The fact that gas-powered units burn much cleaner and produce less carbon monoxide and fewer particulate emissions give gas fireplaces an appeal that continues to grow year after year. Though they may seem effortless in nature, gas fireplaces still require some maintenance and care to maintain an efficient burn and even more importantly, remain safe for operation.
While wood-burning fireplaces produce more dirt and grime to clean, yearly safety inspections and maintenance aren’t mandatory as they are for gas-powered units. Despite the extra maintenance, gas fireplaces are very convenient when it comes to producing the extra heat when needed and the extra ambiance that only a fireplace can give.
While the following tips may appear simple enough, it should be noted that fireplace repair should be left to professionals. The improper installation of a part of a small detail of repair that is overlooked could lead to serious injuries, such as carbon monoxide leaks and worse. Gas fireplace technicians are required to be TSSA certified to ensure the safe repair and maintenance of your unit.
That doesn’t mean you can’t do some of the more simple and safe maintenance on your fireplace. Follow the tips on fireplace maintenance listed below to keep yours burning clean and bright all year round.
Check For A Damaged Exterior
First and foremost, you'll want to turn off the gas to your fireplace. Once that is done, and while you're waiting for the inside to completely cool, look over the outside of your fireplace. Check for any cracks or gaps in the exterior that may need the expertise of a professional, as you don't want there to be any potential for leaked gas and smoke.
If you happen to find any cracks or damage it’s best to leave the gas turned off until a certified technician is able to repair it.
Look For Cracked Glass
Even the tiniest cracks can allow smoke and gas to sneak into your home, which has the potential to create or exacerbate health problems. Check along the connecting surfaces of the glass panes and the doors to ensure there aren't any gaps. Once you've established a crack-free exterior and glass, don some gloves and move into the interior.
Clean The Glass
Gas fireplaces still emit smoke and subsequent soot, which may build on the glass doors over time. This will give your fireplace a cloudy, unclean appearance and one which you'll most likely want to reverse.
Carefully remove each glass door and set them on a protected surface. Avoid using a window cleaning spray. Stubborn soot can be removed with stove cleaner, but these products were not made to clean fireplace glass.
For the best results use an actual fireplace glass cleaner. These products are cream-based and will help lift the stains without damaging or scratching the glass. Make sure everything is completely dry and evaporated before reinstalling the glass (about thirty minutes of dry time).
Clean And Inspect Gas Logs
The gas logs need a periodic inspection and cleaning. Look for signs of wear and damage, normally seen from discoloration. When cleaning the logs, make sure to only use soft brushes to gently remove soot and debris as cleaning sprays may damage their finish.
If you have vent-free logs leave still have to clean them periodically. Again, be cautious and careful during the process because if you scratch the surface you permanently damage them, rendering them useless.
Clean Gas Valves
Use a soft brush or toothbrush to remove any built-up residue coating the gas valves beneath the logs. If you're comfortable, you can also check the flame at this time to ensure it is lighting and coming out properly.
Check for gas leaks by combining water and dish soap and coating the valves with this mixture. If it bubbles, you likely have a leak. If this is true you should be able to confirm the leak by smelling the gas coming from the damaged area.
Vacuum The Interior
Get rid of dust and debris by vacuuming out the inside of your fireplace. If you own a fireplace with decorative rocks, cover the end of your vacuum hose with a stocking or cheesecloth to prevent any stones from being sucked up. Cleaning the dust and debris from the inside helps both the appearance of your fireplace and its burning capabilities.
Check For Vent Blockage
A blocked-up fireplace will have unpleasant effects on your health and the quality of your burn. Take some time to thoroughly inspect the vents of your fireplace and remove or brush away any debris that may be stuck in the grating. You'll want to take an especially close look at the vents leading to the chimney to ensure all smoke is being properly funnelled out of your home and not building anywhere inside.
Keep A Clean Chimney
Though chimney function isn't quite as vital with a clean-burning gas fireplace as it is with wood burners, you still want to make sure smoke and residue are going where they're supposed to go. In addition to smoke, hot air can build in a dirty/unventilated chimney and create condensation. This extra moisture can leak into your home, staining walls and ceilings with unpleasant sooty moisture.
Check Remote Batteries And Carbon Monoxide Detectors
You don't want to find yourself in a fireplace emergency without a quick way to shut it off. Make sure your remote's batteries are fresh and ready to go. While you're at it, check that your carbon monoxide detector is charged and working. Swap out batteries on these devices once a year, like you would with a smoke alarm.
Whether you opt for a professional to maintain your gas fireplace or not, there are many issues that can arise without proper repair. Hopefully, the following tips have been helpful and you can effectively lower the chance you’ll ever need a professional to come in and repair your fireplace. Regardless, by putting these maintenance tips into effect, you can extend the life of your unit and keep it burning safely and efficiently.