The Ultimate Guide to Gas Fireplace Maintenance & Safety
If you’ve always had wood-burning fireplaces and have recently converted to gas, installed a gas fireplace, or moved into a home with a gas fireplace, you might have a false sense of security. It’s a given that gas fireplaces are safer than wood fireplaces – no matches, no smoke, and no sparks. But like any heat source, they’re not 100% safe. They also require far more maintenance than wood fireplaces to keep them working as they should so they can operate as safely as possible. By taking the right precautions and keeping your gas fireplace maintained, you can protect your home and family from any potential danger.
Follow these 6 steps for gas fireplace maintenance and safety:
- Hire a licensed contractor to convert your wood-burning fireplace to gas or install your new gas fireplace. Only a licensed, experienced professional should work with gas lines or propane. A minor oversight during installation could lead to gas leaks that put your family at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning and fire.
- Have regular maintenance performed on your gas fireplace. If you use your fireplace regularly, you should have it inspected and cleaned once per year. If you only use it occasionally, you can stretch it out to once every two years.
- Learn the specifics of your gas fireplace. It’s important to know about the unique requirements of your home’s gas fireplace. Is it vented or vent-free? If it is vented, you will need to open your chimney flue to let fumes escape, just like you would with a wood fireplace.
- Pay attention to clearance recommendations. Your fireplace’s manufacturer or your contractor will advise you of a minimum clearance requirement – an area around the fireplace in which you shouldn’t place anything flammable. It’s typically about three feet, so be sure not to place boxes, books, furniture, or other flammable materials in this area.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your home. Gas fireplaces present a very low risk for carbon monoxide, but you never know when something might malfunction. It’s a good idea to have carbon monoxide detectors in your home if you have any gas appliances.
- Go a step further by having your contractor install an oxygen-depletion sensor in your gas fireplace. Also called a “safety pilot,” this device will shut off the gas if it senses that the temperature has gone below a certain point or if too much carbon monoxide has built up. These are normally installed with vent-free gas fireplaces, but you can ask to have one included with your vented gas fireplace as well.
DIY Maintenance for Gas Fireplaces
Gas fireplaces require regular maintenance and cleaning to stay in good shape and ensure safe operation. If you’re the DIY type, you can perform your own gas fireplace maintenance. You should take these steps once per year:
- Perform a visual inspection of all components:
- Exterior – Look for gaps or cracks in your fireplace’s framework. If you find any, you should call a professional for further evaluation.
- Glass – Clean the glass with a non-ammonia cleaning product. Wipe down the door trim and inspect for loose glass panes or cracked glass. If your fireplace has glass doors, check the gasket seals to ensure they’re still airtight. If not, they may need to be replaced.
- Logs – Check to see if the logs have cracked or deteriorated. If so, it’s easy to swap them out for new ones.
- Chimney – Inspect the external chimney structure and the interior walls in front of and around the chimney. Moisture is a problem, so look for damp patches on the walls, ceiling stains, and white blotches on masonry. If you discover any of these signs, call in a professional.
- Check and clean the gas ignition. Test the gas ignition under the logs to make sure that it lights correctly. To clean the valves and ports under the logs, turn off the gas and gently rub them with a wad of steel wool or a sheet of fine-grit sandpaper. After cleaning, test the gas ignition again.
- Clean the interior. Break out your vacuum cleaner and vacuum out the interior to get rid of dust, insects, lint, and pet hair that may have collected.
- Test your carbon monoxide detectors. Your annual gas fireplace inspection is a good time to test your carbon monoxide detectors to ensure that they are still working.
If you’re not comfortable working around gas or if you see anything you’re not sure about, you should go ahead and schedule maintenance with a professional contractor.
Choose Chimney.com for Expert Gas Fireplace Maintenance
Gas fireplaces are safe and clean-burning, but they still need to be treated with care. By taking a few safety precautions and keeping your gas fireplace clean and maintained, your family will enjoy decades of beautiful, worry-free fires. You can perform your own gas fireplace maintenance, or you can bring in a professional company if you aren’t comfortable working with gas. If you’ve noticed any unusual behavior from your gas fireplace, don’t wait to call for help. For the very best in gas fireplace maintenance and repair, you should only hire a contractor licensed by WSSC.
At Chimney.com, we hold a Master Gasfitter license through WSSC, which allows us to safely and expertly service every aspect of your gas fireplace. When you call us for gas fireplace maintenance, our licensed technicians will thoroughly inspect, test, and clean every component of your fireplace. We’ll be able to identify any issues and correct small problems right then and there. Our team will ensure that your fireplace is clean, safe, and ready to provide another year of fireside comfort.
For gas fireplace maintenance in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, DC, contact Chimney.com today. We have served the MD, DC, and VA area since 1989!
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The technician was very punctual and courteous. He did a thorough inspection of the fireplace and gave us an inspection report with tips for ongoing maintenance of the fireplace. We felt we...Fairfax, VA Prathap H.