Closeup on a lit gas fireplace in a home

While gas fireplaces will not match the authentic scent of the old wooden fireplaces, they are a great addition to any household or cottage. They have an advantage over their traditional counterparts because you don’t have to stock firewood, and cleaning is much easier.

But, how much cleaning and maintenance do they need?

In the following sections, we will discuss a few topics related to gas fireplace maintenance. Let’s get started!

How Much Maintenance Does a Gas Fireplace Need? 

Gas fireplaces do not need much maintenance, given that they do not produce soot. As a result, there’s no daily cleaning of the buildup or debris accumulation before a new fire, so their return on investment is sound. 

Gas Fireplaces Don’t Require Much Maintenance

A wood fireplace has advantages, such as the delightful scent and beautiful flames. Some people enjoy the activity involved in keeping the wooden fireplace active, the crackling of the wood, and the resulting sparks.

However, gas fireplaces win against their wood counterparts many times based on various factors, including the maintenance and cleaning required.

Gas fireplaces don’t have a lot of soot or debris that you must remove every day before starting a new fire. So there’s no ash to bend your back over every morning scooping up, and you won’t get your hands blackened by soot. 

You can then enjoy more rest time and warmth without interruptions. You don’t have to keep feeding the fire.

Gas fireplaces come in various shapes and sizes to look like wood fireplaces. Most of them have a dynamic visual, and the warmth they provide is similar to that of wood. 

A sleek gas fireplace in a polished stone wall

That means you get most of the benefits you would from traditional fireplaces and for much less maintenance. The return on investment of a gas fireplace is much higher.

My Personal Story – Three Gas Fireplaces

Just to share my own personal story – I have a couple rental houses that have natural gas fireplaces in them. In seven years of ownership between the three fireplaces – there has been no expense needed, no fixes, and no maintenance.

They are truly a luxury to own in terms of that, but also add a really nice amenity to anyone staying in the home, whether it be you and your family, renters, or short-term AirBnB-type guests.

Tips for Looking After Your Gas Fireplace

That said, gas fireplaces aren’t entirely maintenance-free, and there are some things that you should do to ensure it’s visually appealing and functions correctly. 

Annual Inspections

While a gas fireplace will not require frequent maintenance, at least annually, a professional inspection is necessary. The blending of gas, air, and fire is a simple equation, but everything doesn’t remain consistent in the long run.

Anything flammable requires some inspection once in a while to make sure the equipment is working. For example, the gas will often combine with water, and issues associated with safety can arise.

Consider an annual safety check to:

  • Detect gas leaks
  • Clean the decorative pieces
  • Ensure adequate ventilation 

Your gas fireplace will most likely have a ceramic piece that mimics the log in the wood fireplace. This piece is entirely decorative but might still require some cleaning.

Professional fireplace cleanings usually involve:

  • Vacuuming debris, pet hair, dust, and grime from fireplace components
  • Using special bristled brushes to scrub off some of the stubborn grime and dust
  • Safety checks for carbon monoxide leaks that can be deadly for the whole family
  • Checks for ventilation issues 
  • Wear and tear checks on valves and other connection points 

Ventilation issues may arise when bats, birds, and other animals build their nests in your chimney. When that happens, they leave twigs and other debris that may block airflow in and out of the chimney, which is not good for anyone in the home.

General wear and tear are typical of appliances, and gas fireplaces are no exception.

The connections and valves will deteriorate over years of use, and they’ll reach a point where they need an inspection, repair, or replacement. Check for any parts deterioration and performance changes.

A homeowner inspects his gas fireplace for damages

The gas fireplace may not have any soot, but dust, pet hair, and dirt will accumulate. If there is visible dirt and dust in the fireplace, it is time to have a professional clean it.

Can You DIY the Maintenance of the Gas Fireplace?

You can DIY gas fireplace maintenance, but necessary precautions are vital. Read the manual and follow the instructions keenly. When dealing with gas appliances, it’s always important to prioritize safety. 

