There’s something comforting about lounging in your recliner with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate.
Winter in Utah can be cold, and even though you have a nice, new, efficient heating system in your home, there’s something special about a fire.
Many homes charge extra for a gas fireplace.
We haven’t built one house yet in any of our senior communities that didn’t have a gas fireplace included as a standard.
They’re great in an emergency, nice to add a little extra warmth to that corner of the house, and they give your home a rich soothing feel.
If only you knew how to turn it on… Today, let’s talk about using your gas fireplaces.
How to use your fireplace
Key features of your fireplace
Over the years, we’ve installed hundreds of gas fireplaces. Occasionally we switch models and brands, but most of our fireplaces have a few common features.
For one thing, all of our fireplaces are turned on with the simple flip of a switch. This switch will be located very near your fireplace. It will look just like any regular light switch.
Some fireplaces use a glow-plug to start the flame, some use a sparker, some use a full time pilot light. Whichever the case, the switch should be all you need to get your fireplace running.
The fireplace also is equipped with a blower to kick that heat into your room.
There are also a few other features, which may vary from model to model, but they’re pretty easy to find and adjust. Let’s go over a couple of these.
How to adjust your fireplace
If you open up your fireplace, you’ll see a few different things in the bottom. Most of them are nobs or valves.
This valve for instance is the gas shut-off valve.
If you ever smell gas coming from your fireplace, this should be the first thing you go to.
Just a quarter of a turn and the gas to your fireplace will be turned off. You can then work on getting the leak repaired. If however you turn it off, and you still smell gas, call a heating and air-conditioning contractor immediately, since the gas leak might be on the gas-line side of the valve and not the fireplace side.
(Honestly, I’ve never had it leaking on the gas-line side ever, but just in case…)
These next knobs may vary from make/model. On this current fireplace, which we’re installing in many of our subdivision right now, These knobs adjust the flame blower.
In this case, the knob on the left will control the blower. Some people just like the look and radiant heat from their fireplaces. Some people prefer to have it blowing that heat into their room.
With this knob, you can adjust how much you want or don’t want that air to get pushed.
The knob on the right for this particular fireplace, is an adjustment for the flame height. Some fireplace have different degrees of height that the flame can achieve. This valve may have a significant or just a minor effect on the flame height If you want to adjust it, you’re better off trying it at night. Sometimes during the light of day, it gets harder to see the whole flame.
Regardless of how you like your fireplace settings, Usually you just need to adjust it once to your preferred settings, then use the light switch to turn it on and off.
Another interesting accessory that many of our fireplaces currently have, is a battery pack (shown below)
These things just take regular batteries. They’re often tucked up underneath the fireplace somewhere, and not all models have them.
But if yours does have it, you can fill it with batteries and your fireplace can turn on, even when the power is out to your home. It may not be strong enough to run the blower, but it will give you extra radiant heat until the power is restored and your furnace can kick back on again.
Blower not working
As mentioned, all of our fireplaces come with a blower. “But wait,” you say, “I flipped the switch, my fireplace turned on, but not the blower.” That might be true. Usually you have to wait for a few minutes while your fireplace heats up.
The blower is activated by a thermostat. So once it gets hot enough, then it turns itself on. Likewise, the blower will continue running, even after you turn the fireplace off. It will continue running until the fireplace has cooled down again.
If you’re still having problems with it turning on, you can check the blower control knob that we discussed earlier. If that is set to be on, then the thermostat might need adjusting. You can give us or our HVAC contractor a call to get that adjusted.
Another question we get, is what about the paperwork that is under the fireplace? Isn’t that dangerous?
True, there is some paperwork that is usually left by the manufacturer. If it is connected to a wire to hold it in there, then it is meant to be there. If it is just some loose papers, by all means, take it out.
Occasionally, when new, the fireplace might smell very bad, like it’s kicking off a bunch of fumes when hot. If this is happening to you, it’s because of the heat resistant paint on the outside of it. That black paint will sometimes need to cure a little more by running the fireplace for a couple hours.
If yours is doing this, I’d recommend running it while you’re running errands. That way, the paint can get rid of its off-gassing, without you having to suffer around it.
Gas fireplace burn natural gas. This isn’t a purely clean burning fuel. Eventually, if you use it enough, your fireplace glass is going to blacken up. Don’t worry, this can be cleaned, just not from the outside.
To clean the glass, you first have to get it off of the fireplace. On each side of the fireplace, at the bottom, you’ll see these little clips.
These clips are held on with either clamps or springs. Your job is to undo these two clips. They don’t require special tools. You should be able to do them with your hands.
These only anchor the bottom of the glass to the fireplace. Once you have them undone, tilt the bottom of the glass away from the fireplace a few inches. You should then be able to lift he glass up and off of the fireplace.
At this point, it’s just as simple as using a wet rag to clean your glass.
This pretty well covers the fireplaces that we install in our 55+ communities. Go grab your cup of chocolate and enjoy the ambiance that is your fireplace.