It seems obvious to most people that the chimney of a wood-burning fireplace is going to need annual cleaning because of the buildup of soot and creosote. A gas fireplace, on the other hand, burns nice and neat. So, why is it important to get the chimney for a gas appliance inspected and cleaned annually? Gas-burning fireplaces are a real convenience and, compared to wood burning, have a low maintenance factor. But there are several potential problems that can occur with gas and with a chimney used for any type of heating system, all of which can become a danger if not resolved.
Gas fireplaces sometimes have a buildup of debris. For example, ceramic logs can deteriorate and clog vents.
If the exterior chimney has a cracked crown or if the mortar joints are in poor condition, moisture can enter the chimney system and cause the flue tiles to break off and fall into the hearth.
It’s important to have the entire fireplace cleaned and ready for another year of use, including cleaning any residue from the glass doors, inside and out.
One thing you don’t ever want to take for granted year after year is that the equipment in a gas fireplace is operating the way it should. Over time, valves and connections could develop leaks. Thermopile and thermocouple could be worn and/or need cleaning. The ceramic logs should be checked to ensure they are properly placed and in working condition.
Gas fireplaces are susceptible to explosions and sudden fires, if there are any leaks or malfunctions. One problem that occurs is that the pilot light will be on, the gas turned to the “on” position, but the fireplace isn’t operating. People have been injured by standing in front of gas fireplaces when broken glass is thrust outward, due to a malfunction.
Animals, such as birds, can get into your chimney and build a nest which blocks proper ventilation for your gas fireplace.
Even though a gas fireplace burns clean, meaning that no creosote or soot is deposited in your chimney, the structure still needs to be inspected annually. As mentioned above, moisture problems can cause the chimney to deteriorate and fail to function properly. If
air moves through the chimney through cracks, the ventilation system will not work properly and could expose your family to deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s essential that the chimney work properly, in order to prevent dangerous fumes from entering your home.
Other issues could cause ventilation problems, such as debris falling into the chimney or an animal building a nest.
A Note About Safety
Another safety issue besides chimney inspection involves the glass doors on a gas fireplace. The glass can get as hot as 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which could cause serious injury, if touched. In addition, it takes about 45 minutes for the glass doors to cool enough to touch after the gas fire is out. Children should be informed about the danger, and a screen with childproof barriers should be installed if there are small children in the house.
Any type of open combustion system has the potential to cause house fires. Gas fireplaces should be treated with the same level of awareness and respect as wood-burning fireplaces, including being cleaned and inspected annually.
Contact our certified professional chimney sweeps for help installing and maintaining your gas fireplace system, to keep your family safe.
Northeastern Chimney, Inc.
formerly Nayaug Chimney Services, LLC
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110