gas fireplace mounted in the wall, with blue flame

What can I do about my drafty old fireplace?

Drafty Old Fireplaces Vs Gas Fireplace Inserts

Ottawa and it’s suburbs have an abundance of houses built in the 70’s, 80s and 90’s. Many of these houses have drafty fireplaces. Builders constructed these homes to the building codes in place at the time of construction when air tightness and energy efficiency were not as much of a priority as they are today. The installation crews at The Fireplace Center have an abundance of work bringing old fireplaces up to code and installing modern energy efficient gas fireplaces inserts in their place.

What do we mean by an old fireplace?

Below is an example of a builder installed masonry wood fireplace typical of our region.

By modern standards these fireplaces are drafty and hard work, what with buying, splitting drying and storing the logs and kindle, not to mention cleaning up the ash and keeping the chimney clean. Air is vented via the chimney (flue) all year round including the heat your furnace is producing and the cold air your air conditioner is producing in the summer. Many homeowners end up with a blazing fire in the family room causing the rest of the house to go cold.

A labour of love for some, others prefer to pick up their remote control and have instant heat and a more consistent temperature, comfortable home.

So what can we do about that old masonry fireplace?

Gas Fireplace Inserts

For many the best option is a gas fireplace insert. Modern, energy efficient and without the chopping, storing and carrying etc. Inserts are designed to replace a wood-burning firebox. Available in natural gas or propane you can choose the right size and style to suit your needs and have an insert professionally installed. Inserts are available with the optimum heat output (btu’s) to suit your home based on the insulation level of your house, room size and what other forms of heating you have, .

Here is the same room after the installation of gas fireplace insert.


A fireplace insert with a glass front replaces the gaping hole of the wood fireplace, preventing air from being drawn up the star Instead a direct vent draws air in and expels low emission exhaust only when the fireplace is lit. Energy Star compliant fireplaces and inserts are certified for low emissions. The gas insert supplies 75%-99% of the heat into the room compared to 10-30% with the wood burning fireplace it is replacing. Now the wall is no longer absorbing heat, you have the option of installing a tv above the fireplace for maximum effect.

What features can I expect?

1. Variable-flame height adjustment – More consistent temperature is achieved by a valve that adjusts the flame height and sets the heat output.

2. Wall-thermostat control – controls the temperature of the room by setting on the remote control or dial on the wall.

3. Electronic ignition – no need for a pilot light saving on your monthly gas fuel bill

4. LED accent lighting – Adds to the realism by creating a flickering flame effect.

5. Battery backup – works even during a brownout.

6. Built-in fan – blows warm air heating the room much more quickly.

What Other Options are There?

Gas Log Sets

A cheaper alternative to a gas fireplace insert is the gas log set. Essentially artificial logs with a gas burner underneath. Some of the more modern units come with a firebox to reduce the heat loss. Not as efficient as gas fireplace inserts these are better suited to rooms requiring radiant heat rather than being the rooms main heat source. They do however require less remodelling.

gas log set

Valor Heat Shift System

There is no shortage of choice for modern energy efficient fireplaces but one of the most recent innovations is the Valor heat shift system. This system provides the ability to route the convected heat from the fire more evenly throughout the room or even to other rooms. In the example below , the most common installation, heat is passed behind the wall and vented into the room above the television.

wood fireplace before


An elegant way to prevent heat from building up above the glass on the surface wall. Heat is instead redirected and vent above the television, reducing the risk of damage.

Regency Gas Fireplace Inserts Video

Need a 2nd opinion. Watch this brief video from Regency Fireplaces about replacing drafty old fireplaces with gas fireplace inserts.



The result truly speak for themselves. There is no need to put up with that drafty old fireplace and with lots of options available for energy efficient fireplaces, gas log sets and gas fireplace inserts you can choose a style and budget that best suits you and your room.

Shopping Cart