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Question DetailsAsked on 1/12/2014

Is it necessary to clean the chimney of a gas fireplace?

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Thank you for asking the question that many others have asked, is it necessary to clean the chimney of a gas fireplace?

There are different components to every gas fireplace system. We must determine the fireplace system that the question pertains to. We have gas logs in a masonry fireplace. We also have a sealed unit with a glass front that is called a direct vent fireplace. We also have a ventless gas fireplace either in a prefab mode, or in a masonry mode.

With the last two types of fireplaces (ventless), one could argue that the Chimney doesn't need any attention because it's not being used. However, there are documented cases as to where the previous wood-burning creosote accumulation in the Chimney had accumulated just above the damper area. This indeed in fact did catch fire inside the home. So, very important point. Before installing any gas appliance into a Chimney system, it shall be inspected on a level II inspection. This is a code requirements set forth by the national fire protection Association code 211. During the inspection we would expect to have the debris removed and a video camera introduced into the inner parts of the Chimney system to make sure that there are no deficiencies throughout the entire system to the top of the chimney. Any deficiencies noted must be corrected, replaced, or repaired, before the usage of any new appliance.

Now, back to the original question, does it need to be cleaned? Not to dodge the question, but NFPA211 requires that the fireplaces to be inspected on an annual basis, and cleaned if necessary. Normally, with an efficient burning gas appliance in a direct vent mode, or ventless mode, we would not expect to find sufficient amount of accumulation to require cleaning. We, at that time would perform all various other safety inspection points. Pilot height, thermocouple strength, thermopile strength, and gas leak testing. Also attention is given to the installation strength, at the joints, at the termination, and at the beginning. Also, blockages are verified to not exist.

However, with a gas log installation into a masonry fireplace we commonly see where the current installation was installed into a dirty wood-burning fireplace. This of course, should be cleaned during this visit. When gas burns, in an open fireplace setting, we want to introduce more oxygen and make the flames look more realistic in color. This makes the gas appliance burn a little rich or dirty. This carbon buildup is actually combustible and can build up over a period of usage.

So, the correct answer to the question is... It depends on the type of installation and the amount of usage since it was last inspected. I cannot tell someone that it would be okay to be two or three years usage without cleaning it when there could exist a very maladjusted burner producing a lot of carbon to put the homeowner at risk in a shorter period of time. Therefore, now we see why the code exists." To be on the safe side."


Answered 6 years ago by Guest_9017570

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