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A Homeowner's Guide to Gas Fireplace Safety and Service

Did you know?

GFSC Your gas fireplace probably cost you somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000?
GFSC When your vent-less gas fireplace burns yellower, carbon monoxide may be being dispersed into your home?
GFSC An improperly serviced gas fireplace can burn costly fuel inefficiently and give off hazardous chemical fumes?
GFSC There are almost no government regulations or local guidelines as to who can service gas fireplaces?
GFSC Most heating and air conditioning technicians are not trained in servicing gas fireplaces.
GFSC A lot of water vapor is created by your gas fireplace and that eventually you'll have rust problems?
GFSC If left unchecked, the metal firebox can actually rust through.
GFSC Gas fireplaces create between 18,000-45,000 BTUs--enough heat to warm several rooms of your home? (if the fireplace is properly maintained and serviced annually)

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So What Can You do to Prevent a Service Call?

GFSC Clean the outside vent before you use your gas fireplace each season.  Vents can get torn and partially blocked by leaves, spider webs and birdsí nests.  These small items as well as loose brick mortar can be sucked into the vent, block critical air passages and cause the unit to either burn improperly or not at all.
GFSC Clean the glass at least once a month. An abundance of build-up on the glass can be an indication that the fireplace is not burning as efficiently as it should.  An inefficient gas fireplace wastes money and can give off fatal levels of carbon monoxide.
GFSC Tighten the glass.  If your fireplaceís glass is not held tightly in place, poisonous carbon monoxide can escape into your home.  Moisture and dust can also infect the fireplaceís combustion chamber affecting its efficiency and operation.
GFSC Also make sure the glass is not scratched or chipped.  In some models, the glass can actually explode if it has such imperfections.
GFSC Position your logs properly.  If your ceramic logs are positioned improperly, the flame may generate unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide.
GFSC Check the color.  The General Rule of Thumb is " The yellower it gets, the more you need tests!"  While most fireplace owners like the yellow flames, yellow is an indication of an Ďincomplete burní--that is, some of the gas is not being burned off and may be escaping into your home in the form of carbon monoxide.
GFSC All unvented gas fireplaces are equipped with Oxygen Depletion Sensors that shut off the gas when the level of oxygen in the room gets too low.  So, if your fireplace ever shuts off for no apparent reason and you have a slight headache or dizziness, you may have a carbon monoxide problem.  Get some fresh air immediately and have your fireplace inspected.

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What About Those Carbon Monoxide Detectors?

GFSC Unfortunately, most home carbon monoxide detection kits will always go off when placed near an unvented gas fireplace or gas log fireplace.  The only sure way to ensure that your unit or your gas logs are operating at their peak and safest performance is to have a factory-trained and factory-certified technician inspect and adjust the fireplace accordingly.

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Do I Ever Have to Service My Gas Fireplace?

GFSC Yes!  You should have your gas fireplace inspected and serviced annually by a factory-trained and certified technician.
GFSC The only sure way to know that your gas fireplace is operating at its peak and safest level is to have the unit and its components tested and adjusted thoroughly.
GFSC Donít take chances with carbon monoxide--Make sure your gas fireplace or gas logs are operating safely.  Check the vents if applicable 
GFSC Donít waste money--Tune up your fireplace to get the most out of your fuel. 
GFSC Keep it looking good--Have your ceramic logs and burner ports cleaned annually.
GFSC And watch out for rust!  Since water vapor is a by-product of gas fireplaces, you will sooner or later have a rust problem.  Annual maintenance will alert you to this costly problem and help prevent it from ruining your gas fireplace altogether. 

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How Do I Know if My Gas Fireplace Service Company is Qualified?

GFSC Ask to see their credentials.  Each technician should be certified by at least one of the major gas fireplace manufacturers.

Conversely, ask your neighbors and/or ask for references.
 

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