Ventless gas heaters have been gaining popularity in recent years primarily because they are relatively cheaper to run and maintain.
However, when it comes to cleaning, special care needs to be taken to ensure that they last for an extended period.
Not only that, as the name suggests, since they don’t have a chimney vent and is in the space being heated, there is a high likelihood that the combustion products are discharged into the heating space rather than being pushed out of the chimney.
As a result, there is a high chance of the formation of carbon monoxide, which is toxic to inhale.
Therefore, if you have a ventless gas heater at home, regular maintenance of it becomes imperative. In any event, fret not.
Cleaning Procedure For A Ventless Gas Heater
Cleaning a ventless gas heater might not be as complicated as you think.
Step 1: Shut Down The Heater
Safety first: start off by shutting down the heater power supply and give it some time to cool down. At least thirty to forty minutes to be on the safe side.
If you haven’t used your heater for a while, it’s a good idea to inspect whether all the parts are rust free and that insects don’t abode the insides of the heater.
You can do this by unscrewing the cover from the top of the heater panel and survey for any rusted or broken parts.
If you find that these parts are critically damaged, contact a service guy or technician to help you get them replaced.
You may choose to do it on your own if you feel confident about it.
Step 2: Blow In Some Compressed Air
Now, open the heater access panel and identify all the holes. Blow in some compressed air (preferably via an aerated compressed can) through these holes to ensure that all the sediments are uprooted.
Step 3: Vacuum
Remove all the dust and dirt inside the chamber by vacuuming the insides of the panel.
Step 4: Spray Compressed Air
Follow up the process by spraying compressed air into the pilot assembly to ensure that the remaining deposits are scraped off the surface, and to remove any dust that might block the line.
Step 5: Give Some Final Touches
With a clean, damp cloth, wipe out the dirt from the external surface to ensure the heater’s overall hygiene.
And that’s about it. Cleaning a ventless gas heater is simple and can be done by your own without much trouble.
Make sure that you go through the ritual at least once a year, preferably when the winter season is close by, and you would like to keep the heater lit for the next few months.
It’s not only a good practice to keep the heater clean but also makes sure that you can spend a season without much trouble.
If you are not sure about having a enough experience with cleaning the ventless gas heater, you may choose to bring on an expert or technician on board. Survey a lot of technicians online and ask for a price quote for cleaning the gas heaters.
Keep in mind that the cheapest option might not always be the best option available. You would like to interview some of them about what their process might be and how would they want to take this forward.
Once you have sifted out the right people, find out people’s reviews. If you’d like to know who their customers are, ask the technician if he can provide you with a few references.
Most people are generous enough to give a candid review or feedback, and that usually helps.
Finally, if you are reluctant to go with the options as mentioned above because you feel that cleaning the gas heater itself is not worth it since the system is in a deplorable condition, it might not be a bad idea to replace your gas heater altogether.
While this is certainly not the best of the available options, it has its merits in case your heater has reached a state where it’s tough to repair or maintain it anymore.
Some of the Advantages of Ventless Gas Heaters
Most of the vent free gas heaters are easy to install since there is no vent pipe or chimney required.
Some of them don’t even need an electrical connection to light up a spark, or to be used for emergency heat, so you must go through the hassle of building up an electrical connection either.
Moreover, it’s a relatively cheaper option, as gas is usually inexpensive in the countries where ventless gas heaters are available.
Click here to know the steps to power on a gas wall heater.
Finally, it doesn’t require a lot of space to be fitted and provides a decent amount of heat and warmth in a single room, thus saving a lot of energy and costs.
The Efficiency Of Ventless Gas Heaters
While the pilot burns with approximately 99 percent efficiency, let’s admit that not all the gas gets converted into heat.
Experts suggest that somewhere around 9.6 percent of the energy comes from burning the hydrogen which turns into water vapor upon getting in touch with air.
However, water needs to be condensed to recover this heat.
But in a ventless heater, the water vapor eventually condenses on the walls and ceilings of the room, which leads to wood getting rotten up.
And the formation of mold and mold on the corners of wall surfaces. However, to avoid this, you can reduce the efficiency to 90.4 percent and thereby prevent walls and ceilings from becoming the condensation grounds for water vapor.
Ventless heaters also have an issue of releasing unwanted pollutants in the house.
This can be a menace as the contaminants can vary from being toxic to relatively non-toxic. Once the contaminants are extracted from the gas heater make sure that they are diluted in the air via an extensive exhaust system.
This may also depend on the tightness of the building and the health of the occupants. You may refer to an expert to advise you further on this front.
