What to Do If Your Gas Fireplace Smells Like Chemicals

A gas fireplace isn’t supposed to smell like chemicals. So, what do you do if it does? If you notice your gas fireplace smells like chemicals, investigate the cause.

Most of the time, it’s something normal that will right itself. Should the chemical smell persist, though, you should bring in a professional to assess the situation.

In this post, we’re talking about what you should do if you think your gas fireplace smells like chemicals. It’s tough to know if you should ignore the smell.

What if there’s something serious that needs addressing? Keep reading to find out more about what could be causing the chemical smell and how you should respond.

Is My Gas Fireplace Supposed to Smell?

Gas fireplaces usually have a faint odor that is detectable. The smell shouldn’t be strong, however. Usually, a gas or chemical smell is stronger if the gas fireplace is newly installed. If you run the fireplace for a few hours and turn it off, it won’t have as strong of an odor when you turn it back on after cooling off.

Natural gas doesn’t have a smell. Things in the air do have different odors, though. The air in your home provides the oxygen needed by your fireplace for the fire to burn. The oxygen carries other substances into the fireplace with it. Those substances get burned, sometimes releasing smells into the room.

What Substances in the Air Are Burned by Gas Fireplaces?

Some common things float around inside our homes which get burned up in gas fireplaces. Here’s a list of several:

  • Dust
  • Pet dander or hair
  • Paint particles
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Cleaning products
  • Hair products
  • Scented candles
  • New furniture off-gassing

When droplets or particles get drawn into the fireplace and burned up, they often release odd, chemical-like smells. These smells don’t indicate anything dangerous.

Are Fumes From Gas Fireplace Harmful?

For the most part, fumes from a gas fireplace aren’t harmful. Some are, however. For this reason, it’s important to have your gas fireplace inspected by a professional annually.

Gas fireplaces can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. If they’re not maintained properly, there’s a risk for blockages, dirt build-up, and damage to the fireplace that could result in leaks.

We mentioned above that most of the smells and fumes coming out of your gas fireplace are harmless. Carbon monoxide fumes are harmful. They cause many dangerous symptoms to people exposed to them.

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Confusion

Carbon monoxide fumes cause poisoning, which can even result in death.

Reasons Your Gas Fireplace Smells Like Chemicals

Several reasons exist that cause gas fireplace to smell like chemicals. We said earlier that newly installed units often smell like chemicals for the first few hours. It’s normal and can easily be addressed by allowing your fireplace to burn for about 4 hours before turning it off.

Natural gas also has impurities. Though the gas itself has no odor, the impurities do. Gas companies mix additives with the natural gas that cause it to smell. People often report a strong egg smell coming from their gas fireplace. That smell can be attributed to the additives put in by the gas company.

Methyl mercaptan is a common additive used by gas companies in gas fireplaces. When it burns, it releases a chemical-like smell that is similar to burnt matches mixed with rotten eggs. It ends up smelling much like kerosene.

What to Do If Your Fireplace Smells Like Chemicals

What do you do once you notice a chemical-like smell coming from your fireplace? If it’s new, let it burn for 4 hours. Turn it off. Allow it to cool down all the way. Turn it back on. If the smell persists, call the installer to have it assessed.

Some smells are caused by things in the air inside your home. Homes with pets and smokers commonly have issues with smells coming from the gas fireplaces. You can address issues like this by trying to improve your home’s air quality. Place an air purifier in the room where the gas fireplace is located to see if this helps.

Again, it’s important to keep your gas fireplace on a good maintenance schedule. Stay up-to-date on your annual inspections. Make sure to have any necessary repairs completed immediately, as well.

Other Gas Fireplace Smells You Shouldn’t Ignore

If the chemical smell is strong, don’t ignore it. It could mean there’s a gas leak somewhere. That is very dangerous. If you suspect there’s a gas leak somewhere within your gas fireplace, get out of the house and call a professional.

There’s also the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. You should have a carbon monoxide detector in the room where your gas fireplace is located. If anyone in the home experiences the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning mentioned above, call to have your fireplace inspected.

Gas Fireplace Maintenance Tasks to Prevent Smells

Gas fireplaces that are not properly cared for will emit smells when turned on. You should have the fireplace inspected every year. During that inspection, the professional performing it should also clean the fireplace.

Clean the glass on the front of the fireplace. The glass door is easy to remove. Once you take it off, place it on newspaper or paper towels and clean with window cleaner. Don’t put it back until the glass is completely dry.

Vacuum dust and debris from the interior. Make sure you don’t vacuum up any lava rocks or other small pieces that are part of your gas fireplace.

Remove any soot built up on the logs. Don’t wash them with any water or other liquid. Brush the logs with a soft-bristled brush.

Your maintenance company should do the cleaning along with the annual service call. However, if you want to clean in between or prefer to do it yourself, you can.

Conclusion

Gas fireplaces are not supposed to smell heavily of chemicals. Some additives do cause odors, though. If you smell anything more than a faint chemical-like odor, turn the fireplace off. If you can’t determine what the source of the smell is, call a professional for advice.