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Gas fireplace units are found in many homes, providing the home with a fireplace option that eliminates the smoke, soot and other debris associated with a traditional wood-burning fireplace. Less overall maintenance is required to keep the gas fireplace functioning as it should, but the proper cleaning routine used one to two times per year keeps the fireplace burning properly and the burners free of buildup and residue. Remember to avoid any flammable cleaning ingredients when caring for your fireplace.
Turn off the gas valve to the burners. Ensure the burners are completely cool before cleaning.
Run your vacuum cleaner’s hose attachment over the burners to collect loose buildup.
Scrub stuck-on residue off of the burners, using a soft cleaning brush. Continue until all sticky debris is lifted.
Run the vacuum hose attachment over the burners one more time to collect any leftover dirt that was lifted by the brush.
Mel Frank is a professional freelance writer with over 15 years of writing experience. She has completed a wide variety of writing assignments for a number of publications that include CNN and various websites. Frank received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from a prestigious university in Pennsylvania.
It’s well known that gas fireplaces are a convenient and efficient alternative to traditional wood burning fireplaces. However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t require any sort of maintenance.
Paying attention to things such as gas log maintenance and gas fireplace maintenance are crucial to ensuring your fireplace continues to work as it should. In today’s blog post, we’ll highlight some gas fireplace maintenance tips, including how to clean gas logs and clean the gas fireplace itself, to help make sure your fireplace continues to work as effectively as possible.
Gas Fireplace Maintenance
Gas fireplace maintenance can be divided into three categories: safety inspection, gas fireplace cleaning, and cleaning gas logs.
A gas fireplace safety inspection ensures that your fireplace is working properly and safely. A technician will check to make sure there are no gas leaks in the system, as well as inspect the burner and gas pressure.
Fireplace safety inspections can be completed by a certified HVAC technician. Do not attempt to complete a safety inspection on your own.
How to Clean a Gas Fireplace
- Turn off the heat and let cool.
- Grab the correct tools including a handheld vacuum, fireplace cleaner, and a toothbrush (or bristle brush).
- Clean the different parts and pieces of the fireplace.
This is an overview of the cleaning process, and each detail is explained more below.
Gas Fireplace Cleaning
It’s important to use an alcohol-based fireplace glass cleaner when cleaning a gas fireplace. (Image source: Depositphotos.com)
Keeping your gas fireplace clean doesn’t just help aesthetically. Cleaning your gas fireplace also helps to improve the safety of your fireplace by eliminating debris buildup, which can affect the performance of your fireplace.
Before you begin cleaning your fireplace, you’ll want to turn off the gas. Next, make sure you have a few key products mentioned above on hand.
Your fireplace most likely has a glass covering. After turning off the gas, open the glass cover. You may be able to move the whole thing entirely, or the glass cover may have a hinge style cover that doesn’t come off all the way.
Next, clean both sides of the glass cover with a cream foaming fireplace cleanser. Use a soft cloth to spread it around and let it sit for about 15 minutes while it works its magic, then remove it with a different clean cloth. *Note – do NOT use an ammonia based cleanser. Use an alcohol based product instead.
Cleaning a gas fireplace doesn’t just involve cleaning the glass cover. You’ll also want to remove any debris from the burners to keep your fireplace running smoothly. Do this by running a vacuum cleaner over them, then scrubbing off any remaining debris with a soft bristled toothbrush. Run the vacuum cleaner across the burners one final time to suck up any remaining debris.
Cleaning Gas Logs
Another component of cleaning your gas fireplace involves cleaning gas logs. To do this, again make sure the gas and pilot are shut off and allow time for the gas logs to cool. Open up the fireplace and remove the gas logs, making sure to avoid getting any soot on your carpet or floor. You may want to place them on an old bed sheet as an extra precaution. Take the logs outside and remove the soot from the logs with a paint brush or broom.
Proper Gas Fireplace Maintenance Helps Prolong Your Fireplace
With proper maintenance and cleaning, your gas fireplace and gas logs should last you several years. But as with most appliances, your gas fireplace or gas logs will eventually need to be replaced.
