Gas fireplaces are great. You don’t have to worry about dedicating space for wood logs or the associated cleanup involved. Instead, you stock your natural gas or your propane, and you enjoy clean, reliable heat. Of course, this begs the question, ‘so, do gas fireplaces need to be cleaned?”
Today we’re going to answer that question with an in-depth exploration as to why cleaning your gas fireplace is a good idea, what it means to do it yourself vs. hiring a professional. We’ll also touch on some useful preventative maintenance tips that can help to ensure you are enjoying your gas fireplace for a long, long time.
Let’s start with why cleaning is a good idea, and then we’ll build up from there with the tips you need to know!
Do Gas Fireplaces need to be Cleaned?
Yes. Gas fireplaces should ideally be cleaned out once a month. While they use gases like propane or natural gas, you are left with residual byproducts produced by the gas-burning process instead of a creosote buildup. This is minimal, but it does build up over time, and a monthly cleanup can help ensure that there is never enough residual buildup to cause a problem.
Why do you need to Clean a Gas Fireplace?
There are a few reasons why cleaning your gas fireplace is a good idea. While we’ve established that gas burning keeps you protected from creosote buildup, you are getting some buildup, and it’s just not produced from the wood.
Further, you are still using a chimney, which will need to be cleaned at least annually. That way, you can check it for any air leaks, debris, bird’s nests… anything that might affect or stifle airflow and cause problems with your gas fireplace heating solution.
Speaking of debris, the heat that your gas fireplace is producing means that hot air circulation will be in play. Anytime that you’ve got circulating air, dust is going to accumulate naturally. While it’s a slow process, this dust and dirt can get into sensitive parts of the machine warming your house if left unchecked.
It’s easy to forget that you aren’t working with a natural fire in your fireplace, as these models are designed to look like a regular fire in a wood-burning fireplace, but make no mistake…Dust and debris particles can and do get inside, and if you don’t clean them out regularly, there will eventually be trouble!
How often do Gas Fireplaces need to be Cleaned?
To keep the accumulation of dust and debris at a minimum, you should clean your gas fireplace at least once a month during the winter months of use. Beyond these times, you should give it a thorough cleaning at the end of winter as well, and a nice, thorough cleaning before using it again the next winter is also a good idea.
Maintenance is reasonably quick and easy, so it’s not going to take up much of your time, and once you’ve gotten into the habit, you’ve got one less thing to worry about during the winter.
With regular maintenance, gas fireplaces are quite dependable, and you should be able to rely on yours to carry you comfortably, without problems, well through the winter to come.
Cleaning a Gas Fireplace myself vs Hiring a Professional
While many prefer to clean their gas fireplace, certain advantages come with utilizing a professional. Typically, you will get a ‘service package’ covering many vital aspects of maintaining your gas fireplace properly.
Here are some examples of what that service will likely include:
- Cleaning and checking the glass – Aside from cleaning the glass, you may have to check the gasket seals on gas fireplace glass doors to ensure that everything is adequately sealed or determine if the gasket needs to be repaired.
- Exterior inspection – You’ll have to generally perform a standard check on how the unit is installed to ensure that it is properly mounted and sealed.
- Log inspection – Faux logs can fade, though it generally takes a while, they’re easy to replace in a pinch. Some services will check out the logs, and if they show their age, they may offer inexpensive replacement options.
- Ignition check – Service technicians will generally check the gas ignition, and if performance has been unstable, they may check the gas lines to ensure no leakage occurs.
- Carbon monoxide check – Check-ups on carbon monoxide detectors are generally included as part of any service package to ensure that this important safety feature is up and fully functional.
- Interior cleaning – Vacuuming and dusting the interior to remove any dust or other buildup will also be part of a service package.
- Chimney inspection and cleaning – You’ll have to check your chimney to ensure proper ventilation and identify and remove any debris that might impede or obstruct proper airflow.
