How Much Does it Cost to Convert a Fireplace to Gas?
The national average cost to convert a fireplace to gas is $3,000, though the final price depends on several factors. The typical range for this project is $500 to $5,500.
- Typical Range: $500 to $5,500
- National Average: $3,000
Natural gas is the most environmentally friendly fossil fuel around, making it an excellent heat source for a home fireplace. While newly constructed homes often include gas fireplaces, older homes typically have traditional wood-burning fireplaces. This makes fireplace conversions a fairly common home improvement project.
How much is a fireplace conversion? It depends on several factors, including the fireplace type, the existence of a gas line, and the types of customizations the homeowner desires. The typical cost to convert a fireplace to gas ranges from $500 to $5,500, though the national average is $3,000, according to Angi.
For homeowners ready to ditch the wood and enjoy warming their home with a gas fireplace, this guide will help them estimate a basic cost to convert fireplace to gas quote, understand the benefits of fireplace conversion, and learn how to save money on their project without compromising functionality or style.
Factors in Calculating the Cost to Convert a Fireplace to Gas
When it comes to estimating the total cost to convert a fireplace to gas, there are several factors to consider. Determining the type of gas fireplace homeowners desire is the first step they will want to take when estimating their project’s cost. They will also want to keep other influencing factors in mind, like installation location and labor. To aid in the estimating process, what follows is an explanation of each factor.
Gas Fireplace Type
There are three main types of gas fireplaces, each offering unique advantages along with different pricing. A vented gas log fireplace insert is an affordable option that offers more aesthetics than heat. Homeowners can expect to pay between $500 and $2,500 for this type of conversion, depending on the chosen size and style.
Ventless gas logs offer both aesthetics and heat, although they’re not always recommended in homes where residents have respiratory issues like asthma or allergies. Some areas even restrict their use entirely, so homeowners will want to check with a fireplace expert to determine whether this type of fireplace conversion is an option.
Finally, there are gas fireplace inserts to consider. These come in a wide range of sizes and styles. A modern gas fireplace insert may include upgraded features, like thermostats and remote-controlled operations. A gas fireplace insert with blowers can quickly heat a room. Inserts also have a long lifespan; however, they’re the most expensive type of conversion option, with a price range of $2,000 to $5,500.
Gas Line Installation
When homeowners are converting a wood-burning fireplace into a gas fireplace, they may need to have a gas line installed. It’s crucial for homeowners to hire an experienced contractor for this job; fortunately, most fireplace companies are licensed. A homeowner can start their search online for “gas fireplace installation near me.” If this doesn’t turn up results, reaching out to an HVAC tech or plumber can also provide potential contractors with the right experience for the job.
Having a gas line installed for the first time costs between $200 and $1,000. This is a wide range, so homeowners wanting to estimate their potential costs will benefit from knowing that gas lines cost $15 to $25 per linear foot for materials, and gas plumbers charge $75 to $100 per hour.
Fireplace conversion prices are greatly influenced by the location in which the fireplace is installed. For example, removing a wood-burning fireplace and replacing it with a gas-burning fireplace in the corner of a room costs between $2,500 and $10,000, depending on whether the homeowner chooses a prefabricated model or has one custom made. A wall-mounted gas fireplace install has a smaller price range at $3,000 to $8,000.
iIf a full replacement is needed, a built-in fireplace conversion costs between $5,250 and $10,000, while a peninsula-style gas-burning fireplace costs between $7,000 and $12,000.
When estimating the cost to convert a fireplace to gas by location, homeowners will want to consider how far away an existing wood-burning fireplace is from a gas line. The greater the distance, the greater the cost to extend the necessary plumbing. For this reason, the placement of the existing gas line may influence where the homeowner chooses to install the gas fireplace.
Homeowners can choose among many different gas fireplace styles. Depending on installation location, there may be plumbing, electrical, or demolition required to get the job done, which means homeowners are likely to come across a wide range of labor costs when getting quotes for a fireplace conversion project.
Generally speaking, prefabricated units rack up between $500 and $3,000 in labor costs, depending on whether the contractor needs to make modifications to the walls or other surrounding areas. There may be additional labor costs to consider if the contractor needs to install or extend a gas line.
Labor costs tend to be higher for customized fireplace installations. If the area surrounding the new fireplace needs to be built out or the contractor uses high-end finishing materials, homeowners can expect to pay between $1,000 and $10,000 in associated labor costs.
Additional Costs and Considerations
With some fireplace conversions, there may be some additional costs and considerations that come into play. While not all of the following factors will necessarily be involved in the project’s estimate, they’re helpful for homeowners to be aware of to avoid sticker shock.