When that day does come, hop on over to TotalHomeSupply.com to browse our gas fireplaces and gas logs. We offer both direct vent and vent-free gas fireplaces, as well as a variety of realistic log sets to improve the aesthetic and warmth of your home.
Mickey is the resident heating and air conditioning expert with over 15 years of experience in the industry.
I have a gas fireplace. Should the flue be left open all the time for carbon monoxide to escape?
It depends on whether it is a vented or vent free fireplace.
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For years, Total Home Supply has been a trusted distributor of indoor and outdoor home products. We have helped countless customers shop for high-quality items — from air conditioners, to heating units, to water heaters, and more — and have set up this blog as an extension of our commitment to helping homeowners become informed of the things that matter to them.
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The installation of a natural gas fireplace delivers almost instant natural warmth and ambiance to a home. There are so many style options with natural gas from sleek, modern minimalist to realistic, rustic logs. Since there are no real logs and ashes to deal with, you may forget that even gas fireplaces need to be cleaned regularly. This is particularly important if the fireplace is used continuously during chilly months.
Proper cleaning and maintenance will ensure that the fireplace burns efficiently and help prevent poisonous carbon monoxide from entering your home. An annual inspection to check wiring and gaskets by a professional natural gas technician is highly recommended as well as routine cleaning you can do yourself.
How Often to Clean a Gas Fireplace
It is important to clean a gas fireplace monthly even when it is not being used heavily. This will prevent dust and dirt from harming mechanisms and allow you to inspect the system for damage.
What You Need
- Fireplace glass cleaner
- Warm water
- Cleaning rags
- Hand broom or new paintbrush
- Vacuum with hose attachment
- Cheesecloth or nylon net
Ensure Gas Is Turned Off
Before you do anything, turn off the gas! The gas valve, often located on the wall next to the fireplace, should be turned completely off. Check that the pilot light is completely out and wait a few minutes before beginning to work. This will allow all of the gas to leave the piping safely. If the fireplace has been used recently, be sure that all components are completely cool before cleaning.
Disassemble the Fireplace
This step will vary depending on the design of your fireplace. If you have glass doors, a metal screen, or a mesh curtain, remove them for easier cleaning. Carefully disassemble the logs and remove the burner unit. If possible, take the components outside for cleaning to prevent spreading dust and soot in your living area.
When it is time to reassemble the components of the gas fireplace, they must go back in the exactly same configuration as when you began. If you’re not sure if you’ll remember how to do it, snap several pictures with your phone of each step.
Brush and Inspect
Use a hand broom or soft paintbrush to carefully brush away dust and dirt on each log or decorative component. Never spray cleaners or water onto gas fireplace components. While you are cleaning, inspect each log or piece for any cracks, holes, or excessive burn marks.
Brush away debris from the burner unit and inspect each vent hole for any build-up that could clog the flow of gas.
Vacuum Away Dust and Cobwebs
Whether you have lava rocks or glass stones, they will have plenty of dust. Use a vacuum with a hose attachment to clean every side of each rock. If the rocks are small and would be sucked away, attach a piece of cheesecloth or nylon net to the end of the hose nozzle with a rubber band. The dust can get through but the rocks can’t.
Once the rocks are clean, vacuum all of the corners of the fireplace box to capture dust, cobwebs, and any insects that may be trapped. Use an old cloth to wipe down the pilot light and gas line components.
Polish Glass or Metal
Many gas fireplaces have glass doors that can become cloudy with particulates from the combustion process. Regular cleaning will help prevent the glass from becoming permanently etched. Never use a regular window glass cleaner nor a harsh lye-based oven cleaner. You can find a fireplace glass cleaner at your local hardware store. Spray it on and allow it to work for several minutes before using a soft cloth to remove the debris and film.
If you have a metal screen or mesh curtain, use the vacuum upholstery brush to clean both sides to remove dust.
