How Much Does a Gas Fireplace Insert Cost to Install?
Interested in keeping your home warm and cozy without the hassle and expense of burning wood? A gas fireplace insert may be right for you. Gas fireplace insert costs range from $500 to $3,500.
- Typical Range: $500 to $3,500
Many homeowners enjoy the convenience of flipping a switch and having the glow and warmth of a fire available whenever they want it. A gas fireplace insert provides the warm glow that many homeowners desire without the inconvenience and expense of burning wood. If you have an existing wood-burning fireplace, a gas fireplace insert can transform it into a gas-powered centerpiece of your home. Gas fireplace insert costs range from $500 to $3,500 if the existing duct and chimney system are in good condition. These inserts are more cost-effective than a wood-burning fireplace, and many homeowners choose gas fireplace inserts to update and modernize their existing fireplace.
Labor costs are considerably less to install a gas insert than to install a gas-burning fireplace. Before the gas fireplace insert can be installed, the chimney will need to be cleaned at a cost of around $200. Labor and materials, including liner inserts, gas tubing, and new vents can run between $300 and $1,800. If the gas line needs to be modified or changed to meet current building codes, that can cost between $200 and $1,200.
Gas fireplace inserts burn more efficiently than their wood-burning counterparts. A gas insert produces fewer emissions and releases fewer fine particulates into the air, which is helpful for those who suffer from allergies and respiratory illnesses. A fireplace insert often includes circulating fans that push the heat into the room, reducing the amount of heated air from escaping up the chimney. If you’re more interested in looks, an electric fireplace is more about imagery than producing actual flames or heat for a room.
What Is a Gas Fireplace Insert?
Transform a wood-burning fireplace into gas by installing a gas-burning insert. A gas fireplace insert is a metal box within a metal box that fits inside an existing fireplace and blocks the draft from the chimney. The gas insert heats the air between the two metal boxes, and then that heat is released into the room. This is an excellent option for homeowners who want to rework their existing wood-burning fireplace into a fuel-efficient heat source. A gas fireplace insert is a good option if you’re interested in zone heating your home and assisting the HVAC system so it doesn’t run as much during the colder winter months.
Gas Fireplace vs. Gas Fireplace Insert
Gas fireplaces are built into a wall of a home during construction or a major renovation. The big difference between a gas fireplace and a gas fireplace insert is that the gas fireplace doesn’t need an existing fireplace or even a chimney. If you don’t have an existing fireplace and chimney, a gas fireplace can be installed so it vents out through a wall, or you can choose an unvented gas fireplace. With an unvented gas fireplace, the exhaust is released back into the room. A gas fireplace’s BTUs (British thermal unit) are higher than those of a gas fireplace insert, so more heat will come from the built-in gas fireplace.
Factors in Calculating Gas Fireplace Insert Cost
Several factors impact gas fireplace insert costs. Prices can differ from the national average due to labor and installation fees, the price of the gas fireplace insert, and whether the insert is vented or unvented.
Labor and Installation
Labor and materials to install a gas fireplace insert can run from $300 to $1,800. Labor costs to install a gas insert are significantly less than it would cost to install a new gas fireplace. By using the existing fireplace, labor costs are reduced for the project. Other factors that can affect labor costs are whether a new gas line or electrical wiring needs to be installed. Installation methods can vary based on personal style, if extra gas lines are required, what type of ductwork is necessary, and if the insert will be powered by natural gas or propane.
Gas Fireplace Insert
A gas fireplace insert can cost between $580 and $900 for the unit, not including installation and labor fees.
Vented vs. Unvented
Gas fireplace inserts are available as vented or unvented options. Direct vent units are considered the safest choice. They exhaust all the gases and water vapor produced from burning gas and vent it to the outside. Vented gas fireplace inserts pull in the outside air to keep the flames alight. Vented inserts generally have a realistic fireplace aesthetic because the temperature is controlled. This results in a flame pattern and color that mimics a wood-burning fire.
