Our concern and focus are on gas fireplace maintenance.
Gas fireplaces have proven to be highly effective when it comes to heating homes. With greater combustion and heating efficiencies, gas fireplaces have understandably become popular with homeowners.
Do gas fireplaces need maintenance? Yes.
Sustained efficiencies are only possible when gas fireplaces are properly maintained.
Gas Fireplace Tune-Up
Gas fireplaces are among the most efficient when it comes to combustion. These are either wholly installed or an existing wood fireplace is converted to a gas fireplace.
One of the perks associated with gas fireplace use is its ease of usage in addition to being environmentally friendly. These, among several other benefits, are among the reasons why gas fireplaces are preferred among several homeowners.
For a gas fireplace to remain functional, it must be maintained. This is why we’re looking at gas fireplace maintenance.
You’re likely reading this article because you have a gas fireplace or want to install one. It’s important to know or understand the working especially in regards to how best it can be maintained.
Luckily, you’re at the right place as you’ll learn all you need to know about maintenance.
Speaking of maintenance, servicing is one word that readily comes to mind. Both servicing and maintenance can be used interchangeably as they represent the same action.
Here, routine maintenance and repairs of a gas fireplace are performed. So, how do you go about this task?
Who Performs Gas Fireplace Maintenance
Fireplace maintenance is a basic requirement to ensure the system remains functional and won’t break down.
While maintenance is a primary requirement, who performs the procedure becomes equally important. Gas fireplace maintenance isn’t a complicated process.
In other words, pretty much anyone can perform a maintenance procedure on a gas fireplace. Note that we aren’t talking about the repair. Maintenance is an ongoing procedure that needs to be performed periodically to keep the system functional. If you’re a handy person, you should find this enjoyable.
However, more complex (relatively) maintenance tasks like cleaning oxygen depletion sensors may require the help of a trained professional. You’ll need to know what you’re capable of or not to ensure that your gas fireplace is properly maintained.
Why Your Gas Fireplace Should Be Serviced
Most times, a lot of homeowners assume that because their gas fireplaces burn cleanly without smoke and chimneys covered in soot, it’s all fine. However, the truth is, your fireplace may look all fine, but there may be developing problems related to dirt buildup.
Having your gas fireplace regularly maintained serves to prevent future malfunction in any form. This is a much better way of keeping it functional.
Maintenance Depends on Type of Gas System
Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be!
There are several models of gas fireplaces that are quite different in terms of design. For instance, some models have a standing pilot-this is one in which the pilot light remains on all through.
Other models have pilot lights that only come on when needed or when the fireplace is being used.
Still, there are others such as vent-free gas fireplaces which have the oxygen depletion sensor which is crucial to its safe usage.
Your gas fireplace may have an electronic ignition system in place. These are less demanding in terms of service needs. In other words, you’ll need to service much less often. Nevertheless, some form of servicing will still be necessary.
Whatever gas fireplace type you have, a unique maintenance strategy needs to be adopted. For standing pilot models, the maintenance target would be the pilot assembly.
The servicing requirements for gas fireplaces having pilot systems that only light when in use are much less.
Keeping an Annual Maintenance Schedule
One of the first things you’ll need to clarify is the maintenance frequency necessary to keep a gas fireplace functional. Ideally, a gas fireplace service will depend on how often it’s used.
Yearly gas fireplace servicing will suffice for a frequently used fireplace. You can call for servicing every two years if you use your gas fireplace less frequently.
Gas fireplace servicing involves a variety of actions ranging from preparations, cleaning the gas, cleaning the firebox, inspecting the firebox, and reassembling the fireplace.
Other actions include checking the external vent, checking your carbon monoxide detector, and inspecting burner ignition.
Preparation For Gas Fireplace Servicing
Preparations need to be made before servicing a gas fireplace. These mostly involve the adoption of safety measures such as allowing the fireplace and glass to totally cool off.
Next, switch off the gas valve and take out the decorative front.
The decorative front is mostly in the form of a safety barrier. As the name implies, this safety barrier serves to protect you from contact with the hot glass.
Having taken off the decorative front, the glass assembly should follow. You may want to refer to the owner’s manual for instructions on how to go about this.
How To Maintain A Gas Fireplace
Several actions need to be performed to keep a gas fireplace functional.
These include inspecting the exterior, checking for cracks, and inspecting the logs. Others include checking the gas ignition, cleaning the interior, and inspecting carbon monoxide detectors.
Lastly, have your chimney inspected for any signs of trouble.
This section will show you the different maintenance strategies you can implement to keep your gas fireplace in top shape.
A Clean Energy Alternative
Gas fireplaces have come to be known for their clean combustion. In other words, the fuel (gas) used burns without creating soot or creosotes like wood fuels.
Such an energy-efficient and clean way of heating homes make them all the more popular.
