A fireplace is a great way to create atmosphere. Nothing feels quite as comfy and cozy as gathering around a real fireplace with family and friends over the holiday season. However, when it comes to gas fireplaces, a lot of homeowners have concerns about whether they are safe. The good news is that you have nothing to worry about when using a gas fireplace, as long as you follow proper procedure. Keep reading to learn how to safely operate a gas fireplace, and remember that our heating experts at All Pro Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electrical are always available for your home comfort needs.
To Safely Operate Your Gas Fireplace, Follow These 8 Steps:
- Do Not Attempt to Install the Fireplace Yourself: As with many home maintenance tasks, it is better to have your gas fireplace installed by a professional, factory-trained technician. Going with the DIY option in this case can be very dangerous, even causing your fireplace to operate improperly and leading to a dangerous gas leak on your property.
- Have Your Chimney Cleaned Before Installation: Assuming you have an existing chimney that you are adding your fireplace too, it is better to get it cleaned before putting in your gas fireplace. This will help ensure your fireplace runs safely from the first time it turns on and that any potentially harmful materials are removed from your chimney.
- Get Familiar With All the Safety Features: Modern gas fireplaces almost all come equipped with a full range of safety features, such as a fail-safe shut-off valve and a safety pilot. These components ensure that the gas is automatically turned off if the pilot light goes out, if your fireplace gets too hot, or if a CO leak occurs. But while these features are largely automatic, it is still a good idea to familiarize yourself with them, so you know what to look for ahead of time when shopping for your new gas fireplace.
- Make Sure There Is at Least Three Feet of Space Around Your Fireplace: Creating a barrier of at least three feet around your gas fireplace will help prevent any injuries or accidents from occurring. Remember, even with their reliable safety features, it is best to stay clear of gas fireplaces when they are burning, as the temperatures inside them are extremely high. That’s why you should also…
- Always Keep the Glass Doors on While the Fire Is Going: You can open your fireplace’s glass doors when it has sufficiently cooled down, and there is no chance of the fire accidentally being blown back into your space. It is a good idea to clean these doors once in awhile, but again, you should only do this when they are completely cool, as touching your fireplace doors when they are hot is likely to burn your hands.
- Keep the Damper Open While Your Fireplace Is Running: If you have a direct-vent fireplace, the damper should always be open while it is running. Failing to close the damper can cause carbon monoxide to build up in your fireplace, and eventually seep into your home.
- Monitor Your House’s Ventilation: Proper ventilation is extremely important with any piece of heating equipment, especially if that heating equipment generates CO. That’s why in addition to opening your fireplace’s damper, you should also consider opening a window while enjoying your fire, or only using your fireplace for a few hours at a time. Some people use what are known as “ventless gas logs” with their gas fireplace, which take oxygen from your space to recycle a small amount of carbon monoxide. If you use these logs, proper ventilation is even more important when running your gas fireplace.
- Pay Attention to Your Carbon Monoxide Detector: As any heating technician worth their salt will tell you, having a carbon monoxide detector is an essential safety component when you also have a gas heating system. The same is true for your gas fireplace. If your carbon monoxide detector does not automatically beep when the batteries need to be replaced, make sure to check it periodically to see they are still working. If you somehow don’t already have a CO detector, you should purchase one immediately. Remember carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas, meaning you may not even be aware that CO poisoning is happening in your home before it’s too late. That’s why whether you are installing a gas fireplace or not, as long as any device in your home uses gas, having a carbon monoxide detector is a must.