Good morning, everyone. Today’s post is not a sexy one or a pretty one, but reading it could save you hundreds of dollars and a big headache. I wish someone had told me what I am about to tell you. Did you know that the vent-free gas logs in your fireplace require maintenance? I sure didn’t. We purchased new logs for our great room’s fireplace when we moved in five years ago and have used them regularly each winter since then. However, a few weeks ago I noticed that there was black soot clinging to our very white mantel. I was baffled by this and decided to call the store where we purchased them. They informed me that gas fireplace logs require regular maintenance and that it sounded as if ours were past due for a check-up. They actually have a crew that services gas fireplace logs.
I scheduled a service appointment and meanwhile, we didn’t use the logs. We have really enjoyed having vent-free gas logs. They give us instant warmth and instant coziness, and when it’s time to go to bed, we can just turn them off. If we were using real wood and had a real fire, then we would need to be concerned with smoldering embers and possible sparks. Having those concerns just might interfere with my sleep, and I sure don’t need that!
After I made the appointment, I took a really good look at our great room and realized that there was soot all over the ceiling, the woodwork, and the walls. It is so bad that we will have to get the entire room repainted. If we had known about that maintenance thing, it would have saved us the cost and trouble of getting the room repainted. Thankfully, the furniture just needs a good vacuuming. We are all about maintenance around here (one of the responsibilities of home ownership), and we just wish we had been more aware and more proactive.
The service men were just delightful, and when they came, I interviewed them to find out how you can avoid this issue. This is what they told me:
1. Be sure to read the manual that came with your logs. It should tell you about how to maintain them. They said this again and again. When in doubt, read the manual.
2. They recommend that you have your logs cleaned every other year or every year if you use them a lot.
3. Do not rearrange the logs. This is critical. The way that they look in the manual is the way they are supposed to be arranged. That was another reason we had a soot issue. The logs had fallen over after we changed a battery, and we just placed them one on top of the other without realizing there was a right way and a wrong way. (We obviously chose the wrong way.) Logs usually come with a metal plate, like the one in the photo, attached to them. Save this as a reference to show you how they should be arranged.
4. If there is a lot of dust or dog hairs in your home’s air, then the “air intakes” will/can clog. The vent-free fireplace pulls in air from the room, and the cleaner the air, the better. (We don’t think this was one of our problems.)
5. Don’t use the logs for more than four hours at a time. The logs produce moisture which can create humidity. The soot will cling to the humidity and then attach itself to your ceiling and walls. Using the logs for more than four hours at a time will also deplete the good oxygen in your home. The servicemen said to let the logs rest for about an hour after they have burned for four hours. Then it’s okay to turn them back on.
6. It’s okay to open the vent when you use the logs, but the heat will escape just like it would when burning wood. However, this will cut down on the humidity build-up and oxygen depletion. Opening the vent would also allow you to burn them for longer periods of time because there would be an exchange of air.
7. If the logs have batteries, they will need to be changed both in the logs and in the remote (if you use one). Not all logs have batteries.
8. Use a shop vacuum and a brush to clean the logs, and only do this when they are cool. (You can see the soot on the mantel, and this was after I cleaned off the first layer).
9. They said again and again to refer to the manual that came with your logs.
10. Have a carbon monoxide detector in the room where the logs are being used.
11. Have a fireplace screen to prevent any accidents. (We need to get one.)
12. And finally, no marshmallow roasting on vent-free gas logs.
I can’t tell you how happy I am to now have clean and safe logs. The men were loaded with information they were willing to share, they were careful to keep the area surrounding the fireplace protected as they cleaned, they were efficient with their time, they automatically checked for gas leaks, and to top it all off, they removed their shoes when they entered our home. Since spring is right around the corner, you might not be using your logs much longer this season. That makes it a good time to get them serviced so they will be ready to use next fall. I hope this information will help you all avoid having a sooty problem in your own homes.