Being a clean and reliable alternative for heating, gas fireplaces won’t require cleaning right? Not at all! Every time, dust particles and pet hair flying around your home. These may settle in your gas fireplace.
Also, running fans may blow certain combustible items into the fireplace.
When the winter season is over, gas fireplace use drops significantly. As such fireplaces get less use, there’s a steady accumulation of dirt. Using these fireplaces again will require a thorough cleanup.
One of the primary maintenance procedures performed on gas fireplaces is cleaning. Scheduled cleaning is necessary for getting the dust and hair particles out of the fireplace.
The cleaning process isn’t difficult at all.
To clean a gas fireplace, you’ll need to first turn off the fireplace and allow cooling to happen before proceeding. This won’t be necessary if it isn’t already being used. The next cleaning action involves getting the right tools for the job.
Here, we’re talking about cleaning tools, fireplace cleaners, and handheld sweep vacuums.
Other tools include a bristle brush. If you don’t have one, you might want to make use of a toothbrush as it will serve just fine. The gas fireplace cleaner you use must be alcohol-based.
Here is a homemade cleaner recipe.
Having obtained the needed tools, you’ll need to target the fireplace cover. Those with a glass cover should be opened. Some fireplace designs allow for the complete removal of the cover.
For hinged covers, you only need to have them opened to begin your cleaning.
A foaming fireplace cleanser will serve just fine for cleaning the fireplace cover. Both sides of it should be cleaned using this. The cleanser foam needs to be spread to all sides of the cover.
This is best done using a soft absorbent cloth. After allowing to sit for about a quarter of an hour, clean off the area using a different foam.
Remember we mentioned the likelihood of debris accumulating in and around your burners.
Gas fireplace burners will need to be cleaned using an appropriate tool. The handheld vacuum cleaner comes in handy for such a task.
All you have to do is run the vacuum cleaner over such areas to pick up dirt.
Now it’s possible that all debris on your gas burner won’t be picked up. For such, your bristle brush will help clear them out.
Cleaning the Glass
Both sides of the fireplace glass should be wiped down thoroughly. You’ll need to perform such action using a soft cloth and an appropriate fireplace glass cleaner. There are several such cleaners in the market.
To clean your gas fireplace glass, avoid using cleaning products containing ammonia. Asides from fireplace glass cleaners, vinegar will be a great alternative. Cracked glass doors will require replacement.
Also, you need to closely inspect the seal or gasket around the door to ensure they’re airtight.
With the glass cleaned, you’ll need to perform basic inspections by checking for scratches.
Whenever a gas fireplace glass is seen to be cracked, it’s necessary to have the same replaced to avoid breaking during the heat and cool times.
Another area you’ll need to check is the gasket on the glass assembly. Whenever combustion occurs, all sorts of by-products emerge including carbon monoxide.
To keep such gases confined to the fireplace and vent, you’ll need to ensure the gasket is in good shape.
Damaged or worn-out gaskets will have to be replaced to ensure it serves its basic function.
Cleaning the Firebox
The firebox component of a gas fireplace also needs to be serviced. This begins with cleaning. In this case, you’ll need to clean both the interior and exterior parts of the firebox.
Starting from the inside, get rid of all dust and dirt by vacuuming or using a soft paintbrush.
The external parts of the firebox are next. Use a vacuum cleaner and soft cloth for this job. The cavity areas and base of the firebox should be cleaned.
Your Gas Logs Need to Be Cleaned Too!
Gas logs are components of gas fireplaces.
The condition of your gas logs will have to be properly checked at all times for functionality. Functionality in this sense refers to their color and look. These logs are designed to resemble real logs.
These will require some cleaning too, as they sometimes accumulate soot. If the gas fireplace is being used in the present, you’ll have to put it off and allow the gas logs to cool before proceeding.
A paintbrush will serve just fine in helping you remove soot on your gas logs.
To prevent tooth stains on your carpets, you’ll need to take this gas fireplace component outdoors for cleaning.
You may need to have them swapped when necessary.
One of the key areas of gas fireplace maintenance is a safety inspection. This is a routine activity that seeks to monitor and ensure that a gas fireplace is working satisfactorily.
For this action to be successful, you’ll need to know where to look and what constitutes an anomaly.
For the most part, thorough gas fireplace safety inspections can’t be done without the input of an expert. In other words, you need the help of an experienced technician to perform a detailed inspection.
Basically, the areas to be inspected will include the main burner as well as gas pressure. Here, adjustments are made where necessary to ensure optimal performance.
Other areas covered during a safety inspection include checking for gas and carbon monoxide leaks.
Fireplace technicians will also take a look at vents to ensure they’re no obstructions. Battery-powered carbon monoxide detectors are checked to ensure the batteries are still very functional.
Gas fireplaces must be inspected frequently.
You’ll need to find out from your technician how often your fireplace should be inspected. More importantly, maintaining an inspection schedule ensures your fireplace remains in perfect working condition.
