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Community and Q&A

Direct vent gas fireplace & water heater – efficiency & safety

user-5946022 | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

The water heater articles and comments indicate a direct vent (non powered) water heater is a closed combustion system, so there is no safety penalty installing these in a very tight house. Is there any concern for air leakage or insulation penalty around the vent?

Does the same apply to a direct vent fireplace? If so, are there preferred direct vent fireplace models that are more airtight than others?

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Any time you create a penetration in your home's air barrier, you increase the likelihood of introducing an air leak. These leaks can be minimized, though, by careful air sealing details at the perimeter of the penetration.

    It's possible to install a direct-vent gas fireplace in a relatively airtight manner. It's also possible to make a mess of the installation. (Many metal fireplace installations are a disaster -- since installers often have no idea where the air barrier is or how to maintain air barrier integrity.)

    In short, what matters is the quality of the installation, not the brand of direct-vent fireplace.

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