Gas FireplacesGas fireplaces offer their users a unique combination: the elegant, traditional charm of a wood-burning fireplace as well as the convenience and technology of electric models. However, gas-burning fireplaces share many of the same maintenance and care requirements as both wood-burning and electric fireplaces. Owners need to take regular precautions to keep their units in top operating condition.

When to Get Your Gas Fireplace Inspected

Owners of gas fireplaces that use vents should have their units inspected at least once a year by a licensed gas technician, who will ascertain any malfunction or defect.

Before returning the unit to regular use, experts recommend checking the gas fireplace’s firebox, gas logs and gas lines for any damage or excessive wear and tear. During spring and summer, the gas line’s main valve can be shut off and its ignition key removed, and the pilot light can also be extinguished. On the other hand, some experts recommend leaving the pilot light burning to reduce humidity inside the firebox.

Vents should always remain clean of debris or other non-fireplace materials.

Preventative Care and Cleaning

Logs, coals, or stones in a gas fireplace should never be rearranged as this can present a serious risk of malfunction. Consult a licensed gas technician for help in restoring the logs, coals or stones to their original configuration.

When cleaning, take the parts outside and use cleansers recommended by the manufacturer as well as soft-bristled brush. Clean the firebox by vacuuming dust and other debris from the floor and walls. Clean the glass front panels with an ammonia-free window cleaner.

Never burn any additional materials inside the gas fireplace. This can present an additional fire hazard as well as risk clogging the gas vents with burned-up debris.

Getting Additional Help

Many gas fireplace manufacturers, as well as retailers, offer expert and certified help in answering cleaning and maintenance questions and concerns. In many cases the information is available free of charge to consumers.

Electric Fireplace

Electrical fireplaces offer a much cleaner and low-effort alternative to wood-burning and gas fireplaces, but still share many of the same potential maintenance and care concerns for their owners. Nevertheless, they’re quickly becoming the fireplace of choice for those looking for a modern approach to the most traditional of home heating methods.

Installation

Possibly the greatest advantage of the electric fireplace is its versatility around the house – because they are so low maintenance and produce no debris or soot, they’re easily and cleanly used in every room in the home, including the bathroom (imagine a fireplace above a garden tub), the bedroom, and even the kitchen. Some electric fireplaces are also included inside larger entertainment centers that contain space for televisions and other home electronics.

Maintenance

Electric fireplace owners should regularly inspect their units, to make sure the wiring and components are working properly and in good repair. Though the electric fireplace’s wiring and parts are hard to reach for pets and rodents, some animals may still be able to reach and chew through the wires. Contact the manufacturer or a licensed electrician to assist in repairs if and when this happens.

During the spring and summer, you may wish to unplug the electric fireplace as a safety precaution, and to store the plug out of reach of pets and children.

Cleaning

Both the interior and exterior of the fireplace requires regular cleaning and dusting, but it’s okay to use normal household cleaners and tools. “A can of compressed air or small vacuum will easily clean out any unit’s internals,” says certified fireplace expert Collin Champagne. “If your unit has internal bearings, you can keep these clean with a drop or two of machine oil.”

Owners should also replace the light bulb as recommended by the manufacturer – typically, every two to three years.

Getting help

Besides the instructions packaged with electrical fireplace units, there are any number of resources available by phone, online and by mail from the manufacturer and from fireplace retailers, some of whom employ certified fireplace experts to answer their customers’ questions.