Despite the name, chimney cleaning involves more than just cleaning the chimney. A professional chimney cleaning will also likely include checking the firebox, liners, smoke chamber, and flue. The chimney exterior will also typically be closely inspected. And, of course, the chimney and the fireplace themselves will be thoroughly cleaned.
A thorough chimney cleaning costs between $100 and $150. A fireplace installation contractor may include this in their services, or the job may need to be outsourced to another professional. Homeowners will want to keep in mind that chimney cleaning may still be needed with gas fireplaces, depending on the type. While a gas fireplace’s chimney may not need cleaning as often as a wood-burning fireplace’s chimney, burning natural gas can still produce buildup that needs to be cleaned away, which means the homeowner can’t completely eliminate chimney sweep costs when converting a wood fireplace to gas.
Chimney Inspection and Repair
Before a fireplace conversion, the best chimney cleaning services will typically perform a chimney inspection. This is to remove any creosote buildup and to complete any necessary repairs to the flue or masonry. This is an important step in every conversion but even more so when homeowners are installing a direct-vent insert or vented gas logs, since both require the use of a fully operational flue.
A chimney inspection costs $450 on average. Homeowners will want to keep in mind that if extra cleaning, repairs, or other maintenance is required before the conversion project can begin, the cost of a chimney inspection may be higher.
When homeowners are converting a wood-burning fireplace to gas-burning, it’s not uncommon to update the surrounding area of the fireplace. Such customizations help ensure a fireplace remains the focal point of the room.
Customizations can include the addition of a decorative mantel, new brickwork around the opening of the fireplace, or a tiled accent wall that goes from floor to ceiling. Nearly every customization project is unique, so homeowners can expect a wide range of pricing options.
For some clarity, however, brick veneer face for a fireplace conversion costs an average of $96 per square foot, cobblestone veneer face costs $34 per square foot, and limestone veneer falls right in the middle at $50 per square foot.
Interested in a marble face or hearth? The average cost for the stone is $90 per square foot. A steel bar fireplace grate ranges from just over $50 to just under $115, while a solid pine mantel costs around $1,500.
Types of Gas Fireplace Conversions
Not all fireplace conversion processes are the same. There are different types of gas fireplaces, each with a unique effect on how a project is priced. The three main types of gas fireplace conversions are described below.
A direct-vent, or vented, gas fireplace has a completely sealed combustion chamber. This allows the fireplace to vent directly out a side wall or through a home’s ceiling. A sealed firebox increases the efficiency of the fire when burning while preventing cold air from entering a home when the fireplace is not in use. This means that a direct-vent fireplace not only heats up a room more quickly but keeps it from losing heat as well.
Direct-vent fireplaces are also very safe and offer multiple installation site options. While a natural-vented fireplace must be vented vertically, limiting where it can be installed, a direct-vent fireplace can be installed in a bathroom, basement, kitchen, bedroom, and of course traditional living room space.
Depending on the size and style, converting a wood-burning fireplace into a direct-vent gas fireplace costs between $500 and $2,500.
Ventless gas fireplaces can operate without a flue or chimney. They technically burn more cleanly than vented fireplaces, so they don’t need an escape route for dangerous fumes. However, ventless gas logs can still introduce unburned combustion products into the air, so it’s recommended that those with asthma, allergies, or other respiratory issues not use a ventless fireplace.
In fact, ventless gas logs are restricted, or even entirely banned, in certain areas. A knowledgeable local fireplace contractor will be able to inform a homeowner whether or not a local code will allow a ventless fireplace.
If local ordinances allow ventless log inserts, homeowners can expect to pay up to $3,500 for materials and labor. Ventless fireplaces are generally designed for aesthetic purposes and rarely provide the warmth of a traditional fireplace.
Gas Fireplace Inserts
A gas insert fireplace is a contained metal box designed to be placed directly into an existing fireplace. It must fit perfectly in the fireplace frame, which is why it’s always recommended that a professional handle a gas fireplace insert installation.
Compared to other types of gas fireplaces, inserts are more fuel efficient. This is because of their sealed system and direct venting features. Gas inserts are also a furnace-rated appliance, meaning their thermostats can control the temperature of a specific room. A gas fireplace insert costs between $2,000 and $5,500, with an average price of $3,750.
Benefits of Converting a Fireplace to Gas
Converting a wood-burning fireplace to a gas-burning fireplace offers a homeowner several benefits. The following are a few of the top reasons homeowners may choose to make the switch.
Wood-burning fireplaces offer a calming glow and relaxing ambience, but unfortunately, most of their heat is sent up the chimney and not into the room. Gas-burning fireplaces convert fuel into heat at a much more efficient rate. Some models also include built-in blowers to help circulate heat throughout the room.
