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6 tips for using your gas fireplace as Arizona hits autumn

(AP Photo/Courtesy United States Consumer Product Safety Commission)

Autumn is finally here and it’s time to prepare for using your fireplace again.

Given that it’s National Fire Prevention Week, here are six key safety tips for using vented gas fireplaces (those with chimneys) inside your home:

1. Get the soot out and have the chimney and fireplace checked regularly

Although you won’t have heavy creosote buildup in a gas fireplace the way you would when burning wood, you still want to remove carbon on the walls and floor and clean up the artificial logs for cosmetic reasons. You also want the chimney on the roof checked to be sure it’s suitably capped so no birds can build nests inside.

A trusted, professional chimney cleaner will also ensure that your damper is not too tight. The damper cannot be closed 100 percent, even when it’s off. You want any gases that might leak out your pipes when the fire is off to escape up the chimney.

2. Make sure that the gas ports in the fireplace floor are clean, too

You don’t want them to clog up and thus impair their performance.

3. Install a carbon monoxide alarm

Whenever you use a gas appliance – even a fireplace — you run the risk of carbon monoxide building up in the house. Install an alarm and change the batteries regularly to keep everyone safe.

4. Replace the logs if needed

After a while, those ceramic or cement “logs” in a gas fireplace get a little shabby looking. Maybe it’s time to buy a new set. There are lots of decorative options out there, including some with embers and pine cones.

5. Don’t touch the glass

When the flames are burning, avoid touching the glass because it can become extremely hot. Teach children to stay away as well.

6. Don’t burn anything but gas inside your fireplace

No paper, no wood, no marshmallows. You could increase the chance of a serious fire breaking out.

Now for those of us with wood-burning hearths: Maybe you’re tired of buying logs and cleaning up after having a roaring wood fire. In some areas of Arizona, of course, you can’t use your wood-burning fireplace on “no-burn” days.

If you are thinking it’s time for a change, you’ll want to check out our Q&A information on converting your wood-burning fireplace to gas.

Be forewarned, this is not a do-it-yourselfer adventure. Only a licensed professional – fireplace installer or plumber – is qualified to do the work. If you already have a natural gas range, water heater or furnace, that professional will run a new gas pipeline to your fireplace. If you don’t have gas available, you’ll have to power your new gas logs with propane.

For more tips, help and information for your house, home, castle or cabin, visit Arizona’s largest collection of homeowner DIY advice and information at RosieontheHouse.com.

And if you are in need of a quality contractor you can trust, visit our list of Arizona’s very best contractors or service providers for your home improvement projects at RosieontheHouse.com, Arizona’s most trusted referral network.

Tune in to KTAR every Saturday morning from 7-11 a.m. for the Rosie on the House broadcast!

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