Gas Fireplace Installation
For a do-it-yourself thinking about installing a gas fireplace, the best bit of advice may be as follows: Seek professional help. We don't mean you need a psychiatrist (necessarily), we just mean that you need people who really know what they're doing. This may be the sort of thing you think you can handle on your own. But it's one of those projects that can turn out to be a great deal more complicated than you imagined.
And remember that the consequences of a mistake can be a little more serious than on other home projects. An improperly vented gas fireplace can leak toxic fumes into your home or set the house on fire. If you really want to do this yourself, you should bring in a professional after you're done to inspect your work and make sure everything has been installed properly and you haven't made any deadly errors.
Wherever you live, you will need to obtain a mechanical permit for the gas piping and for the installation of fireplace and flue. This will help ensure that the installation you are attempting is safe and effective.
There are three aspects to installing a gas fireplace: 1) The gas piping into the home, 2) the installation of the fireplace and flue system, and 3) electrical wiring for the switch, plug, and thermostat.
The size and location of the fireplace will determine the size of the gas piping you use. The manufacturer of the fireplace should provide you with the codes and specifications necessary to determine the size of piping you will need. You will need to install an emergency shutoff valve as well.
One good option for piping is to use copper. Copper is flexible and durable. You can bend it to where you want to go with a minimal chance of producing cracks or strains where gas can leak out. Steel pipe is also quite durable but not nearly as flexible. Unlike copper, it requires cutting and threading in order to make the fit tight.
The manufacturer will also give you codes and specifications to determine the type and size of hearth you need and the clearances you need to maintain between the fireplace and combustible materials.
You might plan to use an existing masonry chimney or wood stove flue pipes. But in most cases this can't be done. You'll need to determine the type and size of flue piping required for your particular fireplace. You may have to experiment and adjust to make sure you get the proper venting and the fumes and smoke are actually drawn out through the flue.
Depending on your fireplace, the switch, plug, and thermostat may be fairly easy to install. In any event, they're likely to be the easiest part of this operation. The fireplace should come with a set of detailed instructions showing you how to attach these devices to the fireplace and to the electrical system.