Pollutants which can enter your room when a ventless gas heater is used:
Many pollutants may enter your room depending on your usage. However, the primary components are as follows:
- Carbon dioxide: A relatively non-toxic, greenhouse gas which is formed during the combustion of the fuels
- Carbon monoxide: A toxic gas formed when the combustion is partially completed due to an insufficient amount of oxygen available in the chamber.
- Nitrogen dioxide: A poisonous gas formed as a result of gas’ combustion with the nitrogenous compounds.
- Water vapor: Gaseous form of water which developed as a by-product of hydrogen in the gas with its interaction with oxygen in the atmosphere. Though it is non-toxic, however higher concentrations of water vapor can lead to damaging the walls and ceilings of your home.
How To Combat With Toxic Gases?
Let’s start off by discussing how these gasses can be fatal and what can be done about them, as their concentrations inside your home can mold your decision regarding its purchase and maintenance.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, non-irritating toxic gas which can lead to permanent brain or organ damage. Higher exposure to CO can be extremely fatal, and in several cases, may lead to death.
It has been known to poison more people around the world than any other gas in the world.
One of the common causes of the formation of carbon monoxide is the incomplete combustion which is caused by the lack of oxygen in the air.
In the modern gas heaters, the situation may be quite worse because of the presence of Oxygen depletion sensors.
As a result, it does not react to incomplete combustion which is caused by improper gas pressure and hence a handsome concentration of carbon dioxide is formed.
This formation may be of concern to you, mainly if you are concerned with your health and that of your environment.
On the other hand, carbon dioxide may not be as poisonous, but prolonged exposure to the gas can cause dizziness, headache, nausea and can contribute to stuffy feeling.
Nearly all the gas-based heaters release carbon dioxide, however, with ventless gas heaters, the concentration is high.
Next, nitrogen dioxide is a toxic gas. While lower concentrations can lead to nausea, sore throat, and headache, however, high levels can even lead to death.
While some nitrogen dioxide is always formed in the combustion process, it is usually negligible to cause any harm.
However, higher concentrations can really impact on your health. Moreover, the concentration of nitrogen dioxide can really depend on the size of the flame or burner size.
Lastly, the impact of water vapor on your house is quite significant.
Though it is non-toxic, and the amount of water vapor formed during the entire cycle is pretty negligible to cast an impact, however, prolonged periods of running the heater can lead to producing almost 6 gallons over 24 hours.
If your house is situated in a relatively dry area, this might not impact as such, but if the humidity levels are high, the water vapor produced can worsen the moisture problems.
How To Avoid The Health Hazards From A Ventless Gas Heater
The arguments mentioned above are not meant to discourage you from buying a ventless gas heater, but to enlighten you and help you make a more informed decision.
The health hazards caused as a result of the ventless gas heater can be mitigated. Keep the following in mind when buying or dealing with a ventless gas heater.
- Try to find an alternative electrical heater if you can find it in the same price range.
- In case you can’t find one, make sure you note down the following guidelines:
- Always use an approved gas heater with an ODS pilot.
- Use the manual book or guide to refer to any issues while setting it up and maintaining it
- Dedicate your time to the cleaning and maintenance every year, preferably right before the winter season.
- Buy a heater that fits your needs. An oversized heater might just add to your problems and worsen the situation for you. The smaller the heater, the lesser would be the concentration of toxic gases produced, and consequently, lower would be the health hazard.
- Do not use for an extended period. It’s usually recommended to give your heater a break for at least 2-3 hours after using it for 4 hours.
- Under all circumstances, avoid using ventless gas heaters in confined spaces, such as bathrooms, or bedrooms.
- Make sure that there is enough accommodation made to ensure free flow of air to help disperse the poisonous concentrations of gas produced.
- If you have health problems such as asthma, then it is recommended to avoid using a ventless gas heater completely. Alternatively use an electrical gas heater, or at least, a vented one.
- Install an IAS listed carbon monoxide detector. Even a low concentration of carbon dioxide can cause health issues, hence use one with a sensitive sensor and a digital display embedded on it.
Ventless gas heaters are usually used as the supplemental heaters. Under harsh weather conditions, it’s recommended to use it to complement the centralized heating system, as using the ventless gas heaters at higher temperatures would lead to releasing higher amounts of toxic gases which is not permitted.
It is recommended that enough arrangements are made to dilute the poisonous gas released as a result of the operations.
While vented gas heaters produce some levels of carbon dioxide and other toxic gases, but with enough arrangements to combust the gas inside the burning chamber, the formation of carbon monoxide is mostly avoided.
And of course, it goes without saying that maintenance and cleanliness of the gas heater are of primary importance. Any negligence can be costly – both in terms of health issues, as well as monetary compensations.
We hope that this helps you make a better decision regarding the purchase, as well as the cleanliness and maintenance of a ventless gas heater at your home.