For both glass and metal enclosures, wipe the edges with a damp cloth to remove any dust. Inspect the rubber gaskets on glass doors for any deterioration or cracking. If you see any damage, the gasket should be replaced.
Wipe Down the Mantle and Hearth
Now is a great time to clean any soot or dust from the mantle and hearth. Depending on the type of surfaces, dust with a soft cloth and carefully follow soot removal guidelines.
Reassemble the Gas Fireplace
Now that everything is clean, reassemble the burner, logs, stones and replace the outer glass or screens. It is now safe to turn the gas valve back on.
Check Exterior Vents
If your gas fireplace is vented to the outside, check the outside vent monthly for blockages from leaves or animal nests.
Gas Log FAQs
Is the soot build-up on my vented logs normal?
Yes. Most vented log sets do soot. Since the flames touch the logs, soot will build up on them during the combustion process.
How do I clean the soot off the logs or must I leave it on them?
Soot on the logs just adds realism. But, if you want to remove it, you can. A small soft bristle paint brush works well or vacuum with a soft brush attachment.
Must I have the damper fully opened?
Log sets differ from one model number to another. Check in your installation instructions for the venting requirements.
Since I do not have adequate draft to burn firewood, can I use gas logs instead?
No. You can use vent free gas logs but not vented logs. Vented logs require a working flue, the same as burning firewood.
The pilot will not stay lit or goes out when the burner is turned on.
If the pilot flame is still large enough to heat the tip of the thermocouple, then the thermocouple is burned out and needs to be replaced.
Do I ever need to replace the glowing embers in my log set?
They should never need replacing unless they get wet. Should the embers or sand (if there is sand underneath them) get wet, then they need replacing.
Can I use a blower with my vented logs?
No. Very few vented logs are certified for use with a blower. American Gas Log vented logs are not. However, if your fireplace has a built-in fan system, this can be used.
Can my vented gas logs be converted to vent-free?
No. Vented and vent-free logs are different in many ways and require different certifications. Vented logs must always be vented.
Can I add a remote to my gas logs?
Certain models will permit you to install a remote receiver. Please contact American Gas Log or your dealer for information for your specific model.
What is the difference between vented and vent-free (un-vented) gas log sets?
Vent-free logs are rated as a heating appliance and do not require venting to the outside. Vented logs are rated as decorative and require venting to the outside. American Gas Log vented and vent-free logs are all certified by a qualified testing agency.
What are the advantages of vent-free log sets?
They normally use less gas than vented logs and produce more heat since no venting is required. They can be used in homes that do not have a masonry fireplace.
Can I install vent-free gas logs in my masonry fireplace?
Yes. They can be vented or the damper can be closed and be burned as vent-free for an excellent source of heat.
Can I move or change the log position in my vent-free gas log system?
No. Each log has a specific position and is certified by a testing agency in this position. Refer to the installation instructions for the correct set up of your vent-free log set.
Should I turn off the pilot when not burning the gas logs?
This is not necessary. Pilot flames burn very little gas and serve as a convenience for easy relighting of the gas logs. If using a remote control or thermostat model, it would be necessary to leave the pilot on for the log set to function as it is designed.
Do vent-free gas logs require any type of maintenance?
Yes. Gas logs should be serviced at least annually by a qualified service person.
Can I add the glowing embers to my vent-free gas logs?
If the log set did not come with them, refer to your instruction manual or the call the manufacturer
to be certain. Vent-free logs must be designed and certified to use glowing embers.
Must you use a hood on your fireplace when burning vent-free gas logs?
Hoods are designed to deflect heat from wood such as a mantel. Check the installation instructions for your log sets to see if the mantel height requires you to install a hood.
and require different certifications. Vented logs must always be vented.
Can I add a remote to my gas logs?
Certain models will permit you to install a remote receiver. Please contact American Gas Log or your dealer for information for your specific model.
