Gas Fireplace Maintenance Tips

Nothing beats an evening of relaxing in front of your gas fireplace. Best of all, this type of fireplace requires far less cleaning and maintenance work than typical wood fireplaces.  If you fail to conduct proper gas fireplace maintenance, however, you may deal not only with poor efficiency but also a significant safety hazard.  Homeowners in DC who do not properly maintain their gas fireplaces ultimately find themselves needing Washington DC fireplace repairs.  

Keep your gas fireplace clean, safe, and functional by following these simple tips:

Clean your fireplace glass and check for damage

 

Whether you use your fireplace daily or forget it even exists, it is imperative that you clean it at least once each month. During this time, you can check for common problems and follow up with a professional, if necessary.

  • Use a high-quality glass cleaner and a soft cloth to buff both sides of the fireplace’s glass surface. If you wait too long, a cloudy effect may occur — and it could become permanent. 
  • Clean away any buildup of dust or dirt you find inside your fireplace.
  • Determine where the gasket is located and check if it is cracked. If there is any damage to the gasket, contact a chimney repair professional and have it replaced immediately. 
  • Check any bolts that hold the fireplace’s doors in place. If these are not fastened tightly, replace them. You may otherwise risk carbon monoxide entering your home.
  • Clean debris such as dust, dirt, cobwebs, or leaves from the fireplace’s vent. 

Checking and cleaning your gas fireplace should not take long, especially as compared to the cleaning process for a wood-burning fireplace. Regular cleaning is equally important for both types of fireplaces, however, as it improves efficiency and keeps you aware of potential safety hazards.

Have your chimney cleaned

gas fireplace maintenance chimney sweep

In addition to checking your fireplace once a month on your own, you should have a chimney sweep at least once each year. Regular professional maintenance can ensure the utmost safety and efficiency. Experts can determine where inefficiency occurs, why, and how it can be fixed. Additionally, repairs may address these issues:

  • Problems with the thermocouple
  • Problems with the pilot flame
  • Faulty control valves
  • Gas leaks

In addition to having your gas fireplace checked, it’s important to schedule a full chimney sweep each year. The better you maintain your fireplace and chimney, the longer you’ll be able to enjoy your beautiful and functional fireplace.

 

How to install a chimney cap

 how to install chimney cap

On occassion homeowners will have to replace their chimney caps.  This most commonly results from the caps blowing off. The best option is hiring a professional chimney repair service.  Most companies include chimney cap installation as part of their available chimney repairs.  Using a professional installer provides the added benefit of discovering unknown problems at their early stages. However, some homeowners prefer to install the chimney cap themselves.  This article was created for those do-it-yourselfers who want to install their chimney caps.  Here you will find information that you need to know about how to install a chimney cap. 

There are several options available for replacing a chimney cap:

  • Fit over a flue
  • Friction fit
  • Multi Flue Cap

Fitting The Chimney Cap Over One Flue

The most common type of chimney cap is one that fits over a single flue. This doesn’t involve any tools special tools. However, it does require you to be on top of your roof.  Do not attempt to do this if you are not 100% comfortable with heights.  The single flue chimney cap should cover between one and three inches of the flue. There should also be at least five inches between the top of the chimney flue and the chimney cap lid so that there is proper air flow. Once the positioning is where it should be, the screws should be tightened from all sides.

Using a Chimney Cap with a Friction Fit

There are sometimes chimney caps that fit in with a friction fit.  Friction fits are common when there is a metal flue.  Using a chimney cap with a friction fit can be challenging.  As a result, it is best to have a chimney technician install it for you.  If you choose to do it yourself It is important to make sure that the cap you are installing has been approved for use on the chimney model.  Steer clear of parts that are not created by the original manufacturer.  If the original parts are not available, it is best to have a chimney expert.  The expert can use their knowledge to select the proper after market part.  

The cap should be placed firmly into the metal flue. From there, it is sealed into place with silicone sealer.

If there are two or more concentric pipes, also known as air-cooled flues, you will need a special type of chimney cap. This will allow the cooling air to flow sufficiently from pipe to pipe.  Once again make sure that you use caps from the caps manufacturer. 

