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Question DetailsAsked on 11/6/2014

my gas fireplace smells like gas when i turn it on

gas smell when i turn on gas logs

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2 Answers

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It is not unusual for gas appliances with a linear burner (as opposed to basically single-point like a stove) to smell a bit for just a couple of seconds after the gas turns on, because while it is igniting at one point (the pilot or ignitor), the gas is coming out along the length of the burner/fire logs - so there is a second or two burst of gas that comes out unburned and some of that escapes into the firebox and out from there before all the burner length lights. In a cold firebox/furnace, because there is not yet a draft up the flue, some of that gas comes out at the top of the firebox into the room (in fireplace) or out the draft diverter (open bottomed skirt-shaped hood in duct over water heater or furnace), giving just a very limited area of slight gas smell, maybe a few feet in diameter. Will be significantly noticeable but should not be overpowering, and should dissipate within about 10-20 seconds.

If it keeps smelling (indicating a leak outside the combustion area), the burner lights with a big whoosh because a significant amount of gas has built up before it ignites, or if the gas does not light immediately after it turns on (with pilot or automatic ignition), then there is a problem. Otherwise, normal. And of course, there should be zero gas smell when it is off. IF something seemswrong after reading the above, your Search the List category would be Plumber (if they do gas work in your area), a gas fitter (not an AL category) in areas requiring gas fittaers do all natural gas work, or a specialty company dealing in gas logs and wood stoves and such.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD


I realize this is way after the question date, but I was looking at prior answers to refer to someone on another gas log question, and saw my answer to you was incomplete.

As I said before - when it is off you should NOT smell any gas smell unless your nose is right down tight to the logs or in the fireplace - then you will smell some residual of the odorant that is put in natural gas and propane / butane. If you put your nose right up tight to the gas shutoff valve you will probably smell a hint too - but should not smell it unless right up tight to it.

At ignition some small amount of unburned gas commonly comes out - just a couple of second puff, but can of course spread through the room and take awhile to dissipate. OF course, if this is a totally sealed unit with exterior venting, there should be no smell in the room from the combustion - though you may still smell hot metal and heated paint smell from the enclosure heating up.

One other thing with gas logs, especially with unvented gas fireplaces where all the exhaust gas comes right out into the room, is there are several types of smells you may smell:

1) hot metal smell when fully heating up

2) an acrid, acidy smell that burns the nose and maybe eyes but does not have a strong smell, caused by nitrates formed by combustion with moisture in the fireplace - basically the components in smog that make your eyes and nose burn. Should be slight, and burns off in quick order. Commonly occurs with gas fireplaces that have openable doors and use a chimney or outside vent without electric damper for exhaust, because moist outside air accumulates moisture in the fireplace when not in use. Usually only real noticeable in ones with vertical chimney that gets small amounts of rainwater or snow in it at times.

3) plastic or painty or oily smell from heating of the logs (generally only if new) or of the fireplace metal itself.

4) after the initial puff of possibly gas odorant or sulferous smell as the gas starts burning, unvented gas fireplaces (which vent direct to the room) create a variety of sulferous and nitrous compound from burning the gas (due to incomplete combustion at various places along the logs) and also due to burning of the sulferous odorant. Can smell like burnt sulfur or plastic, burning electric insulation, like a car or garbage fire, or like a very thick smoky wood fireplace or brushfire smoke - generally more a "pollution" or "overheating" type smell than a "burning" smell. Should not be strong but can continue as long as the unit is operating - is stronger when it is not getting enough air for full combustion, but after first 10 seconds or so should be minimal and a "background" rather than pronounced smell if burning properly. However, gas log fireplaces are designed to burn with a varied color and yellow flame - which inherently means it is not buring at its optimal combustion efficiency, which produces a blue flame with very little yellow tip. Therefore, you will have smells that you do not generally get with hot water heater, furnace, or range combustion.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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