Many homeowners are choosing gas fireplaces because of the safety, convenience, and low-cost of using gas. They are efficient, are great for zone heating, and are low-maintenance. However, low maintenance doesn’t mean NO maintenance and many consumers experience problems with their gas fireplaces because routine services are neglected. It may be a minor problem that is causing an issue with your gas fire or it may be a major one. Here are our tips to operate and troubleshoot your gas fireplace properly so that you can rest assured it is safe while in use.
The Benefits of Gas Fires
Whether you live in a condo or a 5 bedroom historic colonial, a gas fireplace can add value and style to your home. Many homeowners choose gas as a source of zone heating, to save money on the central heating bill, and to even bypass an old masonry fireplace and chimney. Gas fireplaces may take the form of log sets, inserts, stoves, and factory-made fireplaces. Whether they are a closed unit, vented, or vent-free, they all work the same way. Gas is piped into your home by a local gas company, and this gas fuels the burners that are hidden in your gas logs. The gases produced by your gas fireplace rise up a chimney or move into your home (if your gas fireplace is designed to be vent-free). Gas is the cleanest-burning fuel and offers many benefits besides being great for the environment.
- Gas is eco-friendly. It produces fewer greenhouse emissions and particulate pollution. This means less harm to the environment.
- Gas burns cleaner, leaving less soot in the flue than wood fires and producing none of the creosote that organic materials create. This means less maintenance.
- Gas fits anywhere. You can choose a gas fireplace unit to fit in any space, big or small. The hospitality industry is even moving toward gas for in-room heat and lower utility costs.
- Gas is convenient with automatic ignition and even remote control in many models. Your fire can be crackling with just the press of a button or turn of a knob. Experience precise temperature control and immediate shut-off as well.
- Gas is as realistic as ever. Even vent-free units that were once boring blue flames have come to life in recent years with realistic, dancing flames and detailed and moveable ceramic logs.
Drawbacks to Gas
The same things that are often a drawback to gas fires are also the problems that many homeowners experience, not realizing that there may be an easy fix.
Too much moisture in the home
Your wallpaper may be curling, paint buckling, and wood warping. These are all signs of too much moisture in the house. Condensation is a common problem when gas is burned in the hearth because water vapor is a byproduct of a gas fire. The condensation may rise up the chimney, or it may move into the house if you have a vent-free log set.
Quick fix: vent your vent-free fireplace either by a damper or cracking a window. You can also avoid water damage by using a dehumidifier while the fire burns.
Due to the high efficiency of a gas fire, nearly all the heat produced is used for heating the home, leaving very little to rise up the flue, creating a draft. When a draft is not moving through the flue, there is not enough oxygen to sustain the fire, dropping efficiency and creating a carbon monoxide risk.
Quick fix: have the system maintained regularly by a professional for optimum efficiency. Crack a window in another part of the house to allow the fire to draw oxygen from the home and help create a draft.
When to Call a Professional
You cannot always troubleshoot or fix your gas fireplace problems. It is important to contact a fire expert as soon as you notice a problem with your fireplace that isn’t easily resolved. If your carbon monoxide detector is going off despite venting your fire, it’s time to call a professional. You must not risk carbon monoxide exposure. You may not notice symptoms right away, but carbon monoxide poisoning can often be slow or go unnoticed because symptoms are similar to the common cold and seasonal flu.
Your ventilation problem may be due to improper installation. The flue may be the wrong size, the conversion from wood to gas may have been done without a conversion kit and by a professional. There are a million reasons why your gas fire is burning inefficiently or unsafely. Your chimney and fireplace professional knows exactly what to look for and will focus diagnostics on the likely culprit.
It is important to schedule routine services for your gas fireplace even when there is not a problem. Gas services and chimney sweeps and inspections make the safest and most efficient fire systems. These routine services also maintain your manufacturer’s warranty and may be required by your homeowner’s insurance.
Call 203-283-4459 and ask about scheduling a gas service with our sister company Total Chimney Care.
Are you looking to invest in a gas fireplace? We can help. The Cozy Flame carries the best models from the industry’s top brands, including Regency and Hargrove.