How to Clean a Gas Fireplace – Step-by-Step
Cleaning your gas fireplace monthly is relatively easy. Below you will find a step-by-step walkthrough on everything you need to do to keep the dust and dirt at bay so that your gas fireplace can do its job efficiently. So if you’re ready, let’s get started!
1. Turn off the gas and prepare your area
Safety first, of course, so you’ll want to turn off your gas before we get started. As we’re going to be taking apart the gas fireplace shortly, you’ll also want to prepare an area in advance where you can place items that you are in the process of cleaning.
An old blanket is ideal, or you can lay out some newspapers so that the area doesn’t need a lot of cleaning when you are done.
2. Taking apart your fireplace
A lot of how this is done will depend on your particular model, but generally, at this point, we want to remove any mesh or your glass doors so that we may put them aside for proper cleaning.
You’ll also want to remove the logs and the burner unit to clean the interior area efficiently along with these components.
Take pictures of the process on your phone if this is the first time you have done this. That way, you can view them in reverse to ensure that you are reassembling everything perfectly when you are done!
3. Initial spot cleaning and vacuuming
With a soft brush or a small broom, we may now begin wiping out dust and debris from the logs as well as from your burner. Pay attention to holes and vents in the latter to ensure that everything gets a good brush-over.
Check your logs for any burn damage or cracks while in to ensure that they look good and aren’t showing any signs that they might need to be replaced.
A good hand vac or a vacuum with a hose attachment will let you further clean these items, including and stones that you may have in your assembly, and you may also vacuum out the interior at this time.
4. Clean the metal and glass
Now we need to get any mesh and glass clean and as for the latter, avoid using household glass cleaner. Instead, you can get glass cleaners specialized for fireplace glass, and these are a good idea, as you won’t have to worry about inadvertently damaging the gasket sealing while getting your glass nice and shiny.
As for any metal mesh, an upholstery brush is an easy and efficient means to get rid of any accumulated dust particles so that your metal and glass should now be exceptionally clean.
4. Don’t forget the hearth and the mantle
A soft, clean cloth will get any dust accumulation off of the hearth and the mantle now, and the cloth itself tells you once the job is done. So give these a good wipe down until you don’t see any signs of residual dust and debris, and we are just about done!
5. Reassemble your gas fireplace
Using the pictures on your phone or simply using your memory, reassemble your gas fireplace components, ensuring that everything is put exactly where it was before. This is a critical step, so if you aren’t sure, use those photos you took. Everything needs to go back exactly where it was to avoid any potential issues.
6. Check the vents
If you have specific vents installed in your house for your fireplace, then now is the time to give them all a quick check. You want to make sure that no leaves or other debris are clogging them and that they are not being used as spots for a warm, cheerful, but rather unwanted bird-nest.
Once you’ve done this, congratulations, your gas fireplace is clean, and your monthly check is complete!
Gas Fireplace Maintenance and Servicing Tips
Now that you know how to clean your fireplace, we thought that we might include a few general maintenance tips to help keep your gas fireplace working at its best:
- Consider an inspection from a professional if your gas fireplace has not been used in many years. It is inexpensive, and you don’t want to have to find out that there is a problem once it’s already cold – get it checked out now, and you’ll be much happier this winter.
- Accumulated debris often shows in your fireplace pilot light first. It should be completely or almost completely blue, with the possibility of a bit of yellow at the tip. If it is not primarily blue like this, it might be time to clean and/or a service check.
- If you smell gas during operation, turn off your fireplace immediately. While you may be able to track down the leak with a spray bottle of soapy water (sprayed on the lines to look for telltale bubbles), a gas leak is nothing to trifle with. It is better to call the gas company right away!
Do gas fireplaces need to be cleaned? Absolutely! While they do not need it as often as a regular ol’ wood-burning fireplace, gas models still require a little preventative maintenance and elbow grease to keep them running at their best.
Now that you know how it is done give your gas fireplace a monthly cleaning during and before winter use, and consider a professional inspection before the temperature starts dropping. After all, it’s always better to know about problems before that bitter cold arrives!