If you have a gas fireplace and you can’t remember the last time you had it inspected and cleaned, the right time to schedule this service is now.
According to the Canadian Red Cross, more home fires start in the winter season here in Canada than at any other time of year.
Heating appliances are one of the leading causes of home fires. Just as your furnace or heat pump needs regular inspection and maintenance to operate safely and efficiently, so too does your gas fireplace need the attention—ideally before its season of highest use.
In this timely post, learn what you need to know about gas fireplace inspections and maintenance to ensure you can enjoy your fireplace safely this winter season.
How Does a Gas Fireplace Work?
This may sound like one of those questions any gas fireplace owner would already know the answer to.
But you might be surprised how often we get calls from customers who have inherited a gas fireplace along with a home purchase and they have no idea what to do with it or how it works!
So let’s just do a quick review of gas fireplace basics here.
Most of us are familiar with good old-fashioned wood-burning fireplaces. You put some kindling in, ignite it, add a log or two, blow a bit and then wait for the air and the logs to do their thing and generate a nice, warm, seasonal fire.
Gas fireplaces work somewhat differently. You use a gas pilot or electric ignition pilot to “fire up” a set of faux gas “logs.” These logs look like the real deal but aren’t.
Your gas fireplace may be vented or ventless (sometimes also called a natural vent). Vented gas fireplaces vent all waste gases outdoors. Ventless fireplaces operate more like a gas stove and no vents are required.
Efficiency Advantages to Gas Fireplaces
Wood-burning stoves, ovens and fireplaces are still viable options for cooking, heating and enjoyment. Unfortunately, burning wood can release a host of toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that cause respiratory distress, serious illness and chronic allergies in some people and pets.
And while a furnace or heat pump is definitely an awesome option for heat, a gas fireplace is more efficient than most furnace appliances and less pricey than a heat pump, making it a pretty fabulous choice for providing an alternate source of heat.
A gas fireplace operating at peak efficiency can achieve near zero energy waste—not many appliances can boast that!
3 Main Types of Gas Fireplaces
You now know there are two types of venting systems for a gas fireplace: direct vent and ventless. But did you know there are three different types of gas fireplaces?
A gas fireplace includes the entire structure—a chimney with a flue or direct vent system surrounded by masonry or a metal box for safety.
A gas fireplace is not as efficient because more heat escapes through the chimney or vent (just like it would if you were burning wood logs).
A gas insert is created to fit into an existing fireplace area. A gas insert is typically rated at the same level as a modern furnace and can achieve a much higher level of energy efficiency.
A gas insert looks like a “real” gas fireplace but isn’t. If you have an old gas fireplace that would be costly to upgrade or repair, a gas insert can be an easy, affordable fix.
Today’s gas stoves look like old wood stoves but are much more efficient. Whether attached to the wall, inset into a fireplace or free-standing, gas stoves can add lovely warmth to a room.
You can think of a gas stove like a free-standing gas fireplace because this is the basic intent.
Gas Fireplace Inspection & Maintenance Needs
So what type of maintenance does a gas fireplace need, anyway?
While some maintenance needs will depend on the specific type of gas fireplace you have, some maintenance is also common to all models.
The following is a list of some of our basic duties:
- Inspect and clean the safety door or safety grate.
- Inspect, clean and maintain the gas pilot or ignition.
- Inspect, clean and maintain (or replace) the gas logs, pellets or “flames.”
- Inspect and clean the inside and outside of the fireplace itself.
- Remove any dirt, debris or flammable items to a 3-foot safety radius.
- Remove the unit face to inspect the controls and clean them as needed.
- Perform a heat output test.
- Test your carbon monoxide detector to make sure it is working properly.
- Inspect and clean the vent, flue or chimney inside and out.
- Inspect and maintain or replace the chimney cap (to prevent wildlife and pests from entering).
Get in Touch
Here at Shipton’s Heating & Cooling, our goal is to make sure every one of our customers has a safe, efficient and reliable heat source this winter season. If you need emergency maintenance or repairs, don’t forget about our 24/7 service—nights, weekends, holidays—if you call us, we will be there!
Right now and through the end of this month, save up to $1,850 when you purchase any furnace and air conditioning combo.
Also through the end of this month, schedule your annual furnace inspection and maintenance service and we will service your water heater for free!