© 2021 American Gas Log • 2980 Pacific Drive, Suite B • Norcross, GA 30071 • 770-987-3827
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Gas fireplaces and gas fireplace inserts let you enjoy the look and feel of a wood-burning fireplace without the work and mess. Gas-fueled fireplaces and fire-log sets are carefully “tuned” to produce yellow flames with minimal soot formation. If you do experience a buildup of soot in your gas fireplace, there’s a problem that requires attention — but if you catch the soot problem early, you can stop the buildup before it becomes a major issue.
Check for Soot
You may not notice the beginning of a soot buildup problem with the unaided eye. To check for soot, turn off the fire and allow the logs to cool. Take a clean, white cloth and rub it on the ceramic gas logs in the fireplace and on fireplace doors, if you have them. If you see thick black marks on the cloth, you have a soot issue. Another sign of soot is a buildup of small clumps of a black, powdery, ash-like substance on the ceramic logs and glass fireplace doors.
Causes of Buildup
The most common causes of soot buildup in a gas fireplace are ceramic fire-logs that have been moved out of proper position and burner ports that are clogged. If the fire-logs shift out of position, they can interfere with the flame path that ensures clean burning of the gas, leading to soot formation on the logs and doors. The other main cause of soot is clogged ports on the gas burner, which causes an incomplete or unbalanced burn and formation of soot on the logs and doors. In either case, clean off the firelogs and doors, and make sure the logs are in the exact position specified by the gas burner’s manufacturer. If the burner has clogged ports, clean them according to the manufacturer’s directions or have the fireplace dealer clean them.
The correct fuel-air mixture in your fireplace produces pretty yellow flames with minimal soot buildup. Open-front gas fireplaces often have an air shutter on the gas line feeding the burner, for adjusting the fuel-air mixture. On fireplace models with glass doors, adjustable vent shutters beneath the doors regulate the amount of combustion air. The air shutter or air vents must be clean and unobstructed, and kept in proper position. If the flame becomes starved for air, it will produce excessive soot.
Gas fireplace burner sets eventually wear out or rust out, causing them to emit gas in a different manner and volume than they did when new. This different flame pattern may cause “dirty” burning and soot buildup. The fire-logs themselves could have cracked or broken, impinging on the flame path and interfering with proper combustion. Another possible problem is blockage of your fireplace’s exhaust vent or chimney. If you can’t find any problem with your gas fireplace but still experience excessive soot buildup, have your gas supplier check to see if the gas regulator feeding your home or fireplace is adjusted and functioning properly.
Herb Kirchhoff has more than three decades of hands-on experience as an avid garden hobbyist and home handyman. Since retiring from the news business in 2008, Kirchhoff takes care of a 12-acre rural Michigan lakefront property and applies his experience to his vegetable and flower gardens and home repair and renovation projects.
Basically there are two main questions to keep your fireplaces in good working condition. What and how are the common questions for keeping it working at its best. The logs, burners, control sections, doors and vents are the common areas of the gas fireplaces that should be checked at least once a year or when needed. Cleaning these parts must be done cautiously. First and foremost, be certain to turn the gas valve off whenever you clean a gas fireplace and make sure to follow all the instructions from its manual.
Burners and Control Section – you can use either a vacuum or a brush to sweep some soot build ups. The control buttons and burners of gas fireplaces can be clogged with dusts some time. Dusting it can prevent the buttons and burners to malfunction.
Logs – gas logs are very delicate and to avoid fractures you must use a soft brush to clean some dusts, spider web build ups or any other by-products. The authentic glow of logs can diminish after a year or so. You can either replace them or let the technician check and advice for when is the best time to replace your logs. Generally logs are made to last for a long period of time unless it was bricked or totally broken. Always use appropriate logs for your gas fireplace and check if it fits perfectly before use.
Doors and glasses – let the gas fireplace cool before you clean these areas. Do not use any abrasive materials to wipe them. It comes very visible especially on glass and doing so may leave an unpleasant scratches. Modern types are slick and sometimes plated with gold or brass louvers. Do not use harsh chemicals; instead use a slightly wet cloth to wipe them or the standard cleaning agents that are made solely to clean delicate gas fireplace exteriors.
