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From what I've been able to determine what's pictured is a gas log lighter for wood burning fireplaces. The prior owner did some questionable stuff so I don't know if it was originally gas and he "converted" it to wood burning or if it was originally wood burning. As an example the log lighter is not installed correctly.

What things should I look for to confirm if it is wood burning or gas. Flue

log lighter

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    It's intended to be wood burning with just a gas lighter. You are missing the grate that the wood sits on. I've had a few homes with the exact same setup. Generally decorative fire places. Easy enough to convert to just a gas fire place as is the recommendation any more. – Micah Montoya Oct 9 at 19:17
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I originally wrote:

Gas, but I'm more convinced by the other arguments that it might be wood.

In profile, it is a rumford fireplace, but lacks some of the technology of those fireplaces to deal with smoke. It also does not have an air hole at the bottom, which a lot of wood-burning fireplaces use to avoid sending hot air up the chimney.

Besides that, it shows no sign of ever having had wood smoke in it, and the damper isn't the type you usually see on wood-burning fireplaces.

Most likely, the gas line you see was covered with various fake wood logs to create a more visually appealing setup.

Alternatively, there's a grate missing, and you can start the logs using the gas log igniter.

If anything, it might have originally been a coal burning fireplace, but most wood-burning fireplaces are deeper and not so clean.

It doesn't seem particularly efficient as a wood fireplace, but it might have gbeen designed solely for decorative use.

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    Or not. We built our house with a wood fireplace ; it has a gas lighter, no air inlet and fake logs. We burned wood in it a couple times and cleaning out the ash was a nuisance so we have not burned wood in 20 years. It looks like our damper from what I can see. – blacksmith37 Oct 9 at 18:31
  • I doubt it was for coal because house was built in 1970. You're probably correct about the efficiency and more for decorative use than heating the house. Probably not an air hole at the bottom because it's in the basement. Last night I was checking the gas lines and I noticed there were a number of different brand fittings. This leads me to believe that it was not originally built as a gas fireplace. – Platinum Goose Oct 10 at 13:46

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