Yes, your Gas Fireplace needs to be cleaned and inspected regularly. Regular cleaning and inspection will help keep your gas fireplace performing efficiently and safely for years to come.
Just like your furnace and A/C, your gas fireplace is considered to be a mechanical unit and therefore it needs regular maintenance just like every HVAC system out there. Components can and will wear out, especially when you operate the fireplace between periods of no use at all to very high use in the span of a year.
One thing you don’t ever want to take for granted year after year is that the equipment in a gas fireplace is operating the way it should. Over time, valves and connections could develop leaks. Thermopile and thermocouple could be worn and/or need cleaning. The ceramic logs should be checked to ensure they are properly placed and in working condition. Ventilation is also an area of concern. If a fireplace has gone for a long period without being used, the vent, flue or chimney can become blocked without the homeowner realizing. A blockage can result in poor ventilation, which can result in dangerous fumes like carbon monoxide entering the home.
Here are the biggest signs your home’s gas fireplace needs maintenance as soon as possible:
1: Pilot light issues
Just as if you would use a gas furnace, there’s a pilot light built into your gas fireplace as well. Your gas fireplace’s manufacturer should have instructions for you about how to troubleshoot the pilot light if something goes wrong, but if your pilot light refuses to stay lit, even after following the instructions, that’s one sign of something gone very wrong.
Usually the cause is due to a broken or worn out thermopile, which is a component that does need to be replaced occasionally. Another more serious cause is faulty wiring, which you should not attempt to fix by yourself. If your pilot light won’t stay lit and you’ve already followed the manufacturing instructions to no avail, calling a professional for help is the only best solution.
2: A rotten egg smell
Anything that smells like rotten eggs means danger! If you hear a hissing sound or see anything else out of the ordinary, it means there’s a gas leak. The only reason you can smell anything is because of mercaptan, a harmless chemical added to natural gas which gives it its rotten egg or hydrogen sulfide smell.
If you see, hear, or smell any signs of a gas leak, stop what you’re doing immediately and evacuate your home. Don’t attempt to fix it yourself, or call about the leak on your cell while you’re in the house, or smoke, or light matches or even operate any light switches. Go outside ASAP, and call 911 or you can call Intermountain Gas 1-800-548-3679.
3: Too much soot
Unlike wood-burning fireplaces, soot buildup is not a sign of a healthy gas fireplace. In fact, it means something is very wrong, especially if there’s soot on the glass doors. It’s either because of the logs, the interior of the fireplace, or the outside venting (or maybe all of the above) contain buildup. However you look at it, if soot is what you’re seeing right now, then your fireplace needs professional attention immediately.
4: It switches on and off
This is one of the most frustrating common signs of a gas fireplace malfunctioning, and it is also the most difficult to solve without a professional technician’s help. Multiple causes can be the culprit as to this scenario:
- The millivolt generator, usually placed in the path of the pilot light and the size of a AA battery, is old and worn out
- Dirt and carbon have built up in the vicinity of the pilot light
- Too much of a breeze is coming down the chimney, and the doors are open
- There’s a jamming issue with the burner
- A bad thermocouple or thermopile—the thermocouple being the sensor that senses heat and allows the pilot light to stay lit, while the thermopile allows gas to pass through the burner system and heat and light
Whatever the cause, this is another one where you shouldn’t DIY the fix yourself. Call in a professional.