Pipes or Vents – mostly vents maybe clogged with different things after some times when it was not operated. Clogs may sometimes be in the form of bird’s nest, leaves brought by the wind, dead embers or even rusts. It is very important to check the venting system the same with the flue and chimney. Operating your unit with clogs on vent can pose real danger or fire build up. In addition to that, check the joints and latches if they are sealed.
If you are not familiar with all the necessary maintenance do’s and don’ts, leave the inspection to the expert. There are technicians who can do all the safety measures that need to be checked. It also includes checking of the igniter, pilot flame, the heat emission, the right positioning of the logs and the electrical wiring.
Since gas fireplaces don’t have to contend with the mess of wood, ash, and general messiness of wood-burning fireplaces, they are much easier to maintain and keep clean.
However, things like dirt and dust buildup can clog up ports of your gas fireplace. The wire connections of your unit can also become loose or dirty through the normal wear and tear of operation. Lack of proper cleaning and maintenance can lead to inefficient burning. As well, gaskets can wear out and possibly allow poisonous carbon monoxide into your home.
An annual inspection, cleaning, and adjustment of your gas fireplace is recommended to correct and prevent these problems. There are many gas fireplace experts that specialize in just such maintenance work.
However, there are several things that you can do yourself.
- Once a month, whether you have used your fireplace or not, clean your unit’s glass on both sides with a glass cleaner. This will help prevent the glass from becoming cloudy. If left uncleaned for a long period of time, this cloudy effect may become permanent quality of the glass, preventing you from enjoying the full effect of your fire.
- While the glass door is opened, visually check and see if there is any dust, dirt, or spider-web buildup inside your fireplace. If so, gently clean the buildup away.
- Then, make sure the glass door is fit securely. You can do this by checking all of the bolts that hold the door in place and making sure that they are fastened tightly. Replace or tighten any loose materials immediately. This will help prevent carbon monoxide from coming into your home while your fireplace is in operation.
- During this monthly cleaning, check if the gasket is cracked or is missing pieces. The gasket should be located either on the glass door or outside around the firebox. Check your owner’s manual for the exact location. If the gasket is damaged in any way, get it replaced immediately.
- Finally, if your gas fireplace is vented, check your unit’s outside vent. Scan and see if there is any debris like leaves or nests in or around the vent. If you do find something, carefully remove the debris to be sure that your fireplace runs smoothly. If the vent is damaged, be sure to replace or repair it.
Whether its mounted in the wall or in a mantle, there’s nothing as relaxing as sitting with your loved one in front of your fireplace on a cold night at home talking about everything and anything. Unfortunately, it can be a real bummer when your gas fireplace won’t stay lit due to wear and tear of parts or improper maintenance.
When this happens, there’s no need to panic, as the possible cause of the problem might be something easily fixed without needing the help of a technician. Try the following DIY fix at home for a fireplace that won’t stay lit.
Before You Begin: Is Your Pilot Light Lit Inside Fireplace?
The first thing you should do when faced with fireplaces that won’t stay lit is to make sure your pilot light is lit. You might be amazed to find out that the most straightforward fix for this is to light your pilot. The pilot is typically located inside fireplaces on one side close to the wall. if you have gas logs it should be located in the same area as the logs
Pilot Light Color
Apart from your pilot being lit, the flame must stay a steady blue. Your pilot should be about 90 percent blue, with very little yellow. It should also be touching the surrounding sensors such as the thermocouple and thermopile. If the color of the flame turns yellow or red, it’s a sign of gas contamination.
The Fix: Pilot Light to Gas Fireplace Won’t Stay Lit
So you’ve checked your pilot light and even reset it, but still, it wont stay lit. This can be an indication that your fireplace thermocouple is either bad or worn out. However, if your pilot is lit but the gas fireplace isn’t, then there’s probably a problem with your thermopile.
- Digital multimeter
- Fine-grit sandpaper
- Stainless Steel Brush
What is the Difference Between a Thermocouple and a Thermopile?