Here’s a quick rundown of how to perform maintenance on your gas fireplace:

  • Make sure the gas is off so that you don’t ignite anything
  • Clean around the decorative pieces with a handheld vacuum
  • Check the manual for appropriate cleaners to use on the fireplace glass and other components
  • Check for cracks and gaps in the framework and the glass, and ensure the glass panels are not loose
  • Use a wad of steel wool to clean the ports and valves, and be careful not to overdo it
  • Spray a water and soap mixture over gas pipes to check for leaks
  • Test the ignition and make sure that the fireplace lights correctly

As you’re cleaning, keep an eye out for lava rocks and make sure there are no breakages. The lava rocks are the ones that heat up when your gas fireplace is on.

Use the right cleaner on the rocks to remove grime and dust, and handle them carefully. Then, employ the same approach with the ceramic logs.

Also, glass doors should be airtight; if they’re not, try resetting with silicone caulk gasket cement. Replace the doors if they’re beyond repair.

The cement or ceramic logs will eventually deteriorate and start to fade. If that happens, replace or swap them out.

Remember that the glass on the fireplace can get very hot, which is a safety concern. Educate children to keep away from it to avoid contact.

While your soapy water test may not reveal any gas leaks, always pay attention to smells in the area. If you ever notice a gaseous smell, make sure the gas to the fireplace is turned off and consider leaving the area and contacting a professional to investigate. 

For safety, install a carbon monoxide detector near the fireplace. This measure will alert you when carbon monoxide starts leaking into the room to prevent dangerous events.

Closeup on a carbon monoxide detector staged in front of a gas fireplace

Cleaning the fireplace yourself doesn’t do away with the need for the annual inspection. There are technical and sensitive pieces that require extra care. However, most of these checks don’t take more than an hour and don’t cost much.

Problems That May Arise With a Gas Fireplace

You may think installing a gas fireplace is a direct ticket to smooth operating equipment that spews endless warmth and pleasure. However, consider that all equipment with flammable substances eventually wears off, and problems can arise without annual checks.

As per a report by the Chimney Safety Institute of America, some of the most common chimney and fireplace malfunctions include condensation and incomplete combustion.

Incomplete combustion is what causes the production of carbon monoxide. This gas can spill into the living room and other places in the house and be a health risk. 

Condensation or a little water in the living space may seem harmless, but no one wants it. Signs of condensation in the chimney signify something’s not quite right with the fireplace. But why does it occur? Is this water harmful?

Condensation is from an inadequate temperature and draft in the chimney. The water will not seem harmful, but it’s acidic and will corrode various chimney parts. The water will also deteriorate the masonry and mortar.

The buildup of small amounts of debris is common, and there’s nothing wrong with that. A professional can remove this during the annual inspection. But if you see an unusual amount, don’t wait for the yearly check. Instead, have an expert remove it.

A technician replaces a top piece of a chimney after cleaning

Other issues that need attention include broken parts, which may happen after a period of use. Damaged parts are a serious safety issue; you should not overlook them.

Stop using the fireplace until a professional gives you the go-ahead. Typically, the broken part could be a source of a gas leak.

There’s also chimney blockage that can cause ventilation issues, and the smoke may not quickly get out, which is a safety concern.

Keeping Up With the Gas Fireplace Maintenance

Your gas fireplace will not always look or function like new, and it’s up to you to keep up with the required maintenance.

So what do you look out for in a gas fireplace?

  • Cracked paint, crumbling bricks, and peeling wallpaper
  • Eroding mortar joints
  • Damp patches on the adjacent walls

If any of the above is present, don’t use the fireplace and call a qualified professional.

A technician on his back cleaning soot from a gas fireplace during inspection

When you think about it, a lot could go wrong with gas fireplaces. If it’s not corrosive condensation, it’s flammability and the potential for carbon monoxide.

In the long run, the valves, connectors, and other parts will wear off. It may not happen now, but it is going to, and it is up to you to be careful and look for signs of malfunctions or other issues.

Let an expert check it once in a while.

Conclusion

A fireplace adds charm to the home during fall and winter every year and sets the ambiance for homeliness, love, and stories as darkness descends.

A gas fireplace doesn’t have many maintenance requirements, but you still have to service it.

Clean the glass, the ceramic logs, and valves to keep the gas fireplace in good working condition and prolong its life. More importantly, have annual inspections by qualified professionals. 

Sources

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