Unvented units have a higher efficiency rating since a large percentage of the heat goes into the room and not up the chimney. They’re easy to install, but they lower the amount of oxygen in the space since there isn’t any outside air coming in to feed the flames. The exhaust gas and moisture from the burning gas stay in the room, which can cause concern for some homeowners. Many unvented gas fireplace inserts come with an oxygen sensor that will turn off the gas before carbon monoxide reaches unsafe levels. Unvented gas inserts release moisture back into the home, which can raise the humidity levels. If left unchecked, the higher humidity levels can cause condensation and generate mold and mildew as well as issues with wooden furniture and flooring. Some states have outlawed unvented gas fireplace inserts, so be sure to check with your fireplace insert professional.
Additional Costs and Considerations
When budgeting for gas fireplace insert costs, it’s helpful to know any additional price factors and considerations that can affect the total cost. These can include extra gas plumbing, electrical wiring, surround material, maintenance, and unit repair.
Extra Gas Plumbing
Securing the gas line to the gas fireplace insert or installing extra gas lines can cost between $10 and $20 per linear foot. In some areas of the country, a permit is required to run or modify gas lines. Be sure to check the local requirements to know if you need to figure permit fees into your budget.
Vented fireplace inserts can be used without electricity, and unvented options should not be used without electricity. This is because they need sensors and automatic shut-off valves for safety purposes. If electrical wiring or a permit is required, it will add expense to the installation budget.
The material you use around the fireplace can add to or detract from the room’s overall character. Some of the most common materials are brick, tile, and stone, which can create a modern, rustic, or eclectic appearance in the room. Surround material and finish work like tiles, masonry, and paint can cost an additional $3,500 to $7,500, depending on the brand, material, design, size of the fireplace, and needed preparation.
Maintenance and Repair
One of the advantages of gas fireplace inserts is that they require little maintenance aside from an annual checkup that costs between $75 and $125. If your gas fireplace insert uses a chimney for venting purposes, you’ll have to get a yearly chimney inspection that can range in price from $85 to $5,000. It’s essential to follow a regular maintenance schedule to ensure the gas insert works correctly and safely. Gas fireplace inserts need different repairs than a wood-burning or electric fireplace would need. Over time, a gas insert may stop working efficiently. This is the time to call in a professional to make sure the insert works correctly.
Benefits of Choosing a Gas Fireplace Insert
Gas fireplace inserts are a cost-effective and straightforward way to transform a wood-burning fireplace into a gas-burning one. A gas fireplace insert can be used as a heat source to increase the effectiveness of your HVAC system. Many homeowners enjoy the look of real flames without the hassle of moving and stacking firewood or cleaning out a fireplace full of ash.
Uses Existing Wood-Burning Fireplace
Gas fireplace inserts can be used in an existing wood-burning fireplace to make it more efficient or bring it into compliance with current building codes. The insert is smaller than the fireplace opening, and it can be vented using the chimney that’s already in place.
A gas fireplace insert is less expensive to install than a gas fireplace. A gas insert costs between $500 and $3,500, while a gas fireplace can run from $2,650 to $5,800. Natural gas–powered fireplaces are more cost-effective to run than a propane-powered one, depending on geographic location and fuel costs in your area. The cost of running a gas insert per hour is at least 50 percent lower than a wood-burning or propane-burning fireplace. Homeowners in rural areas do not have access to a natural gas line and rely on propane to power a gas fireplace insert.
A traditional wood-burning fireplace is typically drafty and allows a lot of heated air to escape up the chimney. A gas fireplace insert seals off the drafty fireplace and releases all the heat into the room, saving on utility costs.
With the flip of a switch, you can enjoy the warmth and the flickering glow of a fire. There is no building a fire and waiting for the fire to build to heat a room. You can enjoy the heat, glow, and look of a fire without the smoke and odor of a wood-burning fire. Gas inserts typically come with a thermostat so you can enjoy the heat with precision control.
A gas fireplace insert is an attractive way to heat a room. The ambiance of your home will be enhanced by the warm glow of a fire that ignites with a flip of a switch.
