The installation of a natural gas fireplace delivers almost instant natural warmth and ambiance to a home. There are so many style options with natural gas from sleek, modern minimalist to realistic, rustic logs. Since there are no real logs and ashes to deal with, you may forget that even gas fireplaces need to be cleaned regularly. This is particularly important if the fireplace is used continuously during chilly months.
Proper cleaning and maintenance will ensure that the fireplace burns efficiently and help prevent poisonous carbon monoxide from entering your home. An annual inspection to check wiring and gaskets by a professional natural gas technician is highly recommended as well as routine cleaning you can do yourself.
How Often to Clean a Gas Fireplace
It is important to clean a gas fireplace monthly even when it is not being used heavily. This will prevent dust and dirt from harming mechanisms and allow you to inspect the system for damage.
What You Need
- Fireplace glass cleaner
- Warm water
- Cleaning rags
- Hand broom or new paintbrush
- Vacuum with hose attachment
- Cheesecloth or nylon net
Ensure Gas Is Turned Off
Before you do anything, turn off the gas! The gas valve, often located on the wall next to the fireplace, should be turned completely off. Check that the pilot light is completely out and wait a few minutes before beginning to work. This will allow all of the gas to leave the piping safely. If the fireplace has been used recently, be sure that all components are completely cool before cleaning.
Disassemble the Fireplace
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. Carefully disassemble the logs and remove the burner unit. If possible, take the components outside for cleaning to prevent spreading dust and soot in your living area.
When it is time to reassemble the components of the gas fireplace, they must go back in the exactly same configuration as when you began. If you're not sure if you'll remember how to do it, snap several pictures with your phone of each step.
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 you are 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.
Vacuum Away Dust and Cobwebs
Whether you have lava rocks or glass stones, they will have plenty of dust. Use a vacuum with a hose attachment to clean every side of each rock. 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 of the corners of the fireplace box to capture dust, cobwebs, and any insects that may be trapped. Use an old cloth to wipe down the pilot light and gas line components.
Polish Glass or Metal
Many gas fireplaces have glass doors that can become cloudy with particulates from the combustion process. Regular cleaning will help prevent the glass from becoming permanently etched. Never use a regular window glass cleaner nor a harsh lye-based oven cleaner. You can find a fireplace glass cleaner at your local hardware store. Spray it on and allow it to work for several minutes before using a soft cloth to remove the debris and film.
If you have a metal screen or mesh curtain, use the vacuum upholstery brush to clean both sides to remove dust.
For both glass and metal enclosures, wipe the edges with a damp cloth to remove any dust. Inspect the rubber gaskets on glass doors for any deterioration or cracking. If you see any damage, the gasket should be replaced.
Wipe Down the Mantle and Hearth
Reassemble the Gas Fireplace
Now that everything is clean, reassemble the burner, logs, stones and replace the outer glass or screens. It is now safe to turn the gas valve back on.
Check Exterior Vents
If your gas fireplace is vented to the outside, check the outside vent monthly for blockages from leaves or animal nests.
Tips for Maintaining Gas Fireplaces
- Regularly observe the appearance of the pilot flame, you should see a blue flame sometimes 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.
- Immediately turn off the gas line if you smell any malodors from the gas and ventilate the room. Call your gas company or 911.
- If the fireplace has not been used for several years, an inspection by a qualified technician should be done before lighting.