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VA Loan Rules on Ventless Fireplaces

Ventless fireplaces are becoming increasingly popular in modern homes as a cost-effective, energy-efficient and stylish alternative to traditional wood-burning or gas fireplaces. However, improper ventilation and inadequate safety systems in ventless gas fireplaces can lead to harmful gas emissions within the home, posing a threat to the health and well-being of the occupants.

Many VA borrowers may wonder if a ventless fireplace aligns with the minimum property requirements. By thoroughly examining the installation, safety features and local building code compliance, VA homebuyers can confidently determine the suitability of a ventless fireplace in their prospective home.

Ventless Fireplace Requirements

The VA permits permanently installed non-electric, non-vented fireplaces or space heaters as long as the borrower has a written statement that the home contains a non-vented appliance that has NOT been inspected. This is known as a “VA not inspected acknowledgment.”

A licensed heating/air conditioning contractor must certify in writing that the non-vented appliance is equipped with an approved Oxygen Depletion Sensor and meets the local building authority requirements. If there are no local requirements, the installation must meet only the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Keep in mind that if the ventless fireplace or heater poses any harm to the Veteran’s safety, it may need to be removed from the home.

State Restrictions on Ventless Fireplaces

While the VA does allow for ventless fireplaces in some situations, many states have placed restrictions or bans on this type of fireplace. For example, California does not allow any ventless gas logs or heaters inside the home.

Some other states have localized restrictions in various cities and municipalities. This means that even if the state gives approval to burn ventless gas logs, your local building department may not approve it.

How to Tell If a Gas Fireplace is Ventless

There are two types of gas fireplaces: vented and ventless.

A traditional vented gas fireplace uses propane and natural gas to run. Two vents run to the outside of the house. One is the intake vent that sucks fresh air into the fireplace for combustion. The other vent is the exhaust pipe, which safely removes combustion fumes.

Ventless gas fireplaces, however, use a regulator to create a fine mixture of air and gas for clean burning. These fireplaces rely on indoor air for combustion and release a low level of combustible gasses into the room it is located, eliminating the need for a chimney or flue. Ventless fireplaces typically burn less fuel than vented ones, and they also include blowers to help circulate the air efficiently.

Can Ventless Fireplaces Be Converted to Vented?

Unfortunately, you cannot convert a ventless fireplace into a vented one. Ventless fireplaces are not designed to have a vent added to them.

Your only alternative is to tear out the existing ventless fireplace and replace it with a vented one. So if your ventless fireplace is not up to the VA standards or you do not have a VA not inspected acknowledgment, you must purchase a new vented fireplace.