When you hear the word "fireplace," you probably picture a log burning slowly, sending smoke up the chimney and creating a cozy vibe. If you currently have an aging wood fireplace like this, then your assumption might be that you need to replace it, in kind, with another wood fireplace. You could certainly take this route. However, there is an alternative to explore: replacing it with a gas fireplace instead. Such fireplaces burn natural gas, rather than wood. Should you make the switch? Consider these pros and cons, then decide for yourself.
Pro: You won't have to store wood anymore.
Are you tired of stacking wood every fall, and then spending all winter sweeping up little bits of wood that have fallen on the floor while you've wrestled logs into the fireplace? If you upgrade to a gas fireplace, you won't have to do this again. The gas will travel directly to the fireplace via a gas line that your fireplace installer runs. Gas is clean and tidy.
Con: You won't hear the characteristic crackling.
To some people, the crackling sound that wood fires make is a key part of the ambiance that a fireplace creates. Gas fireplaces do not make this noise. If you feel strongly about crackling, then switching to a gas fireplace may not be the right move for you.
Pro: Gas fireplaces can be safer.
When you're done with a gas fireplace, you turn it off. The surroundings stay warm for a while, but they cool down in a reasonable time frame. This tends to be safer for kids than leaving hot coals in a wood-burning fireplace for hours on end. Being able to turn the gas off in an instant also makes it safer to leave your home. You're less likely to have a fire than if you were to leave with hot coals in a wood-burning fireplace.
Con: Gas fireplaces cost more.
Because you have to run a gas line and have the burner installed, gas fireplaces typically cost more than wood ones. If you're on a really tight budget, then a wood-burning fireplace may be the more affordable option.
If you need to replace your fireplace, you have a decision to make. Should you upgrade to gas? Armed with the information above, you are well-equipped to make the decision. Talk to a fireplace installer if you would like more professional advice and insight.