Installing a Multi-flue Chimney Cap

The multi-flue cap is the most challenging type of cap.  Multi-flue caps are commonly found on masonry chimneys.  These caps extend across the entire chimney crown. This is different from a single flue cap which only covers the flue.  The cap can be anchored on top of the concrete crown.  They come in a variety of styles.  The challenge comes from the fact that proper installation requires the installer to put the cap into position, pre-drill holes in the concrete and then mount the cap.  If the holes are not drilled properly, the cap can blow off.  

There are many people who have attempted to install their chimney caps.  In some cases, it went well.  In others, the cap blew off, or the chimney experienced new damages.  There is a real benefit to hiring a professional.  Many homeowners choose to include chimney cap replacement in combination with a cleaning.  If you decide to do it yourself, it is important to consider all of the aspects of the job and be willing to call a technician to take care of it if you run into difficulty.  

Before you get started on any aspect of the installation, be sure you:

  • Take the time to identify the type of chimney cap you have
  • Identify the flue your chimney has
  • Use parts from the original manufacturer
  • Review any instructions that may have come from the manufacturer

Have all of the supplies you will need, which should be minimal regardless of what kind of cap you have. Then, follow the instructions and your cap will be in place in no time at a

 Gas Fireplace Safety & Maintenance: What You Must Know

 gas fireplace safety

Having a gas fireplace can be an incredible luxury for any homeowner, especially during those cooler months of the year. Furthermore, many homeowners also enjoy the fact that gas fireplaces require less care, cleaning, and maintenance than a traditional wood-burning fireplace. Ease of maintenance is one of the common reasons why homeowners install gas fireplaces.  Still, there are some important steps all owners should take to maintain proper gas fireplace safety and prevent gas fireplace repairs.

Schedule Annual Fireplace Inspections

The single most important thing you can do to prolong the safe use of your gas fireplace is to schedule an annual fireplace inspection and cleaning with a reputable professional chimney repair company.  This is a great way to have all the components of your gas fireplace checked out to ensure everything is in safe working order—and to have any necessary small repairs made before they become more expensive and problematic.

Specific aspects of your fireplace a professional should check during an inspection include:

  • smoke flumes and vents
  • gas line
  • ignition system
  • fans (where applicable)

You can also find additional info about when a chimney cleaning is needed here.  

Check the Exterior Vent Monthly

Your gas fireplace most likely has a vent somewhere on the exterior of your home; this vent has an important responsibility of carrying any smoke and carbon monoxide from a fire safely out of your home. Inspection of this vent should already be done by a professional as part of your annual inspection. 

It is never a bad idea to exercise additional precautions. Once a month, check the exterior vent for yourself and make sure it’s clear of any debris or obstructions that could otherwise pose a carbon monoxide risk to your household. And of course, always keep at least one carbon monoxide detector in your home.

Clean Out Fireplace and Glass Regularly

Proper gas fireplace safety also requires homeowners to clean out your fireplace monthly. Since it’s not wood-burning, this task shouldn’t be too time-consuming.  Still, taking the time to get rid of any cobwebs or other debris is a good idea.

You should also use a quality glass cleaner to wipe down the inside and outside of your fireplace screen, which will keep it from becoming stained or otherwise permanently discolored. This is a small part of gas fireplace safety that will allow you to continue enjoying your fireplace to the fullest extent.

Don’t Ignore Signs of Problems

Finally, should anything ever seem “off” about the operation of your gas fireplace, call a professional chimney repair company and stop using your gas fireplace right away. Always go with your gut instinct and do not ignore a potential problem. When it comes to the safety of your gas fireplace, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Some potential “red flags” to be on the lookout for include:

  • ·         odd smells coming from your fireplace
  • ·         difficulty getting pilot light to ignite
  • ·         smoke coming from your fireplace

By taking the time to maintain your gas fireplace properly, you can enjoy safe operation for many years to come!

 

 

4 Ways to know you need your chimney cleaned

 

Regular chimney cleanings are an important part of maintaining your chimney and keeping it safe for use. Unfortunately, many homeowners go too long in between chimney cleanings or make the mistake of assuming that only burning a creosote log is “good enough.” In reality, professional chimney cleaning is highly recommended to protect your home and your loved ones from smoke and fire hazards caused by dirty chimneys.   We recently encountered a that needed chimney repairs in Ellicott City, MD that would have never needed the chimney repairs if the homeowner had decided to hire a chimney sweep every year. 