To put it into perspective, a wood-burning fireplace operates at only about 30 percent efficiency, losing around two-thirds of its heat up the chimney. But gas-burning fireplaces are designed and built with energy-efficient materials and technology. Some models offer efficiency rates as high as 98 percent, with most offering a minimum of 75 percent efficiency.
Every type of fireplace needs some level of maintenance, but when compared to a wood-burning fireplace, a gas fireplace is much easier to keep functioning safely and efficiently.
Wood-burning fireplaces require annual cleanings to make sure the chimney does not have excess creosote. A buildup of this dangerous byproduct can create chimney fires. Depending on how often a wood fireplace is used, there also can be quite a bit of weekly or even daily cleanup necessary to get rid of ash and soot.
While there’s less daily cleanup with gas fireplaces, they’re not maintenance-free. Cleaning is less about getting rid of creosote and more about occasional removal of dust, pet hair, debris, or other buildup around the fireplace.
While gas-burning fireplaces also need to undergo routine safety inspections, these are handled by a professional, who can complete them accurately and efficiently. When compared directly, gas fireplaces take less time to maintain than wood.
For the homeowner who wants the comfort of a fireplace without the work that often comes with building a wood fire, gas-burning fireplaces are the most convenient. A homeowner with a gas-burning fireplace never has to stand outside in the cold chopping wood, nor do they have to worry about ash and soot removal or safety issues related to creosote buildup.
A homeowner also doesn’t have to wait to enjoy the heat and ambience of a fire with a gas-burning unit. Wood-burning fireplaces take several minutes to set up and light, and then it can be several more minutes before the room starts to warm up—only to have most of that heat escape out of the chimney.With a gas-burning fireplace, heat can start filling a room within seconds with the simple push of a button and keep it warm and cozy.
Safety is one of the most important benefits of switching to a gas-burning fireplace from wood, as wood-burning fireplaces come with a higher risk of fire accidents. As wood fires crackle, sparks can fly past the hearth and into the room, and chimneys can build up with soot or acquire debris that can make a house fire more likely.
Gas fireplaces minimize the risk of a house fire. A gas unit includes a safety shutoff system and burns gas constantly, ensuring the flame size doesn’t get out of control.
The only caveat to the safety of gas fireplaces is the use of unvented models. These are restricted or even banned in some locations due to potential odors, soot, moisture, and health hazards.
Ease of Use
Unlike wood-burning fireplaces, gas units are incredibly easy to use. Anyone can start a gas-burning fireplace with the simple push of a button or click of a switch. Some models even come with a convenient remote control.
When it comes to starting a fire with wood, there are several steps. First, wood must be purchased or gathered. Then the fireplace and chimney need to be quickly inspected for debris or other obvious issues. After the space is clear, the logs must be set up, which typically includes adding kindling, crumpled paper, or fire starter. The fire is then lit and must be closely tended until it’s properly burning and then maintained for safety until it’s completely out. In comparison, a gas fireplace takes very little time to start and is much easier to use overall.
Converting a Fireplace to Gas: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Even the most confident DIY homeowner will likely not be able to convert a wood-burning fireplace to a gas fireplace on their own. An improperly converted fireplace can be dangerous, so this is a job best performed by certified professionals.
The first (and main) reason a homeowner will want to trust this project to a professional is safety. In some conversions, a gas line needs to be installed, which takes specific experience and training. In nearly every municipality, installing a gas line needs to be done by a professional under a permit and inspected before it can be used. An improperly installed gas line can lead to leaks, which pose serious risks to people and animals and also increase the risk of explosion and fire.
There’s also the element of aesthetics. A fireplace is often a main focal point of a room. For homeowners without the right experience and skill set, converting a traditional fireplace into a modern dream focal point could have less than desirable results.
Finally, there’s efficiency to consider. Converting a wood-burning fireplace to gas doesn’t have to be a drawn-out process. In ideal circumstances (for example, when a gas line is already present or nearby), a fireplace can be converted in a matter of hours. Customized fireplace conversions may take a few days to complete with a professional.
However, an inexperienced homeowner may run into complications that draw out the conversion, leaving them frustrated and possibly over budget if costly mistakes are made. Working with a professional fireplace installer can ensure a conversion is done in a timely and cost-efficient manner.
A gas fireplace installation is a great home improvement project, but it’s one best left to the professionals. If the homeowner wants to be involved in the process, installing an updated mantel or laying out a fun tile pattern for the surround may be more appropriate.
How to Save Money on the Cost to Convert a Fireplace to Gas
The cost to convert a wood-burning fireplace to a gas-burning fireplace has a wide range. This means that while projects can quickly grow in price, there is also room for savings. The following are some ways homeowners can save money on a fireplace conversion project without sacrificing ambience or style.
