5 Tips on How to Care for a Gas Fireplace

5 Tips on How to Care for a Gas Fireplace

Many people expect to do regular maintenance on a wood burning fireplace but did you know gas fireplaces require some maintenance too?

Safety note: Always make sure your gas and pilot light are turned off and the fireplace is cooled to room temperature before any cleaning. Follow your manufacturer’s recommended maintenance and cleaning instructions. The tips below are meant as helpful suggestions and reminders to supplement but not supersede your owner’s manual. Always defer to your owner’s manual.

5 Tips on How to Care for a Gas Fireplace

  1. Clean glass as needed. Most gas fireplace doors are removable for easy cleaning. Using the owner’s manual as a guide, remove glass doors and place on old newsprint or a large plastic bag to protect your table or flooring beneath. Wipe gently but firmly with a soft cloth sprayed with household window cleaner. If there are any stubborn soot spots, you can use a small amount of fireplace cleanser or ceramic cook-top cleanser and rinse away residue with another clean, damp cloth. Dry glass thoroughly with paper towels or newsprint to prevent streaking and replace doors. Wait at least 30 minutes to use fireplace, allowing any window cleaner to evaporate completely before exposing to flame.
  2. Clean interior as needed. Using the wand attachment, gently vacuum dust and debris from the fireplace interior. If you have lava rocks which are small enough to be inhaled by the vacuum cleaner, cover the wand opening with cheesecloth or an old stocking and secure tightly with a rubber band. This creates a filter that allows dust and dirt to pass through, but not the lava rocks.
  3. Clean logs. Gas log sets require little cleaning or maintenance. If soot begins to build up and discolor your vented gas logs, follow your owner’s manual instructions to remove logs, bring outside and gently brush the soot from the logs with paintbrush or other soft-bristled brush. Do not wash or damp-wipe logs, as that can fade or damage the finish. NEVER spray with cleaners. Vent-free gas logs should not be moved or cleaned by anyone but a Qualified Service Technician, as even brushing vent-free logs can cause safety risks.
  4. Replace batteries. Twice a year, when you replace your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector batteries, replace the batteries in your fireplace remotes. If you ever need to shut down your fireplace quickly, you’ll be glad to know there are fresh batteries in those remotes.
  5. Inspections. Do have both your fireplace and your chimney inspected once a year. A vent-free fireplace will have no chimney, but the fireplace itself still needs to be checked by a Qualified Service Technician. These check-ups help catch any problems early, keeping your family safe and your repair bills at a minimum.

6 Tips for Maintaining Your Wood-Burning Fireplace

maintaining-wood-burning-fireplace

With a little care and maintenance your fireplace will provide many evenings of comfort, warmth and ambiance during the cooler weather.  Here are 6 Tips for Maintaining Your Wood-Burning Fireplace to help you keep it in tiptop shape.

  1. Once a year, have your chimney cleaned and inspected by a licensed or certified Chimney Sweep. They should do an outside inspection of the chimney bricks, mortar, and chimney cap. They should then inspect the inside of the firebox, flue, and interior of the chimney. They should also clean away the built up soot and creosote, which can be a fire hazard if not cleaned away regularly. This annual inspection should be done every year, even if you only use your fireplace a few times.
  2. When you clean your firebox, make sure the ashes are completely cold, otherwise you risk melting your garbage can or catching your garbage on fire. Use a fireplace broom and shovel for larger pieces of charcoal or unburnt wood, and a shop vac to remove the ash and dust. Use gloves and a dust mask for safety. Glass fire doors can be cleaned with a soft cloth and water to remove smudges and soot.
  3. Clean out the firebox whenever the ash and debris reaches 1 inch below the log grate, as a layer of ash along the bottom of the firebox doesn’t deter airflow for a fire, but ash that comes closer to the burning logs does impede airflow and burn rate.
  4. Keep flammable materials such as carpets, curtains, and furniture at least 3 feet from the fireplace during use. It’s a fire hazard to use the warmth of the fire to dry out or warm flammable items such as mittens, socks, shoes, and slippers, no matter how tempting the warmth is. Keep flammable items such as holiday décor and wood mantels and panels at least 12 inches away from the edges of the firebox.
  5. Try to burn seasoned hardwood, not “green” wood that hasn’t been seasoned for at least 6 months. Hardwood is preferable to softer woods like pine or poplar. Green wood and soft wood don’t burn as thoroughly or at as high a temperature, and therefore deposit more soot and creosote on the chimney lining as they burn. If soot and creosote build up to at least an eighth of an inch, the deposits can catch fire, causing the chimney tiles to crack and damaging the cap, guard, and even catch the roof on fire.
  6. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home, and change the batteries at the beginning and end of Daylight Savings Time or any other date that is easy for you to consistently remember.