Not sure if your chimney is in need of a cleaning? We have got some telltale signs to watch.  Here are 4 ways to know that you need your chimney cleaned:

  1. It has been more than a year since your last chimney sweep.
  2. There is noticeable creosote buildup
  3. There is excessive smoke in fireplace
  4. Fire takes a long time to start

It has Been More Than a Year Since Your Last Chimney Sweep
annual chimney cleaning

First of all, when was the last time you had your chimney cleaned or swept? If it’s been more than a year, then it is time for a professional cleaning. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends that chimneys be cleaned every year.  Even if you have not used the fireplace in the past year, there’s a good chance you have organic build-up in your chimney that should be cleared out before you use it again.

Noticeable Creosote Buildup
chimney

 

After donning a pair of protective goggles and a breathing mask, grab a flashlight and take a peek inside the chimney itself. Specifically, be on the lookout for gray or black soot built up along the sides of the chimney. This is creosote, a flammable material that can cause chimney fires. If you have more than a quarter-inch of creosote buildup, it’s time to schedule a professional chimney cleaning.

There’s Excessive Chimney Smoke
smokey chimney

When you start a fire in your fireplace, do you notice that the room or even large areas of your home suddenly become smoky? If so, this could be a sign of creosote or other flammable buildups within the chimney itself. Check to be sure that your chimney’s flue is open (having it closed while burning a fire can cause excessive smoke, too). If it is, then you should refrain from using your fireplace until you can have it professionally inspected and cleaned.

Fireplace Takes a Long Time to Start
wood for fireplace

Another red flag to be on the lookout for is noticing that it is taking longer to get a fire started in your fireplace. This could be due to a lack of oxygen reaching the wood, which could be indicative of a blockage or other problem within the chimney itself. This issue may also be accompanied by strange smells coming from the fireplace or chimney as well. Either way, it’s time to call a professional.

These are just a few of the most telltale signs that your chimney needs a cleaning or sweeping. By having your chimney professionally serviced at least once a year, you can enjoy greater peace of mind when using your fireplace. You may also be able to avoid more expensive repairs down the road!

 

Floating cast crown & chimney rebuild in Maryland

damaged chimney crown

The homeowners just purchased their Owings, MD home and they knew from the home inspection that the chimney needed some masonry repairs. As you can see the bricks are spalling (spalling happens when moisture gets into the bricks freezes and pops the brick faces out).  This crown was in a condition similar to a chimney project that we rebuilt in Ellicott City.

Why the home needed a chimney rebuild?

cracked concrete chimney crown

This happens because of the design flaws in the construction of the chimney. Below is I will list some of the flaws based on the arrows.

Green arrow– They did not install an expansion joint around the flue liners. When the flue is in use and heat is going through it, it will expand. Without an expansion joint the flue liners will eventually crack the crown as they expand during the heating process. You can see that has happened here with the large cracks running from the chimney liners to the edge of the crown.

Yellow arrow– The crown is pitched to the edge of the bricks leaving it fragile. The crown itself isn’t thick enough, to begin with, but when they pitched it off to the edges it leaves a very thin surface where water will collect, freeze and crack the edges.

Red arrow– The bricks at the top of the chimney are corbelled inwards (stepped in). This leaves a place for water to sit and soak into the chimney. This is also a place where you can have vegetation growing on the chimney like the one above. The vegetation can and will have the roots destroy the chimney if left unattended.

All this damage to the to the top of the stack will also cause leaking into the fireplace.  You can find out more about common causes of chimney leaks in our previous article.

How we rebuilt the chimney

chimney repair scaffolding

When we build or rebuild chimneys, we will corbel the bricks out, and from there we will build a new floating cast concrete crown that sits on a stainless steel sheet, re-enforced with mesh and has the expansion joints around the flue liners.  You can learn more about floating cast concrete crown here.

chimney repair technician

Once the chimney was rebuilt, we applied Chimney Saver waterproofing to prevent the same moisture issues from occurring.

Job Complete – Rebuilt Chimney

finished chimney crown repair

We also installed new counter flashing which in tucked into the mortar bed joints of the chimney.

final crown repair and chimney rebuild

Rebuild completed! We were able to get a pretty good match on the brick and mortar. Another satisfied customer from All Pro Chimney Service.