There are few things more welcome than a warm, inviting fire in the middle of a Minnesota winter. So now is the time to take a look at your gas fireplace and make sure it’s ready for the season ahead. While gas fireplaces typically require less maintenance than wood-burning ones, they still should be inspected and serviced at least once a year. Here’s a checklist for making sure your fireplace is in safe working order for the winter months ahead:
- Review your owner’s manual. Every fireplace is different, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s servicing and cleaning recommendations for your model. If you have any questions or concerns, contact the manufacturer or your local HVAC pro. The following suggestions apply to most units.
- Clean the inside. Dust your fireplace before you fire it up for the season. Clean the ceramic log, rocks, or beads. These can become dusty when not in use and while not usually a hazard, burning accumulated dust can create an unwanted odor. If you need to, you can remove and wash rocks and beads in your laundry tub. You may also consider vacuuming out the dust. If you do this, however, keep in mind that many fireplaces have ceramic wool “embers." These look like little pieces of gray fuzz that glow when the flame is near them looking similar to a glowing wood embers. Do not vacuum near these unless you plan on replacing them.
- Clean the blower. The blower in your fireplace is responsible for circulating warm air through your home. You’ll want to make sure it’s dust-free to avoid creating an indoor dust storm when you first use the fireplace. Unplug the blower, then brush it clean using a stiff-bristle brush. Have a vacuum handy to pick up the falling dust. Be sure to plug in the blower when you’re done.
- Check the pilot light. First, do a visual inspection to make sure everything looks intact. If you see loose or exposed wires, don’t tackle that on your own. Call in a professional to determine the issue. If everything looks solid, then test the pilot to make sure it’s operating correctly.
- Check and clean the glass doors. Your fireplaces glass door(s) help contain the flow of flue gases while it’s in operation. Be sure there are no cracks or chips in the glass that could let the CO escape into your home. You’ll also want to check to make sure the doors close fully and snugly.
- Check the outdoor vent. You’ll want to make sure your fireplace vent is free and clear of any debris, leaves, or other obstructions. Never start up your fireplace without making sure that it will vent properly. Hopefully, this will never happen, but if you see any evidence of rodent or other pest infestation, call in a pest-control expert before you fire things up for the season.
- Book a professional inspection. It’s a really good idea to have your fireplace (and the rest of your HVAC system) professionally inspected once a year. A pro can inspect all of the various components of your system, as well as how they’re performing as a whole. They’ll also be able to detect any minor leaks, broken or worn parts, or any other safety issues that are best corrected immediately.
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