Does my gas fireplace need maintenance?

Mar 15, 2024

Nearly every day one or more customers will tell us, “I have a gas fireplace. I don’t need my chimney cleaned anymore”.

While it’s totally true that a gas fireplace does not create a creosote build up in the chimney, it’s also NOT true that it doesn’t need to be cleaned and inspected.

Gas fireplaces and gas fireplace inserts have their own annual cleaning actions that must be done. And the chimneys do need to stay free of cobwebs and critters. Gas lines need to be checked and gas log sets need to be cleaned and properly positioned so they are not in the direct line of fire. Gas media sometimes needs to be replaced after many years of burning.

The glass for gas inserts should be regularly cleaned to avoid getting a filmy build up on the glass that cannot be removed.

Frequency of such maintenance is usually included in the manuals for the gas insert or gas fireplace.

A typical statement in the manual usually reads like this one from the Kozy Heat, Chaska 34 manual:

ATTENTION: Installation and repair should only done by a qualified service person. The appliance should be inspected before use and at least annually by a professional service person. More frequent cleaning might be required due to excessive lint from carpeting, bedding material, et cetera. It is imperative that control compartments, burners, and circulating air passageways of the appliance be kept clean. Use a vacuum to clean all components.

Regular maintenance can help prevent against the need for repairs caused by dirty components.

A gas fireplace or insert that is properly maintained can bring warmth and convenience to your home.

As qualified technicians we can help you with your gas fireplace and insert maintenance needs.

Smoking back

There are many fireplaces that seem to smoke back into the house no matter what is done. In our experience, the most common cause is that the fireplace simply needs to be cleaned. This is especially likely if the fireplace has gotten worse over time, that is, the smoking back is worse now than it used to be.

Several other possible causes of smoking back are problems with the damper, chimney cap, grate, firewood, or structural problems with the chimney itself. At Chimney Clean Company, we do a full inspection with every cleaning, or we can also do just the inspection if the chimney doesn’t need to be cleaned. This inspection is designed to reveal any causes of smoking back.

Broken chimneys

In the Bay Area, many chimneys were broken in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Usually, these chimneys are broken at or near the roof line, although sometimes they can be broken further down, even at the ground level.

We are fully licensed masonry contractors. We rebuild broken chimneys. If they are broken at the roof line, this usually entails taking the chimney part of the way down brick by brick, installing steel reinforcing bars, getting an inspection from a city inspector, then rebuilding the chimney back up around the steel rebar.

Missing mortar or damaged bricks

Over time, many chimneys develop places that are missing mortar between bricks, or damaged bricks, either inside the firebox or on the outside of the chimney. These areas can usually be repaired, either by replacing the missing mortar or replacing the bricks themselves. Items such as these can be dangerous because they can allow flames, sparks or hot gases to enter the structure of the house.

Water entry

Sometimes the metal that seals the chimney at the roof, called “flashing”, will come loose or develop leaks. In this case, water sometimes comes into the ceiling of the room and causes water spots and stains on the sheet rock. This flashing should be repaired before the water causes more damage.