Guide to Gas Fireplace Servicing and Maintenance
Even clean-burning gas fireplaces need regular cleaning and inspection. Learn what's involved in a gas fireplace service and when it should be done.
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According to industry magazine Hearth & Home, sales of gas fireplaces far outpace those of traditional wood-burning fireplaces. U.S. homeowners appear to appreciate fireplaces that run on natural gas are a cleaner choice and healthier for the environment.
Including materials and installation, a gas fireplace can cost from $2,000 to $4,500 and up. So be sure to protect your investment by getting your gas fireplace serviced regularly.
Why Get a Gas Fireplace Serviced?
Though they burn cleanly, with no smoke, cinders or wood ash left behind and no sooty chimneys to clean out, gas fireplaces still need regular maintenance and service to run safely and extend their lifespan.
Cleaning your gas fireplace can be a DIY task, but only for those comfortable working around natural gas. If you’re hesitant to work with a natural gas line, call a fireplace service to do the job.
What Will a Fireplace Service Do?
Servicing a gas fireplace is less messy than cleaning out a wood-burning fireplace. Here are the steps necessary to service a gas fireplace. If you choose the DIY route, leave yourself about an hour to complete the job.
- Inspect the exterior. Make sure the unit is properly mounted and there are no gaps or cracks in the fireplace framework.
- Check the glass for cracks. Clean the glass with vinegar in a spray bottle, fireplace glass cleaner or another non-ammonia cleaning product. Wipe down the door trim and inspect for loose glass panes or cracked glass that can draw in air from your home. Glass doors have gasket seals that should be checked to ensure they’re still airtight. If not, try to reset them with gasket cement or silicone caulk. If they can’t be fixed, they’ll need to be replaced.
- Inspect the logs. Nope, they’re not real logs, but those ceramic or cement logs in a gas fireplace can deteriorate over time. Most often, their color will start to fade. The good news is they can be swapped out without replacing the whole fireplace.
- Check the gas ignition. Test-fire the interior gas ignition under the logs and make sure it lights correctly. Turn off the gas, then clean all the valves and ports under and amid the logs by gently rubbing them with a wad of steel wool or a sheet of fine-grit sandpaper. Check for gas leaks. Smell is an obvious giveaway, but to be sure, brush some water mixed with dish soap over the lines, valves and ports and watch for bubbles — the telltale sign of a leak.
- Vacuum the interior. Dust bunnies, dead bugs, pet hair — all can accumulate in your gas fireplace, so this is the time to vacuum them out.
- Check carbon monoxide detectors. A routine fireplace service should also ensure the carbon monoxide monitors work. If you don’t have a carbon monoxide monitor installed near your fireplace, add one.
- Inspect the chimney. You don’t need a Mary Poppins-style chimney sweep for a gas fireplace, but you do need to inspect the external chimney structure and the interior walls in front of and around the chimney. With gas fireplaces, the biggest threat to the chimney is condensation. Damp patches on the walls, ceiling stains and white blotches on exterior masonry (called efflorescence) are all signs of a compromised chimney. If you haven’t called in the pros yet, it’s time to make the call.
When to Get a Fireplace Service
How often you get a gas fireplace service check depends on how often you use the fireplace. If you like a roaring fire from autumn all the way through spring, you should conduct or schedule service once a year, ideally early in the summer. If you only use your gas fireplace occasionally, you can probably get by with a fireplace service check every two years.
Pro Tip: Replace your carbon monoxide detectors every five years or so. This way if your gas fireplace is not venting properly, you’ll be alerted.
What Does Fireplace Servicing Cost?
The cost for gas fireplace servicing will depend on where you live, the size and condition of your fireplace and whether the service call is urgent. Expect to spend between $100 and $200, although in some areas it may be much higher. If you do a DIY fireplace servicing, the cost is minimal, especially if no parts need to be replaced.