Inspecting the Firebox
Having cleaned the firebox, you’ll need to closely inspect the inside. This is necessary to help identify flaking, soot buildup, and rust. Also, inspection focuses on the pilot assembly to ensure it’s in good working condition.
Now that you’ve confirmed the presence of flaking or rust within your firebox, what action(s) should be taken?
It’s simple! You’ll need to lightly sand affected areas and paint them over. It’s best to repaint the whole firebox to help address the rust and flaking situation.
Reassembling the Fireplace
Gas fireplace component reassembling is the next action to take after inspections and cleaning. The fireplace glass should be replaced to its original position and the gas valve turned on.
The safety barrier or decorative front should also be put in the proper position.
With everything/fixed and put back in place, you’ll need to consider other components of the gas fireplace like the external vent.
Checking External Vent
Gas fireplace vents are mostly situated on the roof or side of walls. Irrespective of which scenario fits your design, some inspections will be necessary. Servicing a gas fireplace involves taking a look at all parts.
With gas fireplace vents, the problems are always the same; obstruction! Such obstruction to the free flow of combustion gases could be caused by a variety of situations.
These include debris such as animals (birds, raccoons, squirrels, etc) nests, grasses, leaves, and so on.
Such obstructions should be cleared out to allow for free air passage. Safety is paramount when it comes to gas fireplace servicing. To get access to external vents, you’ll need to use a ladder to climb up your roof or wall sides.
Utmost care should be taken to avoid sliding off.
If this seems like too much of a risk, consider calling or hiring a professional to carry out this servicing task for you. They’re more experienced and have all the tools necessary to perform an excellent job.
This takes away all the risks involved.
Checking Carbon Monoxide Detector
The carbon monoxide detector is an important safety component. This is attached to all fireplaces including those using gas fuels. Being a part of the system, a carbon monoxide detector is likely to fail at some point.
This important component isn’t installed directly over the gas fireplace.
Rather, it’s placed near the ceiling and a bit off the fireplace.
The gas fireplace is never complete without inspection of carbon monoxide detectors. The condition of such detectors is crucial as it safeguards your family. A service technician either services an existing carbon monoxide detector or recommends the installation of one or more.
This is a more technical procedure that’s best left to the pros. When a carbon monoxide detector hasn’t been checked or serviced for long, it tends to develop all sorts of issues.
With frequent inspections, malfunctioning carbon monoxide detectors are readily addressed to alert you to carbon monoxide exposure.
Inspecting Burner Ignition
The burner ignition brings a gas fireplace to life by igniting combustive action. Burner ignitions are designed to be started in a certain way. When anything out of the ordinary is noticed, you’ll need to call for help.
What’s the condition of your gas ignition? Remember we earlier mentioned the pilot system including electronic ignition systems. Depending on the type installed, have it checked by lighting it.
Put off your gas and clean all ports and valves within and beneath the logs. Some steel wool will prove useful for this cleaning procedure. Are there gas leaks?
If there is a leak, it should be easily perceived. To further confirm, you may want to brush some soapy water over the ports, lines, and valves for signs of bubbles.
You may need a service technician around to conduct such tests.
A technician checks or inspects the burner ignition and fixes any issues arising. Complete replacement may be necessary in cases where the burner ignition is damaged.
Actions Required Before An Inspection
When calling for an inspection, you’ll need to ensure you prepare for the process before the technician arrives.
Using your gas fireplace just before an inspection isn’t recommended. Your gas fireplace needs to be cool before the technician arrives.
As part of the preparation process for an inspection and possible repair, put off the gas supply and also turn off the pilot light. Most times as part of safety procedure, experienced fireplace technicians will still cross-check to ensure the gas supply and pilot lights are turned off.
Inspecting the Chimney
This is the final step of a gas fireplace maintenance process. Chimney inspection won’t be necessary for ventless gas fireplace systems. Also, it might be difficult for an untrained eye to spot problems with a gas fireplace.
In that regard, you should allow a trained technician to conduct or handle all gas fireplace-related maintenance.
Discussing With A Fireplace Technician
A good number of homeowners make the error of simply calling for inspections or maintenance without having a meaningful discussion on how best to keep their gas fireplace in good condition.
When a technician comes around, it’s important to engage them in discussions about the situation at hand.
Most experienced technicians will be pleased to discover your level of interest in their job. This makes them more willing to help as they provide you with tips on how to operate and maintain your gas fireplace.
Most times the knowledge gained helps prolong the lifespan of your gas fireplace. You only need to apply these tips when the need arises.
Servicing a gas fireplace follows all the steps outlined above. The procedure has been made to be comprehensive enough to allow for easy maintenance.
These are the basic actions taken during gas fireplace maintenance. Such is necessary to help prevent issues that may arise. As discussed, the inspection procedure involves yourself as well as the technician.
In other words, each party plays certain key roles in ensuring a successful inspection process.
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