Gas Fireplaces Need Annual Inspections, Too
Since a gas fireplace burns very clean as compared to a wood-burning fireplace, some homeowners who heat with gas don’t realize the importance of an annual chimney cleaning and inspection. There are many conveniences of gas-burning fireplaces, including the fact that they have a low maintenance factor. Potential problems still exist, however. The bottom line is that it can be dangerous to neglect proper maintenance of a gas fireplace and chimney.
The entire gas fireplace should be cleaned annually and made ready for another year of use. There is sometimes a buildup of debris that needs to be removed, such as when ceramic logs deteriorate and clog the vents.
If moisture enters the chimney system, it’s possible that flue tiles can chip off and fall into the hearth. This is an indication of a serious moisture problem which could create the need for repair or replacement of the flue lining.
The inside and outside of the fireplace glass also needs to be cleaned of all residue. It’s important to follow manufacturer’s instructions and use recommended products.
A chimney should be inspected annually, even with a gas fireplace that doesn’t cause a buildup of creosote or soot in the flue lining. Not all potential chimney obstructions are caused by creosote. Debris may block the chimney or even an animal nest.
When a chimney falls into a state of disrepair, the entire system can be affected. Ultimately, the ventilation system could fail, which could expose the household to carbon monoxide, known as the “silent killer,” since it is deadly and can’t be smelled or seen.
It can be dangerous to assume that a gas fireplace is operating as it’s supposed to, year after year. Over time, thermopile and thermocouple could be worn and/or need cleaning. Connections and valves could develop leaks. Ceramic logs may not be properly placed any longer, and they may not be in good working condition.
Any leaks or malfunctions in a gas fireplace makes the home susceptible to sudden fires and even explosions. One situation which occurs is when the pilot light is on and the gas is turned on but the fireplace isn’t operating. One type of injury homeowners have sustained due to a gas fireplace malfunction is that that the glass is broken and thrusts into the room.
Open combustion systems inherently have the potential to cause house fires. The same level of awareness and respect given to wood-burning fireplaces should be applied to gas fireplaces, and this includes getting an annual cleaning and inspection by a qualified professional.
Warning: Hot Glass
Aside from the issue of inspections is the proper use of a gas fireplace and the awareness that the glass can cause serious burns. In fact, the glass can heat up to as much as 400 degrees Fahrenheit. It takes about 45 minutes for the glass doors to be cool enough to safely touch after the fire is out. Children should be warned about the danger of touching the glass. In homes with small children, a screen with childproof barriers should be installed.
Our certified professional chimney sweeps are qualified to safely install your gas fireplace system and to provide thorough annual cleanings and inspections.
Northeastern Chimney, Inc
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110