The thermocouple more or less acts like a sensor for gas flow and supplies gas to the pilot light through the gas valve. The thermopile, on the other hand, opens up the gas valve when the fireplaces are turned on.
The Thermocouple and the Thermopile carry out a similar function of converting heat to electricity, but the thermopile generates more electrical current compared to the thermocouple.
Step 1. Check Your Thermopile Output with the TH/TP Contacts
Your thermopile output can be tested with a multimeter using the TH/TP Contacts to check the amount of electricity it’s producing. Before running the test, ensure that your pilot light has been on for two minutes or more, then switch off your fireplace.
Find your main gas control valve, and locate the thermopile sensor then find the Electric Contacts labeled TH/TP and TP respectively on the valve. You can use your manufacturer’s guide to locate these.
Take the multimeter leads, placing one on the TH/TP terminal and the other on the TP terminal.
The multimeter should read 300 millivolts or more. If it reads less than 300 millivolts, it may be cause that your gas fireplace wont function, therefore, you should replace it.
Diagnosing a Thermopile Problem
Just like the thermocouple, the thermopile can be read with a multimeter to check if it’s the cause of the problem. Three hundred millivolts or higher voltage is a sign of a good thermopile. A reading below 300 millivolts would require you to replace the thermopile.
Diagnosing a Thermocouple Problem
It’s always a good idea to test your thermocouple with a multimeter to rule out the possibility of it being the reason behind your gas fireplaces not staying lit. If your thermocouple is still in good condition, you should be able to read 25 millivolts of voltage or higher, but if it reads less than 25 millivolts, your thermocouple needs to be replaced.
Step 2. Don’t Replace Your Thermopile or Thermocouple Right Away
Due to the function of your thermocouple and thermopile, it’s only logical that they will build up carbon deposits from burning all the time. This build-up can very well limit their effectiveness. Although it’s cheap to replace both probes, it’s far cheaper to clean them first.
Step 3. Cleaning the Thermopile
To quickly clean your thermopile, turn off the gas supply. With the help of a stainless steel brush and fine-grit sandpaper, you can scrub off as much piled up soot as possible.
Step 4. Re-test the Cleaned Thermopile
When you’re satisfied with the way the thermopile looks, go ahead and re-ignite the pilot light. After a few minutes, turn off the fireplace and take another reading with the multimeter.
Step 5. Replace if Cleaning Did Not Work
After cleaning, should the pilot light still not stay lit, it is probably time to get new equipment. Take out the faulty thermocouple and thermopile and replace them with new ones.
Other Reasons for Gas Fireplace that Won’t Stay Lit
Checking your thermopile for a fault is a simple DIY solution as to why your gas fireplace wont function, but if the above steps don’t work you may need to call a technician to fix your issue. Apart from a faulty thermopile and thermocouple, other possible reasons include:
Incorrect Gas Service Pressure
If your gas pressure is not properly set, then gas fireplaces won’t stay lit. You can get a technician to help you make the necessary adjustments.
Faulty Gas Valve
Although not a common fault with gas fireplaces, just like every other component, it is subject to failure. When this happens, you should call a professional to get it changed quickly to avoid a fire incident.
Moisture in the Drip Loop
Another possible cause could be moisture in the gas line. This is capable of diluting the natural gas, making the light go off.
Clogged or Dirty Burner Ports
When your burner ports are clogged, the flame tends to be uneven and might possibly go off. Cleaning dirty burner ports from time to time could help solve the problem.
Cleaning and Proper Maintenence
Regardless of whether the fix worked or not proper gas fireplace maintenance will save you a lot of stress in the future and make sure your fireplace stays functioning. When the fireplace is clean and undergone proper maintenance, it burns evenly and prevents dirt from destroying its mechanisms. With a hand brush, rag, and vacuum cleaner, you can get your gas fireplace sparkling clean again.
Proper maintenance of your gas fireplace can help prevent issues with your fireplace such as trouble keeping the unit lit.