How to Operate a Gas Fireplace

Gas fireplaces, whether designed for beauty or heating, are factory built boxes enclosed by glass doors so you can see the fire. Your gas fireplace should be checked as frequently as a woodburning fireplace because even though gas generally burns clean, your chimney can still be obstructed by birds’ or other animals’ nests and become a fire hazard. The ease of owning a gas fireplace has appealed to many homeowners who want to quit splitting the wood and hauling it inside the home. Many gas fireplaces operate even when the electricity goes out, which can be a great relief in the presence of a winter storm.You also do not have to worry about cleaning up ashes from the burned wood.

Both yellow and blue flame gas fireplace logs are available. Blue flame gas logs are approved to be used without a ventilation system, whereas yellow flame gas logs must have a venting system. Blue flame logs are the cleanest and most efficient flames to have in your home. Yellow flame logs can produce soot and carbon, both of which can build up on your gas logs and in the chimney. There may be orange streaks in the flame; an indication of dust or other particles in the firebox. This is generally acceptable. If you have logs that are blackened by soot or carbon, try using  a product called ACS Gas Log Cleaner. It removes carbon and soot buildup on gas logs without harming or discoloring them.

Be sure when choosing a gas fireplace, that it is going to serve your needs. Although there are countless styles and shapes available, some are designed for décor and others for actual heating of the home. Modern gas fireplaces may even come equipped with remote control starters, allowing you to adjust the flame height, heat output, etc. with the touch of a button. Some units burn propane and others natural gas. Whether you choose an ultra-modern unit or a more contemporary piece, and no matter where it is installed and what type of gas it burns, you should always work with a professional as much as possible.

The two main types of gas fireplaces are vented and vent-free. Gas logs that are “vented” are able to take the place of wood in a traditional chimney. These are vented such that any dangerous gases like carbon monoxide will exit the home. However, merely converting from a wood burning aparatus to gas logs will not solve the problems of a deteriorated chimney. Any deterioration, damage, or buildup in the chimney must be treated the same with gas logs as would be with wood.

Vent-free gas logs, despite their similarity to a real, woodburning fire, can be dangerous to the respiratory system. Since the products from this particular flame are not vented up and out of the home, the chance of carbon monoxide, a lethal gas, entering and building up inside the home are increased. Vent-free gas logs are also deemed not safe or up to code in two states due to the increase in likelihood that small children or elderly will develop respiratory problems.

Through technology and the modern world’s need for easy and comfort, new technologies in the realm of gas fireplaces are popping up left and right. Not only are there gas fireplaces but gas fired inserts have been designed to be installed inside a fireplace. Gas fireplaces can even be installed without an existing fireplace. Always remember to follow manufacturers installation methods and be sure that all work done measures up with your area’s codes. However, once a safe, up-to-code gas fireplace is working and functional, there is no limit to the joy and beauty it can add to your home.

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6 comments on “How to Operate a Gas Fireplace

  1. Pingback: Fireplaces Installation and Maintenance–solutions | Maintenance and Repair

  2. chimneyadmin on said:

    Rocky,

    You are going to need to hire a professional to come out and look at your individual situation. Every fireplace is a little bit different and the flue system will need to be swept and assessed by a professional to be cleared for a transition.

  3. askthechimneysweep on said:

    You’re going to need to make sure that the gas line is set up properly and that the gas logs or insert you install into the firebox are installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. I never recommend ventless gas logs and you must remember that installing gas logs is not the solution to a fireplace which is not up to code for burning wood. The gas appliance which is installed in the fireplace must be installed in an operable and up to code fireplace. Consult a professional when looking to make this conversion. You can save money by doing the work yourself, but having a professional run down the details of your particular fireplace with you is always a good idea.

    Burn safe and warm

  4. I have an existing gas fireplace that has a blower on it. During normal operation WITH the blower on, should the chimney vent damper be open or closed? Thanks for the help!

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