- Seek out multiple opinions. Not only does this provide several price quotes, but it also ensures nothing is being overlooked or oversold. Getting only one quote could leave a homeowner in the dark about other potential conversion options, and getting multiple quotes will help a high quote stick out like a sore thumb.
- Consider initial versus ongoing costs. While some gas fireplace types or models may be less expensive to purchase and install, the homeowner will always want to consider operational costs. Saving money during installation is always ideal, but it’s frivolous if years of costly utility bills follow.
- Shop for materials. It’s not uncommon to give a fireplace a face-lift when converting it to gas. If adding tiles or a new mantel, homeowners can take the time to shop for materials, browsing through online marketplaces, secondhand stores, and big-box stores for the best prices without compromising style.
- Keep up with maintenance. A gas fireplace should last about 10 to 15 years before replacement becomes a possibility, but to save on premature replacement bills, a homeowner will need to keep up on maintenance, including annual inspections and cleaning.
Questions to Ask About Converting a Fireplace to Gas
To safely convert a wood-burning fireplace to gas-burning, hiring a professional contractor is a must, but finding the right professional for the job can be an overwhelming task. Homeowners can use the following list of questions during an interview to help narrow down their list of potential contractors.
- Are you a licensed fireplace installer?
- Do you hold a National Fireplace Institute certification?
- Are you insured?
- Does your insurance cover both your workers and my property?
- How much experience do you have?
- Do you have a portfolio or references?
- Do you provide free quotes for fireplace conversions?
- What’s included in the quote, or are there any potential additional fees I should be aware of?
- What conversion options do I have?
- Do you recommend a Mendota fireplace or another brand?
- What type of gas fireplace conversion do you recommend, and do you have experience with this type of conversion?
- Will you be converting the fireplace, or do you use subcontractors?
- When can the conversion begin?
- How long will the conversion take?
- Do you offer a warranty on parts or a guarantee on your service?
- Do you handle any required permits or inspections?
- What type of maintenance do you recommend?
- Do you provide service for the products you install?
Converting a wood-burning fireplace to gas-burning is a smart decision. Gas fireplaces burn more cleanly, heat a living space faster, and provide a relaxing ambience perfect for any home. But the project and the associated cost to convert a fireplace to gas can be overwhelming. For the hesitant homeowner, the following FAQs may provide clarification, guidance, and confidence in moving forward with such a project.
Q. Can a wood-burning fireplace be converted to a gas fireplace?
Yes, a wood-burning fireplace can be converted to a gas fireplace. But this applies to only fireplaces and not appliances. For example, a wood stove cannot be converted to gas. Homeowners will want to keep in mind that every conversion is unique. Some wood-burning fireplaces may be updated only with a conversion kit, while others may offer several options. Homeowners may consider the cost of a gas fireplace insert as an alternative to a full fireplace conversion.
Q. Does a gas fireplace increase home value?
The average home with a fireplace lists for 13 percent more than the national median sale price, and more than a third of buyers believe that a fireplace makes a home worth an additional $1,000 to $5,000. At the same time, 23 percent of buyers would not pay more for a home with a fireplace than one without. For those considering the cost of installing a fireplace or tackling a conversion, gas fireplaces have some of the highest sale-to-list ratios when compared to other trends and features.
Q. How hard is it to convert a wood fireplace to gas?
A fireplace conversion project isn’t as difficult as homeowners might think, but it’s still recommended that a professional handle the job, especially when gas lines are involved. Yet another reason to call in the pros is that a wood fireplace needs to be thoroughly inspected before conversion. Some existing attributes or local ordinances may rule out certain types of gas fireplaces that a homeowner may not realize on their own.
Q. What is cheaper: a gas or electric fireplace?
Gas fireplaces are more expensive to purchase and install than electric fireplaces, but they’re less expensive to run and offer significantly more warmth. So while an electric fireplace may be initially cheaper, a gas fireplace saves more money in the long run.
Q. Do I need a chimney for a gas fireplace?
A gas fireplace does not need a chimney. There are two main options for gas fireplaces. One is a ventless gas fireplace. The other is a vented gas fireplace, which is labeled as safer because it removes unburned combustion products from the room. A vented gas fireplace doesn’t deplete oxygen inside a home either. But for either option, a traditional chimney is not needed.
Q. Is a gas fireplace expensive to run?
Compared to electric, gas fireplaces are quite inexpensive to run. For example, a standard 20,000 BTU gas fireplace uses 20 cubic feet of natural gas for each hour of operation. Using an average natural gas delivery rate of $24.61 per thousand cubic feet, a homeowner can expect to pay about $0.50 per hour of operation for a gas fireplace at 100 percent heat output. Homeowners can check current average natural gas prices on the U.S. Energy Information Administration website.
Sources: Angi, Fixr, HomeGuide