A wood-burning fireplace releases up to 4,000 percent more emissions than a gas-fueled insert. A gas-powered insert has a high energy rating and does not create waste in the form of ash, soot, and creosote—and that’s good for the environment.
Maintenance is at a minimum for a gas fireplace insert since there are no ashes clean out of the fireplace. Having a gas insert involves an annual checkup to inspect the venting, fan, burner, thermostat, pilot light, and glass.
No Ash or Creosote
Gas fireplace inserts are a good option for those who are sensitive to air pollution or have allergies or other lung diseases. A wood-burning fireplace releases fine particulates into the air that can create health issues and respiratory problems. A gas fireplace insert will eliminate those issues since there is no ash or creosote formed by gas burning. An insert is also a cleaner option since there is no ash or soot to clean out of the fireplace.
A gas fireplace insert is a safe choice since it can be directly vented outside. If you decide on an unvented insert option, these models come with an oxygen depletion sensor and a safety valve that will turn off the gas before carbon monoxide levels become dangerous in the room.
Gas Fireplace Insert Cost: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
It’s not recommended to install a gas fireplace insert as a DIY project. Since installing a gas fireplace insert involves working with gas lines, electrical wiring, vent pipes, and potentially the roof, hiring a professional is recommended. A professional will have the experience and knowledge base to install the gas insert correctly and safely. Some areas of the country require a permit when installing a gas fireplace insert and adding or extending gas lines. After the installation, an inspection is needed to ensure the project meets the local building codes and standards. A professional contractor can handle the permits and the installation.
How to Save Money on a Gas Fireplace Insert
Gas fireplace insert costs can be high, and the additional costs associated with the project can quickly add up. One way to save on gas fireplace insert costs is to buy the cheapest option, but there are other ways to save without compromising quality.
- Get multiple estimates. Get at least three estimates from reputable gas fireplace contractors in your area, and choose the one that works the best for you and your budget.
- Do some of the prep yourself. Prepping and cleaning the area before the professional installers arrive is one way to save on labor costs. The same goes for adding some finishing touches after the installation.
- Hire professionals. It may seem tempting to save money by installing a gas fireplace insert on your own. The added cost of fixing mistakes, the energy loss due to an incorrect installation, and the safety risks to you and your family aren’t worth it.
- Get references. Talk to others who have had a gas fireplace insert installed in their home and ask about their experiences. They can add valuable insight and inform you about the workmanship of the company they used. The cheapest contractor isn’t always the answer since you may pay extra for needed repairs down the road if the job isn’t done right.
Questions to Ask About Gas Fireplace Insert Installation
Asking a professional the right questions about gas fireplace insert costs can minimize miscommunication, save money, and get the desired results. Here are some questions to ask a gas fireplace insert installation professional.
- Are you licensed and insured? (Some locations may require contractors to be licensed and insured, while others may not. Check with your municipality.)
- Do you have references?
- Are you NFI (National Fireplace Institute) certified?
- How much experience do you have installing this type of gas fireplace insert?
- Do you offer free estimates?
- Who will install the gas fireplace insert?
- How long will the installation take?
- Do I need to have additional gas line work or extensions done?
- Is additional electrical wiring needed?
- Is the vent powerful enough to release exhaust?
- What kind of warranty do you offer?
Deciding on a gas fireplace insert while staying within your budget can be a daunting process. Here are some frequently asked questions about gas fireplace insert cost to help guide you in your decisions.
Q. How much propane does a propane gas fireplace insert use?
A propane gas fireplace insert uses approximately 1 gallon of propane per 100,000 BTUs (British thermal unit). Modern propane fireplace inserts have efficiencies of roughly 80 percent.
Q. When should I replace my fireplace insert?
A gas fireplace insert should be replaced if you’ve purchased a new home and the fireplace insert is old, not working properly, or doesn’t match your personal style. It should also be replaced if you’re remodeling your home and changing the function of the rooms, the insert isn’t functional, it’s not working as efficiently as it should, it needs constant repair, you want to replace the surrounding facing material, or you want the most updated gas fireplace insert in your home.