Safety Tips for Relighting Your Old Gas Fireplace
If it’s been awhile since you’ve used your gas fireplace – or if you’ve just moved into a home that has one – there are some things you need to know before getting that first fire going.
Chimney/vent inspection and cleaning
If the gas fireplace is vented, you’ll want to have the vent system inspected and cleaned. Whether it’s a standard chimney or a vent pipe, it’s important to remove any obstructions that may have found their way in (leaves, twigs, debris, animal nests, etc.) and ensure that the passage is clean of any gas by-products that can cause damage.
A thorough cleaning also will prevent problems such as condensation and incomplete combustion, which are caused by an inadequate draft.
Signs of a ventilation problem include:
· Damp areas on the inside or outside walls near the unit
· Blistering or bubbling paint
· Ceiling stains in the vicinity of the chimney
· White staining on the bricks of masonry chimneys
· Crumbling bricks
· Mortar joints damaged by erosion
Be aware of the type of logs in the fireplace
Yellow flame logs look very much like real wood logs, and like real wood, they produce varying levels of soot and carbon. Using these types of logs will require that you maintain an annual schedule for cleaning the chimney or vent system.
Blue flame logs create cleaner and hotter burns than the yellow flame variety, but they can still produce some by-products. Used in non-vented gas fireplaces, blue flame logs over time can cause some damage to the firebox, so before lighting the first fire, do a good inspection.
Carbon monoxide issues
No matter the fuel your gas fireplace uses – natural gas, propane or kerosene – there will be some carbon monoxide (CO) released into the air in the home. Because carbon monoxide is invisible and has no odor, the only way to track it is with a CO monitor.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, any home that runs a gas fireplace should have a CO detector placed at the recommended height on one of the home’s centrally located walls. Always test these monitors before lighting the first fire of the season and then again on a monthly basis.
Lighting the fire
When lighting the pilot light, make sure the emergency shut-off valve is in the “on” position. This valve is normally located near the fireplace on the floor or a wall.
The pilot system usually can be found on the fireplace wall. Move the pilot knob to the “pilot” position, then push on the knob, which will release the gas flow. Click the igniter button until the pilot is lit – you may have to do this several times. Keep pressing the pilot knob for about 15 seconds to make sure the light is stable. Then release the knob and switch it to the “on” position.
If you follow these guidelines, you’ll be able to enjoy your fireplace once again, knowing it’s operating safely and efficiently.
When you need advice on fireplaces and stoves or are in the market for a new model, Inglenook Energy Center of Conifer, Colo., serves the entire Denver region with the top brands at great prices. You can reach us at (303) 838-3612.