How to Clean a Gas Fireplace the Right Way

Picture of living room with fireplace

Kelsey Roenau / Unsplash

Project Overview
  • Total Time: 1 hr
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

A natural gas fireplace installation delivers almost instant natural warmth and ambiance to a home. The natural gas style options range from sleek, modern minimalist to realistic, rustic logs. With proper cleaning and maintenance, your fireplace can burn efficiently and lower the risk of carbon monoxide entering your home.

Your gas fireplace can get dirty by a chimney blockage, or burners and gas logs become sooty over time. A blockage can cause poor ventilation, making it difficult for carbon monoxide fumes to exit the home. For a safer gas fireplace experience, ensure you have a secure glass enclosure. Also, ensure the flame ignites to a bluish color, lighting instantly, without delay; the exhaust vent should also be clear of obstructions.

Since there are no real logs and ashes to deal with, it is easy to forget that you must clean gas fireplaces regularly. Cleaning is critical if the fireplace is used continuously during the chilly months. Get an annual inspection to check wiring and gaskets by a professional natural gas technician in addition to doing your routine cleaning.

How Often to Clean a Gas Fireplace

Even though gas fireplaces do not burn wood or make smoke, cleaning a gas fireplace monthly is essential, even when it is not being used. Regular cleaning will prevent dust and dirt from harming mechanisms and allow you to inspect the system for damage.

If your gas fireplace has a glass enclosure, clean it with a commercial fireplace glass cleaner or a non-ammonia-based glass cleaner to remove the dust or buildup. To save a few dollars, a homemade vinegar solution should work well.

Tip

When doing regular maintenance on your gas fireplace, also take an extra minute to check your carbon monoxide detector batteries. Most detectors have a test button for a quick battery check.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Hand broom or unused paintbrush
  • Vacuum with hose attachment
  • Cheesecloth or nylon net
  • Spray bottle (optional)

Materials

  • Fireplace glass cleaner or non-ammonia glass cleaner
  • Warm water
  • Cleaning rags

Instructions

How to Clean a Gas Fireplace

  1. Turn Off the Gas

    Before you do anything, turn off the gas. You should turn the gas valve completely off on the wall next to the fireplace. Check that the pilot light is completely out and wait a few minutes before beginning to work. This precaution will allow all of the gas to leave the piping safely. If the fireplace has been used recently, ensure all components are completely cool before cleaning.

  2. Disassemble the Fireplace

    Carefully disassemble the logs and remove the burner unit. This step will vary depending on the design of your fireplace. If you have glass doors, a metal screen, or a mesh curtain, remove them for easier cleaning. If possible, take the components outside for cleaning to prevent the spreading of dust and soot in your living area.

    Tip

    When it is time to reassemble the gas fireplace components, they must go back in the precisely same configuration as when you began. If you're not sure if you'll remember how to do it, take several pictures of each step as you do it.

  3. Brush and Inspect

    Use a hand broom or soft paintbrush to carefully brush away dust and dirt on each log or decorative component. Never spray cleaners or water onto gas fireplace components. While cleaning, inspect each log or piece for any cracks, holes, or excessive burn marks.

    Brush away debris from the burner unit and inspect each vent hole for any build-up that could clog the flow of gas.

  4. Vacuum Away Dust and Cobwebs

    Whether you have lava rocks or glass stones, they can accumulate dust. Use a hose attachment vacuum to clean each rock's side. If the rocks are small and would be sucked away, attach a piece of cheesecloth or nylon net to the end of the hose nozzle with a rubber band. The dust can get through, but the rocks can't.

    Once the rocks are clean, vacuum all the corners of the fireplace box to capture dust, cobwebs, and insects. Use an old cloth to wipe down the pilot light and gas line components.

  5. Polish Glass or Metal

    Many gas fireplaces have glass doors that can become cloudy with particulates from combustion. Regular cleaning will help prevent the glass from becoming permanently etched. You can find a fireplace glass cleaner at your local hardware store or make a cleaning spray with a vinegar solution. Spray the cleaning solution and allow it to work for several minutes before using a soft cloth to remove the debris and film. Never use an ammonia-based window glass cleaner or a harsh lye-based oven cleaner.

    If you have a metal screen or mesh curtain, use the vacuum upholstery brush to clean both sides to remove dust.

    Wipe the edges with a water-moistened cloth for glass and metal enclosures to remove dust. Inspect the rubber gaskets on glass doors for any deterioration or cracking. If you see any damage, you should replace the gasket.

  6. Wipe Down the Mantle and Hearth

    Clean any soot or dust from the mantle and hearth. Depending on the type of surfaces, dust with a soft cloth and carefully follow soot removal guidelines.

  7. Reassemble the Gas Fireplace

    Once clean, reassemble the burner, logs, and stones, and replace the outer glass or screens. It is now safe to turn the gas valve back on.

  8. Check Exterior Vents

    Check the outside vent monthly for blockages from leaves or animal nests if your gas fireplace vents outside.

Tips to Keep Gas Fireplaces Clean Longer

Your best tip for keeping a fireplace clean is simple: clean it regularly. If it's part of your regular house cleaning routine and you miss a month, especially during the months it's off; it should keep up its appearance.

Another tip for keeping your gas fireplace clean longer is to pay close attention to the color of the pilot flame. It should look like a blue flame with a tiny tip of yellow. If it has changed color or a great deal of soot is collecting on the fireplace components, your gas company may need to inspect the gas line.

Warning

Immediately turn off the gas line if you smell a gassy, rotten egg smell and ventilate the room. Call 911 or your gas company.

Homemade Glass Cleaner

A good ammonia-free glass cleaner, such as a white vinegar solution, is your best bet for cleaning the glass partition of your gas fireplace. Use equal parts water to equal parts vinegar. Do not add soap or detergent. Soap and ammonia residues do not react well with heat and make the glass look bad.

When to Call a Professional

If the fireplace has not been used for several years or you buy a house with a gas fireplace installed, call a qualified technician for an evaluation before using it. A professional will inspect the glass enclosure, the sealing gaskets, the inside and outside of the firebox, the outside vents or chimney (if it vents through the chimney), the carbon monoxide detector, and the burner. If there is a problem with the gas line, a plumber can fix it, at an hourly cost of $50 to $200. An annual inspection can cost from $70 to $200, depending on where you are and how your system is set up.