with installations using several venting configurations. You can install your fireplace virtually anywhere. Your local NFI certified dealer/installer will assist you in determining the best venting option & installation layout for your home.
Q: What is a direct vent fireplace?
A: A direct vent fireplace has a completely sealed combustion chamber which allows it to vent directly out a side wall or through the ceiling of your home. The benefit of this system is that it brings in air from the outside of the home rather than using the room air. Direct vent fireplaces use a co-axial venting system. The co-axial vent system has the exhaust pipe within the air intake pipe which protects any surrounding combustible material from the high temperature of the flue gases as well as preheating the outside air prior to it being introduced to the combustion process.
Q: What is a vent-free gas fireplace?
A: A ventless (or vent-free) fireplace uses room air from the home for combustion and it also releases the combusted exhaust (which carries harmful substances and chemicals like carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide) back into the home. Ventless fireplaces will likely cause poor indoor air quality and moisture issues within your home.
Q: Which is better? Catalytic Converters or Secondary Combustion?
A: Catalytic converters need to be replaced after a certain number of hours of operation and the converters can cost in excess of $150-300 every 2-3 years. Secondary combustion is used to achieve low levels of emissions. Secondary combustion systems require less maintenance and are made from more durable, heavy duty components than catalytic converters.
Q: Can I add a blower to my wood-burning stove/insert?
A: Yes, most wood models come with the option of adding a blower. Blowers are an excellent way to spread the heat from your appliance throughout your home more quickly. They do not affect the combustion rate of the fire since they move air around the outside of the firebox. If you are trying to heat a large room or several rooms a blower is recommended.
Q: Do I need to have anything under the stove?
A: There must be non-combustible material under your wood stove. This protects against heat, sparks, and embers generated from your wood-burning appliance. Please consult your owners manual for exact specifications on the thickness (height), width, and depth for the required non-combustible material for your stove, insert or fireplace.
Q: Will the glass door stay clean?
A: Most wood models are designed with a unique airwash system that forces cool air in front of the glass to keep the flames and exhaust away. This keeps your door looking clean and transparent a lot longer. Over the course of a winter, or if you under fire your appliance, you might need to clean the glass. This is easily done with fireplace glass cleaner which is available at your local hearth shop.
Q: Is burning wood environmentally friendly?
A: Yes. Wood is a renewable natural resource. Well managed forests are a renewable, sustainable source of energy that helps us reduce greenhouse gas emissions and be less dependent on oil & gas. Wood is also carbon neutral. This means that as trees grow they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. When trees die and are left to decompose in the forest or burn in forest fires the carbon stored in the trees is released in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Burning firewood produces the same amount of carbon dioxide as it has absorbed during its life cycle making burning wood carbon neutral.
Q: What does “EPA certified mean?”
A: An EPA-certified appliance complies with strict emissions and efficiency regulations designed to reduce pollution and control energy costs. In an increasing number of jurisdictions only EPA-certified units are allowed to be installed. The EPA certification is your guarantee that the stove you are buying will burn cleanly and efficiently, reducing your heating costs and protecting the air we breathe. Non-certified appliances are less efficient and more expensive to operate in the long run. Every Regency wood model is EPA certified.
Q: Can I install a stove or insert myself?
A: It is not recommended. The installation of any fireplace product must adhere to strict local and national regulations. Plus all manufacturers highly recommend that their products be installed by a National Fireplace Institute-certified technician. Issues arising from improper installation will not be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.
Q: Will my insert or stove heat my entire home?
A: The heating ability of a stove/insert is dependent on several factors. These factors include the climate in your area, the features of your home (size, floor plan, room layout, insulation, windows, etc.), and the location of the fireplace/stove. The heating capacity also depends on the size of your fireplace and its square feet heating ability. Your Regency dealer will be able to fully determine the best choice for your home.
Q: Is there a way to make an older stove burn cleaner?
A: Yes. While the best solution is to upgrade to an EPA-certified unit there are steps that can be taken to improve the efficiency and reduce emissions in your current appliance. One of the most important and immediate steps would be to make sure you are burning the correct type of wood. Always use dry, seasoned wood (wood that has not been cut or exposed to moisture for at least 6 months) as well as a solid fire starter product. Make sure to consult a NFI- certified and/or a CSIA-certified professional to find out the proper steps to improving the functionality and cleanliness of your unique unit.
Q: What is the National Fireplace Institute (NFI)?
A: The NFI is the national certification agency of the hearth and fireplace industry and grants certification to professionals that pass a comprehensive examination. This must be renewed every 3 years. The NFI is part of the Hearth, Patio, & Barbecue Education Foundation (HPBEF) which is a nonprofit foundation devoted to the safe and proper installation, maintenance, and operation of solid fuel appliance systems through educational programs.
Q: How do I know if I’m operating my wood stove correctly?
A: As a general rule the color of the smoke produced by your wood stove will tell you how efficient your system is being operated. When operated correctly you should see white steam. The darker the smoke appears, the less efficient the operation. The dark color is due to unburned fuel being expelled in the form of smoke. The more unburned fuel the greater the waste. More importantly this unburned fuel can be deposited on the inside of the pipe in the form of flammable creosote.
Q: Why is wood smoke a problem?
A: Wood smoke is a sign of inefficient operation. When your wood burning appliance produces wood smoke it is because it is not achieving high enough temperatures to burn off all of the gases and particulates which in turn escape in the form of wood smoke. This reduces the efficiency of your unit and can increase the pollution output of your system by over 75%.
Q: Are there times my wood stove or fireplace is more prone to producing more smoke?
A: During start-up and refueling the system is more likely to produce smoke; however this can be reduced by proper operation. Always make sure your system is getting adequate oxygen and preheat the chimney.