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Reasons Your Fire Won’t Light in Your Fireplace

The reasons you cannot get a fire started in your fireplace are obviously different for different kinds of fireplaces. If it is a gas fireplace, check to see that the valve is open and that gas is being supplied to the fireplace. If it is a wood burner, problems can vary from unseasoned wood to insufficient kindling to an improperly built fire.

Starting a Fire - Baton Rouge LA - Basic Chimney Sweep

Obviously, a gas fireplace will not light if it is not receiving any gas, so confirming the gas supply is the first thing to do. There is usually a valve either at the bottom of the fireplace or on a wall switch that turns the gas on and off. This allows gas to flow from the main line through the pipe into the fireplace and should be turned off when the fireplace is not in use.

Another thing to check is the pilot light, which may have been blown out by wind or a sudden downdraft. If that is the case, restart it by turning the control knob counter-clockwise to the Pilot position. Click the red button until the pilot lights, hold it in for a minute, and then turn the knob to its “ON” position. Pilots are generally left on throughout the winter season but shut off when the fireplace is not in use to avoid their unnecessary expense.

If the pilot ignites but will not stay on, there may be a problem with the thermo coupling, which senses whether a pilot flame is present. If the pilot stays on but the fire will not start, thermo piling may be to blame. Thermo piling uses the pilot flame to produce an electric spark that opens the gas valve. As this is a tiny spark, it is also important for the fireplace and gas logs to be clean, as even a little dust can block the valve.

If your fireplace is wood burning and the wood is dry, you may simply need to rebuild the fire. Newspaper, plenty of kindling, sticks and wood pieces, all topped with larger logs, should be placed on the grate in that order. It needs to be possible for air to flow through and around the pile since fire needs oxygen to burn, so do not pack it too tight.

By Ronald Caillais on February 11th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Converting Your Wood Burning Fireplace to Gas

Tired of sweeping out ash, and conscious of the added expense of wood burning fireplaces, many homeowners are choosing to convert to gas. More efficient and less trouble, glass fronted gas fireplaces keep warm air in the house and cold air out when they are not in use. Cleaner, safer, and more economical, gas fireplaces can be a better option, and can provide the same ambience as a wood fire without the smelly smoke and combustible by-products.

Wood Fireplace to Gas Logs - Baton Rouge LA - Basic Chimney Sweep

Definitely a job to be handled by chimney professionals, perhaps the most difficult part of a fireplace conversion is getting gas to it. A separate gas line has to run from the meter to the fireplace, with flex line, cutoffs, and a sealer at junctions. Furthermore, air has to be bled from the lines and the natural gas has to be pressurized to state-dictated levels. The farther the fireplace is from the gas source, the more complicated the task.

Prior to the conversion, the chimney should also be cleaned by a professional chimney sweep. He can insure that nothing is blocking the chimney and deal with any creosote that has accumulated inside the flue. Maintenance will be much easier with gas logs than with a wood fire, but the usual concerns about nesting birds and critters still apply.

The most important decision for homeowners to make is the type of gas fireplace they wish to install. Both vented and vent less gas fireplaces are available, each with drawbacks and advantages. Municipalities may regulate this choice, sometimes requiring vented fireplaces, which reduce the chances of carbon monoxide poisoning.

An unvented gas fireplace does not lose heated air up the chimney so it does a better job of warming the room. However, an unvented gas fire can only burn for a few hours at a time, since both moisture and exhaust gases are given off and build up. Although they are more costly, vented fireplaces produce prettier fires and are still energy efficient, sealing heat behind glass doors and often blowing it into the room.

By Ronald Caillais on February 3rd, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Why Your Gas Fireplace Needs Regular Inspection Too

If you have a gas fireplace, one of the considerations for purchase was more than likely the low maintenance factor. Compared to a wood burning fireplace, there is hardly the daily and yearly maintenance required. However, like wood burning fireplaces, gas fireplaces should be inspected on a yearly basis.

Be sure to have your gas burning fireplace regularly maintained

Just like a wood burning fireplace, your gas fireplace can have a buildup, even if it is a ventless fireplace. Even though the logs inside are ceramic, they can create debris on the bottom of the fireplace as well as clog any vents. These are just a couple of areas of concern for owners of gas fireplaces.

Depending upon the service requested, your inspection may vary from a simple test of all working parts and connections to a complete cleaning and refinishing (if necessary) of your fireplace. So, what are some of the basics you can expect from your gas fireplace inspection?

  • All hearth equipment should be checked for proper working condition.
  • Connections and valves should be checked for leaks and proper working condition.
  • Thermocouple and thermopile is checked for cleanliness and wear.
  • Glass should be cleaned, both inside and out.
  • Logs will be checked for placement and proper working condition.
  • If necessary, embers will be replaced.
  • Entire inside of the fireplace should be cleaned and ready for use.

Some additional safety facts unrelated to the fireplace inspection but very important are:

  • It generally takes about 45 minutes for a gas fire to cool to the point the doors and glass are cool enough to touch. This is especially important for homes with small children, as they may be curious about the fireplace and want to examine it.
  • Glass on a gas fireplace door can reach temperatures as high as 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • If young children are around, create some type of barrier around the fireplace to prevent them from having access. You can find fireplace screens and childproof barriers at most home improvement stores.
By Ronald Caillais on December 18th, 2012 | Tagged with: Tags: , | Leave a Comment
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